Get better at writing by invoking your inner couch potato


One reason I’m able to turn out emails so quickly is that I’m lazy. I get ideas from lots of sources but I primarily write what’s in my head.

I don’t slow down to do research, or spend time looking for graphics. I don’t stop to ask myself if I’ve addressed the subject before or worry about contradicting myself. I don’t spend time hunting down every typo.

I just write. Fast. You can, too.

It doesn’t matter if you said something before. This time, you’ll say it differently. But even if you don’t, no worries. Repetition is the mother of learning. Your readers might not have absorbed your message the first time, or the 31st time. Maybe this time, they will.

Your readership is constantly changing, too. Every day, new people come to your website or blog and subscribe to your list and they’re hearing your words for the first time.

Marketing isn’t solely about delivering information. That’s part of it, but an even bigger part is that you are regularly touching the lives of the people on your list. You know, the people who can hire you or send you referrals. Yeah, those people.

Write a few paragraphs and tell people what you’re thinking or how you feel. Share an idea or comment on someone else’s. Ask subscribers questions, ask them to do something, or just say hello.

Stay in their minds, and their mailboxes and they will hire you (again) and send you referrals and traffic and promote your events.

Write a lot, and write quickly. It will make you a better writer. Writing quickly allows you to bypass the filters in your brain that tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, or that tell you you’re not good enough.

Just write, okay? Don’t worry about what comes out. Emails aren’t briefs or white papers or reports. Nobody is expecting you to be scholarly or brilliant. Besides, you know more than your readers do and they won’t know if you left something out or got something wrong.

Stop trying so hard. Get lazy and write something.

Want ideas for blog posts and emails? This is what you need


Two “musts” for every lawyer who wants more referrals


Some smart wag said that if you’re not getting enough referrals, there are only two reasons. “Either you don’t deserve them or you’re not asking for them.”

Let’s talk about this, shall we?

What do you have to do to “deserve” referrals?

Is it enough that you do good work, deliver good “customer service,” and charge reasonable fees?

No. This is expected of every lawyer. If you want more referrals, you need to do more than what is expected.

Look, you can’t depend on your clients telling people about how great you are if you merely do what they paid you to do.

It’s like buying a new car. When it does what it’s supposed to do, i.e., get you where you want to go safely, comfortably, and economically, that’s fine. You might tell others about your new purchase, you might not. If someone asks about the car, you’ll tell them. Otherwise, who knows?

If you buy a car that puts a big smile on your face, however, a car that has a bunch of extras and cool features, a car you can’t wait to show off to the neighbors, that’s different.

To get more referrals, you need to put a smile on your clients’ faces.

Give them more value and a better experience than other lawyers deliver. Surprise and delight them, give them more than they expect, and your clients will be much more likely to tell their neighbors about you.

This isn’t difficult. Little things make a big difference. But you have to want to do those little things, not because you see them as a means to more referrals, but because you enjoy putting smiles on your clients’ faces and hearing them say thank you.

Okay. Now what about the asking part of the equation?

This is where it gets sticky for many lawyers. They try it once or twice, but get tongue tied, and never do it again.

What if there was a way to ask for referrals that was natural and comfortable for you and for the client? A few simple sentences about referrals that didn’t put any pressure on them but nevertheless set the stage for referrals?

Would that help?

What if you could ask for referrals without actually uttering any words? If you could give the client a document or send them a letter that did the “asking” for you. . .

Would that help?

If you ordered my new course, Maximum Referrals, you not only know that this is possible, you know how to do it. You also know what to do to deliver an exceptional experience that makes clients not just willing to refer, it makes them want to.

If you haven’t ordered yet, do yourself a favor and grab a copy.


How to simplify your marketing


If you have ever assembled a piece of furniture from Ikea, you know that some items are more complicated than others. Even with detailed instructions and proper tools, it’s easy to mess these up, or take much longer than you were led to believe.

The same is true of any task or project. The more complicated it is, the more moving parts or steps, the more likely it is that you’ll get it wrong.

Some tasks and projects are so complicated we put off doing them. Or we make the effort, get flummoxed and frustrated and swear we’ll “never do that again!”

Marketing legal services is like that. Do yourself a favor and make it simpler.

On the macro side of the equation, that means using fewer strategies, and for each strategy, fewer techniques.

