Law school will never prepare you for the biggest challenge any lawyer will ever face - getting clients!
While there is no single solution to this problem, the key to getting new clients is understanding their needs and developing trust with potential clients.
In law school, we're trained on how to advocate for our client by assuming that we have the client to begin with. Unfortunately, law school doesn't provide you with the tools for acquiring your client.
So, how do I get clients for my law firm?
My approach is based on creating relationships and building trust with the potential client. I focus on understanding their needs, educating them about the law, and providing them with a clear game plan for their case.
Let's dive into it!
My failures as a newly-licensed lawyer
After graduating from law school, I started working at a small personal injury (PI) law firm.
I specifically wanted a job at a small law firm so I could gain as much experience as possible.
However, this comes at a cost. I didn't have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines to see how to do my job perfectly.
Instead, I was pushed into the deep end of the pool, which resulted in me floundering at times.
For example, one of my roles required me to handle intake. When potential clients would call the office, it was my job to filter the bad cases from the good ones. Once I found a good case, then I had to convert the potential client into an actual client.
This is a very odd role for a new lawyer with little experience.
The law firm was spending money on marketing and networking to keep the phones ringing. Therefore, if I didn't convert good cases into clients, then the law firm was losing money.
No pressure, right?
I wish I could say that I was a natural on the phone, but I'd be lying. There were plenty of quality cases that I couldn't sign up.
My issue was that couldn't establish the necessary trust with the callers. I incorrectly defaulted to trying to hype up the law firm and in the hopes that people would want to join the firm's winning track record.
While this approached worked for some callers, I didn't have a high success rate.
As a result, the law firm was likely losing money on me.
How I improved my client intake skills
I decided to scrap my "hyping" technique and started testing anything I could think of.
After a lot of fine-tuning (and rough phone calls), I developed a loose script and outline that began to work really well. It allowed me to convert nearly every good case into a client.
If you want to see my exact script for a personal injury case, then you can enroll in my Personal Injury Playbook to access this script and other crucial information on growing a PI law firm on a budget.
Let's now cover some key strategies you can use in your law firm to convert more callers.
Understand the potential client
Before you even pick up the phone to talk with a potential client, you should take the time to write down all of the concerns your current clients had when they first called you.
Alternatively, start writing down the concerns that are raised by potential clients during these initial phone calls.
I guarantee that you'll see a pattern. A vast majority of potential clients have nearly identical concerns.
For example, with personal-injury cases, potential clients are always concerned about having to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses. They feel they shouldn't have to pay anything if they didn't cause the injury.
Once your list is done, move on to the next step.
Establish your experience
Potential clients need to feel confident that you are the right person for the job. It may be challenging to establish your credibility, especially with new clients over a phone call.
However, you can turn this challenge into an advantage by subtly flexing your experience without having to hype yourself up.
To do this, you need to take control of the conversation with the potential client after you determine that the case is worth taking.
In doing so, you need to raise the concerns that the potential client has before these concerns are even raised. Utilize the list that you wrote earlier.
By anticipating the potential client's concerns before they are even mentioned, you are showing that you already understand the person based on your experience.
Notice how this approach is very different from trying to hype up your skills as a lawyer. When you are hyping yourself up, the potential client feels like they are being sold something, which makes people more skeptical.
However, if you can anticipate the issues, then you're showing your skills. No hype needed!
Develop trust with the potential client
Anticipating the issues is not enough though. You still need the potential client to trust you with their legal matters.
You can develop this trust by anticipating the issues and then providing the solution -- before the potential client even brings any of this up.
By providing a clear game plan that puts the potential client's concerns to rest, you should begin to change their mindset.
When you "sell" yourself to the caller, they are wondering why they should hire you. However, when you provide solutions to all of their problems, they are now wondering what they will lose if they don't hire you!
As an added bonus, after you have the phone call with the potential client, I like to give them the opportunity to check out my law firm's reviews. This way the caller can see faces of people that followed my game plan and succeeded.
I always send potential clients a contract that they can digitally sign and an intake form that they can fill out online.
By doing this, clients can easily get their case started from their phone without the need of a printer. You can learn more about the free tools that I use by reading this blog post.
Takeaway: Boost your law firm's client conversion rate with effective communication
Addressing your client's problem before they even raise it and laying out a clear strategy can help your law firm gain trust and convert clients.
It all starts with understanding your client's needs and developing trust through honest, transparent conversations. And by offering solutions tailored to their specific legal situation, you can show them that you are the right lawyer for the job.
Good luck on your journey!