The demand for legal work is surging. It’s running ahead of supply. Up until last year, law firms had to steal business from a competitor to grow. Now new incremental dollars are flowing into the legal market — and clients are looking for a place to put it.
Clients with new money, new needs, and new expectations offer an unmatched opportunity. Here’s how to make sure they spend their dollars with you.
Talk First Answer Later
The juicy work is going to those individuals who first listen to clients, then find the answers if they don’t already have them. So many attorneys want to be prepared and have the answers before talking to a client. Putting clients on a path to a solution is as valuable as the answer itself.
Be the First Responder
The window of acceptable response time is more compressed than ever. Be the first to make client contact when someone reaches out. Even better — reach out before they do and share ideas and ask compelling questions. You can stop your (potential) client from calling another firm by starting the conversation. Your dialogue creates confidence and trust with clients — demonstrating you will come up with the answer they need — when they need it.
Pick up the Phone
Cultivate a live voice-to-voice dialogue. Some conversations will be by email or text — but voice contact is the differentiating factor — and provides you with the understanding you can’t get anywhere else.
Clients have a lot to say these days. They welcome the opportunity to share these ideas and build on them, test them, and work them through. It’s one of the favorite parts of their jobs. And you can get credit for helping.
But it goes well beyond this. Listen to what clients have to say in a series of conversations and you will know enough about their priorities, concerns, new issues, and problems solved to develop business for years.
You Gotta Believe
A large number of attorneys and firms believe 2020’s financial performance was a blip — as in it cannot happen again. They are holding back investments. Other firms are cranking it up and swarming top clients with real-time changes in WFH, vaccine policy, data privacy, M&A, and a host of other issues — all of which serve as a direct pipeline to the new work.
Don’t Be Busy
Clients are starting to worry about law firm capacity. So many partners tell them they are “crazy busy”. One GC told me 3 “very busy” responses from the same attorney means they are at capacity — and it’s “time to look for another firm.”
Some of the more effective answers to use when your clients ask how things are going include: excellent, good, enjoying myself, and we are doing some really interesting things.
Talk to Your Client Again
You just can’t talk to your client (in a meaningful way) too much. Always have something new to share and clients will always want to talk to you. My clients are surprised at how much they get out of just the first call they make to check in.
The Chatter Factor
Firm chatter is a strategic asset. Attorneys share the big and little things they see and hear. They triangulate data sets and see new trends and opportunities. These same firms share the insights coming out of the chatter in the same conversation. This takes place in practice meetings, client meetings, informal conversations, and at the end of other meetings.
The point is — it happens. The attorneys want to share and get insight from their peers. These same attorneys tend to be the first to share it with their clients — driving another round of new insights and new business.
This market is not for the meek. Clients want answers, to learn, and to feel your sense of urgency. The reward is more business — good business at great rates. Remember, only about half of all clients issue RFPs — the rest goes to those who develop it.
Be cautious. Be safe. Go talk to a client.
The Mad Clientist