Upon graduating from law school, many young attorneys expect to have clients lined up at the door of their newly leased office space. These passionate attorneys want to make their mark on the legal profession and help clients resolve pressing legal issues.
There is just one problem. Your law school probably spent very little time teaching you how to get your first client as a lawyer, if any. Whether you are a seasoned attorney or a new legal practitioner who has encountered challenges while attempting to attract clients, trust us, you are not alone.
Client intake is not a problem that is unique to attorneys of specific experience levels or areas of expertise. All but the largest and most well-known law firms will struggle to connect with potential clients if they are not leveraging a powerful online law firm marketing strategy.
Getting Clients as a Lawyer: Digital Marketing Sphere
Did you know that there are over 1.33 million lawyers in the United States? Practically all of these legal professionals are proactively working to build their online presence and are competing for the attention of prospective clients in their area. If you hope to build your firm and acquire new clients, then you had better do the same as these other lawyers, but better.
When you want to achieve sustained success in your area of practice and differentiate yourself from these other attorneys, then you need to use a multifaceted approach. We have outlined below several specific marketing efforts that you should engage in if you are interested in getting clients as a lawyer.
Create a Lawyer Website
The ultimate goal of virtually all marketing efforts is to attract prospects to your website and convert them into new clients. Therefore, the first step to gaining more clients is to create a dynamic, user-friendly website.
When potential clients visit your site, they will begin forming opinions about your law firm in seconds. If they do not like what they see, they will quickly leave your site and research other attorneys.
Conversely, if potential clients are greeted by a captivating website, they will form positive opinions about your law firm and its capabilities. This reaction will give you the opportunity to convert them from prospects into clients.
The importance of a great law firm website design cannot be overstated. Without an exceptional website, all of your other marketing efforts will fall below expectations. Your organic search traffic will produce few leads, and your paid marketing approaches will generate an abysmal return on investment.
If you are thinking to yourself that you have no idea how to create a great website for attorneys, the good news is that you don't have to. Instead, all you need to do is partner with a reputable online marketing firm that provides website design services for lawyers.
Such a firm will take your raw ideas and transform them into a fully functional website that aligns with your law firm's brand image. This custom website will serve as the centerpiece of all of your other online marketing endeavors by advertising your legal services in a digestible format.
Leverage the Power of SEO
Once your law firm has a great website, you will be well on your way to acquiring new clients and growing your practice. The next step to getting clients as a new lawyer involves leveraging the power of search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization for lawyers is the art of making your website more appealing to search engines.
As you may or may not be aware, search engines like Google rank websites based on a variety of factors. The highest ranking websites appear on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs). These "organic" results appear below the paid ads, but more on those ads in an upcoming section.
If you want to get noticed by clients in your area, it is critical that you make it to page one of the SERPs. According to Oberlo, 90% of Google users don't make it past page one of their search results.
Sites that are on page two might get a meager amount of traffic, but sites that show up on page three and beyond will have zero chance of generating a meaningful number of leads.
If you have some familiarity with the concepts of search engine marketing, then you probably know that keyword selection is critical to getting your site noticed in a Google search. However, before you start stuffing your content with phrases like "personal injury lawyer," keep in mind that SEO involves much more than simply adding keywords.
The best way to develop a cohesive SEO strategy and increase your website's visibility in organic search results is to work with a search engine optimization firm for attorneys. These organizations specialize in expanding your reach in the digital marketplace so that you can find ideal clients for your firm.
How SEO for Lawyers Works
SEO is one of the most powerful tools available to law firms that want to acquire more legal clients and grow their businesses. However, if you want to use this tool, you must understand the various types of SEO. While there are several such categories, the majority of SEO efforts can be classified as either on-site or off-site search engine optimization.
On-site SEO is the type of optimization that the majority of lawyers are familiar with. This type of SEO involves including relevant keywords in every service page and blog post.
For maximum effect, you will not only need to use the right keywords, but you will need to insert them into optimal locations as well. Keywords tend to be most effective when they are included in headers, URLs, and meta descriptions.
On-site SEO also pertains to more technical aspects of your website. Factors like page load speed, website responsiveness, and the presence of meta tags and alt tags will all impact your ranking.
Other on-site SEO considerations include:
- Internal and external links
- Image optimization
- Text formatting
- The quality and authoritativeness of content
- Relevance and quality of meta descriptions and meta titles
By addressing all of these various concerns, your law firm can significantly improve its ranking and become more visible to clients.
