One of the greatest challenges lawyers face is getting new clients: it takes time to attract inquiries, and it takes even more time to follow up on each one. Making every client interaction as efficient and lucrative as possible should be a key focus for every law firm.
According to the 2018 Legal Trends Report, 68% of consumers who faced a legal problem in the past two years spoke to a lawyer they didn’t hire.
There could be many things at play here, but a key factor is that many of your potential clients are most definitely reaching out to multiple firms—either to find a lawyer they want to work with, to compare prices, or to do a bit of both.
The better you are at convincing clients that you’re the best person for the job, the more worthwhile your interactions will be with every person that reaches out to your firm.
Below are six ways to make your firm more client-centered—so that you can attract more clients, and earn more business.
1. Make every first impression count
We know from previous reports that, when looking for a lawyer, 67% want a response right away, 64% want a free consultation, and 47% are looking for fixed fees. Prospects want to know as quickly as possible whether they have a case, and how much it will cost them.
If a prospect reaches out to multiple law firms looking for representation, the firm that responds with this information in the quickest way possible is most likely to secure the client.
What does this mean for your firm? Finding ways to follow up with prospects efficiently—so that you can quickly gather essential details of a case—should be a top priority. Even if you don’t offer free consultations or fixed fees, consider offering something related.
A quick review of some prescreening information from an online form might be enough for you to recommend a formal consultation, and an hourly estimate may give enough insight for a client to pursue their case further.
2. Be really easy to work with
Among consumers who worked with a lawyer in the past two years, the most common emotions experienced were: relief (51%), anxiety (46%), and frustration (40%). This tells us that, for the most part, lawyers are really good at helping people with their problems. On the other hand, the experience is also generally really painful.
Not everyone works with lawyers on a regular basis, and for a layperson, knowing what steps to take isn’t always easy. It often requires dealing with large amounts of paperwork and documentation, written in a language that’s not easy to digest.
Lawyers, who are already fluent in legalese, have the benefit of working through these documents as part of their day job. Clients typically have the difficult task of keeping up with the details of their case on top of working a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else they’re trying to fit into their lives.
People are busy. The easier you can make it for them to get up to speed, in the most efficient way possible—especially when they’re still considering whether to hire you—the more likely you’ll be able to set the bar for their client expectations.
3. Be the one to follow up
According to the World Justice Project, 77% of legal problems in America’s largest cities didn’t receive legal help in 2017. There are many factors that likely affect this situation. For the 68% of consumers who spoke with a lawyer they didn’t hire, maybe they didn’t get the information they needed to feel confident in pursuing their case—or to see the value in pursuing their case. They could have also seen the process as being too difficult.
Or maybe they were just too busy.
Whatever the reason, lawyers play a major role in helping people decide whether to pursue their case—and offering gentle, timely reminders can help keep a case top of mind.
For example, some types of cases may require firm reminders. A statute of limitations that’s about to run its course is a prime opportunity to reach out to confirm that the person decided not to pursue the case (and that they didn’t just forget about it).
Getting a will is a different story. Most people know they need one, but most also find better things to do. A reminder of next steps may be all that’s needed to get potential clients to hire your firm. This is where client engagement software can help you keep track of key milestones for every potential client so that you can keep your follow-ups organized and timely.
4. Value relationships more than anything
People share a lot of intimate information with their lawyer—even before actually hiring one—and it can be uncomfortable. Aside from reassuring clients about your duty of confidentiality and your overall professionalism, part of your client care should emphasize your human side—both within and outside your office walls.
Finding ways to stay in touch after an initial conversation shows that you’re willing to take an interest in a client’s life and that you have their best interests in mind. Things like remembering birthdays or anniversaries are a good excuse to follow up with a contact to stay top of mind for a case or for any future referral opportunities. If you deal with the type of cases that can seriously alter a person’s life, consider getting to know some good counselors, and offer some recommendations if you think they might be needed after a case closes.
An automated calendar reminder can help ensure you’re on top of every opportunity to stay in touch.
5. Ask for feedback, and always improve
Knowing what your firm does well, in addition to what it doesn’t do so well, is the only way that you’ll be able to improve. Asking for feedback is also a good way to help build a relationship after the fact.
Not every case warrants the same type of follow up, and you might not always have the benefit of staying in contact with who you work with, but finding ways to connect with clients in a timely manner—long enough to allow a bit of reflection, but not so long that the client has lost sight of the experience—helps you learn what processes at your firm need improving over time.
6. Know who you’re working with
One of the most interesting findings from the Legal Trends Report is that millennials often have a strong preference for working with lawyers in person, compared to other means such as over the phone or via email. This may seem counterintuitive since millennials are supposed to be the digital generation who prefer to do everything online.
But consider that this generation is much younger and, compared to older generations, is much less likely to have ever worked with a lawyer before. Being able to determine these preferences can make you more approachable—and hirable—in the eyes of your clients.
To give you a sense of what today’s legal consumer expects from a lawyer, read the 2018 Legal Trends Report. In the 65-page report, you’ll learn what makes clients hire, what makes them recommend your services, and how they want to communicate with their lawyer.
About the Author
Reagan Attle is the Vice President of Marketing at Clio, the leader in cloud-based legal technology. Prior to her work in expanding the market for legal tech innovation, Reagan led the marketing organization at ACTIVE Network, driving global marketing strategies and corporate communications through an IPO and over 10 acquisitions. She oversees Clio’s demand generation, product marketing, partner marketing, digital strategy, and brand, and she’s happiest with a complex spreadsheet and a soy latte. www.clio.com