Why should I believe you?


You’ve been practicing for thirty years? Handled thousands of cases? Have a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts? 

Impressive. But so what? Maybe you got that way by cheating your clients. You’re a lawyer and I’m scared. Just because you tell me you’re good and will help me doesn’t mean I’m ready to believe you. 

What’s that? You have reviews? Testimonials? Things other people say about the good things you did for them? Or for their clients? 

In their own words, not yours. Their stories, with enough details to convince me they’re telling the truth?

Much better. But hold on. I see other lawyers who also have good reviews. Maybe y’all only post the good ones and pay off the bad ones. 

The struggle is real. 

Hold the phone. I just remembered my friend hired you once and asked him about you. He said you did a great job for him. 

I know him. And trust him. Sign me up. 

Yes, there are other ways to get people to trust you. But these are the best. These are the ones you should focus on getting and deploying.

Number one, referrals from clients and from other professionals (whose clients have hired you). 

Number two, reviews and testimonials from your clients and endorsements from lawyers and other professionals who know you and your reputation.

Number three, articles (by you or about you) in prestigious publications, awards you’ve received from prestigious organizations, and presentations you’ve given at prestigious events.

If you say it, they can doubt it. If other people say it, it’s probably true. If someone they know and trust says it, it must be true. 

How to get referrals from other lawyers


The most important element in marketing legal services


What’s the most important thing in your marketing?


Whether it’s with client relations, nurturing prospects, building relationships with professional contacts or building your reputation in your niche market or community, trust is everything.

Because without it, nothing else matters.

People may know and like you, but if they don’t trust you, they’re not going to hire you, refer you, or help you.

Yes, it is that simple.

How do you create trust? Start by keeping your promises.

Show up on time, call when you said you would call, deliver your work product or updates on schedule.

Do what you said you would do, and what reasonable people would expect you to do.

Another way to build trust is by being consistent.

Consistent quality, for example, shows people you’re a professional and can be counted on to get the job done.

Consistently showing up in their inbox is another way to build trust. Especially when you consistently deliver relevant, valuable content.

Your content shows people you know what you’re doing and have helped other people with the same or similar issues.

It shows people that many others have trusted you, suggesting that they can trust you, too.

Consistently showing up in their inbox also reminds people that you’re still “in business,” ready to help them when they need you or know someone who does.

Contrast that to the lawyer who writes once in a while, or doesn’t write at all.

Yes, building trust is simple. But it’s also easy to mess up.

So don’t do that.

Do what you said you would do and do it consistently.

More ways to build trust: here


Trust me, I’m a lawyer


If people don’t trust you, they won’t hire you. At first, they may give you the benefit of the doubt, especially if you were referred to them, but that trust can be lost in a heartbeat.

My wife used a referral service she likes to have some roofers come out for an inspection. First one, great. On time, friendly, plain spoken. He showed her photos of some minor issues that need work and gave her an estimate. She liked what he said and he’s in the running.

Yesterday, the second one showed up (from the same referral service), but there was a problem. He couldn’t get up on the roof.

It seems he had a short, fold-up ladder, which he transported in the trunk of his car, and it wouldn’t reach. When my wife asked why he didn’t bring a longer ladder, he explained that he would need to drive a truck and the gas would be too expensive.


He said he could send someone with the truck later in the week. Right, after experiencing this guy’s bewildering lack of preparedness, we’ll sit around waiting for one of his guys to show up.

Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

If you’re in a competitive field, where clients talk to more than one lawyer before making their choice, consider that prospective clients aren’t looking for a reason to hire you so much as a reason to disqualify you.

It doesn’t take much for them to do that.

If you are unprepared, if you squawk about your costs of doing business, if you say or do anything that says “unprofessional,” that’s it. You’re off the list.

And anything can knock you off that list.

Someone doesn’t like your photo on your website because you look mean, or there is no photo so they can’t look at your eyes, or you didn’t call them back right away, or you yawned on the phone and sounded like you didn’t care.


Am I saying you have to meet certain minimum standards to even be in the running? Yes. Getting the basics right only gets you in the game. If you want to get the job, you have to do even more.

Yes, it’s hard. You have to be ever vigilant and pay attention to detail. When you are in a service business or a profession, it’s not just the quality of your work or the results you deliver that count, it’s the entire client experience.

Which begins with trust.

Want more referrals? Do a 30-Day Referral Blitz


5 ways to build trust


Marketing isn’t just telling people what you do and how you can help them. Marketing requires targeting the right people with the right problems and providing them with the right message and offer.

One of the biggest hurdles is building trust.

People are scared about their legal situation and skeptical about your ability to help them. They don’t know if you’re competent, honest, or charge reasonable fees.

They may like what you say but if they don’t trust you, they often keep looking.

