Legal Practice Management

How Legal Technology Can Help Your Firm Grow and Retain Its Client Base

The law firm of the future is one that embraces technology to grow and retain its client base.

In today's fast-paced and digital world, the legal industry is undergoing a major transformation, with technology playing a key role in this evolution. The traditional ways of practising law are no longer sufficient in meeting the growing needs and expectations of clients. Clients now demand faster, more efficient, and cost-effective legal services. This is where technology comes in, offering innovative solutions to streamline processes and enhance the client experience.

Read on to understand the various ways in which legal technology can be used to grow and retain your law firm's client base and help maximise the success of your practice.

How to grow your firm’s client base

As a law firm owner or practitioner, the thought of attracting new clients is likely at the forefront of your mind. After all, a thriving client base is crucial to your firm's success and longevity. With so many law firms vying for attention, it's essential to understand the best strategies for attracting and retaining clients. Fortunately, you're not alone in this endeavour. According to the State of Small Law Australia Study by Smokeball, over half of the small law firms in Australia are actively seeking ways to attract new clients. This indicates that the competition for clients is fierce, but also highlights the importance of developing effective client acquisition strategies.

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for attracting law firm clients. However, there are several tactics and best practices that can significantly increase your chances of success. So, here are our best strategies to help you bring more clients through your firm’s doors.

Devise a powerful law firm marketing plan

As a law firm, your ultimate goal is to attract and convert clients who are not only interested in your services but are also a good fit for your firm. In today's competitive legal market, it's crucial to have a solid marketing plan that helps you stand out from the crowd and effectively reach your target audience. To create a successful marketing strategy, you need to:

  • Identify your ideal client. Who are they? What are their needs and pain points? What kind of legal services are they looking for? Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can then tailor your marketing efforts to meet their needs and preferences.
  • Identify the services you offer and how you charge for them. Do you bill by the hour or offer fixed fees? Do you offer alternative fee arrangements? This information should be clearly communicated to potential clients, so they can make an informed decision about whether your firm is the right fit for their legal needs.
  • Decide where you will deliver your services. Do you have a physical office, or do you work virtually? Do you provide your services nationally or locally? Knowing these details can help you position your law firm in the right markets and promote your services to the right people.
  • Determine how you can best promote your law firm to potential clients. Promoting your services is the next step, and this can be achieved through various marketing channels. For example, you may need to invest in digital advertising, content marketing, social media, or email marketing. Your marketing budget and goals will determine which channels you focus on and how you measure success.
  • Clearly define your goals. Finally, it's essential to define your marketing goals clearly. Do you want to generate more firm leads, build your brand, or increase your conversion rate? Whatever your goals may be, make sure they are specific, measurable, and achievable. With a well-defined marketing plan in place, your law firm can attract the right clients, build trust and credibility, and ultimately, grow your business.

Build a good website that is optimised to convert

When a potential client visits your website, they make an instant judgment about your firm based on the quality of your site. Therefore, it is imperative that your website is not only functional and user-friendly but also visually appealing and informative.

Your website is your online storefront and can make or break your firm's success. To ensure that your website is up to scratch, conduct an audit and check that it:

  • Clearly identifies who your law firm is. Consider whether your firm’s branding (e.g. logo, colour palette, fonts, imagery and tone of voice) aligns with its values.
  • Defines who your law firm’s ideal client is.
  • Is easy to navigate (both on a desktop and mobile phone) and loads quickly.
  • Is written in a way that your law firm’s target audience can understand.
  • Incorporates call-to-actions on every page. A call-to-action is a compelling call that prompts visitors to your website to take steps to engage your firm before they leave it.
  • Includes search engine optimisation keywords. These are words and phrases that potential clients will type into the search bar on Google to find the information they are looking for.
  • Showcases client testimonials. These are very important as when a client is considering you to represent them, they often want social proof that you can actually do the job well.
  • Includes a blog that is regularly updated. When a potential client types a question into Google, you want the answer to pop up in a blog from your firm’s website, as this increases the likelihood that the prospect will arrange an initial consultation with you.

Manage and track leads

To optimise your firm's client acquisition and assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, it is crucial to establish a robust lead tracking system. By diligently monitoring and recording all leads, you can obtain valuable insights into your target audience and identify patterns and trends that can inform future campaigns. How do I manage my leads effectively?

  • Tailor your approach to the area of law in which you practice and what clients after legal advice in that area need. For instance, the way that a criminal lawyer approaches a prospective client that has been charged with assault will differ from how a merger and acquisitions lawyer handles a new enquiry.
  • Respond to every prospective client promptly and thoroughly. Statistics show that if a lawyer gets back to a new lead within five minutes of their enquiry, they increase the likelihood of converting them as a client by 391%! Smokeball's Communicate platform allows you to easily respond to new enquiries on a mobile or desktop device.
  • Generate reports on the leads that your firm has obtained. With Smokeball's firm insights reporting, you can easily access information on the number of leads your firm acquired, the percentage of leads that converted into clients, and the necessary data to monitor your firm's profitability.

