One of the toughest parts of being a solo attorney or working for a small firm is finding new clients. In some cases, you’ll be competing directly against big law firms for business. Even when you don’t have overt competition with a big firm, your clients know they the choice is there. So how do you compete against all of the resources of a big firm? In part, by letting the clients know that you offer better legal services at a better rate. However, it is up to you to make sure that your prospective clients understand the benefits of selecting your legal services over those of your big firm counterparts. Here are a few ways you can outshine even the brightest stars in a big firm:
Offer Cheaper Rates
As a solo practitioner or small firm you’re better positioned to offer quality legal work at cost-efficient rates to your clients. Before entering solo practice I worked for many years at a big international law firm with dozens of offices around the globe. I was the direct client contact for many big corporate clients including Honda, Yamaha, and several other household names. After several years of learning the ropes, I was trusted to handle my cases and my clients without the training wheels. I reported directly to the clients and handled most of my cases with only minimal supervision. I directed other associates and I managed and supervised every aspect of case management including trial. As a result, I have the same background and often better experience than many of my big law colleagues. Yet as a solo attorney I charge my clients nearly half of my former hourly rate. I can do this because I have significantly less overhead than my big law counterparts. As a result, my clients are getting the same quality service that they’d get from a big firm but at half the price. Make sure they understand that.
Be More Responsive
It’s not uncommon for clients to fire their attorney because of a lack of communication. This isn’t just true at the big firm level. Solo practitioners and small firms are just as guilty. In fact, I’ve obtained clients for my solo practice because they were dissatisfied with their former attorney’s responsiveness. What have I learned from this? If you want to keep your clients happy, respond to them quickly. Being responsive sends a message to your client that their business is important to you. As a result, responding quickly to phone calls and emails is an easy way to differentiate your services from that of your peers.
Offer Quicker Service
Personally, I find it easier to be flexible in the way I prioritize my schedule as a solo practitioner. As a senior associate my case load at times exceeded 100 active cases. As a result, I had many competing priorities. As a solo practitioner my case load is, by choice, far easier to manage. This was especially true when I first started my practice. When a client tells me that a project needs to be performed quickly (which happens quite frequently) I am able to accommodate their request. Further, once I tell them I’ll have a project done by a certain deadline, I make certain that I meet that deadline. Admittedly, professional agility and dependability isn’t exclusive to solo practice. Nonetheless, it is a requirement if you want to successfully offer your clients the best possible service. Resolving issues in a timely manner will ensure client satisfaction and repeat business.
Be More Personable
You are your own biggest asset. You’ll obtain clients and maintain clients because of the relationships that you create with them. This is the secret that the big firms already know. They reached the level they are at because they have personable rainmakers networking with potential clients and marketing the firm’s services. To succeed as a solo practitioner, you’ll need to do the same for your practice. Maintain and develop relationships that extend beyond mere legal representation. Take a personal interest in your clients and their businesses. If a potential client senses that you are more committed to their success than your competitors are, then they’ll want you to represent them.
Solo practitioners and small firm attorneys, do you have any other tips for how people can out hustle the big firms for clients? Share some of your secrets in the comments section.
- The Challenges Of Going Solo (rocketlawyer.com)
- Hanging Your Shingle At Home (rocketlawyer.com)
- 4 Simple Ways for Attorneys to Keep Clients Happy (rocketlawyer.com)