10 Really Good Ideas for Lawyers

By Maximillian (Max) H. Matthies posted 09-16-2019 11:56


My first legal business development book was Jay Foonberg’s How to Start and Build a Law Practice. I read it cover to cover while waiting for my bar results. Since then I have read and collected many books, articles, and lists about getting clients and running a legal practice. There is a lot of repetitive stuff out there, but these 10 ideas stood out and made a lot of sense to me.

  1. Keep a business development journal so you can remember what you did and whether it worked or not. A personal journal is helpful for the same reason.
  2. Let your clients make appointments and handle payments with you as easily as they do with their doctor, bank, pharmacy, and schools—in the cloud, on your website, on a tablet or smart phone.
  3. Take a new business photo regularly and keep your bio updated. Use them on your website (you have a website, right?) and everywhere else (ICLE, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, the Elks Club newsletter, your homeowners association directory, legal conference apps, etc.).
  4. Read the M Rules of Professional Conduct once a year and encourage others to do the same.
  5. Use language carefully. Just because I’m a Baby Boomer doesn’t mean I’m quite ready for elder or senior law services. The earliest Millennials are people who are rapidly approaching 40.
  6. Hang out with nonlegal professionals. Get a different perspective on a legal issue. Your clients are likely laypeople, and being able to see something through their lens can be invaluable.
  7. Imagine your ideal client. Give her a name and describe her. Know what her legal issue is (likely based on the type of law you practice). Direct all of your marketing to her and show her why you have the solution to her legal problems.
  8. Create a legal one-sheet for your law firm. It doesn’t have to be a fancy trifold brochure printed on glossy paper. Start with a header containing the name of your firm, the attorneys in the practice, your practice areas and where you practice, your fee structure, and your contact information.
  9. Know your elevator pitch. Practice it, refine it, make sure it can be understood by different people. Who are you, what do you do (i.e., what problems do you solve), where do you do it, and why. Act like you love it. If you can’t, that is information.
  10. Get clear on the difference between being busy and being productive. They are not the same thing.

These ideas were inspired and informed by:

Buildit! The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Business Development

101 Really Good Ideas for You and Your Law Practice

151 Ways to Attract More Clients




Thanks for your comments, Dennis.

09-19-2019 09:57

Memories dim, but IIRC I heard Foonberg live at an auditorium at WSU in the late '70s, bought his book and studied it, and finally carried out the dream a decade-and-a-half later, leaving behind a large law firm partnership to do so.
One of the best pieces of advice I heard from him was to the effect of "I'd rather not work and not be paid, than work and not be paid."  I think about that every time I have an opportunity to work on an interesting new project with an untested client, so that an"interesting project" doesn't simply turn into an uninteresting collection matter.