Never apologize for wanting to get rich

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More than two hundred years ago, Adam Smith wrote, “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our own dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.”

Some people mistakenly accuse Adam Smith of promoting selfishness. He was merely pointing out the economic truth that a society prospers because of the collective pursuit of its citizens’ self-interest.

The merchant and the lawyer make the world a better place by pursuing their own needs and wants. They want to do more for their families and themselves. To do that, they create better products and services and sell more of them.

As individuals pursue their own self-interest, they become more industrious. Competition forces them to make better products and offer better service and lower prices. As they do better for themselves, society does better. And the more that society prospers, the more that society can do for others.

Americans are the most generous people on earth, we are told. One reason is that we have more to give.

Everyone is driven by their own self-interest. Even Mother Teresa.

She lived modestly and gave herself to others, with little thought to her own material needs. She was driven by her spiritual needs and worked hard to get her message heard. She wanted others to heed the call to help others. That was her self-interest. By pursuing her self-interest, she did make the world a better place.

Never apologize for wanting to do better. Never feel guilty for earning more than your neighbors, or for wanting to earn more still. You work hard and you deserve it. And the more you do for yourself, the more you can do for others.

If you only do for yourself, however, it can lead to selfishness.

Andrew Carnegie, of the richest men in the world in his day and also one the biggest philanthropists, earned a fortune and then gave most of it away. He said, “Successful men should help the unsuccessful into more productive lives, and a man who neglects this duty and dies rich, dies disgraced.”

Earn as much as possible so you can give away as much as possible. Because avoiding disgrace is clearly in your self-interest.

The formula for earning more than you ever thought possible

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Finding your badassery

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If you’re ready to take your practice to a much higher level, you might have to make a few changes.

Changes in your attitude and your policies. Changes in how to present yourself to prospective clients.

First up: accessibility. You shouldn’t be available to everyone who calls. You’re busy. Highly sought after. Important. And your time is valuable. When someone calls for the first time, they don’t get to speak to you. Maybe not the second time, either. Maybe not until their first appointment. And maybe not even then.

The same goes for email and social media. You shouldn’t reply to every email or every comment on your blog. In fact, you should consider turning off comments altogether.

You can’t be seen spending hours on social media. Nobody wants to hire a lawyer who has time to play games, post pictures of their dinner, and share every detail of their life. Yes, they want you to be “real” but if you’re too real, you’ll scare them off.

Next up: money. You need to charge top dollar and you need to get most or all of it up front. No explanations, no exceptions, if they want to hire you, this is how it works. How can you expect anyone to see you as the best of the best if you do otherwise?

On that note, prospective clients shouldn’t be made to think that hiring you is a given. You are selective. You don’t work with everyone. There is a waiting list and you turn down more clients than you accept. Prospective clients need to fill out a questionnaire and convince you to accept them as a client.

You don’t go to see clients, they come to see you. You don’t use an “away” message in your email because it’s nobody’s business whether you are or aren’t in the office. You don’t explain when or if you will respond to them. You have people they can talk to, but not you.

You’re a rockstar. Everyone wants you, but not everyone can have you.

Rockstars have lots of people who want to hire them and are willing to pay more for the privilege. When you’re a rockstar, clients respect you and your time. They won’t pester you with silly questions or ask for freebies. They’re thankful they can work with someone of your caliber. They don’t want to hear you say, “No soup for you!”

They’ll tell their friends about you but let them know that you are very selective. They might have to wait in line, and even then, you might not accept them as a client.

Of course, you have to deliver. You have to offer services (and service) that are different and better than what everyone else offers. And you have to specialize because people won’t believe that you’re “the best” at everything.

Okay, you get the idea.

Can anyone pull this off? Probably not. You would have to have a little badassery in you to begin with. But maybe you can adapt parts of this approach, and add parts later.

The point is that people want what they can’t have. They don’t want any attorney, they want the best. They want expensive things that not everyone can have. They want to be an insider, a groupie, someone with a backstage pass.

If it’s too easy to have it, they don’t want it as much. So don’t make it easy.

Because if it’s too easy, they might conclude that you need them more than they need you.

