Why didn’t they hire me?


When a client doesn’t sign up, you need to find out why. Because it might not be too late to get them to change their mind, and because you need to know if there’s something you need to fix for the next client. 

Was it something you said or did? Something you didn’t say or do? Did a competitor offer something better? 

Clients say “no” for a variety of reasons: 

  • They didn’t believe or trust you
  • Your presentation or initial meeting was lacking or a competitor’s was better
  • They think you charge too much (and didn’t think it was worth it)
  • They think you charge too little (and it made them question your experience or ability)
  • You don’t have (enough) good testimonials or reviews to suit them
  • The competition has a bigger staff or a better website; the client thought they were more successful or experienced and a safer choice 
  • It might be the services you offer (or don’t) and how they you describe them.

And while it might be something external, e.g., they hired a lawyer they already knew or were referred to, you should assume there’s something you can improve.  

How do you know? 

  1. Ask them. They may not be able to (or want to) tell you precisely why they didn’t sign up with you, but they might give you some clues.
  2. Ask someone who knows them what they want or need and what might turn them off.
  3. Ask someone who knows you for feedback about you and your practice.
  4. Ask someone to sit in on your next client meeting and tell you what they see that could be improved.

 There are always things you can improve: 

  • Your presentation or “pitch”. Is it persuasive? Believable? Does it touch on the right points and make the client feel like they are in good hands? Could you improve the opening or closing? Is it too short or too long, too much about you and not enough about the client?
  • Your website and marketing documents. Are they consistent with the image and professionalism the client wants and expects? Are they thorough? Persuasive? Do they inspire confidence?
  • How are clients greeted by you and your staff? How long are they are kept waiting? Are you and your staff friendly and genuine? Do you smile, make eye contact, shake hands, offer them a beverage? 
  • How do you describe your services? Do you explain the benefits or just the features? Do you explain enough or assume they already know? 
  • Do you have enough testimonials? Positive reviews? Bona Fides?
  • What do you send to prospective clients before the first meeting? How is your follow-up after the appointment? 
  • And much more

    Anything, large or small, could be the reason a client doesn’t hire you. Keep your eyes and ears open. And when you find something that could be improved, improve it.   

    You might be just one or two adjustments away from a significant increase in sign ups. 

    Because clients are people and people are weird. 


    You and nobody but you


    You work hard to serve your clients and build your reputation. You want people to see you as the best lawyer for the job.

    Do they? 

    When your clients and contacts need help or advice, do they automatically think of you? When someone they know needs help, do they automatically (and unreservedly) recommend you? 

    It comes down to this:

    Do your clients think of you as their “trusted advisor” or do they not think of you at all unless they have a problem?

    A trusted advisor isn’t merely “available” when their clients need them. The trusted advisor is an integral part of their life. 

    Other lawyers stay in touch with their clients, educate them about the law and how they can help them, and let them know they are available to do that. The trusted advisor actively looks for ways to help their clients and advises them even when those clients aren’t aware they need that advice. 

    Other lawyers refer business to their clients. The trusted advisor does that, but also educates themself about their clients’ industries and markets, problems and goals so they can proactively suggest ideas and opportunities.

    The trusted advisor doesn’t merely stay in touch with their clients, they share with them useful information and strategies they’ve discovered, recommend books and other resources, invite them to relevant events, and introduce them to other professionals they might benefit from knowing. 

    And they do the same thing with their consumer clients.

    They look for ways to deliver value to their clients beyond the scope of their legal needs and wants. 

    Their clients hear from them regularly, talk to them frequently, and know they can rely on them to protect them.  

    And because of that, the trusted advisor doesn’t have to persuade them to choose them or follow their advice, and they don’t need to justify their fees. The client trusts them and wouldn’t think of hiring anyone else. 

    It’s a very satisfying and profitable way to build a law practice. 


