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Let’s assume that the scary part is over and you’ve started your own law firm. Congratulations! It’s now time to turn to the next burning question: how to get clients as a lawyer in a brand new law firm that, more likely than not, no one has heard of?
You are aware that there wouldn’t be a firm without clients, but finding them is a skill of its own and is only partly related to the practice of law. You’ll need to incorporate some marketing skills into your growth plan and potentially step outside of your comfort zone to attract potential clients.
Whether you are a fresh lawyer just starting your legal career, or have worked for a prominent law firm and decided to go solo, finding new clients is no easy endeavor. Keep in mind that it might not be possible to score big cases when you are just starting, and you should try to remain realistic and lower your expectations.
Starting small isn’t a bad thing at all. It gives you the power and the possibility to build a name for yourself, as well as a foundation of loyal clients as you go after the bigger fish. If you worked at a law firm before and left them amicably, they could also refer clients to you if they don’t have the capacity to cater to every client’s needs.
Now, let’s get into it.
How Do Clients Find Their Lawyers?
When someone needs a lawyer to help them draft a contract or represent them or their business in a dispute, how do you think they go about finding one? According to Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, 59% of clients asked their lawyer, friends, family, or someone else they trust for a referral.
You might not have a track record to speak for you if you are new in business, but you can still ensure that people hear of you. Maybe you can mention to your acquaintances, friends, or family members that you started your firm, and they can mention your name when someone they know needs a lawyer from your practice area.
The good old word of mouth is a great way to get your name out there. If you have current or former clients who are pleased with your work, they can be excellent promoters of your services and refer their friends or colleagues to you.
However, according to the same report, referrals are not the single best way for clients to find their lawyers, as 57% also turned to Google when searching for legal help or representation. Using local online search and looking into other people’s reviews helped many clients find their attorneys. With that in mind, it’s never too early to go that extra mile to ensure your clients are satisfied with your services and the way you treat them.
Clio’s latest Legal Trends Report brought some more valuable information on how clients choose their attorneys. With the latest developments in the business world and the massive transfer to remote work, 79% of clients also look for a remote option with a lawyer, while 67% look for a lawyer that offers both remote and in-person services as needed.
Now that we know how clients find lawyers and what they are looking for in them, let’s see what you can do to improve your chances of getting clients for your firm.
How to Get Clients as a Lawyer?
Knowing how clients look for lawyers for their legal needs and the minimum accommodation they expect from them can help you make a strategy to attract them to your firm. Instead of focusing on a single channel, make yourself approachable and visible in all those places your prospective clients could look for legal services.
Here’s what we recommend a lawyer should do to get clients for their new law firm:
Make a Website
Given that so many people search for their new lawyers online, you should consider making a website for your firm if you don’t have one. The website represents your firm and your brand in the online world, and it could be crucial for the first impression your prospective client makes of you.
A website is like an online presentation of your legal profile and skills. You don’t want it to be simple, dull, and dysfunctional, so you shouldn’t hire your neighbor’s kid to design it for you. Consider hiring a website design professional who will create a functional, visually appealing website with all the relevant information.
Your website homepage is your initial sales pitch to your potential clients. You want it to be a success, and you also want to make it easy for them to reach out to you should they be interested in hiring you.
Create Quality Content and Work on SEO
If you want people to find you, you should make your website discoverable and get it to rank high on search engines. To do that, you need to optimize the content on your website and build your authority on relevant topics and legal queries people search. Write a few quality articles on some of the major issues in your practice area people are interested in, and publish them on your website to provide valuable resources for prospective clients.
You can also outsource this work with services like Fiverr. But, it always helps to have a professional, legal eye to review and reinforce the topics covered.
People search for legal topics when they need more information or an expert opinion from a legal professional. So when they read your articles and see that you are an expert in your field, they might decide to reach out to solicit your services in helping them with their legal issue.
However, search engine algorithms are very sophisticated, and you need to make continuous efforts if you want to rank high for the keywords relevant to your practice area. As a new law firm, you probably don’t have many client testimonials to speak in your favor, and you could focus on quality legal advice content instead to strengthen your position on search engines.
