March 27, 2012
Small law firms have to be smart about identifying and exploiting opportunities. While the economic news has not been great over the last two years, it has caused a lot of people to re-evaluate their priorities and hopes for the future.
One thing that we’re seeing more and more is that folks are seriously considering starting their own businesses and are looking to small law firms to provide expert guidance in an efficient manner.
At the same time, small law firm lawyers are exploring new ways to broaden their practices. It’s a good fit since lawyers in smaller firms know the communities in which their clients are operating and have a good feel for the importance of building long-term relationships with those clients.
Want to get going with your new expanded business practice? One of the first things you can do is familiarize yourself with how you would set up the attorney-client relationship once those clients start coming through the door. Does that seem a bit premature? After all, you may not have even identified prospective clients yet.
Actually, focusing on how the relationship begins can teach you how to effectively promote yourself to a new client. For example, you’ll need to be adept at collecting information about the client’s business so that you can provide the client with a “game plan” for the various projects you would expect to undertake for the client. An information collection worksheet is ideal for this sort of thing and it can serve as a script for the initial meeting or phone call with the client. You should also create a checklist for establishing the attorney-client relationship and have a standard engagement letter, with alternative and optional provisions relating to things such as scope of the work and fees, ready to discuss with clients and quickly and efficiently customize to close the deal.
Note: These items are included in Business Counselor’s Law and Compliance Practice Manual (click for a 20% discount through April 9). If you’re already an online research subscriber, just click to access the manual on Westlaw Classic or WestlawNext. In fact, this publication is a great overall resource in developing a business practice and includes over 20 chapters full of forms, checklists and straightforward talk on the basics of a solid business practice including professional development, governance and compliance, human resources, intellectual property rights and global business activities. The newest edition about to hit the streets adds materials on launching a new business.