When you’re a lawyer, cases to defend don’t fall out of the sky. To practice, it’s essential to build your network. Tips to develop your legal clientele.
“Being able to develop your clientele is just as important as understanding legal concepts,” Mtre Caroline Haney, from Haney Legal Recruitment, believes. “We are not always aware that we’re mini-entrepreneurs. In addition to our expertise, our professional life depends on our ability to generate work.”
Building your network
The sooner the better when it comes to developing your network. It can be done by getting involved in the community, with the Young Bar Association of Montreal or Quebec City, or with a Chamber of Commerce, for example. Giving lectures, publishing articles or participating in events also plays a major role in establishing your personal brand.
“You have to invest time, because it will pay off later,” says Mtre Haney. “A lawyer should not see the process as a mountain, but as little efforts put continuously end to end.”
Many lawyers get quickly discouraged after the first few contacts with a potential client. But 80% of sales are made after three contacts! “If I have one piece of advice to give, it’s to persevere,” says Mtre Caroline Haney.
She points to the need to not only spend time adding new clients, but also to think of your active clients. “Sometimes we forget to take care of existing clients who still keep us going,” she emphasizes. You must therefore keep communication open with all your clients – active or potential – for example by sending them relevant articles by email.
Evaluating your work is a good habit to take on early in your career. This makes it possible to establish packages rather than an hourly rate that would be likely to scare off potential clients. “It’s difficult to estimate a package amount at first, but a file at a loss can also be an opportunity to learn,” Mtre Haney says.
Choosing your clients?
Early in your career, targeting the right clients is not an easy task. But for Mtre Haney, every file can prove to be an interesting opportunity. “You have to stay open-minded. Getting experience is not all bad,” she says!
From her point of view, a lawyer is actually an entrepreneur. “We’re self-employed – we’re selling hours and services. If that doesn’t suit you, you might need to think making the leap into a company or the government, for example,” she suggests.
Finally, it’s never too late to begin building your network. “We’re sowing seeds throughout our career, and we can reap the rewards,” she concludes.