BigLaw environments are an excellent place to build up a large body of experience in a short time, learn the ins and outs of the legal industry, and develop your network. But if you want to leave your mark on the legal industry, striking out on your own as a solo attorney could be the way to go.
Those interested in going solo often wonder if they truly have what it takes to stand out in a sea of BigLaw. While you may not be able to outspend BigLaw in traditional advertising methods, you can make up for that by excelling in the area of customer service.
Connect With Current and Potential Clients As Quickly As Possible
Research indicates that 48% of people seeking legal services view responsiveness as a critical factor when selecting an attorney. That same study found that the top reason people choose to pass over a firm is slow response time. Whether you get most of your client inquiries via email, online contact form, or phone call, getting back to potential clients as soon as you can is essential.
Get Personal With Face-to-Face Connections
People want to feel like they matter. BigLaw attorneys, with larger billing hour requirements and packed schedules, are often unable to give this same level of attention to clients. Taking time out of your schedule to really engage with potential clients, connect with them about their legal situation, and build a lasting relationship of trust sets you apart from the competition.
Ease Anxiety With Transparent Fee Schedules
According to the 2019 Decision Criteria Report, 68% of respondents said price (hourly rate, retainer fee, etc.) was the most important factor in their decision-making process. They were also unclear on how various fee structures worked.
Simply being honest about your fees and billing schedule can go a long way in retaining new clients, particularly those who are used to the complicated, obfuscated billing methods used by large firms.
Become Active in the Community
Cause marketing is an ideal legal marketing strategy for small law firms. While BigLaw firms tend to have massive reach across a number of geographical areas, solo law firms are more likely to focus on a smaller area. This gives you the opportunity to dig in, find out which causes are important to those in your area, and connect with nonprofit organizations to make a difference. It is important to truly invest your energy in this cause, as consumers are averse to insincere displays of support.
Streamline the Review Process
Approximately one-third of people looking for legal representation turn first to online reviews when beginning their search. Because of their size, BigLaw firms naturally accumulate far more reviews than small law firms. This can reduce your online reach and dissuade potential clients. In order to stay competitive, you need a strategy for collecting reviews from clients.
A good strategy involves three main goals: gathering good reviews, publishing and promoting reviews, and responding to reviews.
Gathering reviews. It can be uncomfortable to ask directly for reviews, but remember, satisfied clients are often more than willing to help a small business owner who has assisted them through difficult times. Reaching out is challenging, but it can have an enormous impact on your firm.
Publishing and promoting reviews. While some choose to publish reviews exclusively on their websites, others focus on first gathering reviews on external sites and then publishing clips of reviews on their own website. Either way, it is vital to update and add new reviews at least quarterly.
Tending review sites. Online reviews are often the only contact a potential client will have with your brand before they make the first contact. Do a monthly audit of your online presence, focusing specifically on calm, level-headed responses to negative reviews.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
One key benefit that clients enjoy when they choose a small law firm is the fact that they do not feel like a number. Rather than feeling like a cog in the BigLaw machine, clients of small law firms enjoy personalized treatment and attention. Take advantage of this by maintaining ongoing communication with clients, including those who do not have any current cases with your firm. This highlights your genuine interest in them as people and ensures that they feel comfortable coming back to you if they need assistance in the future. This can be as simple as adding them to your holiday card list or reaching out periodically to check in on them.
As a small law firm owner, you have the opportunity to work for yourself, exceed your clients’ expectations, and create a culture that upholds your professional values and goals. It all starts with setting yourself apart from competitors by going above and beyond to provide an elite level of customer care. This level of commitment to your clients creates lasting bonds and develops long-term relationships that differentiate your practice from the “case mill” feel of BigLaw and provides the staying power you need to make it as a solo practitioner.