Use Case Studies to Demonstrate Value

I love a good story, don’t you? 

In my last video, I talked about a quick and easy way to develop content for all of your firm’s marketing needs, by answering your clients’ frequently asked questions. Today, I want to talk about another kind of content – case studies.

Most people love a good story, so why not take advantage of that by telling the stories of your clients in your marketing materials in case studies?

Why Should Lawyers Create Case Studies?

  • Case studies help to educate your potential clients by showing them what you do and who you do it for.
  • They give examples of outcomes you’ve achieved with other clients in the past, and show how you did it.
  • They help build trust – a potential client will see that you have already handled a similar problem successfully.
  • They’ll see that you’ve already helped people like them achieve their desired results.
  • They illustrate your expertise, rather than just telling people about it.
  • They offer concrete evidence that the firm can do what it says.
  • They help demonstrate your approach and how you provide value to your clients.
  • If written properly, case studies are more engaging and entertaining than long explanations of legal concepts; they show how those legal concepts work in the real world.

How Can Lawyers Use Case Studies?

Case studies can be used to pitches or proposals for new clients, in addition to websites, blog posts, newsletters, and more.

And case studies don’t have to be just written text – consider having the lawyers in your office record video case studies, talking about matters they’ve handled for their clients. You might even use Videosocials to record them! (That’s how I record almost all of mine – email me if you want to come as a guest to a Videosocials meeting).

Watch Out for Ethics Pitfalls

As always, if you don’t have consent from your clients to talk about their case, you should be sure you don’t include client names or other identifying information in your case studies, and you should include any disclaimers that might be required in your jurisdiction.

I’m Allison Johs from Legal Ease Consulting, and if you want to learn more about how to create compelling case studies for your law firm, stay tuned for my next video. In the interim, you can see more on legal marketing at any of the links below:

Do You Know Where Your Best Clients Come From?

Do you know where your best clients are coming from? Do you keep track, or are you just relying on your memory? Do you know how many of your inquiries or initial consultations became paying clients last year? If you’re like many of the solo and small firm lawyers I talk to, your answer to these questions is probably no.

Watch the video, or read below on to find out more.

I was talking to a client last week about his marketing. We were trying to build a profile of his best clients and referral sources. But when I asked him was who his best referral sources were and how are his best clients coming to him, he didn’t know. He had a couple of ideas, but no hard data to check them against.

If you don’t keep track of how clients are coming to you, how do you know what’s working? How do you know whether your marketing and business development resources are being expended the right way? How do you know whether you need to change something in your marketing to attract more clients who are the right fit for your practice or to change your intake and initial consultation process to get more of those potential clients to become actual clients?

The answer is that you probably don’t.

This is some of the most important data you have in your practice, so if you haven’t been keeping track up until now, it’s time to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it could be as simple as setting up an Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll want to track:

  • The name of the potential client;
  • The date of each contact with the client;
  • The method of each contact (phone, email, etc.);
  • How the client came to you (be specific – if a client saw a presentation or seminar you gave, which one was it? If they found you on the internet, did they find your website, your blog, or through an attorney directory? Who referred them to you? Did they click through a link from your email newsletter?)
  • If the client comes for an initial consultation, note the date of the consultation.
  • If the potential client becomes a client, keep track of the date that they did so, the fee they’re being charged, and the specific problem they needed you to address.

Review this information regularly to determine which referral sources are most effective and to help you follow up with potential clients. The spreadsheet can help you focus on your best referral sources, improve your referrals from other sources, and keep in touch with potential clients that haven’t yet become paying clients. It can also help you understand your sales cycle better so that you can plan better and improve cash flow.

Learn more about legal marketing:

Quick and Easy Content: FAQs

Are you struggling to find topic ideas for your firm’s website, blog, newsletter, social media accounts, or presentations? Today’s tip is an easy way to develop topics for all of these and more.

One of the easiest ways to develop topic ideas for all of your law firm’s content needs is by using FAQs, or frequently asked questions.

  • What are the questions almost every client asks (or doesn’t ask, but wants the answers to)?
  • What topics do you need to cover with all new clients when they come to your office?
  • What questions do you staff receive on a daily basis from clients or potential clients?
  • Questions can be substantive (“How much money will I get for my case?” “What is an irrevocable trust?”) or procedural (“How should I prepare for my deposition?” “What do I need to bring to my closing?”)