    Make it easy for clients to find you, hire you, and work with you


    In the world of marketing and client relations (which is a sub-set of marketing), one of the best things you can do is to make things easy for your clients and prospects. 

    Because the easier it is for them, the better it is for you. 

    Here is a simple checklist of things to do, and a reminder to do them.


    • Website (SEO, links from authority blogs, other professionals)
    • Referrals 
    • Advertising
    • Content (Blogs, articles that get indexed, shared, etc.)
    • Networking and speaking
    • Handouts 
    • Directory listings
    • Newsletters


    • Website (About/bio, service descriptions, FAQs, navigation, contact forms)
    • Testimonials, reviews, success stories
    • Everywhere: Explain “why you” instead of doing nothing, doing it themself, hiring someone else, or waiting
    • Flat fees, guarantees
    • Simple hiring documents: agreements, disclaimers, authorizations 


    • Explain everything, copy everything
    • Keep them informed about everything 
    • Remind them of deadlines, appearances, updates, appointments
    • Encourage them to contact you with questions
    • Be available. Tell them what to do if they can’t reach you, after hours.
    • Don’t nickel-and-dime; give them the benefit of the doubt
    • Make it easy for them to refer, post a review, promote your content

    I’m sure you can add to this list and you should. Then, periodically, survey your clients (and prospects) about how you’re doing (and not doing) so you can continue to improve.

    Because the easier you make it for your clients and prospects, the better it is for you. 


    Mo (value)


    Clients hire you because they want value from you. They want the results you deliver via your legal services, but there are other ways you can give them value. 

    Give them more value than they expect, more value than other lawyers deliver.

    This doesn’t mean giving away your core services or discounting your fees. (Don’t do that). 

    You can deliver more value with

    • Bonus services. Include add-ons or small additional services they need or might need soon. 
    • Better terms. Payment plans, guarantees, more manageable retainers, hybrid fees.
    • Information. Forms, guides, reports, templates, checklists, seminars, and other things they can use in their business or personal life.
    • Speed. If possible, give them the results they seek in less time than they think it will take. Return calls and emails quicker. Show them into your waiting room a few minutes after they arrive.
    • Support. Proactively refer them to other professionals or businesses who can help them with business or personal matters. Promote their business, their charity or cause. Give them advice, feedback, or a shoulder to cry on. 

    Ultimately, clients want to feel good about their decision to hire you. They took a chance on you and may be nervous about that. Show them you will protect them, work hard for them, and treat them exceptionally well. 

    The more value you deliver, the more value they will deliver to you. They’ll be easier to work with, give you more work, recommend you, promote your events, and otherwise help your practice grow. 

    The Attorney Marketing Formula


    The case is closed; your relationship isn’t


    You finish the case and send the client a letter explaining that the case is closed. You tell them what happened, what to expect, how to get their documents, and so on, and thank them for allowing you to represent them. 

    Your letter allows you to protect yourself, in much the way a letter declining representation does, and provides other benefits. This article does a good job explaining these benefits, the risks for not sending one, and a description of what should go in your letter.

    But I write about marketing and would be remiss if I didn’t point out how your closing letter (or a secondary letter or document) can bring you more business and solidify your relationship with the client. 

    What should you say that speaks to that subject? That depends on your practice area, your relationship with the client, and other factors, but here are some options to consider:  

    • Thank you again for choosing me/your firm, how they helped make your job easier (with examples), and how you enjoyed getting to know (and work with) them and their team, partners or family
    • A summary of the steps you took during the pendency of the case, or a recap of what you’ve previously sent them, so they can see how much you did to earn your fee
    • If the case was lost or the result was disappointing, some perspective about that
    • A request to fill out a survey about their level of satisfaction with the work you did and how you treated them
    • A request to leave a review and instructions about how and where to do that; copies of (or links to) reviews by other clients as examples
    • A list of your other practice areas, a description of how to recognize when they might need them, and (optionally) an offer for a free consultation or special offer
    • Asking them to contact you about any future legal issue because you know a lot of good lawyers who handle things you don’t handle
    • A request to share your report, presentation, brochure, business card, web page, etc. with people who might need or want information about a legal issue and how you can help them
    • A request for referrals and details about what to say and do to make it easier for them and the people they refer
    • Telling them you will continue to send them information they can use in their business or personal life (and/or requesting them to sign up for your newsletter) 

    And then, in a couple of weeks, call them to see if they got this letter, if they have questions, and to once again thank them for choosing you as their attorney. 

