Marketing Small Law Firms

When it comes to getting clients, small law firms face specific challenges. You may lack visibility in the legal community, experience few “crossover” referrals from other fields, have limited resources to allocate for attorney marketing and advertising, or lack client contacts and networking experience – especially if you are a new or solo practitioner.

To address these challenges, most small law firms engage in some form of marketing, such as placing ads in the paper and phone book or posting links on social media. But these sporadic, unplanned efforts are not as effective as a well-planned and strategic marketing campaign.

If you want to know the easiest and most cost-effective way to increase visibility, attract clients, and stand out from the competition…this article is for you.

The Secret to Marketing Your Small Law Firm

The standard marketing wisdom of the past says you need to identify your target audience, develop a strong brand identity, and create a website that’s professional and user-friendly. Once all that’s done, it’s time for you to implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and share valuable content through articles, blogs, and videos.

As if all that weren’t enough, typical marketing advice includes establishing a social media presence, getting your firm listed on review sites and online directories, and building relationships with professionals in fields that are adjacent and complementary.
At that point, you’re ready to use the power of email marketing to inform clients and nurture leads, and you can start monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. All the while, you need to take care to ensure compliance with ethical and legal advertising rules.

Image of a female attorney thinking of ways to market her law firm

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? You might think you have to engage in all of these steps to succeed. But the truth is, you can be much more efficient and effective when you focus on just a single strategy that will give you the most bang for your buck.

The secret to marketing your small law firm is to leverage online client reviews.

How to Get Started Marketing Your Small Law Firm

In the past, traditional materials like business cards and letterhead were the starting point for most professionals, including lawyers. And while those still have a place in certain circles, your printed branding doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to. What impacts potential clients the most these days is the quality of your online reviews.

Prioritize Online Reviews

Online reviews, such as Yelp and Google Reviews, aggregate diverse perspectives to help consumers make informed choices between competing service providers. Users write reviews and give ratings which these review sites use to score and rank your business.
You might be hesitant to get involved with marketing technology, or even traditional marketing techniques. But your potential clients are looking for you online, and the way you show up (or don’t) on review sites is more influential than you may realize.
Online reviews play a crucial role in shaping search engine rankings for your firm, because search algorithms treat those reviews as an indicator of your website’s trustworthiness and relevance.

You can’t get to the very top of a Google search, even as a sponsored ad, without an overall review rating of at least four-stars.

To get the reviews you need to grow your clientele these days, you must have three things:

  1. Lots of happy clients
  2. A process for requesting their reviews
  3. A steady stream of quality leads that become new clients

Let’s look at how you can achieve each of these goals.

Use Kindness and Empathy

If you want lots of happy clients, so you can get good reviews, you must consider their overall experience of working with you. It may not make sense to you, but beyond simply winning their case or securing just compensation, your clients want to feel that you care about them. The way you relate to and care about clients and prospects is at least as important for your reviews as the legal outcome of their case, maybe even more so.

Don’t make the costly mistake of looking down on caregiving or customer service skills just because your time and expertise is worth more than workers with those titles tend to earn. Similar to the way patients evaluate doctors on their “bedside manner” in addition to their medical knowledge and skills, legal clients and prospects do the same when it comes to attorneys like you.

Happy clients talking with their attorney

Keeping your clients happy often means serving with a personalized degree of kindness, respect, and empathy. Recognize and acknowledge their emotions, and respond with sensitivity to those emotions – every step of the way. Relating to clients with empathy and providing a politically-correct level of respect can make all the difference in how they perceive you and what they post when they review your services online. To get the outcomes you want, this must be your top marketing priority.

Remember, a client who has a negative experience is much more likely to write an online review, and only 10% of happy customers do. To keep an overall review rating of four stars (which you need to appear at the top of Google search results), you’ll need four (4) five-star reviews to make up for every (1) one-star review. Just one bad review can sink the value of 40 good client experiences. So do everything you can to avoid bad reviews, and put a process in place to solicit as many online reviews as you can from your happy clients.

