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I am a lawyer. I am married to a lawyer. I am the friend of hundreds of lawyers and hold thousands more in great regard. If you're a lawyer (or love them), welcome. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas in this space.

“I Didn’t Know You Did That.”

You never want to hear those words from a client.

Within the last few weeks I met two lawyers who told me that one of their regular clients sent legal work elsewhere because the client did not know they could handle the work. We made sure this would never happen again.

Particularly in recent years, lawyers seeking a wider range of clients have added new skills and dusted off old ones. Clients who have hired you for one sort of work may not know your full repertoire. Your clients are not focused on your career; they are focused on their businesses. Therefore you must actively spread the word.

How can you spread the word without looking like an egotist? Create a list of clients for which you have worked during the last three years and for which you were the relationship contact. Categorize those clients in two ways: by industry and type of work done. Next make note of all of your skills or areas of expertise. (E,g., you now do estate litigation in addition to estate planning or you have experience in a new industry.)

Think about which existing clients may have new types of work for you. Existing clients are your best prospects for new business. If you share your skills update only with people who would be interested, you will be viewed as offering help.

The question then is how to contact them and what to say or send. The best item to send is an article, speech or blog post. However, many lawyers will not have such materials to send, especially in a newly developed line of work. If one of your new colleagues or your new firm is able to provide such material, use it. Next best is to report a deal or litigation on which you have worked, regardless of whether you played a lead role. If the work is confidential, you can describe it generically. For example, a landlord for whom you leased a strip mall may well care that you were recently involved in the sale of a hotel.

Describing all your abilities and experience should be a routine part of current client communications, not just a part of new client pitches. Goods not on display seldom get bought.

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