Building a successful legal firm doesn’t rely so much on the law school you attended, your billing costs or the number of cases you’ve successfully tried. As with any business, it’s the person behind the desk that sells the services and creates rapport with clients. People choose individuals they like and trust, creating loyalty and recommendations that will carry a law firm into new business potential. Apart from being a stellar lawyer with remarkable people skills, the following suggestion can help you create a thriving legal practice.
Choose a Niche
There are many different areas of law where you could practice, but if you are just starting out, finding a niche area of specialty can set you apart from other competitors in the community. For instance, there are probably dozens of divorce or family law attorneys in your area, but there may be only one listing under truck accident lawyers. Though it may take a few extra courses, some unpaid study time or certifications for some areas of law, you can immediately increase your client potential with a specialization on your sign.
Even in a niche area of practice, you will be labeled under the generic term of attorney. Don’t try to blend with your peers. Stand out from the competition by being an original. There will be traditional marketing ventures and strategies but look for hidden opportunities. Focus on consumer trends, which just so happens to be service shopping through social media. Host webinars, blog and give potential clients useful information long before they make contact. Do what others aren’t, or if they are doing it, do it better.
Develop a Trustworthy Team
As you start out, it will be tempting to hire cheap labor for menial positions. Use each hire to expand the vision for the practice and the potential asset the individual will become. The more your early hires are able to help you with important tasks, the greater your liberty to explore additional opportunities and expand the practice. Hire smart right from the start.
Be Present at Any Costs
Many attorneys prefer to look at each case or task according to the time it consumes and the subsequent relationship to billing. Don’t worry so much about the time as you are the quality of the relationship. Make phone calls and return emails. Be responsive and present to client and employee needs. Use technology to make communication easier and more reliable. Be text-friendly and make use of chat features to stay connected. Don’t limit your engagement to a time/value analysis. Ignoring those that underwrite your paycheck will lead to failure.
Your clients have turned to you in a moment of need, and expressing appreciation for their trust is important to the growth of your firm. Whether or not you have a strong social media presence, people will talk and publish their experiences for all of the world to hear. Preemptively create the narrative by showing your appreciation to the people that make your office what it is. Send handwritten thank-you notes to your client and put them on a Christmas card list. Give your employees a random day off or grab the tab for a Friday lunch outing. Sincerity and thankfulness go a long way in creating a perception of your firm that people can trust.
You can’t control all the forces of nature. But you can help control the stability and consistency of your office and your services. Your employees should have the same responses to questions or concerns. All personnel should demonstrate consistency in how they address clients, other attorneys, or court representatives. Your employees help establish the brand of your firm, and your tasks are to demonstrate the culture you want to create and reduce the threat of inconsistency.
Your legal firm won’t be built overnight, but each small step you take will influence how successful your firm can be. It is better to proactively address these areas of influence, rather than wait until you are struggling to implement change.