How to get your first client (or your next client)


An attorney who is starting his own practice wrote me asking how he could get his first client.

I’ve written before about the value of doing a S.W.O.T. analysis. “S” stands for “Strengths”; “W” means weaknesses; “O” is for “Opportunities”; “T” means “Threats”. You can read more about this here and here.

If you’re launching a new practice, or setting goals for growing and improving your existing practice, a S.W.O.T. analysis is a good place to start.

The attorney who wrote me didn’t tell me anything about his background or experience, or anything else, frankly, other than the fact that he doesn’t have an office. (I’d put the latter in the category of “Weaknesses”. Get thee some office space, my legal friend.)

Anyway, getting your first client. Or your next client. Start by assessing your “Opportunities” (and keep an eye on your “Strengths”).

Who do you know? Make a list of employers, your employers’ clients with whom you have a relationship, other lawyers, and business contacts. Include family and friends on your list.

Who do you know socially or from church? Do you have hobbies or something you do outside of work? If there are other people involved, put them on your list.

The point is that everyone you know, or have known in the past, may have legal work for you, or referrals. They may be able to introduce you to people who have work or referrals.

To get your first client, contact everyone you know and let them know what you do and what you want. Tell them how they can help you and ask them to do that. Ask them for referrals, ask them for introductions, and if they have experience in the business world, ask them for advice.

While you’re at it, ask them if they know where you can find an office space. Which reminds me, when you get an office, get in a suite or building with other lawyers. You can get work from them. That’s how I got clients when I opened my first office. Overflow, conflicts of interest, appearances.

What else?

Create a website. Add ten or twenty articles or posts that demonstrate your expertise. You need an an online presence so prospective clients and referral sources can find out what you do and how you can help them.

In fact, do this first. Then, when you contact everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing, you can send them to your website.

If you don’t know how to create a website that pulls in business, get my course, Make the Phone Ring, to learn what to include on your website and how to use it to get traffic, build a list, and get new clients.

Other opportunities? Look around you. Find some places to network or deliver a presentation. You’ve got the time. Don’t sit there organizing files, go meet some new people. Look for people you can help, and not just with legal issues. Send them business and introduce them to others who can help them. Build a relationship with them.

Every day, you need to build your email list. All of your marketing efforts from this point on should be designed to get more people to opt into your list. As your list grows, and as you stay in touch with them and remind them that you are available to help them solve legal problems, your list of clients will grow.

That’s enough for now. Do these things and you’ll have your first client. Or your next client.

Want more referrals? The 30 Day Referral Blitz shows you how.