A recent study of firms from 1 to 29 lawyers by Thomson Reuters found that 73 percent of small law firms said they faced a challenge acquiring new client business.

But only 31 percent said they had implemented changes to address the issue.

How can this be?

“Small law firms clearly recognize the tumultuous landscape before them,” the study’s authors write. “Therefore the lack of action is owing to something other than failing to recognize the problem.”

Whether you’re an attorney suffering from “analysis paralysis,” you’ve stuck your head in the sand, or you’re looking for guidance, it’s time to start acting to address the challenges that your firm faces. Here’s a three-step system to get started with business development.

A 3-Step Program to Get Started with Business Development

1. Start with your website. The easiest and most effective place to start is your website. If you’re not turning up in Google searches and your website just hasn’t produced any new files, start there. About 70 percent of law firms generate new cases through their websites, and nearly three-fourths of consumers visit a law firm’s website ready to take action.

Make sure that your website is designed with your potential clients in mind. The misalignment of what you think you want your website to look like — and what potential clients need from your site — can keep potential clients from contacting you.

When a potential client arrives at your website, the first question they ask themselves is “Can this firm help me?” You need to answer that question immediately. If your potential client has to work to answer this question, they’ll spend their efforts to find one of your competitors’ websites that makes it easy on them.

Your site should make it easy for your potential clients to find the information they need. Make sure you have an intuitive navigation menu and that it’s easy to locate information, as well as things like case results and recommendations. LawLytics’ intuitive menu structuring, case results, and recommendations features make this extremely easy, so attorneys don’t need to worry about the mechanics of how to deliver this content. Instead, they can focus on what they want their potential clients to know.

What do you want your visitors to do? For most firms, the answer to this question is “Contact my firm.” Do you want potential clients to call your firm? To use a form?

Your phone number and address should be very easy to find, and if you have multiple locations, it should be easy for potential clients to decide which location to contact and which number to dial. All of that functionality is built into LawLytics so whether you have a single office and phone number or many, it’s easy to get potential clients to take the action you want them to take.

2. Create high-quality website content. Having a website isn’t enough — your website should be populated with lots of high-quality content. Content — in the form of quality practice area pages, blog posts, case results and recommendations — creates a strong foundation for your website that educates potential clients and helps you build a relationship with them. The best way to create content is to develop a content plan and stick to it. To learn more about creating a content plan, see our blog post on maximizing your results with content. You can also download our content planning checklist.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have time (or the inclination) to write your website content, LawLytics can write content for you.

3. Get up, get out and get active. This starts with setting up business development appointments with current clients. You can meet them for coffee, lunch or a visit to their offices. Referred prospects are the least expensive leads you can get and they convert into paying clients and a high percentage.  This is conducted face-to-face, not via email, phone call or text. Discuss with them whether they are satisfied with your work and what else you can be doing for them.

“Referred clients are more cooperative, being more likely to promptly respond to your requests,” write Kara Prior and Jim Pawell in a new book on getting referrals. “They are more appreciative of the work you do and less likely to complain They are more likely to refer others. And those second-wave referrals will be like them — cooperative, appreciated, and referral minded.

Remember that client visits are “belly-to-belly,” as a rainmaker once told me. Clients will send work to attorneys they know and like. Ultimately, clients want a lawyer they can talk to about their business or personal problems. I’ve met many rainmakers and they have three characteristics:

  • Rainmakers have more business relationships.
  • The transform social relationship into new business.
  • They visit clients and hold regular “How’s business?” meetings.

Make it easy for clients by putting a special referral form on your website.

For more, read “5 Law Firm Website Tips to Help Attorneys Get New Clients” or listen to our podcast Law Firm Reviews & Recommendations That Attract New Clients.