- Lawyers receive no formal training nor education in law school to prepare them to be a business owner upon entering private practice.
- Most law firms do a poor job mentoring and shadowing new lawyers to become effective business generators.
- There is more competition and pressure than ever before to learn quickly how to build a quality book of business and contribute to firm in a meaningful way.
- BONUS – – there are two types of lawyers: those who have business and those who work for those who have business. Which are you?
Working with law firms and lawyers for over 25 years, the question that I’m asked frequently is, “How do I find time to market?” Obviously, there are many pressures on lawyers, particularly younger lawyers, to bill their time. And, most lawyers strive to have a balance in their lives and find themselves on a constant hamster wheel of attempting to keep it all moving along. “Marketing” per se can be perceived as the activity that cuts into personal time.
One striking attribute I’ve observed from some of the most prosperous lawyers I’ve worked with over the years is how they seem to deliver extraordinary client service, generate new business AND have a life, all at the same time. When I asked them how they make this happen, I have always received a version of the same response, “When you truly care about your clients, they become your friends. When they become your friends, you no longer feel like you’re working. These relationships can go hand in hand.”
Further, successful rainmakers recognize the necessity to sharpen their attention to opportunities, in all aspects of their lives. Who is sitting next to you while you are waiting at your daughter’s dance class? Strike up a conversation. Who is standing nearby at your gym, yoga class, son’s little league game? Do you ever initiate a casual conversation with those nearby to learn more about them? I cannot count the number of times I have heard, anecdotally, from lawyer clients that some of their largest clients have emanated from a “by chance” encounter in an “outside work” situation. Lesson: pay attention to those around you in your life. Opportunities abound.
The best business generators find a way to incorporate marketing into their everyday lives. In fact, lawyers who see marketing as an “extracurricular activity” — i.e., an additional drain on their practice– will likely never reach the success they may desire.
How should lawyers integrate business development/marketing activities into their practices? It begins by recognizing opportunities around you.
Outlined below are a few simple tactics that illustrate how taking small steps every day can make the difference between building a solid book of business and remaining a service lawyer.
Before you go to a meeting, a luncheon, a CLE or a firm event, you:
- Review the list of registrants and decide whom you would like to talk to or sit by, and prepare some conversation starters.
- Call a client or potential referral source to invite he/her to accompany you.
- Make a commitment to arrive early and stay until the end of the function
Total additional time: Minutes
After you complete a project, case, deal or transaction for a client, you:
- Call the client to thank them for the opportunity to be of service.
- Ask for an opportunity to conduct a satisfaction assessment or “post mortem” on the project.
- Send flowers or champagne to recognize a client’s good fortune (e.g., a new office building, a new home or an acquisition)
- Diary your calendar for three months into the future to remind yourself to call the client to see how things are working out.
Total additional time: One to two hours
As you read an article in an industry, trade or professional journal, you:
- Think about a client or contact who may be interested and jot a handwritten note, which you give to your legal assistant to email/mail with the article.
- Send a note to the author, commenting on the story or offering your own perspective.
- Write a letter to the editor.
Total time: One hour
When you contact a client for an in-person meeting to sign a document or discuss a project, you:
- Ask if you can have the meeting at the client’s place of business and take a tour while you’re there.
- Schedule the meeting at the end of the morning or the end of the day, and invite the client to lunch or for an adult beverage.
- Advise the client that you would like to include a colleague – at no charge– so he or she can learn about the issues.
Total additional time: One to two hours
When you give a presentation to a business or industry group, you:
- Request a list of attendees as a condition of your presentation.
- Give the list of attendees to your legal assistant to add to your contact list.
- Think of a useful, value-added follow-up activity that you can send to participants, such as a form, a checklist or an article.
Total additional time: A couple of hours
Instead of eating lunch at your desk or going with a friend in the firm, you:
- Take a contact/client to lunch.
- Meet up with a former law school classmate.
- Go to lunch with your own accountant, banker or financial planner.
- Invite a colleague from a different area of the firm, to learn about his or her area of practice, business development ideas and clientele.
Total additional time: One hour
Successful lawyers recognize opportunities when they presents themselves as a result of the day-to-day practice and developing the “muscle memory” by incorporating marketing into their practices. The benefits of doing so go far beyond building a prosperous business.
Successful lawyers generally find their practices more satisfying because they are in control of their own destinies and they build stronger and closer relationships with clients and colleagues. And, they are often perceived by clients to be more valuable advisors because they are attuned to the issues that are important to clients, they add value to their relationships, and they take the time to recognize and thank people who help them along the way.
Contact us today to learn how we can support you in developing the marketing mindset.