What Law Firms Need to Know About Relationship Capital

Competition for clients is fierce in the legal industry, and people seek out firms for much more than thorough knowledge of the law. Lawyers are now expected to offer skilled legal counsel, as well as industry insights and powerful connections. For a law firm to be successful, it must offer clients both deep expertise and valuable relationships.

Lawyers and their firms can be both experts and “connectors” when they leverage their relationship capital. Loosely defined, relationship capital is the inherent value of your relationships with clients, colleagues, peers, friends, family, and others. It is an intangible, yet extremely valuable asset that is often overlooked by organizations.

Here are a few tips for lawyers on how to leverage their relationship capital and bring more value to their law firm:

Find New Clients Through Existing Connections

The most brilliant law firm marketing ideas revolve around successfully mining your existing connections to find new clients. These connections extend beyond current clients – they’re also your former colleagues, fellow alumni, friends, family members, and more. Anyone you have a relationship with can potentially introduce you to, and increase your chances of winning, a new client.

The challenge is getting a grasp on that vast web of connections, also known as the sum total of your relationship capital. The Rolodex is dead, and although an email contact list is a start, it’s not sophisticated enough. Most lawyers just pick and choose where to focus their client acquisition efforts, but are likely missing big opportunities they didn’t even know existed.

Relationship capital software is designed to help law firms tap into and leverage this web of connection. The technology goes far beyond the functionality of a CRM system to map everyone you and your colleagues know, revealing pathways to industry players and helping you generate warm introductions.

Learn how RelSci’s relationship capital technology works for law firms.

Start Networking

Networking isn’t just for salespeople and politicians – any organization wanting to grow and succeed must commit to aggressive business development. Once you and your law firm map your relationship capital, the next logical step is to launch outreach and start networking. This can manifest in extroverted, active forms, such as attending in-person events and gatherings, or more passive and casual ways, such as emailing and connecting on social .

A tip for lawyers to keep in mind is that your networking efforts shouldn’t be entirely self-serving or strictly for your advancement at—or the benefit of—your law firm. The best networkers build relationships that are reciprocally beneficial. Yes, it will involve some of the typical glad-handing at events, but more than that, it’s regularly communicating with people in a sincere effort to help them. You’re “paying it forward” to build genuine relationships and increase your chances of being regarded as a valuable resource in the future.

Maintain Regular Contact With Clients

Lawyers advise and act on behalf of their clients, so it follows that those clients want to feel a personal connection with and confidence in their legal representation. If that feeling is lacking, a client is much more likely to seek out a different lawyer or firm.

Law firms can increase their retention rate and strengthen their relationship capital by establishing consistent lines of communication. The standard law firm marketing strategy for retention includes delivering regular case updates and status reports, but lawyers should create other opportunities to communicate and build relationships. For example, ask clients to review your performance or bring them into the office to be part of a focus group on how your law firm can increase its offerings or expertise.

With relationship capital software, you can go one step further by tracking the activities of clients (or any person or organization). RelSci’s 360 Alerts tool sends you daily news updates on the individuals or organizations you want to follow. These updates include valuable information like stock trades, career changes, company mergers, recent achievements, industry trends, and other news that isn’t typically reported in the media. Easily stay up to date on your client’s activities and utilize these updates to create natural opportunities to connect. Regular contact keeps the lines of communication open with your clients and goes a long way toward retention because you’ll have a strong grasp on their priorities and concerns.

As much as any other industry, law firms are in the “business of relationships.” Leveraging your relationship capital is one of the best ways to attract and retain clients, while adding value to your existing areas of expertise.