A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client?


Is it true? Does a lawyer who represents himself have a fool for a client?

Some people say that if you represent yourself in a proceeding or negotiation, it’s too easy to compromise your power and invite your emotions to get in the way.

I think they might be onto to something.

I can be tough as nails when it comes to representing a client’s interests but I’m not so good when it comes to representing my own.

If we have a contractor over to the house to bid on something, I’ll read the contracts but do my best to avoid talking to the contractor. I’m afraid I’ll either give away what I’m willing to accept or piss the guy off and have him take a walk.

My wife doesn’t have these issues. She’s nice to people. Level headed. So she talks to contractors and salespeople for us. I look at the bid and tell her what I think and she gets the deal done.

Okay, but you can’t hire an attorney or hide behind your wife for everything in life. And I don’t. I can and do ask for lots of things, like asking vendors to honor an expired coupon, for example.

The other day, I was looking at some software and reading some reviews. I saw a bunch of coupons offering discounts, including a few for 80% off, but all of the coupons were expired. I contacted the company and asked if they had any current coupons or promotions. A representative got back to me this morning and said they didn’t, that the ones I saw online were part of their ‘kickstarter’ phase.

So sad. Too bad. (Don’t tell her. I’ll probably buy anyway. At least I tried.)

And then she said, “But I can offer you 10% off; just use “.

What did I accomplish? I’ll save a few bucks and that’s nice but I gained something far more valuable. I imprinted on my brain a successful ‘negotiation’ on my behalf. I asked for something and I got something. Yay me.

I know, some lawyers are reading this and thinking, “What a wuss. I’d go back and ask for 80%, maybe settle for 50%. It’s not over until I win!”

Okay, settle down.

Anyway, if you’re like me and you are sometimes reluctant to negotiate on your behalf or ask people for favors, do what I did and get in some practice.

Practice asking your clients for referrals or to share your content. Practice asking website visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Practice asking seminar attendees to make an appointment. Practice asking prospective clients to sign up.

It never hurts to ask. And who knows, you might actually get good at it someday. If not, talk to my wife. Maybe she’ll help you out.

You can ask for referrals without talking to your clients. Here’s how


Say these words, get more referrals


If you’re doing a good job for your clients, most of them should be willing to send you referrals. But they won’t unless someone asks them for a referral (“What was the name of your divorce lawyer?”) or starts talking about their legal issue (“I think I’m leaving Joe.”)

Your clients are willing to send business. But they won’t unless someone asks.

Of course that someone could be you. You want to get more referrals, don’t you?

I know, you don’t like asking for referrals. (“Do you have any friends who are getting divorced?”) Fortunately, there is an alternative.

Here’s what you do (and say):

Step one: Write something your prospective clients would want to read. A report, article, or blog post. You could also do a video, webinar, or teleconference.

If you are a divorce lawyer, you would normally write something about the law for people who are considering a divorce, but not this time. (I’ll tell you why in a minute). This time, write something that would appeal to married people in your state. It might be a guide to property ownership for married people, or a legal guide for parents.

Step two: Send it (or a link) to your clients and ask them to read (or watch) it and let you know what they think.

Step three: Assuming you get positive feedback, ask your clients the following: “Would you do me a big favor? Would you forward that link to five or ten (married people/parents) you know? I would really appreciate it.”

You’re not asking them to deduce who they know who might be having marital problems. That would be uncomfortable for them and you would be uncomfortable asking. You’re simply asking them to share your information with married people or parents they know and if it’s good information, they will.

Of course some of the people they send it to will need your services. And if they don’t, that’s okay. At the end of your report or post, ask the people who read it to share it with married people or parents they know. Yep. Some of them will need your services.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. When you ask your clients to refer people to your report or post, you’ll be reminding them to think about the people they know who might need your services and you’ll be one step closer to some referrals.

Ask your clients to refer your information, not your services.

I told you marketing was simple. Learn more here.


The two reasons attorneys don’t get more referrals


If you’re not getting as many referrals as you want, there are only two reasons. Either you don’t deserve them or you don’t ask for them.

Lawyers who get referrals are competent, of course, but competency doesn’t make you referral-worthy; you need more. To deserve referrals, you must also

  • Deliver good value,
  • Excel at “customer service”,
  • Give more than is expected, or asked,
  • Show gratitude, and
  • Be likable

Lawyers who do and are these things have clients who are not only willing to refer, they go out of their way to do so. When you give people more than they expect, the “law of reciprocity” compels them to give back. When you deserve referrals, the world responds by delivering them.

If you deserve referrals, you can get more by asking. The best time to do that is at the end of a case or engagement, when you are delivering the check or the final papers, when the client is feeling good about the outcome. But asking is not limited to opening your mouth and “asking”. There are many ways to ask for referrals:

  • You can ask in your newsletter, on your web site, or with a sign in your waiting room
  • You can tell stories that mention clients who were referred to you and how much you appreciate the client who referred them
  • You can ask clients to “Like” your page or forward your email to their friends
  • You can have your employees call and ask for you

Attorneys who ask for referrals get more referrals. But only if they deserve them.