Creating content around frequently asked questions saves time for both your potential clients and your firm. They help build trust in your law firm. FAQs can also help set expectations for potential clients about what to expect when working with your firm.

FAQs can help keep web visitors on your site longer, especially if you link to longer resources on your site from within the FAQs. For example, you might create an FAQ page on your website that answers questions in a concise manner and then link to a more complete page or blog post that addresses the same topic.

Since FAQs are just that – frequently asked – they are great for SEO because they mirror exactly the kinds of questions your potential clients may be typing into a search engine. Not only that, but if your FAQs are presented in a question-and-answer format, they can improve your results in voice search as well.

Frequently asked questions present an almost unlimited opportunity to develop content for your law firm. Every time a client or colleague asks a question, it is a potential FAQ topic, because if one client has the question, it is highly likely that others do as well.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what questions you have about marketing and running your practice – maybe I’ll address them in a future post/video!

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Using Color to Manage Your Outlook Calendar and Email

Are you a visual person? If so, today’s productivity tip is for you!

Color coding important appointments and email messages in Outlook to help you manage your calendar and that mountain of email messages we all receive every day. Watch the video, or scroll down to read more.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at my calendar or my email inbox, it can be a little overwhelming. It can be easy to miss important messages when you’re scrolling through your inbox. And looking at a sea of appointments in Outlook can be daunting. Using color makes that easier for me.

One way to use color is to create categories in Outlook. This is the way I color-code items on my calendar so that I can see at a glance what I have coming up that day, that week, or that month. For example, I color code all of my client appointments as green, marketing activities as purple, personal items like doctor’s appointments or family events are pink, administrative activities for my business as blue, speaking engagements as yellow, and so on. I can look at my calendar for the week and see right away how many client appointments I have coming up or whether I’ve set aside any time for marketing.

You can use categories for email messages as well, but I find that the category tags aren’t as obvious when I’m scrolling through my inbox. Instead, I use conditional formatting for email messages to assign a different color to messages I want to stand out or ensure that they get my attention.

If you want some tips on using color in Outlook, download my Using Color in Outlook PDF below. Or contact me to see how I can help you to use Outlook more effectively.

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Review Your Client List to Improve Your Law Practice

Do you have the wrong clients in your law practice?

Watch the video below to see what you should do if you have the wrong clients in your law practice, and keep reading for more detail.

Do you have the wrong clients in your law practice?

It’s the start of the second quarter of 2021 as I record this video, so it’s a good time to take stock of your practice and your 2021 goals and to see whether you’re making progress and what you can do in this quarter to keep them going or to get back on the right track if you’ve been derailed a bit.

Clients drive your practice. Reviewing your client list is one of the best things you can do to help your practice , but few lawyers I know do a regular review of their client list to evaluate the strength of that client or case.

We’re all familiar with the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. That rule applies to clients as well – 80% of your effort will be expended on 20% of your clients, and 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your clients. In other words, more clients isn’t always better. It’s better to have fewer quality, high-value clients or cases, than more lower-value cases or clients.

This quarter, I’m going to challenge you to pull out that client list and rate your clients either A, B, C, or D clients. A clients are your best clients, with your best cases; B clients are good clients with good cases; C clients are just so-so – they may be difficult to work with or have lower-value cases, and D clients are not only difficult to work with, but they have the most difficult or low-value cases in your practice.

Some characteristics you might consider include:

  • How cooperative the client is
  • What the value of the client’s case is
  • How likely it is that you will collect your fee on the case
  • Who referred the client to you – was it a great referral source, or a source that usually refers lower-value clients or matters?

If you’ve already identified some other characteristics of your best clients, you might add those into your calculation, or substitute them out for some of the ones above. For example, if collectability isn’t a problem for you because you collect fees up front, you may want to substitute something else, such as length of time you anticipate the case will last. But keep this as uncomplicated as possible; don’t add too many categories.

As you go through this exercise, think about whether those low-value clients, – especially your D clients – really belong in your practice at all. Are they distracting you from your best clients and sucking up all of your time and energy? Is their case really worth the fee? Are they likely to pay you? If not, it may be time to fire them.

