Why Office Style Matters to Clients
From the Vault -- "You Gotta Work Too"
Think back to your first visit at a new dentist. What was on the walls? Were the chairs new? Was it clean?
First impressions are important and they impact decision-making. In fact, studies show that humans make judgements in seconds.
Because of people's propensity for snap decisions, a law office should showcase professionalism, individuality and competency as soon as someone steps in the front door.
When a client shows up at your office, they come with assumptions and expectations. And aptitude is easily recognizable.
Just like you wouldn't return to an unclean dentist's office or a restaurant with a filthy bathroom, potential clients will stay away from an unprofessional and uninviting law office.
You should expect clients to weigh each office style decision you make, whether positive or negative. Does their analysis get you hired or call your expertise into question?
Yes, the way you speak, the way you dress and how a client is met by reception are crucial to the process, but office style is an often overlooked and underutilized tool to gain more clients.
What to Showcase
When a client is waiting in your office, they won't have much else to do but look around and see what's on your walls and tables. If they see consistent examples of your expertise and success, trust is built toward the decision-making process.
Meeting rooms and public spaces are most important because that is where most prospective clients come for consultations. They want to know you have legitimate credentials. As a result, a good presentation means you can tout your accomplishments on the wall, on a shelf or in a bookcase in a way that is unobtrusive and prominent. A diploma is a good start, but if you're a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars list selectee, what better way to showcase competency, and influence return customers, than displaying that you're one of the top lawyers in your state or region?
If you were found on the Super Lawyers or FindLaw online directories, a client may not immediately know or understand what a particular legal accolade means. As a result, using your meeting spaces as a soft promotion opportunity is a great option. Give excellence the attention it deserves by placing a Super Lawyers recognition plaque in common areas or meeting spaces to build trust and start a conversation.
Creating visual cues that emphasize your Super Lawyers list selection or Rising Stars list selection might give the necessary push for a prospective client to become a current one.
Giving clients a positive first impression doesn't simply mean getting back to them and saying you're the best attorney for the job, it's about creating an atmosphere where they feel comfortable. And don't be afraid to have a little fun. Showing off your personality and interests helps clients know a little more about you and only adds to a sense of trust.
The way you present yourself as an attorney is often the difference between a client hiring you or finding a different attorney. Make sure what you showcase convinces future clients they made the right decision.
From making your awards and achievements visible in your office to issuing a press release to creating a blog presence, Leveraging Your Legal Accolades Playbook provides a practical guide on the significance of self-promotion. Download the playbook here.
2 Reasons to Blog about Your Legal Awards
In the 2008 edition of Louisiana Super Lawyers Magazine, we got to know W. James Singleton of the Singleton Law Firm in Shreveport. Before Singleton became a high-powered personal injury attorney; before he played a role in the landmark 1990s class action case against Big Tobacco; before he spent eight years in the Louisiana State Legislature, he was a teenager trying to find his purpose in life.
Hard labor and perseverance are nothing new for the man still known as "Willie James" in his hometown of Frierson, La., which had 200 residents, one school for grades 1-12, and a reputation for hard work--children were expected to work in the afternoon. Singleton's job was picking cotton. "I told my God and a few faithful people," he recalls, "that if He ever let me get out of this cotton patch, I'd never be back." He spent high school summer breaks on construction sites with his uncle in Houston, earning $1.25 an hour pouring sewer and water lines. The 5-foot-8-inch teenager was so skinny he had to balance himself carrying two heavy, five-gallon buckets of wet cement. "If I weighed 100 pounds," he recalls, "I had to be soaked."
Even as a child, "I was always outgoing and talked too much. I've never had a loss for words. They always said, 'That boy's gonna be a preacher or something because he can talk.'
"I also remember very well. Because of my [memory] and my ability to speak, people notice what I'm saying." Early on, Singleton told his great-grandmother Sally, who raised him, that someday he'd be just like Dr. Kildare or Perry Mason. "Yeah, I hear you," she told him. "You're very ambitious. I don't have the money to send you to college, but God'll make a way." Her advice-"You can pray till your knees fall off but you gotta work too"-has become Singleton's lifelong motto.
