Chances are, you are providing a tremendous amount of free legal counsel, and getting paid a meager amount for what clients can do themselves while giving away your most valuable service.
It’s time to stop doing that.
The starting place is by changing the way you intake your business owner clients.
Probably, when a business owner contacts you seeking a specific thing they think they need, you quote them a fee to do that thing. Stop. There is a better way for them, and you.
When a business owner prospect contacts me to discuss hiring me, the very first thing I do is turn the tables so that they have to show me that they are going to be a good fit for my services. I do this so that I truly understand their needs instead of just quoting them a fee for what they think they need.
By doing this, they immediately see me as a trusted advisor who will truly help them have a better business.
Here’s a recent example of what that looks like:
A prospect was referred to me by a colleague we both know. She contacted me via Facebook and asked if we could talk, so she could considering hiring me.
She had some potential defamation issues she was dealing with and wanted to incorporate her business.
How would you have handled this?
Most likely you would have scheduled a phone call, asked her a lot of questions about her business, heard her story, given her advice on handling the public complaints and then quoted her a fee to hire you to incorporate her business.
That’s precisely what the other lawyer she contacted did.
I didn’t do that because I knew that she would get tremendous value and a ton of guidance by meeting with me. And because I don’t give away my counsel for free.
Instead, I replied with this legal intake script:
“I’d love to support you in making the right decisions for your business…but first, I need to get to know you and your business. I need to understand how you earn your revenue, where conflicts are arising, why you are getting complaints online, and what risks and opportunities you have. Once I understand this I’ll be able to guide you on your next steps, what you can do yourself, and whether I can help you ongoing, or I will refer you out to the best people who can.”
As you can see from my response, I’m not chasing her business. I am letting her know that if she hires me, she’s going to get great counsel right from the beginning.
Notice, I didn’t quote her a fee.
And, I didn’t tell her I could resolve her issues because I didn’t yet totally understand anything about her or her business.
Many lawyers miss this crucial piece, which is to make sure people want your services before you ever quote a fee.
She wrote back and said she would like my help…
“Great, I would love to support you. Paypal $1000 to firstname.lastname@example.org plus a description of your business, a link to all of your websites, a description of how you earn your revenue, links to the online complaints and tell me anything else that is going on right now that I can most support you with.”
She wrote back and asked if we could just talk on the phone to decide if she wanted to hire me…
“No, I don’t work that way. Talking on the phone about whether you should hire me is going to be a waste of both of our time. You are way too busy for that, and so am I. Instead, we can get on the phone after I am sure I can provide you with value. When we do, I’m going to give you direct guidance to support you in growing your business and handling the complaints. I’ll also give you specific instructions on how and where to incorporate your business, and the least expensive way to do it.
I begin by getting to know you and your business and giving you immediate guidance on where you are missing opportunities or facing risks. I’m going to provide you with my best counsel on the legal, insurance, financial tax systems you need in your business during that initial meeting so that you can decide whether to hire me based on a real understanding by both of us regarding whether I can help you.
If I get your email summary and I can’t help you, I’ll send you back your money. If I can, I’ll schedule a meeting, during which we can talk through your issues, and I’ll give you far more than $1000 of value for our time together.”
She sent me the PayPal a few days later.
We got on the phone and spent about 90 minutes together, during which I was able to counsel her thoroughly on how to handle the complaints, not just to ignore them.
I also walked her through the options for incorporation and how she can either do it herself or have an inexpensive service do it for her.
(I don’t get hired to incorporate people’s businesses because it’s something they can either do themselves or hire a financial management company to support them to do using a service, for far less than I would charge to do it.)
If she had been presenting me with a particular issue, for example, the need to incorporate her business, I would have sent back something that said:
“Great, I’d love to support you to choose the right entity and the right state in which to incorporate. Plus, we will talk through the agreements you have in place now, and what you’ll need. We’ll review your revenue model, missed opportunities, and potential risks. We’ll look at how you will set up your team and pay them, and also discuss your intellectual property needs, insurance, financial and tax systems. I’ll guide you on what you can do yourself, and discuss what I can do for you if you don’t want to do it yourself. If you’d like that kind of support to grow your business, Paypal $1000 to email@example.com and we’ll schedule a session.”
Qualifying prospects using a legal intake script like this may seem bold, but it is in their best interest, and yours.
If you do not yet have the confidence to respond to business owner prospects in this way, it may be because you haven’t yet become an actual business counselor.
…you don’t yet have the confidence to know which business owners you best serve, and how you can truly make a difference for them.
…you have not yet taken the steps in your own business to feel confident about business.
…you don’t feel well versed enough in all the legal, insurance, financial and tax parts of the business to know that you can really help.
Or, maybe you’ve just been giving away the very best of your legal advice, for free.
Time to make the shift. Schedule an appointment to speak with one of our advisors today to gain an understanding of how NLBM can transform how you practice law and help you create a thriving legal practice that you’ll love.