Ernie the Attorney Blog

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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…
Are you trying to get more clients in the door? Are you trying to make your practice run much smoother? Are you looking to start a new law firm? When faced with these challenges the first thing we tend to do is plan how to get our desired result. And therein lies an insidious trap. Because we tend to assume that getting what we want has to be difficult. And yet… In many cases, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we first imagine. Tim Ferriss is a highly successful tech-investor who discovered how to escape the assumptions that…
Don’t hope that someone will figure out your optimal life goal and then encourage you to strive for it. They don’t know what your life goal is. And they wouldn’t care much if they did. Certainly not as much as you will. Do you know what your life goal is? Do you truly know? You probably have a hesitancy of some sort, and that keeps you from exploring this very important thing. Give yourself permission to find out. Does it feel awkward to think about how you even begin to explore what your real purpose in life is? Are you…
Do you use the same password for everything? If so, you’re in good company. Most people do. And that’s why hackers can easily get into their bank accounts after learning what their password is for Twitter. So, don’t be an easy mark for hackers. But… Don’t make your life harder by using passwords like this either: A$6vGj7*€Klm6! Yes, that password is hard to guess. But it’s also impossible to remember. And really hard to type out. Here’s a clever little system for creating impossible-to-guess passwords. Come up with three random words like: Pug Celery Mop Guess what? You can make…
Most small-firm lawyers waste time, energy, and money on mindless drudgery. Not surprisingly, they feel frustrated. But, even worse, is they’re losing major ground because… Digital technology is rapidly eliminating every kind of low-level work. And it’s massively disrupting every modern business—including law. WARNING: If you waste time, energy & money on mindless drudgery that can be automated or outsourced you’ll be disrupted and marginalized. But if you focus on doing more high-level KNOWLEDGE work and you’ll survive (maybe even thrive). Learn to work “smarter” You need to learn how to make digital technology work FOR you, not against you.…
Working “smarter” means getting more work done, more easily, more quickly, with less friction and less stress. One big key is eliminating that work doesn’t need to be done, or skipping less important steps in a workflow. Learning to do this can be hard for lawyers, at least at first. The trick is learning how to zoom your focus effectively. Allow me to explain……
Writing is crucial in the legal profession. Writing well is a huge advantage. Mainly, because good writing is a sign of good thinking (by the way, so is good editing). So… Do you want to sharpen your thinking/writing using a simple, easy method? It’s a simple method that produces powerful results, but doesn’t take a lot of time. Does that sound interesting? Well, to set this up properly, I first need to tell you about Ernest Hemingway’s trick for overcoming writer’s block. In his book “A Moveable Feast,” he explained his method: “Sometimes when I was starting a new story…
Everyone knows what hard work is, and how important it is. But, what most people do NOT know is how to work smarter. So they spend more time, energy and money doing things that don’t matter much in terms of getting results. They’ve never heard of the 80/20 principle (which I call “strategic prioritization“). Some people, on the other hand, manage to develop a knack for working smarter. Then they figure out how to hire other people who work smarter, which is probably the smartest thing of all. Unfortunately, the path to working smarter isn’t very clear. If…