Posted by Jay Kamlet on Nov 19, 2014
As a solo law practice, you have some advantages over bigger law firms
One of the most daunting aspects of launching a small business, such as your solo law practice, is the reality of competing with the larger businesses in your market and field. Those larger businesses – big law firms, in this case – have not only had more time to establish a client base, but they have a bigger (sometimes much bigger) marketing budget and a marketing staff.
Before you get too depressed at that thought, keep in mind that there are some ways that you already have a leg up on your competition as a solo practitioner. Namely, you can provide a deeper level of niche offerings and creative client service.
Use your niche
One advantage you have over larger firms is that you can truly focus on a niche market rather than trying to provide all types of legal counsel to all types of clients. If you have a lot of experience working with seniors or have a strong interest in helping fathers in family law cases, focus your practice there. One solo attorney took advantage of the need for more technology-savvy lawyers and created a practice focused on e-discovery and litigation technology.
Use your interests as well as your prior experience to create the right niche for you, but do your market research to make sure there is a need for your service in your region. The ABA offers some additional tips, as well as some pros and cons, for building a niche practice.
Provide top-notch client service
When your clients work with you as a solo lawyer, they work with you. In big law firms, clients are often referred to junior associates or meet with paralegals. The personal touch you offer can make all the difference to some clients, and it is in your best interest to make the most of it.
Listening to your clients and meeting their needs with great legal service creates the foundation, but think about ways to take your customer service to the next level. For example, consolidated, straightforward billing can be a refreshing change for clients who are used to being nickeled-and-dimed by service providers.
In addition, unexpected, extra touches can help build repeat business and encourage clients to refer your services to others. Something as simple as a handwritten thank-you note can be rare in modern business, and it stands out to a client who receives one, but think creatively as well. Aveda salons offer a signature tea to clients while they wait and Doubletree hotels give guests a tin of chocolate chip cookies upon check-in. Why shouldn’t a law firm offer clients something that creates that same sense of warmth and welcome?
Some additional ideas for above-and-beyond client service include visiting your client’s business and ordering lunch for the staff, keeping track of birthdays or special events and sending a card or a note on those days or hosting free how-to seminars to educate clients on legal basics they can apply to their day-to-day lives.
Check out this list of “10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service” for some additional inspiration. From steak delivered directly to an airline gate to an amazing vacation for a child’s stuffed toy, these stories show that companies can brighten a customer’s day simply by doing the unexpected. Those customer experiences can sometimes lead to some great word-of-mouth marketing and social buzz.
As a solo lawyer, you have the flexibility to decide how you interact with clients, what services you provide and what extra touches you can offer to stand out. Your legal skill should leave your leave your clients feeling satisfied with your work, but the unexpected touches you provide should prompt them to tell all their friends how you and your business went above and beyond.
Find even more inspiration from your legal peers in the co-working and office suites at LawBank. Learn more about our flexible workspace options and collaborative environment for lawyers at www.law-bank.com.