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Legal Rainmaking: Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Law Firm Business Development with David Ackert

Join Sasha Berson as he speaks with David Ackert, Founder and CEO of PipelinePlus

11 min
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Updated

Sep 22, 2023
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Law firm business development is not just a buzzword; it is the driving force that propels law firms forward, shaping their growth and future. Prospects have endless options when choosing a law practice and they expect exceptional service and expertise. Many lawyers struggle to secure them as clients because they lack effective systems for organizing their connections, staying top of mind, and maximizing the potential of their network.

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 ways to boost your law firm business development based on the expert insights of David Ackert. From building a strong network to leveraging technology, we’ll dive into the strategies and techniques that successful law firms use to stay ahead of the competition and thrive in today’s legal market.

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Law Firm Business Development

In professional services, such as law firms, “marketing” and “business development” are often used interchangeably. However, they represent distinct facets of a comprehensive growth strategy. To grasp the nuances between the two, let’s delve into the analogy of a funnel that illustrates their respective roles.

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Law Firm Business Development

At the top of the funnel lies marketing, the strategic efforts aimed at attracting and capturing the attention of potential clients. This encompasses marketing tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), content creation, social media campaigns, email marketing, and advertising. Then, the funnel narrows as prospects move from being attracted to the firm to the subsequent stage of law firm business development. This is where the real client engagement and relationship-building occur.

Law firm business development focuses on converting those prospects into clients through personalized interactions, establishing trust, and nurturing relationships. It involves business development activities, networking, client meetings, proposals, negotiations, and securing new business.

The synergy between law firm marketing and business development is essential for a holistic growth strategy. Marketing efforts lay the foundation by creating awareness and attracting potential clients to the funnel. Once inside, business development efforts nurture and guide them toward becoming loyal clients.

Emphasizing the Bottom Half of the Funnel: Law Firm Business Development

The legal profession possesses a vast untapped resource: the extensive web of industry peers, referrers, and advisers comprising lawyers’ collective networks. Many lawyers have a psychological barrier when it comes to sales. They struggle with proactively reaching out to people and ensuring they talk to them about their needs. They may feel that it’s inappropriate or too aggressive. However, there are appropriate ways to nurture relationships and be proactive in reaching out to people without feeling like you’re being pushy or salesy.

These proactive touchpoints are strategic, personalized communications that help lawyers stay top of mind and demonstrate their expertise. There are many ways that lawyers can use proactive touchpoints to build relationships. Here are a few examples:

Top 10 Points of Business Development Plan for Law Firms

Successful law firms understand the need to cultivate relationships that strategically drive long-term results. Read on for insights into the top ten pillars that make up comprehensive yet customizable business plans tailored to propel your practice’s growth.

Business development plan

1. Harness the Benefits of Professional Networking

Professional networking is a crucial aspect of business development for law firms. Building relationships with other professionals in your industry and community can help you gain access to new clients, resources, and opportunities. Here are some ways to harness the benefits of professional networking for your law firm:

  • Attend industry events like legal conferences, seminars, and workshops to connect with other professionals in your industry.
  • Join local, state, and national professional associations, such as the American Bar Association (ABA) or your state bar association.
  • Volunteer for leadership roles within professional associations, such as serving on a committee or board of directors.
  • Participate in local events, such as charity events, community fundraisers, or volunteer opportunities.
  • Reach out to other professionals in your network and offer to speak at their events, write articles for their publications, or participate in their podcasts.

2. Foster Strong and Meaningful Client Connections

While acquiring new clients is important, nurturing existing connections is equally vital for sustainable growth and long-term success. Here are some law firm business development strategies to foster strong and meaningful client connections:

  • Take the time to understand your clients’ needs, goals, and challenges.
  • Listen actively and ask questions to gather insights into their legal requirements.
  • Be responsive, transparent, and proactive in your communication.
  • Keep your clients informed about the progress of their cases, and explain legal concepts and procedures clearly and concisely.
  • Provide exceptional client service by being accessible, reliable, and efficient.
  • Respond promptly to client inquiries and be available to address their concerns and questions.

