December 12, 2018 Practice Points

Using Your Computer to Bring in Business

By Emily Wessel Farr

I meet good lawyers frequently. They are ethical officers of the court who know their practice well and give the profession a good name. However, in law, it is often harder to find good businesswomen and men. These are individuals who practice law, manage their brand, and grow their business all at once. They are savvy salespeople. They know how to use their time effectively. The universal limit of 24 hours in a day (16 if you believe the research on sleep) means that an attorney must identify where technology can serve to promote herself to current clients and market herself to future clients. The good businesswoman-attorney understands that “time is money” does not translate to “bill, bill, bill.” It means “outsource, outsource, and outsource some more.”

Strategy #1: Be Strategic

Whether you own your law firm or own your practice area within somebody else’s firm, you must be strategic about how you invest in technology. There are thousands of vendors eager to win your business, but only a handful will be essential (or even helpful) to you. At a minimum, any technology you pay for must either:

  • free up time for business development; or
  • develop business.

Strategy #2: Reduce Time at Your Desk

As you may have heard, there are a lot of lawyers, and we are not well-liked. There are even jokes made at our expense! If people are going to trust you and hire you to give them critical advice, they usually want to like you. Therefore, if you want your own clients, you must leave your office. Since billable hours keep the lights on, you should decrease time spent on administrative tasks, including the tracking of billable hours. I recommend a Legal Management Software (LMS) and credit card vendor for easy timekeeping, invoicing, and collection; a document management app for instant access to client files during meetings; and a legal research app for working while traveling to a networking event or a client coffee. Yes, you can bill while walking. . .just don’t forget to look both ways.

Strategy #3: Keep in Touch Before Getting to Know

Warm contacts are better than cold calls. The best source of warm contacts are current clients, who can grow your business in two ways: they can pass your name along to another person, or they can provide you with more work. Ideally, they will do both. But suppose your contacts with your clients are sporadic, even rare, as they blissfully plug away without (perceived) legal risk. Perhaps, you drafted their Last Will & Testament or closed their forever home. How do you talk to them when they don’t want to hear from you ever again?

What’s the solution? Write to your clients often! Use an Email Marketing Software (EMS) in order to create templates for easy editing. Build a listserv of your current (and former) clients, and segment that list by industry, etc. Send news relevant to them. As an employment lawyer, I send my business owner clients updates on new employment laws, summaries of important cases, information on new agency rules and regulations, and alerts about proposed legislation. Often, I hear from a long-lost client in the hours following one of my emails. What about the individual client who is not concerned with legal developments? Send them a magnetic calendar.

Strategy #4: Last, Make a Great First Impression

You want to show value immediately upon securing a new client. Do so by presenting an organized intake process which makes it easy for the client to provide you what you need. I use an online survey to collect basic information I may need to draft a handbook, amend a policy, or analyze a contract.

You don’t have to be an I.P. attorney to understand the value of technology. It’s here to help you grow your practice. Plug in and plug away!

Emily Wessel Farr is an attorney and partner at Farr & Farr, LLC in Chicago, Illinois.

Copyright © 2018, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).