By Deborah Arron
Q:I have been an insurance defense personal injury lawyer in a small community for nine years. I have recently gone out to open a solo practice. I had good relationships with the clients, adjusters and claims specialists, but they don't want to jump ship from the firm they are with. How do I go about getting insurance companies to hire me to defend their clients?
Boy, thats the million-dollar question in todays law practice environment. In fact, many large law firms spend $10,000 a day or more to have experts teach them the fine art of effective marketing to business clients.
The good news is that youve already taken the most important stepnurturing good relationships. The second part of the equation, though, is that the relationships must be with those people who have the power to hire. Do the clients, adjusters and claims specialists you know have that authority? If not, your next step is to get to know the general counsel, or any other executive with the power to enter into long-term relationships with outside counsel.
But even developing friendships with the right people wont necessarily translate into business. Hiring new counsel is disruptive to the organization. Youll have to offer something more than competent representation to get them to make the switch. That something is probably the same quality at a significantly lower cost. And theres the rub. Insurance defense law firms have been undercutting each other to the point where many firms lose money on every case. Dont make that mistake.