Everybody’s talking about you


Word-of-mouth. Buzz. Reputation. When it’s good, it’s one of the best ways to market any business, but especially a law practice.

Why a law practice? Because so many people have a negative image of lawyers, based on past experience, what they’ve heard from a friend, or what they see on TV, it doesn’t take much to exceed their expectations, and when you do, word gets around.

Even if it’s grossly exaggerated, or completely untrue, people often believe lawyers charge more than they’re worth, use confusing billing practices, are arrogant, fail to explain things, make them wait for 40 minutes after their scheduled appointment time, and never return calls.

Am I right or am I right?

Look at client survey results from your bar association, look at online reviews, and it’s easy to see what clients complain about.

And when you don’t do those things, clients notice.

The bar is so low, you don’t have to do much to develop the reputation for treating your clients well. Avoid the negative things other lawyers do, or are thought to do, and you’ll stand out. And get talked about in a positive way.

But don’t leave it at that.

Call attention to what you do by explaining to new clients, and in your marketing, what you do to keep your clients informed, your transparent fee and billing practices, and your guarantee to see clients no later than 5 minutes beyond the time for their scheduled appointment.

Explain it, put it in writing, and deliver on your promises, and your clients will tell others about their amazing lawyer.

Marketing made simple


Onboarding new clients


No doubt you give new clients information about what will happen with their case or matter—a general timeline, a list of steps, what to send you, what to expect, when you will update them, how to reach you in an emergency, and other do’s and don’ts.

This is good because

  • It helps you do a better job of protecting and serving them
  • You’ll have fewer issues because of misunderstandings
  • You can better manage clients’ expectations about what will happen, and when
  • Your clients will be impressed by your thoroughness and professionalism, and thus more likely to trust you and follow your instructions
  • Your clients will feel well taken care of, and thus more likely to stick with you, refer you, and say good things about you

One benefit you might not have considered is that you’ll get more referrals doing this because the information you provide shows that referrals are a common and makes the process easy and non-threatening. (See Maximum Referrals for more.)

As I say, I’m sure you do this. But you should do it more.

More means providing this information in more formats:

  • Handouts you give them or mail them
  • Email autoresponder sequence (break it up into smaller pieces, sent over time)
  • FAQs on your website
  • A dedicated ‘new client’ section of your website
  • Videos, webinars, audios

More also means

  • Sending the information every few weeks or months, to make sure they have it, haven’t misplaced it, remind them to read or listen, and to see if they have questions
  • Talking to them about parts of the instructions when they are in the office or on the phone
  • Sharing success stories about how your clients are benefitting from this information
  • Giving them forms and checklists in addition to written instructions

This is important because people

  • Lose things
  • Don’t read everything
  • Don’t understand everything
  • Need to be reminded to read things and do things
  • Process information differently (all at once vs. drip, read vs. video)
  • Are often distracted by life, especially when they are occupied by a legal issue
  • Might not realize how serious you are and need to hear it again and again
  • Might have trouble explaining what you want them to know or do to people who need to know and/or assist them; (tell them to share your information and let you explain it)

The more you do this, the better your clients’ experience will be with you and your staff. Which is good for them and good for you.

It means extra work, but you’ll be glad you did.

How to talk to clients about referrals


Do your clients like you?


It’s not a must, but it can make a big difference. Because, given a choice, people prefer to hire a lawyer they know, like, and trust.

Trust is most important and requires the most effort. Before people hire you, you want them to hear good things about you, both online and from people they know. After they hire you, you want to show them you keep your promises and get results.

Trust, baby. For a lawyer, it’s what’s for dinner.

Knowing isn’t difficult, but takes time and effort (and money) to get your name and story in front of people often enough so that it is familiar.

You can get a lot of clients with knowing and trust and many lawyers do. But “liking” is where the magic happens.

When prospects like you, they are more likely to choose you. When clients like you, they are more likely to become repeat clients, share your content, and send you referrals.

For some lawyers, however, likeability is a challenge.

Don’t worry, I’m going to give you a simple way to put a smile on people’s faces when they hear your name or see your face.

What’s that? You say your clients already like you? They love you to pieces?

Great. Read this anyway. You never know when it might come in handy.

Okay, what’s the simplest way to get people to like you?

Make them feel that you like them. Because people like people who like them.

Yeah, but what if you don’t like them? You’ll take their money and do the work, but you’ll never be their bff.

What then?

Find something you do like about them and focus on that. Even if the only thing you like is their checkbook.

Greet them (and their checkbook) with a handshake and a smile, make them feel you understand their problem, you can help them and you want to do that.

Like you do with any client.

Put the parts you don’t like in a lockbox and throw away the key.

