If you wanted to sell your home, you would likely put some time and money into repairs, renovations, and clean-up before putting it on the market. By the same token, you should make sure your family law practice is in good shape before you spend significant money on marketing.
Read each of the five areas (below), then circle the number that applies to you (where 1 is “very poor” and 5 is “excellent”) to assess whether or not you have your house in order.
1. Your Effectiveness and Commitment to Family Law
Are you committed to practicing family law? Do you need to update your knowledge/skillset? Do your partners and associates keep abreast of all relevant legal, financial, and psychological aspects of divorce? Whether you have been in practice for four or 40 years, your clients and referral sources want to know that your firm is fully engaged in the work.
2. Technology, Case Management, and Presenting in Court
Since COVID, both clients and the courts have adapted to virtual meetings and hearings. The trend of working remotely and communicating virtually is likely going to continue because they save time and money for your clients.
3. Client Intake and Client Care
Your firm only has one chance to make a good first impression. If your intake person isn’t well trained, caring, understanding, and empathetic to the needs of your prospective clients, your leads will not turn into cases. Have you set it up so all incoming calls during business hours are answered or do they go to voice mail? Do you offer texting on your website? Do you have any established service level objectives: Is every text, email, questions, or request responded to? How quickly do you respond? Do you listen to how your staff interacts with clients and prospective clients? Do you track complaints and deal with them on a timely basis?
4. Your Reputation
Knowing what your clients, colleagues, judges, other professional referral sources, and personal referral sources think about you is critical to your success. You could ask people who refer clients to you why they do so and ask those who don’t refer clients to you why they don’t – you can learn from both.
5. Appearance: You, Your Staff, Your Office
I wish it weren’t true, but how professional you, your staff, and your office appear leaves an impression – positive or negative – on clients, potential clients, referral sources, and opposing counsel. It is worth repeating that you never have a second chance to make a good first impression, so try to take a look at your office through fresh eyes to find “red flags”. I have been to law offices where the lawyer has to navigate through stacks of documents in their office. A cluttered, messy office – or one with peeling paint, dirty rugs, or furniture that has seen better days – doesn’t inspire confidence or make clients feel comfortable. You have to take care of your virtual and in-person appearance. For example, what is visible in the background during a video conference?
Rating Chart: Is Your House in Order?
Getting your house in order is as important as having a marketing plan. Circle the number that applies to you (where 1 is “very poor” and 5 is “excellent”) on the Rating Chart (below, or you can download it as a PDF) to assess yourself/your firm.
|A. How committed are you to practicing family law?||1||2||3||4||5|
|B. Are you up to date on the latest law, cases, and experts to draw on to help advocate for your client?||1||2||3||4||5|
|A. Are you and your staff using technology to effectively manage cases and your practice?||1||2||3||4||5|
|B. How effective are you at presenting your case to clients, opposing counsel, and judges (both online and offline)?||1||2||3||4||5|
|A. How good is your intake person and process?||1||2||3||4||5|
|B. How good is your firm’s client care?||1||2||3||4||5|
|A. How likely are your clients to refer business to you?||1||2||3||4||5|
|B. How likely are lawyers and other professionals to refer clients to you?||1||2||3||4||5|
|A. How professional do you and your staff appear?||1||2||3||4||5|
|B. How professional does your office appear?||1||2||3||4||5|
Add up the numbers from each question and give yourself a score out of 50.
- If you’re at 40 or better – congratulations! You’re ready to get to work on your marketing plan.
- If you’re between 35 and 40, a little work is needed, but you’re on the right path.
- If you’re at 35 or less, you should get your house in order before initiating a marketing plan.