Today’s guest post was written by Jaimie Fields, a lawyer and Rainmaking Leader and Coach and Legal Marketing Consultant. You can learn more about her at the end of the post.
Congratulations on making the decision to start a new legal practice in 2018.
Starting anything new comes with a bit of trepidation . . . or maybe a heavy dose of insecurity. Attorneys are notoriously risk-averse. This is because we are trained to be.
Lawyers are constantly looking for ways that things could go wrong in order to protect their clients. The focus is on reducing risk and not on creating or developing opportunities. But, when you are starting your own legal practice, you have to learn to create and develop those opportunities, or you don’t have a practice.
Once you have made a decision to start your new practice, there are 5 steps you must take first in order to create the success that you want.
1. Decide on a Niche for your practice
A niche or a target market is more than just a practice area. It is choosing a specific group of people or businesses in which you become known for your authority in the field. What your clients want is not just a subject matter expert, but a doyen of all things related to that industry.
When you decide on a niche, you are deciding to become not just an attorney in that area but an advisor to that arena. This allows you to become increasingly well known by the people in that industry/group/niche. And, this allows you to market your services more strategically than just the old “let’s throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” method of marketing. Which leads to the second step.
2. You need a marketing/business development plan
Marketing is one of the most important tasks you need to do when you open a new practice. If people do not know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them, they will not hire you. Marketing allows you to become known.
There is no right or wrong plan. While you could write an extensive business plan, it is unnecessary. You just need a plan which answers the following questions:
- Who are your ideal clients? (Your niche)
- How are you going to find them? (Where do they hang out both on and off line? To what associations do they belong? What magazines, websites, and books do they read?)
- How are you going to let them know about you? (What marketing tactics will you use to allow your ideal clients know who you are and what you can do to help.)
Which brings us to step number 3.
3. You need an Online Presence
Regardless of whether someone is referred to you personally or whether they find your practice some other way, the first place they look is the internet to do some research. You need to create an online presence which builds your reputation. This includes your website, social media, blogs, online reviews, videos and any other online real estate you can claim to create your online presence. And, more importantly, you have to monitor your online presence to ensure that what is being said about you and your practice is what you want to be said.
4. You Need Relationship Skills.
Many attorneys do not like to network. But, you need to create relationships in order to become a rainmaker. Nobody wants to be “sold” – that pushy, buy-from-me-now mentality. Instead, because of the internet, people have already determined what they want and now they are just looking for the right place, or person, to help them get the results they are seeking.
The relationships can be built in person or online but you need to have the skills necessary to make people like and trust you. And yes, they can be learned.
5. You Need to be Persistent
Finally, the last step is one of persistence.
It’s not going to be easy but it is well worth it if you have always wanted to start a firm. Many attorneys who have started their own practices have found that they are working harder and longer than they ever have in the past. Having realistic expectations will help you, but you have to keep going, day after day after day.
There will be days that will leave you down.
But the upside can be so worth it.
Jaimie B. Field, Esq. is both award winning Rainmaking Trainer and Coach and an award winning Legal Marketing Consultant. For more than 15 years she has worked solely with attorneys and law firms of all sizes, from solos to AMLAW firms, to help them get known and get hired.