Lead generation for law firms is an entirely different beast than other client-based businesses. If someone is looking for an attorney, it is likely for a serious and complex matter that affects their personal or professional life. In other words, clients need a lawyer whereas they may only want an investment advisor, software provider, and the like. This makes legal industry networking important because lawyers want to create relationships before a potential client is in a situation that requires legal action or advice.
As important as building relationships is, the truth is that many attorneys dread hearing the word “networking.” They imagine shameless self-marketing and handing out business cards at Chamber of Commerce events, which takes time away from what they enjoy – the practice of law. But that is the old-school way to think of lead generation for lawyers. In reality, legal industry networking has evolved to be more like scientific match-making, and the strategies used by the most successful law firms are often very much within the wheelhouse of most attorneys. Lead generation will always build upon the strength of a person’s relationship capital, but now the legal industry has a much deeper and broader capacity to leverage that capital.
Current Trends in the Legal Industry
To master the art of networking in the legal industry, it can be helpful to first understand the emerging trends that are affecting it and how lawyers are adapting. Here are the top four trends in the legal industry that impact attorney lead generation:
Restructuring to target and serve micro-markets is one of the top emerging trends of law firms. Industries like healthcare and technology are becoming increasingly complex, and they now require deep knowledge that only an attorney specializing in that field can handle. Think about the legal complexities of deploying driverless freight trucks or using AI to develop medical diagnoses – many issues facing fast-growing industries are unchartered territory. The legal industry is responding to client demands for specialization by offering attorneys with proven expertise in hyper-focused niches.
- Social Networking
Social network platforms aren’t just transforming B2C companies and personal interactions. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are also revolutionizing the way the legal industry operates. Attorneys can use these tools to further their own careers or win business, by recruiting, generating leads and referrals, mentoring, job hunting, finding witnesses, interacting with clients, and more on social media. Social networking platforms are also incredibly useful for marketing, helping lawyers reach various online communities and extend their influence for advertising and client development goals.
- Big Data
Internet users generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. This flood of data is a golden opportunity for lawyers. There’s a wealth of information about industries and potential clients that is available to those legal professionals who know how to mine it. Law firms that embrace big data and adopt technology to collect and analyze it will ultimately be the most successful at winning clients.
- Changing Population: Millennials
Per the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 83.1 million millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2000) in the United States, representing more than a quarter of the nation’s population. This group is larger than the 75.4 million baby boomers. This population trend is reflected in how law firms market themselves, as well as how they approach and manage clients. Attorneys are adapting to how millennials typically operate, which includes flexibility, convenience, regular communication, and online access (such as through self-service options).
Legal Industry Networking: Traditional Client Acquisition Strategies
Law firms employ specific strategies to hyper-target the industries that align with their area of expertise. Traditional client acquisition strategies for lawyers involve five primary tactics, each of which has its own challenges.
1. Securing Referrals from Existing Clients
A law firm’s current client base is one of the best sources of new prospects. Generating referrals from current customers, however requires tact and care. An attorney must truly be familiar with the clients and their needs, and the clients must see him or her as a trusted advisor. From there, the attorney can build on the existing relationship to request referrals or introductions. Word of mouth is consistently one of the most powerful forms of marketing, across all industries. In many cases though, attorneys find it difficult to even start the conversation.
2. Pulling From In-House Knowledge
Most law firms have an in-house database of clients – some even have sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) software systems to help them manage all client information and interactions. However, these databases often lack the full picture. There is a staggering amount of client knowledge that exists within the brains of a firm’s employees and, when it comes to lead generation for lawyers, the challenge is to mine that knowledge.
3. Mining Professional and Personal Connections
Over the course of their careers, most attorneys have built strong relationships with legal industry peers, former colleagues, friends, family, and more. These types of connections are often the strongest as they typically involve years of relationship history, but the difficulty lies in mining these connections effectively. How can a lawyer or law firm even begin to gather and organize all the contacts they’ve made over the years? It can seem like a gargantuan, time-consuming task. Often, an attorney will only reach out to people they’ve seen or interacted with recently because they are top of mind.
4. Doing Online Research
Lawyers need to be where the people are – online. Although word-of-mouth referrals are arguably the most effective form of legal industry networking, it’s still an online world. Not only does every practice need to have a strong online presence for when potential clients are seeking information, attorneys must also use the internet to their own advantage for information hunting. Finding the time to dig through a variety of online resources to target the ideal client or uncover referrals can be a major roadblock for many lawyers. Knowing where to look, sometimes paying to gain access, and then consistently setting aside time to do the research can be a problem for those in the legal profession.
5. Attending In-Person Events
Local events like charity fundraisers and networking parties, as well as more formal, non-local events like industry conferences are always great opportunities for attorney lead generation. The social aspect of events makes them a more comfortable environment to seek out referrals, or at least begin to form relationships with potential clients and industry decision makers. Yet many attorneys view these events as a chore because they infringe upon treasured free time during evenings and weekends, or are boisterous affairs that introverts may find draining.