The second key facet of SEO focuses on off-site actions. Off-site SEO can sometimes be more challenging to master. A few components of off-site SEO include:
- Acquiring backlinks
- Marketing on social media
- Engaging in content marketing
- Law firm reputation management
Of the suggestions above, acquiring backlinks is one of the best things that you can do to enhance the reputation of your law firm. A backlink is a link on another site that leads to one of your blog or service pages. When high-quality sites link back to your content, Google's algorithm views your law firm as a reputable source of information.
Perform Local SEO Research
Now that we have covered the basics of on-site and off-site SEO let's narrow our focus to a particular type of the former. Local SEO is a type of on-site optimization that involves targeting clients in the city or region in which your law firm is located. It is one of the best ways to get clients as a lawyer.
By targeting local keywords instead of generalized phrases, you can drastically reduce the number of law firms that you are competing against. You can also increase the quality of leads that you generate because Google's algorithm will direct local clients to your content.
In order to optimize your site for local clients, you will need to target location-specific keywords. All you need to do is modify the keywords that you want to rank for so that they include phrases like "near me" or the name of the city you are located in.
For instance, let's say that your law firm provides bankruptcy services and is located in Atlanta, GA. You could target a key phrase like "bankruptcy law practice in Atlanta."
Think of Integrating PPC
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great way of generating large volumes of web traffic in a short time frame.
When setting up a PPC campaign, you will need to select which keywords you want to target and how much you are going to bid on each phrase. When a user conducts a search, Google will display the highest bidding PPC ads at the top of the SERP, above the organic results.
The downside to PPC is that it can be quite expensive, especially for new attorneys. Therefore, you should use it strategically as a means of supplementing your SEO efforts. If you want to maximize your ROI, we suggest partnering with a firm that offers PPC services for lawyers.
Create Useful Content
In the past, potential clients who needed to find legal information would have to call an attorney or law firm directly. However, that is no longer necessary. Now, individuals seeking legal advice simply break out their smartphones, conduct a quick Google search, and click on the most relevant results.
You can use this to your advantage as a way to generate more web traffic and improve your law firm's reputation among your target audience. To do so, you will need to create a library of useful and informative content.
Building up a diverse array of legal content can help you become the go-to source of legal information within your region. Those seeking information will not only turn to your site for guidance, but they may also share this information with others. When one of these prospective clients needs paid legal assistance, your law firm will be top of mind.
If you want to make the most out of this strategy, you will need to regularly publish content on your website. Older, outdated articles will not be ranked as highly as more recently published ones. This tactic of marketing by creating educational content is known as "content marketing."
Examples of How Useful Content Helps to Get Clients as a Lawyer
Law firms in any field of practice can leverage content marketing. Whether you practice criminal law, personal injury law, finance law, or another specialty entirely, making your website a resource for information is one of the most effective ways to get more legal clients.
For example, let's say that you practice personal injury law. Current, potential, and previous clients who have dealt with personal injuries might struggle to understand all of the various legal terminology involved with the litigatory process.
Naturally, they turn to their favorite search engine for answers and begin querying phrases like "Personal injury terms" or "What do personal injury attorneys do?" Fortunately, you have a proactive content marketing strategy and have already created several pieces of content designed to rank for these keywords.
When they hit "Enter" in that search menu, your most popular blogs are at the top of the organic results. They see relevant blog titles like "Personal injury legal terms" and "Personal Injury Attorneys: What You Need to Know."
After they click on your site, they are provided with well-written educational content and — of course — a link to an information sheet so that they can schedule an initial consultation. You have now converted a prospect into a quality lead simply by taking the time to create educational content.
Whether consumers are shopping for a new phone, buying movie tickets, or looking for legal help, there is a good chance that they will read reviews to guide their decision-making process. So what does this mean for your law firm?
Simple — you need positive reviews and lots of them. While having no reviews is usually better than having mediocre ones, it is vital that you work to obtain feedback from previous clients. This feedback will not only help you build your online presence but will also provide insights into how you can refine your craft.
When a potential client sees that your law firm has nothing but four and five-star reviews, they will be much more confident that you can assist them with the legal issue they are facing.
In reading the above section, you were probably thinking to yourself, "What should I do if someone leaves me a scathing review?" That's where reputation management for lawyers comes into play.
Receiving positive feedback about your legal work is easy. Digesting negative reviews and deciding how to respond to them is far more difficult. However, your reputation cannot afford for you to just bury your head in the sand and pretend that the negative review is not out there.
Each and every prospective client who researches your law firm can read that review. Even if it is utterly false, the review and the way you respond to it will shape the reader's perception of your firm.
When dealing with negative reviews, the first step is to respond politely and professionally. Express remorse and empathy without admitting fault. For instance, you could use terminology such as "I apologize that our services did not live up to your expectations. Please contact our firm so we can remedy your concerns."
