Legal Services Cost Money and that’s OK!
We had the pleasure of interviewing Aliza Herzberg on LeftFoot. Aliza started her own employment law firm in 2017 after a successful 24-year career working for others. Aliza’s key to business development success is making sure she understands and meets the business objectives of her clients. She gets to know her clients and presents them with solutions versus communicating solely about the law. She values a personal touch and makes time to get to know the people she works with at her clients.
As a success story, Aliza shared an experience with a junior lawyer hired to assist with research at a client. While working on the case Aliza spent time and provided mentoring to this lawyer. This lawyer later went in-house and when an employment law matter was raised she recommended Aliza. Over the next few years, this organization became a sizable client for Aliza. A strong reminder that building relationships matters; and that junior and midlevel lawyers make recommendations.
Remembering the advice of one of her mentors Aliza suggests when approaching people for business development you may need to reframe your thinking. You’re not asking the client to pay you, you’re asking them to let you help. You’re asking them to let you provide solutions and advice, you’re offering something of value.
When asked about changing market conditions Aliza conveyed that clients today more than in years past want to weigh in and be thoughtful on whether to litigate or not. They want to have a view of the costs and to be aware of the trajectory of a case at the beginning; as well as a sense of the case status and the cost as the matter as time goes on. They want to understand the routes to resolution and their associated costs keeping in mind that employee distraction and brand implications can be just as important when making the decision to litigate.
When it comes to innovation Aliza commented on the impact of technology and social media on reminding people of the work you do and getting information out. While this type of communication may not have an immediate impact, it will likely bring referrals and direct business over time. Communicate information that reinforces what you do and the manner in which you do it.
Aliza’s advice to those starting their business development journey? Get your skills down and gain a comfort level with your expertise. Wear what you do proudly and be the lawyer you are everywhere you go.
Get comfortable with saying that you require a specific retainer and what your billing rate is. Know your rate, the rates of others you may be referring, and the services of your firm. If needed, stand in front of a mirror and say 100 times ‘my firm has a policy of requiring a retainer of x’. Get comfortable saying it. Legal services cost money and that’s OK. Those who need your help understand and in the end will feel good about the benefit derived from your services.
Last word? Talk positively and with energy about what you do. Think how the work you’ve done and will do helps others. Feel comfortable talking about money.