Great advice on starting a new law practice (or growing your old one)


Marketing legal services is simple. A lot of common sense, really. You don’t need a bunch of high tech solutions or a complicated process. What you need are people.

An article in today’s Forbes Magazine tells the story of a Los Angeles lawyer who started her own practice in the summer of 2010 and in less than two years built a successful estate planning practice.

In, How I Got My First Client and You Can Too, attorney Sonia Tatiyants outlines what she did to get her first client and beyond.

She didn’t advertise or build a powerful web site. She didn’t have the money to do that, even if she wanted to. What she did is decidedly low cost and low tech. She began by contacting everyone she knew to announce the opening of her new practice.

It doesn’t get simpler than that.

By the way, if you’re not new, find a reason to contact everyone in your database and remind them that you are still here. Someone on your list needs your services, or they know someone who does.

Tatiyants followed that up by starting a lunch group where she could network with other estate planning attorneys. She also networked with “like minded, driven, entrepreneurial individuals. . .,” who collaborated with her and became a source of referrals.

Taking things a step further, Tatiyants also realizes that her clients can not only send her referrals, they can become a source of business for the professionals in her network. In positioning herself as a “trusted advisor,” her clients and contacts look to her for referrals when they have a problem or need. She refers them to the other lawyers, CPAs, financial planners, and insurance agents in her network.

She also understands the importance of keeping her clients happy. One way she does that by making sure they know what to expect with their case. By managing their expectations, her clients don’t get frustrated with delays or when they get something in the mail.

Finally, she understands that for her practice to continue to grow she needs to put systems in place that will allow others to do administrative tasks so she can focus on the lawyering (and marketing).

Great marketing advice for new lawyers and old. Even lawyers who are very old.

But there’s something she left out of the article that I know every lawyer would like to know. How did she get featured in Forbes magazine?!


Why the average law firm doesn’t grow


Over the last couple of posts I talked about legal fees. The average lawyer is paid average fees and they will continue to be paid average fees as long as they don’t do anything to distinguish themselves from other lawyers.

Similarly, the average law firm doesn’t grow. They have approximately the same number of clients today as they had six months ago. Six months from now that number will be approximately the same.

They may see spikes in new business, a rapid influx of new clients here and there, but in the growth department, most law firms aren’t seeing large and steady increases in clients or revenue.

But some firms do see that kind of growth. Every month they see more clients and higher revenue than the previous month. They aren’t churning, they are growing.

What do these lawyers do that average lawyers don’t do?

They provide exceptional service.

When you provide average service, nobody cares. “Yeah, my lawyer was okay–he did the job I paid him for. . .”. Yawn.

When you do more, when you provide clients with exceptional service that surprises and delights them, they’re going to talk about you. “Wow, if you’re looking for an attorney you should definitely call mine. She is absolutely amazing!”

Lawyers who are growing give people something to talk about. They provide exceptional service that makes clients feel that they got more than they paid for. These clients will not only recommend those attorneys, they will often go out of their way to do so.

They’ll talk about them to anyone who will listen. They’ll keep their eyes and ears open, looking for people who need them. They’ll recommend them, send traffic to their web site, and invite people to their next event.

The law of reciprocity says so.

When you give something to someone, there is a psychological compulsion to reciprocate. Give them what they paid for, it’s a fair exchange. Give them more than what they paid for or expected and they will return the favor.

If you want to charge higher fees than other lawyers, or you want to bring in more clients and see your firm grow, it all comes down to service. Average service, average fees and (lack of) growth. Exceptional service, higher fees and steady growth.

Fortunately, since the average attorney provides average service, it doesn’t take much to stand out. A little creativity and effort on your part and you’ll be the one people are talking about.