Please welcome back to the blog Rachel Rodgers, the intellectual property and business lawyer for digital entrepreneurs. Rachel is here to talk about a question that is often asked by attorneys with online practices: How do I get clients?
One of the reasons I started Her Virtual Law Office was because I was getting countless emails and phone calls from young lawyers or recent graduates wanting to learn more about how I was building my practice. One of the top questions I received (and still get on a consistent basis by the way) is “What’s your secret to getting clients?” The “secret” to obtaining clients for me has been building a powerful brand.
Building a powerful brand is simply a matter of knowing yourself, being yourself and communicating who you are to the world so that the right clients are attracted to your practice.
While it may be simple to build a powerful brand, it isn’t easy. Lawyers often struggle with a deeply rooted (and rotted) belief that you have to act a certain way, think a certain way, and above all, behave as a lawyer should to be successful. This idea stems from law schools and the law profession as whole promoting a certain ideal of what a lawyer looks, acts and sounds like. If only it were as simple as wearing the right suit and having the right hairstyle, then every solo practice out there would be hugely successful.
In reality, the general public does not like the way typical lawyers present themselves. (Have you heard any lawyer jokes lately? They can be pretty harsh). It turns out being a unique, interesting, colorful human being is far more appealing to potential clients than being what I like to refer to as “the lawyer drone.”
It’s a lot easier to get clients when you embrace who you are and stand out from the crowd. If you don’t look, talk and act like every other lawyer out there, how can potential clients tell the difference between you and your competitors? What reason would they have to pick you out of the (very) crowded field of lawyers?
Who you are IS your brand.
What works for me, isn’t necessarily going to work for you. I serve digital entrepreneurs, clients who have broken away from the traditional 9-5 job to start their own ventures and rely on their own creativity and ideas. I, too, am all about breaking the mold and rebelling against the established stodgy law firm template. My website is red with polka dots, my hair is big and curly, and I’m not sure I could find a power suit in my closet. I certainly don’t fit the traditional lawyer mold and my clients love that. My ideal clients are ones that resonate with my brand and that means not only do I represent them with passion, but I also love who I work with.
Some lawyers cringe when they encounter my brand. They take my openness and sense of humor as being unprofessional. They take my goal of providing intelligent, fun, and understandable legal resources like Small Business Bodyguard as a personal attack on the legal profession. The reality though is that while my practice is all about making legal services accessible and fun, we are focused on delivering stellar service to our clients and customarily go beyond the call of duty to meet their legal needs.
So that’s my brand. And this is the type of firm that I created because it’s the work I want to do and the people I want to do it with. That doesn’t mean your potential firm needs to look the same way or be run the same way. But you have to be willing to put yourself into your work and really put yourself out there. Your potential clients will recognize your authentic brand and you will stand out in the crowded sea of lawyers they have to choose from. Only then will the ideal clients knock down your door.
It’s certainly a lot easier and a lot safer to simply look at what other law firms are doing and do the same. Or to copy what the most recent virtual practice you found using google has decided to embrace. But, I would recommend figuring out who your ideal client is and how YOU can serve them simply by being yourself. That’s when you’ll find the real secret to getting clients.
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Rachel Rodgers is the intellectual property and business lawyer for digital entrepreneurs. Her one-of-a-kind practice, Rachel Rodgers Law Office, is run entirely online making her services accessible and convenient for tech startups, online-based businesses and thought leaders. Rachel co-wrote the most entertaining business law guide for entrepreneurs called Small Business Bodyguard: Cover Your Bases, Cover Your Assets, Cover Your Ass. Rachel and her practice have been featured in Fast Company, MSNBC, The Washington Post, Forbes and various other media outlets and publications.