If you’ve ever worked in or around the law firm environment, you know that business development is a hot topic of conversation. Law firms can’t survive if they aren’t constantly drumming up new clients or taking on new matters from existing clients. Indeed, in many law firms, young lawyers are immediately indoctrinated on the importance of business development.
But what about other professionals within the law firm? For example, can paralegals participate in expanding the firm’s client base? The answer is “absolutely yes.” While the methods of business development for paralegals may be subtler, there are simple steps these important professionals can take to grow the firm’s reputation and increase its workload.
Below we’ve compiled four of the simplest ways that paralegals can participate in business development.
#1: Be an ambassador for the firm
Law firms can be stressful places. Nonetheless, some firms strive to create a workplace where employees feel connected to the overall mission and are generally happy to be employed there. If you are lucky enough to work at a place like this, then you should give serious thought to becoming a brand ambassador for your firm.
Of course, “brand ambassador” isn’t an official title. It simply means that when you’re out living your life away from the firm, you speak positively about the firm to the people you encounter. You never know who you’re going to meet at the grocery store, a cocktail party, or a sporting event. You might wind up talking to the CEO of a company in need of legal services.
It’s easy to understand why people want to be around other positive people. Consequently, if you have the opportunity to talk about how much you enjoy your firm and its successes (without being sales-y), you may have just convinced someone to call your firm the next time they need legal help.
#2: Be great
According to some business development specialists, the most important thing a law firm can do to develop more business is to “impress existing clients.” A great law firm knows that accomplishing this goal is a team effort. It’s not just about the partner-in-charge of a particular matter. Rather, it takes consistently excellent work by every member of the team to keep clients coming back every time they face a new legal challenge.
Paralegals are a critical part of this effort. Oftentimes, you will be called upon to work hand-in-hand with client representatives. If you strive to be competent, patient, and friendly in those interactions, your professionalism will impact the overall reputation of your firm. If, on the other hand, your approach tends to make the client feel rushed or unimportant, that will have a negative impact on the firm (not to mention your own experiences).
In short, great work combined with a great attitude can go a long way toward convincing clients to continue working with your team.
#3 Offer to assist in marketing efforts
As noted at the beginning, attorneys can be under tremendous pressure to develop business for the firm. They are also under extreme pressure to meet and exceed billable hour requirements. Consequently, an offer to assist with marketing efforts could be worth gold.
For example, let’s say one of the attorneys you work with has been soliciting client feedback to determine how she can better attract and retain clients. If you volunteer to help create surveys, distribute them to clients, and then collect/organize the responses, you’ll have made a valuable contribution to the business development effort.
Maybe you are interested in organizing a client appreciation and outreach event, or maybe you are social media savvy and want to build out your firm’s profiles. Not only do these tasks help your firm, they make you a more valuable member of the team. Plus, these are great additions
#4 Create valuable content
These days websites need more than static pages with glossy pictures of attorneys and the buildings they sit in. To drive traffic, websites need a consistent flow of valuable content.
Part of every paralegal’s job is to keep track of important changes in the law. Why not create short summaries of those changes for posting on the firm website? Taking on this task will not only ensure that you and your team keep abreast of the law but will allow the firm to communicate significant changes to clients and potential clients via the web.
There are probably a million different ways paralegals can help with business development efforts. If you want to get involved, your best course is to bring the topic up with your whole team. Find out what gaps or pain points you might be able to help solve for.
Although not many legal professionals have extra time to spend on non-legal matters, time spent on developing business for the firm today will pay off for everyone tomorrow.