There was a time when being a lawyer was easy – at least that was what the average ‘man on the street’ commonly believes. All you needed to do was to pick a practice area and put out your shingle and the clients would come strolling through your door.
However, those days are over and in some ways, they never really existed. Let’s face it, there are hundreds, if not thousands of lawyers in your area and they are competing for the same clients.
So how can you grow your legal practice while remaining within the ethical guidelines set down by the bar? Don’t go Better Call Saul. Instead, focus on these five proven, and ethical, business development activities to get you the right clients for your practice.
- Update Your Online Presence
We are living in an increasingly digital world and every industry, even the law, is being rapidly transformed by technology. However, this is not a reason to fret. Instead, it is an opportunity to increase your reach and your relevance. Doing so will help you to be an expert in the area of law you practice as well as within your broader community.
In a practical sense, this means doing three things. First, make sure your website is up to date, is appealing, and easy to navigate. Second, embrace social media – this will give you an opportunity to interact with the broader community. Third, publish, publish, publish as the posting of high-quality content will help you to show off your expertise.
That being said, there are a few things that you need to be mindful of when creating content to promote your practice. This starts with subject matter knowledge. As such, you don’t want delegate content creation to a non-lawyer. In addition, don’t try to sell your firm. Instead, position your content as a point as a point of reference without giving specific legal advice.
In your quest to create quality content to promote your site don’t only focus on articles and blogs. Try to reach you to radio and tv stations and go for a multi-media approach. If you can’t find a local broadcaster who wants to interview you, then consider starting a podcast or a YouTube channel – both as low cost, multimedia approaches to getting your content to a broader audience.
As the saying goes, ‘you need to give to get’ and this is something you should take to heart when considering referrals. Sure, everyone loves to be flooded with referrals but the reality is that you often need to kickstart the process.
This can start by signing up for an attorney referral service to expand your network of potential referral targets. By jumping into a such a network you are helping to increase the odds that you will start to receive leads on more and more clients.
Remember, maximizing referrals is not a passive exercise. Instead, you need to be proactive. Use your lead generation machine to pass on referrals to other attorneys in your area. Sure, some of the people will not provide much in return but karma has a way of leveling everything out.
- Measure Your Marketing Investments
This is something that very few law firms do. In many cases, they are more focused on their activity levels instead of the effectiveness of their activity. Remember, you are charging by the hour. As such, every hour and every dollar tied to marketing should tie back to measurable goals. By doing so you are raising the bar for yourself and the rest of your team.
In addition to measuring your marketing investments, invest in a robust CRM – one that will help you to track leads and to easily remain in contact with past clients. Doing so will help you to increase your conversion rates and this will lead to more bang for your buck.
- Focus on the Low Hanging Fruit
This starts by focusing on past clients. After all, these people already trust and value your advice and the cost of converting them to a retainer or some other engagement is much lower than hunting for and converting new clients.
If your old clients are ready for engaging you again, then ask them if they know anyone who is looking for your services. This is a highly effective way to grow your legal practice and it goes back to the idea of maximizing your referral networks.
- Be Active in Your Community
Maybe it is volunteering with a local non-profit or getting involved with the local chamber of commerce. Either way, being active in your community is great way to get to know your client base. An added plus of this approach is that you don’t need to ‘sell’; instead getting out there will help to break the ice and will go a long way towards letting people know where they can find you when they need you.