How to Get Clients

Inexpensive Ways to Drum Up Business

lawyer fishing for clients
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One of the greatest challenges facing newly-minted lawyers is developing a client base. Fresh out of law school, you’re learning how to really practice law, how to juggle all of the responsibilities of a law practice, how to supervise support staff and manage relationships. But you can’t overlook the very real, and almost constant, need to drum up more business. Here is how to get going.

Let people know that you are a lawyer.

Don’t be shy about striking up conversations with people you happen to come across on any given day. Let the universe know that you are a lawyer and talk about the type of work you do. Are you a divorce lawyer? You’ll likely be popular at cocktail parties. You don’t have to go around giving free advice (and, indeed, you shouldn’t), but let people know what you and your firm can handle, obtain their information (or just connect via LinkedIn or Facebook), and commit to sending them some information. Be sure to follow up — promptly.

Be active on social media — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. You will have different sorts of interactions with people, of course, on each. LinkedIn tends to be the social media network for professionals, Facebook for everyone, Twitter for strengthening your brand and platform, and Instagram for the more visually oriented (that means pictures). You may find a whole lot of resistance by lawyers to Facebook, but it’s a fantastic way to keep in touch and keep your name in front of, your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, former classmates, in short, everyone in your own personal universe.

Use Facebook with discretion, obviously. Learn how to use lists on Facebook. Not everyone who is my Facebook friend can see everything I post. I target information for different groups of people. Obviously, I’m not posting photos of myself doing Jello shots while wearing a bikini. You should keep your photos of a scantily clad you and your shooters to yourself, too.

Post often, but post amusing material, helpful material, engaging material. Don’t make everything a statement like, “I’m a lawyer, and I’m here to help.”

Make yourself visible on your firm’s landing page. If visitors to your firm’s website have to click through 10 pages to get to you, they are likely to choose lawyers on pages one through nine before they ever learn about you. Reality says you probably won’t be featured prominently on the home page of your firm’s website unless you’ve done something fantabulous — or many fantabulous things. Figure out a way to get there, anyway. Is there a specialty niche you have that can be mentioned? Is there a scrolling Twitter feed that you can get onto? Let’s be real: Many small law firms have very basic websites. Consider volunteering to update your firm’s site, and make sure you’re featured conspicuously on it.

Seek overflow work from other lawyers in your firm. If you’re young and looking at a client base of zero, be willing to take some dog cases. You’ll be doing a more established colleague a favor, and you will probably learn a whole lot, too.

Think about where your prospective clients are, then figure out ways to reach them. If you are a real estate lawyer, start attending — and, eventually, giving — seminars on buying and selling real estate.

Befriend mortgage brokers, real estate agents, managing agents, and also others who serve homeowners — plumbers, electricians, arborists and lawn care sales reps.

Become active in local organizations like the Lions Club or the historical society or the improvement society — places where you are likely to meet other relatively well-off people who could either become a client or refer prospective clients to you. Of course, you’ll need to do more than just join up. Become actively involved, advertise in programs, sponsor events; in short, participate.

Advertise. One very positive aspect of the Internet is that ads do not have to be expensive. See if you can advertise on the page of a local organization that is likely to have visitors to its website that will need your kind of services.

Be all-around more social.

Keep inviting new people into your life, and have them bring more people into your sphere. Stay in touch with college and law school friends; send updates to alumni magazines; help others out. Make introductions; bring people together who might help each other. They are also likely to one day help you.

Getting a client, or more clients, tends not to be a one-day effort. It will take many days, or pretty much some time on every single day of the rest of your professional life. You never want to be in a situation where you have no clients or just one client.

Reward yourself along the way. Trying to get clients is hard, and sometimes the payoff takes a long while to be realized. Soldier on. Don’t think your fortunes can change? Just think about the Woman in Goldlawyer, who took on a contingency fee basis what some deemed to be an impossible case to win — and then won.