Elder law and estate planning attorney Matthew Lenza discusses two networking strategies he uses to bring in new business for his firm.
There are a ton of benefits in being a solo practitioner, including a flexible lifestyle, no boss to answer to, and the ability to forge your own legacy, to name a few.
However, one of the negatives of running your own firm is that you will always be searching for clients. Like a hamster on a wheel, you’ll constantly chase new business and sometimes feel as if you aren’t getting anywhere at all.
If you are anything like me, you have read books or attended seminars about getting new clients. Yet, it seems that nobody is actually providing any solid, proven methods to get clients into the door.
I’ve grown tired of reading about how I need to “join networking groups” or “expand my network.” Yes, those are great ideas, but this advice is way too broad.
What I have found that works best for me and my firm are one-on-one tactics, putting me in direct communication with my referral sources and potential clients. Here is how I do it:
Create a direct mail campaign
As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I have closed some great clients by reaching out via snail mail to local financial planners and CPAs. There are two reasons why I think that this works for me.
First, rather than an email, which can fall into a spam folder or be easily deleted by a busy professional, a letter drafted on any kind of decent stationery will at least give you 30 seconds of time to open, hold, and read the letter.
In today’s world, those 30 seconds are worth far more than the cost of a postage stamp and some paper. I’m not talking about $800 gold engraved Crane’s paper — simply use a nice bond paper from Staples or Office Depot and you should get some results.A written letter will at least give you 30 seconds of time in the recipient's head Click To Tweet
The letters that I send are very informal and invites the recipient to get together over coffee or lunch and discuss how we can help each other get new clients. That is the key– what you are sending has to demonstrate some value to the other person.
Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. If you’re like me, you don’t have time to dilly dally with unnecessary meetings. If someone had something of value (like a potential client) to offer me, you better be sure I’m making the time to discuss the idea.
If you are a real estate attorney, reach out to local real estate agents and brokers. If you are a personal injury attorney, reach out to chiropractors.
Use your own judgment to target a group of similar professionals. Just be careful of your state’s rules regarding referrals. As a general rule in most jurisdictions, it is acceptable for you to refer clients back and forth to any person, so long as you aren’t being compensated in any way for the referral, but check your state rules before doing anything.
Develop relationships with other attorneys
Another great idea is to target other solo attorneys who practice in completely different practice areas.
Send a similar note or make a phone call. This works especially well if you have a mutual friend who wants to join in also. We all know that as attorneys we are constantly bombarded with questions from well-meaning family and friends. Put together a reliable and diverse network of solo or small firm attorneys who you trust, and by default, you will become that same “go-to” attorney in your own practice area when those other lawyers get calls seeking referrals.
The important thing to concentrate on while using this strategy is that it is a long game, and it requires a bit of work in nurturing and keeping a relationship going. I regularly have coffee with at least 2-3 other attorneys who have never sent me one case, but I know that if they are asked about a referral in my practice area that I will be getting a call.
In a worst case scenario, use the time spent with another solo attorney to pick his or her brain on the exact subject of this blog post. Find out how they are getting clients and you will be surprised at the excellent advice that you can get.
I urge anyone looking for clients to try these two strategies. The good news is that there isn’t much to lose by trying anything that I have suggested. Before you go spending money on attorney referral sites or lead generation services, try these simple techniques to see if they can help bring new clients.
About Lenza Law Firm
Lenza Law Firm, PLLC is a firm dedicated solely to the practice of Estate and Legacy Planning, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning and Estate Litigation. Our office is centrally located to all Staten Island residents at 1110 South Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10314 in Suite 54. Firm principal Matthew Lenza, Esq. has been providing legal services to the residents of Staten Island for over 12 years.