Making Connections to Grow Your Law Firm

Tricia Meyer is our guest author who gives her advice on growing a law firm.

Like any business, a law firm must strategize to attract clients. Through networking, mentoring and participating in speaking engagements, I have shared my expertise and built credibility in my community and within my practice area. This has ultimately helped me grow my business. Following are a few tips I have learned along the way I think other lawyers, and business owners in general, will find helpful.

 

1.     Hold office hours

Many local chambers and business organizations provide client services firms the opportunity to host office hours and meet briefly with their members. I host office hours regularly, which has afforded me the opportunity to help entrepreneurs and connect with people outside of my network. Meeting people and making an impression before they actually need your services is a great way to start relationship building and letting people know how you can help them in the future. I have garnered many new clients who have come back to me as a result of the time I spent with them during office hours.

2. Share your knowledge through speaking engagements

Speaking engagements will position you and members of your firm as experts, allowing more people to know who you are, what you do and how you can help. 

Select speaking opportunities where you can address a specific issue and demonstrate you know the topic inside and out. This will also attract a more targeted audience of people interested in the topic you are addressing. Also, think outside the box and seek speaking opportunities that help you reach markets where you want to grow your business.

3. Manage your calendar thoughtfully

When you consider speaking or networking event opportunities, evaluate each one to ensure you’ll be exposed to potential clients or meaningful connections. You and your firm must participate in enough events to make an impact, but it is crucial not to spread yourself too thin. Aim to speak often but not everywhere; you want people to look forward to a chance to hear you speak. 

Tricia Meyer is managing attorney of Chicago-based Meyer Law, specializing in tech. She is well connected in Chicago's tech community, regularly provides office hours at a local tech co-working space, and speaks at events geared toward tech entrepreneurs. She credits all of these things for Meyer Law's successful growth. 

As Seen on TV--Growing Your Business Law Practice!

Shark Tank TV showSara Derakhshanian, a Lexis-Nexis law marketing specialist, explains how the television show "Shark Tank" can help attorneys whose practices focus on patents, trademarks, etc.


Nearly 5 million people tuned in to watch "Shark Tank" last season, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors. Television commercials frequently appear, reminding inventors that they can file patents and (maybe) make a lot of money, just like that guy who came up with that idea for that thing that a big company bought.

This type of publicity offers fresh opportunities for attorneys whose legal practices don't usually scream "television" or "high-profile." However, attorneys who focus on patents, business formations, LLCs, copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property and other fairly technical areas have a terrific opportunity to jump on these trends and grow their client base.

For example, Glenn Peterson, an attorney who specializes in trademark cases, comments online about intellectual property controversies, such as an infringement case regarding the “I-heart-NY” logo has caught the attention of the legal world. When not representing clients, Peterson writes industry articles and provides media commentary—and is frequently featured in print, on line and on the air. When not representing clients, Peterson writes industry articles and provides media commentary—and is frequently featured in print, on line and on the air.

In order to capitalize on this new awareness, attorneys should tackle a two-prong approach. One is business-to-business, the other is raising awareness among consumers who may become potential clients. For busy attorneys, homing in on social media and their websites often represent the best investment of their time and resources.

Business-to-Business Referrals

While offline relationships are still important, connecting online is one way to increase your network and put yourself top of mind when colleagues have clients who need the services you offer.

Join professional groups on LinkedIn and participate in forums that relate to your practice area. Become or stay active with colleagues and groups on Facebook and other platforms.

When you meet colleagues, follow up and invite them to connect via social media, which will expand your presence online.

Reach Out to Consumers Directly

When targeting potential clients, many of the same general ideas apply. Only the context and focus may be a little different.

For example, social media activities geared towards your peers can be tweaked for the general public. Be sure to spend some time on your Facebook page, where consumers are likely to find you. Think about starting a blog, or blogging more regularly. Your website should also be well designed, inviting and easy to find.

