In the old days clients hired lawyers to handle their divorces because everybody needed a lawyer to get a divorce. That used to be an automatic assumption.
Few people considered doing the divorce by themselves, especially not people of means. Everyone knew they’d be better off with an attorney handling the paperwork and dealing with the bureaucracy.
That assumption has changed. Now people, especially people of means, are anxious to avoid hiring an attorney. They’d like to use a non-lawyer mediator, or a paralegal, or an online document drafting service. They feel smart and capable enough to manage the process on their own. They worry that a lawyer will make things worse not better.
They’ll hire a lawyer if things really get ugly.
Unfortunately, most family law attorneys are still selling their services like we’re living in the old days. The attorney sits in the consultation expecting the result of the meeting to be an engagement by the client.
Sometimes that happens. Client hires lawyer, lawyer does work. All is good. But, increasingly, the client leaves without hiring the lawyer. The client decided to go in a different direction because they left without feeling there would be any significant advantage in hiring the lawyer.
Your mission, during that initial meeting and in your marketing materials, is to make the case for hiring counsel. You’ve got to communicate to the client that there are advantages to paying for representation.
These are the five things clients really want to buy –
1. More money. You’ve got to show them how hiring you will allow them to end up with more money.
2. More time. Show them how you’re going to save them time and free it up for other important activities. Demonstrate how your systems and experience will accelerate the process and let them get on with the enjoyable parts of their life.
3. Less frustration. Explain how your work will keep them from being forced to do things they don’t like. Show them how you’ll help them avoid document editing, financial analysis, data input, financial organization, etc. and the associated hassles.
4. Avoid loss. They worry about losing it all. They don’t want to lose their money. They don’t want to lose the connection with their children. They don’t want to suffer a significant lifestyle change. You’ve got to show them how you spot opportunities to save them money and preserve their portion of the estate. Show them how you’ll help maintain the physical and emotional connection to the children. Show them how you’re going to protect them.
5. Feeling good. Help the client understand how hiring you will make them feel better. They’ll know things are being handled and that they can relax. They’ll feel less anxious. Some will even feel better about themselves when they tell others they’ve got a high powered, high status divorce lawyer on their side. They’ll feel good.
These are the real client concerns. Stay focused on them. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by explaining the law and saying the same old things. These five issues will vary from client to client. Generally only one or two will be important to a particular client. As you listen to the client, think about which concern is foremost in the client’s mind and engage with the client over that issue.