It is said that if you are doing what everyone else is doing, then you are by definition “average.” Lawyers and law firms often market themselves, and operate their practices, very conventionally, because that is the way it has always been done in our profession. But who says it has to be that way? Here are a few easy and free ways to show up differently and allow your firm to stand out.
Marketing: Change it up. Are you following convention when it comes to marketing, or are you being different? Do you have a standard website featuring the scales of justice and lawyers looking stern with their arms crossed? Do you boast about how much experience and education you have? Prospective clients don’t care where you went to school. They know you are smart. What they care about is how you are going to solve their problem and how you will do it better than all the other lawyers they have to choose from. Make marketing not about you, but about the potential client. Educate potential clients, rather than sell to them. You will stand out from all other firms and you will get more, and better cases, than your competitors.
Treat staff like gold. I make it a priority to go above and beyond for my team. Too many leaders do not give their staff the credit they deserve. For example, on Fridays I buy lunch for the team, which I know they appreciate. If someone is doing a great job, I make sure to give them a shout-out. Staff tell me they enjoy working for me. There is no greater compliment than hearing from a team member that they love their job. The way you treat staff is the way they will treat your clients. Treat staff like gold, and you will stand out from all other employers, and this will help attract and retain top talent.
Treat clients exceptionally. You will definitely stand out if you prioritize treating clients the way they deserve to be treated. Many lawyers take clients for granted. Do this at your own peril. Today’s consumer wants to feel valued and appreciated, and they expect you to provide that. If you don’t, they will likely not refer their family and friends to you. They may even leave you a negative review online. Train your team to treat clients well. It is all about providing a five-star experience that makes clients feel good. Always focus on improving the client experience. This should start with the phones. My team is reminded to talk with clients the same way they would talk to their grandmother. After all, clients came to you with a problem. Show them empathy, compassion and top-notch service. Do that, and they will love you, and refer to you.
Treat referring lawyers exceptionally. Treating referring attorneys the right way is as important as treating clients the right way, but this too is frequently neglected. Personally, when I refer a case to another lawyer, I appreciate receiving at least a “thank you.” That does not happen nearly enough in our profession. If you make a big deal out of receiving a referral from another lawyer (even if you reject the case), that lawyer will send you more work. When I receive a referral, I send a handwritten thank you card and sometimes a box of chocolates, and mention the lawyer’s name in my monthly newsletter. If a referral fee is to be paid to another attorney, be sure to follow all ethical rules in your jurisdiction.
Regularly update the lawyers on the status of their referred cases. The more you focus on deepening the relationship with your referring attorneys, the more referrals you will receive. This is an easy thing to do and is sadly all too often neglected in our profession.
The above tips are low-hanging fruit that are simple to implement. If you want to create a special law firm that grows, be different and stand out.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
A version of this article originally appeared as “Rethinking the Way It’s Always Been Done” in the December 2021 issue of the ABA’s GPSolo Report.
Christopher Earley is a Boston personal injury attorney and author who focuses his practice on the representation of the seriously injured and their families. His firm website is www.ChrisEarley.com.