It usually takes time to build trust, but here are 5 ways to speed up the process:

  1. Referrals. Prospective clients “borrow” trust from the people who refer them, thus making them more likely to hire you. Referral marketing shortens the sales process, saves time and money, and usually brings in better clients.
  2. Content marketing. Blog posts, articles, presentations, etc., allow you to show people what you know, what you do, and how you work with your clients. This works even better when you are published by or interviewed on authority sites or podcasts or speak at industry events.
  3. Social proof. Ask people to share your content with their friends and neighbors, colleagues, clients and customers. Get testimonials and reviews from clients and endorsements from influential people.
  4. Free consultations. Let people sample your advice and demeanor, hear more about what you can do to help them, and get their questions answered straight from the horse’s mouth.
  5. Build a list and stay in touch. A simple email newsletter allows you to build trust over time. It helps you get more clients, more referrals, more people sharing your content, book more free consultations, and get more testimonials and reviews.

If you want to see how to use a newsletter to build your practice, go here


How do I know I can trust you?


My wife and I visited a doctor once but our visit didn’t last long. The doctor came with all the right credentials and was highly recommended by peers and patients, but as soon as we met him, we didn’t trust him and left.


Because he wouldn’t look either of us in the eye.

He talked to the wall, to the bookcase, to the office door, but (it seemed), not to us. It was probably his way of coping with life-and-death situations but it was creepy, not the sort of thing you want in a professional.

Princeton researchers have found that people often decide on the trustworthiness of someone in as little as a tenth of a second, just by looking at their face. They draw similar conclusions about their likeability, attractiveness, competence, and other traits.

Much of these assessments are based on things you can’t change. For example, other studies have found that having more feminine facial features makes you appear more trustworthy.

You can’t change your face (without surgery) but you can change your behavior.

You can increase trust (and likeability) by shaking hands, smiling, listening without interrupting, and mirroring the other person’s body language.

And by looking at people when you talk to them.

So, here’s your assignment. For the next few days, pay attention to how you greet your clients. Take note of what you say and what you do.

You may find you’re doing something you’re not aware you’re doing and can correct it. No surgery required.

More ways to build trust


Nobody owes you jack squat


You’re a lawyer. Big flippin deal. So are a million other people. You have a fancy degree and a fancy office but as far as clients are concerned you charge too much and barely do anything for the big bucks you demand.

What’s so special about you? Why should I hire you instead of any other lawyer? Why should I pay you all that money?

In fact, why should I even visit your website or listen to you talk? Talk is cheap. What are you going to tell me that I won’t hear from every other lawyer with a fancy office?

This is what you’re up against my little droogies. Nobody trusts you. Nobody believes you. Nobody owes you the benefit of any doubt.

This is your ultimate marketing challenge and you must never get complacent.

You want clients? You have to earn them. Prove to them that you can do the work they need and prove to them that you will do what you promise.

Repeat clients? Just because you helped them once doesn’t mean they will come back. You have to stay in touch with them. Because people forget and because other lawyers tell them they can do a better job or do it cheaper or faster.

Referrals? Clients don’t know you want them. They think that if they send you business you won’t have time for them. They’re lazy and don’t know what to do. You need to tell them why referrals are good for everyone and tell them what to do to make them happen.

Nobody cares what you want, they care about themselves.

Assume nothing. Tell them everything. And prove it, again and again.

Because nobody owes you anything.

How to talk to clients about referrals


Why people don’t trust lawyers


Why is it that so many people don’t trust lawyers? Unless they’ve been burned by a lawyer before, or know someone who has, I think it comes down to how we are portrayed in the media, movies, and TV. And let’s not forget all of those lawyer jokes.

And yet I think most people who meet us for the first time are willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. They will assume that we can be trusted, because it’s too difficult to assume that we cannot. They come to us with a problem and they want to believe that they can trust us to help them.

But their trust can evaporate in an instant.

The smallest misstep can trip us up. A little white lie, missing a deadline by a day or two, a bill that comes in for a few dollars more than expected.

For many clients, one screw up, one broken promise, or even one exaggeration is all it takes.

I thought about this over the weekend when I was looking at a book on Amazon. A five-star review said something like, ” . . .although it took some time to read. . .” and then praised the book. But the book was only 26 pages. Seeing that, I knew the review was phony. The author had purchased the review.

That’s cheating. And against Amazon’s terms of service. If the author did that, what else is he dishonest about? Why should I trust his information or advice?

So I didn’t “buy” the book, even though it was free.

One strike and he was out.

Learn how to build trust


7 things you probably don’t know about me


I usually don’t share a lot about my personal life, at least not online. If you look at what I post on Flakebook and other sites, it’s either business-related or something fun but impersonal, e.g., cat videos others have posted.

And yet I do believe it’s a good idea to open up and tell people a little bit about yourself. It helps them get to know you and like you (“You do that, too?!’) When you have something in common, they begin to trust you.