How RelSci Can Help Law Firms Build Relationship Capital
Legal industry lead generation relies upon having a strong network of relationships that enable access to potential clients. Attorneys engaged in traditional legal industry networking face challenges in building and maintaining these relationships, but the proper tools can help. An attorney’s relationship capital – the intangible value of his or her relationship with clients, colleagues, family, and their extended networks – is his or her most valuable resource. With proper relationship capital management tools, law firms and lawyers can supplement their current strategies to easily generate more leads and referrals.
Relationship Science offers technology to law firms and attorneys that helps them fully leverage their relationship capital. RelSci’s sophisticated tools, complex algorithms, and proprietary data enable clients to master relationship capital management.
Here’s how the RelSci platform can enhance traditional legal industry networking:
- Power Search
Perform a Power Search within RelSci’s proprietary database of 7+ million influential decision makers in 2+ million organizations by industry, name, role, educational institution, political cause, donation, and more. Search results reveal a custom map of connections to target industries or leaders. For example, a lawyer specializing in health care can use Power Search to identify CEOs or other decision makers at hospitals, insurance companies, medical research non-profits, and more. These CEOs and decision makers can then be cross-referenced with individuals within the lawyer’s network to find a way in. The more connections an attorney has, the greater the likelihood that the connection map will have multiple “pathways” to a lead, increasing the chances of a gaining a warm introduction.
The profiles of the decision makers and organizations within RelSci’s proprietary database are exceptionally detailed and accurate. All the information a lawyer or law firm wanted to know but wasn’t sure how to find is now easily accessible. Profiles of companies and individuals are populated using thousands of independently verifiable public sources. RelSci profiles are research-based and include rich details such as connections, relationships, career history, corporate boards, non-profit boards, education, memberships, donations, public holdings, awards and honors, and events.
- Path Finder
This feature reveals an attorney’s first-degree or extended connections between people, companies, relationships, and curated lists. As its name implies, Path Finder uncovers pathways to potential clients that a lawyer may not know they had and provides information on how to reach those leads. These paths show how each of these connections know each other, whether through business overlap, education institutions, board positions, or more. RelSci’s complex algorithms determine relationships strength based on these shared experiences to help you determine the probability of utilizing that path to connect with your target prospect.
- Discovery Tool
Designed for senior executives, such as law firm partners, who are focused on the big picture, the Discovery Tool provides a dashboard view of a company’s relationship capital. Executives can see direct relationships and extended networks across an industry, location, and role to aid them in making critical business decisions. This tool is particularly helpful with strategic decisions that relate to the previously discussed legal industry trends, for example which micro-niche is a prime target.
- 360° Alerts
This feature is particularly valuable as an extension of the online research performed during the attorney lead generation process. 360° Alerts gives you a reason to reach out to potential clients and stay in touch with existing connections. It’s a customized email delivered daily that contains information not always covered in the mainstream media like job changes, stock sales, transactions, donations, and other key professional developments. It’s essentially an intelligence report on the people (and all the entities that person is affiliated with) and companies you’d want to keep up to date on. These alerts allow attorneys to track the activities of both current and potential clients in dramatically less time that it would take to seek out this information online.
The people, businesses, and entities a lawyer wants to track either through 360° Alerts or for their own personal lead generation efforts can be easily organized into lists within RelSci’s software. Customers can create and edit lists and arrange them as needed. Afterwards, they can set up alerts on this list, run paths to see how best to connect to the individuals or organizations on the list, or gain insights through Relationship Discovery. A lawyer can upload a list of current clients, and then identify paths from this list to target companies and individuals to see who could make a referral to prospective clients.
- Contact Management
To harness the true potential of RelSci, lawyers can upload and manage their contacts so all the information they require is in one place. Get rid of all the business cards cluttering your desk and stop losing track of your most recent introductions. Use RelSci’s step-by-step instructions to sync or upload your Outlook, Gmail, or LinkedIn contacts; sync your mobile phone contacts; or upload a CSV file. This is the starting point for an attorney or law firm to fully leverage the value of their relationship capital.
- Contact Aggregator
This add-on capability automatically pulls in contacts and their communication frequency from a law firm’s email traffic (To/From/CC fields only), calendar entries, and internal systems like CRM software. Email contacts are synced to RelSci’s platform to help you manage your connections as well as calculate strength of relationships. Contacts are the only thing that sync to RelSci; communication frequency remains behind the firewall, keeping privacy intact. The Contact Aggregator is an easy way for a law firm to create an invaluable repository of every connection its employees have. The software is installed behind a company’s firewall and is completely secure.
- API Integration
Law firms that are concerned about adding another software system to the existing in-house technology stack can utilize RelSci’s flexible API. Smoothly integrate RelSci’s robust data into any internal system or daily workflow.
Law firms and attorneys can significantly enhance their networking and client acquisition strategies by fully leveraging their relationship capital. This also enables them to more easily weather the highs and lows of market forces affecting all businesses. Those with effective relationship capital management achieve a new level of influence that greatly eases the effort of generating leads and referrals. RelSci’s relationship capital software is built to help those in the legal industry reach their growth goals and bring science to the art of business relationships.