A law firm proposal is one of the most important documents your practice will ever create. If yours hits all the right notes with your prospect, it could lead to a profitable relationship that can last decades.

But, if your proposal falls short, your firm misses out on the opportunity to grow in a challenging market.

Sure, there’s a lot that goes into the perfect proposal. It would be impossible for us to cover every angle in a single blog post, however, there are five important elements you should be aware of.

If incorporated into your proposal creation process, these elements could help you produce highly effective legal proposals.

Making your law firm proposal stand out

At the heart of all effective proposals (law firm or other) is great writing. Your ability to produce a law firm proposal which addresses the most important topics and gives your audience more than just what they’re asking for will make your firm stand out. 

So, how do you write a great law firm proposal? Here are five areas to focus on.

1. Make it about your audience

All proposal writers know that understanding your audience’s needs is important. The challenge most writers face is communicating the value that their firm can offer.

How do you tackle this problem?

Here are two simple questions to ask yourself before you compile your next proposal:

  1. Who will read the proposal? For instance, is it the HR team, the procurement team, or both?
  2. What issues matter most to the reader(s)? For example, is cost the biggest issue, do they need to be reassured that your firm can help them achieve a highly specific goal, or do they require representation in another country, too?

2. Make your executive summary stronger and concise

Strong and concise executive summaries make the best impression. They indicate to your reader that you’ve done your research, you understand their unique business requirements, and you’ve prepared a law firm proposal that will deliver value. 

Preparing a strong and concise proposal is not as challenging as it sounds. According to Dan Weisberg, a proposal writer at Baker McKenzie, focusing on two or three points you know to be important to the company makes all the difference.

By narrowing down your executive proposal to areas that matter most to the prospect, you’re able to show that your firm is the best-fit for their business.

3. Do your research

There’s no substitute for great research. If you take the time to find out more about your prospect’s business, their industry and unique challenges, you’ll be able to better position your firm.

According to John de Forte, author of Winning Proposals: The Essential Guide for Law Firms and Legal Services Providers, successful proposals all show prospects how law firms can offer true value in a practical way.

Here are three questions to help you gather the best information for your legal proposal:

  1. What new developments have taken place in the prospect’s industry and how do they affect their business?
  2. Has the prospect recently been involved in a publicized business venture that will require legal expertise, and if so, how can your firm add value?
  3. Has the prospect’s business recently changed in any way that impacts their products or services, and if so, what are the legal implications thereof?

4. More show, less tell

Prospects often get bored when they read claims that are not substantiated. For law firm proposal writers, this is an easy problem to solve. All you need to do is give the readers relevant proof which shows that your firm can deliver.

Building credibility is all about pointing out how your firm helped a business with a similar problem. This is where well-written case studies do all the heavy lifting.

According to proposal writer Suzzane Struglinski, connecting with attorneys and learning about how they saved the day for a client in a particular way, and then incorporating that feedback into a proposal, makes her work stand out with clients.

This approach makes your proposal seem personalized for the client. You speak directly to challenges that your firm can help them solve.

5. Be specific

Effective legal proposals are highly specific. They give readers a clearer understanding of how well prepared your firm is to handle their business. 

Nancy Watson, President of NL Watson Consulting consults on law firm proposal strategies. In her experience, there are three main reasons why proposals lose:

  1. Poor demonstration of knowledge about the company
  2. No proof of industry knowledge
  3. Not addressing the clients’ questions

How do you ensure that you deliver the specifics to increase your chances of winning more business, especially when you’re not an attorney?

Simple. Speak to your attorneys!

Get your attorneys involved in the proposal process to give your reader unique insights about their situation, industry, and future. Providing specialized insight will position your firm head and shoulders above the rest.

Conclusion

Elevating your law firm proposals is not as difficult as you might think. By tightening up your executive summary, refining your research, creating credibility with strong case studies, and being more specific, you’ll be able to produce proposals that position your firm ahead of the competition.