The keys to building a successful law practice can be found here

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Opening your own law practice: where do you start?

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Many lawyers ask me how to go about opening their own law practice. At the risk of sounding glib and too clever for my own good, my short answer is “you just do”.

You find a place to park your carcass and see clients and then you go get some.

Okay, let’s see if we can break this down a bit. I will assume that you don’t have a lot of cash, or you don’t want to spend it up front, which is a good plan even if you do have a lot of cash.

You may be able to do most of your work from home initially, but you will need a place to see clients. So the first step is to find someone who will let you use their conference room or a spare office to do that. You can offer to pay them by the hour or a flat monthly fee or you can do appearances or other legal work to pay for it.

You could do this in any office but there are advantages to renting space in an office occupied by attorneys: access to their library, surrounding yourself with colleagues who can help you when you have a question, and the ability to get overflow work.

Which leads to the next step: getting clients.

First, set up a simple website. Get your own domain name (youname.com) and at least a single page site that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you.

Put your domain name and email address (firstname@yourname.com) and phone number on everything: business cards, stationery, email signature, social media profiles, etc.

Next, if you worked for a firm before, contact clients you did work for or know and let them know you’ve opened your own office. Call them personally. Don’t pressure them, just let them know your news. Give them your website. Make a note to contact them again in a month or two.

After that, tell everyone else you know that you’re open for business and send them to your website. Don’t send announcements. Nobody reads them. Send letters or emails. Explain why you opened your own office and the services you are now offering.

Call five or ten of these folks a day and ask how they are doing. You’ve got the time, bub. Ask if they got your letter or email. At the end of the call, say what every new real estate agents says: “If you know anyone who needs/is thinking about. . . please send them my way”.

Plant the seed that you’re open for referrals.

Add this: “Also, I know a lot of attorneys in other areas of practice, so if you know someone with ANY legal need, let me know and I’ll refer them to a good attorney”.

One of the best ways to get referrals from other attorneys is to give them referrals.

When they say they will, say thanks and tell them you’ll be sending them some additional information.

Onward.

When I opened my office, I got most of my first clients from other attorneys, so contact every attorney you know and let them know you’re available for overflow and appearances. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn more.

Next, write something. A report or ebook that helps people understand problems and solutions. At the end, tell them how you can help them and the people they know.

Then get that report into as many hands as possible, through as many methods as possible. Let the report sell you and your services. See The 30 Day Referral Blitz on how to write an effective report and how to distribute it.

Now what? Now, you explore other ways for marketing yourself and there are many others. Many ways to get your name in front of people, build a list, expand your website and get more traffic, get more referrals, and otherwise bring in business. Once you start getting clients, there are ways to leverage your relationships to bring in even more.

You can expect the early days to be rough going. They were for me. But today, you have the Internet and a lot of other tools for finding clients, and you also have me. Read my blog, get my courses, educate yourself, and take action every day. Focus on marketing and you will make it.

Is it scary? Hell yes. But so is being unemployed and not knowing what to do, or wanting to open your own office and thinking there’s too much to do and you don’t know where to start.

Now you know where to start. And starting is everything.

The keys to building a successful law practice: click here

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Do you go to the office on Saturday?

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When I was practicing, I would often go to the office on Saturdays. Even if it was only for an hour or two, I was able to get a lot of work done because there were no interruptions or distractions.

No ringing phones, no appointments, no secretaries bringing me papers to sign, updating me, or asking questions. Just one block of quiet time and nothing else to do but concentrate on the work.

I would dictate letters and pleadings and instructions, review documents and make notes, and chew my way through a big pile of files. The quiet also allowed me to dive deep into problem files I might not want to look at during the week.

A few hours on Saturday allowed me to catch up on work that had piled up during the week and get ready for the upcoming week.

I often brought files home with me but it wasn’t the same. Unless I had court on Monday and had to prepare for it, those files usually sat unopened.

Once in awhile I would go to the library or a coffee shop and do some work in a different environment. But nothing beat the office, especially when I had come in a little later and knew the air conditioning was going to be turned off at 3pm.

