Failing to plan is planning to fail; do you have a plan to secure the future of your family law business? Answering these seven questions will let you know whether you’re on the road to a successful future; if not, here are seven ways to help you get on track.
By Dan Couvrette, Family Lawyer Marketing Consultant
Whether your family law practice is doing well or if business is down, there are a number of actions you could be taking today to secure the successful future of your family law practice. In this article, I’ll highlight seven items that are critical to the future success of your practice. (These tips do not include your skills as a lawyer – I assume that you will continue to update your legal knowledge and skills.) Answer “yes” or “no” for each item; if you answer “yes” fewer than four times, you need to get into action now or the future of your practice could be in jeopardy.
1. Do you embrace technology? Yes _ No _
You don’t want your prospective clients to think you’re behind the times. If your firm isn’t using the latest technology, software, and devices, it could be perceived as passé or obsolete. Changing this perception will be much more difficult and expensive the longer you delay, so embrace the best and most innovative technology and client-management tools now. They can improve your effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to serving your clients as well as marketing and managing your law practice.
2. Is your website mobile-friendly? Yes _ No _
Currently, 30 to 50% of visitors are viewing your website from a mobile device – and that percentage is growing. Approximately 65% of the family lawyer websites I examined while writing this article were not optimized for mobile devices. Use your smartphone or tablet to check your website now; is it a responsive site that automatically adjusts to display well on mobile devices? Is it legible? Can visitors call, email, or locate your office on a map from their smartphone with just one touch? See how some well-designed smartphone friendly websites look like here: www.DivorceMarketingGroup.com/our-portfolio/mobile-websites-portfolio/. Compare these to your own website; how does your website stack up? Data shows that 10–15% of visitors to these smartphone friendly websites ended up calling or emailing the firm. These statistics speak volumes.
3. Are you regularly adding content and resources to your website? Yes _ No _
Most family law firm websites provide very little in the way of information or resources that would be helpful to prospective and current clients: they provide basic information about the firm and the lawyers and that’s about it. If you question the need to add “extra” information, here’s why you should do it:
- If potential clients don’t find the information and answers they’re looking for on your website, they’ll go elsewhere – and possibly hire the firm that did address their burning questions on their website instead of hiring you.
- Your website will become more effective at attracting traffic because Google prefers websites that regularly add new and relevant content. Plus, a content-rich site is likely going to be passed along from one friend to another friend.
- Most, if not all, of your prospective clients will visit your website before contacting you; “extra” content will inform and impress potential clients with your knowledge and differentiate your firm from all others. It will help you convert prospects into clients.
- Writing a regular blog lets your personality and expertise shine. Your posts will also tell people where you stand on issues and what it would be like to work with you.
I strongly advise against purchasing the service of having weekly blog posts written for your firm and added to your website automatically. Ethics aside, these mass-produced blogs are seldom relevant to your prospective clients, and they cannot represent your voice or your firm’s expertise and image properly. How could they? The writers know nothing about you or your firm: they take a generic topic and “spin” multiple versions of the same post and add them to their customers’ websites.
4. Do you nurture your referral sources on a regular basis? Yes _ No _
Many family lawyers get a significant amount of their new business from referrals – yet very few are in regular contact with their referral sources. If you’re doing nothing to keep your firm “top of mind” with your referral sources, and you’re relying solely on people remembering you when it comes time to recommend a family lawyer, you’re jeopardizing the future of your business. You need to have a strategy in place to keep yourself top of mind with those who refer business to you. Here are a few easy and effective ways to nurture your referral sources:
- Produce, purchase, or lease a custom eNewsletter with relevant content and send it your referral sources every month.
- Take potential referrers to lunch or dinner, or host a networking session in your office, restaurant, golf club, or other facility.
- Participate in associations and join networking groups that could bring you closer to quality referral sources. I know a family lawyer who joined a Rolls Royce Club, for instance. Groups can be in-person or online through LinkedIn, Meetup, etc.