Try lots of things, and then settle in with a few things that work best for you. That’s what I do, and that’s what I recommend.

On the micro side, you simplify your marketing by using fewer apps and targeting fewer markets. You use forms, checklists, and “scripts”. You memorialize your process, in writing, to make it easier to train new hires and temps and so that you can continually examine your process and improve it.

When marketing is simpler, it is easier and takes less time. You get better at it and get better results.

It’s the 80/20 principle. Figure out what works best for you and do more of it.

Simplify your marketing by doing more of fewer things.

Referral marketing is one strategy every lawyer should use. Find out how


Referral marketing for lawyers–roots before branches


Let’s say you want to get more referrals from your clients. Not a bad idea. Now, how will you go about it?

Your strategy might be to give your clients lots of attention, show them that you care about them, and make them feel good about choosing you as their lawyer.

Good. An excellent strategy. What techniques will you use to effect your strategy?

What will you say to them at their first appointment? What will you give them? What will you send them, and when? What will do, and how often?

Strategies before techniques. Roots before branches.

Strategies derive from your values and beliefs. If you believe it’s important to surprise and delight your clients with over-the-top service and extra value, if you believe that doing so will endear them to you and make it more likely that they will return to you, say nice things about you, and send you referrals, your actions will reflect those values and beliefs.

If you believe that giving clients lots of attention takes too much time and won’t produce more loyal clients or more referrals, however, your actions will be different.

If you believe that your clients can provide you with more referrals than they now provide, you will be more inclined to invest time equipping your clients with information and tools they can use to send you more referrals. If you believe that your clients do what they can and can’t do any more, you probably won’t.

What many lawyers do, I think, is implement certain techniques before they have firmed up their beliefs and committed to a strategy. They hear that it’s a good idea to send new clients a thank you letter, for example, so they do it, but their heart isn’t in it. They say the words, but they don’t feel the sentiment behind them.

Sure enough, when they speak to the client, their words and behavior often tell a different story.

Start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish and choose one or more strategies for accomplishing it, based on your values and beliefs. Only then should you examine the techniques that are available to you.

My new course, “Maximum Referrals,” can help you do that. It shows you both the strategies and techniques you need to build a successful referral-based practice.

Check it out, here.


How to protect your referral fee when you refer cases to other attorneys


I heard from a PI lawyer who had referred a case to another lawyer and was supposed to get one-third of the fee. When the case settled, the referring lawyer heard about it not from the lawyer who settled the case but from a friend of the plaintiff.

Not good.

Even worse, the plaintiff had another accident 4 months later. The same firm handled that case, which settled for $200,000, and they never told the referring attorney about it.

When he finally spoke with someone at the firm about the second case, the referring attorney was told that they don’t pay referral fees on “second generation cases/referrals”.

He asked if I think he’s entitled to a referral fee on the second case.

My take? In equity, maybe. In law, probably not. In the world of commerce, where screwing your referral sources is a great way to kill referrals (and your reputation), I think they should take care of you.

But they’re PI attorneys so I won’t hold my breath.

The bigger question is what to do to protect your referral fee in the future.

Two things. First, you need to have a written agreement that specifies what you get, not only on the original referral but on subsequent cases with the same client. Get this signed before you make the referral.

To be enforceable, it probably has to have reasonable limits (like a non-compete agreement), something like subsequent claims within two years of the original injury. (I’d also ask for a fee on any referrals from that client during the same period.) Ask around, find out the standard in your community. And be prepared to negotiate.

Second, your agreement should specify that you have a lien interest in these cases, and you should so notify the insurance carrier and/or opposing counsel on the first case. That way, when the case settles, your name will be on the check and they have to come to you to get your endorsement.

Your agreement can also specify a lien interest (and attorneys fees if not paid) on subsequent cases, but if you don’t know about those, it’s not as easy to protect your referral fee because you have nobody to notify of that interest until after the fact. Still, better than nothing.

And without an agreement, nothing is what you’ve got.

Hey, I’ve been there. I’ve referred cases to other lawyers and was screwed out of a fee when they settled. You live and learn.

My last piece of advice? Stay in touch with the client. Because you want him to tell you when he has another case, or he has a referral.

Be his “personal attorney” for life. His advisor. The conduit of all of his legal matters.