I know, if you’re successful, you shouldn’t have to work on weekends. Or so some say. All I can tell you is that I was successful because I worked on weekends, even if it was just for a few hours.

Building a law practice is easier when you know the formula

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It’s cheaper to keep a client than to find a new one

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Before you invest another dollar or another minute looking for new clients, do yourself a favor and invest in retaining the ones you already have.

It’s cheaper.

They already know you and trust you. They already know what you do and they’ve seen you do it. You don’t have to go looking for them and woo them. You don’t have to do much to get them to hire you again.

Make sense?

So how do you retain clients? For starters, make sure you don’t chase them away.

A recent survey revealed that 23% of “customer complaints” are about rudeness or bad attitude. Hey, that’s an easy one to fix. Be nice, and if you’re already nice, find ways to be nicer.

Next on the list: don’t ignore them. Clients may run away from a rude lawyer, but most clients drift away from the lawyer who doesn’t pay attention to them.

If you ignore your clients, they may forget your name or the reasons they hired you and be easily seduced by the next lawyer who comes along.

That’s also easy to fix. Stay in touch with your clients.

What’s that? You’ve already done the work for them and they are unlikely to need your services again?

Silly boy. Have you forgotten about the referrals they could send you? Have you forgotten that those referrals are  easier to sign up than prospects who hear about you through an ad or online search?

Are you forgetting that if they refer you a client with a legal matter you don’t handle, you can refer them to another lawyer and earn their referrals in return?

Are you ignoring the other ways clients can help you like sending traffic to your website or telling their friends about your free report?

You worked hard to attract prospective clients. Once they hire you, you don’t have to do nearly as much (or spend nearly as much) to retain them.

Is there more to client retention than this? Sure. There are affirmative things you can do to strengthen your relationships and make your clients an advocate for your practice.

But let’s start with being nice and staying in touch.

Your clients want to send you referrals. Here’s how to help them do it

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Would you rather have more clients or higher-paying clients?

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Yesterday, I did a consultation with a lawyer who has a high-volume/low-fee practice. I asked him, “Would you rather have 50 new $1,000 clients each month or two $25,000 clients?”

I wanted him to upgrade his practice towards the higher end of the client spectrum. You have less overhead, less stress, and less work to do to produce the same income. And you don’t have to compete with everyone and his brother because there is no competition at the top.

I pointed out that he already had a suitable niche market, a certain group of business owners who could provide him with referrals and introductions to other professionals who serve that market.

He said he would need to take CLE classes before he could do this. I suggested that until he was proficient, he could associate with another lawyer who has the experience.

He also said he would need to hire another attorney to handle some of his current caseload, and he’s willing to do that.

So he has a plan.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Niche marketing is smart. Here’s how to do it

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How to become a better and faster writer (and why you must)

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Lawyers write, usually every day. But the writing we do for our work usually leans towards the boring and mundane. We use formulaic language, if not actual templates, and while our writing usually gets the job done, in terms of quality, it’s nothing to write home about (pun intended).

You may be able to get away with boring writing in much of your work, but you won’t get away with it in writing that is intended to bring in that work.

Articles, blog posts, presentations, letters to prospective clients and to other professionals we’d like to know must hew to a different standard. It needs to be interesting and compelling and anything but boring.

Because if someone isn’t required to read something we wrote as part of their work, or because it will otherwise benefit them, they either won’t read it or if they do, they won’t act on it.

Your dull and poorly written article won’t inspire anyone to call you. Your dry as kindling presentation won’t inspire anyone to make an appointment.

If your marketing-oriented writing doesn’t engage readers and draw them to you, you might as well not bother.

You can hire copywriters or ghostwriters, or you can learn how to do it yourself.

Writing every day will help. So will writing first drafts quickly and not editing until they’re done. There are other ways to become a better writer but there is perhaps no easier way than to write about topics that interest you.

Write about subjects you are passionate about. Write about things that inspire you. Write about what turns you on, or what pisses you off.

When you do, you’ll be able to write quickly and easily. You’ll become a better writer. And you will attract more clients who like what you say and how you say it.

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How’s that Pokemon thing working out?

