Become An Extension Of Your Professional Brand
Being a lawyer, essentially every person that you meet is a potential client. Thus, you should view every interaction in your personal life as being an opportunity to market yourself and your firm. I’m not saying that you have to give an elevator pitch explaining how forward-thinking your firm is to everyone you meet, just simply that your personal branding should be viewed as an extension of your firm’s branding. Think about it this way: if you had an invasive, high-risk surgery that needed to be performed, how would you feel if you saw your surgeon drunk at a bar a couple of nights before the dangerous surgery? Similarly, clients who need legal advice aren’t going to want to work with an attorney who’s seen in a public drunken stupor or being a hot-head at a social event. The ABA has listed poor client relations, lack of professionalism, and substance abuse as three of the top five reasons for malpractice, so avoid all of these by always framing your personal life as an extension of your professional brand.
Offer Your Expertise For Free
Going off of the last point, you should always try to offer your legal expertise for free every chance you get. I don’t mean take on full cases on pro bono, but instead, provide as much help as you can. Beyond establishing yourself as a friendly attorney who “isn’t focused on the money,” the free advice will most likely turn into quality leads and possibly letters of engagement down the road as the potential clients get more and more comfortable receiving legal tips from you. We like to call this “the bikini rule.” Even if you give away 90% of your expertise for free, clients are still willing to pay for that last 10%.
Join A Committee And Pursue A Leadership Role
In the modern era, it’s becoming increasingly easier to find out background information, reviews, and endorsements about any given attorney. Recognizing this, you have to try and stand out from your competition in as many ways as possible. One such way to do this is by joining a committee and pursuing a leadership role. Being the president of a local bar association or even becoming a mentor in a local leadership training program will give you the credibility clients are looking for online.
Place A Focus On Your Online Presence & SEO
With an estimated 43% of clients using online reviews to find their lawyer, it’s more important than ever to have a strong online presence. I can’t even begin to tell you how many horrendous attorney websites I’ve seen in the past. Clashing colors, blocky designs, and even courier typeface (gasp!) are rampant throughout the legal sector. If you have a website that makes you look unprofessional, simply get it redone. There are some companies such as Bullzeri that specialize in building attorneys websites, and you’ll see a return on the investment almost instantly. Building a quality website is just the first step in the process though. In order to be found via search engines online, you’ll need to work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which companies such as Moz do an excellent job with. Further, many third-party websites (i.e. Yelp) may have reviews on them, which can be hugely detrimental to your practice if there are any poor reviews that potential clients read. These reviews are difficult to deal with, but it’s always best to respond to them in the most respectable way possible. Offering to meet in-person to discuss the issues, or even giving some cash-back can go a long way toward your online reputation.
Become A Better Communicator
The odds of contacting a lead increases by 100 times if called within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes. Further, in a recent ABA study, client communication and relationship issues accounted for 46 percent of malpractice claims by count, and 51 percent of claims costs, clearly demonstrating the importance of communication for clients. Therefore, always be sure that you practice open-communication with your clients. Clearly explaining what is expected from them, offering insights to the case in your off-hours, and even sending birthday and holiday cards can make a massive difference in how your client views you.