The easiest way to increase law firm profits


In medicine, The Hippocratic Oath includes the Latin phrase, Primum non nocere, meaning, “First, do no harm.” Attorneys need a similar pledge, not just to protect our clients, but to protect our bottom line.

According to a study from The George Washington University (ppt–not worth downloading, IMHO), the cost of a dissatisfied customer is staggering:

  • The average business does not hear from 96% of unhappy customers
  • For every complaint received, there are 24 people with unvoiced problems; six are serious
  • 90% who are dissatisfied with the service won’t return
  • The average customer with a complaint will tell 9-10 people; 13% will tell more than 20 people

Other studies confirm numbers like these. The bottom line: losing one client could cost you a lot more than you earn from one new client.

Therefore, the easiest (and smartest) way to increase your profits is to stop losing clients.

There is some good news from the study:

  • Of those who complain, 50-70% will do business with you again if the complaint is resolved. 95% will return if it is resolved quickly

Therefore, you must encourage your clients to let you know when they aren’t happy so you can fix the problem quickly and can take steps to make sure the problem won’t occur with other clients.

Remember, most unhappy clients don’t complain. They just leave–and tell others that you are a Bozo.

Here’s how you can solicit this extremely valuable feedback from your clients:

  • Include feedback forms in your “New Client Kit”
  • Post surveys on your web site
  • Tell clients (repeatedly) that if they ever have an issue of any kind, you want them to call you personally (and give them your cell phone number or direct line)
  • Put a “Suggestion Box” link on your web site. Allow people to contribute (or complain) anonymously. Promote this box via your newsletter and blog
  • Put stories in your newsletter about suggestions you received and implemented.
  • Interview clients at the end of the case. Ask them, (1) What did we do well? and (2) What could we do better?
  • Thank everyone for their ideas and feedback, publicly if possible

In other words, if you want feedback, create an environment where feedback is encouraged, appreciated, and most of all, acted upon.

Often, perhaps most of the time, unhappy clients aren’t unhappy because the attorney did something wrong, they are unhappy because of poor communication:

  • Something wasn’t explained properly.
  • The attorney didn’t keep the client informed.
  • The client’s phone calls weren’t returned.

If you ever drop the ball in any of these areas, don’t worry, these are easy to fix. If any of your clients were unhappy with their previous attorney for any of these reasons, celebrate. This is a tremendous opportunity for you to convert them into raving fans.


Could you charge more for your legal services? Here’s how to find out


Could you charge higher fees for your legal services than you charge right now?

What if you could get paid one-third more than you now get without losing any business. Wouldn’t that be cool? Or, maybe you might lose some business but increase your net income because of the higher fees you are paid from everyone else. Also cool.

Most attorneys set their fees by looking at what other attorneys in their market charge. They don’t want to charge a lot more or a lot less so they play it safe. But some attorneys do ask for more and they get it.

True, these higher paid attorneys may have more experience or a higher-profile reputation. They might offer more value to their clients. Perhaps they are better “sales people” or have more chutzpah. Maybe they took a chance when quoting fees and got lucky.

The point is that some attorneys get paid more than other attorneys for doing essentially the same work. What if you could, too?

There is a way to find out if you could charge more. No, not by asking your clients or prospects if they would be willing to pay more. They have a certain, um, bias, don’t you think? No, if you want to find out if people are willing to pay more you have to charge more, and see if they pay it.

But hold on. Don’t raise your fees across the board just yet. That’s too risky. You don’t know if this will be successful. What if you ask for too much and lose too many clients? Not good. Conversely, what if you don’t ask for enough? Your clients may pay ten percent more without flinching, but how do you know they wouldn’t have paid twenty percent more?

The answer is to test higher fees with small groups of clients and/or prospects and measure the results.

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to do “split testing”. Basically, you quote one fee to the first inquiry and a higher fee to the second. You alternate quotes until you have a meaningful sample of responses and clients. With enough responses, you’ll be able to see which fee is producing (a) the most clients, and (b) the highest income.

Pay-per-click advertising has become extremely expensive and you might not want to use it as an ongoing marketing tool. But for short term testing purposes, wouldn’t it be worth it to find out conclusively that you could safely charge a lot more than you do now?

If your practice isn’t amenable to advertising, there are other ways to test fees with smaller groups of prospects. If you do seminars, for example, you could quote every other attendee a different fee. Or quote different fees at every other seminar.

The results of price testing are often surprising. You would think that charging higher fees would decrease the number of sales (clients) but that is not always the case. Sometimes you sell just as many at the higher price. And sometimes, believe it or not, you sell more at the higher price.

But you’ll never know unless you test.