How To Use Your Local Law Society To Be Your Firm’s Business Development Superhero
Local law societies may seem like private members clubs with little appeal to newly-qualified solicitors, trainees and other young lawyers. But if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll soon discover opportunities to generate business for your firm and enhance your own career.
They have long-standing connections across their region. They make it their business to build networks, bring people together and share information. Local law societies are trusted and professionally respected. And they’re steeped in history, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow network. So they have status and pedigree.
The law is one the most competitive professions to be working in. Without drive and determination, especially in the early years of your career, you risk falling behind the energetic go-getters trying to get ahead of the game and see their name on their firm’s letterhead.
It makes good sense to be a part of your local law society by contributing your time and expertise. Then you can take advantage of the wealth of opportunity on offer to build new business for your firm.
Network, network, network.
If you’re prepared to go out of your comfort zone, meet new people and be proactive, your local law society is a fantastic opportunity to become a familiar and trusted face in the local legal community.
You can use your local law society’s range of events to meet and make a memorable impression on other solicitors. It’s important to get involved in as many social events outside work as you can. It may be tempting after a hard day at work to binge on a box-set. But you need to build your personal brand. The best way of doing that is showing yourself off.
Keep in touch, be friendly, offer good conversation. Making an impact is as much about your personality as your expertise. Look upon everyone you meet, from trainee to senior partner, as someone who could one day recommend you or directly pass work your way. Many solicitors move in-house, so they may even become your clients one day.
It may not be immediate but if you stick at it, the work will come your way. Networking is a long game.
Give, don’t just take
People like to be listened to by someone who shows an interest in them.
Yes, it’s important to talk about your area of expertise, so the other lawyers you connect with come to know your strengths. But:
take the time to find out about other members and their strengths
make a point of getting to know them
explore the skills they have
discuss how you may be able to use their skills in your practice
show a willingness to refer work to other members
offer to help them out when they need it.
It’s all about building trust and developing long-term relationships. Your local law society provides a common thread between you and other members. Which makes it a perfect forum within which to build strong and lasting relationships.
Make a noise about what you do
It’s not enough to be great. Your target market needs to know just how great you are.
Show a real passion for your work. People want to instruct an expert who will do a great job. So you need to spend time establishing and building your reputation, not just as someone who knows their field inside out, but loves it too.
To bring business to your practice, you need clients actively seeking you out as one of the go-to lawyers in your specialism.
Your local law society’s newsletters and online blogs are an ideal place to showcase your knowledge and experience.
By contributing regular, but not repetitive, articles, expert opinions, updates and analysis pieces, in your niche area, you’ll raise your own and your firm’s profile. Focus on new and relevant legislation, highlighting your strengths in the area.
Getting your name in print will broadcast your talent widely – not just to other lawyers, but to potential clients who may read the newsletter.
There are boundaries to print. Getting your work online presents a much more powerful opportunity.
A decent, need-to-read article on your local law society blog will be shared across social media and beyond. The reach is potentially limitless. You have the scope to build fans and followers who will share your work and build your online profile as a thought leader.
Seek out every opportunity you can to get published.
Volunteer to speak at CPD events and seminars
Most local law societies run a comprehensive programme of courses, seminars and workshops throughout the year. Get in touch with your local law society administrator and offer to put on a CPD event for them.
Focus on a particular aspect of new legislation, a landmark case or proposal for legal reform within your specialist area of law. Highlight the key implications members need to know. Get off the mark quickly and use this as a platform to market your firm’s expertise in the area.
Whenever a new law is enacted, most lawyers in the area will be picking it apart to see how it will affect their practice. Look for the unexpected angles and implications: you can show off your strengths by talking to and educating your professional peers. This will do more to build your reputation and increase the chances of referrals from local members.
Go for an award!
Most local law societies have an annual awards dinner. Winning junior lawyer of the year, or outstanding academic achievement award, would bring you welcome publicity.
The news coverage would be a useful addition to your CV and online profile.
Research the criteria for which you will be judged. Also, network with previous winners. Go the extra mile by raising your personal standards to better what’s required. How many young lawyers go all out for these awards? Make sure you’re one of them.
Your firm would bask in the reflected glory. The story would be a great profile raiser, and could increase the calibre of solicitors and trainees applying to work there.
Your award would have a longer life span for the firm as a promotional feature on their website, which would be very effective advertising for clients looking for a firm with a particular specialism.
Volunteer to help at events
If your local law society participates in events like business expos or local professional dinners, why not volunteer?
It would give you the chance to build your reputation and networks within the society, and show an interest in other attendees or exhibitors. They may need your help. They may know someone who may need your help.
Explain that the local law society is there to serve the local community. Highlight your specialism and how you solve problems for clients. Don’t act as a salesman but more like a representative of a local service provider.
If you’re a probate lawyer, explain the implications of dying without a will. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, explain the importance of having the right type of insurance.
If you come across as a professional and helpful lawyer, potential clients will be drawn to you. Giving a direct sales pitch to visitors to your stand could put them off.
By going out into the community like this, you’re promoting your firm as a proactive, knowledgeable and caring organisation.
Find a service provider to stage a law society event
Your local law society has a calendar of events and seminars it puts on for its members. Coming up with ideas for content, and finding people to deliver talks and presentations is inevitably a challenge for committee members.
Showing the initiative and proactivity to help this process by offering to arrange an event yourself will really put you on the map with your local law society.
You could approach one of your service providers to give a talk to members. A professional indemnity expert could give a talk of interest to all members. Also, cyber security or GDPR compliance are both subjects lawyers need to be constantly kept up-to-date with.
The talks will be mutually beneficial and add to your contribution to the society. Ensuring events are professionally staged and relevant to attendees will show off your leadership skills and strengthen ties between the provider and your firm. It’s all part of building your brand as a stand-out solicitor who goes the extra mile.
A firm is only as good as its solicitors. With creative initiatives like these, you’re creating a great impression of your firm.
Local law societies exist for the benefit of local lawyers to improve their own and their firm’s prospects. Embrace what they have on offer. Or you could be handing an opportunity to your peers to overtake you. Visit your local society and look at how it could help you achieve your professional goals and generate business for your firm.
Interested in building your reputation by contributing to a local law society publication? We produce high quality online and print publications for local law societies across the country. We’d love to hear from you. Write an article for your local law society.