When people are in law school and even during their first few years out of law school, they tend to believe that the most important components of a successful law firm career involve (1) billing a lot of hours (meaning working hard) and (2) doing quality work. Very rapidly, however, young lawyers come to understand that just as important as doing first-rate work is their ability to generate business for the firm they work in. So, how do lawyers get clients? Better yet, how do clients find lawye
In many respects, this may be one of the most important articles you ever read. Your success in generating clients and business will in large part determine your eventual success as an attorney.
- See The Seven Most Important Choices Every Attorney without a Lot of Business Makes for more information.
More important than your success as an attorney will be your security as an attorney. Having a lot of business is essential to having security as an attorney because you will always have work to do. Having work to do will provide you the platform to hire others to work for you, to build your organization, and to further your career. In my opinion, some of the greatest success (from a psychic and material aspect) you can have as an attorney comes from having a lot of work to do.
Wondering how to get clients for a law firm? Want to know the secrets of how to get clients as a lawyer? Here are my top 9 tips sure to help lawyers get clients.
- See Treating Your Legal Career Like a Small Business for more information.
1. Lawyers Who Want Business Need to Remember Every Person They Meet is Someone Who Will Potentially Be in a Position to Be a Future Client
One of the biggest mistakes attorneys (and even law students!) make, proving they do not know how to get new clients for a law firm, is ignoring that every single person they ever meet is someone who could be a client or will someday be in a position to be their client. Many attorneys believe that they are often being “smart” sizing up people they meet and trying to assess whether they could potentially be their clients. They may assume, for example, that the janitor in their building could never be their client. They may assume that the person who sells them auto insurance could never be their client. They may assume that someone who was once their biggest enemy could never be their client.
How about if the janitor’s son went to Harvard Law School, and he is now the general counsel of a major publicly traded computer software company in California? What if the auto insurance salesman is the 21-year-old son of the CEO of a well-known American insurance company? What if your biggest enemy is now the owner of the go-to company for work in the pre-IPO stage?
When I was practicing law, I received hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from one of these types of clients and heard stories about people getting business from similar situations. Each of these clients, if properly served, could have made the career of the attorney involved. Millions of dollars in fees could have been made. Never underestimate the people you meet.
No matter what you are doing or whom you meet, you need to realize they represent potential business for you and/or your firm. It does not matter if you are at an ultra-expensive and prestigious law firm or with a smaller law firm, or even if you are just practicing on your own. Every time you meet someone, he or she is a potential client. How you act towards others will also determine whether they are likely to be your client in the future. Take no one for granted.
A. Do not take any vendors you deal with for granted
Your dry cleaner, the person who mows your lawn, the mechanic who fixes your car—whomever you can imagine is a potential source of business for you. Stay in touch with them and remember to always be nice.
B. Do not take your peers or subordinates for granted
One of the best solutions for how a lawyer can get clients is to stay connected with people you worked with early in your career. This includes your peers in college, law school, and your employers. Make sure you treat everyone you come into contact with as if he could be a future client.
C. Do not take your relatives for granted
Relatives can often be a great source of business. Relatives love to tell people you are a lawyer or even use you for legal work. Treat them well too.
D. Do not take your former employers for granted
Your former employers (and all of the people within them) could possibly move to other employers and potentially be in a position to give you business. Your former employers may also have cases and other work they do not want to do but that you can do. Whatever the case, you need to realize that your former employers are people who are in a position to give you a great deal of work. DO NOT burn bridges wherever you go and make sure your former employers are always your advocates. Your former employers will be in a position to give you work and talk about you to others who can also give you work.
E. Do not take your superiors for granted
If you do a good enough job impressing your superiors, they can be a great source of future business for the same reasons your former employers can. Always go above and beyond the call of duty.
There is no one you should ever take for granted. Everyone you encounter is someone who is a good potential source of business and work for you in the future. Remember this, and treat the world and everyone you encounter, both inside and outside of work, as a good source of revenue.
See the following articles for more information:
- Harmonize With the People in Your Environment
- Being Nice Makes Good Business Sense
- The Importance of Being Well-Liked in Your Job
- You Need to Be Connected With Others at Work
2. Lawyers Who Want to Get Business Need to Talk about Their Work
About 20 years ago, I was in Charlottesville, Virginia, in a hotel ballroom watching an attorney from a very prestigious Southern law firm give a three-hour PowerPoint presentation entitled “Developments in Franchising Law.” Every local owner of a Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, and other franchises had turned out for this bizarre event. I had been required to go to this for a class on franchising law I just happened to be taking.
I call the event bizarre because it was very funny. The speaker was a Southern gentleman in his mid-60s. He wore a bow tie and spoke for three hours about franchising law. He was so boring and his material was so dry and irrelevant to anything that I could scarcely believe I was still alive at the end of his presentation. The lawyer also seemed very bored by the subject matter he was delivering. In fact, there were several points where I had to hold myself back from laughing. Other members of my class reached a point where they were afraid to make eye contact with one another for fear they would also break into hysterics.
Incredibly, all of the local owners of the franchises who had been invited to this momentous event seemed to keep sitting up at attention the entire time and were the only ones (besides the law students) who made the effort to appear to really be interested what the speaker had to say. Over hors d’oeuvres at the break, I spoke with the owner of the local JaniClean franchise and another franchise owner and realized no one seemed to have any idea what this old lawyer was talking about. They all agreed, though, that he must really be an expert on the subject.
When the event ended, however, I watched as one audience member after another went up to the lawyer and told him they “enjoyed” his talk, asked him for a business card, and told him they wanted to discuss one issue or another related to their particular franchise with him. The lawyer must have picked up 10+ clients that day. Right then and there, I realized that something very significant had occurred. Just because the lawyer had spoken so much about his work, everyone presumed he was good at what he did and was eager to hire him for legal work.
If you want to get business, you need to talk about your work. People need to see you as an expert and believe you are very good at what you do. People need to believe they can turn to you for advice about what they are doing and also need to believe that you are enthusiastic about what you are doing.
When you think about it, the people you want to go to for assistance and turn to when you need help are most likely to be those who seem most excited about their work. You need to realize that sounding enthusiastic and being enthusiastic are likely to attract people to you. Writing articles is one example. Giving public talks is another.
Talking about your work goes deeper than simply writing articles or giving talks, however. Talking about your work means getting enthusiastic about your work with everyone you encounter. Talk about your work with people in your office. Talk about your work with your clients. Just keep talking!
The reason talking about your work is so important is that people tend to remember those who show enthusiasm regarding their work. This also goes for your peers. You want to be remembered by everyone you come into contact with as someone who enjoys his work.
Remember the example of the boring attorney I heard talk about franchising law a decade or more ago. Think about what would have happened with this attorney had he really been interesting! Here, he simply talked and got a lot of business. You need to speak to get business, too, and I urge you to speak a lot about what you do.
One of the most effective marketing lines I ever heard was “You can build a better mousetrap, but if the world does not know about it, they will beat a path right around your door.” People need to know you do what you do and they need to think you are enthusiastic about what you do. That is why restaurants and others put giant billboards on the highway, and some even put billboards saying such things as “Only 4 more exits until the best split pea soup in Ohio!!” Then, “Turn here for the best split pea soup in Ohio!!” People get enthusiastic about something as mundane as split pea soup because the restaurant talks about it! So too should you talk about your work.