3. Cultivate a Referral Culture

Referrals are one of the most cost-effective ways to gain prospective clients. To consistently receive them, your whole firm should prioritize cultivating a culture where referrals are sought and mutual back-scratching is the norm. Some tactics to cultivate a referral culture are to:

  • Encourage your clients, colleagues, and network contacts to refer potential clients to your firm. Offer incentives, such as discounts or bonuses, for successful referrals.
  • Leverage your professional and personal network to generate referrals. Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and connect with other professionals in your industry.
  • Offer referral fees to your clients, colleagues, and network contacts for successful referrals.
  • Follow up with referred clients to ensure they are satisfied with the service they received.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones achieved through referrals.

4. Broaden Your Reach on Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram should be a part of your attorney business development plan. They allow you to reach many potential and existing clients worldwide. Each platform has its unique audience and purpose, so it’s important to tailor your content and approach accordingly.

Here are some ways to broaden your reach on social media platforms:

  • Identify your target audience and choose the platforms they are most likely to use.
  • Create engaging content that resonates with your target audience. Share informative articles, infographics, and videos that provide valuable insights into legal issues and topics relevant to your practice area.
  • Use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts and attract new followers.
  • Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages, sharing user-generated content, and hosting Q&A sessions.
  • Collaborate with influencers in your industry to expand your reach.
  • Utilize paid advertising options on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to reach a wider audience.
Learn how to use social media for lawyers to boost your online presence!

5. Unleash the Full Potential of Your Website

Your lawyer website is often a potential client’s first introduction to your firm. Ensure it conveys expertise, experience, and professionalism.

To unleash the full potential of your website, follow these best practices:

  • Include attorney biographies with qualifications and a summary of services tailored to prospective needs.
  • Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices since most visitors use smartphones.
  • Make it easy for visitors to find what they want by organizing your content logically and intuitively.
  • Create valuable content that addresses the needs and concerns of your target audience. This could include blog posts, articles, whitepapers, case studies, and FAQs.
  • Encourage visitors to take action by including a clear and prominent CTA on your website. This could be to schedule a consultation, download a free resource, or sign up for a newsletter.
  • Showcase your law firm’s expertise and experience by highlighting awards, testimonials, and successful case results.
Discover how to create engaging content for lawyer websites to drive new clients!

6. Capitalize on Technological Advancements

Technology reduces workload and streamlines processes. The time you have to spend on a particular non-legal task could be done with technology which is a huge advantage in the world of law firm business development; this will be done faster than manually. You can use:

  • Cloud computing to access files, documents, and data from anywhere, anytime, using any device with an internet connection.
  • AI to automate repetitive tasks, such as document review, contract analysis, and legal research.
  • Practice management software to manage client information, scheduling, billing, and accounting.
  • Document automation to streamline creating and managing legal documents, such as contracts, pleadings, and motions.
  • Electronic discovery to streamline collecting, reviewing, and producing electronic documents and data.
  • Online collaboration tools, such as project management software and video conferencing, improve communication and collaboration between lawyers, staff, and clients.
  • Data analytic tools to gain insights into your law firm’s operations, finances, and client behavior.
  • Virtual assistants, such as chatbots and voice assistants, to provide clients with quick answers to common questions, such as hours of operation, location, and basic legal information.
Explore the benefits of AI for lawyers in our complete guide!

7. Share Valuable Knowledge and Educational Materials

When potential clients need information about a case or law passed, they go online to find out. Once you share something related to what they are looking for online, on social media, in their email, and through other means, there is a high chance they will turn to you to inquire about your service and more.

Law firms can share content such as:

  • Articles, legal guides, whitepapers, and e-books that provide advice and education on legal issues clients commonly face.
  • Videos, webinars, and podcasts that cover legal topics and areas of law.
  • Infographics, checklists, and templates that make legal processes easier for clients.
  • Blog posts and newsletters that update on changes in laws and regulations.
  • Key reports and surveys that provide benchmarking data and insight into legal industry trends.
  • Case studies and success stories that highlight a firm’s experience and expertise.

8. Prioritize and Nurture Existing Client Relationships

You've heard it before but it bears repeating: Existing clients are a law firm’s most valuable asset. They are most familiar with your work, so with proper care, they offer the lowest barrier to repeat. Not only that, but they can also provide referrals and positive word-of-mouth marketing. What are the best possible ways to nurture existing client relationships?

