New Lawyers and New Law Practices Want to Know How To Get New Clients
- starting your new law practice after passing the bar,
- leaving a large firm to finally strike out on your own,
- starting over after a partnership went sour, or
- branching into another law section or niche?
So how do you go from few or no clients to a prosperous law practice before your funds dry up or your budget is all shot to hell and gone? Establish a Lifestyle for yourself and any new associates!
Time for a Lawyer Joke?
What do you call a lawyer gone bad?
Law School Short-Changes New Lawyers in the Best Practices to be Successful
Law school doesn’t prepare you to be a good business person. Law schools focus on teaching legal theory and little about running a law practice. Most lawyers open a law practice as a natural progression of their career. Those that go from law school to a firm as a clerk or associate think: “I’m becoming a great lawyer. I work my ass off to make the partners rich off my hours, so I will rent an office space (or even a Regus set-up), start my own practice and pocket all the profits.”
Being a good lawyer and a becoming a successful law practice are two very different things. As a clerk, an associate or a partner in a prior firm, if all you did was “lawyering,” that may not have prepared you for running a business, managing staff or finding new clients and cases.
You may be the next Gerry Spence trial guru and find yourself a starving solo lawyer.
We Have Some Suggestions To get you MORE Clients and Cases Right Away
We have become darn good at lawyer marketing in the digital world. That said, in the world of REAL LIFE – YOU are a more important asset in person than is your digital social media in the beginning of your growth cycle. If you are a personable lawyer – a trial lawyer – an extrovert, you will get your butt out there and network in as many ways you can. You will be pleasantly surprised how much business you can bring in by handing out business cards in numerous social environments.
The Birthday Paradox
You are just as likely to find 1 or 2 potential new legal clients in a group of 30 persons where you are known on a first name basis! And while that is good news, there is BETTER news about how you can leverage your participation in a few groups to grow your bank balance… Right Away. No waiting on Google, Bing or Yahoo to be nice to you.
The 11th Commandment: “ALL Lawyers Must work Social Media or Die a Slow and Lonely Death!”
Yes, so true in 2014. But that commandment has to do with having a website, a LinkedIN account, a Facebook Business Page and a Google+ Page. Both upstarts and old farts need to drop the iPad and return to the basics of stepping out for one or two evenings per month to be “sociable.” Basics work. Basic means a part of every lawyer’s lifelong marketing must include OLD SCHOOL SOCIAL-izing. Your BEST new clients will come from “Old School Social” networking. Moreover this is the perfect therapy for a happy, healthy lawyer (and spouse) as you will make time to take a break and make new friends in the process. Even if you think you are too busy, try adding ONE group of non-lawyers to your social list – see if your law practice and bank balance is not the ultimate beneficiary. My prediction? You’ll be blessed beyond any expectation.
In-Person Social Networking is MORE VALUABLE to the Law Firm than Digital Social Media
To go “Old School Social,” pass out and collect business cards from everyone in your current and new networks of acquaintances and friends. This can include law school classmates, friends, friends of your parents and friends of siblings, opposing counsel, and judges. You’ll want to build a digital Rolodex (this can be Excel, Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIN, or a carefully-crafted combination of those applications). This master contact list will feed you clients and cases until you retire! This will be your database that will grow into something powerful.
Socialize in 1 to 3 Groups – This is a Recipe to Print Money
Next you need to venture out into some new groups. This is not all that time consuming and can be a new part of a fun new you. Stumped? Let me help kick start you. Do you like taking photos? Go online and go to a Portrait, Landscape, Canon or Nikon Meetup. ( Meetup.com ) You WILL harvest clients and cases if you do this. There are so many Meetup possibilities – whatever your talents or interests, there are meetup opportunities: Wine Tasting, Foodie, Cigar, Dance, Religion, Sports, Cars, Hiking, Surfing, Pugs, Bull Dogs, Investment, Stocks and Bonds, there’s a meetup group or club for virtually anything and everything.
