Adding a practice area to your law practice is exciting and a positive move toward building a larger client base. But how do you spread the word to let attorneys, clients and other professionals know that you have added a specialty? And how do you do that without sinking money into a part of your practice that has yet to produce revenue? Start with traditional word of mouth, check your online presence and let your website do the rest.
Networking, In Person
Let’s say you have decided you want to expand your family law practice by adding bankruptcy to your services. It can be a complementary area of law for clients experiencing financial upheaval after a divorce. Or perhaps you have chosen real estate, knowing that many of your clients will be leaving the marital home and purchasing property during the divorce process. In both cases, you can leverage existing networks and professional communities in those areas.
Real estate professionals know about properties in foreclosure and have a need to refer buyers and sellers to a local real estate lawyer — a source that could provide a steady stream of clients to a bankruptcy or real estate attorney. Attorneys who are already established in the area of law you are targeting can help you gain footing and can also send you smaller cases that they are too busy to take. Conferences through your state bar or professional organizations related to your new area of practice (the American Bankruptcy Institute or National Association of REALTORS®, as just two examples) can be educational and offer valuable networking opportunities.
Establish — and strengthen — your online presence
In addition to your real-life networking efforts, make sure your online presence is doing its job of spreading the word about your new specialty. Do a Google search of your name and firm name. Claim your profile on sites such as Google My Business, Bing, Apple and Yelp and add information and correct any inaccuracies. Add a listing to legal directories and write a unique summary of what your practice offers for each site (Google demotes sites with duplicate information; make your listing more relevant by writing a new firm description — three or four sentences is fine — for each listing). If your profile is already posted, make sure your firm name is listed correctly with updated contact information, and add your new practice area to your profile. Ask clients in your existing practice areas to post reviews — especially the ones who have sent thank you emails. Prospective clients are heavily influenced by reviews, and business listings that have no reviews are often passed over.
After also updating your firm information and new practice area on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook)and review sites (Yelp, Google, Lawyers.com, Avvo, etc.), start working on the aspect of your marketing efforts over which you have the most control: your firm website. Add a page to describe your practice area with relevant keywords (think of typical questions your clients ask or the terms that someone searching online would use to find a lawyer in your new practice area). No need to jam-pack your prose with repetitive keywords, but do sprinkle the most important descriptors throughout to accurately describe your services, the client problems they solve and why you are the attorney for the job. Check the title tags and meta tags (what search engines use to index your page) for your site pages to be sure that they reflect your new practice area page and the results of your research. The page titles and descriptions you include are what will appear in search results, so be clear and accurate.
If you don’t already have a page on your site dedicated to a blog, consider adding one. A blog gives you an opportunity to show prospective clients why you are the knowledgeable, trustworthy and helpful lawyer they need. Continually adding new content is also a smart way to keep your site high in Google rankings, which reward sites that update content on a regular basis. A blog might seem overwhelming, but 15 minutes of brainstorming can net you a handful of topics or questions relevant to your new practice area and existing areas of practice. From there, try to draft three or four blog posts that you can bank to feed the pipeline for months to come. Some attorneys are prolific and update their blogs every week, but if that pace seems unrealistic with your workload, you can aim for adding something new once every two to four weeks. An updated blog will set you apart from the competition and should garner your site better search engine results after a few months.
While the prospect of marketing your new practice area in person and online may feel overwhelming, all it takes is a few hours dedicated to a low-cost, step-by-step process that you can tackle over time. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising, either. Start with your existing network, then participate in in your new professional sphere and establish yourself online. In a matter of months, you are sure to notice more referrals, client calls and a booming new practice.