I have spent my first few days back from holiday talking to a number of lawyers - mostly barristers - about the months ahead. Most are a bit pessimistic, looking at long empty periods in their diaries. Most of the people I have spoken with liked to place the blame for this squarely with their clerks and with the 'useless marketing people' who are either working directly in chambers or who are attached as consultants.
Statistically I'm sure there are some useless marketing consultants - just as, statistically, there must be some useless barristers. Most (of course) are not. Further investigation into the 'empty diary problem' suggests that those with the emptiest diaries are those least engaged in their own marketing.
I understand the problem. For generations, barristers were served and serviced by their clerks and there were no marketing people involved in the chain at all. It was entirely a referral profession and all interaction with the client was done by the barrister's client.
Those days are long gone, never to return. Barristers must now fight for the client market with everyone else in the industry. Most parts of the bar are looking at Direct and Public Access as the 'great new hope' for their career. They might well be, but not without considerably work on behalf of the barrister him or herself.
You are self-employed and so the onus of selling your services falls to you. No matter how good your clerk is, potential clients want to see the 'product' - that's you.
Of course I understand that selling your self is not easy and for most people is not enjoyable. It is however - assuming that you want to work - necessary.
- Speak with your clerk as soon as possible about things that you can do together to build your practice
- Speak with the Marketing Consultant or person - whoever it is. They are likely to have some good ideas and remember - they know a great deal more than you about marketing, no matter what you think
- Update your profile on your chambers web site and on LinkedIn
- Start to network. Chat to instructing solicitors when you see them, Ask about their lives. Remember the answers.
- Have business cards (I can't believe how many barristers never carry them)
- Have business cards with the correct contact details (I never thought I would have to say this, but this is a real quote from a barrister in a client set "Oh. Well these are the old cards, but its alright, I'll just scribble on the new number...")
- Call potential clients before you stop working for the day - don't leave it until tomorrow
- Ask every happy client for a referral or a quote, and use them.
There. That wasn't so bad was it..?