- Thank your referral source three times: once when you first receive the referral, once after the referral becomes your client, and again when the client’s case has reached a satisfactory conclusion.
- List germane professionals on your website – and let them know you’ve listed them.
- Ask current referrers for recommendations for other professionals to add to your network.
- Network with attorneys who don’t practice family law; they won’t consider you competition.
- Network with financial professionals, therapists, and mediators with a mental-health background.
- Be a referrer! It goes both ways.
5. Are you constantly expanding your skills? Yes _ No __
In the future, the number of attorneys making their living as litigators will increase while the number of transactional lawyers will decrease; this shift is already happening because technology is making it easier for people to use online legal services for their divorce. You should consider developing your litigation skills as well as your non-legal skills (financial, conflict management, mediation, collaborative, etc.) to prepare you for a changing divorce landscape.
6. Are you visible through social media? Yes _ No _
Professionals who recognize the importance of social media – and learn how to use it effectively – have a huge advantage over their peers who fear or disdain it. The three most important networking websites for professionals are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
- LinkedIn: This is the social network for professionals. Every family lawyer should have a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn profile, and should make and accept link requests from all appropriate professionals in a timely fashion. You can take advantage of the terrific marketing opportunity LinkedIn offers by starting your own group and establishing yourself as the authority in family law. At the same time, you’ll be creating deeper relationships with group members who could refer business to you. LinkedIn has recently added many new features that allow you to showcase your expertise. Being strategically active on LinkedIn will help convert prospective clients into clients and increase referrals from other professionals.
- Facebook: Every family lawyer should have a complete company Facebook page. Many family lawyers have a low opinion of Facebook because of clients posting pictures and comments there that have jeopardized their cases. Advising clients to stay away from websites like Facebook and Twitter makes sense – but some attorneys have concluded that they, too, should stay away from all social media. This bias can blind you to the great marketing opportunity that Facebook offers. There are 1.2 billion Facebook users – you don’t want to be notable by your absence.
- Google+: Google maybe a latecomer in social media, but it has made significant strides because of its leverage through YouTube and the Google search engine. Just like LinkedIn and Facebook, you can create extensive profiles and pages and showcase your expertise through photos, videos, articles, and blogs. In fact if you have a Gmail account, Google has already created a profile for you; you should take a look at your page right away and make it better. This profile will show up when someone Googles your name. If you do not have a Google+ profile, create one now!
If you lack the time, interest, or skills to create and maintain this kind of social-media presence, consider outsourcing it to a trusted marketing company to create excellent and complete profiles for you and your firm.
7. Are you heightening your profile online and offline? Yes _ No _
Some attorneys have worked hard to establish themselves as experts in the field of family law by becoming Board Certified or a Specialist. Increasing your legal skill-set will pay dividends for your clients, but you also need other strategies to demonstrate your expertise, manage your reputation online and offline, and stand out from your competitors in order to secure new business. Here are a few actions to take:
- Google your name and see what the search results say. You are your search results. Are there any pages with bad comments, poor ratings, or inaccurate information about you? Do you show up on the first page of Google search results? Can you be found on Google at all? If you don’t like what you see – or you want to improve your reputation online – read the article “Have you Googled your Name Lately?” on www.FamilyLawyerMagazine.com.
- Send regular press releases to local media about divorce-related news, changes in legislation, etc. Become the go-to person when they’re looking for a quote.
- Write for other websites: be a guest blogger for divorce and family law related blog sites such as www.divorcemag.com or provide answers to questions on websites such as www.AVVO.com.
- Provide information and resources to professionals and groups. Give seminars, teleseminars, or webinars to financial professionals and divorcing individuals.
- Contribute to your community. Sponsor a charity golf or tennis tournament, or a battered-women’s shelter, or a fathers’ support group. Let your interests and beliefs guide your choices.
Dan Couvrette is a marketing expert to family lawyers and divorce professionals, and the CEO of Divorce Marketing Group. He is the founder and publisher of Family Lawyer Magazine and Divorce Magazine. You may reach him at: email@example.com
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