Ways to Attract New Clients Before the Consultation. During the New Client Consultation, Every Lawyer Should…
Every lawyer worth his or her weight already knows just how important the initial consultation with a prospective client is.
Whether with one individual concerning a personal legal matter or a group of company representatives, a stranger or an acquaintance, a previous client or a brand new one – an initial consultation has the power to set the tone for the rest of the case.
Particularly for new clients who may never have used legal services before, the initial consultation may not only exemplify both yourself as a practicing attorney and your firm but also your entire industry. To put it bluntly: Consultations are very important.
Ways to Attract New Clients Before the Consultation
Offer Free Consultations
While this may not work for every firm – and it’s certainly not required – offering free consultations can be an effective way to shoe in more prospective clientele, particularly those who may be wary of taking on legal services or who may not be sure how to proceed with their cases (if at all). By offering a risk-free, commitment-free consultation at no cost, potential clients may feel more comfortable to take the leap at making initial contact.
Even with the potential benefits of free consultations, some attorneys disagree about their effectiveness. Here, it’s important that each firm weighs factors like firm culture, practice areas, client demographics, and more when deciding whether initial consultations should be free or subject to charge.
Make the Initial Contact Process Easier for Clients
We’re not suggesting that some firms don’t want to be contacted by clients, but it never ceases to amaze us when attorneys don’t make it excessively easy for online viewers to contact them.
How can this initial contact process be made easier?
Boldly featuring your firm’s contact details (phone number, email address, brick and mortar address, etc.) on your website’s pages is a great place to start. Giving a call to action (CTA) with contact links and a phone number to prospective clients reading your firm’s blog articles and client testimonials is also a must. Dedicating an entire subpage as a point of contact (i.e., contact page) with a secure submission form is very effective. And finally, some firms opt for contact pop-ups on their websites to offer viewers a convenient way to get in touch quickly. All of these methods contribute to making the first step of reaching out much more user-friendly.
Feature a FAQ Subpage or Blog Article about What Should Be Expected from Consultations with Your Firm
Another great way to encourage client contact is by being transparent about the process as it pertains to your specific firm. For most individuals, seeking out legal services is intimidating. By providing answers to FAQs regarding your firm’s consultations – as well as what to expect before, during, and after the consultation – nerves can be eased and the barriers to initial contact can be broken down.
During the New Client Consultation, Every Lawyer Should…
1. Be Clear about Any Consultation Fees
If your firm does opt to charge a fee for or a retainer before the initial consultation, this should be made clear both before and again when starting the consultation meeting. Any misunderstanding in this regard could not only lead to mistrust or confusion on the client’s end – perhaps even resulting in a loss of the case – but also an inability to receive fees on the attorney’s end.
2. Introduce the Firm and Working Attorneys’ Experience as Is Relevant to the Case
Every lawyer should provide a concise summary of the firm’s philosophy, mission, and track record. Explain how the firm operates, what type of cases are generally handled, and how the firm will likely handle this particular case.
Additionally, attorneys meeting with new clients should briefly explain their experience, education, and any noteworthy cases that could apply to the case at hand.
Though it may feel redundant to lawyers, by thoroughly yet quickly introducing this information within minutes of starting the consultation, new clients can begin to determine your firm’s style and abilities when handling their cases.
3. Be Attentive
While most attorneys would consider this an intuitive part of their legal practice, being especially attentive during new client consultations is important, not only to show your attention to the case, but also your attention to the client’s needs and expectations (as exhibited by their behavior, attitude, questions, and answers).
This is also a great way for attorneys to determine if taking on a client’s case is the right fit for them, as well.
4. Showcase Knowledge and Know-How
Beyond simply listing accolades and case achievements, lawyers should find ways to relate a new client’s case to any recent legal developments or the latest legislation changes. This should be done all while continually pointing to years of experience and comfort level in handling cases of this nature.
5. Engage with Specifics
During the initial consultation, it’s often a bit difficult to analyze case specifics and give all possible outcomes in front of the client while dealing with consultation time constraints.
Additionally, it’s crucial that attorneys never make promises or provide any indication of false hope.
But, consultations can be most effective when the specifics of the case are actually discussed. Some attorneys even encourage new clients to bring all documentation and fill out questionnaires to begin discussing the case immediately.
While it takes more time initially, it might be better to avoid speaking only in generalities and instead opt to get right to the relevant stuff.
6. Discuss the Process
One of the biggest incentives for potential clients to engage in consultations, apart from seeking out answers and possible outcomes for their cases, is to understand how the process will generally work throughout all steps of the case.
While certain aspects – filings, proceedings, appeals, etc. – are more regimented, other aspects of the process may vary depending on the firm or attorney. It’s important that both parties are aware of the other’s expectations of time invested, actions taken, fees incurred, and all possible case outcomes.
7. Provide the Opportunity for Potential Clients to Ask Questions
Though this may extend the length of the consultation, providing clients with multiple opportunities to ask questions not only benefits the client, but also the attorneys working on the case. Here’s how:
- By giving designated attention to the client’s questions, you demonstrate your commitment to their needs and concerns.
- Providing answers to their legal questions further reifies your professional qualification and knowledge to handle their case.
- Hearing the client’s questions gives the working attorneys insight into their case priorities, which may or may not align with those of the firm. Attorneys can then use this insight to make the decision of whether to accept the case or not.
8. Gain a Clear Understanding of the Client’s Main Concerns
As we mentioned in number 7, giving the client ample opportunities to ask questions can assist attorneys in cracking the main concerns the client has regarding the case.
Of course, once these concerns are clearly understood, both attorney and client can work in tandem to achieve the best, most feasible case results.
9. Understand Communication Expectations
Consultations are most successful when they’re most transparent.
The clients’ communication expectations may run the gamut between “less is more” to “hold my hand every step of the way, please.” While neither is inherently right or wrong, it’s important that working attorneys are fully aware of these expectations and can agree to meet them (or, at least, agree to compromise somewhere in the middle).
Alternatively, attorneys should make clear who will be contacting the client, with whom the client will be mostly working, and when and to whom questions and concerns should be directed throughout the duration of the case.
If these aspects are not made clear, clients may be less than enthused to be working with legal secretaries, paralegals, or junior attorneys when they were originally under the impression that they’d be working directly with the attorney(s) from their consultation.
10. Give the Client an Idea of the Case’s Timeline
Insomuch as it’s possible to do so, try to provide prospective clients with a generalized timeline of events for their cases. Make it clear that a near-impossible number of factors may arise throughout the case’s duration, so this is simply an ideal, tentative timeline. It should by no means be guaranteed to the client, as we know is the case with all aspects of legal proceedings.
Expand Your New Client Development Through Black Fin’s Expert Marketing Services
If your firm is seeking to grow, expand its outreach, and ultimately gain more clientele, the initial prospective client consultation is a crucial piece of the intake puzzle.
What’s also crucial?
A solid marketing plan that showcases your firm to the online world.
Here at Black Fin, we specialize in all things digital: From the moment that a potential client uses a search engine to ask a legal query, to clicking and navigating through your site, reading testimonials, referring to your blog articles, engaging in your social media profiles and more, we’re here to help your firm develop its online brand.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to capitalize on the client consultation process and the ways that digital marketing can work for you, contact us today. We can’t wait to help you get started.