Consider hiring marketing professionals to help you design and implement a digital marketing strategy for your firm, as law SEO can be very challenging, especially in metropolitan areas.
Work on Your Online Presence
It is not just articles that people search for when they need help on a legal topic. Videos have become one of the most convenient formats people choose when they want to learn more about things that concern them. Consider creating explanatory videos that bring clarity to the complicated legal topics and procedures, or even an introductory video to let prospective clients know who you are.
If you have the time, invite your colleagues to join you in discussing popular legal topics and create a podcast that your potential clients will appreciate. Note that search engines also look favorably on video as a content format, which should help you rank better.
You can also answer some legal questions on legal forums or other websites. Don’t forget to add quality content to your website regularly and build authority that will help you attract readers.
Leverage Legal Directories and User Reviews
Legal directories are an excellent tool for lawyers to get their names out there and become more visible to clients. Do some research to discover the most popular directories for your practice area and submit your profile to their administrators. The presence in these directories gives you more chances to attract clients who search for their lawyers there. Some of the most renowned legal directories are Avvo, Nolo, FindLaw, Super Lawyers, and Justia.
Your rankings and bookings can be directly related to the reviews you get from your clients. That’s something you should worry about from the very moment you start your law firm. Client reviews can rank you quite high in the directories, in Google search results, or on Yelp, for example, making it easier for new clients to find you.
When you find the directories you’d like to be listed in, submit your profile if you’re not already listed there. Note that you will need to pay to be included in some of these directories, while others are free.
Mind Your Reputation Management
Not every review you receive from your clients will be a positive one. Some clients are bound to be unhappy with your legal representation and might want to express that publicly. As a new firm, you probably don’t need to worry about that early on, but you should be prepared to respond to bad reviews in the future.
First, you need to apologize to your client for the bad experience they had with your firm and do what you can to fix the situation. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Instead, explain to the client what went wrong and reassure them you did everything in your power to handle their case in the best way possible.
A good reputation is crucial to a lawyer’s success, so don’t take yours lightly at any point in your legal career.
Don’t Shy Away From Networking and Referrals
If you are a bit of an introvert, this step could sound a bit scary to you. However, networking doesn’t mean that you would need to attend formal and informal meetings and events with other lawyers if you are not comfortable with that.
Instead, you could use the contacts you gathered during your law studies and all the student events you attended and send them an email notifying them about your new firm. Be careful not to offer your services but to simply inform your connections that you have started a new law practice.
If you are comfortable with networking events, use those opportunities to introduce yourself to other lawyers that maybe practice in a different area. If you show them that you are a trustworthy and skillful legal professional, they could refer people they can’t represent to you.
We mentioned that many people look for referrals from someone they trust when they need to hire a lawyer to handle their legal matters. If your former teachers, fellow students (now turned attorneys), or other lawyers you met while networking recommend you to someone needing a lawyer, you should at least look into the case. You can’t really afford to be too picky when starting your business.
These are some of the tactics you can use to get clients as a lawyer in a brand new law firm. Remember that you can always ask more experienced lawyers to share their know-how and provide advice for finding new business.
Now that you know a bit more about attracting clients for your law firm, you should also consider protecting yourself and your business. Purchasing adequate business insurance probably doesn’t rank high on your priority list, but the fact is that you should look into the policies insurance professionals recommend for lawyers.
The most important coverage every lawyer should purchase is legal professional liability insurance. This policy provides indemnity against the claims of professional errors and omissions, negligence, or malpractice, among other things. A client can even sue you if they are not satisfied with the level of service you provided or if they think you gave them a bad piece of advice, which this insurance policy will protect you against.
As someone just starting a law firm, you can’t afford to defend such a claim on your own. Your insurance policy would cover the legal costs and potential settlements or awarded damages. These claims could be devastating for a young firm like yours, so you should consider your investment in insurance as an investment in your firm’s future.
If you want to know how much a legal malpractice insurance policy would cost for your law firm, you can read our complete legal malpractice insurance cost guide, and use our pricing calculator to see what you might pay before you make a decision.
You can also sign up to Embroker’s digital platform and get your custom legal professional liability insurance quote in a matter of minutes.
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