If you are like most lawyers, you spend a lot of time talking with people who know they need to engage with a lawyer, but haven’t prioritized it and taken action to hire you.
Or, perhaps you are one of those who get hired, but your fees are, on average, much too low for you to provide a truly valuable service. If you’re having either of these experiences, you may worry that your law practice isn’t even viable with the rise of online, do-it-yourself legal services.
If any of this sounds familiar, this could be the most valuable article you read all year.
When done right, law practice is a highly lucrative, satisfying profession with the power to make a positive impact on the clients it serves. When your legal services are explained properly – with the actual value communicated effectively, clients feel well taken care of and can’t help but tell everyone they know, generating more business than you could ever manage.
When practiced the traditional way, your law practice can become a financial and energetic drain on you, your clients and your life.
Here are the three steps you can take right now to make the shift from a struggling practice (or a practice that’s just harder than it needs to be) to a practice that you and your clients will absolutely love:
Step 1: Stop Giving Away Your Valuable Services for Free
The traditional law practice model teaches you to give away free consultations as the path to engaging clients.
In most cases, these free consultations likely lead to you spending too much time and energy with people who “have to think about it” or “will get back to you” or “can’t afford it.”
Or worse, people schedule time to meet with you for your free consultation and then don’t show up, wasting your valuable time.
Aren’t you tired of people not respecting your time and energy, especially when you know you are providing something they absolutely need?
If so, it begins with making a shift in your own thinking about your services and the way you educate people about your services.
When you position your initial meeting with prospects as a “free consultation,” you’ve begun the conversation by devaluing what you provide. It’s no wonder they either cancel the meeting or show up for the meeting not ready to hire you.
When you position your initial meeting as a valuable educational session (a working meeting with a name, a purpose, and an assigned value) and guide your prospects to prepare for it properly, they match that energy and show up prepared and ready to hire you.
Now, does this mean you can never give away that initial working meeting for free? Definitely not.
As part of your integrated marketing strategy, you can absolutely give your initial meeting away for free, but only after your prospect has earned it. And when positioned properly, they will want to do the work to earn a meeting with you.
Bottom line, they’ll value your time and stop wasting it. And, when you’ve turned that meeting into a truly valuable working session, they’ll love the meeting process so much that not only will they hire you, but they will refer everyone they know.
Step 2: Engage 100% of the People Who Meet With You and Let Them Choose Their Own Fee
It’s a no-brainer that the number one way to recapture lost time and money in your law practice is to engage 100% of the people you meet with.
Once you’ve stopped giving away free initial consultations, if you prepare your prospects properly, they will show up for your initial meeting ready to hire you.
To ensure that’s the case, implement an intake process that is systematized, scripted, and intentional.
Whether you are handling your own intake, or have someone in your office (or an outsource team) trained to do it, you cannot leave this to instinct.
My guess is you could be losing $3,000-$6,000 per week because of an inadequate intake system.
People call your office and ask for the price for a particular one-off transaction or service. Whoever is handling the call doesn’t know how to answer properly and so the caller hangs up and continues their price shopping, leaving you thinking you need to cut your fees to engage clients.
Or, you get a referral from a networking partner, and the person following up doesn’t know how to properly handle the referral so that the potential client actually shows up in your office ready to hire you.
Maybe you do speaking in your community, and even get rave reviews, but do you get hired as a result? If not, you may be giving away your time marketing for your competition.
If they came to hear you speak, they need what you offer, and if they don’t immediately make an appointment after the session, or within a couple of months because of the fantastic follow up system you have in place, you can be sure they are going to hire someone else. When your presentations are designed to engage, and you have a great follow up system, you will be the lawyer they hire.
Now, the key to all of this, of course, is to ensure that your valuable initial meeting is designed to help your soon-to-be clients make the right choice to hire you, and, in the process choose their fee.
Yes, I did say choose their fee.
When you take prospects through a designed and scripted initial meeting that positions you not as a salesperson, but as a trusted advisor, you earn their trust. You guide them to tell you what they need and then help them choose the plan (and fee) that fits those needs perfectly. You are building trust each step of the way, and you will get hired 100% of the time by the people who trust you and need your services.
The best part is that because they understand the value of the service you provide, they will often pay you more than they would if you just quoted a fee for a less valuable, one-size fits all service.
Many lawyers we talk to think that they cannot charge “more” for their services because they live in a town where other lawyers are charging so little. We’ve consistently found that when using our system for intake, follow up, and handling the initial meeting with our fee schedule and fee quoting system, clients are happy to pay more for better service. A win-win for everyone.
Step 3: Do Not Pay a Penny for Marketing Until You KNOW for Certain You Can Engage Just About Everyone You Meet With (and Then Invest As Much As You Can)
One of the places you are likely losing a significant amount of money in your practice is by investing time and money in networking and marketing before having a solid Client Engagement System in place.
If you are spending any time or money on networking, marketing, or speaking without knowing with confidence that you will get hired by every prospect who needs your services, you are losing money each time you meet with someone and they say they have to think about it, aren’t sure, or will get back with you.
The solution is to change what you say when you are networking, at the end of each of your speaking engagements, when people call your office, and when they come in and meet with you.
Does all this sound complicated? It’s not once you create a Client Engagement System customized for your own office. And it’s far less complicated than the way you are currently operating – losing clients and income on the daily because you don’t have a sustainable system.
I’ll be honest, it cost me $12,500 to hire a team of consultants to help me create my Client Engagement System, but it paid for itself the first time I used it. Once I had it in place, I was able to build a million dollar a year law practice, all while only going into the office 3-4 days a week.
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