How Small Law Firms Can Win in Big Markets
One of the most daunting tasks in the world is starting your own business, especially if you’re doing so in a market that is dominated by established competition with seemingly endless resources.
Lawyers know this all too well. Competing with large firms may seem like an insurmountable task. You have to compete with established firms for clients and you have to try cases against teams of attorneys and paralegals. But all small firms should be aware of the fact that being smaller doesn’t have to be a handicap. It can present you with the opportunity to outperform your larger counterparts in many ways.
Consider the fact that so many attorneys leave large law firms to start their own practice. Why do they do this? They get tired of the bureaucracy, of feeling marginalized and not having their own voices heard. Clients, too, can face these concerns at large law firms, and they might seek out a smaller firm that offers them something they can connect with.
So, how do you use your firm’s size to your advantage, and how do you overcome the obstacles that you’ll face competing with large law firms? Here are ten ways you can compete in a big market.
- Focus - In order to carve out a place for your law firm in a big market, you have to sharpen the focus of your practice. Our law firm focuses on catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. While we do other work, too, by focusing on these types of injuries we have cultivated the reputation as a firm that is competent and skilled in this specific area. This generates referrals from both other attorneys and current clients.
- Tell Your Story Well - No matter how great your resources are, you still need to tell your client’s story to a jury in a compelling and convincing manner. Telling your client’s story is a skill, and no amount of money can make you a better storyteller -- only hard work and practice can do that.
- Offer Something Big Boys Can’t - Large firms might have impressive offices, but what kind of connection and access do they offer clients? Clients want, perhaps more than anything else, a connection to their attorneys and to feel as though they can access their attorney when they need them. As a small law firm, you can do exactly that. For example, your client can have your personal cell phone number and be able to access you at any time, giving you a distinct advantage over many larger firms.
- Pursue a Smarter Marketing Strategy - Clients don’t know, and don’t particularly care, how big a law firm is. By implementing a marketing strategy that positions your firm to be seen by clients, you’ll be edging out the bigger firms and putting yourself in a position to succeed. Large firms are likely throwing insane amounts of money at their web marketing, often without much of a plan. Be smart and be precise in your marketing strategy.
- Leverage Your Online Presence and Social Media - Be active on social media and use it to reach out to your current clients. Use your social media to promote your website’s content and offer current and future clients useful information about issues relevant to their lives. Prepare a content plan that gives you an edge over the competition. Consider all the other online marketing strategies available to you that are more efficient and effective (e.g., think long-tail SEO rather than primary phrases, as an example).
- Treat the Inquiry Like a Human Being - How you greet an inquiry can make all the difference. Does your receptionist ask how that person is doing today, or are they put in a long line of clients vying for an attorney’s attention? Many clients find that large law firms offer the latter, while you can very easily offer the former. It might seem simple, but treat the person with gentleness and care from the very first moment and you'll have a better conversion rate than the big guys.
- Being Underestimated – Being overlooked by other firms can actually be a big advantage. If the opposing side underestimates you, your diligence and hard work will often have bigger returns, and your clients will notice.
- Networking - Referrals are vital for any law firm, regardless of size. Network with others both online and in person. Attend community meetings and gatherings, and put yourself in a position to meet people who might be potential clients or who might be a good source of referrals. Speaking of referrals, send clients to attorneys who do the same to you. Banding together with other small firms is a great way to maximize your potential and get the most out of a symbiotic relationship.
- Preparation - If you want to go toe-to-toe with larger firms, you will have to work hard and you must be prepared when you go into courtrooms or mediations. Remember that at the end of the day, large law firms are just conglomerations of individual attorneys. If you are more prepared than the other attorney, you will have the advantage, regardless of your law firm’s size.
- Utilize Top-Notch Experts - Law firms of all sizes can access experts that will provide huge benefits to your case. Reach out to the best witnesses you can find, and you will find a great opportunity to balance the scales in your favor.
Just because your firm is in a market full of competition with deep pockets and endless financial resources doesn’t mean that you don’t have a place at the table. Your firm’s size can give you many advantages in the way you work with clients. Look for advantages in every possible avenue and remember that many of the weaknesses of large firms can be your strengths.
It doesn’t take a huge war chest to compete with large firms, but it does take hard work. If you put in the effort and treat your clients with respect and care, you will find that someone will always need your services.
This article was submitted by Dallas personal injury attorney Michael Guajardo. Guajardo & Marks is a personal injury firm in Dallas, Texas. Contact them by calling 972-534-2839 or visiting their website.