The job market for lawyers is pretty dismal right now. As the big law firm model continues to undergo transformation, the employment rate for recent law school grads has plummeted to the point where only 50.7% of 2012’s graduating class found work in a private law practice. As a result, more and more lawyers are forced to go the entrepreneurial route and start their own law practice. The major problem they all face is how to find clients as a new lawyer.
However, even if you’re among the many young lawyers striving to find new clients and grow your practice, fear not. More and more resources are emerging all the time to help you build a client base and grow your law practice from the ground up. The following info contains some helpful tips and strategies for how to find clients as a new lawyer.
Although time consuming, networking can be one of the most effective ways for finding new clients for your law practice. Meetup.com is an excellent resource for avid networkers. There are groups devoted to just about anything you can think of, and the majority of them have open enrollment. Find a couple active groups with members that fit your target clientele, and start regularly attending their events. Before long, you’ll become a recognizable face in the group, and surely the next time someone in the group needs legal help, you will be the first person they call.
Networking is just a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more chances you have to acquire a new client. Just be friendly and sociable and don’t worry about selling your legal services. It may seem fruitless in the beginning, but in due time, your efforts will pay off and clients will come knocking on your door.
This one is obvious, but referrals still remain as probably the number one source of new clients for most attorneys. The problem is, when you’re a new lawyer without a large clientele, referrals can be difficult to come by. That’s where networking and referrals go hand-in-hand.
You shouldn’t just be networking with prospective clients. You should also spend a considerable amount of time networking with other attorneys. Join your local Bar Association and attend as many mixers and other events as possible. Meet other young attorneys who are in your same boat, having recently started their own practices. Get to know a few attorneys in each practice area other than your own, and make a plan to refer each other clients that you can’t take on yourself. This kind of mutually beneficial relationship can go a long way in the early stages because it allows you to tap into their networks for prospective clients, as opposed to relying solely on your own network which is probably limited in the early going.
Public speaking may seem like a less conventional way of acquiring clients, but it can be extremely effective nonetheless. A good attorney client relationship comes down to trust, and one of the best ways to establish credibility and make yourself known in the community as a trustworthy lawyer is to share your expertise in front of an audience.
Seek out public speaking engagements and law-related panels where you will have the chance to educate people about legal issues that may affect them. Chances are, at least a handful of audience members would already be interested in your services, given the fact that they are there listening and seeking out more information about those particular issues. Share your contact information and make yourself available for questions afterwards too. Having observed you speaking, people are likely to respect you as an expert and would be likely to turn to you first the next time they need legal advice.
Millions of people search for law and lawyer-related keywords on Google every month, so it should come as no surprise that your prospective clients are online, looking for you. You’ve just got to find a way to be there when they’re ready to pull the trigger and hire a lawyer.
There are countless strategies, online lawyer directories, and internet marketing companies out there for you to try. But it’s a good idea to do your research upfront about the effectiveness of each one before going all in because these things can get expensive quickly. Here are some of the major ways for how to find clients as a new lawyer, online:
Pay-per-click (PPC) Campaigns
PPC can be a good way to find clients, since someone searching for a lawyer clearly has some level of intent to hire one. But the sky-high costs for a click make this strategy unfeasible for most new lawyers starting out. The search term “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer,” for example, can cost upwards of $140, just for one person to click through from Google and visit your website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is an increasingly popular tactic, but again, it’s not cheap. Many firms pay thousands of dollars every month to have their website optimized for search engines. And the problem with SEO is that it can be very difficult to track your ROI. But having a good website that is search engine friendly should still be on to-do list either way.
Lawyer Listing Services
Sites like Lawyers.com and Avvo have become a popular way for people to find lawyers online. They can be a good way to establish an online presence, but once again, it’s usually for a price, and it can be difficult to measure your ROI.
Social Media and Blogging
A much better approach from a cost standpoint is to actively use social media and regularly generate and share content in order to engage with prospective clients online. If done effectively, this strategy works a lot like networking in the real world, and if you can build up a decent following, you’re likely to have success getting new clients. But be aware of the ethical concerns of using social media before you jump in.
Lead Generation Sites
TotalAttorneys, AttorneyBoost, and others have emerged on the scene offering to sell you targeted client leads. These services can be hit-or-miss, and it may be hard to earn a profit on the clients you do land because the leads get expensive. However, if you’re just starting out, they can be a great way to get some initial client flow and build a base for future referrals.
Check out how to build a law practice online for more information.
Being a new lawyer can be tough at first, but don’t give up hope. Try out a bunch of these strategies and determine what works best for you and your practice. Before you know it, the old problem of how to find clients as a new lawyer will be an afterthought and your practice will be thriving.