How to Land a Big Case as a Small Law Firm
Landing big cases is a challenge for small and solo law firms.
And you often have to compete with established firms that have a significantly larger budget and workforce. Firms with whole departments to handle all the roles that you alone have to play. Remember, you are a small business owner, an accountant (billing clients), a secretary (keeping track of calls and emails), and a marketer (finding new prospects).
The good news is that a lot of what you think of as weaknesses are strengths.
Here’s how to land that big case you’re looking for:
- Offer your clients perks that your competitors can’t: The surest way to attract clients is to be the best at what you do. Here’s what that means:
- Choose a niche and get great at it. You’ve probably developed a specialty (e.g. intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, employment law, etc.) and this works in your favor. Large firms may, on paper, have more attorneys working for them, but only a handful of those will be handling one particular case. Use this to your advantage. Get excellent at your specialty, and you are on an equal footing with many of the larger firms. Your clients will catch on to this fast. I once met a solicitor who specialized in oil exploration contracts in Azerbaijan. He said he had no competition in this field and the work kept coming in.
- Work fast and adapt to your client’s schedule. Your schedule is much more flexible than your large-firm counterpart. You handle fewer cases and have fewer conflicting priorities. This means that you can fast-track your client’s work when they want it done quickly—which is probably quite often. As your reputation for short turnaround times grows, so will your client base.
- Charge less, because you can. All else being equal, clients choose the attorney with the cheaper rates. You have smaller overheads than larger firms; this works to your advantage. You can also cut costs by leveraging smart technology. Take ‘ediscovery’ (also ‘e-discovery’, or ‘edisclosure’)for example, which is nowadays an integral part of practicing law. Platforms like GoldFynch run off cloud servers, so you don’t have to install and maintain any hardware and software. Harness tools like that and you can further decrease your overheads.
Make meaningful connections with your clients
Landing that big case is more than just doing good work. It’s about creating the perfect experience for your client. Here’s how:
- Be open and friendly. You have to make your clients feel comfortable with you. It will radically transform all subsequent interactions.
- Take a personal interest in your clients. Your clients turn to you at some of the toughest times of their lives (like buying a home or creating a will). They need to know that you genuinely care, want what’s best for them, and will help solve their problems.
- Respond immediately to emails and calls. You win and lose clients based on effective communication. Being responsive tells them that they matter.
Make sure people hear about you
You’re better than larger firms because you can give clients one-on-one attention, adapt to their schedules, and work for less. Now it’s time to tell people about this.
Here’s how you can get the word out about your firm:
- Create a website. Your potential clients will look for this. Create a website to increase your credibility. It needs to look good, be easy to navigate, and clearly explain how you make clients’ lives better. It also needs to have updated contact information and be optimized for clients accessing it from their phones. Your website is the virtual face of your firm, so it’s worth hiring a designer to do it right.
- Start using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Ideally, you would write short articles and blog posts about your niche skills. But if that’s too involved, you can just link to ones that you like. This way you’re ‘out there’ for potential clients to see.
- Get involved with your local community. This is a great way to network. Become an active member of organizations and causes that you care about. Become a part of state and local bar associations. Being a member of the community means yours is the first name that comes to mind when someone needs an attorney.
Landing a big case as a small firm is a challenge, but with these tips it becomes that much more doable. Once you do land a few cases, give your new clients exceptional, fast service. This will keep them coming back. Remember, they are people too. Developing person-to-person relationships helps in the long run. When they move companies they will take you with them.