When someone asks you, “What business are you in?” what do you answer?  I suspect, if you’re like most attorneys, you’d answer: law, real estate law, probate law, family law . . . or anything related to the word “law.”

And that may be logical — but it’s wrong. You may have a legal practice, but that’s not the business you’re in. You’re really in the business of running your business.

Here are three specific ways you should be doing this: 

Marketing your legal skills. As a solo practitioner, a partner in a small law firm, an associate or of counsel, your primary focus, after gaining competency as an attorney, is to understand the key principles of business development and marketing and to apply them every single day. Not every attorney will be a top rainmaker, but everyone can do something to grow and market his or her practice.

Creating extraordinary experiences for your clients.  You need to micromanage the client experience—controlling every aspect of how the client experiences your law firm. From how the phone is answered, to greeting them by name as they walk in the door, to minimizing the amount of paperwork you ask them to complete to reserving your conference room with their name on the door, to returning client phone calls and emails consistently and promptly, everything should be focused on creating a positive experience for your clients.

Building deep and lasting relationships with your clients. Far too many attorneys only have a transactional relationship with their clients. They create an estate plan for them, they file a lawsuit on their behalf, or they set up a corporation for them. To be successful over the long term, you must think long-term.

You must develop lasting meaningful and influential relationships with your clients because the most expensive thing you can have is a one-time client. The first step is to say connected with them. Regular, non-billable communication with clients is more important than ever in these difficult times. Send out a monthly newsletter or a copy of an interesting article you read (or wrote).

Here’s the rule of thumb: communicate at least 10 times a year with every current and former client. Sit down with your staff or partner and lay out a game plan for how you can build long term, meaningful and influential relationships with your clients.

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