Starting a Law Firm | Marketing Tactics
This post is from the first blog I started, called “How to Start a Law Firm.” Over the years I’ve moved to different sites a few times and wanted to catalog all of my content in one place. If an article refers to a link and there is no link, sorry, that’s consequence of the move. Enjoy!
I got a phone call from a potential client yesterday. She was calling because she thought the lawyer she had right now sucked. She told me that they’d been to court a bunch of times and that each time the lawyer was unprepared. She told me that she couldn’t get in touch with him and that he never seemed like he knew what he was doing.
First, of all, I wasn’t surprised, necessarily. Those types of attorneys exist out there. And if you are shopping for a lawyer it’s important to figure out who that person is and stay away from them.
But then I continued talking to her, and I learned a little more about her situation. “I hired this guy because I got something in the mail from him shortly after I got my DUI. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for the help, so I went with the cheapest guy I could find.” And there you go.
This story, for me, provides two lessons for all of you out there thinking of starting a law firm. The first has to do with marketing. The second has to do with pricing your services.
Starting a Law Firm and Marketing Your Services
First, the marketing. And, to be honest with you, I just had a revelation about this. When I heard that from this person yesterday that she’d received a mailer from someone for help, I was a little bit pissed off. For whatever reason (and I’m honestly not quite sure what the reason is) I feel like sending something out like that is a little bit underhanded.
And here’s where the marketing lesson comes in.
Sending out letters is not underhanded. Even to people who are in desperate circumstances and easily impressionable. You know why it’s not underhanded? Because it’s perfectly legal. These guys, so far as I know, are acting within all of the rules we agree to in becoming attorneys. And they are marketing their services using the tools that are afforded to them.
The only question is, and should be (once you make sure it’s legal), does it work?
I know the law is a “learned profession” and “bigger than business.” But that is only one side of the coin. Once I have clients I do everything I can for their case. I fight for them. But if they can’t find me, I can’t help them, and this is a competitive business.
To make sense of what is probably a jumbled mess above, here’s the bottom line – don’t forgo trying to do something, whatever it is, just because someone else thinks things shouldn’t be done that way.
Starting a Law Firm and Pricing Your Services
We all like to have clients. It makes us feel good. And it allows us to eat. But if you are not careful, you can get sucked into a race to the bottom that has no end.
For most people, whatever fee you quote them is going to be too much. Most people don’t just have thousands of dollars sitting around, and finding it is a painful endeavor. They wonder why it’s so expensive. It’s your job to let them know why. It is not your job to let them convince you you should be the cheapest lawyer before they hire you.
And here’s why.
Forgetting about any bills you have and obligations you have (family, etc.), because the client doesn’t care about that, it’s important to have a firm grasp on what your services mean to your client. For example, I’m a DUI and criminal defense lawyer. My services mean to my client that they get every chance to stay out of jail to and to avoid a criminal record. That’s a pretty important service. And it’s something that will follow them forever.
The key is figuring out exactly what you do and then helping the client put their price tag on that service. Get them thinking “what is it worth to me to get x result?” We know we can’t guarantee them that result, but we can show them that we’ll do whatever we can to get that result.
That’s how you price your services. If someone wants to hire the cheapest lawyer they can find, they simply aren’t the right client for you. The sooner you accept that, the sooner your sleep easy at night.
I want to apologize for those of you that have made it this far in this post. I hope some of that made sense and is related to your quest in starting a law firm. Writing it felt disjointed (these are important and difficult concepts).
Why don’t we talk about what you think? What kind of marketing works for you? What strategies do you use to show clients how valuable your services are?