- The struggles of client acquisition for solo practitioner attorneys
- What are the different types of referrals?
- What’s the best way to get more referrals?
Q: How can I get more referrals as a solo practitioner attorney?
A: Getting new clients is one of the most important and most difficult parts of running a solo practice. Getting referrals from clients and other firms can go a long way to helping you stay profitable. This article explores the best way to do just that.
Being a solo practitioner attorney is hugely liberating.
As a solo practitioner, you’re free to pursue the projects you find the most meaningful and intrinsically fulfilling. You don’t have to accept cases that don’t spark your passion.
You’re also free to set your own hours and manage your workload directly. You can work as much or as little as you’d like, helping you maintain a balance between work and the rest of your life.
The same goes for your finances. You can set your rates and take on more or less work depending on your needs and desires. You gain direct control over your salary.
With all of this freedom, it’s no wonder more attorneys are going into business for themselves.
But everything has its tradeoffs, and being a solo practitioner is no different.
When you’re operating solo, you become responsible for handling everything, including:
- Legal proceedings
- Client acquisition
Many newly solo attorneys struggle with this.
But there’s a simple way to attract clients to your solo law firm.
If you’re a solo attorney or someone looking to launch your own independent practice, this article is for you.
- The struggles of client acquisition for solo practitioner attorneys
- Are referrals the solution to client acquisition?
- What are the types of referrals?
- How can you get referrals from larger firms?
Why Solo Attorneys Need to Focus on Client Acquisition
Client acquisition is essential for law firms of all sizes, but for solo practitioners, it deserves even more attention.
Larger firms tend to have an easier time getting new clients.
As a solo practitioner, you need to build a name for yourself. To do that, you need to have clients to win cases. They can attract clients based on their prestige, they have a more extensive base of prior clients to leverage for referrals, and they can hire employees to handle their marketing for them.
Additionally, you don’t have anyone to handle your marketing for you. This means you need to focus on attracting clients yourself, which requires time, energy, and strategic planning.
While all of that may sound a bit overwhelming, it’s indispensable if you’re going to succeed as a solo attorney.
The Struggles of Client Acquisition for Solo Practitioner Attorneys
While going solo is incredibly liberating, it also comes with less financial security.
This fact was on full display during the pandemic. Solo lawyers and attorneys saw significantly steeper declines in revenue during the initial phases of the pandemic.
Much of this can be traced to client acquisition. When lockdowns hit, big firms had the infrastructure to continue attracting clients.
Solo practitioners didn’t. Despite having impressive resumes, many were left scrambling to find new clients as the world shut down.
Part of this comes down to the sheer magnitude of responsibilities solo practitioners are facing. They have to handle phone calls and legislative work on top of all their actual legal work, leaving little time for marketing.
While you can ease some of the burden with tools like a legal answering service, the fact remains that solo practitioners just have more to do than those employed by a firm.
With such a heavy workload, it can be challenging to create new leads and market yourself properly.
Are Referrals the Solution?
Referrals are one of the most powerful strategies for attracting new clients to your solo practice.
Rather than have to do outreach yourself, referrals allow you to focus on your work while still attracting clients. They make it easy to grow your firm because hot leads reach out to you directly.
And while there’s always competition in the legal field, referrals can actually be mutually beneficial.
With each legal professional focusing on a particular area of law, referrals can actually keep attorneys from taking on cases they aren’t interested in.
According to Statista, the number of legal professionals on the market hasn’t increased much in the last few years.
This means referrals are a win-win.
More importantly, referrals are a cost and time-effective way to get new clients as a solo attorney, even if you’re too busy to spend time marketing.
Types of Referrals
There are multiple types of referrals in the legal field.
The first kind of referral is the client referral. Client referrals are referrals you get from previous clients.
For example, let’s say you focus on real-estate law. You help a home buyer go over their purchase contract and do an excellent job.
A few months later, her friend begins looking for a home. Your previous client refers her friend to you, providing you with additional business without having to reach out to anyone.
While client referrals are great, they are somewhat limited.
For one, you don’t have much control over client referrals. If you do good work, clients will likely refer people to you, but you can’t do much to directly influence this.
Second, client referrals rely on chance. Clients need to happen to know someone in need of legal services. Not all previous clients will know someone they can refer to you.
There’s a second type of referral though: the professional referral.
Professional referrals are referrals that come from another legal firm. These referrals typically occur because the client is looking for legal services outside the firm’s area of expertise.
The firm can then refer the client to you instead of taking on an ill-suited case.
Setting up a referral network with a large firm can seriously impact your business. They can send you a consistent flow of hot leads, allowing you to grow your clientele without even trying.
Getting Referrals from Big Firms
Getting referrals from big law firms doesn’t just happen. You need to network and create a mutually beneficial scenario.
To start, research the firms in your area. You want to find a law firm that shares the same jurisdiction, but that doesn’t focus on your area of expertise.
If you approach a law firm that focuses on the same area of law as you, chances are they aren’t going to be turning away business so you can grow your clientele.
However, if you find a firm that doesn’t work within your same area, you can offer them a place to send clients that they don’t want to take on themselves.
Once you’ve found a firm with different areas of focus, reach out to them directly. Offer to set up a mutual referral system.
Admittedly, you may need to turn down a few potential clients and send them to the more prominent firm for this to work.
Still, the clients you send to the firm won’t be in your area of law anyway, meaning you’ll avoid taking on work you’re not interested in or suited for. This will help you succeed in your cases, building your reputation, and getting you more client referrals.
Additionally, the larger firm will likely have a greater number of potential clients outside their area of law. They’ll be doing more marketing, meaning more people in need of legal services will discover them.
By creating a referral system with the larger firm, you are essentially using their marketing for yourself. You gain all the benefits in exchange for a few clients you didn’t really want anyway.
Using referrals to your advantage is one of the best ways to grow as a solo practitioner attorney.
While all referrals are great, your best bet is to focus on building a referral network with a large firm. This will give you a consistent flow of hot leads while also giving you a place to direct clients you aren’t suited for.
- How to set up a Virtual Office
- Should I Use My Home Address for My Business?
- Mindfulness at Work: A Simple Practice That Can Increase Productivity and Promote Wellness
Leveraging professional referrals like this will help you grow your firm without having to spend tons on marketing.
Another fantastic way to save money is registering your firm using a virtual office from Alliance Virtual Offices. You gain access to a virtual address that can be used for legal registration — without having to pay for a traditional office.
Register your firm and start growing with Alliance Virtual Offices.