Most lawyers do NOT like to ask clients for business. According to an article in the ABA Journal of January 1988 (sorry the Internet didn’t exist then, so I can’t provide a link), a survey showed that clients wanted lawyers to ask for the work (actually, it was No. 2 on the list). Nonetheless, lawyers are reluctant for various reasons to actually ask to handle a new matter.
Well, welcome to the new age (or acceptance of an ignored reality). Clients are not offended by lawyers asking for work. For one thing, it portrays humility (Oops, I may be getting into dangerous territory here). Clients really do like to know that their lawyer is a little hungry (not starving mind you). (Okay, now I’m in deep trouble).
There is still a mystique about lawyers, and some clients REALLY are reluctant to ask their lawyer to handle a matter. Why?:
- Lawyers tell the world how busy they are (a client doesn’t want to add to the lawyer’s “burden”),
- Some are aloof and unapproachable (what may actually be shyness may come across as arrogance), and
- Other clients may be intimidated by their lawyer.
So, if you are a lawyer not afraid to ask for work, there are ways you can approach the subject with clients or prospects, such as:
- Can I send you an outline of how I might be able to help you on that problem you just mentioned, or
- I’m sure your current law firm is very good; but sometimes they will have a conflict on a matter, and our firm would be happy to assist you if that occurs, or
- You know, I’d be happy to send you my approach to how I/we would handle that matter for you, or
- If you don’t hire me I will have to break a few knuckles (okay, maybe that one’s not a good idea).
The point is that there ways that lawyers can ask for work in a professional manner that doesn’t involve groveling. It is part of the closing process that comes with business development.