The Leverage of Participating in Old School Social Groups
Let’s say you have more time than clients. If you socialize in just 3 groups that meet every two weeks or even monthly and you eventually said hello and exchange pleasantries with everyone in the group by way of (1) personal interaction, (2) handing your business card out when the moment is right, or (3) the careful attention to creating your online profile on each group’s online website or online membership roster you will grow your practice and NOT all that much time is required. It will more than compensate you for 3-4 lovely and fun evenings per month. For me, I would look into the following Meetups groups: Wine Tasting Meetup, a Foodie Meetup and a Cigar Aficionado Meetup.
Let’s talk leverage and WHY you should be social.
If you were to connect with and introduce yourself as a Probate Lawyer to a minimum of 30 members in each of 3 meetup groups (i.e. Wine, Cigars, Foodie), you have tapped into a social network with 90 people that have direct tentacles to an astonishing 9,000 people.
How is that possible? If 30 people in each of your 3 groups remember that John, the sharp dresser, is a Probate Lawyer, the statistics prove the demographic that half of all adult Facebook users have over 200 Facebook Friends (in that ONE social media network). So then, 90 people who KNOW you are a Probate Lawyer –and hopefully have received your business card by hand or by mail– each independently participates in their own separate Facebook social network of 100 Friends (on average). 90 x 100 = 9,000 persons. **
What travels faster that GOOD NEWS? BAD NEWS! A death in the family is posted on one of the 9,000 persons’ Facebook page and one of your 90 new friends and acquaintances is now aware of it. They know you are a Probate lawyer and the Facebook post mentioned squabbling of the siblings before the funeral has started… People LOVE to give advice. People love to let others know that they are well-connected! People LOVE to say “Hi Mary, so sorry about your loss… Too bad about the bickering too. Why don’t you give a quick call to my Probate Lawyer buddy John…?”
Snail Mail Marketing – It’s Not Totally Without Merit
Yellow Pages are door stops and toddler booster seats AND Snail Mail is Dead.
That said, getting an announcement and business card physically delivered to someone who knows of you is VERY POWERFUL! Once you get 50, 100 or 500 names and addresses, invest in some professional-looking stationary and send an announcement to everyone in your growing database. One hint. If there are non-lawyers in your database you just “marginally know” like friends of friends, friends of parents or siblings, and they may not immediately recognize your name, MANY people will have a near heart attack anytime there is a letter from (A) the IRS, or (2) from a LAWYER! It might be best to put something on the envelope to “soften” the impact for some potential recipients, or use a specialty envelope where the return address is printed on the rear flap and the envelope and stationery are not legal sized but more “Invitation/Announcement Sized.”
The announcement should tell the world that you’re open for business and ready to take on clients. Do you have a bar fly friend that often says: “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…” In a similar vein, while you cannot –and should not– milk the “we’re OPEN for business” more than once per contact in your database, you can use the snail mail announcement method for some other ethical and acceptable communications: (1) changing our office address, (2) adding a satellite office, (3) adding a new legal website, (4) adding a Facebook Business Page “Please visit and ‘LIKE’ me, (5) adding new staff or Paralegal “Meet Julie, she can help you with many non-lawyer forms under my supervision…” — any valid new information to put an announcement out with two business cards inside. Every six months to a year. No more. Remember these snail mail cards and even your social networking, you should not overtly solicit business, but just be that sociable guy or gal telling everyone in your always growing network that you’re open for business and love helping people.
Time for another Lawyer Joke?
A pastor, a doctor, and a lawyer walk into a bar…
The bartender says: “What is this, a joke?”
Become a Trusted Advisor
Speaking of pastors and lawyers… One goal to wrap your mind around is one that pastors innately understand and lawyers might benefit from when participating in their various social networking circles. If it dovetails well with your personality, consider becoming a Trusted Advisor to friends and acquaintances. A welcoming pastor-like attitude will encourage clients and non-clients to talk with you about all of their problems including personal, legal and financial — not just your particular law section. To grow into a valuable Trusted Advisor, you need to have a good network of other professionals you can use for referrals (other lawyers outside your specialties, CPA’s, financial planners, investigators, marriage counselors, etc.) which you add to your professional database using LinkedIN and Google Plus. Why fill the shoes of a “Trusted Advisor? Remember, the more people you refer out, the more people you get back.
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* Birthday source
** Half of all adult Facebook users have more than 200 friends in their network.
*** from a book called Disorder in the Courts Disorder In The Court!