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Erik understood from day one that his firm brand was much more than a logo (although he has an awesome logo). His brand was his reputation and how others perceived his business. Instead of relying on referrals, he set out to build a strong web presence with content that educated his potential clients and clients. He thought about who he was trying to attract and what potential clients could be considering as they decide if they really need a trademark attorney. As a result, his website is filled with articles, videos, infographics, and more that all teach clients about what he does, how he helps them, and why they need to protect their business. When potential clients call Erik’s firm, they say they feel like they already know him. He has built trust with them before he ever even says hello.

We think law firms need healthy clients—calm down injury lawyers, we mean “healthy” in the sense of attracting the right clients for your firm who are aligned with your values and then delivering top-notch services to them.

Healthy clients require:

  • Ideal Client – knowing who you want to attract based on real data.

  • Marketing Strategy – having a strategic, data-driven plan.

  • Client Experience Plan – designing a way to consistently wow clients.

Today, if you’re not regularly marketing your firm, developing your brand and reputation, and improving your client sales, onboarding, and delivery process, your practice is at risk. Law firms that are putting their client’s needs first and being intentional about consistently delivering a fantastic client experience are rewarded with referrals and online 5-star reviews, which fuels the entire marketing process. It’s what’s known as a flywheel.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode # 339

Nail Your Branding & Get More Clients, with Erik Pelton

Listen to Episode
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01. Your Ideal Client Isn’t Just Anyone Who Walks In the Door

Because your business revolves around your clients, you must be clear about who exactly you help. Many lawyers are scared to be too specific, worried about who they are turning away. This is the wrong approach. Trust us. This fear comes from a scarcity mindset.

Healthy business owners benefit from an abundance mindset—from being confident their services are valuable, and there are enough of their ideal clients to help in the world, so it’s ok to be specific. It starts by knowing your ideal clients, what they want, and how to find them. As Lab Coach Stephanie teaches, “firms that are clear on who they don’t serve can spend as little time as possible on prospects who belong with a different firm.”

Firms that are clear on who they don’t serve can spend as little time as possible on prospects who belong with a different firm.

Clarity around your ideal clients offers strategic benefits, including:

  • Knowing what services, pricing, and delivery models you firm should pursue.
  • Focusing your marketing messages and channel.
  • Increasing the likelihood of developing a known brand, reputation, and credibility for a specific audience.
  • Making it easier to filter out potential bad clients who might otherwise waste your time, leave bad reviews, or refuse to pay your bills.

Focus your client persona on the type of clients you want to attract and help. Be sure you don’t unnecessarily limit your ideal client or build in problematic bias and blinders. Many marketing experts suggest defining where they live, age, gender, and even their race. The goal here is to think through your “client type” based on the help they need, their wants, and expectations. Be careful not to exclude people or limit access based on a potential bias or by limiting diversity. Instead, be intentional about including diversity in your persona.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode # 322

Stop Making These Legal Marketing Mistakes, with Delisi Friday

Listen to Episode
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02. Stop Throwing Random Acts of Marketing At the Wall to See What Sticks

Lawyers everywhere: “should I jump on [fill in the blank with the latest social media thing here]”?

Team Lawyerist: “It depends.” 

Yes, this tried-and-true lawyer answer works for us, too. Too many lawyers hop on the latest bandwagon without much thought on who is on the platform, how it works best, and whether it makes strategic sense for them to invest in this type of activity. Lawyers building healthy firms know the importance of using data to build a strategic marketing plan—focusing on who they are targeting, what messaging potential clients need to hear at each stage of their client journey, and where to place those messages so potential clients see them.

Julio Oyhanarte

Lawyerist Lab Member

Hear how, with a clear plan and strategy, Julio became a TikTok legend.

He researched, developed a well-thought-out plan, and has implemented a TikTok strategy that makes sense and works well for his firm. He didn’t just jump in and do it willy nilly. And, it’s really paid off for his firm.

Listen to the podcast episode
Image of a phone screen with Julio's headshot and social media likes.

Much of the content on lawyer marketing tactics teaches lawyers how to promote themselves, but it’s only a small piece of building a great client acquisition system.

