You’ve paid your dues at your current law firm. You’re ready for bigger and better opportunities. The next logical step is to establish a legal practice.
Being a top lawyer is one thing, but starting a law firm from scratch is a whole other beast. If you aren’t business savvy, your firm won’t survive its first year.
Lawyers are natural problem solvers. Ready to apply your skills to the business world? Follow these tips to grow your law firm from the ground up.
Pick Your Practice Areas
The first step to starting a legal practice is to narrow down your practice areas. You may have experience in multiple areas. Here are a few ways to find the right legal niches.
- Assess the needs of your community
- Align your practice areas with local laws
- Consider niche practices areas
- Consider the clients you want to work with
- Research legal concerns of top industries in your community
- Research legal needs that aren’t being addressed
- Scope out your potential competition
Market research is the best way to narrow down your practice areas. Your research may reveal that your community has a real need for an investment loss lawyer or accident law firm.
However, don’t focus on too many practice areas either. Start with just one or two niches.
Get Your House in Order
Remember, a law firm is a business. You need a business plan, city permit, office location, equipment, supplies, employees, and financing.
If you want to get a bank loan for your firm, you’ll need to create a comprehensive business plan just like any small business owner. Estimate how much financing you’ll need for all your essentials, including employees. This is where your knowledge of business law comes in handy!
Next, pick an accessible location for potential clients. Look for commercial spaces in office parks, downtown, and populated areas with shops and services.
Once you have a location, hire in-house staff for your firm. In addition to more lawyers, you’ll need an office manager, paralegal, and legal assistant. You may want to consider hiring interns from local law schools.
You want to get as much done as possible before your big opening. Work with your team to establish a workflow that sustains productivity at the lowest cost.
Clients are putting their legal concerns in your hands. You don’t want to leave any room for mistakes.
Build Your Client Referral Network
You have a location, capital, and a hired team of professionals. Your next step is to get clients. Before you implement a marketing strategy, look within your network for opportunities.
Who do you know that could benefit from your legal services? Building a referral network is a critical step and another reason why it’s important to make contacts in law school, internships, and law firms.
Add lawyers from different practice areas to your network. They can refer their clients to your practice. For example, a small business lawyer may have a client that also needs an investment loss lawyer.
Don’t forget to talk to close friends and family members about referrals. Friends of friends are also potential clients.
Build a Website for Your Legal Practice
With a few clients ready to go, it’s time to build your website. Decades ago, a law firm website wasn’t necessary for running a legal practice. Times have certainly changed.
A website is no longer optional, especially for law firms. This is the self-diagnosis age. Everyone is hopping online to diagnose everything from health problems to legal woes.
Your website could be so much more than just a page with your contact information. It has the potential to be a goldmine of information. That’s why having a website is one of the most potent forms of legal marketing.
Your law firm website should have the following elements:
- Phone number, address, and email
- A pop-up chatbox
- A legal blog packed with facts
- Legal service pages
- About page
- Credentials and licenses to practice
- Client testimonials
You can have all the bells and whistles, but if your website takes forever to load, you’re going to lose potential clients. Make sure you have an adequate web host and make necessary adjustments to improve site speed.
Choose a Winning Legal Marketing Strategy
Your spiffy, new website is ready to go. Next, you’ll need to take on the competition online. Your next step is to craft a winning marketing strategy that attracts and converts leads.
To start, offer free consultations. Freebies are a juicy incentive for potential clients. Plus, free consultations are an excellent way for people to get to know you.
Include your free consultation offer in all your marketing campaigns, whether it’s social media or pay-per-click. Free offers are the ultimate call-to-action.
You’ll want to focus on marketing channels that are appropriate for law firms. Think about consumer behavior. How do potential clients find law firms?
Remember how people use search engines for legal help? They certainly aren’t using Instagram to find lawyers. You need a robust PPC campaign that advertises your law firm in search results.
There are several PPC services available, but Google Adwords is the most popular for a good reason. You can also try Bing ads.
These PPC services allow you to bid on relevant keywords, so your law firm is visible to your target demographic. To save money, look for low competition keywords with medium to high search volume.
Another effective strategy is local marketing. Your law firm is a local business. If potential clients can’t find you online, that’s a problem.
After publishing your website, you should create a Google business listing. Your business listing will also appear in Google maps. Clients will be able to call your office directly with the click of a button and get directions to your location.
Take full advantage of Google’s free marketing tools! This is a must for local legal marketing.
You’re a talented lawyer. Now you have the business acumen to open a firm your community needs. Follow these tips to launch your legal practice on the right foot!
Don’t forget; you’re a problem solver. Stay updated on the latest tips, trends, and solutions for growing law firms.