Law Firm Business Development: A Simple Guide

Law Firm Business Development: A Simple Guide

Article by Christopher Jan Benitez Christopher Jan Benitez

Last updated

What is Law Firm Business Development?

This strategy involves cultivating business relationships and determining new revenue streams for your law firm. Finding these opportunities means more cases from new clients to work on and improved existing client relationships, all of which improve your bottom line and grow your business.

Law Firm Business Development Vs. Marketing

Business development is different from legal marketing. The latter is about creating new business from scratch from your chosen advertising channels, like pay-per-click (PPC). The results from the campaigns you launch here can also be immediate, as a well-launch marketing strategy can bring troves of new potential clients to your business.

Conversely, your law firm marketing and sales efforts currently fill a demand. Once the opportunities dry up, you must brainstorm for other marketing tactics that can deliver identical results.

The same can’t be said about the former. Instead of identifying a demand in the market and building a strategy around it, business development professionals develop strategies that add value to your law firm over time. In other words, business development focuses on the long-term success of your firm, while marketing goes for short-term wins.

Either way, both complement each other and are critical to your firm’s success moving forward. Assuming that your legal marketing strategies are in place, your goal is to identify strategic business opportunities to make your law firm thrive.

12 Business Development Tips and Ideas for Law Firms

Here are business development strategies to choose from:

1. Build Stellar Client Relationships

We already mentioned strengthening relationships with existing clients as a long-term way to grow your law firm. Just as important as working together on their cases and doing a great job with them is considering what will happen once they’re no longer your clients.

For starters, your law firm’s services must be client-centered. Show them that you care by listening to them intently and seeing things from their perspective before giving advice or answering their questions. Also, be proactive by always updating them regarding their case and being as truthful and transparent as possible. This allows you to provide them with an exceptional client experience.

2. Network With Fellow Attorneys at The Courthouse

You may be going up against different attorneys in your practice area at the courthouse. However, you are all just doing your jobs at the end of the day. Seeing them as colleagues and not enemies allows your firm to network with them, which opens up opportunities your business can leverage in the future, like client referrals, sharing of resources, and others.

3. Attend Networking Events

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Aside from the courthouse, you can join networking events in your area where potential clients reside. That means you don’t have to attend events exclusive to lawyers and attorneys. If your clients are mostly in the real estate industry, you can join in-person meetups of people in this community. There’s a chance you might meet people or organizations looking for legal professionals.

Also, try to put yourself out there and converse with people. Do this by having the mindset of building relationships with people instead of turning them into clients. While you want to maximize your time attending the event, turning people into prospects should come naturally in the conversation. This should help alleviate some of the pressure you may be feeling, allowing you to feel more relaxed and be yourself.

4. Use Social Media Platforms

Social media is a marketing channel where you can build a personal brand and engage with your online target audience.

The first step is identifying which platforms you should focus on. LinkedIn and Facebook are social media sites that most law firms use to promote their services and interact with prospects. But you’ll have to do your own research and check to see if this also applies to your law practice.

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Both platforms also let you join communities of lawyers and attorneys. Share ideas, showcase your expertise, and learn from others here. These communities may also hold meetups so you can meet the members in person and leverage your relationships with them to get more business for your law firm.

5. Speak at Conferences Relevant to the Legal Industry

If you build enough credibility as a lawyer or attorney in your location, someone may invite you to speak at their upcoming conference. Talking on a stage in front of people can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to promote your law firm, share your knowledge, and connect with other lawyers and prospects.

You can start by looking for upcoming events online and if they accept speakers. Make sure you meet all their requirements before sending in your applications. There’s a chance they might not take you right now, but putting your name out there is a step in the right direction. Continue networking and providing value in your community, and you’ll become a speaker soon.

6. Collaborate With Other Local Businesses

Find businesses that synergize with your law firm. If you’re a personal injury law firm, look for auto repair shops, insurance agencies, medical practitioners, and other businesses nearby that could bring more business opportunities to you.

Once you’ve identified potential business partners, you can launch a joint marketing campaign benefiting your companies. If you partner with an auto repair company, you can launch workshops and seminars about people’s legal rights once you get involved in a car accident. Use this event to share your marketing materials and offer referral incentives to attendees.

7. Establish Your Educational Thought Leadership

Continue promoting your expertise in the industry by leveraging online channels. You can create how-to guides and useful blog posts for your audience if you’re comfortable writing them. If you fancy yourself as a speaker, publish YouTube videos sharing legal advice to viewers instead. You can also launch a podcast covering similar content above and interviewing other businesses relevant to your field.

