How to Get Clients as a Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal defense lawyers face unique challenges when it comes to attracting and converting a steady stream of new clients. Firstly, every criminal defense case is appointed a lawyer by the court, meaning that criminal defense lawyers that are not employed by the state are not obviously necessary. To someone who has not dealt with lawyers or the court system before, they may not know the individual attention and care to detail received by private practice lawyers.

Additionally, once a person receives a criminal charge, they are bombarded with advertisements from criminal defense lawyers. This makes standing out and differentiating your law firm more difficult. However, it is certainly not impossible. There are specific messaging and marketing strategies that you can employ in your law firm to ensure a steady stream of high-quality, high-value clients.

Keep reading to discover how to get clients as a criminal defense attorney.

Highlight the Potential Consequences

The stakes are high for a criminal defense case, especially if he or she does not seek high-quality legal counsel. At worst, a client could face life in prison and/or the death penalty. At best, a client could receive a hefty face or parole.

These are life-altering punishments and we must face the reality of life after prison for felons. People do not often thrive upon release and recidivism rates are nearly 50%. Again, the consequences of receiving a criminal charge can affect an individual for the rest of their life.

Do not downplay this reality. Sheltering potential clients from reality is not beneficial for you or them. If they react in a hostile way to the facts, then that may be an indicator that they will be a difficult client to work with. It is vital that you and your client are on the same page about the defense strategy, the possible consequences, and the ideal consequence that you are working towards.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Receiving a criminal defense charge is terrifying. Potential clients may procrastinate seeking legal counsel so that they do not have to face the mistake made because it’s simply too difficult to accept the reality of the situation.

Of course, by ignoring the problem, he or she is wasting precious time needed to create a solid defense case. There isn’t much time to waste and potential clients need to understand the dangers of procrastinating and not seeking legal counsel as soon as they have been charged.

In your advertisements, on your website, and during consultations, remind the potential client that time is a valuable resource that they must not wait. Even if they do not hire you to defend their case, it is essential they seek high-quality legal counsel.

Know Who You’re Competing Against

When someone receives a criminal charge, that information is easily obtainable. This is a benefit to your firm because you don’t necessarily have to wait for a potential client to discover you, you are able to reach out to them. The drawback is that they are also be targeted by every other criminal defense lawyer in the area. While every practice area faces a certain amount of competition, the statement is especially true for criminal defense.

You don’t want to say something louder than the competition. You want to say something different.

3 Ways Your Law Firm Can Stand Out from the Competition

1) Direct Mail

Direct mail can be an effective marketing strategy, so long as your mailer stands out from all of the direct mail they are receiving. To ensure you’re standing out, it’s worthwhile to research the language your competitors use so that you can avoid using the same messaging. Do not assume that just because many law firms are using similar language that the language is working or gets clients signed.

One way to immediately stand out is to send an entire package filled with an offer, information, and tchotchkes. Having a large mailer creates interest and will likely get you over the first hurdle of the potential client opening your mail.

QUICK TIP: If your law firm does not have the marketing budget to spend on a large mailer, start small. A well-written, offer-focused, letter and an audio CD is low-cost and better than not sending any direct mail.

2) Free Information Offers

Education-based direct-response marketing needs to be the core of your legal marketing strategy. Free offers include webinars, video series, audio recordings, reports, or books. This is different than the common “free consultation” offered by law firms

In these free, educational materials, you can discuss FAQs, SAQs (should ask questions), and give a brief, simple overview of the defense process. This information is not only compelling for potential clients, but it also saves you time explaining the same process and answering the same questions over and over again in consultations.

QUICK TIP: Do not give away an information offer with acquiring the leads contact information so that you are able to follow-up with them.

3) Build Your Review System

If you have successfully obtained the interest of a potential client, it is vital that you solidify their belief in your abilities with case studies, reviews, and testimonials. Reviews are an important part of the decision-making process of making a purchase (yes, you are selling your services). The more expensive your fees are, the more social proof and confidence a potential client will need before hiring you. Creating a review system is easy, free, and effective. Your first step should be to always simply ask for a review.

QUICK TIP: Your client’s case does not need to be completing for you to ask for a positive review. In fact, they don’t have to be your client at all. If they contacted your law firm and you helped send them on the right path, they can leave a review and testify to the law firm’s willingness to help and stellar client service.

Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.

Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.

Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.

If you want a peek at what successful attorneys use to market their practice, the HERO Starter Kit is your logical next step.

We’ve put together a FREE (and potentially life-changing) kit for solo and small firm attorneys that will show you a better way to reach potential clients and get them excited to call your firm. Request your HERO Starter Kit from Great Legal Marketing!

by Ben Glass

Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.


  • Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.