Four Truths about Leads That Attorneys Must Know

You might call him or her a lead. Or a prospect. Or maybe a contact. In the world of law firm marketing, it’s an individual who has expressed a legal need and a desire to speak with an attorney. Not yet a customer, a lead presents an opportunity to connect with someone who could become your next client.

It’s important to state what a lead is because they’re so vital to your business. Every law firm needs a full pipeline of potential clients to stay viable. Sometimes opportunities that initially appear lucrative turn out to be dead ends. A well-established pool of leads provides valuable insurance against that risk.

So they’re clearly important, but they’re not exactly a “done deal.” To keep expectations reasonable, there are a few universal truths every attorney must remember when working with leads:

  1. Leads don’t always look like leads.
    A completely valid lead might just be the most unattractive email you receive all day. It could be plain text from a sender you don’t recognize. Take steps early on to guarantee that your leads won’t be lost in the junk mail. Check your SPAM filter and make sure your support staff knows what a lead looks like.
  2. Leads don’t always understand their legal issue.
    You should expect many of your leads to be relatively uninformed about their legal rights and responsibilities. As a result, a new lead might not know how to clearly and succinctly explain their case. Be prepared to do some discovery before you can determine if a lead could become a client.
  3. Leads can be unreliable.
    Some people are go-getters. They’ll call you to make sure you got their email. But some people are too busy or too distracted to return a phone call. In practice, you should expect to contact some leads as many as 5-10 times just to make initial contact. They might be “impossible” to reach, but they might also be your next clients.
  4. Leads aren’t clients.
    Not every lead is going to become a client. Be patient. And if you’re confident in your lead source, stick with it. Imagine trying to find the aces in a deck of cards. If you start turning cards over one by one, you might find one right away. Then you might not find another in the next twenty-five cards. The important thing to remember is that there are still aces in there. Don’t walk away from the table. Don’t reshuffle the deck, and you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

Nevertheless, the challenges that leads bring to a law firm are far outweighed by the opportunities they present. Issues surrounding clarity, reliability and validity can all be addressed with a well-tuned intake process. The only remaining issue is confirming that your leads are from a reliable source. If that source is your own marketing efforts, make certain that your online presence is tailored to deliver the right leads for your firm.

Converting leads into clients is where the rubber meets the road for many law firms. Make sure your firm is handling the process properly by reading Legal Marketing 101 – the free playbook from FindLaw.

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