Solo & Small Firm

Remembering the Basics

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By Shelli Strahle, Esq.  

You did it. You took that leap of faith and became a solo practitioner. Now that you are running your own office, you are in the business of law. Your salary is dependent on obtaining clients. Clients do not appear out of thin air. You have to take action to manifest them.

Many new solos rely heavily on social media and the internet in order to spread brand awareness. The internet is a great way to reach many people at once, but the connection can be hollow. You need credibility, and the internet may end up being a vast wasteland.

Remember the basics. People want to conduct business with someone they trust. A lawyer can gain trust by creating a network. Who are your natural referral partners? For example, estate planning matters arise with CPAs, financial planners, title officers, and realtors. Make real-life connections with professionals in these fields. One coffee meeting or one Zoom meeting is not sufficient. Create ongoing relationships. Try to bring value to this potential referral source. Become a legal resource, send business if appropriate, or even become a friend. If you create real connections with members of your community, word will spread that you are a helpful and capable attorney.

How do you create meaningful connections with individuals in other occupations? Research events hosted by other professions, attend Chamber of Commerce events, or join a board of directors. If you do join a board of directors, make sure that you can dedicate yourself to the time required, and make sure that the commitment is not going to spread you too thin.

Other lawyers can become part of your network as well. Lawyers practicing other types of law make excellent referral partners. For example, there is crossover between family law and estate planning or business law and estate planning. Moreover, lawyers in your field may prove to be valuable in the growth of your business. When there is a conflict of interest, a lawyer may send someone to you for representation. Alternatively, a lawyer may not handle a particular type of matter and will refer the potential client to you. You may have questions that only a local lawyer in your field would know, and this “competitor” may grow your business by increasing your knowledge. You may be solo, but it does not mean that you have to be alone.

Eventually, you will gain a substantial client base that can vouch for your expertise and quality of representation. When you attain this level of success, do not forget about your professional network. Continue to build momentum. A personal referral, whether from your network of professionals or a past client, is usually worth the effort that you put forth to bring the representation to fruition.

The meaningfulness and success of your practice depends on your level of effort and connection. Obviously, you should promote on the internet and social media as well. It is never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. However, in our obsession with scrolling and instant gratification, remember the basics.

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