Consider the value of taking part in online advice forums, where you can answer specific questions (my colleagues Amy Kovar and Donald Rohan have written some excellent advice about this).

Business lawyers have the chance to jump in on some exciting opportunities and take advantage of public awareness about these to promote their services. Don't miss your chance! To learn more about improving your social media presence and website, call 866-799-3717 or contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist.

Read the article at the original source here.

Webinar: The Secret Ingredients of 5-Star Law Firm Websites

Join us for an encore presentation of our FREE Webinar:

The Secret Ingredients of 5-Star Law Firm Websites

 

Results of the 2013 Law Firm Website Conversion Studyby LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®

 

 


Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Time: 12:30 – 1:30 P.M., ET

It takes the right blend of ingredients to create a 5-star law firm website that inspires confidence and drives leads. Which elements pique a consumer’s interest enough to prompt a call to your firm?

This complimentary Webinar, back by popular demand and presented by LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® Web design experts, will explore the results of an exclusive study on how to turn visitors to your website into leads.

We will answer the following questions:

 

·         Which law firm website elements do consumers notice?

·         What do consumers react to in a positive, negative or neutral way?

·         What prompts website visitors to contact the law firm for more information or an appointment?

·         Based upon your practice area(s), which website elements should be included?

·         How can your law firm website stand out among many law firms vying for prospects’ attention?

We will also include examples of best practices for your website and which pitfalls to avoid.

Register HERE for an encore presentation of our FREE webinar and receive a copy of the study whitepaper after the presentation.

Presenters:

Samantha Miller, Vice President, LexisNexis® Product Web Visibility Solutions has held leadership positions at litigation technology companies and has previously practiced law in Philadelphia as a commercial litigator. Ms. Miller is a published author and speaker on the use of technology in the practice of law.
 

Felice Daddario, Creative Director for LexisNexis® Web Visibility Solutions is responsible for the creative design strategies behind the company’s world-class websites for law firms. His design team has won numerous industry awards, including the 2012 Web Marketing Association WebAward for “Legal Standard of Excellence.”

 

Differentiate Your Practice By Dominating Your Niche

My friends at The Rainmaker Blog posted an article about the impact dominating your niche has on differentiating your practice from your competition.  You may read it at the source here.


The law of marketing is once you become known as Wal-Mart, you can never become a Tiffany's. By not discovering - and emphasizing true competitive differences, you are relegating yourself to be just another lawyer who is casting their fishing line into the vast ocean of legal marketing. 


Here are several great ways an attorney can start to set himself or herself apart from competitors:

Emphasize Your Service: I'm not referring to the services you offer, but how you serve your clients. At the Rainmaker Retreat, our two day legal marketing seminar, we use the phrase "micromanaging the client experience" to describe how law firms can create a unique and powerful experience for clients by treating them like VIPs (without spending a lot of money).

Market Like a Specialist: It's always easier to build a financially successful law firm that focuses on a specialty area. The more practice areas your firm promotes, the fewer referrals you will receive. There are several major benefits to specializing, including:

  • You can command higher prices.
  • More people can send you referrals because they don't view you as a competitor.
  • And you can develop a deeper knowledge about your clientele and their legal issues.

By choosing to specialize, you increase opportunities to form alliances with other professionals.

Create a "Double Niche": Focusing on a particular industry is a great way to niche your firm. Jeff Matsen is a well-respected estate planning attorney and a long-time client of ours, but over the last two decades he has become a nationally recognized asset protection attorney (first niche). 

Even further, he has created a niche targeting asset protection for doctors and dentists (second niche) because he knows it's easier to position himself as a true expert when he applies his first niche (a specific niche within a practice area) to a specific industry (like doctors and dentists) thus creating a "double niche."

Clearly Define Your Perfect Client: Once you have narrowed down your niche, you need to determine who your perfect client is. This puts you in a much better place to educate potential referral sources. 