Once you’ve cleaned up your existing client list, don’t stop there. Put some systems into place to periodically re-evaluate your client list to see if anything has changed, and to stop those bad clients from coming into your practice in the first place.

Ready to fire some of those “D” clients but not sure how to go about doing it? Watch for my next video! If you want to get started getting better clients right away, get a copy of my Ideal Client Workbook on the Products page.

Hear more about managing your client list by listening to this episode of the Legal Visionaries Podcast where I talk about it with Mary Vandenack.

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Are You a Good Multi-tasker?

Actually, there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. Author Dave Crenshaw, in his book, The Myth of Multi-tasking, says that (with very few exceptions) you really can’t perform two separate tasks at the same time. What you are really doing when you think you’re “multi-tasking” is switchtasking – you’re rapidly switching back and forth between two tasks.

The problem is that our brains aren’t really set up for switchtasking. And although you may think that your multi-tasking saves you time, in reality, switchtasking costs you time, money and relationships.

Studies have shown that when you switch from one task to another, it increases the time it takes for you to complete the original task by as much as 25%. When that happens repeatedly, it’s a real hit to your productivity.

And have you ever tried to send an email when talking on the phone to a client? What happens? Either you stop paying attention to the conversation and miss what your client is saying, or you make mistakes in the email. You may need to force the client to repeat themselves, re-send the email, or send a second email to correct the mistakes you made in the first one. Or you find out later that you missed something important that the client said on the call. Either way, you’ve made a poor impression on someone – whether the person on the phone or the recipient of the email. If that happens repeatedly, it could cost you business.

The exception to this switchtasking-multi-tasking rule is that you may be able to perform two activities simultaneously if at least one of those activities doesn’t require much brainpower or concentrated thought. So if you want to fold your laundry while watching television or listen to a podcast while you’re running on the treadmill, be my guest.

But if you want to be more productive – and more effective – in your business day, focus on one task at a time. For some strategies to help you do just that, download my “Stop Switchtasking” PDF guide below.

Counteracting Negative Online Reviews

You may have heard that the best way to counteract negative reviews online is by outnumbering the bad reviews with good reviews – as a matter of fact, I mentioned that in my last video. But did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to do that?

One big no-no in responding to a negative online review is to post fake positive reviews to counteract the negative review. This is one tactic that has been frequently employed by some reputation management companies. It is an absolute no for lawyers. It violates what I sometimes call the “golden ethics rule” for legal marketing: lawyers are prohibited from disseminating false or misleading information about themselves or their practices. Fake or made-up reviews fall squarely into this category, whether they are posted by the lawyer themselves or by a reputation management company or other third party.

And that brings me to the next question: should a lawyer write the review for the client, and have the client approve or “sign off” on the review? This is a bit more of a grey area, but I wouldn’t recommend it, even if a client asks you to just “write something for them and they’ll sign it.”

The most effective reviews or testimonials are those that are written in the client’s own words, and are based on the client’s experience. But you do want to make it as easy as possible for clients to write you positive reviews, and there are several ways that you can do that. For example, you might consider one or more of the following:

  • Having a third party (like Legal Ease Consulting) interview the client for you
  • Establish a firm interview team that conducts post-matter interviews of clients
  • Suggest areas clients they can discuss in their review (such as responsiveness, timeliness, etc)
  • Send clients links to your Google Business Page to leave a review
  • Request LinkedIn recommendations from clients

If you want help getting some great client reviews, testimonials or case studies, send me an email to see how I can help.

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What Should You Do When You Get a Negative Online Review?

What should you do if you receive a bad online review from a client? In my last video, I discussed three mistakes lawyers make when responding to bad online reviews. But what should you do if you receive a bad review?

First – feel free to vent. Talk to your spouse, your colleague, or type out a response to every allegation the client has made. Just don’t post it online or actually send it to your client, or you might cause the client to escalate and leave even more bad reviews.

Second – remember that your response to a negative online review is really for the next potential client who might be reading the review, not for the client who wrote the review. Respond to the review in a calm, measured tone. Be professional. Let future potential clients see how well you handle conflict and de-escalate the situation. Let future clients know that this is not the experience you want clients to have with your firm. You might even be able to turn a negative review into a positive.

