One of the most shocking things that young lawyers in private practice learn is that they are required to sell themselves. After all, if they wanted to be salespeople, they probably would not have gone to law school in the first place.
Once upon a time, I was exactly that type of young lawyer. I had no idea that I had to learn how to bring in clients and even less of a clue as to how to do it. Once I figured it out, I was amazed at how easy it was.
It is all about developing a marketing mindset and making the effort to reach out to those with common interests.
Here are four examples:
- I saw a U.S. law firm advertise in the Ontario Reports that they were opening an office in Mississauga, where I practiced. I called and asked to speak to the managing partner of the office. I invited him to lunch. I met one of his colleagues who was a master at business development. She introduced me to a local accountant. The accountant and I exchanged a lot of work for 30 years.
- I went to a meeting at a client’s office where they introduced me to Norm, an intermediary who had negotiated a letter of intent to acquire a company in the United Kingdom. Norm was impressive at the meeting. At the end of the meeting, rather than just shake hands and say goodbye, I suggested that we go to lunch. Norm referred many hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal work to me over the years to come.
- I accepted an invitation to speak at a series of breakfast events organized by a local insurance professional. I did not get a single client from the attendees at the events. However, I really enjoyed the presentation given by one of the other presenters and told him so. Then I invited him to lunch. He referred a number of clients.
- I attended a marketing event organized by another professional at which I met the Vice President of a major Canadian corporation. He mentioned that they were thinking about adding an additional law firm to their roster. I followed up for six months, calling every few weeks to try to get a lunch meeting, which I eventually did. The company quickly became the largest client of our firm.
I did absolutely nothing brilliant in any of these examples. I was just alive to opportunities to meet people, to get to know them and let them get to know me. They were all willing to give me a chance to show them what I could do. Easy-peasy.