Growing or even maintaining your law firm's business requires clients. And as you know, keeping the pipeline full is an ongoing challenge. Plus, you have to make sure that you get the right clients.
You know which clients to avoid. Deadbeats, second-guessers, high maintenance clients with ridiculous expectations, self-saboteurs, and litigation-happy professional plaintiffs on their fifteenth attorney, these are just some of clients that can make your working life a living hell.
Who are the clients to seek out, besides the rich and famous?
Those That Expand Your Horizons
Maybe the New Year is a time for a new practice area? Estate planning is supposed to be a great bread-and-butter practice area with an expanding client base. (Baby boomers!) Pair that up with a complimentary field (Family Law, Tax Law) and you can provide more value to existing clients, and attract more new clients.
Those That Are Kind of a Big Deal (Locally)
As you probably know, the best source of new clients is referrals from happy current and former clients. If, in the New Year, you provide brilliant, cost-effective representation to a local church or community leader, that person's endorsement will carry even more weight, and reach more people, than your ordinary satisfied client.
Those That Come Back for More
Serial killers are a great source of income, so long as they are also rich. Since that's usually not an option, how about focusing on marketing to small businesses, startups, and other clients that may have minimal needs now, but as they grow, will hopefully send more and more work to your desk.
Just think hard before you exchange equity for legal services, an arrangement far more likely to be proposed with dealing with startup companies.
Those That Give You Warm and Fuzzy Feelings
Pro bono. And though warm and fuzzies are great, there are some tangible benefits to your practice from taking certain types of pro bono cases.
Obviously, there's the PR boost, especially if you find a way to trumpet your community work. Maybe you work with your local synagogue, mosque, or church to provide pro bono information sessions on estate planning or low cost simple wills?
Also, pro bono programs provide a great opportunity to try out that new practice area. Many local bar associations will exchange training (and CLEs) in a new practice area for a commitment to handle a few pro bono cases.
Warm and fuzzies. A new practice area. CLEs. Great PR. And networking.
Those That Pay in Chickens
Bartering: it's the new economy! Seriously though, with a shrinking middle class, a massive increase in the working poor, and the income gap growing (see this great piece about your shrinking client base on the Solo Practice University blog), you might want to consider alternative payment methods, like exchanging legal services for a loveseat.
What's your favorite kind of client? Tell us on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.
- New Year's Resolutions for Small Firm Lawyers (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- Community Involvement: 5 Ways to Build Your Client Base (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- Offline Marketing: Community Involvement and Barbeque (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)