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Editor’s note: The following is the fourth excerpt from “Hit the Jackpot,” our cover story from the inaugural issue of Small Firm Business . This article profiles several law firms that have creative, innovative marketing campaigns. A basic rule of marketing: It’s far more expensive to attract new clients than to develop new business with existing clients. But identifying new opportunities requires more than waiting for clients to call. It means being proactive: helping clients audit their needs; suggesting actions; and providing information about the full range of services your firm can offer. The passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, with their laundry lists of regulations, can present a great excuse to pick up the phone and build new business. Caldwell, Leslie, Newcombe & Pettit, a 14-attorney litigation shop in Los Angeles, saw the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley as an opportunity to approach existing clients and offer the firm’s services to conduct internal investigations to assure compliance and hunt for potential hot spots. Something as simple as a client survey — or requesting formal feedback — can also open the door to new business. The Chicago litigation firm of Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd holds bi-annual meetings with its major clients, reports chief operating officer Audrey Rubin, a member of the SFB Editorial Advisory Board. The 30-attorney firm sends its COO and a partner (but not the billing partner) to meet with the client. This provides an easy way to broaden the client’s ties with the firm. It can also enhance credibility. What client would not welcome the chance to discuss performance by its legal team? The meeting helps the partner identify what’s working, and defuse any problems before they fester. And it affords the chance to gently probe, to assess how the firm’s performance compares with other firms that the client may be using. The sessions can be used to solicit feedback on everything from billing procedures to responsiveness. “We learn more about the client’s needs and style,” says Rubin. “It just builds the relationship and frequently we get more work.” Another way to strengthen relationships with existing clients: Bring them with you to an industry conference or seminar. Rutherford & Christie, a 12-lawyer firm with offices in Atlanta and New York City, has a substantial insurance defense litigation practice. This April, firm lawyers will attend the Georgia Self Insurers Association annual conference, and the firm will pay for a few clients to join them at the three-day seminar. Clients appreciate the opportunity to stay on top of new developments, and conference attendees are likely to have similar concerns. “It’s a good way to cultivate client relationships,” says Atlanta partner Vince Toreno. “And a satisfied client is the best marketing there is.”
Read the previous segment of this story: Extreme Niche Marketing

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