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Checklist for Law Firm Client Development

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on February 29, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You head to the networking events, pockets stuffed with business cards. You've taken up golf, racquet ball, and joined the Order of St. Hubertus, all to make contact with prospective clients. You've connected with just about everyone on LinkedIn. But, you're not getting the results you want.

What gives? Probably your strategy. If you're not taking a systematic approach to client development, you may not be demonstrating the persistence needed to really reel the big fish in. Here's a quick checklist that we think will help you out.

1. Research

Once you've got a target in your sights, do your research. If you're pursuing a prospective client, make sure you've checked out his company profile, learned a bit about his background, and, at the very least, performed a cursory Google search.

2. Go Beyond Pleasantries -- Fast

If you're engaging in superficial conversation, you're wasting both you and your perspective client's time. Get the pleasantries out of the way, then pay attention to the interests and challenges facing your potential client. That info will be essential when you follow up later.

3. Know What Benefit You Bring

Speaking of interests and challenges, use that information to sell yourself. That doesn't mean saying "Oh, I'm a wiz at worker's comp defense!" It means providing something that will be immediately helpful: a follow up email with some info on common workers comp issues, for example, a valuable introduction, or an offer for a free consult. Even if your prospect doesn't become a client, he or she could become a valuable source of future referrals.

5. Listen, and Not Just Like a Lawyer

Lawyers who are good at developing clients are good at developing relationships. That means you shouldn't just focus on legal issues. Also keep an ear open for non-legal issues which you might be able to aid a prospective client in, either by making a referral or providing some resource or insight.

6. Follow Up

Follow up is key. If you're not persistent, your efforts may be wasted. Consider calendaring regular "touch base" reminders so that your prospective clients don't fade away.

7. Track

Make sure you're on top of your contacts. It can sometimes take up to a dozen "connections" (calls, emails, lunches, and the like) before a client comes on board, so don't give up after the first two tries. At the same time, tracking your contact with a prospective client can help you make sure you're not pestering them or repeating failed strategies.

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