His decision to practice law came in 10th grade, when one day he hitched a ride to Shreveport in the back of a pickup truck and witnessed the courtroom oratory of the late civil rights lawyer Jesse Stone Jr., the first African American to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court. "I went downtown to the courthouse and peeped in the door and watched him with his hands on the table, presenting a case in front of this court. And I said, 'Lord, this is exactly what I want to be.' Jesse Stone was a great inspiration to me--very talented, very educated, very smart and tenacious." Stone's example, he says, "gave me the wherewithal to say, 'Yes, I can. Somebody else that looks like me did it. Now why can't I?'"
Read the rest of the article here on SuperLawyers.com. And be sure to check out the most recent issue of Louisiana Super Lawyers Magazine here.
As you grow your practice, or look to maintain an already effective one, it is important to celebrate successes. It places your firm in a positive light and makes others want to join in.
Highlighting achievements creates buzz around your firm and enhances your brand. Legal accolades, such as selection to a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars list, provide the perfect opportunity to leverage past success for future growth and achievement.
The key is to share the achievement in a way that showcases your firm without coming off as self-serving.
A well-written blog post is a great way to share your accomplishments while also touting the hard work and commitment it took to garner the distinction. Here are a couple ways to leverage your legal accolades by writing a blog:
Control the story
Writing a blog about your accomplishment provides an opportunity for your firm to control the narrative being told about your brand in public.
Publicizing your hard-earned honor doesn't have to be boastful. Would you write, or talk, about winning a case? Then, why not build on the reputation bestowed upon you by a trustworthy agency? Yes, there's an incentive associated with talking about your expertise and reputation, but getting support from a third-party means you didn't just buy an award or pay someone to talk about you.
Do you feel worthy of the award? Then, you can feel less awkward touting it. You're not doing it because you need others to know you're worthy and successful, it's out of excitement. Your celebration can be contagious and others will want to share in your success.
But it's critical to establish why it's important for you to promote your award via a blog.
Make sure to talk about the hard work it takes to have a successful law firm and note the people along the way who help make it happen. It makes you and your firm more accessible and down-to-earth. It also puts a name to a face of the person winning an award. Think of it like a graduation or award show acceptance speech. Success doesn't come by one person's effort alone, but it also isn't blind luck. Gratefulness goes a long way when communicating you feel proud of the accomplishment without coming off as narcissistic.
Gain a competitive advantage
Blogging is a great way to communicate clearly in a competitive environment. There are thousands of lawyers and law firms out there, but if you were named to a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars list you're a member of the top five percent of attorneys in a given market or two and a half percent of those younger than 40 or with less than 10 years of experience, respectively. That's worth celebrating.
It's an easy sell to acknowledge the accreditation process that goes with winning it. You're showing current and prospective clients your track-record of hard work and success was recognized through a patented process by a reputable company.
In addition, the importance of a lawyer's blog in the consumer's online decision-making process increased four percent from 2015-2017*, so it's an important medium to gain more quality leads. And it could gain you more referrals as well. In the last year, 85 percent of Super Lawyers selected attorneys referred a client to a fellow selected attorney. By writing about your accolades, you're giving fellow attorneys another opportunity to refer clients to your work and vouch for your practice.
Managing a blog improves your firm's visibility and builds reputation, but it also helps you maintain relationships. Previous clients can follow along with your practice and can even join in on the distinctions you garner. People like to associate with success and your awards show they made the right decision. By writing about it, you reinforce positive sentiment about selecting you as their attorney.
As you can see, blogging can be an excellent way to communicate your passion, develop current relationships and bring new people into your network. In a world where consumers possess unlimited options, you need to make the strongest case for why you should be the go-to attorney.
From issuing a press release to social media to forming an email marketing strategy, Leveraging Your Legal Accolades Playbook serves a basic, yet practical guide on the value of self-promotion. Download the playbook here.
*FindLaw 2017 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey