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If you want to grow your practice into something that makes you happy, then you need to spend some time figuring out how to work more effectively. That is, start by optimizing for effectiveness over efficiency. Many lawyers are obsessed with efficiency, especially the ones who heavily embrace technology. But, focusing too much on efficiency  can be a trap. Remember: if you make a low-value task more efficient, what are you actually accomplishing? Here’s what the well-regarded business consultant Peter Drucker said… “There is nothing so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.” Automation can deliver…
When you start thinking about creating “systems documentation” it’s best to begin by breaking things down into key categories. Basically, the main things you’re doing are… Defining how what actions are allowed or not allowed Defining how to do certain kinds of work Defining how to make certain decisions. Here are the three broad categories for the things listed above 1. Policies: are documents that describe over-arching considerations: Expectations for how to dress at work, when vacation time is available, how to treat clients etc. Key Criterial: for assigning tasks, for determining bonuses, for holding regular meetings or job reviews…
The best way to learn from your mistakes is to keep track of them. Then analyze what went wrong so you can improve your process. Or as the sage advice goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” And yet, as professional advice givers, most lawyers don’t keep track of the consequences of their advice. Which is not a good recipe for improvement. It’s like if you were a poker player who never kept track of your betting decisions. How well would you learn if you never kept track of how your decisions panned out? Obviously, you’d have a hard…
You need a realistic marketing strategy that lets you attract new clients easily and cost-effectively. The strategy needs to be simple to ensure you’ll actually implement it. And it needs to be based on proven principles of effective marketing. The #1 Principle Optimize for trust building across every aspect of your marketing: word-of-mouth, referrals, online marketing, advertising, and everywhere else. To do this effectively you must understand human nature and the realities of how trust is built up over time. You must understand the journey prospective clients take —from utter lack of awareness of you, to the point where they finally…
Today I got an email from a lawyer who was very pleased with some tips I gave him for streamlining his practice. Here’s what he said… “Gads, haven’t been this excited about my business in years. I had been thinking about moving toward selling it and retiring in 5 years. Now thinking about setting it up to manage others for another ten years.” Now let me clarify something… He thinks he’s excited about technology, but in reality, it’s something deeper. Leverage At one level we can use technology to do work faster, better, and with less effort. That’s the first…
I don’t practice much Estate law, but the other day someone sent me a new form for a Living Will and asked me to help them update it.  Obviously, no one wants to think about death, but it’s one of those inevitable occurrences; so it behooves us to think about it at least to the point of making a few important plans.  After making changes to the Living Will form that my friend sent me, I thought I’d upload it here (pdf file) for commentary and suggestions for improvement.  Remember folks, this is serious stuff.…
I’m sorry if I offend any indians, but this is insane.  If this is acceptable politics then I think we are kidding ourselves when we pretend to hold the high ground in Iraq.  Let’s just admit that everything is about pleasing factions, even when the methodology is a complete farce.…
We’re advised not to do this when we’re young. And as adults, we no longer question this advice. But it’s wrong. Shortcuts are incredibly useful. But many people have a misconception about what a shortcut is, and dismiss the very notion. Which is too bad, because then they have to work harder to get what they really want. Let me give you a concrete example. When I was eight years old I saw the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show and became obsessed with the idea of playing the guitar. More specifically, I wanted to learn to play popular…
On-boarding New Clients to Make Them Feel Special Every lawyer needs a solid system for on-boarding new clients. The system should help your new clients feel great about hiring you and comfortable about the prospect of working with you (and your staff). Do you have an engagement agreement that you present to all your new clients? That’s great. Do you rely mostly on that agreement to help new clients understand what to expect when they work with you? Not so great. Your clients need to feel special at all times, particularly when they are just getting to know you. Of…
For most people, hiring a lawyer is a daunting proposition. For some it’s intimidating. Few people treat the decision lightly. Most folks aren’t just going to hit your website and dial your number. That makes sense, right? And the more discriminating the person, the less likely they are to make snap decisions. So you have to factor this into your marketing. Unless you want only impulsive people to hire you (hint: you don’t because they tend to be the less desirable type of clients). So discriminating people have a quality…which let’s call “resistance.” They have questions, concerns, maybe even outright
The modern world constantly hijacks our attention and keeps us from focusing on important things. Like how to best improve our law practice, for example. So here’s something important to realize about focus… Focusing on one thing means you can’t easily detect other things, even if it’s something strange that normally would be super obvious. This why we often lose sight of the most important things and wind up making bad decisions. Your Law Practice So how does this relate to improving your law practice? Well, when you stop and think about it, you can easily understand that…
“There’s no legal practice that can’t be sold as a subscription.” That’s what Dan Lear (of RightBrainLaw) posted to Twitter this week. I responded with some tweet-sized observations, which you can read in this thread. At first, I opined that there some legal services that can’t be sold as a subscription. But then I asked… Now let me ask: are we selling “subscriptions” that have no fixed end date? Or are we selling a “payment plan” for defined services (i.e. flat fee but with installments)? The reason I asked that question is that I’ve been seeing (on Twitter mostly)…
In many ways, managing your law practice is a lot like playing a game of Tetris. When you zoom out and consider the big picture, you can easily see that your law practice is composed of a bunch of different components. At one level you have your operations component, and also a marketing component. But there are financial components (time & billing, accounting, payroll). And staffing, file management, etc. As you zoom in you see smaller components like the invoices you send out and the template you use to do that. Or you have a process for processing incoming mail…
What if someone gave you a bunch of free billboard space in the city that you practice in? What if the billboard company was willing to give space in the most trafficked areas of your city? And what if they helped you craft the perfect message? One optimized to get the attention of your ideal client? Knock, knock… Getting this for free would be a HUGE opportunity right? And I’m guessing you’d jump at the chance to take advantage of this opportunity. Well, unfortunately, the billboard companies aren’t giving away physical space for free. But let me share how you…
If you want an easy-to-manage law practice you need to leverage the power of systems. But how do you start using systems if you’ve never even thought about doing so up until now? Well, I recommend you start small and keep things simple. Simple things are more actionable. Because, when you stop and think about it you can easily realize… Complexity is the enemy of execution. So, to make your law work start to happen more easily and more systematically, you need to begin by keeping things simple. This is the essence of “Gall’s law,” which states: “A…