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. 


“My secretary made me stop” 


You may have noticed that I continually preach the value of staying in touch with clients and prospect via a newsletter. No, this is not another reminder to do that. 

Instead, this is a reminder about the value of staying in touch with clients individually. 

It’s a simple concept, as old as the hills, and even more powerful than a newsletter. 

In a nutshell, every week, schedule a few minutes to connect with at least one of your clients or former clients. Call them, not to talk business, but simply to ask how they’re doing and catch up. 

Ask about their business or family, their hobby or their golf game. Ask about their latest project or cause. 

No selling or promoting. Just you connecting with people who are important to you. 

But while you’re not calling to talk about (your) business, a funny thing happens when you call. Clients will tell you about another case or legal issue or question they have or a friend or business contact who does, and you get more business.

Many lawyers I’ve encouraged to do this have reported amazing results. One lawyer told me he got so much new business, his secretary said she couldn’t handle all the work and told him to stop. 

For the record, this kind of thing doesn’t happen as much when you email. There’s something magical about the human voice. Especially when it’s your voice, not an assistant’s.

I’m not saying don’t send email (or regular mail) or stop your newsletter. 

Just make sure to call. 

Call your current and former clients, referral sources and business contacts, and (if you want to) even prospects you’ve spoken with. Everyone you know professionally, or want to know. 

There’s another benefit to doing this besides strengthening relationships and bringing in more new business. It’s an opportunity to learn more about your clients’ industry, business, or market, which will help you do a better job for your clients and better market to their niche. 

All you need to do this is a calendar and a list. And maybe another secretary or assistant to help you with all the additional work.


Not so fast


Your clients generally like when you get the job done quickly. It shows them you have the experience and confidence to do a good job and give them the solution or prize without delay, often at lower cost.

But if you move too quickly, they may wonder why.  

Did you overlook anything? Take too many risks? Make mistakes that will come back to haunt them? 

Did you push them to settle too soon, for less than they could have gotten?

At the other extreme, if you move too slowly, they may think you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re dragging your feet to bill more hours.

Too fast, or too slow, and you make clients nervous. 

It’s the same with prospective clients. 

After a meeting or presentation, if you follow up too quickly or too often, they may wonder if you need the work. If you take too much time to follow-up, however, they might think you don’t care about their business and won’t give them enough attention. 

Each case or client is different, of course. Set the pace accordingly. 

Consider the size and complexity of the case, the emotional aspects of the issues, the number of decision makers, deadliness, and the best practices in their industry or market.

Talk to the client and find out what’s most important to them. Some will tell you they want the best results, no matter how long it takes or what it costs. Some will want you to prioritize cost. And some will tell you they don’t know and ask what you recommend.

In that case, think about what you would want if you were the client—and do that. 


Push or pull? 


You tell clients what to do and what to avoid, but maybe you’ve noticed—clients don’t always listen. 

Neither do prospective clients.

You show them the benefits of hiring a lawyer (and why that should be you), but they often do nothing (or hire someone else). 

Your clients and prospects might not believe you. They might not have the money or want to spend it. They might think they can do “it” themself. Or they might be busy with other things and not pay attention. 

How do you get them to do what you recommend?

Repetition is a good option. If you want them to make an appointment or call you to discuss (something), you send them a series of emails and letters; you have an assistant call them, and then you call them. Or you write articles and blog posts and come at the subject in different ways, over an extended period of time, and eventually they get it.

But repetition doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you have to scare the hell out of them by telling them the bad things that can happen if they don’t follow your advice.

Sometimes you give them the facts. Sometimes, you dramatize the facts and get them to feel the heat.  

You want them to consider the plea deal, so you sit them down and explain the worst-case scenario. 

You want them to update their documents, but they drag their feet so you tell them what happened to some of your other clients who waited too long or didn’t do it at all. 

Fear of loss is the most powerful way to motivate someone, and you should use it when necessary.

Sometimes you push—emphasize the bad things that can happen if they don’t follow your advice, and sometimes you pull—emphasize the benefits if they do. 

Yes, tell them both. But they want to know what you think, what you would do if you were in their shoes. Don’t be too quick to answer. Walk them through it. And be as gentle or as tough as you need. 


When do prospective clients decide to hire you?


By the time most prospective clients meet you or speak to you, they’ve already decided to hire you. Or not.

They usually know something about you—from your website, your ad or mailing, a review, or a friend who referred them. When they speak to you, their gut tells them yes or no.  

You can give them more information about yourself, about their case and what you can do to help them. But they’ve usually already decided. They use the information you give them to confirm their decision or to see if there’s a reason to override it.