Be transparent about costs from the outset

To win over potential clients, it's crucial to be upfront and transparent about the fees associated with your law firm's services. You can do this by:

  • Being honest with clients about how your firm bills in their initial consultation. Do you offer fixed fee arrangements or do you charge by the hour?
  • Providing each client with a comprehensive fee agreement to sign. The fee agreement should outline any fees that the client can expect to incur during the life of their matter.
  • Upgrade your billing game with flexible legal billing software like Smokeball's, which provides transparent invoices that detail the exact work done by your team and when it was done.
  • Keeping the payment process simple and streamlined. This means sending out concise invoices promptly, providing various payment options, and making it hassle-free to settle invoices.

How to retain your firm’s client base

Expanding your law firm's client base is undoubtedly thrilling, as it brings about new opportunities and growth prospects. Yet, it is crucial not to fall into the trap of disregarding your current clients in the quest for new ones. As the saying goes, "it is easier to retain an existing customer than to find a new one."

With that in mind, here are some invaluable tips to help you cultivate and maintain meaningful relationships with your existing law firm clients. By consistently applying these strategies, you can ensure that your clients remain engaged, satisfied, and committed to your practice.

Communication is key

Your ultimate goal is to build trust and loyalty with your clients. This can be achieved by fostering strong lines of communication that allow you to establish a deeper understanding of their needs and concerns. By doing so, you will be able to create a more personalised and tailored service that will set you apart from your competitors.

One of the most important aspects of effective communication is being transparent and honest about any changes that may affect your clients. This includes everything from resourcing and pricing to unexpected delays or roadblocks in their matter. By being upfront and proactive about these issues, you can demonstrate that you value their business and are committed to providing the highest level of service possible. Moreover, showing empathy and compassion towards your clients will go a long way in building trust and rapport. By taking the time to listen to their concerns and being supportive throughout the process, you can create a positive and lasting impression.

One effective way to stay in touch with your clients and keep them up-to-date about the status of their matter is through Smokeball's Communicate mobile app. This secure platform lets you communicate with your clients anytime and anywhere, keeping a record of everything that's being said. You can also use it to send files, anticipate potential issues that clients may have and provide them with possible solutions.

Deliver an exceptional client experience

If there is one thing that clients appreciate from law firms, it is a seamless and attentive client experience. You can make this a reality in your firm by:

  • Being organised, professional and punctual.
  • Communicating effectively and often with clients through technology. Ensure that you and your staff keep a track of emails that come in and that they are saved automatically into an email management system.
  • Putting yourself in your client’s shoes, anticipating their needs and offering alternatives where possible.
  • Using legal document automation to ensure that human error does not occur.
  • Remaining empathetic at all times.
  • Keeping cool under pressure.
  • Simplifying file-sharing procedures and electronic signatures.
  • Track the time of your fee earners properly so your clients receive an accurate picture of what work is being undertaken on their matter.

Offer cost certainty

Your law firm’s clients are looking for cost certainty when it comes to their legal services. It is essential that they understand what they will be paying for and how much it will cost them. By offering cost certainty, your law firm can provide your clients with the assurance that their legal services will be provided in a cost-effective and timely manner. How can my firm offer cost certainty?

  • Talk to clients about what your fee structure looks like.
  • Provide each client with a comprehensive fee agreement to sign at the beginning of their matter. If things change as their matter progresses, always provide updated estimates.
  • Give consideration to offering fixed-fee pricing arrangements if you practise in conveyancing, family law, or wills and estates.
  • Invest in billing software that offers transparency. For example, Smokeball’s legal billing software allows clients to receive invoices that show exactly what work fee earners do on their matter and when.

Modernise your practice

As we enter the era of digital transformation, clients who grew up with technology at their fingertips are demanding that law firms keep up with the times. They want firms to leverage legal technology to serve them more effectively and efficiently while keeping costs down. However, we know that with countless providers saturating the market, it can be overwhelming for firms to decide which legal technology tools they should implement

To make things easier, here is a checklist of what legal technology should do for your firm:

  • Make your entire client’s matter (e.g. emails, documents, tasks and events) accessible and viewable in one central place.
  • Be able to quickly automate precedents, correspondence and forms.
  • Integrate systems. For example, Smokeball integrates with FamilyProperty, InfoTrack, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, Zoom, Stripe, Xero, MYOB, PEXA, Settify, Campaign Monitor, RingCentral, eBrief Ready, Vxt, Minuteme, and more!
  • Help you seamlessly manage client relationships from start to finish.
  • Keep all client data secure and confidential.
  • Be able to be accessed from anywhere. Smokeball is cloud-based and provides a lawyer mobile app that ensures important client matter information is always available and within reach.
  • Enhances staff collaboration throughout your firm.
  • Make time tracking, billing clients, and trust accounting easier - so you can get paid faster.

Download the guide

Clients are the driving force of every law firm so it is crucial that you keep generating leads and working on ways to retain your existing clients. Download this guide, to access valuable insight on how leveraging the power of technology to provide exceptional client service, offer cost certainty, track leads and improve how your firm communicates with its clients.

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Apr 19, 2023