Legal English Online - Building a successful career: Growing your client base

Building a successful Law Career - Part 2

Growing your own professional client base –
Networking Events

To become successful as a lawyer requires a number of positive qualities, hard work and, usually, time. You can speed up the process of becoming successful, however, by building up your own personal following of clients giving you momentum, which will bring you and your abilities to the attention of those who can help you in your career or giving you more choices in your career.

To become known you will have to meet people and attend events where you are likely to meet new clients and helpful contacts. The initial pitfall which many young lawyers fall into, is to assume that effort is the same as progress. It’s not. There is little point in a business lawyer networking and socialising with other business lawyers if the intention was to find new clients. They should instead be socialising with business organisations where the business clients go. If you want to work in entertainment law then go to every club and restaurant opening you can – its where show business people gather to be seen and photographed and where you are likely to meet new clients.

First, identify what it is you are looking to achieve. Is it a better job, career progress, more clients, different types of clients? Once you have identified what you want to achieve then you can start to plan which sorts of events and activities are likely to bring you into contact with people who can help you achieve these aims. It is essential to get out and meet people so they can see you and find out what you do. Not every person you speak to will want, or need, a lawyer, or will be able to help you, but some will. You will start to notice how many potential new clients and good contacts you meet on average at each event and you will get better at picking up new leads.

Some important points to remember about Networking events are:

  1. Don’t spend the whole evening just talking to people you already know but, on the other hand, don’t try to speak to every single person in the room. Everything works better if you plan things. If you are going to an established regular event, then try to find out which individuals are likely to be present and then choose a maximum of about 6 or 7 of them to speak with during the evening.
  2. It’s much better to spend 15 minutes creating a good impression on the 6 people you identified before you arrived, than on speaking for 5 minutes with 18 different people who won’t really find out enough about you in that time to remember you properly.
  3. Remember also that you only have so much time each week for networking so make the time count – Don’t just stand on the side-lines waiting for people to come up to you. If you want success go out and get it – You deserve it don’t you?
  4. If you are going to a meeting of a particular industry, or a company event, then briefly read up on the latest news affecting the industry or the company – It’s what they are going to be talking about, and if you can show you already know about it then you will probably impress them with your knowledge of their concerns.
  5. People in business like ‘team players’. Clients do as well. If you have a limited knowledge of a specialist area of the law try and ‘team up’ with a more general lawyer who can deal with the general aspects of a client’s work. You will be able to refer work and clients to each other and the business clients will like it that you aren’t trying to cover every area of law yourself.
  6. If you find yourself in a conversation regarding a legal topic that is outside or more expert than your level of knowledge, then listen and talk about the benefits of working with the lawyers in your law firm who can solve this problem. Promote the firm and its abilities if you can’t suggest an answer yourself and, if the client does engage your firm stay in contact and find out what is happening with the case so you can discuss it with them when you next see the client.
  7. You have probably already found that when people discover that you are a lawyer they start telling you about something that’s bothering them or someone who needs a lawyer. Listen to them and ask questions – they know more about their business and industry than you do. Find out all you can about the problem from them and then, when the time is right don’t be afraid to ask for the business. – It may be that you will have to let the relationship develop first. Maybe it will require a separate meeting, or lunch, before you can see that they feel comfortable with you. Finally you can just casually say something such as, ‘That’s something I could help you with, if you like’. You will be surprised how pleased many people will be at the fact that somebody has offered to help them.
  8. Stay in touch with other lawyers you meet working in other cities and jurisdictions on Linked In and Facebook. One day they will have a client in your jurisdiction and they will think of you to act for the client.
  9. After the meeting let potential clients access your network of lawyers. They will appreciate that you are sufficiently confident of your own abilities not to worry about competition. They will also appreciate that you are giving them information for free and are not solely concerned with how much money you will be paid.

Part 1 - Some general basics
Part 2 - Growing  your own professional client base – Networking Events
Part 3 - Essential skills – The Ability to speak in Public
Part 4 - Writing a successful CV
Part 5 - Giving a successful Interview – What to do and what not to do
Part 6 - Letter writing skills
Part 7 - Deciding which area of law to work in
Part 8 - Seven skills that will land you work experience at a law firm
Part 9 - How to move your career into top gear – Winning quick promotions
Part 10 - The Key to moving ahead in your career – Mastering Legal English!