An important part of your legal marketing is your client orientation system. I use this term to refer to the system through which a client is introduced to your services, interviews for your representation and pays you for your services.
This process is unorthodox compared to the ways other lawyers on-board their clients. But then again, that is what I am all about. Being unorthodox and disrupting the status quo.
Before I introduce you to this system, I think we need to gain an understanding of some of my beliefs and terminology when it comes to client relationships.
First: Clients want to be told what to do. Most clients are looking for a stern but loving adult to take their hand and guide them through life. If you do not want to fill this role for your clients, then someone else will. I guarantee it.
Next: You will negotiate more diligently for someone else than you will for yourself. Therefore someone else should discuss the money you will charge your clients. You should only discuss the value. This is because you are emotionally invested in the outcome when you negotiate matters on your own behalf. Don’t believe me? Think about all the deals you wish you would have walked away from and didn’t because you felt (insert adverb here: guilty, bad, sad, scared, angry, etc.)
Finally: Perception is reality. If your clients perceive you as exclusive and in high demand, you will be exclusive and in high demand.
Once I have your agreement on these points we can move forward with the client orientation system.
There are five steps to the Rainmaker Lawyer Legal Marketing Client Orientation System. They are as follows:
Step One: Client calls the office with an inquiry. The phone is answered by the Business Manager. Note this is not a receptionist, a paralegal or a secretary. It is a Business Manager. Someone with authority. The client is asked a handful of qualifying questions. These questions are designed to find out if the client:
1). Has a problem we can solve 2). Has money to pay us 3). Is the decision-maker and will make a decision if we meet with them
If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes” we move to step two.
Step Two: Collect a consultation fee.
You get what you pay for. If people can speak to you for free you must not be very good. I do not care what you charge (the higher the fee the better) but you must charge something.
Step Three: The Client Fills Out an Application for Representation
This is a form that provides you with the necessary background information about their personality, character and their history in dealing with lawyers. This is different and separate from the information they need to provide you about the matter they need assistance in handling.
The reason for this application is simply for you to determine if they are going to be a complete and total pain in the ass. This is important. Sometimes you do not want a client even if they can pay your full fee. It is better to find this out upfront.
Step Four: Get References and Check Them
I recommend you get three references from people and call them. The reason for this is not to make sure the person is who they say they are (although finding that out is a helpful byproduct); The reason for doing this is to condition the client to take your requests seriously and set the expectation that they will be an active participant in the legal process.
Keep in mind that everyone and I mean everyone can find three people who will say nice things about them. If their matter is confidential, like say a criminal proceeding or a divorce, ask them to get three letters of good moral character from someone in the community. The letters can be addressed: To Whom It May Concern. (Note: If this client is a referral, this part of the process can be waived.)
Step Five: The client meets discussed the fee with the Business Manager.
You are not going to be as good at this as someone else. The bottom line here is: The fee is the fee. No back off. No negotiation. Someone who works for you can say that with a straight face. You probably cannot.
This orientation system will result in higher fees, less wasted time and better clients. If you do not use it you are missing out on a significant opportunity to upgrade our law firm.