Which means you don’t have to give them a lot of information or go hard trying to persuade them.

If, based on first impressions, they’ve decided they want to hire you, you only need to tell them enough so they can justify their decision. If you give them more, you risk overwhelming or confusing them, giving them more things to think about or question, and talking yourself out of the sale. 

On the other hand, if they initially decided to not hire you, loading them up with information is unlikely to get them to change their mind. 

People don’t like changing their minds.

Give them basic information and not too much of it. If they want more, they’ll ask for more. 

Hey, this is good news. Since the sale is made before you speak to the prospective client, you just have to say enough to not screw it up.


How much is that doggy in the window?


You know, the one with the waggly tail? 

How much does he cost? And how much is he worth? 

He’s more than a bag of bones and fur, you know. He’s warm and cuddly and will make you smile and laugh and love you to pieces. 

He’s worth far more than he costs. 

Just like the value of your services. 

Clients aren’t just buying the results you deliver. That’s a big part of it, but they’re also buying other benefits like the way you treat them and take care of them and make them feel safe. 

They’re buying a bundle of benefits and they are part of the value you deliver.  

Value includes everything you do to make your client’s life happier, easier, safer, or more profitable. At a price they’re willing to pay. 

How much is all that you do worth to them? I don’t know, but your clients will tell you. They’ll tell you by the way they say thank you, the ease with which they pay, their repeat business and referrals, their positive reviews, and how they sound when they hear your voice on the phone. 

I don’t know if you have a waggly tail, but you’re worth more than a bag of bones and fur. 


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


I don’t know


We tell clients that if they’re not sure about something, it’s okay to say “I don’t know”. In fact, we encourage it. But when a client or prospective client asks us a question and we don’t know the answer, we’re often uncomfortable “admitting” we don’t know.

Because we’re supposed to know. 

And if we don’t know and we should, or the client thinks we should, we look bad. So we avoid answering the question directly, change the subject, or stall. 

That can be even worse. 

It makes it look like you’re hiding something, aren’t the expert we purport to be, or want them to cough up more fees before we answer what the client believes is a simple question. 

What should we do? 

I don’t know. No, really, it’s one of those things that doesn’t have an easy answer. 

Is it a complex issue? Unsettled law? Unclear fracts? What is your relationship with the client? What do you need to ask them before you can provide a complete and accurate response? How much time is available to answer?

And, is it the type of question you ordinarily get paid to answer?

Clients don’t expect you to know everything. Or tell them everything. But you should tell them something. 

Tell them what you do know, or tell them some of the issues that make it difficult to answer on the spot. And then tell them you need to do some (more) research, ask them (more) questions, or give it some thought.

Or tell them there are issues that are outside the scope of your practice area and you need to consult with (or refer the client to) another lawyer.

Of course you could also just tell them you don’t know or you’re not sure and, say it with me, “you don’t want to guess”.


The worst clients are (sometimes) the best clients 


Most lawyers are leery of clients who already have an attorney and are looking to switch. They’re often considered difficult to work with, impossible to please, micro-managers, complainers, and a one-way ticket to trouble. 

And that’s often true. But not always. 

Sometimes, their attorney is the problem. Sometimes the chemistry isn’t right. Sometimes the client had unreasonable expectations, perhaps because someone was in their ear about what to expect, and they have now come to their senses.

Yeah, it’s complicated. It could be a combination of factors. Which suggests the wisdom of spending time to find out instead of rejecting them at the first sign of (potential) trouble. 

One thing is certain, dissatisfied clients are motivated and if you talk to them while they’re looking for a new attorney, or thinking about it, they could be easy to sign up and a great client, at least for you. 

When you don’t do the same things their previous attorney did, when they are relieved that they found you and wondering “where were you when I first starting looking for an attorney,” not only could they be easy to work with, they could become a great source of referrals. 

I know, you might think that’s crazy talk, especially if you’ve been burned by “problem clients” in the past. And, if your gut tells you “no,” you probably should go with that. 

But sometimes, your gut is trigger-happy and you should sleep on it before you decide. 

In fact, instead of avoiding prospective clients who are unhappy about their case or their attorney, you might consider “specializing” in them. Focus on people who are dissatisfied with their current provider. Marketing is easier when you target this type of client, especially when most attorney are so quick to avoid them. 

Yes, they might be trouble. You have to get good at sizing them up and lay out ground rules for working with you if you agree to represent them. If you do, and you hit the right notes with these clients, you might find this to be a very lucrative niche for you.