Do clients hire law firms or lawyers? It’s my opinion that clients generally hire lawyers and not law firms. Experience legal marketers like Tom Kane apparently agree. There may be exceptions where law firms have done such a terrific job of marketing the organization, but I’d argue those law firms are few and far between. It’s the individual lawyers who usually bring in the business.
So if it’s true that clients hire lawyers and not law firms, how can you make sure you’re not missing the boat when it comes to your individual marketing efforts? A good first step for any lawyer is to consider your own individual Web site. If you are the member of a law firm, large or small, chances are your personal presence, the means by which potential clients might reach you, is relegated to an “Attorneys” page removed from the home page of the site and populated by the other attorneys in your firm. For example, the Brick Gentry Law Firm site has elaborate bio pages, but to find my bio, and my field of legal practice, you will need to click-through at least two times after landing on the site’s home page. This of course presumes the prospective client knows they are looking for me. If prospects come to the site, the rain may fall within the firm, but not necessarily on my desk.
Conversely, at my legal blog (Rush on Business), there is little confusion as to who to contact for a prospective client’s business law needs. And, if you were to Google “Iowa Business Lawyer”, you would find my blog at or near the very top of the Google organic searches on Page 1. Lawyers without an individual web presence are very unlikely to achieve such results.
Further, I strongly believe lawyers need to have individual client retention plans. This can be achieved through newsletters, seminars, periodic check-ins or through programs such as NotifyWorks. Studies have shown that it costs about five times as much to obtain a new client than it does to get additional work from existing clients. Yet, I’d argue that most lawyers I know spend nearly all their time on trying to acquire new clients rather than enhancing and strengthening the relationships with clients they already have.
So, what do you think? Do clients hire law firms or lawyers? And if your answer is “lawyers”, what are you doing individually to increase the chances that rain will fall on your desk and that you’ll keep those clients for years to come?