When I decided to strike out on my own and start a solo practice, I was faced with a monumental challenge: how to fill the practice up with clients? As solo and small firm practitioners, we face a lot of other questions, but perhaps none are more important than that one.
Without any clients, you won’t be practicing much of anything.
Thankfully, I still had a job when I decided to start my practice. So, I was able to research and learn all the latest (and older) marketing strategies before leaving my job.
The First Step: The Website
When I was first getting started, legal blogging was the BSO (the bright shiny object). That’s all you heard about on legal marketing blogs, at legal conferences, and on solo marketing discussion lists. So, I signed up with a well-known legal blogging service.
I started blogging and started to get visitors and clients. The blogging service didn’t advertise this, but they had a large network of sites that all linked together, which served as “link juice”—links are still the best way to get traffic and rankings from Google. This really helped.
But then I decided to change practice areas and focused on personal injury. So, I ended the service and learned how to develop WordPress sites, as web design was a hobby and was so easy with the development of drag-and-drop editors.
Along the way I learned about search engine optimization (SEO) and changed my approach to my website.
Evergreen vs. Blog Content
In my opinion, there is content that is evergreen and content that should be in a blog. If your target market is consumers (and not other lawyers), rarely are they going to follow your blog or subscribe to your RSS feed. My target audience is those injured due to the negligence of someone else. I wasn’t expecting personal injury victims to follow blogs. So, think about how your target audience will consume your content.
For each practice area, I set out to write an extensive practice area page. It is basically a FAQ page for each practice area, but I didn’t label it as such. I’m always tinkering and tweaking the content. But the content begins by telling them who I am and what I can do for them. Then I place a “call to action” button to request a free case review.
Below that the FAQ portion begins, and I aim for 1,000 to 2,000 words—a thorough, authoritative guide.
Then for each practice area, I write supporting articles. For example, if the practice area page is “Car Accidents,” then supporting pages could be articles about passengers, common injuries in car accidents, how you prove fault after an accident, etc.
I mentioned earlier that links are the best way to rank in Google. But extensive content is a way to get traffic without links. Potential clients who search for “business lawyer near San Diego” are almost ready to hire, but the competition is harder, so you probably need some links to rank in the bigger cities.
There are also prospective clients who search for, “Do I have to notify California after I issue shares of my small corporation?” If one of your articles has a section that directly addresses this, it’s possible to get traffic without a lot of links. So, I would go to the Avvo website and browse their Q&A section for my practice area and state.
I would look for any questions asked more than once, and then I would answer that question by writing an article or adding a section to an existing page. Also, I would search Google and find the top-ranking websites, look at their articles, and see if there were any topics I’d like to write about.
At the beginning I would try to write content each night.
I started with Twitter but never got into it. The only people I’d connect with would be other lawyers, not my target market. However, Facebook has provided me with a lot of clients.
My strategy with Facebook isn’t a strategy at all, actually. People are on Facebook to be entertained. So, I would write funny posts about my practice area, without any intention to solicit. I started to get referrals from people I never engaged with. Facts tell, stories sell. I wouldn’t even post that often, maybe every few weeks.
But people got the idea I was a personal injury lawyer from my stories, and they started to refer clients. The key is to know your audience and write something very funny—or something that will get them mad.
I’m barely scratching the surface on using social media to grow a practice. There is so much more you can do.
A great resource for that is Mitch Jackson, who is not only a well-regarded personal injury lawyer but is also known for his expansive social media reach. He just released a book, The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Business Owners, Professionals and Entrepreneurs. He has a lot of great content at https://streaming.lawyer.
I ran ads in local foreign-language newspapers in my city. They were cheap, and the ROI was significant as I got a lot of good clients from the ads.
I just started to test Facebook ads, and the early results are very promising. For now, cost per signed case seems to be much lower than using Google Ads. Everyone knows personal injury keywords are the most expensive search terms on Google Ads. And you don’t get a return on the ad spend for five months to more than a year.
I tried Avvo ads, but it didn’t work for me. It has worked for other lawyers, and it’s cheap enough to give it a try.
Let me get this out of the way. I’m not a networker. I know it is very effective, it is the cheapest and fastest way to get cases, and I highly recommend it to those starting out. Personally, I’d rather be at home, tinkering with Facebook ads, than network, so that’s why I don’t do it. I do encounter referral sources naturally, such as chiropractors who work with my patients. So, I have a referral network, I just don’t actively seek it out.
Still, if you’re looking to generate clients quickly, think about your practice area and develop a list of potential networking targets. The most successful lawyers in your practice area are great to network with. They usually have cases they don’t want to take and refer those out. Other professionals who come across your target prospects are also great resources.
If you like to get out and socialize, networking is still a great strategy.
Find What Works Best for You
That is how I grew my practice, and also how I plan to grow the practice further. My website is a living, breathing one, so I’ll continually add content and tweak layouts and images to optimize the conversion rate. I plan on launching Facebook ad campaigns in the immediate future, and eventually Google Ads.
There is no single strategy that works to the exclusion of all others. They all work. They will all continue to work. So, pick what works best for your personality!