The following is from guest blogger Helen Leah Conroy, an Internet and commercial transaction lawyer who since 2001 has built a successful small firm practice.
It turns out that law school doesn’t teach you everything you need to know about how to make a law practice successful. Here are ten important — but sometimes overlooked — things you should do:
- Become your client’s trusted advisor. Look for opportunities to provide useful information and insights, especially on points or issues the client has not considered.
- Be a pleasure to work with, always.
- Be responsive. Even if you cannot address an issue or question raised by a client right away, respond to email or voicemail messages immediately, if only to let the client know that you received the message and will be back in touch by a particular time. Then, always follow through.
- Thank your clients for the intangible qualities about them that you enjoy or appreciate. Do this often and sincerely, with specific examples of how they are terrific clients.
- Give as much as you can without charging (but note on your bills, where appropriate, advice given at “no charge”).
- Let your clients know how much you enjoy the work you do, and more importantly, how much you enjoy working with them.
- Show examples from other deals, cases or projects (without names or identifying details) and the good results you obtained, or the clever ways that you solved problems, so your clients understand and appreciate that they are not just paying for your skill, but for your experience and judgment as well.
- Remember that everyone, including the person “across the table,” is a potential client. Treat everyone you meet with the utmost courtesy and respect, even in adversarial settings.
- Develop a network of trusted other attorneys with different (or with the same) expertise. Enthusiastically refer those colleagues to prospective clients, not because you expect or want referrals back, but because making that referral provides a valuable service to the client needing a good lawyer.
- Figure out exactly what kind of work you want to do and for whom — and define very specifically the work you don’t want to do and the profile of clients who are not a good match. Turn away and refer to other lawyers any work that does not meet your criteria. Aim high, accept nothing less than the best, and enjoy tremendous success!
For more tips on setting up a successful solo practice, check out CEB’s complimentary program Suddenly Solo—Are you Ready?, available On Demand — and you’ll even get 1.25 MCLE credit in ethics! Also check out CEB blog post Should You Go Solo?
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