    The case has ended; the relationship continues. 


    Yes, it is all about you


    People connect with people, not businesses or law firms. Your clients may like your partners or employees and think highly of your firm’s reputation, but they hire and refer you. 

    That’s true of consumer and business clients alike. 

    When they have a friend or business contact with a legal situation or question, your clients tell them about YOU, not your firm. 

    They hand them your card. Tell them about their experience with you, the lawyer they know, like, and trust, and say, “Call my lawyer” — not, “Call me firm”. 

    They promote your brand. You should too.  

    Tweet (or whatever it’s called today) in your name, or at least create a handle that includes a version of your name, NOT your firm. 

    Promote your speaking events, even if your firm is conducting the event. Write articles and keep a blog with your byline, not the faceless entity you call your employer (even if it’s your firm). 

    When you are introduced, people should hear about you, your capabilities and your accomplishments. And hear something personal about you.

    Because you are the one people will talk to, connect with, hire and refer.

    It’s all about you, you stud. 

    You may work for the biggest and best firm in town, and that’s worth mentioning. But you are the main attraction, no matter how wet behind the ears you may be. 

    It’s your career. Your name and reputation. They are your clients. And you are their attorney. 


    Do you care about your clients?


    I see a doctor who is well regarded in her field, technically skilled (at least as far as I can tell) but severely lacking in bedside manner. She tells me what to do but doesn’t explain why or solicit questions. If I ask, she’ll answer but oh-so-briefly and (it seems) begrudgingly. 

    She makes me feel like she doesn’t care about me. Like I’m just a billing code to tick off on her way to her next patient. 

    I get that she has to see so many patients a day and doesn’t have time to chat. But that’s part of the job.

    It wouldn’t take much. Asking how I’m doing (besides medically), telling me she’s happy when I tell her I’m doing better, an occasional smile or light moment, or even mentioning the crazy heat we’ve been having—you know, the kinds of things humans do when they want other people to feel like you give a fig. 

    Why don’t I leave? Because I’m a big boy and can take it, and because it would be inconvenient to have to find someone new, especially since I’m almost done with my treatment. 

    But I do think about it. A lot. 

    So, I stay. But would I return? Recommend her? Probably not. And if I was writing a review, I’d write what I just told you.

    I know she may be under a lot of pressure and may have problems of her own. It doesn’t matter. Patient care is a crucial part of her job.

    She may actually care about her patients. But unless she makes them (us) feel like she does, she’s not doing her job. Or doing herself any good.

    Lawyers have the same challenge, of course. Making the people we serve feel like we care about them. 

    So simple. And some of the most effective marketing a professional can do. 

    Here’s the formula


    Your best marketing investment


    Your clients can fire you at any time and for any reason. And they might. Today could be the day they say Sayonara. And tell everyone they know that you’re a bum.

    You need to be on your toes. Never take your clients for granted. Follow up like crazy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. 

    Not just to protect yourself, but because client retention is the key to long-term success. 

    Getting new clients is profitable. Keeping clients is far more profitable because it creates equity in your future.

    It starts with how you think about marketing in general, and clients in particular. Think “clients,” not “cases”. “Relationships” not “transactions”. 

    Cases are a one-time thing. Clients are for life. At least that’s how you should look at them and why you should continue to invest in your client relationships. 

