So you’re interested in learning what law firm business development is, but you aren’t sure how to approach it. Most lawyers are familiar with marketing their law firm but developing it is an entirely different story. The former focuses on attracting new clients while the latter focuses on sustainability and long-term growth.
Law firm business development goes beyond simply generating more revenue. You want to stake your claim as a reputable law firm that is built to stand the test of time. Whether you’re an owner of a small law firm or part of a big one, there’s always room for improvement on the business end.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about law firm business development so you can accelerate your law firm’s growth.
What is law firm business development?
Simply put, law firm business development means putting your business in the best position to succeed. Every law firm’s progression will be different compared to others, but the areas of development are likely to be the same. For example, you may need to expand your networks to pursue professional opportunities. Or, you may need to establish stronger client relationships to obtain quality referrals.
Some people confuse law firm business development with marketing. The main difference here is that with business development, you’re building for the future. Whereas with marketing, you’re focused on the “now” in terms of one-time transactions. Developing your business is a long-term commitment, one that requires sustained effort to achieve meaningful results.
The pursuit of accelerating business is a continuous process, especially in a competitive space like the legal industry. You want to make sure you’re constantly innovating your strategies to outgrow and outsmart your competition. By planning your law firm’s development, you can reach the full potential of your business and provide client-centric services to your audience.
Top strategies for law firm business development
There’s more to developing a law firm than simply generating more revenue. You have to improve your business in every aspect, from cultivating new partnerships to expanding geographically. Building a sound strategy is key to a successful law firm’s business development, so let’s take a look at the methods you can use to achieve just that.
1. Nurture existing clients
We always say that the legal industry is people-based. Thus, it should be in your best interest to look after your existing clients. Why? Because your current clients can lead you to new referrals. The goal is to provide your clients with exceptional service right from the start. When you satisfy their needs, they’re more likely to recommend your law firm to friends and family members.
You can elevate the client experience starting with communication. Be proactive when answering your client’s inquiries and update them regularly on their case. Keep in touch with them as much as you can and make sure they have a full understanding of what’s going on. That way, they’ll feel confident about you handling their legal needs.
Another way to nurture your clients is to offer more than just legal services. People come to your law firm not just to obtain legal help, but to receive professional advice and support as well. Showing a bit of empathy can go a long way towards making your clients feel more secure, and this can make a big impact on your law firm’s image.
It’s always a good idea to ask your clients for feedback after they’ve used your services. Ask them if they’re satisfied with how you represented them in court or how well you handled their case. The best way to take care of your clients is to hear straight from the source, so keep this in mind when nurturing your clients.
2. Expand your professional network
Building connections is crucial to the health and longevity of a law firm. When you expand your professional network, you open up new opportunities for your business. With networking, you want to create relationships naturally. By that, we mean getting out there and being comfortable with your skin.
Networking opportunities are everywhere. From attending bar events and conferences to charity programs and non-profit activities, these places are great for connecting with like-minded professionals such as yourself. When you interact with people, you’re already networking. Strike a casual conversation, and if the opportunity presents itself, feel free to mention your business and career.
While you’re in the process of expanding your network, you’ll discover nuggets of wisdom from other professionals. Listening to other people’s beliefs, ideologies, and knowledge will give you valuable insight not only as a lawyer but as an entrepreneur as well. It’s the sharing of ideas that broadens the scope of your professional viewpoint and stimulates the creativity that lies within you.
3. Work with law firm consultants
This strategy works best with small practices that are looking to elevate their law firm’s performance. If you’re running a small law firm, you should consider working with consultants in your field. Law firm consultants understand the ins and outs of the legal industry and can contribute to your business in more ways than you can imagine.
As a lawyer, you only have so much free time available. This is especially true with small practices where the performance of your law firm hinges on your efforts. When you hire law firm consultants, you obtain practical guidance on how to run your business more efficiently. Everything from case management, business development, and client strategies are taken into consideration, and you’ll find the expertise of consultants to be super helpful in certain situations.
When hiring law firm consultants, make sure to consider their experience. Those who’ve worked with multiple law firms are likely to recommend proven approaches to your business development than those who are new to the industry.
4. Explore new practice areas
If you have the resources, exploring a new geographical area is a great way to boost your law firm’s business development. Of course, tapping into a new location requires careful planning and consideration. You want to make sure that the area is prime for legal services and you have little to no competition to successfully establish a satellite firm there.
Another factor to consider when exploring a new practice area is the client’s travel time. Very few people are willing to travel long distances to visit an attorney. If you can shorten a client’s commute to your satellite office, you’ll have a greater chance of attracting new prospects within the location.
Establishing a new office is a decision that needs to be planned carefully. The last thing you want is to extend your law firm to an area where you can’t generate much revenue. Conduct market analysis on the location and determine whether a new office fits in with your law firm’s business development. If it does, then congratulations! You’re one step closer to reaching a milestone in the growth of your law firm.
5. Continue investing in your law firm’s growth
Most lawyers get way too involved with their legal work and forget that their law firm is a business itself. You have to keep track of your bottom line to ensure your law firm is heading in the right direction. Law firm business development requires you to invest your time, money, and resources to achieve long-lasting results. It may seem challenging at first, but once you start to make changes, you’ll notice a huge difference in how your law firm is performing.
Whether it be spending more time developing your professional relationships or upping your marketing dollars to reach more clients, whatever investments you make in your law firm will pay off in dividends. It takes a lot of work to get your law firm to where you want to be, and you need to be dedicated throughout the entire process to see meaningful results.
Putting it all together
Law firm business development doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a collective, sustained effort from you and your legal team to take your business to the next level. Set goals so that you know which areas of your business need the most improvement. Continue to innovate and look out for the latest trends in the legal industry. Find new ways to establish stronger connections with your clients.
It’s the small details that make a huge difference when developing your law firm. And most importantly, you should remain consistent with your efforts. Not only will your law firm grow, but you’ll most certainly progress in your career as well.
If you’re planning on developing your law firm, make sure to implement the five strategies we’ve mentioned. Formulate a game plan on how you can execute them so that you can position your law firm above your competitors.
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