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I must have been around ten years old when I started watching that cult American TV series, L.A. Law. The New York Times described it as: “television’s most serious attempt to date to portray American law and the people who practice it… L.A. Law, perhaps more than any other force, has come to shape public perceptions about lawyers and the legal system”.

Yes, the glitz and the glamour did impress on my young mind but it was more than that; it was the real-life serious issues that were dealt with within the show, such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, gay rights, homophobia, sexual harassment, AIDS, and domestic violence that caught my attention.

I wanted to act for the underdog and help them to win. That was one of the reasons I became a claimant personal injury lawyer; I felt as if I was acting for David (ordinary man on the street) against the full might and expense of Goliath (insurance companies).

However, I could see the ‘writing on the wall’ for personal injury lawyers a few years ago, with the changes in the law from the Jackson reforms and the introduction of largely fixed and modest costs for the bulk of personal injury work. The pace and scale of change was extremely rapid for personal injury lawyers and I was not surprised to see so many personal injury firms close down, resulting in vast job losses. Unfortunately, along with vast cuts in legal aid, other areas of law, such as employment law, are now under pressure as well.

The legal profession has changed so drastically since I trained fifteen years ago at The College of Law. Academic skills were all that were taught, as strong technical skills were considered to be of utmost importance. But once you progress now in your legal career and climb the partnership ladder, you will generally find that you will need to think commercially and grow a client base and/or become successful at marketing your services to your target market.

Marketing and business development skills were something that I took on towards the latter part of my legal career. I loved being ‘the ideas person’ – the creator of ‘key strategic alliances’ between businesses. I used LinkedIn as a key tool to help me constantly keep in contact with my clients – an ‘online Yellow Pages’ – to establish key local strategic alliances and develop that ‘know, like and trust factor’ via regular status updates and blogs.

In March 2015, I saw the potential to launch a real and sustainable business, Links2Leads, and continue to utilise the skills I had learnt as a Solicitor: interviewing people to find out what makes them stand out as the best job candidate; translating that into their online profile/interviewing businesses to establish their unique selling points; and writing a ‘sales pitch’ within their LinkedIn profile. I then used my research skills to identify the best keywords to put into their profile to ensure they listed the right skills, joined the right groups and, ultimately, got more views.

I then progressed to LinkedIn Training – either on a 1-2-1 basis or in my monthly LinkedIn Courses in Reading, Berkshire – as well as creating content via Social Media packages to increase my clients’ online visibility. If you’re wondering what the benefits are of using social media for law firms I would suggest that we have a conversation.

This was, and continues to be, very successful. I have worked with over 300 businesses within the Thames Valley and won a National Business Award!

But I still felt drawn back to my passion and in the early part of 2016, I started working with several law firms locally and nationally with their marketing and business development. The feedback I get is that it really helps that I am a lawyer as well. I have real practical experience and can relate to the lawyers within the firm. I was one of the top billers within various firms so I was well aware of how I had to combine exceeding my billing targets with client generation targets. After all, Law School taught us how to debate but not how to network or to craft that one-minute sales pitch within a networking meeting. These were points I learnt myself and now I really enjoy assisting lawyers with this task.

I understand the day-to-day issues that can impact on a firm’s performance, but to survive in this current legal landscape, lawyers have to become more marketing focused and engage in clever marketing (not just throw thousands of pounds at Google without seeking expert input as to keywords, or simply send visitors from their AdWords campaigns to their home page).

For example, does your law firm have the following?

1.      A website that is optimised to CONVERT visitors into clients – does the content of your web pages build trust for a visitor and convince them to contact you? (It is unbelievable how many law firm partners tell me they do not understand Google Analytics or even realise the impact it can have on their business.)

2.      A professionally shot and edited video on your landing page or even within your website. People want to see, get to know, and trust the lawyers that are going to be dealing with their case.

3.      Personal Testimonials. Reviews from real people will help to re-iterate that trust factor; not ‘Mr A from Sheffield says …’. If you can get a photo of that person, or attach their company logo to their testimonial, then even better. Do you send out feedback forms and highlight on your website/promotional literature your glowing reviews? Better still, do you outsource this activity to an outside company who can really find out what your clients think of you and your service?

Martin Reynolds Head of Company & Commercial Department at Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP:

‘I have engaged two of Rachel’s services to date, namely the LinkedIn profile writing service and a bespoke group training course that focused on using LinkedIn effectively. As a result of Rachel’s professional help and guidance, I not only have a LinkedIn profile that I feel best represents what I can offer clients, but I have also gained a good understanding of how I can utilise LinkedIn to reach potential clients and a profitable network of industry connections. Rachel is skilled at explaining the benefits of using LinkedIn to its full potential, tailoring this information to the legal profession and helping to put in place time and cost effective LinkedIn marketing strategies that work.

The list could go on and on …..I have a few more articles to write then….’

Re-evaluate your law firm’s marketing plan, in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, and really ensure that 2017 is the year that gives your law firm financial security by ensuring you retain your existing clients, along with attracting new ones. Please contact me for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL telephone conversation on 07803 016135 or email me at rachel@links2leads.co.uk and we can then arrange a suitable time for us to talk.

Please connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what inspired you to become a Solicitor/Barrister.

(I was not the only one to be swayed by LA Law as I noted from a recent interview with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan: http://uk.businessinsider.com/interview-london-mayoral-candidate-sadiq-khan-2016-1)