A young lawyer asks for my #1 piece of advice for starting a law firm, but cautions that he has few clients, relationships with lawyers or $. The lawyer believes that no one would refer a case to him since he’s a novice, has no big settlements or verdicts, and no trial experience. In essence, the young lawyer is starting from scratch. We’ve all been there (and it’s damn scary).
Step #1: Hire a Part-Time Marketing Director
Here’s where I would begin: Hire a part-time Marketing Director for $15/hour for 10-15 hours/week. Ideally, the Marketing Director has skills in graphic design and computer science. With a Marketing Director, the young lawyer is ahead of 98% of all lawyers who do not have a marketing plan marketing skills or a dedicated marketing specialist. Marketing is the highest and best use of the lawyers’ time.
Block out two hours every week on a specific date and time to discuss marketing with the Marketing Director. At this weekly meeting, toss around ideas for the growth of your law firm. Eventually, you will come to the realization that the highest quality cases are referred to you by other lawyers and you need a marketing plan to get referrals from lawyers.
Step #2: Create a Database of Your Contacts
Put together a list of existing and potential referral partners into a database. The database can be created using a Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) software, i.e., Infusionsoft, or a cost-free option such as an Excel spreadsheet.
The database will give the young lawyer instant access to his friends/followers and current and former clients. The young lawyer will use the database to launch new marketing tactics, such as email and print newsletters, speaking events, referral appreciation parties and lunch dates.
Step #3: Lunch 2x/Week with Referral Partners
Have your assistant schedule one new lunch date with an existing and potential referral partner every week. Schedule specific dates and time for the lunch dates and treat those appointments the same as a court appearance:
- Monday at noon: Lunch with existing referral partner; and
- Wednesday at noon: Lunch with a potential referral partner.
Prominent lawyers love when young lawyers ask about their success and love to know that you value their opinion. Just explain to the big-shot lawyer that you’re starting from nothing and you’ve got no idea what to do. The hot-shot lawyer will relate to your struggles and vulnerabilities because all of us have gone through our own.
The pinnacle of generosity isn’t just helping others, but allowing them to help us.
Keith Ferrazzi, “Who’s Got Your Back”
At a minimum, you get tips from the best lawyers about building a law practice. And there’s a decent chance that the big-name lawyer will begin referring cases to you.
Your Secret Weapon: A Mastermind of Your Peers
Join or create a mastermind of the highest achieving lawyers in your practice area. The mastermind should meet in person at least once every 3-4 months and share new ideas and marketing practices at least weekly in a closed form, i.e., closed Facebook group. A mastermind will be your advisory board for the growth of your law firm and each member will be accountable to the group for their goals.
A mastermind will provide each member with support and accountability, friendships that will last a lifetime and create a bond that is even more powerful than the sum of the relationships within it. There is nothing more powerful than a mastermind!