8. Delegate Caseload to Other Associates

Expand your workforce so you can accept more cases and match them with the appropriate associates. Monitor their progress with the case, provide feedback if necessary, and reward them for their successes to reinforce future positive results. Developing this system lets you maximize productivity and grow your business with the right people onboard.

9. Expand Your Services to Other Locations

If people have to endure congested traffic and long commute times to get to your office to discuss their case, there’s a chance they’ll find a law firm much nearer to them. Determine nearby towns where potential clients reside and set up your satellite offices there. Decreasing the travel time between your law firm and prospects encourages them to seek your legal services.

10. Start a Referral Program

This program type allows you to incentivize people who will refer your law firm to their colleagues and family members. Invite them via email to your referral program, where they can receive a unique link identifying them as referrers. Once you close a client using their link, they can receive the incentive. You can offer discounts for your future services or make a charitable donation in their name.

11. Collect More Positive Reviews from Current Clients

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Ask your own clients to leave a Google review of their experience with your law firm. While you want them to leave a glowing testimonial to attract prospective clients, it’s even better if they wrote a genuine and honest review, even if it’s not all positive. Use the information here to improve your law firm and provide better client satisfaction.

Finally, don’t let negative reviews rattle you. It may be easy to fire back at these reviews, especially if they’re false. But use this opportunity to be as professional as possible with your response. How you gracefully reply to these reviews helps show your personal brand, improve your firm’s reputation, and build strong client relationships.

12. Leverage Technology

Lawyers nowadays use digital tools as part of their business development initiatives, and you should do the same. Instead of just meeting with prospects and clients face-to-face, offer the option of meeting on Zoom or Google Meet. You can also use a marketing automation platform to send out emails and drip campaigns on autopilot to keep in touch with your target audience.

5 Tools That Will Help You in Business Development

To execute the business development activities above and build long-lasting client relationships much more conveniently for you, below are tools you must use:

1. Legal CRM

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A customer relationship management (CRM) software lets you keep track of communication with all your prospects and clients. It also stores vital information about each to identify who has the best chance of becoming your client. There are lots of CRM tools to choose from, but I recommend Clio for its document and case management features.

2. Email and Calendar

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Getting people to schedule an appointment with your firm online is a great way to generate more leads and new cases. Use scheduling tools like Calendly to create a page where people can book an appointment on days and times at your convenience. It also connects to your online calendar and automatically blocks off days and times when you’re busy.

3. Email Marketing Suite

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Email marketing helps in your business development and marketing efforts. You can get your target audience to sign up for your email list. Then, segment potential clients from clients and send them highly targeted emails to nurture your relationships, provide value, and stay top-of-mind. GetResponse is one of the many email tools that can do these for you.

4. Social Media Management Suite

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Engaging on social media is difficult since you must log in to interact with your followers from one platform to another. You won’t have this problem with a social media management tool like Hootsuite. You can manage your Facebook, LinkedIn, and other accounts in a single place. You can also schedule posts in advance, monitor their results, and integrate them with other tools to improve efficiency.

5. Online Reputation Management

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Since most of your audience is online, your law firm’s reputation should be as positive as possible. Aside from getting clients to write online reviews about you, part of online reputation management should be controlling how your brand appears on search engines and listening on social media about brand mentions. Using tools like Mention or hiring a service lets you put your best foot forward to prospects.

How to Create a Law Firm Business Development Plan

Set Your Goals

To identify your law firm’s broad and specific goals for its business development plan, you must analyze your competitors and perform a SWOT analysis. Both give you a better understanding of what your firm is good at and focus on those to capitalize on opportunities for expediting your business’s growth.

Arrive at a Budget

Allot a certain budget from your gross annual income to execute your business development plan. The budget’s amount depends on your practice area and location. If you have a personal injury and family law firm and operate in a heavily populated area, you must ramp up your budget to compete with other firms.

Develop Strategies

Choose any of the tips to incorporate in your strategy. Focus on low-hanging fruits, like building relationships with existing clients and networking with prospects and other attorneys, to create strategic opportunities for your law firm. Branch out to other tactics after increasing your revenue.

Execute, Gather Data, and Review

Monitor the results of your business development campaign and identify what worked and didn’t. Continue doing tactics that produced excellent results, and consider revamping or dropping tactics that performed poorly from your strategy. Launch your campaign implementing these changes and review the progress again.

Fast-Track Your Law Firm’s Business Development Plan with On The Map

On The Map Marketing can help build and launch your law firm’s business development plan. We use the best tools to gather data about the market and your competitors and determine which techniques to include in the strategy.

Contact us so we can start brainstorming marketing ideas for your plan.

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