  • Consistently deliver exceptional client service to exceed expectations. Strive to provide value beyond legal services by offering insights, guidance, and solutions that help them achieve their goals.
  • Maintain regular and meaningful communication with your clients. Keep them informed about the progress of their cases, important legal developments that may affect them, and any relevant updates or opportunities.
  • Tailor your interactions to each client’s preferences and needs. Some clients may prefer face-to-face meetings, while others may prefer virtual communication.
  • Conduct surveys, client interviews, or feedback sessions to measure client satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
  • Organize events, seminars, or webinars that provide value to your clients beyond legal advice.

9. Engage in Research and Publish Findings

You can discover untapped insights through research. When you publish your findings, it will find potential and current clients who need to know about them. Before you start conducting research, it’s important to identify your target audience. Who are the people you want to reach with your research? What are their pain points and interests? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your research and messaging to their needs.

Then:

  • Choose relevant topics that align with your practice areas and address industry trends or lack of data.
  • Conduct comprehensive research, differentiating your work with innovative insights or fresh perspectives.
  • Collaborate with legal professionals internally and externally.
  • Publish in reputable legal journals, publications, and academic platforms to establish credibility and increase reach.
  • Transform published research into infographics and videos for better engagement and broader sharing.

10. Stay Abreast of Client Reviews and Feedback

Client reviews and feedback cannot be underestimated. When was the last time you picked a business without reading reviews first?

Proactively monitor online listings and third-party sites showing client opinions. See both praise and pain points in real time. Thank reviewers, whether the review is positive or negative. Positive reviews attract more leads, but fixing the negative nurtures loyalty. Address negative reviews accordingly and promptly.

Integrate surveys into your processes. After major matters, poll clients for actionable feedback on service, communication, and value. Quickly address even minor issues to prevent recurrences.

Overcoming Psychological Barriers in Business Development

One of the main psychological barriers lawyers face in business development is their own personalities and comfort zones. Many lawyers are introverted and prefer to focus on their legal work rather than networking and selling. However, building relationships and selling are essential parts of business development.

"Everything worthwhile is uncomfortable at first,” says Sasha, the founder of Grow Law Firm. “Dating, starting a business, making those initial sales - it’s all incredibly difficult and can make you doubt yourself. But if you want to improve your life, you have to push through the discomfort. The most rewarding things require persistence in the face of struggle. Don’t give up just because it’s hard. The difficulty is what makes success meaningful."
— David Ackert

To overcome psychological barriers, lawyers need to step out of their comfort zones and develop new skills. This can include attending networking events, practicing public speaking, and learning how to close deals effectively.

Final Thoughts: The Uncomfortable Path to Success

Starting your law firm development and following an uncomfortable path to growth takes courage. Don’t shy away from it, as it will lead to your success. Embrace discomfort, leverage your strengths, and apply the insights and strategies we discussed to drive your law firm’s business development. Remember- each new connection is an opportunity to understand another’s needs better. 

As you embark on your law firm’s journey, consider partnering with full-service law firm business development professionals like Grow Law Firm. Our comprehensive range of services can support your firm’s growth and success, from law firm SEO to web design and extensive PPC campaigns.

David Ackert, M.A.

David Ackert, M.A.

Co-Founder and CEO at Ackert, Inc.

David is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ackert, Inc. and its subsidiary, PipelinePlus. He has made significant contributions to revenue acceleration programs for professional services firms worldwide. David is a technology platform founder, including the PipelinePlus software suite. He has been recognized with awards and featured in notable publications. David is a sought-after speaker and guest lecturer at renowned institutions.

Additionally, he is actively involved in philanthropy, volunteering as a Big Brother and co-founding a mentoring organization. David also co-produced a documentary film that raised funds for underserved communities. He holds a Master's in Psychology and is a Fellow at the College of Law Practice Management.

  1. Send articles or blog posts relevant to a client’s industry or interests. This demonstrates that you’re thinking of them and that you’re knowledgeable about their area of law.
  2. Invite clients to events relevant to their interests, such as seminars, webinars, or conferences. This is a great way to build relationships and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
  3. Simply picking up the phone and checking in with a client can go a long way. Ask how they’re doing, how their business is doing, and if there’s anything you can do to help.
  4. If a client faces a legal issue, offer to help them find a solution. This can be as simple as introducing them to another lawyer specializing in that area of law or offering to help them find resources to address their needs.
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