Marketing your law practice is something of an art and science. I started out by mailing 300 announcement cards to everyone I knew, and in ‘LinkedIn’ jargon, 2nd and 3rd connections. Of course these days you can twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and blog your practice. But who is watching, listening and reading? So we are back to who is your customer and how do you identify them, so that you can target them and let them know you exist. As lawyers, we have to pursue the potential client within the embrace of legal ethics. Yes! lawyers are bound by legal ethical rules set by the State Supreme Court. So there are rules; such as if you are a personal injury attorney, no ambulance chasing, especially in Missouri. The Missouri ethics rules are found at – http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/mo/code/MO_CODE.HTM. There are rules about communicating lawyer services to clients, and advertising those services. These include disclaimers to be exhibited prominently on any correspondence with prospective clients.
Going back to the basics though: how do you identify your customer? These days it is not only the small lawyer in solo practice struggling with this paradigm, but the large law firms don’t want to retain you if you are not a rainmaker. Make your own monsoon! But how? For starters, begin by making a list of existing customers. What do they have in common? Look at their age, gender, geographic area, case type; were they referred to you? By whom? How did they contact you? If you don’t have this information, then you need to start an intake sheet for each client with their identifying information for purposes of narrowing the type of successful customer or type of client you want in your practice. While I am on the subject, start by purging your practice of clients who are deadbeats, slow or non-payers. It sounds contrary, especially in this economy, but having a successful case is largely not only managing the case, but the client. Happy attorney, happy client, just like a marriage. You need to get past the honeymoon period. Even in this electronic age, grassroots marketing works, and one client at a time does pay off. Early on, I understood that my strengths lay in a particular type of client. Mine are professional, who are demanding and exacting, and require complete discretion; but these are paying clients with immediate problems of staying legal in this country. A lawyer friend told me that the secret to a successful lawyer was pandering to fear. Maybe there is some truth to that. Lawyers solve problems, yet there are ethical minefields awaiting the unwary, overzealous attorney who targets and fans the flames of fear. Lawyers deal in worst case scenarios because the good ones take care of themselves. Clients are like cases in law school. Identify the issue, get the facts, seek solutions and solve the problem. Simple?! Not really. With practice you can do it, but only if you know the type of client that is good for you. Why should you identify this good client? Because it will make you a happy attorney. Didn’t I just write happy attorney, happy client? Your practice will grow and make you money!
Happy monsooning! See you in my next post.
Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Attorney at Law
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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