Small law firm business development continues to rank among top challenges

A survey revealed that attracting new clients sits at the top of the list of concerns for small law firms. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed listed small law firm business development as a “significant challenge.”

For a small law firm with fewer than 30 attorneys, firm leaders must strike a balance between providing excellent service to existing clients while attracting new ones. Many of our LawBank members run firms with only one or two attorneys, which makes that balance even more crucial.

Regardless of your firm’s size, you must guard your time as a precious resource. With that in mind, your business development efforts should become an efficient and automated process.

How do you create a marketing strategy that works smoothly without demanding too much of your time?

Create a niche

Focusing on one or two specific areas of the law can help you refine your marketing efforts.

Rather than approaching the market with broad strokes, a narrow focus will help prospective clients find you. When you become an expert in one practice area, you can develop a reputation for providing skilled service on that topic. Combined with your firm’s small size and ability to provide personal attention, your depth of experience in one practice area will attract new clients.

If you currently operate as more of a generalist, consider how you can transform your business into a niche law practice. Forbes Council member Katherine Hollar Barnard offers this advice:

“What work do you enjoy the most? What type of client work would you love to replicate? For example, Sharon Toerek, an intellectual property lawyer, told me she was routinely fielding queries from marketing and advertising agencies. She decided to specialize in the industry and now has a national practice helping marketers with IP rights, social media compliance, agency-freelance relationships and more.”

When you choose a niche that matches your passion or years of experience, you will naturally fall into a flow. That flow will lead to a reputation for skill and service and, ultimately, more client referrals.


Wherever possible, automate your marketing and lead-generation efforts. Consider all the channels where you interact with clients or potential clients and uncover places where automation can work for you:

  • Website. Can a chatbot or other automated tool help funnel prospects to the right place?
  • Social media. Consider outsourcing your blog content to a marketing professional who can also automate your social media posts.
  • Customer relationships. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can streamline a number of processes, including marketing functions.
  • Ongoing communications. Maintaining consistent communication with current and past clients can create a source of ongoing referrals. Set up a regular e-newsletter or automatic marketing piece to reach this important audience.

Outsourcing and automating some marketing functions will help you focus on core aspects of your law business. Automated tools can help maximize your time and resources.

Find a community

Referrals from trusted contacts tend to result in warmer client leads, so it’s important to develop a strong network.

Independent practitioners often fall into the trap of isolation, which can make all aspects of running a business feel more daunting. Aside from the obvious benefits of providing moral support and business advice, a professional network can help you find new business. When others in your field or broader business community know you well, they are more likely to refer business your way.

Investing time in creating relationships can strengthen your business development efforts more quickly than many marketing strategies. Join business groups or associations, attend professional conferences or choose a shared office setting.

To learn more about LawBank’s lawyer coworking spaces or executive suites for lawyers, contact us. We offer three central locations and a variety of flexible arrangements to meet your small law firm’s needs.