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Summary: If you are a young attorney you need to start your books of business as soon as possible. Check out these best 4 steps to help springboard your efforts toward obtaining a strong book of business.
One of the most important possessions you can have throughout your career as an attorney is a book of business.
Having a strong book of business adds value to yourself and your skills, making you more attractive to law firms and clientele alike.
So how do young attorneys build their books of business? This article will show you the best 4 steps you can take to get and keep a strong law firm job as well as take in future clients.
What is A Book of Business?
The book of business to a large degree is the holy grail of any attorney. In many ways, a book of business is much like a record of a lawyer’ longstanding triumphs in their particular practice area.
In short, books of business lists an attorney’s clients, and decidedly so, to a law firm or prospective client, the larger a lawyer’s book of business is, the more attractive he or she will be as a potential hire.
According to Chron.com, building a book of business is important for each lawyer and the law firm as a whole.
The people or businesses listed in the book are the basis for past, current and future income.
To that end, the larger the book, the larger the overall potential for profit.
While the list of clients within an attorney’s book of business is by itself not worth much, what remains invaluable within a book of business are the relationships it represents.
Even if the individuals listed in the book of business may have no immediate legal need, those people might know someone who does need legal help, and in that a referral from someone in the book of business carries more clout than a cold call.
Each lawyer, regardless of their position in a firm, wants to build their own book of business. This allows them to move to a different firm and maintain their current client list.
The next question is how do beginning attorneys go about building their books of business? The following 4 steps represent a great starting point as well as provide an explanation of the discipline an attorney needs to produce a strong client list others in the legal field will admire.
How to Build a Book of Business
Appearing on The Lawyerist.com, attorney and writer Leo Mulvihill, Jr. outlines the 4 critical steps attorneys need to take to start their books of business. Oddly enough, they aren’t difficult steps (unless you’re an introvert), but they are steps designed to sell you as a product for future clients’ legal trouble as well as a law firm’s profits.
Say “Hello” to Everyone
Be aware of how many people you walk by and do not say hello to. Every one of those people is a potential future client.
Saying hello, Mulvihill states, will definitely catch people off guard. However, an awkward first encounter may invariably result in a brief opening conversation.
What’s more, people will begin to recognize you.
Sure, you might at first come off as that weird guy who says “Hi” to everyone, however in the long run you will be known as that lawyer who practices in X, Y and Z practice field.
People will remember you for a real estate dispute, or as a litigator with a proven track record for successfully arguing a specific type of legal issue.
In some cases potential clients might not even remember you for what you practice, but instead recall that you’re a dog lover or enjoy watching baseball.
In short, anything that can humanize your “hello” will help solidify a relationship once you say “hello.”
Carry Business Cards Everywhere and Pass Them Out to Everyone
Yes, it’s salesy; it’s salesperson-like to dole out your business card like a casino dealer deals cards, but to establish a book of business, passing out business cards is essential.
Business cards are like tokens that are given to help remind prospective business relations who you are. They are designed to put a name to a face that can later be recalled if the recipient is in future need.
This is the plus side for any attorney who is beginning their book of business; having given someone your business card, you will invariably be remembered. You won’t be just some random person who likes to shake hands or only say “hello.”
Your name will be remembered and the fact that you are a tax, divorce, entertainment or eminent domain attorney (which should be printed on your business cards) will next come to mind.
Mulvihill suggests that attorneys do not cheap out on business cards.
In his view a cheap business card is like a limp handshake.
Your business cards should instead be made of high quality paper stock, and feature some sort of notable design. It should stand out instead of appear generic as is the case with what many business card websites offer.
Wear a Suit Everyday
We have heard it many times: “You’re a professional, so dress like one!”
Funny thing is it’s true.
Think of it this way: professional attire applies to the job at hand.
Professional attire for a construction worker will most likely involve jeans, steel-toed boots, a tee-shirt, reflective vest and a hardhat.
Meanwhile, for a police officer his or her professional attire may be their uniform.
Lawyers have a certain style; they’re neat and clean (or should be) which helps to exude a high level of confidence through their appearance.
Now sure, it can be a drag to wear a full-blown suit and tie everywhere you go, and to be honest, suits and ties are really a case for over dressing in more casual environments.
You simply have to look like you care for yourself and what you are representing as an attorney. At that point clientele as well as high-end legal jobs will more likely come your way.
Join a Non-Profit Board or Local Civic Association
Social media will always be a step behind the single best way to meet people, which is face-to-face. And really, there’s no better place to meet people other than a group get together sponsored by an organization or group.
Mulvihill suggests that young attorneys find a local non-profit that they are interested in, and start the networking process there.
Consider reaching out to your organization of choice. Find a way to potentially join their board of directors or some other high-exposure role.
If you live in an area with a civic or neighborhood association, join it and get involved in leadership.
It’s good work that needs to be done, and if people know that you are involved in this good work, it can have a lastingly positive outcome for you.
Of course it’s not wise to expect direct business from other board members immediately. But over time, you’ll get to better know these folks, and then get to know even more folks within their social circles.
And, just as you may imagine, one of these folks might someday need you as their lawyer.
The Bottom Line about Books of Business: Law Schools Aren’t Going to Teach You This.
As business development coach and writer Jim Klein outlines in his article for Law Technology Today law school graduates may be trained in torts, but they’re not schooled in building a book of business.
In today’s legal education system, no one teaches law students how to market themselves, which leaves them without the tools they need to generate business when they make partner or otherwise ensure job security.
With that, young attorneys have to realize – such as it is with any business – that marketing needs to be employed.
And while dressing nicely then going out to say hello to people and pass out business cards might not have the glitz and glamour of a Fifth Avenue marketing campaign, it’s still marketing plain and simple.
Due to that action alone people will remember you as an attorney and that should a legal issue arise for them, you will undoubtedly be the person they can call.
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