By Ifeanyi Clement Nweke
“What’s your advice for a “new wig” especially in the area of getting clients?”
A young colleague asked me this yesterday after telling me how she started a partnership law firm with a colleague. Though still in search of more collaboration especially with more experienced colleagues as they are both just two years post call. Hoping this will be the answer to their scarcity of clients and legal briefs.
I thought about this for a moment and how confused I was when I started off practice in a strange city as a new wig. She is on the right track because collaboration is very important however fellow lawyers are not your target market.
Believe me, getting clients is an uphill. The RPC (Rules of Professional Conduct) did not help matters here. It is even more challenging when you decide to set out on your own. Be that as it may, whether attached to a firm or not, I strongly believe it’s important that you be your own lawyer. In essence, personally develop the ability to attract and keep clients because clients are what separates the successful lawyers from the unsuccessful lawyers.
These are 7 key factors that I believe has aided me over the years for which I believe you shall find useful:
- Learn the ropes: there’s no shortcut to this, you just have to learn the terrain and how things are done. This is often the tough part, because to achieve this, you’ve to either accept briefs at a very discounted rate or attach yourself to more experienced seniors who will teach you but will not necessarily pay you. This is why pupillage is a very important factor of becoming a lawyer. Believe me, the real legal world is different from what we studied in university and law school.
- Focus on one aspect but nibble at the rest: this might sound a bit cliché but it’s important that you’re known for something in the legal profession. I love likening this to a rat and a tuber of yam. A rat never eats a whole tuber of yam immediately, it starts digging a hole from one part of the yam while taking little bites from other parts as well until it creates one big hole in the tuber. My point is, focus on one aspect of law, be a master of it, be known for it but be sure to nibble on every other aspect. Know as much as you can about everything because most times, those clients that get attracted to you because of your legal focus will still need or refer you for other legal services. Also, like the rat, whenever you decide to dig into another aspect of law because you’ve already eaten the hard surface it’s easier to dig in.
- Be seen, be visible: Whether you do it physically or on social media, you’ve to put yourself out there. Be reasonably active on social media, go to formal and informal events, such as conferences, seminars, book review hangouts etc. Expose yourself, you should not limit yourself only to the midst of like professionals. You’ll stand out more in places where you’re the only lawyer, example reunions, sport activities like football etc. Myself for example, I belong to a football team where I’m definitely not a football star but I’m always available to provide legal services to them either individually or collectively.
- Announce yourself: Again, whether in real life or social media, let everyone that have come across you, know what you can bring to the table. Disclaimer; you’ve to be subtle and careful about this. You don’t want to incur the wrath of LPDC (Legal Practitioners and Disciplinary Committee). However way you do it, make sure every circle you find yourself know what you do and what you’re about either through stories or the way you approach a conversation or simply always introduce yourself as a lawyer but try not to come off as bragging. I often use this trick; when I give my number, I’ll say “save it as Ifeanyi, or if it’ll help, you can add Barr. Ifeanyi to it to remember “. They always be like, “so you’re a lawyer?”. That way, you achieve your goal of communicating what you’re about without sounding obnoxious or so full off yourself.
- Package yourself: it’s important you package yourself or firm. You can achieve this through a plethora of ways such as your appearance, registering a firm, logo and website, complimentary cards etc. Your display picture or bio on social media should attract not repel clients. The way you package yourself as a lawyer goes a long way in determining the value placed on you. A lawyer that appears to a meeting with a car or cab, cleanly suited up and smelling nice will not be valued the same with a sweaty unkempt looking lawyer trekking to the meeting venue.
- Teach as much as possible: professionals are often averse to the idea of sharing free knowledge. They don’t often understand why they should share freely what took them years of hard work to acquire. This is actually true but still does not exclude the fact that he who shares knowledge stands to gain in the long run. This is because whoever teaches a thing is deemed a master of that thing and sooner than later interested clients will seek you. From experience, I’ve realized that sharing the little I know makes people deem me smarter than those that are way smarter than myself. It’s often said that a close mouth is a close destiny.
- Pray: this might be the last on the list but it’s the most important on this list because the rest might fail. Prayers however never fails. Plus, to attract clients, you’ll be needing God’s favor and grace. It’s a long tedious road to success my friends but I will be seeing you at the top.
Ifeanyi is an avid reader and writer, who possesses an innate love for creative writing and a degree in Journalism. contact email@example.com, 08121101333.