Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Get Good Cases for YOU

It was easy to list "27 things" you could do to get any kind of legal business. I could list 27 more, if I thought it would benefit anyone. A more challenging list is the things to do AFTER you figure out your "calling". After actually THINKING about what your successful practice would look and feel like.

After getting uninhibited in a most quiet way. Not knowing what the plan is, yet. And not caring. Spending the time and effort BEFORE making the actual plans, so that if the plans work, you will really have something.

Most lawyers starting a practice think....."I want to get my practice started". And you know what? They all succeed.....they get a practice started. And then the stated goal is often, "I want to keep it going and do better". And some effort is made towards that meekly stated goal, and what is achieved is exactly what was stated.

What a luxury, what a blessing it is, to be able to re-invent. To start out with an open slate, to think of what you really want for yourself, and take steps in THAT direction.

Recently a client suggested that I work with "less Zen, more alligator". The case called for "fox", so we compromised on a "Zen-fox-alligator" continuum as a long term strategy for the case.

For one starting in practice, or growing a practice, I hope I've showed where the Zen up front is needed. Now here's some serious "fox"..... 9 solid things to get good cases for YOU:

1. Prepare a direct mail campaign to a targeted list of attorneys. For my money, in law practice, nothing gives you better conversion value (advertising that turns into actual paying business) than direct mail. Some work DOES go into this, but that's one reason it works. What is a "targeted" list? These are attorneys and law firms who are in a position to make referrals for what YOU do. That's why you have to know what you want. So you have something, so you can be one who really knows, so you can be enthusiastic, and so you can send that letter making yourself known for what YOU DO. Who do you target? This takes some thinking, but don't let thinking stop you....THINK!!! Some things just go together. When I started my Queens per diem practice, I targeted attorneys who had cases coming up in Queens.

I knew someone who really knew how to do "wrongful death compromises", a very specific matter in Surrogates Court, which happens at the conclusion of a wrongful death case. Personal injury firms hate doing them because it's a lot of work, not really what they do, and it is needed to finish a case and get paid. She targeted personal injury firms with a great mailing, and became well known as the expert in this type of case.

What else would go together? Almost any specialized legal service is sought by general practitioners. Know what they want? For you to really know your stuff, do a great job, and pay them a referral fee in accordance with ethical rules. There, I said it, THEY WANT TO BE PAID, because general practice is really difficult, and referral fees are very important. Oh, and they don't want you to steal their clients, which you won't do because you do what you do, and they can have all the rest. I received a great mailing from a lawyer who specializes in real estate litigation, particularly "partition actions". His mailing arrived when I had just consulted with someone about such a situation, and if you've ever done one, they are nasty, but sometimes the only way to go. When I spoke with him I knew right away that he LOVED partition cases. I'm not sure why, but I could tell he did. I could also tell he couldn't wait to have my client retain him so HE could start working and pay me. I kept hoping I would get more partition calls so I could refer them to him.

A few more good potential matches for a targeted mailing.

Landlord firms by collection firms.
Plaintiff PI firms by comp or disability firms.
Elder law firms by estate administration firms
matrimonial lawyers by tax, or estate planning lawyers
immigration lawyers by any other specialty.
real estate transaction lawyers by real estate litigators

the combos are endless.....if you THINK for YOU.

What goes in the mailing? Two things, sometimes three.

First, the best letter possible. The one which is reviewed and edited and rewritten until it's perfect. The one that describes what you do, why you do it, and when and why they should call you. It can fit on one page, and it will be great. Put some work into it and email it to me, we'll optimize it.

Second - a specialized rolodex card, with your specialty on the flap. I know, rolodex cards are "old school", but here's my thinking. If you send a business card, people generally extract the information and put it in their "system". If they are interested, they'll do this with a rolodex card too, and if they have a rolodex (and many do) it will be filed under your specialty, so they don't have to remember your name, they will find you when they are looking for what YOU do.....which is way better. How do you like THIS rolodex card?

It's in Rolodexes in about 2000 law offices, filed under "Queens".

The third thing you can include in the mailing is a fee schedule, but only where appropriate.

We may end up with Zen, fox AND alligator.

Tomorrow.....item 2, creating a quality website.

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