Build your business with common sense

Published on: 
Published on 12/17/07

You have money, offices and a computer. Now how can you manage the inevitable (and often steep) time curve that it takes to build up the business for your new firm? The best business development strategies are common sense ones:

  • Pick up the phone and call friends, family, business associates, past clients. Tell them that you have some spare time and would be happy to help them with any problems.

  • Chat with the sales folk and other people in your office building. Always have a written summary of your services and a business card handy for them. You'll be surprised how fast they can spread the good word about you.

  • Communicate with your law school friends to discuss cases, clients and war stories. Other lawyers are often excellent referral sources.

  • Get out into the public eye by writing articles and attending lunch or bar association functions.

  • Check the local bar referral services which advertise with a broader reach than you have.

  • Check the local legal news for retiring solos, and offer to assist them with the transition (check your local bar rules, first).

A marketing plan doesn't have to be complicated. The real definition is simple: Identify the people most likely to hire you for the work you want to do, communicate with them to let them know who you are, and then develop close relationships with these people to help them achieve their goals.

Develop a profile of your ideal client and develop a marketing strategy that focuses on this target, not everyone. You can increase your revenue dramatically by focusing on clients who will give you the work that you want.

Loyalty is a fluid concept in today's legal world, as clients seem to use RFPs and beauty contests to change law firms with increasing frequency. Many firms, however, continue to maintain client relationships measured in years and even decades. In such situations, the client typically gives the law firm the opportunity to respond to changing competitive conditions (whether proceeding from the client itself or from competing law firms), calls the law firm first when new needs arise, and continues to maintain the relationship as new general counsel and newly acquired businesses arrive.

New law firms build this kind of loyalty by communicating frequently, offering something that competitor firms don't or can't, and creating something new that clients need or want. Providing solutions gets attention — and gets rewarded.

And remember the most important law of marketing: without clients there is no reason to be a lawyer.

Lawyers don't just practice law, they serve clients. Lawyers help people's lives improve, and wanting to do that ultimately is the best reason for starting your own law practice. How successful you are for your clients ultimately determines your success as a lawyer.

This Coach’s Corner Article is listed under the following categories: