Explosive Growth From The Stage: Some Pro Speaking Tips

Websites, social media, and billboards are all useful, but ultimately, your best tool for attracting new law firm clients may be your own voice. By demonstrating your expertise in a specific area of law, you can establish trust with your audience, thereby proving that they can benefit from your law firm’s services. Giving a presentation can be unnerving, however, even if you’re accustomed to appearing in front of other people in court.

Preparation is key, which is why you can benefit from these helpful hints:

Target Your Appearances Based On Your Practice Area

It doesn’t matter how amazing of a speaker you are — your presentation will be useless if you stand up in front of the wrong crowd. The topic you choose should be relevant to your audience — and your audience should be made up of potential clients who can actually benefit from your firm’s legal services. If you specialize in elder law and estate planning, schedule an appearance at a local senior center or AARP event. If you primarily handle family matters, your message will resonate best at conferences for couples or single parents.

Select Trending Topics

Attract attention with a topic that is immediately relevant to your audience — ideally something they’ve heard lately in the news. Find a natural way to connect this topic with important legal principles. Relevant topics will keep audience members more engaged — and more likely to invest in your services in the future.

Get Published

Choosing a target audience is just the first step. Next, you need an in, especially if you plan to speak at a major conference. Not just anybody will be accepted — you need an impressive background. Many lawyers set themselves apart via trade journals and other publications. Research and write an in-depth article about a relevant area of interest, and get it published in a major law journal. Highlight this publication when pitching to conferences, and offer to speak on the topic.

Marketing to Other Lawyers

Many lawyers speak at conferences in hopes of finding new clients, but public appearances can also help you develop working relationships with other legal professionals, while also attracting the best and brightest talent to your firm. If you’re on the hunt for a talented new attorney, try talking at a law school or in front of your local bar association.

Speaking engagements can dramatically raise your profile in the local community and across a broader region.

Use The Competition’s Failure To Your Advantage

Whether you’re on the hunt for new clients or new attorneys, it’s important to focus your efforts so that you take on only the best. Many firms have tried—and failed—to enhance their scope, and while their demise is unfortunate, you can learn a great deal from their failures. Keep the following in mind as you strive to avoid common law firm pitfalls:

  1. Look carefully for lawyers who actually match your legal approach and your firm’s culture.

Few things will destroy your firm more quickly than fighting between partners. All lawyers at your firm need to be on the same page from the outset. Be discerning in your recruitment efforts, and only offer positions to those you are certain will fit in.

  1. Focus not only on your recruiting efforts, but also the general scope of your firm.

Both clients and prospective employees are often suspicious of jack-of-all-trade firms that offer a myriad of services. In most cases, your best bet is to focus your efforts on a few specific practice areas or types of clients. Make your area of focus very obvious on your website, social media pages, and in any other marketing efforts.

  1. Realize your worth as a lawyer and as a law firm.

Many solo law firms fail because they are too desperate to snag clients. Don’t lose your integrity by offering major discounts or policy concessions when they’re not warranted. Be willing to give up a bad client or two as you search not for any client, but for the right client.

  1. Don’t play it safe.

Far too many law firms avoid potentially big cases in favor of sticking with tried and tested clients and cases. While there is definitely value in knowing your brand and sticking with it, there is also a place for calculated risks. For example, during the post-recession period in which law firms were failing left and right, the attorneys of BuckleySandler decided to take a big risk and cater to financial clients. Since opening, the firm has nearly quadrupled in size; today, it boasts an impressive team of 150 attorneys.

  1. Think long-term while hiring and promoting employees.

Succession is a big concern that many lawyers fail to think through until it’s too late. If you manage a small law firm and have yet to groom a successor, it’s time to get started. As you make key hiring and promotion decisions, think carefully about how you want your firm to look in ten or twenty years.

Recruiting For Massive Growth

Business is booming, and you’re ready to expand your law firm. Whether you’re looking to go from a sole proprietorship to a partnership or further expand your already vast legal network, it is imperative that you select an attorney who fits in with your firm’s vision and culture.

Outlining Your Ideal Candidate
Before you hit up job fairs and law school campuses, it’s important to sketch out a basic idea of the type of lawyer you’d like to hire. Should this person have experience in a specific area of law? Are you willing to work with somebody fresh out of law school? Make one list detailing the bare minimum requirements, and another with qualities that your dream job candidate would possess. Determine which areas are absolutely essential—and where you’re willing to make allowances.

Where to Recruit
In today’s digital age, there are endless avenues for recruiting exceptional legal talent. However, while digital recruiting tools can be valuable, traditional search methods often prove most effective. Local law schools can be a great source of fresh talent, especially for associate attorneys and legal clerks. Other lawyers prefer to seek talent from bar associations and other professional organizations. Still others outsource the job to professional recruiters. There is no one source of talent that works best for every firm, so try visiting several locations and conducting a thorough online search. Keep track of outreach efforts to determine where you’re able to find the best candidates.

Website and Social Media Optimization
In addition to actively recruiting, prepare your online presence for any job seekers who may be interested in working for your firm. Optimize your web content to improve online visibility, and be sure to maintain an active presence on social media. Add a page to your website for job seekers, detailing the type of lawyer you’re looking for and how to proceed with the application process.

The right recruitment tools and techniques can help you land the best and brightest professionals in the legal industry.

High Performance, Highly Profitable Law Firm Management

Turning your law firm into a high-performing practice requires the management of a variety of complex efforts. You must juggle managing your clients with your ongoing professional development, and embrace the fact that your firm needs to be run like a business. In the end, this will result in greater work satisfaction and improved service to clients. Frequently attorneys are averse to business management activities, and lose sight of the fact that the firm needs to be developed and managed in the same way as individual reputations, professional development and cases. These are interrelated, and when one is neglected, all are affected. Ultimately, your client service will suffer or thrive depending on how you decide to manage your practice.

Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Your ethical and professional responsibilities should be your highest priority: you are a lawyer first, and a businessperson second. Run your practice like a business; constantly managing marketing, sales, operations, finance and recruiting. Professional development includes training on how to run your law firm or hiring the right company to run it for you.
  • Strategic planning must cover both professional and business development. Your reputation is your business and your name really becomes your brand—built on the foundation of your work and past results. Think about your personal goals and how choosing what type of lawyer you want to become will serve those goals in the future. Determine ahead of time where you need to be flexible and where you must stand firm and embrace the change that these decisions may require.
  • Recognize from the beginning that you are not accountable to anyone but yourself. This can mean unlimited opportunity, but also the necessity to develop yourself as an attorney. Success as a lawyer—especially on your own—requires a high level of skill in your chosen practice area of law. Don’t scrimp on investing in your own development. Let someone else handle the business and administrative work for you.
  • Take responsibility from the beginning, making your choices carefully when work will be completed and on what schedule. Determine how to effectively run your client’s case, and work to gain the experience to be proficient and operate without supervision.
  • Monitor your return on investment for all firm marketing efforts. Make sure your measurement methods are reliable, so that you can determine what is working and make good decisions on campaigns and tactics that are effective and do not waste firm resources.