When most lawyers start the journey to become professional legal practitioners, the ideal that moved them was to ensure that justice be made equitably available to all. Years later, even as they build their law firms and practice, it is necessary to make sure that this ethical aspiration does not get lost even as they keep their business profitable. This article provides tips to do just that.
The main advice is really to just to make the most of your leads and establish valuable legal services that are within the means of most clients. To do this, we must look into the nitty-gritty of how to remain profitable while not losing sight of what made us become lawyers in the first place.
Being able to do pro-bono gives us a feeling of fulfilment. When we see ourselves able to make a difference in the lives of lower-income clientele, we reaffirm our commitment to the practice. But let us not forget that this is also an effective way to meet prospective clients and widen your network.
It pays to remember that people who seek legal help are those who have problems and are probably emotional about it. When talking to potential and present clients, listen carefully and let them speak. If you have gone through what they are currently going through, it will not be hard to sympathize. If not, just weigh their input and provide direct but compassionate answers. Voice modulation is a good skill to practice too, because it helps to calm and put them at ease. This will let them see that you care and they will spread the word that you do.
Most people do not have a clue about the amount of effort and time that is exerted to win legal cases. Without this knowledge, potential clients will be prone to speculations and misconceptions about where their money goes. With this in mind, it will be useful to sit down with the client or set a short meeting to discuss each billing using simple, direct to the point or layman’s terms. If this is not possible, enclose the explanation in the email or printed billing. Transparency in this area will boost your credibility.
As discussed in the previous section, provide details on the work entailed—but make sure to emphasize that all of it is worth the cost in terms of advancing the case. Do this especially for work that seems small, administrative, or indirectly-related, yet still essential to the success of the case. For example, focus on the rewards gained and the inconveniences that were avoided because of mobile connectivity and notifications.
Setting up a practice also means knowing who your target or preferred clientele are. Thus, it is essential to know details about their income and employment, establishing from the beginning that they will be able to pay legal fees. Alongside this, also conduct research into the pricing and rates for services being offered by your local competition. This will help you in setting up affordable and competitive pricing.
In recent years, unbundling legal services has allowed clients more flexibility in their ability to pay. Offer separate but high-value services that clients can choose from, based on their current budget and means. By taking the case one step at a time, the cost becomes less intimidating to lower-income clients, who might have previously thought pursuing it will drain their finances or even drive them into debt.
Convenience of payment options is attractive to clients who don’t have a lot of extra funds at their disposal. Accept credit cards offer online or mobile app payments instead of checks. Alternatively, suggest flexible payment plans or extend credit if you can. The latter may be deemed risky by many legal professionals but, with efficient payment schemes, it can be done.
Lower-income clients appreciate discount incentives for on-time payments. Explain to them that paying on time will not only allow them to save a bit, it also ensures that the practice runs smoothly. This results in better outcomes for their legal cases.
For the lawyers themselves, it is often true that challenging but rewarding cases can be found among lower-income clients. These allow them to hone their skills and also expand their potential market base via positive word-of-mouth. Do not be wary of taking in lower-income clients. It is still possible to maintain a profitable legal practice while doing so.