Signing up new cases is certainly becoming tougher and tougher. Law firms are competing on television and billboards with enormous advertising budgets. This new paradigm exists in all major markets. More and more often we hear clients tell us that they cannot survive unless they diversify their practice. Some are giving up personal injury altogether. However, if lawyers took very simple, inexpensive steps they could not only shore up their existing market share but could actually get back into a growth mode. None of these suggestions are earth shattering. As a matter of fact they are mostly common sense. Below we have outlined 5 simple steps that will help you maintain existing clients relationships and obtain new referrals going forward.
1. The first thing we hear when we conduct random analysis for clients is that they have never met the attorney handling their case. Too many lawyers think that this responsibility can be delegated. Those firms that have paralegals or investigators sign up cases have a much higher rate of attrition of new clients. It is imperative that the lawyer meet the client personally to get the attorney/client relationship started on the right footing. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
2. This one may sound quite obvious but we hear this complaint time and time again. Attorneys are notoriously bad with returning phone calls. We advise all of our clients that no call should go unreturned before leaving at the end of a day. Even if it means taking a half hour at the end of the day it is critical. Clients do not generally know if their attorney is good or bad, but they always know if the attorney cared enough to return a message. Once the client has confidence and a general sense of comfort the calls slow down. The client now trusts the lawyer. Returning calls is mandatory no matter how busy you may be. Remember, you may have hundreds of files but to that individual client their case is the only one that matters.
3. Periodically reach out to your clients and give them an unsolicited case update. This can be done every 30 or 60 days. Oftentimes the client assumes that a lack of communication means their file is sitting idle. Although this can be far from the truth they are completely in the dark. These clients are confused and feel they are not a priority. This is when your competitors who are advertising constantly can poach your clients.
4. Focus groups have found that clients do read and appreciate law firm newsletters informing them of firm successes, legal news, new employees, etc. This creates stickiness which ultimately fosters loyalty and confidence. Making clients aware of past successes is paramount for growing your client base.
5. Focus groups have also shown that the general public reacts very favorably to attorneys who are members of legal organizations or vanity clubs. We encourage clients to join organizations that help the lawyer market themselves and promote their practice. Everyone feels good about hiring a lawyer who is a member of “SuperLawyers" or “Lawyers of Distinction". These accolades help the lawyer to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Studies have shown that lawyers have grown their practices by 50% by utilizing these vanity organizations. Of course joining alone is not enough. You must then leverage this honor by using social media, updating your website and including this information on your firm letterhead.
These are just a few simple steps that clients of ours have implemented. These ideas are not very complicated and not very expensive. The reward will be more cases and happier clients.