Many family lawyers like to deal with high-net-worth, complex divorce cases, which they find challenging and rewarding – both financially and intellectually. Our clients, who do a lot of high-asset work, tell us that serving this market demands that you be at the top of your game. If your goal is to get more of these cases, you might need to hone your skills – both legal and marketing.
Seven strategies to help you attract high-end divorce cases.
Conduct a SWOT analysis
Before you begin a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, you need to be clear about what your business and personal goals are. Then you need to do a very honest review of yourself and your practice to determine how your current SWOT will impact your goals. Do you want to increase the number of attorneys you have in your firm? Do you plan to sell your practice when you retire? Without these goals, there is no context for you to do the SWOT analysis, or to evaluate your action items and results.
Your SWOT analysis should be done in relation to your competition. How do you compare from these perspectives: legal competence, service level and options, fees, technology, reputation, and marketing efforts. You also need to look at the opportunities and threats in your field: for example, the growth of the Internet, ever-evolving technology, the ability to outsource and unbundle services, new ADR options, the involvement of other experts in family law cases, etc. You need to determine what you, your team, and your practice might need to compete successfully for desireable clients and achieve your goals.
Really Get to Know Your Prospective Clients
Even if you have narrowed down your target market to be high-net-worth individuals, there is more work to be done. In this group, you may have people who have inherited their wealth, successful business owners, highly-compensated executives, politicians, athletes, celebrities, and their spouses. Do you wish to work with all of these, or specific sub-groups only? In the case of a divorce, would you prefer to represent the monied spouse or the out spouse, men or women?
Each of these sub-groups have certain legal, financial, and emotional requirements that you should address, and then demonstrate how you can deliver on those requirements to their satisfaction. Understanding the most important needs – and what it will take to satisfy them – will help you to create marketing materials that will appeal to the group(s) you are targeting. High-net-worth divorce cases and clients can also be very demanding; they will not suffer incompetence, and any weak link in your firm will end up causing problems for you. Are you and your firm ready to meet their demands?
Create Your Marketing Positioning and Branding Statement
Once you have done your SWOT analysis and you know your target market, you need to work on your positioning and branding statements.
Your marketing positioning statement should clearly indicate who your target clients are, what benefits you have to offer them, what is unique about you, and why they should engage your law firm.
Have you ever heard of the term “elevator speech”? It refers to a short reply (the length of an elevator ride) you might give to someone who asks what you do for a living. For example: “I am a family law litigator who works exclusively for high-net-worth individuals to get them the results they desire in a divorce.” Or “As attorney-mediators, we focus on settling high-conflict and high-asset divorces out of court. We have a track record of 100% settlement.” Your elevator speech – a.k.a. your positioning statement – has to be pithy, to the point, and powerful. It is the foundation for all your marketing efforts.
Branding is achieved by being consistent with your positioning over time, both online and offline. It should guide you on the type of attorneys and support staff you hire, your office design, and even how or where your personal or group pictures should be taken.
Make Your Case to Win Clients
You would never step into a courtroom with “just enough” evidence to win a case: you want to go in with an overwhelming amount of irrefutable proof. You need to take the same approach when it comes to marketing and trying to land the cases you desire. Your marketing has to make a clear and convincing argument that you are “The One” for your prospective client’s needs.
Since you cannot interact with a potential client who sees your ad or visits your website late at night, your message needs to be clear, and it must speak to your best potential clients and referral sources. You should also present convincing evidence to back up the claims you make in your marketing materials.
Your marketing can start with your logo, tagline, stationery, website, or company brochure. Then you need to consider your online listings, collateral materials, advertisements, videos, podcasts, company e-newsletters, press releases, etc.
Create a Great Website and Online Reputation
The biggest tool for marketing yourself online is your website. Make sure it is an asset and not a liability! If your website has not been totally revamped in the past three years, it is likely out of date given the new technology. Most importantly, it needs to be mobile-friendly because more and more people are viewing websites on the go, and Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly. Of course, if your website was not created from a solid marketing positioning statement, it will not represent you powerfully to your desired prospective clients. A substandard website could cost you business; you will never know how much, because those prospective clients may not even call you.
There are many improvements you could make to your website to attract high-end divorce cases, but here is one big one: videos. Videos let your website visitors gain some insight into who you are, what you may be like to work with, and your level of expertise and passion. Don’t just have a video that says how great you are; offer videos with useful information on topics that are important to your prospective clients.
How good is your online reputation? Do you have any social media pages? If we were to Google your name, will we see bad reviews about you? Will you show up at all? If you have not paid attention to your online reputation, start with a reputation audit.
Stand Out from Your Peers
If you want to land more desirable cases, you need to stand out from your peers who are going after the same types of clients you are. Being the best is obviously very important, but the world needs to see that you are the best, too.
One way to differentiate yourself and demonstrate your expertise is to present at state bar, AAML, and divorce-industry conferences. If you haven’t spoken at these kinds of events, you need to do whatever it takes to join the elite group who does present.
Most people believe that if you are in the media, you must be an expert. You can get started by writing articles for publishers who produce print or online publications – such as Forbes or HuffingtonPost.com – or divorce-related publications and websites – such as Family Lawyer Magazine, Divorce Magazine, and www.DivorcedMoms.com. An article you write that appears on websites with millions of visitors like these will get you more marketing value than putting it on your own website to be seen by just a few.
These web pages will also become part of the Google search results when people Google your name. Most publishers do a much better job at promoting their websites than lawyers, and they welcome good content – as long as the topic is of interest to their readers.
Nurture Your Referral Sources
Without a doubt, referral is a key source of business – especially for high-end cases. But just because someone referred a case to you once does not mean they will do it again.
You need to work at being top of mind with your referral sources. Most family lawyers know how to network by being active with their local bar associations, attending conferences, and having lunches with referral sources. But when they are busy, networking often falls by the wayside.
With technology, you can reach a wider audience much faster and more regularly. For example, if a referral source of yours is often in the news, you can set up an alert to receive an email from Google whenever that person is in the news. Then you can send an email of congratulations or a comment immediately to that person. You can send out a monthly newsletter to your clients, former classmates, or colleagues to keep yourself top of mind with them. Once set up, an electronic newsletter is inexpensive to produce and distribute.
Dan Couvrette and Martha Chan are marketing experts for family lawyers and other divorce-industry professionals. They are co-owners of Divorce Marketing Group – a one-stop marketing agency dedicated to promoting family lawyers and divorce professionals. They offer a wide range of products and services that help their clients increase their billable hours and rates. www.divorcemarketinggroup.com