Third – the best way to counteract bad reviews is to outweigh them with good reviews. Most good clients will recognize a crazy person who would never be satisfied as an anomaly, particularly if there are good, substantive reviews and client stories that outnumber the bad ones. Get into the habit of asking good clients to leave you a review. Set up a system to capture all of the great things clients say about you so when a bad review comes, it won’t carry as much weight.

Not sure where to start getting good client reviews and testimonials? I can help. Send me an email so we can set up a time to chat!

Negative Online Review? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

What do you do when you get a negative review online?

Discovering that someone has left a bad review of you or your law firm online can be a lawyer’s worst nightmare. But you can make that nightmare even worse by the way you respond. So here are three mistakes lawyers should avoid when responding to negative online review.

Illustration of hand leaving star review on a device
  1. Going negative.

Resist the urge – as tempting as it might be – to respond in kind to a negative review online. All that does is make it look like you’re arguing publicly with your client. Now is not the time for you to tell your side of the story. You may even anger the client further, causing them to leave even more negative reviews.

2. Revealing client confidences in a response to an online review.

It can be tempting if you’re trying to tell your side of the story to reveal things that normally you would never reveal in an attempt to show why you are right and the client is wrong, or to demonstrate that you did everything you possibly could for the client. But don’t make a bad online review worse by turning it into an ethics complaint.

3. Ignoring or failing to acknowledge a negative review.

While it may not be the time to tell your story, you do want to make sure that you are giving some sort of response.

Do:

  • Be brief
  • Acknowledge the concern or complaint of the client
  • Show your concern
  • Encourage the client to contact you offline
  • If you know the identity of the client, indicate in your response that you will contact them offline to resolve the issue.

Don’t respond substantively.

If you’d like more videos on how to respond to online reviews, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or see these videos below:

Think Marketing is Unprofessional?

Do you avoid marketing because you think it’s a little sleazy, or because you don’t want it to seem like you’re begging for business?

If this is how you feel about marketing, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this sentiment about marketing throughout my career, both as a practicing lawyer and as a consultant for lawyers and law firms. But today I’m here to suggest that there is another way to think about marketing that might actually make it something you look forward to doing.

For a long time in the U.S. lawyers didn’t advertise their services at all – it was seen as unseemly. The attitude was that lawyers are professionals and that advertising was beneath them. When some of those restrictions were lifted and lawyers started advertising, some lawyers were appalled at the ads they were seeing and the ways that lawyers were advertising their services with over-the-top ads with screaming or tasteless comments or explosions, etc. Bar associations across the country attempted to create rules that would prevent attorney advertising from demeaning the profession. For many lawyers, that perception of the sleazy lawyer ad has stuck.

Understandably, lawyers who don’t want to be associated with those kinds of advertising methods are skeptical. But here’s the thing – advertising and marketing are two different things. Marketing doesn’t have to be begging for work or looking as if you are not competent because you’re looking for business. And not all advertising has to be over the top.

Let’s get back to basics.

Why did you go to law school or decide to choose the practice area you’re in?

The word HELP with one figure helping another to climb on the P

If you’re like most lawyers I talk to, you wanted to make a difference and to help people. You work hard for your clients and your goal is to get them the very best outcome you can achieve for them. You sincerely believe that you do good work for your clients and that the clients you work with are in a better position after having worked with you than they were before.

And if that’s the case, you’d like to help more people who are just like the clients you have already helped. Your goal in marketing your law practice is not to beg for business or for money, but to identify and attract the clients you can provide the most service to – the clients who already need your help, but who either don’t know who you are or who don’t know how you can help them. You have something those people already need. You’re not trying to convince people who you can’t help or who don’t need your expertise to give you money – you’re simply trying to find those who do.

If you can think about marketing in these terms, and approach your marketing as a way to find people that you can help, you may be less inclined to avoid it.

Do you want help to create a marketing plan with a service mindset? Please contact me!

More videos on legal marketing:

Get More Out of Online Networking

Are you disappointed with the results you’re seeing from LinkedIn or other online networking? Maybe it’s time to modify your approach.

