Attorneys often share a common challenge and frustration…
I wish my clients would involve me sooner on a business issue or personal matter.
They bring you in too late because they either think that they can handle a legal issue on their own or are just simply unable to anticipate a legal need. Regardless of why, it leaves you often operating in cleanup mode instead of helping employ a proactive legal strategy.
High-performing attorneys have developed strategies to address this challenge and change this common client behavior – and as a result, grow their practice from existing clients. Learn from their best practices and start implementing these tactics in your client intake and onboarding processes today – and cement your role as trusted advisor.
1. Be On Location
Conduct one of your early client meetings, if not the first, at your client’s site or office. It gives you the opportunity to better understand their business, meet more of their staff, and put you in a better position to counsel them.
For example, a client solely sought an attorney for a LLC formation. After the initial consultation conducted at the client’s site, this solo practitioner toured the facility and identified other legal risks including employee health & safety issues. The attorney was able to not only provide additional legal protection and more comprehensive counsel for this client, but also secure additional business – a win-win for all.
2. Open the Lines of Communication
Most external counsel aspire to be treated as in-house general counsel. However, most clients are intimidated by attorneys and fear that every communication is a billable hour. This does not help cultivate an environment where clients will be encouraged to engage their attorney early on in a potential legal matter.
Set the right tone and encourage clients to contact you with any questions or concerns. Successful attorneys establish a working relationship where their clients view their attorney as an extension of their team, within their inner circle of trust. And even if it’s a matter outside your areas of practice, make the referral to a trusted peer. At the end of the day, all the client cares about is that their issue was resolved and that you were instrumental in making that happen. Act as in-house counsel and triage all their legal issues – and the billable work will come by serving as their most trusted advisor.
3. Stay Top of Mind
How many times have you found out that a previously satisfied client went elsewhere for legal counsel? Probably one too many! Don’t wait for happy clients to come back to you when an issue arises. Continuously stay in contact with your clients and reinforce your role as a trusted advisor. You can either follow-up on a previous matter, remind them of what other ways you can help them, or just remind them that you’re always available as a valuable resource.
Leading attorneys understand that client development is a long-term strategy. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your clients by penciling in your calendar periodic “check-ins.” Whenever a legal need arises – or amongst their personal network – you’ll be top-of-mind to tackle the work or the referral.
Start implementing these tactics and form stronger, deeper relationships with your clients.
If you’d like to add anything, pose a question, or suggest a strategy or tactic of your own, the AdvisorPool community would appreciate it. Please add it to the comment section below.
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