When you are thinking about how you want to structure your firm, find new clients, and deliver legal services, you should do it with your ideal client in mind. And not just a vague description like “people who pay their bills.” It helps if you have a specific example of an ideal client.
With a name and a backstory—and maybe even a picture—it gets easier to make decisions about everything from how to decorate your office and which beverages to offer to which marketing channels to focus on, what communication tools to use, and how to approach client meetings.
Create one or two ideal client personas. Give each persona a name, and draw a picture of them or clip one from a magazine. Create a realistic sketch (with words) of a person who could actually exist.
Here’s an example:
Chances are Tabitha reminds you of someone. You could probably even add to the persona I sketched out above. That’s what you are going for with this exercise.
You can use this free client persona template to help you draft your own client personas.
Evaluate Your Firm Based on Your Ideal Client Personas
Now you’ve got a real person who can help you make decisions about your firm.
For example, it should be relatively easy to guess what kind of office decor Tabitha will respond to when she walks into your firm. Since she is tech- and design-savvy, she probably won’t be impressed by an outdated website or an office full of filing cabinets and messy desks, either. She may start her search for a lawyer with an announcement on her blog or by reaching out to her social networks, but may also ask her friends. And so on.
Now consider your own ideal client personas and imagine them contacting your firm. What would they think about the way you answer your phone? When they walk into your office, will they feel like they came to the right place, or will they be disappointed? Can you meet their expectations for the way a lawyer should communicate? How informed do you think they want to be?
Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client, in other words, and try to see your firm through their eyes. If they would be disappointed by what they see, consider making changes to accommodate or correct their expectations.
Just be careful not to modify your personas to serve your own agenda. If you need to flesh out a persona to help you decide something, do your best to keep the persona internally consistent. Tabitha, for example, probably isn’t likely to start her search for a lawyer in the Yellow Pages. (She’s more likely to repurpose the phone book for a weekend project with her kids.)
When you have a clear picture of your ideal client in mind, it becomes much easier to decide how to structure your firm, find new clients, and deliver legal services.