Establish an Online Review Request Process

Start with past clients who are happy with your services, and ask them to post their review with Google and Yelp. Decide whether you will ask by phone, email, another way, or a combination of methods. Then, continue to use the following checklist as a repeatable process with your past, present, and future clients:

  • Find the Best Timing: Make sure you’re sending the request at the right time. Often, it’s best to wait until after the successful resolution of the case. If you send the request too early it can seem premature, and waiting too long may mean the opportunity is lost.
  • Express Your Gratitude: Be sure to thank the client for choosing you and using your services. For example, you can say something like “We appreciate you choosing us at [Firm Name] for your legal representation needs.”
  • Explain What You’re Asking For: Make sure you’re clear about why you’re contacting the client. Explain to them that feedback is very valuable and you would appreciate just a few moments of their time. Ask them to leave an online review and share their experience.
  • Make Your Instructions Clear: Let the clients know the steps to leave a review. When you make it easy for them they’re more likely to do it. Linking your profiles on review platforms, along with offering instructions on review posting for each site, is the way to go.
  • Keep the Process Simple: Direct profile links for every site should be in the email or letter you send out. When you make it easy for them to leave a review more clients are likely to post something and keep it positive. You can also offer assistance by letting the client know to contact you if they need help or have questions.
  • Make Your Request Personal: You can use a template for your review requests, but leave room for a couple of lines of personalization.
  • Remember the Value of Confidentiality: Make sure the client understands that you’ll maintain their privacy, and you’re not asking for case-specific details or identifying information in the review.
  • Monitor Review Sites: Responding appropriately to reviews in a timely manner is important. It allows you to thank clients for good reviews and address any negative ones in a professional way.
  • Thank Clients and Follow Up: Be sure to thank every client that leaves a review, letting them know you appreciate their feedback and their time. If clients don’t leave reviews after you’ve asked them to, you may want to send them a reminder. Just make sure not to keep asking again and again, as that can have a negative impact on the way clients see you.

When you reach out using email, make sure to hit all the above points. Here is a template you can customize in a way that matches your law firm’s voice and tone.

Image of a sample review request letter for the clients

Pro Tip: Your core areas of legal specialization combined with your personality and
“bedside manner” comprise what marketers call your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
This lets you focus on a specific target audience, increases your perceived value with that
audience, enhances customer loyalty, and differentiates you from the competition.
Use your USP to guide your client outreach communications, and use the reviews they
share to help inform your USP.

Ensure a Steady Stream of Legal Clients

To expand your ability to get the good reviews you need, your next priority should be a service that sends you a steady stream of clients. Legalmatch can help.

LegalMatch has two decades of experience providing attorney-client matching services and a 91% satisfaction rate from member attorneys who consistently praise the platform’s excellence at optimized lead generation. LegalMatch provides several features geared towards ensuring you continuous access to quality client leads.

Here are a few of our happy clients:

LegalMatch has helped me build up my clientele. I went out on my own a year ago, using my name for client recognition. Since I joined LegalMatch last May 2019, I’ve been getting a handful of potential legal clients per month, so it’s paying for itself. From the time I joined LeglMatch, I probably got about 20 clients in just 6 months. LegalMatch helps me get new clients that I wouldn’t normally have heard from. It’s helping my bottom line. Brian E., Sycamore, IL, Criminal Law

After forming my law firm, Berlingieri Law, PLLC, in June 2015, I chose LegalMatch as a platform to attract new clientele. Shortly after becoming a LegalMatch member my law firm expanded its base of clientele in New York and Connecticut. LegalMatch is a tool that Berlingieri Law, PLLC uses to provide legal services to individuals with employment law solutions to workplace problems. Christopher B., New York, NY, Employment & Labor Law

LegalMatch positively impacted my business within a few months of starting my new law practice. I retained several clients from them within the first six months. One of my biggest cases during my first year of business came from LegalMatch. Since that time, it’s given me a steady source of potential clients. Andrew D., Hunt Valley, MD, Employment and Labor Law

LegalMatch helps you leverage your time more effectively, so you can take care of clients efficiently, provide a good customer experience, and secure the reviews you need to gain a stronger online presence. Request your guest pass and take a look at the case opportunities in your practice area and location today.