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Pick Up the Phone - And Make Yourself A Better Lawyer
posted by myshingle on Sunday April 20, @07:23PM
MyShingle Solo Carolyn Elefant writes: Fellow shinglers - your mission, for this month, should you choose to accept it, is to pick up the phone. By that, I don't mean that that you ought to pick the phone when it rings to answer it - undoubtedly, a good idea, but nonetheless, one for which you don't need instruction or encouragement. Instead, what I'm asking of all of you is join me in the effort that I myself have been involved this past week - pick up the phone, find some numbers in your rolodex or PDA and make some marketing calls. And do it whether you're swamped with more work than you can manage at the moment, whether business is so slow that you're feeling a bit desperate or whether you've done it so many times before without success that the effort seems futile. Trust me, regardless of the result, calling around for business will make you a better lawyer.

I spent a rather fruitless week myself calling old contacts for referrals, overflow work and business leads. Taking the advice of a wise colleague, I psyched myself up before the calls, focusing on my firm's strengths and recent accomplishments. When making the calls, I spoke in my cheeriest voice, exuding enthusiasm about my practice while at the same time asking questions about my colleagues workload so that I could target my services towards their needs.

I wish I could say that the work came pouring in but of course, that's not what happened. Two large firm attorneys whom I'd contacted flatly admitted that business was slow - something that I myself was shocked to hear (and for which I had not prepared a response) since I'd never make a similar admission myself. But I made a note for future calls: next time someone tells me they've hit a dry spot, I will try to determine whether possibilities exist for cross marketing projects where I can take the lead in exchange for a piece of work or referral fees.

Other attorneys I called indicated that they would keep me in mind for future projects. But I won't let the contact die there. I made a note of these folks and will follow up again in a few months. And in the interim, I'll also be sure to send this group any newsworthy accomplishments that I may have (as well as news items they might be following as part of their practice) just to keep myself "on their radar screen." Maybe a little pushy, but at the same time, who doesn't like a little persistence?

Do I like making these calls? Not completely. I don't like rejection (who does? - but that's good practice for losing a case!) and I'd certainly prefer a situation where a steady stream of business comes to me unsolicited, via referrals. But that doesn't always happen.

So part of why I've asked you to join me in this marketing endeavor is moral support - after all, misery loves company. But at the same time, there's a part of marketing that I secretly enjoy - and it's the same thing I like about law: the problem solving. Of course, here, the problem, i.e., generating business, is mine and not that of a client, but solving my own problems makes for good practice when I need to do the same for my clients.

So let the ivy towered academics or hoity-toity lawyers who sit in fancy offices with a steady flow of clients from one or two law firm rainmakers look down their noses at my marketing or call it undignified - because I know better. I know that the same confidence and guts that get a work out every time I pick up the phone and ask someone directly for business will serve me well in carrying out my obligation to zealously represent my clients. For after all, when all is said and done, how can lawyers effectively sell their client's case at trial or in negotiations (which is what, after all, we lawyers are paid to do) if they can't even sell themselves?

So just as I said at the outset, get out there this week and pick up the phone. And let us know what happens - post your results to below. [Editor's Note: We'd especially enjoy hearing about any tips or tricks that worked particularly well, so please share you secrets. Just push the reply button in the lower corner below]

Why This Bar Complaint Wouldn't Have Been Lodged Against A Big Firm | Four Join the Guide: More on Housecalls, Marketing, Solo Challenges  >


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