Here's a good example of a target market: small to mid-sized companies that are privately held with 2 to 100 employees, in the construction, high-tech, or professional services industries. They may need help establishing their company, are having challenges growing their company, looking at adding a partner, or want to acquire another company.

Be Smart About Your Office Location: You've heard the importance in real estate of "location, location, location." The city you practice law in will determine a lot of things; it can also be a factor in your success. 

Targeting immigration law in San Francisco provides you with more opportunities than practicing immigration law in Fargo, North Dakota.

There are many ways you can dominate your chosen niche. Below are the top 10 ways I've seen work in the legal industry.

1. Focus your website on your primary area(s) of expertise. Whether it's a doctor or a lawyer, we all want to be treated by a specialist. Find a targeted, focused legal niche where you can specialize and ensure your website focuses on just that niche. Do not create an online presence that makes you look like a general practitioner. Most savvy consumers will check you out online before they ever pick up the phone and call you.

2. Own your niche's keywords. Select 20-30 keywords or phrases that prospects likely use to look for you online and work with a search engine optimization company to help you get to the top of Google for those keywords. Don't make the mistake of just targeting the obvious key terms.

3. Get a Blog. Subject matter experts (SMEs) are well-read in their niche and they can and do comment on what the big topics are, the major cases, and emerging trends. One of the best ways to position yourself as a SME is to blog several times per month on your niche.

4. Become a Guest Author. Target high-traffic or highly influential industry blogs that appeal to your specific target market and offer to write a guest column.

5. Create a Special Report or an E-book. Publications are viewed by many as a sign of authority and prestige. You don't need a major New York publisher to "discover" you to become an author. Write a simple 5-10 page special report, white paper or turn it into a PDF and call it an "e-book."

6. Speak at Live Events-Your Own or Others. Few things are more authoritative in the field of marketing than speaking at events, either events you offer or for other associations, whether live or online via webinars, speaking positions you as an industry expert. We have several clients who have built million dollar practices simply by speaking 2-3 times per month at local and regional events. 

7. Send out a Press Release. Press releases are a great way to build your online credibility. Create a media list of target publications that reach your perfect clients and regularly send them press releases. You can do a press release on almost any topic like: Is your law firm growing/hiring (while other firms are downsizing)? Did you expand your offices to better serve your clients? Are you involved in philanthropic work? Did you recently win a big case? Is there a specific legal issue facing local people that you can comment on? Are you giving a seminar you would like to promote? 

8. Create a Radio Show. With modern technology you can easily create your own "online radio show." For only a couple hundred dollars per year you can use platforms like BlogTalkRadio.com to create, host, and post your radio show. They can even help you promote your show online. There are thousands of online radio shows currently and if you don't want to create your own you can contact the owner and ask to be interviewed on his or her show. Most of them welcome professional guests.

9. Publish an Industry Survey. Surveys are powerful tools that can open doors to high profile interviews with industry leaders, media attention about the results, and inbound leads when you publicize the results. There are several good online survey tools like SurveyMonkey.com and Zoomerang.com. Target a specific topic like "The impact of the new estate tax laws on small business owners in Phoenix" or "The Top 10 Biggest Legal Issues Facing Divorced Women in Arizona."

10. Create information products. Write and distribute articles, e-books, free reports and other information products that demonstrate your authority in your niche.

I have personally used every single one of these to build The Rainmaker Institute's credibility and national presence. In addition, we have hundreds of law firm clients who have used these with great success. Just remember, there is no easy button and there is no "magic wand." You have to work at it to create a niche and it will take time and consistent effort to position yourself as a true expert. 

Getting Potential Clients to Watch Your Video

According to David Wodnicki, a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist, when potential clients view videos of attorneys, it can create a powerful connection like nothing else on a law firm website. But even an Oscar-worthy video won't help, if viewers don't bother to actually launch it. So, how can you get them to watch? Here are a few ideas.

