How To Get Clients When You Start a Small Law Firm

How To Approach Your Small Law Firm’s Website, Social Media and Referral Network

If you’re thinking of starting a law firm or have already taken the plunge, you will always have this issue in the forefront of your concerns: How do I get new clients? Before you have lean overhead, lean workflows, efficient management of your firm, you need to know that you’ll be able to attract a steady stream of clients to keep your business alive. The good news is that there is a method.

First, you need to clarify whether you are a Business to Business (B2B) law firm or a Business to Consumer (B2C) law firm. B2B and B2C market themselves in different ways. Once that is decided, you can focus on the right method of marketing your law firm rather than throwing everything you have at it and seeing what sticks.

B2B Marketing:

B2B firms rely on personal relationships and referrals. Traditionally, this has meant years of Kiwanis meetings and rubber chicken banquets. But technology can make this easier. But don’t be fooled, as many firms are: you don’t need a fancy website nor do you need to invest in SEO marketing. A “brochure” type website gives your law firm an online presence as well as an opportunity to provide your vital information – contact info, staff – as well as a sense of credibility to your customers. This is a cost-effective way to establish the online presence of your law firm. Since you are relying on personal relationships and referrals, you will not get your clients from a fabulous website, search engine optimization or elaborate social media, so don’t focus there.

Good referral-based marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s about identifying viable referral sources (for example, other professionals who want mutual referrals), reaching out to them at the right frequency – about every two to three weeks – and using the tried and true referral method of “give-give-give-ask”. Do this and the referrals will come. Reach out less frequently or less effectively, and they won’t. It’s that simple. I’ll offer details in another blog post.

If you’re like me and often you forget or get too busy to touch your referral sources frequently enough, technology can help. For example, you can create content snippets or simple newsletters to send out to your referral network with emails you customize just a little bit. This way, you can touch 10 people in 15 minutes with a personal note.

B2C Marketing:

For B2C firms, technology can be a big cost saver compared to old school advertising in the Yellow Pages and on billboards. I’ll focus on just two aspects in this post: a competent website and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a big topic but a few tips here. First, websites that feature people are much more effective than ones that focus on marble columns, shelves of law books or the scales of justice. Even if you use your iPhone, a real picture that says something about who you are as a lawyer is better than any stock photo. Also, think about putting simple content on your website that is useful from your client’s point of view. They don’t care so much about magna cum laude and all the stuff we like to put on our resumes as something that demonstrates you understand their problem. For example, a simple PDF on the “5 Things You Need to Know When You Go Family Law Court” will get you far more clients than listing the 11 courts where you are admitted to practice.

Next, you need to be found online, so find someone who is good at SEO for lawyers. SEO is about putting certain information in the back end of your website to help people find you when they search for “personal injury lawyer,” for example. Lots of people do SEO, and many do it badly, so look for someone who knows law firms and can demonstrate good first page results (i.e. his/her clients show up on the first page of Google for their desired search terms) at a reasonable cost. Also, look for someone who is willing to teach you so you understand what they’re doing and don’t become too dependent.

In a future post, I’ll talk about Search Engine Marketing (SEM), social media and other marketing strategies for new law firms. LeanLaw can point you in the right direction, get you in front of experts and give you viable alternatives if online marketing for your law firm seems overwhelming.

If you break down the process of how to get clients for your small law firm into a methodology, it may not seem so daunting. If you want curated-for-you, thoughtful advice, give us a call / email / IM at LeanLaw. Our mission is to help you have a lean law practice: efficient and cost effective.

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Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney, LeanLaw

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