Lawyers have come a long way since the law changed in 1977 allowing them to advertise and thus establish marketing campaigns. In today’s world lawyers know they need to market their services. What most lawyers haven’t transitioned to yet is a SALES mindset.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is about qualifying people who need your services. Most lawyers use marketing and business development tools to position themselves, enabling them to be found by those seeking legal advice. But positioning does not necessarily qualify the prospect for you. Terms like marketing and business development are not the same as lead generation – they are the preamble.

If I build it, they will come

Marketing tools are used to establish awareness of your capabilities. Non-contact in nature, these tools are designed to create opportunities and confidence in your knowledge and experience. Prospects look for lawyers that have the experience they need to solve their problem.

Business development builds relationships and results in in-person contact. It takes time, patience, and persistence. Business development is where networking and socializing come into play, along with social media. It’s identifying and targeting prospective clients, and establishing awareness of your firm’s capabilities to decision makers.

Marketing and business development activities should result in identifying leads.

Sales Conversion

Sales conversion is demonstrated by what is called the sales pipeline which looks like a funnel. Leads go into the funnel and while in the funnel, you qualify them. Qualifying each contact helps you see them clearly. Are they a suspect (known by name only), a prospect (a suspect that has been in contact with you in a casual way), or a lead (prospect when a current or future need has been established)? Understanding where contacts fall enables you to put the right resources of the firm into play.

Qualifying leads includes answering questions such as: Do they have an immediate need for my legal services? Will they have a need in the future? Can they afford my services? Could they be a referral source? Not everyone met at a networking event is a lead although they might be a good contact for the future.

Difficulty converting leads into new business

Lawyers haven’t been invested in lead conversion because it hasn’t been a process commonly used by them in the past, and they don’t necessarily understand it. It is important to understand the process, though, in order to plan the best use of your time, efforts, and resources.

Some lawyers rely on referrals almost exclusively, but we no longer live in a world where one can wait for the phone to ring with new business. Referral sources are important, but they aren’t a guarantee of new business or the type of business you want. Qualifying a referral sources is equally as important as qualifying prospects.

 Understanding prospects

Today’s prospective clients don’t operate as they once did. They actively seek out information for themselves, find lawyers through Internet searches, and arrive at decisions about their legal needs often before they retain a lawyer. By the time a lawyer is contacted, the prospect has already vetted choices. These are reasons lawyers need and use marketing. Not all lawyers, though, will be found through this process. Lawyers need to be more actively involved in the process and shouldn’t wait to be found. They should take control of finding and qualifying leads that are most likely to need their services.


Lawyers need a balance between the investment made in marketing and the investment made in converting leads into new business. The next step in converting leads to sales is to become more focused on who the prospect is and what his legal issues are. If a lawyer doesn’t follow the lead generation pipeline, time is wasted on leads that will never qualify for follow-up and or will never be converted to a sale. The goal is to use the lead generation process and turn business development actions into new business.


Dee Schiavelli of Results Marketing is a strategic marketing coach and consultant for lawyers helping them bring in new business. She is also a certified Social Media Strategist and can be reached at 520.229.3241,,, or