How Inexperienced Lawyers Can Beat the Competition
I was recently talking with a prospective client who had only been out of law school a short time. He was frustrated and felt that clients would want someone more experienced to handle their most important legal matters.
In some ways, he was right. All things being equal, most smart clients will hire a lawyer who’s been practicing longer than one who hasn’t. However, all things are rarely equal. And the advantage this lawyer had over his more seasoned competitors was that they weren’t very good at conveying their credentials and why they were a better fit for prospective clients. They were also quite a bit more expensive.
So, what can new attorneys do to reduce the negative connotation associated with inexperience? Below are three proven strategies.
- Have great photos on your website. Images of you and your staff should be of the highest quality and really show your personality. Good photographers also know tricks for aging their subjects a bit and you should explain to them that this is one of your goals. Similarly, if you have an above average building in terms of appearance, be sure to include professional shots of it throughout the website as it will make you look more established and successful enough to house your firm in a quality location.
- Have lots of client testimonials. Prospective clients put a lot of stock in what former clients say about their lawyer. Include at least 10-15 testimonials on a dedicated website page, but also scatter the best ones throughout other pages of the website. If you have clients with industry or community name recognition, include those first, and try to hit a variety of factors that will appeal to different clients, such as the ability to achieve results, responsiveness and service, price and value, etc.
- Include non-lawyering achievements. Build prospective client confidence in your ability by discussing other things you’ve accomplished in your life that show dedication, the ability to thrive under pressure, a commitment to personal service, or other factors that can bridge the gap between inexperience and competence. Examples I’ve used for clients include prior military experience (discipline), athletic competition at a very high level (commitment), a law degree from another country (perspective), and family history of attorneys (exposure).
Given the choice, I would rank experience as a key advantage for lawyers when it comes to marketing. But not having it doesn’t preclude other attorneys from being able to attract and convert high-value clients for their practice. They simply need to understand what other strategies are available to them… and implement them.