Building a book of business and generating revenue for the firm is incredibly important to you as a lawyer. No matter what your experience level, no matter what your practice area, no matter where you are located – it’s crucial. So now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, what about the not-so-obvious: how do you build a book of business? Generating revenue is not easy, but it’s possible with a lot of tenacity and patience.
If you have less than 10 or 12 years of experience, building a book of business may be a little tougher; but, time is on your side. Many firms don’t expect you to have a large book at this point in the game. (All the better for you when you surprise them with client relationships you cultivated!)
Network, network, network
The three most dreaded, but most important, words for any attorney. If you want business, you have to get out there and meet people. No matter what type of law you practice, you need to make connections with people in order to start generating revenue. Each time you leave the office is an opportunity to meet a potential client. Work on your elevator pitch, hand out business cards and attend social functions as often as you can. The more people you meet, the more chances you have to start building a book. It’s a numbers game, and you’ve got to play!
Build relationships with current clients
Repeat clients are the cornerstone for nearly every type of business, and the law is no exception. If you are working closely with a client now, start building a relationship with that person. In a few years, he/she may need your services again, and you’ll be the person to get the call. Remember, clients are in business with attorneys, not with a law firm. They want someone at the firm who understands their case and knows them as a person.
Work in conjunction with senior attorneys
Nothing beats having a mentor. Many of the senior attorneys in your firm will have experience bringing new cases. Ask them questions and go with them to client lunches. Learn from someone who has already figured out the best way to get new clients and generate revenue. No need to reinvent the wheel!
As a partner, you know the importance of generating revenue at the firm. You’ve probably already followed the advice given to the associates, above. However, you may not know how to build your book from here. Maybe you’ve hit a wall or need some inspiration about new ways to get clients. As always, we’re here to help!
Nothing is more annoying than calling an attorney and getting voice mail. Be available to answer phone calls and emails. Timeliness of your responses will be one of the major things that sets you apart from another lawyer. Believe me when I tell you – if you don’t answer the phone another attorney will. Make a goal for yourself: one hour responses to all emails and 30 minute responses to phone calls. With Blackberries and iPhones everywhere, this should be no problem. (And, if you don’t have either a Blackberry or an iPhone, stop reading this, get in your car and go buy one! They are crucial to your success!)
Reach out to family and friends
You’ve done the work parties, legal events, seminars and conferences. What else? Send out an email to your friends and family and let them know that you’re looking for new clients. Although everyone will know that you’re an attorney, many non-lawyers don’t understand exactly what you do or with whom you work. If you are specific in your email, you’ll definitely get a response. The email should read something like this: Dear ______, I’m working on building my client list, and I’d love for you to keep an eye out for the following type of client. I currently work in intellectual property. I’m looking for someone who recently started a business or someone who recently published a book. If you have any such contacts, I’d be honored if you would send them my way. I’ll be happy to help them secure a copyright or trademark for the business logo or the book.
Host a seminar
Pick a topic that would be appealing to your ideal client base. What affects their businesses? Are there new tax laws or regulations? Anything in the economy that directly hurts or helps their businesses? If so, they will definitely be interested in hearing more about this topic. Learn everything you can and host a seminar. It can be in the office or in a hotel conference room. Wherever they can congregate conveniently. At the end of the seminar, let them know that you are happy to answer any questions about this topic. Hand out your business card.