In case you hadn’t already realized it by now, I’ll state the obvious: You can’t please everyone. Not every client is right for you. As a lawyer, you simply can’t be all things to all people, and the attorneys who try to do so will eventually crash and burn. Your key to success is not to have as many clients as possible, but to find and win the right clients—and doing so begins with identifying the ideal client for your law firm.
Yes, your law firm has an “ideal client.” Have you ever done an evaluation to find out who this person is? What does your ideal client do for a living? What do they do in their spare time? What is their age/income bracket? Do they have children? Why do they need your services? Why do you enjoy working with them? The more of these questions you can answer, the clearer your picture of an ideal client comes into view so you can focus your energies more specifically on getting these types of clients. Let’s look at some exercises that can help clarify this picture for you.
Take Inventory of Your Current Clients
Start by looking one by one at your current client base and look at their most positive characteristics. Which ones pay the most? Which pay most consistently? Which of your services do they use the most? Which do you most enjoy working with, and why? You should begin to see some common threads emerge among your most profitable and productive clients. Look for more people like these.
Evaluate Your Own Services
One of the easier ways to find your ideal client is to figure out whom would most benefit from your expertise as a lawyer. Take a look at the legal services you currently offer, and/or the services you’d most like to offer. Try to envision who needs these services most and why—as well as who can afford you. Create a demographic profile for these people (e.g., gender, age group, income level, profession, etc.), and look for ways to market to them.
Create a “Velvet Rope”
In his popular book Book Yourself Solid, author/coach Michael Port recommends establishing a “red velvet rope policy” by which you become more selective with your clients. He recommends identifying your best clients based not so much on their need or their income, but on how well you enjoy working with them. Identify the clients you love and why you love them; also identify the ones that have less “star quality” in your mind and why. Then have the courage to drop your “dud clients” to make room for more of the ideal ones. The takeaway is that you actually do your best work when you enjoy the people you work with!
Obviously, not every client you work with will be “ideal,” and you don’t always have to dump clients who are less than perfect. However, knowing your ideal client will help guide your strategy for attracting more of them. Eventually, you’ll instinctively stay away from those who drain your time and energy so you can do your best work for those who will benefit most.