Networking For Lawyers: 13 Tips For 2024
Law Firm Marketing Strategy » Networking For Lawyers: 13 Tips For 2024
Legal networking not only leads to opportunities to learn and grow in your legal field. It also enables you to partake in referral marketing arrangements, helping you acquire new clients over time.
Below are the top networking tips any lawyer looking to advance their legal career should learn — be it online or in person.
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What are the Benefits of Legal Networking for Lawyers?
Legal networking unlocks opportunities for referral marketing, which lets you passively win new business over time. Build rapport with attorneys under different practice areas who could send leads your way. In addition, establishing connections in the legal community improves your reputation, fosters Continuing Legal Education (CLE), and exposes you to more legal networking events.
Why Networking Could Be Challenging?
There are two things that can make legal networking difficult.
Unless you’re already a large firm, you need to seek out legal networking opportunities yourself. You need to research bar associations, local events, legal communities, and other networking channels where you can widen your professional sphere.
Seasoned attorneys also have an always-on mindset when it comes to legal networking. That means they have their own self-interest in mind when deciding whether or not to associate with your firm. In other words, they’re probably already thinking about what they could gain as soon as you strike up a conversation.
The good news is, that navigating through these challenges is more than doable.
You just need the right legal networking strategies.
13 Proven Ways to Build Your Legal Network
Here are 13 proven tactics that will spruce up your firm’s legal network:
1. Join Bar Associations
Joining bar associations is a must for firms looking to build their professional network.
Bar associations can provide attorneys with regular opportunities and resources to build their professional network, pursue CLE, and grow their careers. Some bar associations, like the American Bar Association (ABA), also offer extra perks like members-only discounts and insurance products.
Here are a few quick tips to help you reap the full networking benefits of joining bar associations:
- Communicate with other members through the bar association’s forums and social media platforms.
- Go to bar association meetups and conferences to get to know other members.
- Check the bar association’s member directory for attorneys in similar practice areas.
- Exchange business cards and follow up online after interacting with other lawyers.
- View the bar association’s event schedules and attend whenever you can.
2. Attend Legal Networking Events
With a bar association, you’re sure to find at least one legal networking event to attend per week. But that’s not the only way to find events designed for lawyers who wish to forge new connections.
Social media groups and websites like Meetup and Eventbrite can provide a list of legal networking events and groups you can participate in. This may include cocktail parties, business development seminars, and other activities
Prior to the event, a little preparation goes a long way.
Be sure to research what the event is about, where it will take place, and who will attend. Attend the event with clear networking goals in mind and be confident. If you express your interest in other lawyers’ practice areas and offer something of value — like resources, advice, and potential prospects — you’ll likely find someone willing to return the favor.
3. Provide Stellar Experience to Your Clients
Legal networking is much easier with clients who can vouch for you. They can also fuel your law firm referral marketing efforts, especially if you leverage your clientele to generate social proof.
But first, you need to provide clients with top-notch, memorable service that sets your law firm apart.
Remember, the client experience isn’t confined to the courtroom. Every interaction counts if you want to make your clients happy — from responding to their calls to actively requesting feedback.
If you do it right, clients should be more than glad to refer you to other legal professionals or put in a good word through testimonials and reviews. Showcase these on your website and social networking pages to make your firm more attractive to potential connections.
Keep the relationship alive even after working together. Any form of assistance other than free legal advice contributes to a fruitful, long-term relationship with your clients. Just don’t forget to give clients convenient ways to reach you, including email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and social media.
4. Leverage Social Media
Aside from maintaining client relationships, staying active on social media also lets you connect with other legal professionals with ease.
Start by becoming more discoverable through tactics like:
- Follow and interact with other lawyers’ profiles
- Join social media groups specific to your practice areas
- Congratulate lawyers on LinkedIn for career milestones
It’s also crucial to implement a content strategy on social media for law firms to showcase expertise and build your authority.
The name of the game is simple: share original or curated posts that address other lawyers’ questions, supply them with new knowledge, or simply pique their interest. Take a page out of lawyer Nicole Black’s LinkedIn strategy and encourage conversations in your caption, first comments, or both.
You’ll know other lawyers have warmed up to you by reacting to your posts, responding to your comments, or replying to your messages. You’re now free to message them anytime to propose collaborations and referral marketing arrangements.
5. Participate in Online Legal Forums
Aside from bar association websites, you can also tap into online legal communities on sites like the Thomson Reuters Community, LawyerSmack, and The Law Community by Clio. These platforms function as a virtual hub where legal professionals can communicate, exchange business information, and conduct referral marketing activities.
Networking via legal forums is similar to promoting your law firm on social media. Don’t participate for the sole purpose of promoting yourself — be an active member and contribute to the community’s discussions.
The key is to build recognition by sharing your wisdom and expertise to answer other lawyers’ questions. Do this on a regular basis, and pretty soon, other members of the community will want to get to know you.
6. Connect to The Legal Community at the Courthouse
The courthouse is a surefire place to find prospective legal connections as well as potential clients for your law firm. You’ll find other lawyers, students, clients, and spectators who are connected to the legal industry or are just interested in learning more about court proceedings.
In the courthouse, you don’t need clever conversation starters. You can talk about the proceedings, answer questions as a legal professional, and ask for insights from lawyers in another area of law.
Just be sure to respect the court’s time and attempt your networking efforts whenever possible. Ideally, you should engage prospective connections during breaks, in the cafeteria, or just outside the courtroom.
7. Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering in community events not only builds a positive brand image but also gets the locals familiar with your law firm.
Similar to legal networking events, platforms like Eventbrite also pick up planned local events you can attend. Community events are also advertised on social media, your chamber of commerce website, and local print media.
Pro bono opportunities, in particular, are extremely valuable for building your legal network. In addition to forging positive connections in the legal industry, they also help showcase your legal skills and knowledge.
Use websites like Pro Bono Net, specifically their National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide, to find legal volunteer opportunities in your area.
8. Mentor Young Law Students
Mentoring law students is an opportunity to grow their network in the long run.
There are websites like Legal Education Access Pipeline or LEAP that continuously accept volunteer applications from legal professionals looking to mentor and nurture the next generation of attorneys. The mentorship program will pair you with a current law student.
As a mentor, your role is to answer their questions, share resources, and communicate at least once a month over nine months.
Providing mentorship is also a learning experience for most legal professionals. It will also help you build connections with current mentors through events and social media.
9. Collaborate With Non-Legal Businesses
Non-legal collaborations will help you reach a wider audience within a local community.
In some cases, non-legal collaborations also help enhance your legal services — such as partnerships with technology and software companies. But if your primary goal is to build your legal network, go with networking groups like LeTip to connect with local businesses.
To use LeTip, the first step is to find and join the right chapter. Their website will help you discover the best one based on your business category, service locations, and preferred meeting times.
Business networking groups will help you nurture business relationships across different industries, be it food, design, pet care, and Ecommerce. Use them to discover diverse collaboration opportunities, like referral marketing, contests, cleanup drives, and other fundraising activities.
10. Speak at Non-Legal Events
Working with local businesses can also help promote your law firm through non-legal speaking engagements.
Your options include webinars, interviews, charity events, local school activities, and podcasts. Start with your local business network to find potential non-legal events you can pitch yourself into as a speaker. If you’ve already proven your expertise and communication skills, you’re in a position to ask your non-legal business contacts for speaking engagement referrals.
Alternatively, tune into speaking marketplaces like the Free Speaker Bureau. Get yourself listed in the speaker directory to be found by event promoters — or search for speaking opportunities yourself.
11. Join a Legal Referral Network (or Create One!)
If your main motivation behind legal networking is earning referral leads, cut to the chase by joining legal referral networks.
The Nextlaw Referral Network, for example, helps make referrals easy for over 675 firms and 38,000+ lawyers. All you need to do is complete the application process, wait for approval, and begin networking via a streamlined user portal.
You can also organize your own referral network by leveraging contacts in your local bar association, online community, or social media group. Below are the steps to do this:
- Compile your attorney contacts into a searchable database.
- Obtain the contact information of attorneys who don’t compete in your practice areas.
- Bulk send an email invitation that lets them know about your referral agreement proposal.
- Establish accessible communication channels through social media, messaging apps, or video conferencing tools.
12. Host Online Legal Workshops
Hosting your own online workshop or webinar can be challenging. Planning a workshop alone can take days or weeks of research.
But if you do it right, workshops are a guaranteed way to build your firm’s authority and grow your network in the legal industry.
Here’s a quick rundown of the things to remember before hosting your online legal workshop:
- Define a target audience and choose a specific topic they’re interested in.
- Choose a conferencing tool to understand the features you can use to enhance the attendees’ experience.
- Plan the workshop’s content (be sure to cover subtopics your target audience cares about).
- Come up with ways to make the workshop interactive, like quizzes, polls, and games.
- Set up your tools for registrations and payments (if any).
To gain ideas on workshop planning and structures, check out law firms that offer workshops and associate development programs like Milbank.
13. Book Follow Up Meetings
No matter what networking strategy you use, you need to learn how to follow up on prospective connections before they go cold.
Following up on social media are good efforts, but they don’t show the eagerness and sincerity that grab the attention of highly experienced lawyers. Instead, send them a message that directly requests a follow-up meeting to ensure you’re on the same page in your professional relationships. You can do this via email, phone call, or text.
Play The Long Game
While lawyers are masters of communication in the courtroom, not all of them are gifted with the essential networking skills. Despite this, it’s vital for any law firm to include networking in its digital marketing strategy
Any legal networking strategy will work as long as you build a positive and authoritative image for your law firm. The question is, are you willing to play the long game?
It’s true that raising your law firm’s reputation takes time but you don’t have to do it alone. Chat with us to develop a digital marketing strategy that will bolster your firm’s brand and naturally generate legal connections.