You’re fresh out of law school, you’ve passed the bar admission course, you’ve completed your articleship, and you’re finally called to the bar as a licensed lawyer. Now what? You’re eager to find clients to represent and cases to pursue. This guide offers some recommendations for new lawyers and legal representatives to find clients:
The number one source of clients for new lawyers is referrals from other lawyers. But if the seasoned lawyers in your city don’t know you exist, how can they possibly refer cases and clients your way? You need to get out there and network. Attend networking events both in your area of specialty and general legal gatherings. Go to conferences, hang out at the local lawyers’ hangout after work, be active on legal forums, and find a way to connect and stand out from the crowd. Even if your peers don’t yet know about your work proficiency, you can establish your bona fides as a trustworthy and friendly individual.
Beyond connecting with mentors and peers in your particular area of specialization, you want to extend your reach to lawyers in all fields. Find a way to share your specialized knowledge with them. Even if you have no current involvement in marine law or immigration law, it is funny how quickly different areas of law can intersect. You want to have a connection in every field. Prove that you have value and knowledge. Not only will they come to you if they need assistance, but you may be able to turn to them for professional help down the road.
Not every mentor-mentee relationship is about a wise and grizzled law vet taking a young buck under his or her wing. As a newcomer, you also have to reach out to form these relationships. Invite established lawyers (both in your area and outside of it) out to coffee or lunch. Don’t ask for anything but their advice, and don’t be pushy. Soak in their wisdom and prove yourself as an eager and engaged interlocutor. You may form a lifelong friendship. Just remember to pay for the meal.
It might seem like common sense that you’re building these bonds in order to generate referrals…but there’s also no harm in asking outright. Just be sure to do in an non-intrusive and respectful way. In a way, think of your fellow lawyers as “clients” you are trying to recruit. Invest time and send them a thoughtful, handwritten note or invite them out to a meal to chat. Let them know that you are building your career and welcome all referrals.
If you are a sole practitioner and unaffiliated with a law firm, it can be an isolating experience when you first start. Ask around to see if any established lawyers have office space they would be willing to rent out, or share office space with another young lawyer. You may be able to collaborate with these other lawyers, and take a case off their hands or help them out in a pinch.
Even if you’re just beginning your career, you can stand out from the crowd by taking a leadership role in your local Canadian Bar Association sub-section. Attend meetings regularly and make a conscious and consistent effort to get your name and face out there. Ask the leadership if they need any assistance. If you are given any role or assignment, fulfill it on time and with attention to detail. Hard work is always welcome, and you’ll make a good impression by being reliable and present.
You should have a personal website that advertises your services and makes it easy to get in touch by phone, email, or appointment. Start a blog page where you share helpful information for potential clients, like FAQs, how-tos, safety tips, helpful resources, statistics, and more. Show your knowledge, intelligence, and personality.
Get active on social media, especially Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Interact and connect! Comment on news and legislative developments. Announce an upcoming seminar or conference where you’ll be talking. Upload videos with helpful information. Be thoughtful and provide value.
Maybe you’re really good at using PowerPoint, or you can help a fellow lawyer out by translating blogs about Family Sponsorship into Urdu. Maybe you can help a techphobic old lawyer set up his Twitter profile. We all have special talents, we just have to think creativity to see how they apply to this situation. Demonstrate your value so your name doesn’t just crop up when they need help, it also crops up when referring clients.
If a client knocks on your door but you can’t help, don’t just turn them away. Provide them with contact information for a more suitable lawyer. Be generous and unselfish. Not only will you prove to the client that you’re helpful even if you have nothing to gain, the referred lawyer will be impressed too.
It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight, but over time you will build strong relationships with fellow legal professionals and generate many referrals to provide your practice with steady work.