The unfortunate reality of our business is that the public often see lawyers as a necessary evil—someone they sometimes need but don’t really like or trust. The stereotype of attorneys as soulless, ruthless and unscrupulous has been reinforced in our culture by countless courtroom dramas—and unfortunately, also by some real-life bad actors. To grow your law firm, you need to build loyalty among your clients—but how can you build loyalty if people distrust you simply because of your chosen profession?
The key to loyalty, in my view, is human connection. The more reminders you can offer your clients that you and your staff are human beings who genuinely wish to help them, the easier it becomes to build loyalty and trust. Let’s explore some practical steps to inject a bit of humanity into your law firm.
Focus Your Messaging on Why, Not What
When building your marketing and branding message, try to avoid simply telling people what you do. Tell them why you’re doing it. Work in your own story where appropriate. If you got into elder law because of your grandmother was abused in a nursing home, or if you became a medical malpractice attorney after watching a loved one die from negligence…These motivations matter to potential clients. They show the human side behind what you do.
Engage Clients on a Personal Level
When meeting potential clients for their first visit, don’t jump right to business. We forget that people like to talk about themselves, so take a few minutes to let them do it. Ask questions to get them talking: How many children do they have? What do they like to do in their spare time? Try to remember personal details from the conversation—jot them down discretely, if you have to—and bring them up again casually in your next meeting. “Hey, how did Kaley do at her soccer game last week?” Little extra touches like this go a long way with clients. Get into this practice yourself, and train your staff to do the same.
A quick, simple trick: Include “date of birth” on the contact form you give clients at their first appointment. Use that information to set reminders in your system to mail a birthday card each year. If you want to go even deeper, make a point of giving them a call on their birthday. This simple gesture tells your client that even the little things matter to you.
Stay Involved with Long-Term Clients
As you continue to show personal interest in your clients, you’ll hopefully begin building relationship with them and their families. Keep nurturing that relationship by going the extra mile whenever you can. If you get tip on something that could help improve a client’s estate plan, offer to make the change for free. If a client invites you to his son’s bar mitzvah—go.
These and other extra touches aren’t just techniques to make you appear more human—after all, you are human, and so is your staff. These practices help build relationship, something that only happens between humans. The more relationship-oriented you are, the more “human” your firm becomes.