Starting Your Own Law Firm: How To Find Clients
Anuj Malhotra 29 Dec 2016

Starting Your Own Law Firm: How To Find Clients

Starting Your Own Law Firm: How To Find Clients


Any lawyer responsible for the ongoing success of their firm understands that finding ways to bring in new clients is the only way to ensure the lights stay on. This is especially relevant for lawyers — new and experienced — starting their own firm, where breaking new ground depends on how far you can spread the word.

Most discussion on how to start a firm has focused on the plight of new lawyers — i.e., recent law school graduates. If you’re a recent graduate, chances are you’re mired with debt with few substantial resources to guide you in finding success. A most significant challenge, however, is the limited scope of business contacts that a lawyer builds naturally throughout the course of their career.

Take experienced lawyers — or those mid-career — however, and the challenges aren’t necessarily very different. Exchange student debt for the cost of a mortgage and raising a family, and financial pressures never really abate themselves (sorry grads). Where it gets more complex is building that client base of your own accord. One might think experienced lawyers could bring a book of business from their previous firm. However, this is less common than you might think. Building a personal client base is difficult when working for someone else, since law firms tend to actively protect their client relationships from poaching — even though ethics codes require that clients ultimately choose their continuing representation.

For any lawyer launching a new law firm, finding ways to market yourself to your audiences is essential to attracting new clients.

Find your first clients


In most cases, your first clients will be friends or family members, or people referred by them. While that’s a logical place to start, many attorneys will stop there, ignoring a potentially long list of existing business contacts. (Even if you’ve only just left law school, you have business contacts!) If you’ve been an intern, if you know a lawyer in your hometown, if you have an uncle who’s a paralegal, start there.

The key is to maintain a contact list while finding ways to communicate with them on a regular basis. It’s essential to notify your network about what you’re doing and to keep them apprised of your activities. A few emails and the occasional phone call is all it takes, and you can always add more tools and greater sophistication to your communications later on, when regular newsletters and client alerts can help you do this with more efficiency.

Plan your broader marketing strategies

The line between networking and marketing is a thin one, but for the purpose of this discussion, think about your broader marketing strategy as your formal effort in building relationships with potential clients beyond your own personal network. This is where you use specialized channels to get your name out there.

There is quite a bit that you can do as a solo or small-firm lawyer to market your practice for no money down. Content marketing is a great way to build your authority in a specific industry or practice area — by getting your name into the marketplace and establishing credibility. Maintaining an active blog can make you more visible to clients through search engines, and social media is an excellent means for building your network and learning about your clients.

Paid advertising can also be lucrative. While some forms of online and print advertising can require large budgets, there are many affordable methods that are more feasible for most startups. Some firms pay almost $1,000 per click to advertise for certain keywords in Google, but if you know your niche, you can bid on terms with a much lower cost — or try Bing, which is generally cheaper. You can also pay to advertise through social media channels, which are both affordable and highly targeted — ensuring that you get the most value out of every dollar you spend. Not only can you set budget limits for your campaigns, but you can also define exactly the type of audience you’re looking to communicate with.

Since fewer companies rely on physical advertising, this could be a means for you to stand out with a creative or odd-shaped mailer. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. The world has shifted to digital mediums, and when something legitimate and tangible enters your mail slot, you create great opportunities to stand out.

Balancing your marketing tactics is key here, and knowing who your looking to target is crucial.

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