December 2018

3 Steps to Build a Better Law Firm in 2019

In the past decade, I have worked with more than 18,000 attorneys – both men and women – teaching law firm marketing strategies that can help build what I call a lifestyle law firm.  I define that as a law firm that supports the core values of who you are. It allows you to live the life you want and build meaningful relationships with others, versus the law firm that drives you, dictates your life, and ends up consuming your every waking moment.

I find that most attorneys who start their own law firm want to control their schedule and have the freedom to spend time with family and friends.  In other words, their main motivation is to create a lifestyle law firm.  If you want to regain control of your destiny and create a lifestyle law firm in 2019, you can do this by (1) developing new strengths, (2) asking for what you need, and (3) knowing your worth.

1. Develop new strengths
Building a lifestyle law firm begins with the understanding that you are running a business.  And the success of your business lies in how well you are able to play to your strengths in:
  • Marketing your legal skills. As a solo practitioner, a partner in a small law firm, an associate or of counsel, your primary focus, after gaining competency as an attorney, is to understand the key principles of business development and law firm marketing and to apply them every single day. Not every attorney will be a top Rainmaker, but everyone can do something to grow and market his or her practice.
  • Creating extraordinary experiences for your clients.  You need to “micromanage the client experience.” From how the phone is answered, to greeting them by name as they walk in the door, to minimizing the amount of paperwork you ask them to complete, to reserving your conference room with their name on the door, to returning client phone calls and emails consistently and promptly, everything should be focused on creating a positive experience for your clients.
  • Building deep and lasting relationships with your clients. Far too many attorneys only have a transactional relationship with their clients. They create an estate plan for them, they file a lawsuit on their behalf, or they set up a corporation for them. To be successful over the long term, you must think long term.
You must develop long-term, meaningful and influential relationships with your clients because the most expensive thing you can have is a one-time client. One of the most basic marketing strategies for a law firm is getting additional business from current clients – yet many fail at doing this effectively.

A recent research report from Hinge Marketing – Inside the Buyer’s Brain – showed the two main reasons for this failure:
  1. Most providers underestimate the demand from current clients for additional services
  2. Most clients are unaware of all the services provided by their current provider
Even if you have done a good job educating your clients about all the services you offer, they are human, likely busy, and may forget.  Hinge recommends deploying these 4 strategies to do a better job of erasing that disconnect:
  1. Designate a dedicated relationship manager.  Usually the person responsible for managing the relationship is the same one responsible for managing the daily work. What happens in this scenario is that the long-term relationship management gets lost in the demands of the current workload.  Consider designating someone in the firm to be a dedicated relationship manager, working closely with the person who does the day-to-day work so he or she understands the client.
  2. Integrate a formal review of potential issues into your client management process.  Provide your clients with a monthly review to determine if there are any issues or opportunities they should be aware of.
  3. Look for opportunities where you can help.  With the formal review, you are likely to identify a number of issues.  Some the client can handle on their own; others may need your attention, whether it is something you can offer to handle for them or give them a referral to another professional.
  4. Review issues and your suggested approaches with the client.  Rather than waiting for a client to come to you, be proactive in putting potential issues on the table and discuss how you are able to help as a valued partner, not as someone with a sales pitch.
If you take the time to really know your clients and the problems they are facing, you greatly increase your chances for repeat business.
2. Ask for what you need
We know that many attorneys build a good portion of their practices on referrals – yet, why is it so many feel embarrassed to ask for a referral?

If you find it difficult to ask for referrals, you may not be looking at it in the right way. Instead of looking at asking for a referral as a favor to you, you should regard it as extending a favor.  That’s right!  You are not asking to get a favor; you are asking to bestow one.

The secret to getting lots of referrals is to make it about them, not about you. Think about what benefits you offer your referral sources and what problems you may help them solve. When you help someone help a friend, family member or colleague, you have done them a favor. 

Think about how referring you can make your client’s life better, and you will never be embarrassed to ask for a referral again. 

Attorneys who rely on referrals for new clients also need to have a referral mindset. Always look for those moments in your relationships with others to create referrals – when you have won a case for a client, when you have helped someone avoid litigation, when you have provided a referral – all opportunities for you to generate referrals.

You also need to make it as easy as possible for people to refer you. Provide them with a written document that outlines the characteristics of your ideal client. Create free reports or give seminars that solve problems their clients may be experiencing and co-brand them, so your referral source benefits.
3. Know your worth
Do you feel that you are continually forced to compete for clients based on price? If so, then you need to be aware of what is at the root of this problem: chasing the wrong prospects is the basis of all pricing problems.

Casting a wide net for clients without applying any targeting criteria is dangerous because sometimes it works. The clients you get by doing this are inevitably those that will pound you on price and beat up on your staff as well. 

If you choose to compete only on price, your fees have exactly one way to go – down.
So how can you target the right client that will allow you to charge what you’re worth? Here are three quick steps:
  1. Create an ideal client profile -- Think in terms of age, profession, gender, education, interests, marital status, family size, hobbies, and lifestyle. If you’ve had clients you consider ideal, what did they share in common that made them an ideal client for you?
  2. Communicate your target – educate everyone in your firm as well as your referral sources about what an ideal client is for your practice.
  3. Have a qualifying process – before you sign on a new client, put them through a qualifying process that educates them about how you work, what they can expect, how you charge and what is expected of them. If they balk, they’re not a good fit. 
    Once you start attracting your ideal client, you'll be able to charge what you are worth and stop worrying about competing on price.


Do you have a written plan for how you are going to achieve this?
Do you want your revenues next year to be more than this year?
When was the last time you really focused on what your firm needs to grow?

I would like to personally invite you to attend one of our upcoming 2-day Rainmaker Retreat Legal Marketing Bootcamps to help you start fresh for the new year.

Our attendees leave energized and confident.  They gain clarity about what they need to do to take their firm to the next level.  They are educated and return home armed with a solid marketing plan.

Need help justifying why you should go?
  • Rainmaker Retreats are held on a Friday and Saturday so you minimize your time out of the office.  We have many repeat attenders who report back that their firms have grown exponentially by implementing what they learned.
  • We offer a money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied with your experience.  Your registration will cost you less than a new cell phone.
  • Best of all, we're offering $200 off your seat price for a limited time.  Use promo code FRESH at checkout. Check out the dates for our next 3 events -- all in warm weather locations.  Offer ends January 1, 2019.


What is the Rainmaker Retreat?
Are you ready to discover proven strategies that will move you closer to achieving a lifestyle law firm in 2019? The Rainmaker Retreat is our 2-day Legal Marketing Boot Camp where we teach lawyers how they can have it all; increase the number of clients they have, double their income, and yet work less.
Las Vegas Rainmaker Retreat
Friday, January 18 & Saturday, January 19
Miami Rainmaker Retreat
Miami Rainmaker Retreat
Friday, Feb 15 & Saturday, Feb 16
Scottsdale Rainmaker Retreat
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Friday, March 22 & Saturday, March 23
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