This is a three-part series that provides tips for starting your own law practice. I’m a family lawyer in Toronto, so you’ll probably notice that that has informed the content of some of my tips. Part I of this series can be found here. Part II can be found here.
- Blog. I have come across many lawyers who have a well-intentioned blog page on their website with one post from 2013 (no doubt written on the first day they created the blog) and …not much else. Blogging takes time and commitment. As a solo lawyer just starting out, you probably have a fair supply of both – the real challenge comes when your practice picks up and it gets harder to carve out time for blogging. The thing to remember with blogs is that currency matters more than length. It’s better to post a quick paragraph than nothing. If done properly, blogging helps drive traffic to your site, helps to keep people on your site longer, and helps to position you as an expert in your field.
- Tweet. If you think blogging takes too much time, then tweet. Tweeting is fast (especially if you’re just re-tweeting). You can set up a Twitter feed on your website that will show all your recent tweets and will make your website seem more current and up-to-date (…provided your last tweet wasn’t in 2013). I try to Tweet at least once every couple of days. My Twitter account is here.
- Facebook/YouTube/Instagram. Set up a facebook page for your business and keep it current – even if you’re just posting a link to your latest blog post. Facebook has search tools that more and more users are using to find businesses in their communities. For example, you can search “Toronto lawyer” on Facebook and see all of the pages that match those search terms. Some (though admittedly few) lawyers are using YouTube to post informational videos about their area of practice. A promo video for your firm, if done right, can be an effective marketing tool, and posting it on YouTube (and linking to it wherever possible) can help you attract clients. [Stay tuned for mine…] Instagram is a bit trickier for lawyers – because of client confidentiality we can’t really take photos of most of what we do. But as young people continue to flock to Instagram in droves, the site presents an opportunity for lawyers who can find a way to use it effectively. It may well be the next big social media frontier (if it isn’t already).
- Have multiple back-ups. In Part II of this series, I recommended going paperless. I have a paperless office and I love it. However, with a paperless office it is key to have multiple electronic back-ups of your files. If you keep your files on your computer hard drive, you should have both an external hard drive that you back up to regularly and an off-site (Internet) back-up service such as Carbonite, GoogleDrive, or Dropbox. All of these services are affordable and well worth the price for the peace of mind they bring.
- Research referral services before you sign up for them. I’m a proud member of JusticeNet, which is a not-for-profit referral service geared towards clients whose income is too high to access legal aid but too low to afford standard legal fees. As a member, I pay $150.00 per year for my listing and agree to devote a portion of my practice to serving JusticeNet clients at reduced fees. Clients can search on the site and find my listing, which links to my website. Before signing up for JusticeNet, I asked other lawyers whether it was worth signing up, and the response was quite positive. I signed up and within days I began to receive calls from people who saw my listing on the site – and those calls turned into paying clients. Another referral service is the Law Society Referral Service (at a cost of $282.50). I have heard both positive and negative reviews about this one but recommend signing up anyway – even if you only get one client from it per year, your cost will be more than covered. There are many other lawyer referral sites online, though it’s a good idea to ask other lawyers listed on these services whether they’ve seen a good return on their investment.