SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Sep 26, 2014/ Troy Media/ – It was true in Legend of Zelda and it is true in most legal situations: it’s dangerous to go alone. This does not, unfortunately, stop people from deciding to represent themselves or from trying to navigate the legal system on their own. Obviously, this is more common in some fields than it is in others. Murder suspects, for example, are far less likely to try to represent themselves than people trying to file a “simple” divorce, argue a traffic ticket or repair their own credit.
When you work in fields like traffic law, family law and financial law (particularly credit and bankruptcy), though, watching people bumble along when you know you could do a better job with your eyes closed is really frustrating. How do you convince these people to let you help them when they are completely sure that they can take care of themselves?
Play to their ego
So many lawyers fall into the trap of trying to convince a potential client that he (the lawyer) is superior in some way to the client he is trying to woo. This is the wrong way to go. The first thing you want to do is soothe your client’s ego. Of course, this person can fix her own credit. She is obviously a very smart and capable woman. There is no reason she should think otherwise!
Tread carefully here: it is important to learn how to feed the ego without placating the ego. As soon as the ego senses it is being placated, you risk losing the client completely.
Offer to help, not take over
Rather than taking a “don’t worry, I can fix what you’ve messed up on your own” approach, it’s better to say “I want to help you continue doing what you are already doing.” For example, if someone is filing for divorce, the best thing you can do –e specially if the couple is convinced that the split is a simple one they can do themselves – is to say “I can tell you have this covered. I just want to help make sure all of your legal i’s are dotted and your legal t’s are crossed,” or something to that effect.
Play up your own strengths
As a legal professional you have connections and “insider info” that is unavailable to the average citizen. For example, you know that you will have more luck negotiating interest rates and repayment settlement amounts than your client because you know what the laws and regulations surrounding these things are. Find a way to explain these strengths without seeming egotistical or like you’re bragging.
It’s easy enough to do these things once you get a client in the door. It’s harder to communicate them on your website and in your marketing materials without sounding condescending . . . or like a used car salesperson.
The trick is to be as direct as possible. You don’t have to use a lot of flowery language. A few simple statements will get the job done. The Lexington Law website tells potential clients that their role in credit repair is a supportive one and offers free consultations and credit education resources.
Another good example of this is Brittle & Brittle, a law firm in Portland, Oregon focusing on divorce and family law. It says, on its front page, that it focuses on solutions and the sharing of information and knowledge, not aggression or trying to talk clients into drastic actions. This, particularly if the couple is trying to keep things civil and smooth, is really important.
Free consultations are especially helpful if you know you’re great in person but aren’t confident in your copywriting skills. Even the most stalwart and anti-lawyer people will jump at the chance to talk about their situations for free. Then, once they are in the door . . . you know what to do!
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