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Some attorneys choose the clients they work with.
However, there’s also a lot of solo attorneys and managing partners of small firms who will gladly take on any case that comes through the door.
It’s not that they don’t have standards.
But because they have kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, and, as much they would love to turn away bad business, it beats getting deeper into debt.
Here’s the thing, though:
What if I were to say to you that being the “chosen” versus being the “chooser” is a choice? That it’s a question of how you decide to position yourself — and something you can change almost immediately?
First of all, you should have criteria.
A set of standards or requirements that you use to screen every potential when they call, engage in LiveChat, or send an email enquiry.
Even if you have no intention of turning away business.
Define a set of criteria that you would insist upon, if you were in a position to turn away clients you would rather not represent. (My suggestion: If you didn’t need the money, what would it take for you to take on a case pro-bono?)
Next, write a list of questions for ascertaining these criteria.
Hand them to your admin or receptionist. Now, when a potential calls and asks for a consultation or case review, don’t just say yes.
Instead, have your staff say:
“Maybe… but we need to learn more about your situation first.”
Get them to ask your questions. And then, at the end, say:
“Okay, Mr. Smith. Based on what you’ve told me, it looks like Attorney Jones may be able to help you. Your particular situation is something he has dealt with many times. I’m going to check right now and see if he has any free appointment slots in his calendar over the next week or so.”
“Can I put you on hold for 30 seconds?”
“Mr. Smith? I took a look, and I’m afraid Attorney Jones’s calendar is rather full for the next few weeks at least. However, he has three slots open. One at…, one at…, and then one more at… Which one works for you?”
And then, when the appointment is confirmed:
“One more thing, Mr. Smith…”
“Attorney Jones will be happy to sit down with you and carry out an initial review of your case for no charge. As I said, he has helped other clients in a similar situation to yours many times over the 35 years he has practiced.”
“And whether we take on your case or not, you’re going to leave this consultation with a clear understanding of the different options available to you, and their pros and cons. You will feel far more in control.”
“Now, for this consultation to go ahead, Attorney Jones requires that all prospective clients first read her book. It won’t take long to read. But it will bring you up to speed on some critical information about your situation.”
“I’m going to go ahead and send you a complimentary copy.”
“What address shall I send this package to?”
* * *
Do you see how this completely transforms your positioning?
Even if you’re in a tight spot right now and can’t afford to actually turn away business, it still firmly positions you as the one doing the choosing.
Because that’s what “chosen” vs. “choosing” is.
It’s not a question of circumstance. It’s a question of positioning — i.e. how potentials perceive you in relation to themselves and other attorneys.
You’re the attorney.
You’re the guy or gal who had to claw their way up over broken glass to get through law school, pass the bar exam, and earn the right to practice law.
You should be the one doing the choosing.
Use what I just shared with you above. Make it a standard operating procedure for how your admins should handle all new potentials.
It will help you land more retainers and charge higher fees.
After a while, you could be in a position where you can even enforce your criteria, and truly only take on cases that you would be happy to do for free (needless to say, you will be commanding steep fees for your services).
It sure beats sitting around, hoping to be chosen… right?
That’s enough free advice for one day. Because I have business to attend to, attorneys to interview, manuscripts to plan, and books to publish.
If don’t yet have a book, want to have a book, and are interested in learning more about how our Speak-a-Book service can help you author a book and get it published with just 2-3 hours of easy work, here’s where to go: