Business of Law

The 'magnet' of expertise draws clients, generates fees

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“We’re all here today because we’ve been lied to,” said Richard James, an entrepreneur and law firm consultant. “It wasn’t malicious. People we trusted told us things we thought to be true. We were told to get a good education, get a job at a good firm and get good at what we do, and that’s enough.

“It’s not enough. That’s a lie.”

Instead, James said at Avvo’s seventh annual Lawyernomics conference, once he fixed the systems in his business, he went from working all the time to having a successful business with plenty of time off to spend with his family.

James believes his methods can help lawyers who want to make more money while running a more efficient practice. James, who took the stage Saturday afternoon at the Wynn Las Vegas, said he took a bankruptcy law firm from $0 in gross sales to $3.5 million in a little over two years. He preached about the benefits of automation, harvesting data and managing collections while developing methods to generate and convert more leads.

James encouraged the lawyers in attendance to create and develop a “lead generation machine” that would produce leads in an automatic, predictable and repeatable fashion. For instance, he argued lawyers should strive to write a book because authorship would also provide them with celebrity and credibility as an expert in the field. “Anyone can be an author,” he said. “It’s not that hard.”

Writing a book can also serve as a lead magnet, especially if you give away free copies, James said. “Most lawyers just offer a free consultation. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you only look for people ready to buy now, or divers, you miss the skimmers—people who have legal needs but aren’t ready to buy yet because they need more information.” With a lead magnet, he maintained, you get both skimmers and divers.

Of course, James said, leads are useless if they aren’t converted. Sometimes it’s a simple fix: James noted that one of his lawyer clients was bad at making phone calls and needed to hire an assistant to follow up on his leads. Even then, James recommends lawyers get as much information during the intake process in order to figure out how many leads actually end up generating revenue.

In that respect, James noted that many lawyers have problems collecting their fees. He argued that a big part of the problem was lack of upfront communication.

“You should clarify with the client when they will pay, how much they will pay and in what manner,” said James. “And you should harvest that information in the beginning and make it part of the fee agreement.”

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