Recapping: Making – Not Finding – Time for Client Development
When he just started his career as a young construction lawyer, his peers mocked him when he wanted to have a national practice from Roanoke, VA. That is until the Secretary of Transportation for the State of Washington called him when the bridge collapsed.
How did that call happen? It was from writing articles and being known for a construction litigation law niche practice. Cordell shared his best practices and tips during the webinar which was recorded and can be found here (UPDATED LINK).
- 500 hours. That is how many non-billable hours a lawyer should spend on client development per year or 20-30 per month.
- Have a plan in place for not only non-billable time but personal time as well. Review the plan every 90 days. Plans should include:
- Time for client development
- Organizations to join
- Networking events
- Blog posts
- Pro bono activities
- Feeling overwhelmed with billable work, personal responsibilities and marketing? Set priorities. Start a journal. Document your non-billable time and you will be able to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
- Split your development time in two categories: one for reputation building (writing and speaking); and one for relationship building (getting out and meeting people).
- Tips for young lawyers:
- spend time your first few years developing your skills to become a great lawyer
- learn about your clients
- learn people and communication skills
- read books
- attend seminars
- Write articles:
- Not sure what to write about? What questions are your clients asking? Take the memorandum of law and turn it into an article or blog post. Every matter you work on can take a wider angle.
- Create how-to guides for contracts, design builds. Post the e-books on your website so clients can download. Take what you learn and re-use it. Provide valuable information to your audience and raise visibility and credibility.
- Review the Encyclopedia of Associations for your state. Every association has newsletters or publications.
- Develop a niche practice, be focused. How? What are you passionate about? Used great examples of lawyers who stepped outside the box, developed a niche practice and moved full steam ahead. Staci Riordan incorporates blogging, Facebook and Twitter for the fashion law blog. Alison Rowe with her Equine Law Blog and Kevin O’Neill started a weekly podcast Capital Thinking.
Cordell and Kevin also shared some great blogging tips:
- Make the most of good titles and headlines; think of your target market; what would cause them to read your post?
- Don’t bury the lead, grasp your reader’s attention;
- Anticipate your clients needs before they even have one;
- Don’t write a blog post that looks like the New York Times; keep it to 250-300 words and make one point
- Engage your audience;
- Write down 4 to 5 questions and interview your clients; ask about projects, challenges they face;
- Write in a conversation tone, as you would during a dinner meeting;
- Reference a good article and it’s reporter from NY Times and start a conversation; offer to be source
Lastly, lawyers need to read non-lawyer books. You can learn a lot about excellent customer service from reading the Ritz Carlton book and the Starbucks book. A full list of recommending reading can be found on Cordell’s website, but a few good ones include:
Bottom line: no matter where you are in your career, whether you are a legal marketer, a young lawyer or a senior partner, it is never too late to start making time for client development.
Gail Lamarche is the Director of Marketing for Henderson Franklin in Fort Myers, FL.