The larger process includes:

  • Effectively establishing a brand, authority, and reputation.
  • Creating messaging that resonates with ideal clients based on their client journey;.
  • Designing a modern website.
  • Defining offline and online tactics to generate leads.
  • Nurturing those leads until they are ready.
  • Systems for converting those leads into clients.
  • Data-driven learning from metrics and tracking.

Marketing doesn’t have to be hard, but it does need to be focused and a consistent effort. Healthy businesses understand this and make smart, strategic investments. 

As Lab Coach Ryan McKeen clarifies, “We define marketing as ‘every communication that leaves our office.’ In order for all this to work well, everything must be intentional. Random doesn’t cut it.”

If this seems like a lot or something far off in the future, we can help make it simpler. In Lawyerist Lab, we provide guided resources, webinars, and coaching. And, you’ll do it along side others working on reaching similar goals.

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03. Client-Centered Means Understanding How Clients Feel Hiring You

Have you ever hired an attorney? 

Even as an attorney that ran her own law firm, our lead Lab Coach, Stephanie, dreaded hiring a lawyer to help with her husband’s business dealings. She understood how the billable hour worked and knew their small business couldn’t finance large bills. Knowing this, she tried to make strategic decisions during the deal that wouldn’t be expensive, but the attorneys wouldn’t listen, insisting they knew best and the work was necessary. In the end, the bill was double what she had budgeted, and she begrudgingly paid it (by check of course because electronic payments were not an option). 

Lawyers must do better in a world where the internet has changed how clients interact with most service providers. Lawyers need to design a firm that amazes clients by putting their needs ahead of our own.

To do this hard work, law firms must:

  • Rethink rates, fees, and how firms structure their service prices
  • Deliberately think about client diversity, access, and inclusion 
  • Craft the firm’s communication, intake, and onboarding around a great client experience, and 
  • Track and learn from client feedback to improve client satisfaction

When you step back and reevaluate your business model, you’ll start seeing lots of opportunities to create an experience where clients understand what is happening with their case and feel in control. These small and simple steps will have a tremendous impact on your clients. Ultimately, these happier clients will excitedly shout from the rooftops how awesome it was to work with their lawyer (leading more clients to you). The flywheel is turning, and your business is growing.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode # 347

How a Client Happiness Coordinator Increased My Firm Referrals & Reviews, with Ryan McKeen and Brittany Green

Listen to Episode

The first step in building a client-centered firm is to reevaluate pricing. A Harvard Law School professor shared a story about an associate with a coding background who started working at a small firm after law school. After realizing the repetitive nature of his work, he wrote a short piece of code to automate this task, saving tons of time and freeing him up for more interesting work. Instead of praise, the young associate was met with horror from his bosses upon realizing his innovative solution would cost the firm thousands in billable hours. 

When you think about money as time, efficiencies seem like losses. There’s nothing client-centered about that. 

It’s time for lawyers to realize clients are buying solutions, not tenths of hours.

The small firm of the future has an expansive toolbox when it comes to pricing. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there is one core consideration: Are your rates designed around the goals and needs of your clients and structured in a way to align your incentives with your client’s goals? 

Yes, it may be difficult to price your services and build in for unexpected work. But that’s not an excuse to not evaluate it. And while there could be times when billing by the hour makes sense, adding alternative fee models to your tool kit will help you do a better job pricing your services to value. 

Rethinking how you help your clients can feel like a big undertaking. The good news is, once you understand what you are trying to build, mapping out the exact blueprint becomes much easier. This is also an area where being in the right room matters. There are plenty of lawyers in the world ready to fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo and not upset the apple cart. They will tell you all the reasons you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do things differently. 

If you’re ready to be inspired by a group of lawyers setting up their business differently, now is a great time to learn more about our Lawyerist Lab community. The one common denominator is a group of lawyers saying “yes, and” to new ways of doing things.  

Healthy Systems

Now that you have a steady stream of healthy clients, you’ll need systems to keep your business moving and producing great results.

Graphic showing parts of a healthy business with an emphasis on healthy owner