Monday, August 13, 2012

Flying Solo: An Attorney, a newsletter, and a business plan

I've had more than one conversation in my life follow the dialogue below, which is probably par for the course when you are self-employed attorney:

Person:  So, what type of work do you do?
Me:  I'm an attorney.
Person:  Really, what kind?
Me:  Estate planning -- wills, powers of attorney, probate when it's needed.
Person: Oh, what firm do you work for?
Me:  Myself -- I hung out a shingle in 2005 and have always worked on my own.
Person:  Wow, that's risky -- how do you get clients!

The last phrase is more of a statement rather than question.  I've observed more than once a person's head retreat backward a bit upon hearing my profession is an attorney.  Layering on top of that fact that I am a solo practitioner makes their eyes open a bit wider.  A grunt like gasp usually makes for a trifecta when I answer their inevitable question, what does your husband do.  Like me, he is self-employed.  Not as an attorney, but as an electrical engineer (if you need a circuit board designed or debugged, check out his business -- Four Lakes Technology).  A dual self-employed household with two small children may seem crazy and risky to some, but we love it. Sure, we are often tired.  But we have a passion for what we do, and never dread going into the office.

As for the question, how do you get clients.  There is no one answer.  Excellent customer service tops the list; word of mouth is a powerful tool.  If I do my job well, clients not only return, but give my name to family and friends.  A close second is speaking at seminars, often free and open to the public.  Lawyers are supposed to give back to the community, and one way I fulfill this commitment is to distribute useful information on illness, death and taxes.  From my client base and seminar attendees, I generate a mailing list. And this is my third method of securing clients -- an annual newsletter.  Quite simple, but highly effective.  The 2012 edition is hitting mailboxes across Wisconsin in the coming weeks.  And you can read it on-line as well.

Image credit: - free image

Happy Monday -- have a great week, and thanks for reading.

No comments: