What causes a prospective client choose you over another attorney? Is it your office location? Your fee structure? The number of years you have been practicing law?
It’s possible that your potential clients are, in fact, concerned about the location of your office, your fees, and your professional experience. However, it’s likely that prospective clients will also evaluate other criteria before selecting you as their attorney.
When people need an attorney, they often ask their friends, relatives, and co-workers for a referral. Word-of-mouth referrals can be an excellent resource for solo attorneys. But a referral does not necessarily mean that prospective clients will choose you.
No matter how prospective clients find your name, it’s important to remember that they are seeking an attorney who they absolutely believe can help them.
Following are some of the most common criteria that people evaluate before selecting an attorney:
Free vs. Fee-Based Initial Consultation. Prospective clients can be drawn to an attorney who offers a free initial consultation. On the other hand, many attorneys believe that more serious prospects are willing to pay a fee for their first meeting. There are pros and cons to offering a free vs. a fee-based initial consultation. The important thing is to be as consistent as possible.
First Impression. You’ve certainly heard the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is true in just about all scenarios. If you are late, if your office is messy, or if you are dressed too casually for your initial meeting with a prospective client, the result can be a negative first impression – which might be difficult to reverse.
Trust and Honesty. Do you portray trustworthiness and honesty when you meet with prospective clients? Most people want to hire an attorney who exudes confidence and demonstrates high ethical standards.
Open Communication and Response Time. Prospective clients want to know that the attorney they are considering is someone who listens and responds to their questions and concerns. When potential new clients contact your office for the first time, they want to receive a response in a timely fashion.
Online Reviews. It’s easier than ever to seek reviews of a law firm via numerous online sources. If there are a slew of negative online reviews posted about your firm, this can affect your ability to gain new clients. Prospects who see online reviews are interested in how you responded to the reviews – no matter if the comments were positive or negative.
Your Website. A website allows prospective clients to take a small glimpse inside of your law practice. If your website is up-to-date, organized, and filled with useful information, it can have a positive impression on prospective clients – and can encourage them to contact your office for an initial consultation.
As a solo attorney, you want to attract the best possible clients to your firm. The most effective way to accomplish this is to understand, in advance, what most people evaluate when they “shop” for an attorney.