One of my favorite bloggers in the legal space is attorney Lee Rosen.  He always has great stuff to share over at his Divorce Discourse blog (don’t let the name fool you, it’s practical legal business marketing and management advice that can be applied to any practice).

Lee had a great post today about the rules you should be following to turn initial consultations into retainers.  Our thought processes on this subject track completely; read his post in its entirety but I’m going to call out some of the most important practices that many attorneys neglect when they hold an initial consultation:

Create a comforting environment.  No one wants to come into a messy office or conference room.  Your space says something about you and no one wants a disorganized attorney!  If you’re meeting in your office, make sure everything looks neat and tidy.  If you meet in a conference room, clean up the dirty cups and donut crumbs from your last meeting.

Be welcoming.  Do NOT make your prospect sit and wait for you!  Greet them upon arrival with a smile and a firm handshake.  Be glad to see them.  Make eye contact.  Put them at ease from the beginning so they feel comfortable around you from the get-go.

Listen.  Many attorneys fall into the well-worn trap of trying to impress a prospect with the depth of their legal knowledge.  Don’t make this mistake!  You should be listening a lot more than talking at this stage of the game.  Remember, your objective in this meeting is to get the prospect to retain you.  There will be plenty of time later to share your legal knowhow.  As they speak, don’t have your head down furiously scribbling notes.  Practice good listening behavior by maintaining eye contact, listening and repeating a few of their words back to them.  Draw them out when necessary with a few encouraging words.

Follow up!  If they don’t sign up right away, call them the next morning and ask if they thought of any more questions for you.  Then set another appointment so you can keep them moving forward with you.

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