8 Ways For Young Lawyers To Make It Rain
For some, the word conjures images of some rake putting out a shingle in a strip mall. You picture a guy who ranked near the bottom of his class, so he spends his days chasing ambulances and hustling on behalf of those life-long losers who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. For others, a rainmaker is a custom-tailored demi-God who fills the coffers and makes the deep pockets tremble.
Either way, drumming up business isn’t something they teach you in law school. There, cases magically metastasize. Clients just walk in your doors based off referrals or reputation. And firms always have cash on hand to pay staff and hang the best artwork.
Yes, law schools teach you to think like a fish, but not how to earn your living as a fisherman. Maybe they think they’re above such prurient pursuits. But sales, not finance or research, is at the heart of any business. And the business of law is no different. So how can young lawyers make it rain so they can pay off those six-figure student loans?
Recently, Attorney At Work collected some advice on how to attract clients, drive revenue, and build relationships. Here are strategies to consider:
· Check In with Old Friends: “Go back 10 years (or however long you’ve been in practice) and review your client list for each year. If there are people on those lists with whom you haven’t spoken in a while, add them to your list of calls to make during the first quarter… Your overall objective? To reopen and rebuild the relationships, one step at a time. Try to leave the call with an action step that’s in your court.”
– Silvia Coulter, Principal, LawVision Group LLC
· Create an Annual “Touch” Plan: “…Identify how you are going to touch each one of your clients every month for the entire coming year. One month it might be an e-mail about an insight you had or a relevant subject you found in the news; the next month, a mailing with samples of your work or an update on your firm or yourself; the next month, a phone call that does what the e-mail and mailing did the previous months.”
– Burkey Belser, President & Creative Director, Greenfield/Belser Ltd.
· Include Handwritten Notes in Your Strategy: “Handwritten notes have become a lost art, yet everyone appreciates receiving one. They are a quick and simple way of distinguishing yourself and will most likely be remembered by your clients. Because it is personal in nature, a note has a power that far outweighs the small investment in time it takes to write it. All you need to do is find good quality personalized stationery and keep it on your desk. The next time you read about a client or need to do a simple follow-up to an event, take out a note and pen a short message.”
– Roberta Montafia, Principal, Roberta Montafia Consulting
· Use the Phone: “Call the next five people you would otherwise contact by e-mail. It will advance the relationship and almost certainly lead to new work.”
– Jim Durham, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, McGuireWoods LLP
· Don’t have the Wrong Conversation: “Here’s the scenario: The client telephones her lawyer and asks, ‘How’re you doing?’ The lawyer responds, ‘Up to my eyeballs!’ (proud of how hard he is working for his clients). ‘Oh, really,’ replies the client (making a mental note not to burden the lawyer with new business or referrals). How many times have you inadvertently conveyed that message to clients?”
– Ross Fishman, CEO, Fishman Marketing
· Find Out What’s Worrying Them: “…Next time you’re chatting with someone, try this: Forget talking about yourself and ask about them. ‘How are things going at work?’ is always a good one. Even better is, ‘What does the new year hold for you?’ My favorite is, ‘What’s keeping you up nights?’ Once they’ve explained to you the biggest and toughest problem they have … help them find a solution. It’s possible that you may be the solution. But even if you aren’t, and you help them find someone or something that is, you will always be remembered as the person who helped them solve that horrible problem. You will be seen as the source of solutions, instead of the source of problems.”
– Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, Principal, Astin Tarlton
· Do Client Reviews: “One of the easiest things you can do to facilitate meaningful relationship-building with a client is a one-on-one relationship review between one of the senior-most members of your firm and a C-level executive at the client’s company. Go talk to the clients. Find out what’s on their mind; what’s keeping them up at night. Show them that you care, and that understanding their strategic challenges is important to your firm. This is not a sales call, it’s a relationship-building discussion. Talk little. Listen much.”
– Mark Greene, Chief Business Development Officer, Waller Lansden Dorch & Davis LLP
And here’s one more piece of advice, courtesy of My Case: Keep your website current, user-friendly, and optimized for mobile use. Your website is often how prospective clients find attorneys – and decide if those attorneys are capable and reliable.
Sources: Attorney At Work, My Case