The above example accomplished two things. First, it showed the reviewer, and potential clients, that you are proactively addressing any concerns. Second, it took the conversation offline so that you could discuss the individual's concerns privately.
Even if the person responds harshly or fails to contact your office, your law firm will be viewed as reasonable and responsive.
Start an Email Marketing Campaign
Email marketing is an excellent way to nurture leads and generate more clients. There are many ways to manage your email marketing campaign.
For example, when people who read your blogs provide you with their email addresses and contact info, you can add them to your marketing list. You can then send them regular emails at weekly or monthly intervals. These emails are meant to remind them that your law firm exists, provide them links to new content, and develop a sense of loyalty toward your brand.
Establish a Social Media Presence
Many businesses consider social media platforms valuable tools for acquiring more clients. However, these services are not nearly as effective as marketing platforms for legal professionals. Most people seeking professional legal advice are not going to turn to their Facebook or Instagram feed.
While young attorneys can certainly benefit from establishing a lawyer social media presence, leveraging Google is far more effective. Social media channels should primarily be used to advertise new blog content and drive traffic to the law firm's website.
Getting Clients as a Lawyer: Social Interaction
Most conversations about how to get more clients as a lawyer focus on digital advertising tactics. However, if you want to start acquiring new clients while simultaneously building relationships with your community, engaging in face-to-face social interactions is a great approach.
There are many different ways to socialize with community members and potential clients.
A great place to start is by contacting the local chamber of commerce. If you are just starting your law career, you might not have the funding to become a big-time donor. However, most chambers of commerce have tier-based membership systems. If yours does, consider becoming an entry-level donor.
Another approach involves sponsoring local sports teams. For just a few hundred dollars, you can have your law firm's logo displayed at sporting events and mentioned at seasonal banquets. Anyone, including a potential client, might see or hear these ads while they are out watching community events.
Embrace Public Events
Want to know how to get clients as a young lawyer? While there are many ways, one great tactic involves embracing public events. In addition to the social interactions mentioned above, you should also seek out public speaking opportunities.
Your local college or university is a great place to start. You could host a guest seminar for incoming freshmen or speak to those considering applying for law school. Additionally, you could connect with the high schools in your city and start networking. School administrators and faculty will appreciate that you are taking the time to invest in the youth.
Over time, you will develop your credibility within the community you serve. This credibility will open the door for connections with big clients and could help you achieve your long-term growth goals.
If you decide to go this route, make sure to clearly convey your contact information at each meeting. Otherwise, much of your efforts are being wasted.
When you're learning how to get clients as a new lawyer, we suggest handing out business cards, leaving up a slide on your presentation, and even displaying a small sign in the conference room. The more opportunities you provide for prospective clients to jot down your information, the more likely they are to actually do so.
Who knows how many leads you could generate from a single public event?
How to Get More Clients as a Lawyer: Local Directories
Listing your services in online legal directories is an excellent way of boosting your online visibility. Some of the top legal directories include:
When using this tactic, don't just list your law firm on a single legal directory. Instead, list your services in as many directories as possible to maximize your visibility.
What Makes Local Directories So Useful for Lawyers?
Legal directories can augment your other brand-building efforts in a multitude of ways.
Specifically, we suggest that you use legal directories because when Google's algorithm finds your website on multiple directories, the search engine will view it as more legitimate and reputable.
In turn, the algorithm will rank your website higher. This ranking means that you will have an easier time achieving that sought-after page one status on Google's search engine results pages.
The information listed in legal directories also tells potential clients exactly what you do, where your business is located, and how to get ahold of you. When a client conducts a search for legal services on Google or in one of these directories, they are more likely to come across your information.
Finally, potential clients like using directories. A directory provides a snapshot of all of the law firms in their vicinity. They can quickly compare services, read reviews, and decide which attorney best suits their needs
As you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to start using directories. However, this tactic is no substitute for a great digital marketing strategy that leverages both PPC and SEO tactics. Instead, it is a way to supplement these other efforts and make your firm stand out from the competition.
Difficulties You Will Encounter While Getting Clients as a New Lawyer: Top Client Acquisition Challenges New Lawyers Face
There are many different client acquisition challenges that new lawyers might encounter, the most notable of which include the following:
Bad Marketing Strategies
If you are working from a bad marketing strategy, your brand-building efforts will never even get off the ground. Fortunately, this is the easiest challenge to avoid. To ensure that your marketing strategy is fundamentally sound, simply check out this step-by-step marketing strategy guide and use the tactics outlined therein.
A Lack of Reviews
Remember when we said that no reviews are better than bad reviews? Well, that statement is mostly true. However, an utter lack of reviews will definitely work against you as you strive to acquire new clients and grow your business.
