By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
This week 5 of our 6-week series of Be the CEO of Your Law Firm. Each week we are focusing on one of the 6 different Roles and Responsibilities as the CEO of Your Law Firm. The reason for this series is to jumpstart attorneys into viewing their law firms for what they are: businesses. We have to view our firms as businesses to be able to make a profit, enjoy the work that we do, and spend time with our families. A business is run by a CEO… aka: YOU!
To recap, here are the 6 Roles and Responsibilities as the CEO of Your Law Firm:
This week we are focusing on the 5th Role and Responsibility: Relationships.
Creating and maintaining relationships is crucial to your firm’s growth and success. There are three main relationships that need to be cultivated as the CEO of Your Law Firm:
- Community Partners/ Contacts
- Fellow Attorneys
- Current and Past Clients.
Let’s take each one of these in turn:
1. Community Partners/ Contacts
Community partners and contacts can include different organizations for which you volunteer, businesses who serve the population that comprises your Ideal Client, and other leaders in the community that you serve. They can also include your friends and acquaintances from different areas of your life.
These community partners and contacts can be the bridge to opening opportunities for you to reach a wider audience, connect with potential clients, and understand more intimately the needs of the people that you serve. This can be particularly important for a new attorney in order to establish your name recognition and create good will in the community.
Some ideas for empowering your relationships with your community partners and contacts:
- Organize Know Your Rights Presentations in their place of business
- Agree to take a pro bono case for the organization or someone who works in their business
- Offer free consultations
- Arrange a legal clinic to do an afternoon of free consultations
- Become “of counsel” for immigration issues
- Email the contact at least quarterly to check in, share the latest successes and/or information from your firm
- Meet for coffee to catch up
2. Fellow Attorneys
Fellow attorneys, particularly in different practice areas, can refer business and you can do the same. By joining bar associations and connecting with law school alums from other areas of law, you can create a strong referral network. In particular, your referral network should include attorneys who may regularly come across cases that would have a cross-reference to the types of cases you handle. In my practice, my most important referral sources are:
- Criminal defense attorney
- Civil defense attorney
- PI attorney
- Family law attorney
I am always looking to add to my referral network attorneys who speak Spanish or offer Spanish translators in their law firms because I only serve Spanish speaking clients.
Through AMIGA, I have also created a strong network for referrals to other immigration attorneys who handle cases that are different than those that I handle and also who work with different populations than those with which I work.
It is important to branch outside our immigration lawyer world sometimes… easier said than done, I know. ☺
3. Current and Past Clients
Of the three relationships, current and past clients are the most important. In non-profit fundraising, there is a well-established principle of having at least one “touch” with donors each month in order to keep the organization on the minds of the donors. The touch can be a handwritten letter, an email, an in-person event, access to something exclusive, and more. The touch does not always include an “ask,” meaning an ask for money. Rather oftentimes it is meant to inform, educate, celebrate, and/or thank the donor. The same should be true for current and past clients.
No matter how much volunteer work you do, no one will help get you more new clients than existing or past clients. That is why it is important to show your gratitude for their loyalty to your firm and also share your successes with them. A lawyer is an important person in someone’s life. A client has come to you during what is one of the most difficult, stressful times of his/her life. She has confided in you. You have helped her find a solution to her situation. This means that you have a relationship with your client that likely no one else has had with her. It is important to let your clients know that you care about them and think about them as well.
Part of cultivating relationships with past and current clients entails creating a master mailing list for all current and past clients which will help facilitate communication with them throughout the years. Though we are looking for a better system, right now we have a master excel sheet that every new client is added to and never deleted from. If any mail is returned from an address, we contact that person to keep our records up-to-date.
Here are some ways to have a touch point with your current and past clients:
- Monthly phone calls to current clients to give status updates
- Quarterly mailers to clients
- We design postcards on vistaprint.com and send them with the change of each season. It’s very affordable and the postage costs less for postcards. It is easy to add your logo and contact information through Vistaprint so it can be a well-branded mailer
- Email blasts/ newsletters
- Some popular sites include Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, and more.
- This only works if you have clients who use email regularly. (My clients don’t.)
- It is the best idea to do newsletters on a regular, set schedule, such as once a month. Putting together a newsletter requires a great amount of effort and work, so it is a good idea to plan it out in advance.
- Holiday cards
- Party or in-office event
- Free consultation days for friends and family of current and past clients
- Thank you letters and notes to consultations
The list of ideas are endless, but those are just a few to get you started!
How are you cultivating relationships as the CEO of Your Law Firm? Leave your comment below!