Part I of this post discussed how the clients you choose can have a positive or negative effect on your firm’s profits. In this second segment, we will take some tips from marketing strategists about how to find and identify clients who will grow your profitability, instead of depleting it.
Take Advantage of Your Consultation
The initial consultation is generally used as a method of learning more about a potential case, but it can also be a valuable opportunity to determine whether a potential client is a good fit for your firm. Pay attention during the discussion. Not only to the client, but also to yourself. If there are things about this client’s personality or demeanor that make you uncomfortable, listen to those warnings. If you notice that she is cutting you off as you are trying to speak, how will she act in front of a judge? If she is pushing you to embrace her opinions over the law, how are you going to maintain proper control of the case down the line?
Use the consultation as a valuable opportunity to gauge whether this client is one that your firm wants to take on. It may even be helpful to bring in two attorneys to handle the consultation, so you can benefit from multiple perspectives. Remember, an uncooperative or unreasonable client can negatively affect your bottom line. Take the time to carefully consider a potential client before making a commitment that you may regret later.
Learn From the Past
Take a look back over your caseload from the last six months. Make a note of which clients brought in the most profit for your firm and compare them to those who did not. Do you notice any trends or similarities? Perhaps the less profitable clients represent a particular practice area. Maybe these clients were more challenging to work with or had unreasonable expectations.
If the numbers alone do not give you a clear picture, speak with your attorneys to get their perspectives. You may find that a particular client placed a lot of undue stress on one of your lawyers, which can also create a drain on your profits. Perhaps, a fixed fee client turned out to need substantially more services than what was initially agreed upon. Use that experience as you craft similar fixed fee arrangements going forward. Another example of a profit-draining client would be one who fails to pay bills in a timely manner. Extra efforts to collect payment takes time away from more profitable tasks. Use past experiences as warning signs of what to look for as you move forward in your practice.
Just Say No
Increasing your profits requires strategy and planning. There is no strategy involved in saying yes to every potential client who calls your office. Sometimes, the most profitable step you can take is to say no. You may even find yourself declining to represent a past or current client who comes to you with a new or additional matter. After all, if that client has been a drain on your profits in the past, what makes you think that they will somehow be different in the future? Saying no to the wrong client allows you to build more profitable and valuable relationships with the right ones.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a freelance writer with a passion for law. Through her business, The Legal Writing Studio, she helps legal professionals deliver effective written messages. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.