Marketing: How to Get Paying Clients in the Door

There are countless things to be done when you start your own law office, but one thing upon which everything else relies is your ability to get paying clients in the door.

There is, of course, no magic bullet or “one-size-fits-all” approach for small firm marketing. You need to market in a way that makes sense for you, your practice area, your community and your clients. Here are strategies that are tried and true.

There are four general sources for obtaining business:
1. Referrals from existing/previous clients
2. Referrals from friends and family
3. Referrals from other attorneys
4. Everyone else

You should give each source deliberate attention in order to maximize your client base.

• Previous/Existing Clients
Referrals from current and previous clients are an excellent source of business.  The best way to maximize these referrals is to represent each client in such a way as to make them want to refer you to their friends, and then to ensure that they are aware of your practice areas.  One suggestion is to include a statement in your closing letter in which you advise that you maintain your practice through referrals, list your areas of practice, and request that the client keep you in mind for future legal needs for themselves or their friends or family.  There is nothing more frustrating that to find that a highly satisfied former client went elsewhere for representation on another legal matter because they did not think you handled that type of case.

• Friends and Family
The best way to maximize referrals from friends and family is to ensure that they are aware of your practice areas. While you may not wish to get in the habit of always telling legal “war stories” at every family or social gathering, it is not a bad idea to have some entertaining stories on standby for folks that are not ordinarily entrenched in the practice of law; however, you should be extremely careful NOT to divulge any information in violation of your duty of confidentiality.

• Other Attorneys
Maintaining a referral base of other attorneys can be one of the best sources of business.  Legal networking is absolutely essential.  By joining the Tennessee Bar Association, you have already taken a step in the right direction!  You should give serious consideration to becoming involved in TBA committees and sections relevant to your practice area.  In addition to making you a better lawyer through the knowledge and experience you will gain from other lawyers across the state, it is a great way to become known in your particular field so that when a lawyer in Knoxville gets a call from a potential client needing representation in your town on the other side of the state, the Knoxville lawyer knows to refer that client to YOU!

If you do receive a referral from another attorney, be sure call that attorney or send them a handwritten note to thank them for the referral. This will only take a moment but will make it much more likely that the next time that lawyer has a similar referral, you will get the call.

• Everyone else
Aside from people you already know and their immediate contacts, how do you get people who need legal help to retain you instead of one of the other 12,000+ lawyers in the state? There are several methods that can help get business in your door.