If you went to a live networking event and all you did was talk about yourself, you probably wouldn’t get the best results. But that’s exactly the mistake I see a lot of people making on LinkedIn and in their other online networking. They’re so concerned about what they are going to post, how often they should post, and how they can improve their visibility that they forget what networking is really all about.

It’s about building relationships. And in order to do that, it can’t be a one-way conversation. 

If you want to get more out of your online networking efforts, you need to approach it the same way you approach networking in real life. It’s about engaging with other people.

Visibility is important, but visibility alone won’t build relationships, and relationships are what drives business. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. If you want people to engage with you, you need to engage with them. You need to nurture your network.

Illustration of people engaging in social media

Spend as much time engaging with the posts and other online activity of the people in your network as you do posting to your own feed. The more likes and comments a post receives, the more that post will be seen in the feeds of the other people in your network. But don’t just go around liking things willy nilly, or leaving meaningless comments.

Take the time to say something thoughtful, to ask a question, or to provide your take on the other person’s post. Really read the article they’ve shared or watch the video they’ve posted so that you can provide meaningful commentary. If you want to share their content, tell your audience why you’ve shared it and what they might get out of reading or watching.

Not only will this kind of engagement encourage your connections to engage more with your posts, but your thoughtful comments may lead people in your connection’s network back to you to expand your network.

If you’d like more help with LinkedIn, pick up a copy of my book, Make LinkedIn Work for You, or register for the online LinkedIn Essentials course.

Learn more about LinkedIn:

Secret Weapon for Marketing Content

Stamp saying Top Secret

Do you want to know the secret to creating a consistent stream of content for your marketing?

My clients tell me that one of their major obstacles to marketing is time – they just don’t think they have the time to do everything they would like to do to market their practice. Between social media, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, their website, writing articles, blogs, and now video, they just don’t know how they’re going to have the time to come up with all of that content.

The good news is that they don’t have to. They just need to learn how to repurpose. Every piece of content that is created by a law firm has the potential to be repurposed with much less effort than it would take to create a new piece of content from scratch.

Let’s look at an example.

Say you did a CLE program for your bar association. It’s likely that you had to develop some materials, whether that included PowerPoint slides, written materials, or both. You can repurpose that content in a number of ways:

  • You might have someone record you giving your presentation and use video clips in your marketing. (or record yourself if it’s on Zoom or a similar platform)
  • Have someone take photos of you giving your presentation to use as images on social media. (or take screenshots if it’s online)
  • Turn your materials into an article to publish in an industry or bar association publication.
  • Then take that article and post it on your website
  • Turn the article into a series of posts on social media
  • Include the article in your firm’s monthly newsletter
  • Break the article into smaller chunks to post separately on your blog
  • Take the first part of the article and post it as a Publisher post on LinkedIn with a link back to the full article on your website
  • Take your PPT slides and post them as a slide presentation on Slideshare
  • Give the presentation again to another audience, or for your best clients

You can do the same thing with legal work you perform. Watch the video above to learn more, or email me to find out how I can help you repurpose content you already have.

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5 Ways to Improve Cash Flow

Are you happy with your firm’s cash flow?

Your billing and collections practices can have a major impact on your law firm’s cash flow. Here are five ways to improve them to make cash flow more consistent. (Watch the video, or read more below):

  1. Have Frank Conversations with Clients About Billing – No one likes to talk about money, but it may be the most important part of your initial consultation. Explain your billing and retainer policies, your fees, and how they are calculated. Provide a budget or estimate of total fees. If the client is unable or unwilling to pay, it’s better to find out now than to do the work and not get paid.
  2. Get Paid Up Front – Don’t wait until the work is done to chase clients for money. Paying up front demonstrates the client’s commitment to their case. Use evergreen retainers to replenish funds and refund the client any remaining funds when the matter is complete.
  3. Send Clear, Consistent Bills – I tell my clients, “If you can’t be bothered to send your bill on time, why should the client pay on time?” Communicate at least monthly with the client, even if no work was performed that month or they have paid the entire fee up front so they know the status of their matter and can see what work is being done. Send itemized invoices in language clients can understand – don’t use legal jargon.
  4. Follow Up on Unpaid Bills – If a client gets behind on their payments, address it right away. Set up a collections process that begins with written reminders, and follow up with telephone calls. If you can’t work out a mutually convenient payment plan, and if it’s allowed in your jurisdiction, stop work until the client becomes current.
  5. Conduct a Regular Financial Review – Is there work that hasn’t been billed? Are some matters languishing with no activity? Are your retainer balances sufficient? Look for patterns – are some clients consistently not paying, paying late, or contesting their bills? Make changes in your billing practices or intake procedures as necessary.

