How does a new attorney get clients?


Yes, how does a new attorney get clients? I remember when I was opening my practice this was something I desperately wanted to know. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good answer.

I was told that I should do the following:

  1. Send engraved announcements to everyone you know announcing your new practice
  2. Pass out business cards to everyone you meet
  3. Join groups where you can network and pass out cards to everyone you meet
  4. And, that was about it.

There was no Internet in those days. Yellow pages advertising was too expensive. Besides, I’d have to wait months for the book to come out and I needed business immediately.

I didn’t send out announcements, but I did tell everyone that I had opened my own practice. That brought in exactly zero business. I didn’t do any networking. I was 23 years old and looked it, and I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously. Hey, I didn’t take me seriously.

What I did do (on the phone and in classified ads in a bar journal) was contact other attorneys and let them know I was available for (a) appearances and (b) overflow work. And that actually worked. It gave me some breathing room until I could figure out how to get some clients of my own.

If you’re a new attorney today, opening your own practice, I suggest you do the same. It’s a great way to generate immediate income and get some hands on experience.

But the first thing you should do is set up a website.

Not a page in an online directory or a free website, but your own site. A domain name you own and a site that you host. You don’t need anything fancy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can either do it yourself–if I can learn, you can learn–or pay someone $100 to set up the site for you. Monthly costs are less than $10.

Add lots of content to your site, to show people what you know and how you can help them. Educate people about the law and procedure. Show them what they need to know. Answer their questions, show them their options, and help them understand what to do.

Yes, you should also tell them about the services you offer. But fill your website primarily with information prospective clients want to know about their legal problems and the available solutions . Give them enough information and they will see that you can deliver those solutions.

Make sure your content has appropriate keywords so clients can find you via search. And make sure your site has social media sharing enabled so visitors to your site can share your content with their friends and contacts.

As you gain experience, update your site with additional content–articles, blog posts, reports, checklists–and stories of how you have helped your clients solve problems.

Start building a list. Not everyone who visits your site is ready to hire you. Capture their email address so you can stay in touch with them, notify them when you post new content, and remind them that you are still available to help them or people they know.

When you meet someone who might be a prospective client or referral source, send them to your website so they can learn about what you do.

What’s next? Well, that depends on you. You can continue to build your practice primarily online. You can join networking groups and do public speaking. You can create a free seminar or webinar and “allow” other professionals and centers of influence to invite their clients.

But here’s the thing. Your best source of new clients is referrals from existing and former clients. So, as soon as you have a few clients who are happy with your work, you should leverage those relationships to generate new business.

You can ask for referrals directly but you have another option: ask your clients to refer people to your website and the great content you have available.

How does a new attorney get clients? The same way an old attorney gets clients. Plus appearances and overflow.

The Attorney Marketing Formula. How attorneys get clients.


New law practice: How do I get the word out?


I got an email last week: “Do you have suggestions for getting the word out on new (solo) law firms”

Q: Press releases to big city newspapers?

Unless your announcement qualifies as news, these are unlikely to get printed. If you are semi-famous or you’re planning to do something very unusual in your law practice, a press release might get picked up. Otherwise, probably not.

If you want to go this route, your best bet is to send them to niche publications: small town newspapers (where you grew up or your dad was well known), blogs or magazines in a market where you have a connection, that sort of thing.

Q: Mailing announcements to the Bar list (of business attorneys) and/or business owners?

Announcements mailed to other lawyers or business owners are a waste of time. They don’t know you and they don’t care that you’re opening your own office.

You could mail something they would care about: a free report that helps them protect themselves or their clients or earn more in their business or practice. A postcard that offers a report like that, and sends them to your web site to get it, would cost a lot less than actually mailing the report. It could bring lots of traffic, opt-ins, and eventually, some business. However, even post cards are expensive and you need to know what you’re doing.

This can be a viable way get clients, but for a new practice with limited funds, it’s not the best place to start.

Q: Hiring a service to send email announcements to the Bar list and to our own contact list?

Emailing to people you don’t know (i.e., Bar list) could get you into trouble for spamming. There are legitimate “opt in” lists available where people have given permission to receive email, and there are services that will provide these lists and do the emailing for you, but you would be wasting your time and your money.

Again, they don’t know you and they don’t care about your announcement.

However, emailing or sending announcements via regular mail to your own contact list is a great idea.

You should definitely send an announcement to the people you know. Friends, family, people you know from college and law school, and former employers. If you have a connection of any kind, put them on your list.

They do care about you and what you are doing. They will read your announcement. They may respond and wish you the best of luck. At some point, they may also send some business.

Here are my three “rules” for announcing a new law practice:

  1. Send your announcement to everyone you know; don’t bother with strangers, unless you have a very good reason to do so and the budget to pay for it.
  2. An announcement is okay; a letter is much better. Write a semi-personal letter that gives the who, what, where, when, and why of your announcement. Why are opening your own office? What do you want to accomplish? Who are you looking to help? What will you do for them? People will look at an engraved announcement for three seconds and then throw it out. Those same people will take their time reading a heart-felt letter on plain paper or in an email. They will remember your story and may even share it with others.
  3. Don’t rely on a one-time mailing. Follow up your announcement with additional communication–a newsletter, calls, invitations to your grand opening, personal visits. Stay in touch with them, remind them again and again about what you do and for whom you do it, and ask for their help.

Even if there are only 100 people on your initial list, these are the people to whom you should announce your new practice. They do know you and they are willing to help.

They may not be able to send you any business (right now), but they can help promote your web site, like your page, or distribute your new report. They can help you get the word out.