Network with Both Lawyers and Non-Lawyers
As a solo practitioner with an oil and gas law practice, I began by offering both legal services (e.g., title opinions, damage negotiations, Rights-of-way, and easements) and non-legal petroleum land services.To build my practice and network with potential clients, I affiliated with a broker who also began his practice by offering both legal and non-legal petroleum land services.From the beginning, my broker provided me with invaluable guidance in various aspects of the industry.Now, as clients bring projects to him, he passes them along to me and various other attorneys who are affiliated with his office.
The broker provides steady work and acts as a valuable mentor.Through this affiliation, I network with oil and gas companies, land owners, mineral interest and royalty interest owners, and various other industry professionals to establish relationships and build a client base for my law practice.I fill the time in between matters with the petroleum land services.
Developing a network in the legal community is valuable. Attorney Karla J. LaFitte, Martin & Stillwell LLP, The Woodlands, Texas, suggests joining the local bar associations and the local chamber of commerce and looking for ways to get involved with the community.She advises, “[b]uilding relationships and letting people get to know you is the best way to not only get your name out, but your contacts also feel confident referring clients to you. And you can do good work at the same time.”
Get Behind a Cause
A great way to build your practice around an area of law that you are passionate about is to get behind a cause. Recently, a conversation with my insurance agent presented an opportunity to get involved with the Village Learning & Achievement Center, a non-profit organization created to support the inclusion of adults and children with disabilities in the community.They were looking for someone to educate parents on special needs trusts.Teaching this program has led to many referrals and opportunities to expand my practice in another area that I feel passionate about.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start out with a Niche Practice
Marketing a practice as a niche can be cost conscious and effective.Attorney Marc Meyer, Law Office of Marc Meyer PLLC, Magnolia, Texas, started his practice with the goal of representing nurses before the Texas Board of Nursing.By creating such a unique specialty, he narrowed the competition from thousands of attorneys to about a dozen (in a sizeable state).Meyer advises, “[d]eveloping a niche allows you to really focus on who, where, and how to market by defining who is your ideal client.”This focus gave Meyer the opportunity to target a specific audience, which he did with a State Bar approved direct mailer.With a sign up rate around 10 percent, this effectively marketed his practice on a limited budget.
These are only a handful of many tools that attorneys have to market their practice.Some of them may work for your area of expertise and some may not.As you meet other attorneys who have built up a solo practice, do not be afraid to ask them what worked for them.