1. Make them worth watching
You don't need to hire Martin Scorsese to direct your attorney-profile video, but you don't want a video that looks and sounds cheap. Fortunately, digital equipment has become so inexpensive that you don't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to hire someone to create simple, effective videos.

The videos also don't need to be long. Potential clients aren't looking for a law-school lecture or a bragging session. They just want to get a sense of who you are as an attorney and why they may want to talk to you about their case.

2. Make the videos easy to find
Feedback from the LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® 2013 Law Firm Website Conversion Study points to the success of putting videos on the home page. You want to be careful about how you use this valuable real estate, but creating links here can pay off in a big way by encouraging people to watch them.

3. Optimize videos for desktop and smartphone viewing
Consumers who go online to look at law firm websites are most likely to use laptops and desktops, according to theAttorney Selection Research Study by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG). However, more than one-fifth of potential clients accessed online resources with their smartphones. You want to make sure computer and smartphone users alike can easily view your videos.

4. Be sure to comply with all your jurisdiction's ethics laws
But you knew that, of course.

The American Lawyer 2012 Report on Growth of Am Law 100 Firms

Last week, The American Lawyer 2012 Report on Growth of Am Law 100 Firms came out.  Here is a press release with its results:

NEW YORK – April 26, 2013 – *The nation’s 100 largest law firms achieved modest cumulative growth in 2012, gaining 3.4% in total gross revenue over the prior year to $73.4 billion, 2.6% in average revenue per lawyer to $844,245, and 4.2% in average profits per partner to $1.47 million, according to the 26th annual Am Law 100 report published in the May issue of ALM’s *The American Lawyer* and at AmericanLawyer.com.

However, 2012’s gains were uneven, with only 76 firms showing gross revenue increases, down from 80 in 2011, and 66 registering higher profits per partner, down from 72. In addition, profitability gains were concentrated among the higher-grossing firms. The 50 largest firms registered a cumulative 8.0% jump in profits per partner while the others fell 3.3%.

DLA Piper, powered by an 8.6% gross revenue spurt, topped the Am Law 100 with $2.44 billion, pushing former leader Baker & McKenzie, with $2.31 billion, into second place. Latham & Watkins with $2.23 billion took over third place from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with $2.21 billion. Kirkland & Ellis retained fifth place. Jones Day took over sixth from Hogan Lovells, which fell to seventh. Sidley Austin held steady in eighth place as did White & Case in ninth. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher moved up to 10th place from 12th in 2011.

The law firms that prospered last year “tended to have an international footprint, a strong transactions group, and a diverse set of practice areas," wrote Robin Sparkman, Editor in Chief of *The American Lawyer*. "The boutique labor and employment and immigration firms were the exception.”

"Many of these firms also have a strong brand and are known by clients for standout work in a particular area," Sparkman added. "The firms that did well also held the line on their equity partner head count and continued to raise rates, increase billable hours, or both. Some stood out for capitalizing on high-growth industries.”

Among the stand-out firm performers, for better or worse, were:

   - Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, whose profits per partner leaped 36.5% due to a contingency class action payment in a Native American royalties rights case.

   - Bracewell & Giuliani, which scored the group’s largest profits per partner increase, 42.2%, based on high demand from their energy industry client list.

   - Immigration-focused Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, which rose 16 ranks to number 86, its first-ever appearance on the Am Law 100.

   - Barnes & Thornburg, Chadbourne & Parke, Cozen O’Connor and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker fell out of the Am Law 100. Chadbourne was a 26-year veteran.

 

 

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Basic Design Tips for Law Firm Websites

Today's post originally appeared on the LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Blog by Donald Rohan, a Law Firm Marketing Specialist.

Bad website design is like a bad tattoo. You went into the process wanting something that highlighted your uniqueness and attracted positive attention. Unfortunately, you got something indistinguishable from thousands of others — or worse, something that stands out for the wrong reasons.