Think “clients, not cases”. And think about the referral as, “bringing in another lawyer,” not “referring out” to another lawyer.

I’d love to hear how other lawyers handle this subject. Please post in the comments.

Get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals: click here


Why you need a referral system


When you have a new client in the office, what do you say to him about referrals? Anything?

Do you give him anything to pass out to people he knows, to make referrals easier for him?

Perhaps you give every new client three extra business cards. That’s good. But when you do that, what exactly do you say? (It makes a difference.)

Most lawyers don’t have a well thought out referral system in place. They haven’t planned what they will give clients, what they will say, or when.

For most lawyers, referrals happen, when they happen. Or they don’t.

Spend some time today thinking about, and writing down, your system. What do you say (orally or by email or letter) to new clients? Current clients? And former clients?

What do you give them or send them?

Right now, if your system consists of giving new clients three business cards and saying, “Here are some of my cards, in case someone you know needs my help,” fine. Write that down. That’s your system. And any system is better than no system.

But you can do more.

Start thinking about what else you might do the next time they are in the office. Or what you might mail to them or include in your “New Client Welcome Kit”.

Write down all of the times during the case or engagement that you could do something or say something that might bring in more referrals.

Start with new clients, on their first appointment. Then consider what you can do at the end of the case or engagement.

After that, write down ideas for communicating with “old” clients.

Having a system for new clients, end of the case, and old clients, will probably put you way ahead of where you are right now, because you will have a better system than you do now.

Systems save time and make things easier. They produce better results, too, if for no other reason than they prompt you to do something on a consistent basis.

No doubt you get referrals now, but do you get as many as you want? As many as you think you could get?

If not, it’s time to create or update your referral system.


What word or phrase defines you?


The US Navy says its core values are “Honor. Courage. Commitment”. It is what they stand for, their ethical compass. It is also a promise, to themselves and to the country they protect.

What’s yours?

What is the one word or short phrase that defines you in the context of your career or practice?

What’s your thing?

Mine is “referrals”. When an attorney wants to know my core marketing philosophy, it is that every law practice should be built on a foundation of referrals.

When you hear my name, I want you to think “referrals”. That’s how I built my practice and if I could only teach you one marketing method, referrals would be it.

How about you? When I hear your name, what do you want me to think? What is the word or phrase that defines you and your core beliefs?

It might have something to do with your practice area, target market, or your reputation. It might relate to your biggest passion, a personality trait, your mission or long term goal.

Picture your word or phrase as a banner above the front door to your office or at the top of your website. What does it say? Write down the first thing you thought of.

Whatever it is, you don’t need to make it public. You may at some point, but this isn’t an exercise in creating an advertising slogan or marketing message. It is a way for you to go inside yourself and find your core.

Later, you might use it to create a slogan or commercial message. For now, emblazon it only on the insides of your eye lids–for your eyes only.

Look at it often and ask yourself how it makes you feel? Does it make you proud? Content? Excited? Does it feel like the right choice for you?

If it feels good, live with it for awhile. Eventually, but only if you want to, you can use it to fashion something for your clients and prospects.

My website banner says, “Earn More. Work Less.” That’s my promise. The benefits I offer.

It’s the “what”. Referrals are the “how”.

When you’re ready, this will help you create your marketing message


Solve problems by asking “why?”


Toddlers are experts at asking “why?” Why do I have to go to bed? Why can’t I have ice cream? Why are you and daddy wrestling with your clothes off?

They ask why so they can better understand the world around them. When they get an answer they don’t like or don’t understand, they ask why again.

Adults also ask why. But unlike our little tykes, we often accept the first answer and fail to dig deeper.

If you realize that you’re not going to have enough money to pay all of your bills this month, for example, and you ask yourself why, you might look at your accounts receivable and solve your problem by sending out “late” notices to clients who owe you money.

That might be a good idea, and it might solve the immediate problem, but it doesn’t help you to get to the root problem.

So next month, you might again have a shortage of cash.

Asking “why” you have a problem helps you find the solution, but asking once may not be enough, as this post explains.

In Japanese, Kaizen roughly translates to “continuous improvement”. One of the discipline’s techniques for problem solving is to ask “why” 5 times. This helps you find the root problem.

Here’s how you might apply this to your money problem:

  1. