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Legal Marketing

Person-to-Person Networking Helps the Solo and Small Practice Attorney Build Relationships that Last Nathaniel Fick


awyers, by profession, are relationship builders. Some attorneys help couples build a lifelong relationship filled with marital bliss. Others help

local businesses establish a good working relationship with other companies or the government. Many attorneys, however, are not always so adept at cultivating long-term professional relationships when it comes to their own practice. Large firms hire advertising departments and marketing gurus to keep attorneys fulfilling billable hour minimums but lawyers in solo practices and small firms must rely on their own relationship-building skills to develop a sustainable client list. The typical attorney-client relationship is short-

lived, often ending when the case is closed. Retainers keep some clients around longer. Relationships between lawyers are often shorter, lasting only as long as writing down the name and phone number of an attorney for referral. The fast-paced world of the internet and social media threatens to cut these relationships even shorter, at a time when your solo or small practice can gain the most out of long-lasting relationships. A person-to-person network is simply an assembly

of good working relationships. The potential for a positive working association exists with every single person you interact with, whether that interaction takes place in your office or at the grocery store. Every person you meet is a potential client or partner; when you shake someone’s hand, remind yourself that you can someday

fill a legal need for that person or for someone in his personal network. Perhaps the person may not need an attorney at that moment, or is an attorney herself, but she may require legal help someday or know someone who needs your special skills. Person-to-person networking occurs between you

and your current clients, your prospective clients, and with attorneys or laypersons who might provide referrals. Networking can also connect you to other industry professionals, such as paralegals, who can help your solo or small practice function as efficiently as a large one. Your contact list can include clients, other attorneys, classmates from law school or earlier, alumni, present and former co-workers, association and community contacts, and even holiday card recipients.

Benefits Person-to-person networking creates personal

relationships, and personal relationships create jobs. According to John Bennett of the McColl School of Business, “between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.” This goes for lawyers too. Person-to-person networking and relationship building helps you develop a business, a good reputation among clients and fellow attorneys, and reliable resources that may come in handy during future cases. Remember - everyone you talk to is a potential client or future referral source.

Person-to-person networking tends to take up more

time than money but, for attorneys as for most professionals, time is money. As a solo or small practice grows, time tends to be more valuable than money. Fortunately, a well-organized and maintained person- to-person network with a solid foundation builds upon

Trial Reporter / Winter 2014 33

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