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Pokemon Go is big, or so I hear. I really wouldn’t know. I had to ask my wife what it was because I’ve paid almost no attention to it. Based on what I’ve heard about it, it’s definitely not my thing.

How about you?

Do you use, or at least try, the latest apps? Do you follow the latest trends?

Sometimes? Never? What’s a smartphone?

I read somewhere that there are four types of people:

  1. Innovators. They’re the first to do, adopt, or promote something.
  2. Early adopters. They see the trend and jump on board earlier than most.
  3. Late adopters. They wait until many or most are doing it, saying it, or using it.
  4. Dinosaurs. They rarely adopt anything new.

Or something like that.

Me? It depends on the thing. I was on board early with Evernote but I don’t own an iPad. I was one of the first to create a marketing course for attorneys and I started a blog before it was fashionable, but I do almost nothing on social media.

How about you?

I would guess that most lawyers are late adopters but I think we all need to be flexible. Some things are worth exploring early on, even if we don’t adopt them. Some things are worth our time and energy because they make us more productive or they’re just plain fun.

And then there’s Pokemon. I’m pretty sure I’ll take my first selfie before I download that one.

The best way to build your practice is to master the fundamentals

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What are you, chicken?

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What are you afraid of? C’mon, you know there are things you should be doing to grow your practice that you don’t do because of fear.

You don’t ask clients to help you, for example, because you’re afraid of appearing weak. You don’t approach prospective clients at a networking event because you’re afraid of rejection. You don’t delegate enough of your work because you’re afraid nobody can do the job as well as you.

You can overcome your fears if you want to. The first step is to imagine yourself doing the thing you fear.

See yourself clicking the button and sending your clients an email asking them to forward it to a friend, or to share your new post with their social media contacts.

See yourself in the physical act of doing the thing you fear and you will be on your way to overcoming that fear.

The second step is to imagine the results. See yourself getting new clients as a result of your email, and see the big smile on your face as you realize that you made that happen.

Nice.

Now, the third step. Do the thing. Send the email, make the call, talk to the person.

Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

At first, your knees may tremble. You may need to hoist a pint or two. You may do it poorly. But you can do it, at least once, and if you can do it once you can do it again.

Eventually, your fear will either be completely gone or so diminished that you can do the thing at will.

Now, here’s the thing. The things we fear are often the very things we need to be doing. The things that allow us to grow quickly and reach our full potential. So don’t ignore your fears. Hear their message. Acknowledge their value. And then show them who’s boss.

How to get your clients to send you referrals

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Developing the marketing habit

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When an activity become a habit, it becomes automatic; you do it without thinking about it. Eventually, through repetition, you get better at it and you get better results.

That’s true of the exercise habit, the reading habit, and the marketing habit.

In James Clear’s recent article, The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time, he offers some observations about developing new habits, based on research:

1. You are 2x to 3x more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it. This is known as an implementation intention.

2. You should focus entirely on one habit. Research has found that implementation intentions do not work if you try to improve multiple habits at the same time.

3. Research has shown that any given habit becomes more automatic with more practice. On average, it takes at least two months for new habits to become automatic behaviors.

Conclusion: it’s best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

I have long preached the value of working on marketing every day for 15 minutes. I’ve said that you should schedule those minutes in your calendar as an appointment and keep that appointment. I’ve said, “you can use that time to do anything related to marketing, even if you’re only reading about it or thinking and making notes”.

But Clear suggests that you have a specific plan for working on your new habit. Is doing “anything related to marketing” specific enough?

When you are first establishing the habit, I think it is. Blocking out the time and doing something every day is the new habit. Being able to do anything gives you the flexibility to be bad before you get good.

Once the 15-minute habit is firmly a part of your routine, however, your plan should become more specific.

If you want to develop the habit of finding and reaching out to professionals with whom you can network, for example, work on that during your 15 minutes.

And only that.

Clear’s other points tell us to work on one new habit only, for at least two months. Once you have established your new habit, you can move onto others.

When I committed to writing daily emails, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now it is automatic. It’s a part of me. I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.

My new habit has paid me many dividends, so, once you have developed your 15-minute marketing habit, if you’re looking for another habit to work on, you might want to work on writing.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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