But there’s something else you can do to make them like you, even if you still don’t like them.

You can simulate “liking” by getting them to talk about themselves (not just their legal issue).

Get them to tell you about their work, their family, or anything that interests them. Because when someone does most of the talking, they tend to like the person they’re talking to.

So, don’t hog the microphone. Let them do most of the singing.

Ask questions and listen. Ask follow-up questions and listen some more.

And, if they happen to share something you have in common with them, make sure to let them know.

Because people like people who not only like them but are like them in some way. Even if it’s just rooting for the same sports team or being fed up with inflation.


MVTs vs. MITs


You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Or so we’re told.

We’re also told we should prioritize our day by importance, meaning tasks that contribute to meeting our responsibilities and achieving our goals.

Which is why we’re advised to put our MITs (Most Important Tasks) at the top of our list.

Generally, I agree with this and prioritize that way. But I just heard about a slightly different method.

Prioritize by value instead of importance. Put our MVTs (Most Valuable Tasks) at the top of our list instead of our MITs.

What’s the difference?

Our most important tasks are often determined by urgency—deadlines, due dates, promises we made—and focus on the short-term. They solve an immediate problem or meet an immediate desire.

These are clearly important. And valuable. But they don’t necessarily deliver the most value.

What does?

Spending time with loved ones, taking care of our mind and body, our faith, our friendships, and other things that give us joy.

Building our reputation and career. Building relationships with clients and professional contacts.

Long-term, at least, these are more valuable than the boxes we tick off day to day.

We need to prioritize and make time for them.

Tomorrow, when you prioritize your list for the day, prioritize your MITs, but not at the expense of your MVTs.


Onboarding new clients


I download a lot of apps to try out. I delete most of them almost immediately.

It’s not the app necessarily. Many of them come highly recommended, have great reviews, and look like something I can use. So, why do I kiss them goodbye so quickly?

Because they don’t make me feel welcome.

They make me sign up before I can see anything. Their instructions are confusing (or there aren’t any). They assume I know things I don’t know, or they do things in ways I’m not used to and don’t explain why.

I’m the customer. You should make me feel appreciated. Take me by the hand, show me around, and help me get started.

Don’t just point out a list of features. Help me start using them.

Some apps do it right. From the first click, they invite you into their world, and an exciting world it is. They show you everything you need to see and hide (for now) everything you don’t. They make you feel like they know what they’re doing and you will be well taken care of.

The app might not have every feature you want. It might not be the best at everything it does. But you fall in love with it because of their exceptional onboarding experience.

Something attorneys should seek to do with new clients.

Make them feel welcome, appreciated, and safe. Make them feel like you’ve done this before and they are in good hands. Make them fall in love with you and very happy they downloaded you.


Another reason to write your own reviews


Yesterday, I talked about taking the nice things clients say about you, your services, and the way they were treated, putting their words into writing, and asking those clients to post a review at your favorite review site.

You get better reviews that way, and more of them.

But this is based on clients spontaneously thanking you or otherwise saying nice things to you or about you. What if they don’t? Or don’t do it enough?

You can send your clients surveys and ask for their feedback, and you should. You’ll find out what they like but may not say, and what they don’t like (so you can fix it).

But there’s something else you can do.

Sit down, sharpen your pencil, and write the review you would love your clients to write.

Yes, out of thin air.

And make it good.

Even if the things you write in that review aren’t true. Actually, especially if they aren’t true. Because this review isn’t really a review, it’s a wish list. A summary of the things you would like clients to say about you in the future.

Now for the good part. After you write this review, ask yourself, what would I have to do to get my clients to say things like this about me?

And do them.


Why you should write your own reviews


Most clients don’t leave reviews, even when they love you. That’s why you should write your own. 

Hold on, I’m not suggesting anything unethical. Here’s what I mean. 

The issue isn’t that clients don’t appreciate your work or the way you take care of them. They do. They tell you that all the time. 

They say thank you. And mean it. They tell you how relieved they are that you got them out of a jam. They say you did a great job, you’re a great lawyer, and they are glad they found you. 

Nice things. The kinds of things you would love for them to say in a review. 

They usually don’t post a review, however, because they’re busy. Or don’t think about it. Or don’t know know how important it is.   

But if you make it easy for them, they will.  

Which is why you should take the words they say to you, or send you in an email, and write the review for them. 

Send them an email, thank them for their kind words, and quote back to them what you heard. And then ask if they would post those words in a review and give them the link to the review site you prefer.

Tell them they can add to or edit what you wrote any way they want to, and can submit it without showing their full name. You can also offer some additional language they could use if they agree with it. Things you know they think or feel but didn’t actually say. 