If your cash flow isn’t what you want it to be, or you need help with your billing and collections procedures, email me at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com.

Pre-qualify Your Clients to Keep Bad Clients Out of Your Practice

Do you want to keep bad clients out of your law practice?

In this video series on bad clients, we’ve talked about identifying and eliminating bad clients from your practice, but the best way to eliminate bad clients from your practice is not to take them in the first place.

In my last video, I talked about trusting your gut when it warns you that a new client might not be right for your practice. But I know that realistically, sometimes even when your gut tells you not to take a client, you may be tempted to do it anyway. So today I want to talk about a more concrete way to identify bad clients before they come into your practice by creating a prequalifying process for your clients.

First, make a list of the worst clients you’ve encountered in your practice. What made you classify them as problem clients? What do those clients have in common? Were there red flags or warning signs at the initial consultation? Did those clients exhibit specific behaviors that might have tipped you off that they could become a problem later?

Talk to others in your office as well. How did those clients treat your receptionist or other staff in the office? Did your staff take note of something when they interacted with those clients?

Create a list of red flags or bad client warning signs. You might even consider ranking those red flags – perhaps some are worse than others. Maybe if a new client exhibits only one characteristic you’re willing to take them on, but if they exhibit more than one, you won’t. Or perhaps there are some behaviors or characteristics that would make a client an absolute “no” for you.

Developing a list of these characteristics can help you to say no to problem clients before they come into your practice. You might even develop a system to allow those kinds of clients to self-select out of your practice before they even come to the initial consultation by putting obstacles in place designed to keep out those problem clients.

For example, if your problem clients are overly concerned about price, one way to keep them out of your practice is by charging for the initial consultation. Or if your problem clients are unprepared and don’t get you documentation or information you need in a timely manner, you might require your clients to complete an online form or submit documents in advance of the initial consultation. The idea is to develop a system and a process designed specifically to stop bad clients from entering your practice in the first place.

What do you do to keep bad clients out of your practice? Do you have a pre-qualifying process? Let me know in the comments!

See more posts and videos about client service:

How to Fire a Client

Are you ready to fire some clients? 

In a previous video, I challenged you to take a look at your client list and see if it’s time for you to fire some of your worst clients. But how do you do that without creating a bigger problem?

When you have a difficult client and you feel that the relationship is beyond repair, your first course of action may be to change how you work so the client decides to leave on their own. This may include raising your fees or changing how you communicate with the client. Always check your engagement letter and your jurisdiction’s ethics rules, before proceeding.

If the client doesn’t leave on their own, suggest that client might be more comfortable working with another attorney. Lawyers play an advisory role for clients, and that can be a very personal relationship; your nightmare client might be someone else’s dream client.

Look at your contact list to see if you know another lawyer in your area who might be a better fit for that client. Where appropriate, provide the names and addresses of other lawyers the client can contact.

If the client does not take you up on a referral to another lawyer, you may have to fire the client outright. Set up a call or meeting with the client to tell them that you can no longer work for them. Be professional; don’t allow the client to draw you into an argument. This isn’t the time to tell the client why they are wrong and you are right. Instead, show the client why working with you isn’t serving their needs. You want the parting to be as amicable as possible.

If you are representing the client in litigation, you may need the court’s permission to withdraw from the case. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible for the best chance of success; if you are too close to trial, the court may deny your application and refuse to allow you to withdraw.

Always send a disengagement letter to memorialize the end of the client relationship. Send the client or their new attorney the client’s file, and provide them with any upcoming deadlines or other information they need to proceed with the case.

If you want to know how to fill your practice with great clients, get a copy of my ideal client workbook, “Attracting and Keeping the Best Clients” on my products page.

Find more videos about client service: