I started my law practice directly after articling at a large Bay St. firm. I learned a lot about the profession at the highest levels, but not much about the business of law. Nearly a decade later I've picked up a few lessons that I wish I had known when I first started off. Below is my attempt at distilling some of this hard-earned experience into a program for how to grow and build a law practice. Click here to jump right to the content, or read on to learn more about this program.
About The Making Of This Program
The audio files below were recorded in the summer. They contain all the tips I wish someone else had told me when I started my law practice. I've shared many of these with articling students and new lawyers over the years. I finally found the time to turn this into a resource that everyone can access. Take from it what you will. There's no one way to do anything, and everyone has their own business style. But there are some constants that I've seen in other businesses (whether lawyers or otherwise) that are helpful for building a sustainable business with happy customers.
I originally posted this online for $400 because that's about what they're worth. But I'm a lawyer - I'm not in the business of selling law practice-building advice. My work as a lawyer keeps me busy enough. So I've decided to publish these so that anyone in the world can enjoy them.
If I was serious about selling law consulting/educational materials I'd need to diligently apply the same marketing practices that are much more usefully applied to building my own existing business. So I'll leave that to others, such as Aaron Baer's "4L Academy".
I hope you find these tips helpful. There are many great things about the practice of law but it can be difficult for people to find their bearing as they juggle the complexity of the work and the challenges of running a business.
This audio guide lays out a five step process for building your law practice. It's 100 minutes of concise advice for how to get the best clients to find you, how to price the work that comes in, and how to grow your brand. After going through the five steps there are ten quick scenarios on how to deal with common situations, and 10 minutes of advice about software to accomplish your goals.
Introduction To The Five Steps
[4 minutes long] About the author. The five steps for improving your business are: 1. Defining The Business 2. Optimization 3. New Clients 4. Retention 5. Reaping The Reward
Step 1: Defining The Business
[8 minutes long] Specialized lawyers are always in demand. What is your niche? How can you become the expert in your particular area so that you're the best in how you've defined it. Your narrative is the first step to marketing yourself.
Step 2: Optimization
[8 minutes long] Beginning the process of optimizing your online presence through content marketing and your website. Specific tools like Google's ad platform for analyzing which topics to write about based on search volumes. Creating content that answers questions and builds your reputation. Marketing with authenticity and accurately selling to boost inbounds.
[10 minutes long] Search engine optimization basics that are timeless, such as semantic tags (e.g. H1, H2, etc.). Avoiding search engine indexing problems by ensuring that the markup is right and it's not too media heavy. Measuring results and adapting based on traffic volume.
[8 minutes long] Content marketing ideas to get you started. How to design content around what clients are looking for. How to take your client work and transform it into content to reduce the effort required to write great content. Minimizing effort and maximizing results for the busy professional. Turning readers into clients.
Step 3: New Clients
[7 Minutes] How to better handle the new client process by qualifying them better. Doing a better job of explaining what you don't do, so that you can focus on what you actually do. Dynamic pricing based on demand. Starting to think about pricing.
[11 Minutes] The three big models for pricing are: 1. Hourly 2. Flat Fee 3. Fixed Fee Per Month. Combining the three pricing structures to be more competitive. How to know how to price and picking the right model for the client. Customers care what the value is, not what the cost is (since the potential clients are largely pre-qualified by virtue of the earlier steps).
Step 4: Client Retention
[6 Minutes] Aligning your clients with your practice. Reducing churn by better serving clients. It's better for the client and the lawyer if engagements are being constantly managed. Rapid communication and regular updates keep clients even more than good work does. Billing is the moment where clients fire lawyers and it's important to get ahead of any problems before they develop into termination of the retainer. Be careful about automating invoices. Everything is sales, even when they're already a client.
Step 5: Reaping The Reward
[4 Minutes] After completing the first four steps there should be more work, speaking engagements, and other benefits coming your way. Becoming recognized as a "go-to expert" is how to land the clients looking for "the best". The key is to become the best in a niche that you define, which will be constantly evolving as your practice does.
[5 Minutes] The biggest benefit of the five step process is becoming an expert, which happens when you've accumulated industry knowledge. Industry knowledge is even more important than legal skill, because the person who understands what clients need and what people in their situation usually do will have the most practical advice. Specialization also reduces stress and improves client outcomes. At the end of this you will have built up a network of other professionals (not necessarily lawyers) who will refer work to you and vice versa.
Two Minute Scenarios
[2 Minutes] How to handle bidding processes
[2 Minutes] Handling inquiries from reporters
[2 Minutes] Dealing with urgent requests from new clients
[2 Minutes] Calls that don't go well
[2 Minutes] New client requests a very specific legal task to be performed
[2 Minutes] Client points out an error you made
[2 Minutes] New client tries to bargain you down on the price
[2 Minutes] You made a mistake on social media about the law
[2 Minutes] The client brings in another lawyer
[2 Minutes] Handling referrals to other lawyers
[2 Minutes] Handling work that's beyond your expertise
Practical Tool Tips
[3 Minutes] Backing up your work using cloud backups and offline backups (drives and USB keys). How to use an encrypted disk volume to store client files securely.
[5 Minutes] Discussion of different places that a website/blog can be hosted. Shared hosting, managed services, virtual private servers, and static file hosting are different options that you can pick from. Learning about the pros and cons of different web hosting methods empowers you to better understand and direct tech professionals who are working on your behalf.
[2 Minutes] How to do email hosting. The importance of DNS records and picking the right vendor.