Traditional limits on legal advertising and inexperience with design often lead law firms to overspend on websites that don't deliver maximum impact. Some firms may think they don't need to invest much in their site. But even if your firm maintains a conservative approach to a practice area like estate planning, you can present and promote yourself in a unique, attractive way.  

You don't need to be a design expert. Just keep a few basic tips in mind, and check out these examples of firms that are doing design well:

Tell a story with one dominant image.

Before viewers read a word, they should get the message you're trying to transmit. Don't distract from this message by clouding the viewer's perception with different images. Find one dominant image that works.  On this homepage, you would immediately understand the firm's international focus.

Resist visual clichés.

A picture of courthouse steps does not send a message of trial brilliance. Instead, it leaves viewers with the inability to distinguish your firm from the thousands of others with similar imagery. The first people to put a pink flamingo on their lawn might have evoked curious questions as to whether exotic waterfowl lived there, but now those plastic birds are so common, people don't even "see" them anymore. Here's a website that uses symbolism to get away from the typical images of personal injury firms. 

Think like a newspaper editor.

Without reading any of the text, a newspaper reader knows which stories merit the most attention. Those appear on top with the largest headlines and graphics. Other important stories are presented lower on the page. Interesting items that don't merit front-page treatment receive a brief mention in the table of contents with their page number. On this site, the main headline is large, clear, and well promoted, even as the images behind it shift. As you move down and outward from the headline, the secondary items appear and are easy to access.

At each stage of your website process, you should be able to identify your firm's headline, the dominant image that will accompany it and why it is uniquely matched to your firm.

Optimize Your Law Firm's Website for Mobile or Keep Losing Clients

Samantha MillerVice President of Product, Web Visibility Solutions at LexisNexis, wrote an important piece back in November about the importance of optimizing your firm's website for mobile users.  Here is an excerpt. Read it at the source, here.

Have you ever tried to navigate a website with your mobile phone or pad, when that site was NOT optimized for mobile devices?

The text is too small and the images are too large. There is way too much content and that material is basically unreadable. Pictures are not sized or placed properly. If you can even find the scroll bar or tabs, you have to keep swiping. And forget about trying to find any contact info.    

In short, the website looks and feels terrible.

If you are a consumer in urgent need of legal information or actually need to find an attorney, you're moving on to another firm's site.

LegalTechNY Discussion: Barriers to Social Media Adoption

At LegalTechNY, Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of the Research & Litigation Solutions business at LexisNexis, posed this question to Stephen Fairley, chief executive officer of The Rainmaker Institute and myself: If we have passed the tipping point for firms to use social media, why are so many firms reluctant to dive in?

 

 

Shhh! The #1 Secret to Boosting Client Referrals

Stephen Fairley shares with us the #1 secret to boosting client referrals and retention in this blog post that can found on the Rainmaker Blog.

When it comes to communicating with clients, listening is often more important than talking. It is by listening that you learn what clients want, and then you can give it to them. Which makes for more referrals and better client retention.

Here are some important methods you can use to actively listen to clients:
 
Open feedback. Always offer clients a way to provide feedback, through your website, an online survey and in your e-newsletter campaign. Simply asking for their thoughts is often enough to garner some important insights.
 
Transactional feedback. If you’re a regular Starbucks customer, you have undoubtedly received a free survey at some point with your receipt. You provide them with some feedback online and you get a free drink for your efforts. What attorneys can learn from this is the importance of asking clients for their thoughts about their experience with your firm after the case is over or at important points along the way. Keep your finger on the pulse of how satisfied they are with how your firm is treating them, and you’ll have a satisfied client.
 
Social media interaction. Monitor your social media channels to see what people are saying about you. You can search for your firm name on Twitter and Facebook , and you should be regularly monitoring Avvo, FindLaw, Yelp and Google for other comments about your firm.
 
Client satisfaction surveys. Using formal client satisfaction surveys is another good way to gauge client experiences with your firm. Send one out after each engagement is closed and respond immediately and personally to any negative feedback.