Anyway, here are 7 things you probably don’t know about me:

  1. I entered law school at age 20. I wasn’t the youngest in my class, however.
  2. I sold my boyhood coin collection to open my first law office.
  3. I used to play the drums; now I play table tops and my thighs.
  4. In in 80’s, I owned a real estate seminar business. C’mon, didn’t everyone?
  5. I built a successful network marketing business and wrote a book about it.
  6. My favorite game is chess. I also like word games. I played a lot of poker in college.
  7. I would like to try stand-up comedy some day. People tell me I’m funny; I tell ’em, “looks aren’t everything”.

No, not shocking. Not even very interesting. I don’t sky dive in the nude, I’ve never climbed a mountain, and I’ve never performed the Heimlich maneuver (although I did take a CPR class once).

Okay, now it’s your turn. Make a list of things your clients probably don’t know about you and post it (or a portion thereof) on your website and on social media. Email it to your list.

You don’t need to share your darkest secrets. They already know you’re a lawyer and eat your young.


The Better Business Bureau for lawyers: what are the benefits?


What are the benefits of the Better Business Bureau for lawyers? More than anything: trust. Being able to say that you are a member in good standing of the BBB tells clients and prospective clients (and those who might refer them) that you are one of the good guys.

Being accredited by the BBB allows you to post their badge on your website and in your office, and use it in your advertising. If that makes even one prospective client choose you instead of another attorney, it will be well worth it.

To prospective clients, lawyers’ ads and websites all look pretty much the same. Clients look for anything that can distinguish you from your competition in even the smallest way. BBB membership could be just the thing that tips the balance in your favor.

Being a member also gives you verisimilitude when you talk and write about the subject of trust. As a member of the BBB, you are holding yourself accountable by aligning yourself with an organization that encourages feedback from the public.

The BBB doesn’t rate you in the same way that Martindale or AVVO might. An A+ rating from the BBB is easier to achieve than A-V, however, and more people are familiar with the BBB.

There are additional benefits to belonging, as this article points out. I wouldn’t count on getting any business through the directory or through these other methods, but you certainly might.

In a world that increasingly distrusts lawyers, anything you can do to foster trust is a good thing. Take a look at what your local BBB has to offer.

For more ways to build trust, get this


Why don’t people trust lawyers and does it really matter?


why don't people trust lawyers?I just read an interview of the authors of a new book, “The Trusted Advisor’s Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust.” In this sequel to, “The Trusted Advisor,” Charles Green and Andrea Howe present tools and exercises for helping lawyers earn the trust of their clients.

Clearly, this is an important subject. After all, clients hire attorneys they “know, like, and trust” and if your clients don’t trust you, or don’t trust you enough, there will either be a strain on your relationship or no relationship at all.

Matt Homman, who conducted the interview, asked the authors, “What questions were you expecting [in interviews] and haven’t yet been asked? How would you answer them?” Green said a question they haven’t been asked is, “Why don’t people trust lawyers? And is it a bum rap?”

Green said it’s not a bum rap, people generally don’t trust lawyers.

I agree. But then I started thinking about this issue of trust and wondered how important it really is. People don’t trust lawyers and yet they hire lawyers every day.

And then I thought that not trusting lawyers may actually be a good thing. For clients, lawyers, and everyone else.

For lawyers, living in a world where people generally don’t trust you gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. You can show why you can be trusted and you don’t need to do a lot to accomplish this.

We need to show clients:

  1. We know what we’re doing,
  2. We’re not going to rip them off, and
  3. We’ll do our best to help them.

This is not difficult. Share some stories, look them in the eye, patiently answer all their questions, and you’re half way there. And if you were referred to the client, you’ve rounded third base and are headed for home.

Once you’re hired, show clients you know what you’re doing by doing it, don’t rip them off, and do your best to help them. Oh, and return their calls.

Be a mensch. People will trust you (and your mother will be proud).

Okay, this is overly simplified, but the truth is that earning trust isn’t extremely difficult, and it is actually made easier because of the pervasiveness of distrust. A little effort on your part will go a long way.

A general distrust of lawyers is also a good thing for clients. If people innately distrust lawyers, won’t they be inclined to ask more questions before hiring one?

It’s when people are too trusting that they get hurt. It’s when they don’t ask enough questions or seek enough assurances that they get into trouble. (I don’t think Bernie Madoff had a law degree but you get the point.)

And let’s not forget “the other guy’s” lawyer. Not trusting the other side’s counsel is almost always a good thing.

Okay, people don’t trust lawyers, this is a good thing for clients, and lawyers can stand out from the crowd and earn their clients’ trust without a lot of effort.

So, what’s the problem?

Now, if we can only do something about those damned lawyer jokes.