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Getting Clients

Have You Got What Clients Want?

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

You can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts about legal marketing … apply expert advice to your social media and blogging routine … study up on how to build your personal network, entertain prospects and ask for the business — yet you still may not get that client.

Because it’s not just a matter of packaging and advertising. Things start to get real when people have the chance to gauge you up close as a person and a professional. Kick the tires. Check the chemistry. Assess your ability. See if the product is as advertised.

How Do You Measure Up with Clients?

In today’s buyer’s market for legal services, clients expect certain things of a lawyer — of you. And if they check but find you wanting, you may get clients, but they won’t stay and they certainly won’t refer their friends and colleagues to you.

So explore this basic list and see how you stack up. These are the things the best clients assume about the lawyers they engage. Have you got what it takes?

Knowledgeable. You are a good, smart and effective lawyer, constantly learning and building new skills to help clients solve their current and developing legal problems.

Accessible. You aren’t difficult to find. You use technology along with trained staff to make certain you are easy to connect with when connection is necessary.

Ethical. You accept the responsibility to know and conform to the ethical and legal requirements of a law practice.

Independent and responsible. You take personal responsibility for building your own law practice, regardless of the size, setting or location of your firm. And you take responsibility for getting things right, regardless of who is involved.


Value oriented. You know that fees based solely on how long it takes to do the work are a thing of the past. Instead, you extend fees reflecting the work’s value to your client.

Technologically savvy. You are whip-smart about the application of evolving technologies to better meet clients’ needs. You create efficiency and cost savings wherever you can.

Creative. You know more than the law. You know how to make it work in ways that help your client. You know how to focus on the solution, not just the problem.

Plugged in. You know what’s happening in the world, and in your clients’ industry or community.

Personable. People look forward to working with you to sort out their troubles. Dare we say you even, sometimes, make it fun?

Illustration ©

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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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