    You began investing when you attracted them, helped them believe in a better future, and worked hard to deliver. In return, they gave you their trust, and as long as you don’t do anything to lose it, will reward you with repeat business, referrals, introductions, and positive reviews.

    As a result, you won’t have to scramble to find clients, spend a fortune on ads, or do things you don’t want to do.

    When you invest in your clients, you invest in your future.


    How to get more (and better) reviews


    One of the most powerful tools you can use in your marketing is third-party validation of your work. You get more clients and better clients when other clients describe their positive experience with you. 

    It is (marketing) law. 

    But your clients are busy and don’t provide reviews or testimonials as often as they could, or as often you’d like. What can you do? 

    One of the simplest things you can do is survey your clients, to find out what they like about you and your services (and also what they don’t like because you need to know that, too). 

    Then, when a client fills out a survey and says nice things about you, thank them and ask if they would post their words on a review site you tell them about, or let you use their words as a testimonial. 

    Tell them they can do that anonymously if they prefer, i.e., initials or first name/last initial only. Yes, full names are better, but a review with initials only is better than no review. 

    Tell them how much you appreciate their providing a review, and how much other people will benefit by seeing it. 

     Get them to commit to doing it, help them if they need help, and thank them again. 

    What do I mean by “if they need help”? I mean, if they struggle to put their story into words, or what they write isn’t as clear or specific or interesting as you’d like, rewrite their review for them.

    Don’t change anything material. Clean it up, flesh it out, and make it easier to read. You’re saving them time and making them look good. You should find that most clients appreciate that help. 

    You can do the same thing when a client thanks you or pays you a compliment over the phone or in person. Write down what they say, clean it up a bit, and send it to them, along with a request to post it or let you use it in your marketing materials.

    Simple and effective. 

    What else can you do? 

    Every new client, in their “new client kit,” should get a list of review sites you recommend, along with a sampling of reviews you’ve received from other clients. Not only will this help them feel good about their decision to hire you, it will also make it easier and more likely to get reviews from them later.  

    Finally, always send a thank you note. Tell the client (again) how much you appreciate their kind words and how it helps other clients find the help they need. If the client was referred to you, send a copy of their review, along with a thank you note, to the referring party. 

    Showing them they made a good decision to refer their client or friend to you makes it more likely they will refer again. 

    The Attorney Marketing Formula


    It’s an investment, not an expense


    Yesterday, I talked about following up with prospects and clients before, during, and after the case or engagement. Most lawyers get it. But many lawyers don’t do it because it takes a lot of time. 

    I say it’s worth the time because it helps you get new business, keep clients from leaving, and generate positive reviews that can multiply that effect.  

    But (surprise) lawyers are busy. Even if they want to do it, it’s too easy to let it slide. 

    I mentioned having an assistant do it. Have them make the calls, send the emails, and otherwise manage follow up and other marketing activities for you. Yes, there is a cost, just as there is a cost to you if you handle this function yourself. If you take an employee away from their other work, that work might fall through cracks and cause problems. 

    I say it’s worth the risk because the benefits outweigh that cost. Especially if you have a reasonable volume of cases or clients. 

    Think about it. Do the math. If you hire someone part time and pay them $4000 per month, and they’re able to save one case or client per month or get one client to return, your costs would be covered, wouldn’t they? And if that assistant is able to stimulate clients to provide more reviews and more referrals, and this generates two additional cases (or saves) per month, you would double your investment. 

    Over time, these numbers would compound.

    You know I’m a big proponent of making referrals a primary marketing method for most attorneys. If you’ve read me for a while, you also know that you can stimulate referrals without explicitly talking to clients about the subject. But, let’s face it, talking to clients about referrals is a powerful way to get more of them. A lot more. 

    If that’s not something you want to do, have your marketing assistant do it for you. 

    I built my practice primarily with referral marketing. A key to making that happen was delegating as much as possible to assistants. 

    It was an investment, not an expense. And it paid off in spades.

    How to talk to clients about referrals