Law firms are always looking for new clients. If you're an attorney practicing family law, you may be able to grow your client list by sending out simple brochures listing your services or by networking at social events.
But if you want to land lucrative contracts with companies--providing corporate counsel, outsourced services, negotiating contracts, and handling employment issues, you'll need to write a more in-depth proposal explaining what your firm can do.
You are probably accustomed to writing legal briefs or contracts, not business proposals to market your services. But writing a business proposal is not the "hard sell" you are probably imagining. That's because a good proposal should never be all about you. Instead, it's about your clients, about what they need and want. So the very first step is to put yourself in the position of the executives at the company you want to work with, and remember these are your proposal readers.
There is a definite order to a good proposal. It starts with an introduction, then moves to a section that describes the client's needs and requirements, progresses into a description of the services you will provide to meet those needs and requirements, and then finally, explains why you are the most trustworthy organization to provide those services.
Let's work through those sections in order. Start with a Cover Letter explaining who you are and why you're sending this proposal right now, and providing all your contact information. A Cover Letter should also include a "call to action," which is a statement of what you would like the proposal reader to do next--come in for a meeting, sign a contract, go to your website, and so forth.
Then, you need a Title Page for your proposal, something like "Legal Services Proposed by JPK Law Firm for XRQ Corporation." Next, if you end up with a very long or complex proposal, you may want to come back and insert an Executive Summary (a page with the most important points you want to make) and a Table of Contents here after you're done writing the first draft. Otherwise, that concludes the introduction section.
The next section is the one that is most obviously all about the potential client. Here, you'll describe the client's needs and desires and discuss any requirements or limitations that you are aware of. If the client company has experienced legal problems in the past, describe those in this section. Pages in this section will have titles like Needs Assessment, Background, History, Known Issues, Company History, Requirements, Problems, and so forth. Your aim in this section is to show that you understand the needs and goals of your potential client.
The legal industry generates enormous amounts of paperwork (both paper and digital) which in many cases has laws and regulations that need to be addressed. A legal services proposal may also need to outline Records Management issues and services.
After you've described the problem (the need for legal services, or perhaps the need to change legal service providers), you will describe your solution to that problem in the next section. Here you will provide details about the Services Offered by your firm, perhaps details about your Personnel who will provide those services, and a Cost Summary about how much those services will cost. Be sure to include all the topic pages you need to thoroughly explain what you propose to do for your client.
Then, in the final section, it's time to talk about why you are the best legal firm to provide the services you have described. Here you should include pages that describe your Company History or Personnel, your Training or Credentials, other Clients Served, any Awards or Achievements you have earned, and any Testimonials that you have collected from satisfied clients. Your goal in this section is to convince the reader that you can be trusted to fulfill all the promises you made in the previous section.
That's the basics of writing a proposal for legal services. Of course, you still need to proofread the proposal to make sure the wording is perfect, and make sure it looks nice, too--potential clients may judge the quality of your future work based on the quality of your proposal.
Most attorneys are accustomed to using a variety of specialized products to do research and billing. You might like to know there's are specialized kits for writing business proposals, too: called proposal kits. A good proposal kit will come with hundreds of well designed and formatted topic pages and will include sample proposals, too. The topic pages in a kit are templates with instructions and examples of the type of information that would typically go on that page, so you don't have to sit staring at a blank computer screen and wondering what should come next. If you want to get a jump start on proposal writing, start with a proposal kit.
Ian Lauder has been helping small businesses and freelancers write their proposals and contracts for over a decade. => For more tips and best practices when writing your business proposals and legal contracts visit http://www.proposalkit.com
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