Make sure they know how important reviews are to a lawyer, and to the people who are looking for a lawyer. And thank them again. 

Not everyone will say yes, but you will get more reviews. And every single one will be good.


Paying clients for positive reviews


How much is a good review worth to you? A client who says you helped them, made them feel safe, gave them tremendous value and solved their problems, someone who ssays they recommend you to everyone who needs help?

You’ve gotten great reviews before, so you know how good it feels when they show up. You also know they are worth a small fortune.

They bring you more cases from people searching for a lawyer online. More referrals from professionals who check you out before they refer their clients to you. And they make your other clients feel good about their decision to hire you because they can see that others say you’re the best.

Who wouldn’t love to get more positive reviews? You can’t buy that kind of marketing.

Ah, but you can. You already do.

No, not with cash. Don’t be silly. You pay for positive reviews by giving your clients an incredibly positive experience with you.

You don’t just do the work and deliver the results. You do more. You invest your precious time to serve them, go out of your way to take care of them, surprise and delight them, and build a relationship with them.

When they notice and thank you and say they appreciate what you do for them, there’s only one thing left to do.

Give them the link to the review site you favor and thank them, in advance, for sharing their experience and recommendation.

Okay, one more thing. After they post a review, thank them again.

In writing.

Send them a handwritten note and tell them how much it means to you that they took the time to write that review and say those nice things about you.

You’re not done paying until you do.


Your practice-building prime directive


We usually do it when we’re speaking to a prospective client or interviewing a new one. We rarely do it at any other time.

But we should. Because it’s the simplest and most effective way to develop new business and build stronger relationships, which are the essence of building a successful law practice.

Which leads to the prime directive:

Find out what people want, so you can help them get it.

I’m not just talking about their legal needs. I’m talking about everything they might want or need in other areas of their life, because there’s a lot you can do to help people beyond performing your services.

The most obvious is to refer them to other attorneys who handle things you don’t. But you can also:

  • Refer clients or customers to them or promote their business, practice, or cause
  • Provide information—legal, business, consumer, and about their niche or local market
  • Introduce them to people who have information or can help them understand something or do something
  • Recommend tools, books, websites, or ideas
  • Encourage them and give them a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong

Be there for them, for whatever they might need.

If you have a client who needs a recommendation for a job or a loan, help them. If you have a client who is interviewing job candidates, tell them about the book you just read that made this easier for you.

But don’t just wait until they ask for your help. Take the lead and find out.

You do that by observing, listening, and asking questions. What are their goals? What (or who) is stopping them? What do they want to get fixed, avoid, or do better?

You may not be able to help them directly, but you might know someone who can, or. . . know someone who knows someone who can.

Be a matchmaker. When you do that, you help 2 people and get credit for making the match.

You won’t always be able to help people, but you will always get points for trying. When folks hear you ask questions about their situation and what they want or need, when they see you pay attention to what they say, ask follow-up questions, and take notes, they’ll know you really want to help them.

Most lawyers don’t do that. You’ll be “the one” when you do.

Yes, you have time to do it. Because this is the stuff of relationship building and the benefits always exceed the cost.

The Attorney Marketing Formula


The simplest path to loyal clients


How much is a loyal client worth to you? I’m talking about the client who hires you for all their legal work, regularly sends you referrals, shares your content, promotes your events, provides a positive review, and otherwise toots your horn so you don’t have to.

Yeah, they’re worth a fortune.

It makes sense to do everything you can to cement your relationship with all of your clients, because you don’t know who might become your next champion.


This week, we talked about doing things that make clients fall in love with you, and avoiding things that push them away. You also know, because I talk about it often, that there are other things you can do for your clients to win their hearts, things that go beyond your legal services.

Like sending them referrals and promoting their business or practice, providing a character reference when they apply for a job, and offering a shoulder to cry on when they suffer a loss.

Because when you give your clients more than they expect (and deserve) you surprise and delight them and show them why you deserve their loyalty.

But there’s something else you can do that’s even easier. Yes, you’ve heard me talk about this before, too. I think the word is “incessantly.”

Stay in touch with them. Because familiarity builds trust and trust is the key component to loyalty.

Keep your name “in their minds and their mailboxes” so they are continually reminded that you’re still doing what you do and can still help them and the people they know.

Send them an article you think they’ll like; it doesn’t have to be written by you.

Send them a pdf of a form or checklist they might find helpful.

Send them answers to questions you are frequently asked by clients and prospects, or people who attend your events.

Recommend a video, website, or app you think they might use.

Send them anything they might find interesting or helpful (or amusing). It almost doesn’t matter what it is, but send them something regularly, so that when they need help or have a question, they think of you and call you (or hit reply), and there you are.

Email Marketing for Attorneys