Therefore, you must work to gather reviews from your previous clients. We suggest asking for reviews after you provide them with positive news.
For instance, if you notify a client that they are going to receive a healthy settlement, follow up this news with a review request. On the other hand, if a client relationship has been a bit rocky, you may not want to lobby for reviews.
Use your best judgment when you're considering whether to ask for reviews. You can also gain some informal feedback from a client before asking them to leave you a review on Google or another platform.
Slow Response Times
When potential clients fill out an information request on your website, how long does it take you to reply? If the answer is several days to a week, you will probably have a tough time turning prospects into clients.
Instead of waiting days to hear back from your firm, potential clients will probably move on to the next attorney on their SERPs and send a second information request.
The rise of the internet and smart devices has conditioned consumers to expect instant gratification. While no one expects you to be available 24/7/365, you will need to respond to information requests in a reasonable amount of time.
A great way of solving this problem involves using chatbots and automation software. These technologies can send clients automated replies when they request information. Automated responses satisfy the client's expectation of instant gratification while also buying you some extra time to conduct a thorough follow-up.
Too Few Leads
Slow follow-up times can undermine your brand-building efforts. However, so can having too few people to follow up with.
Keep in mind that not every lead will pan out, no matter how good your sales pitch is. Therefore, you need to have a steady stream of leads coming in at all times. If you do not, you will likely experience gaps in work, which can threaten business continuity.
In order to combat this issue, you must implement a reliable lead tracking program. You need to know how many leads you are generating each week, month, and quarter. More importantly, you need to know what percentage of leads are actually converting into paying clients.
Lead tracking will also provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your campaigns. If you normally generate 15 leads per week and your last campaign only produced 5, it is safe to assume that it did not resonate with your target audience. To learn more about lead generation for attorneys check our guide.
Inefficient Contact Information Gathering Practices
Your first step to generating a lead is to gather contact information from prospects. The most common approach to gathering information involves using an online contact form. However, a common mistake that many young attorneys make is asking for too much information during this initial exchange.
Attempting to collect an abundance of information from a prospect when they first realize their need for legal services might seem like a great idea. Unfortunately, this approach can often adversely affect a person's willingness to work with your law firm.
Instead of attempting to gather as much information as possible, keep your contact form simple. Ask for basic information such as a first and last name, email address, and phone number.
You should also include a drop-down menu that includes your various areas of practice if you have more than one specialty. For instance, if you are a criminal defense attorney, your menu could list common crimes like DUI, theft, and assault.
We also suggest including an optional dialogue box on your contact form. This section will give the lead the freedom to provide details about their case, should they choose to do so. To reiterate, this section should be optional. That way, prospects who are in a hurry can quickly submit information without becoming frustrated with your online form.
Before You Meet Your First Client, You Should
When you are preparing to meet with someone for the first time, you should:
If a prospect provided detailed information about their case on your contact form, make sure to review this data. Also, you should call your prospective client before the meeting to gather some additional information. This approach will help you enter the first meeting with a good understanding of the client's needs and legal issues.
Pre-screening will also allow you to set a great first impression. If you start the relationship out on the right foot, future interactions are likely to be positive and mutually beneficial. A good first impression will also make it easier to solicit reviews after you have resolved the client's legal issues.
Make Yourself Accessible and Be Open for Conversation
Every attorney-client relationship needs clear boundaries. On the other hand, it is important that your clients can reach you when they need updates or have questions about the case. You should ensure that your clients have direct access to you. Unless it is unavoidable, they should not have to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get into contact with you.
If you want to make yourself accessible while maintaining healthy boundaries, communicating via email and your business phone number is a great approach. You should generally avoid giving out your personal cell phone number unless working with high-profile clients.
Discuss Payment in Advance
Always be transparent about your fees and rate. Let clients know what your retainer amount is, what you bill for responding to emails, and other costs. Surprise fees and unclear billing practices will sour an otherwise healthy client relationship almost instantly.
If the client seems uncomfortable with your rates, make sure to explain the scope of your services and skill set. This explanation will help them better understand what exactly they are paying for.
Build Your Clientele One Step at a Time
Now that you know how to get new clients as a lawyer, it is time to start building your reputation. However, you will not become a dominant digital force overnight. Building your brand image and online reach requires time, effort, and a great strategy. You will also need to endure a little trial and error.
If you want a partner to help you navigate the challenges of law firm digital marketing, Grow Law Firm can help. As a full-service digital marketing firm, our team offers SEO campaign management, PPC advertising, and web design.
Ready to learn more? If so, then contact our high-performance law firm digital marketing agency today.