Working with the right client is one of the best ways to grow your practice. This article will help you work with more of your ideal clients.
There are many ways to quickly grow a solo or small law firm, but there’s one thing that will have the quickest and greatest results, only working with your ideal clients. Making it easier for you to become the go-to expert with your niche and for your colleagues to refer new clients to you with ease.
Anyone who runs a solo or small law firm knows that it’s far easier and more enjoyable to work with clients whom you connect with and truly understand. It may seem like a myth that someone could scale a law firm to the point where you solely work with your ideal’ clients, but with the right practices, it’s easier than you may think.
Define Your Ideal Clients
If you want to effectively grow your law practice you must define your ideal client, and stick to that vision when accepting referrals and taking on new cases. Start by thinking about the cases that bring you the most satisfaction, and begin defining your client from there.
Quick tips for defining your ideal client:
- Decide where they live and work
- Narrow down their age and income range
- List their marital status
- Understand their interests and hobbies
- Analyze their fears and biggest problems
Try not to define your ideal client by their potential financial upside. Yes, some clients will be more lucrative to pursue than others. Instead, focus on the clients you feel like you enjoy working with the most.
Incentivize Your Ideal Clients To Return
Once you have a clear idea who your ideal client is, you’ll likely recognize some of them in your current client roster. It’s important to nurture these relationships and make your clients feel appreciated. This can be done via personal touches like a handwritten note on their birthday, or simply going above and beyond so that they can’t afford to not have your services.
I know it sounds obvious, but it’s worth saying: getting clients to do repeat business with you is all about keeping them happy. For lawyers this can sometimes be challenging because you’re often hired to help clients through a very stressful time in their lives.
For clients, these cases are a big deal. Here are two communication strategies you can use to help:
- Consistent Communication.
Yes, we have an ethical obligation to communicate “regularly” with clients. But the standard that will keep you out of trouble with the legal ethics folks isn’t enough to keep clients happy.
Send out notices, calls or emails updating clients about every new development in their case. The more they understand what is going on, the more control they feel they have over a situation.
- Timely Communication.
It’s not enough to have frequent communication with clients, it also needs to be timely. When you are buried in legal work, it’s easy to let a week slip by without notifying a client about a development in their case. This is a sure-fire way to ensure they don’t come back.
Nurture Ideal Client Relationships
Look for more of your ideal clients by asking current happy clients to refer you to others. A way to encourage this is to offer a discount or finders fee. Once you start to meet more of your ideal clients, focus on building the relationship beyond a sales call or the first consultation. A clever trick to impress these potential clients is to take notes of their hobbies and interests at the first meeting, then set up Google alerts for those interests so you can send relevant articles that they may enjoy. They will be impressed that you remembered what was important to them, and that you took the time to share some new info.
Ditch The Problem Clients
One of the many advantages of owning your own practice is that you can choose which clients you are willing to work with, and which ones you are not.
Many solo attorneys (especially new ones) are worried about making a profit and feel they don’t have a choice about what clients they take on, but every lawyer needs to rethink this position.
Having a client that does not fit into the model of your ideal client, that doesn’t respect you and has unrealistic expectations could get you into a lot of trouble. In addition to taking time away from focusing on the clients that you want to work with, these problem clients are the ones who will take the time to file grievances and sue for malpractice because they feel you didn’t work hard enough to get them what they wanted.
The key to scaling also includes retaining clients, so it’s important to first see if you can resolve issues with a problem client before immediately firing them, but if that isn’t possible then it will be better for you and your practice to end the relationship.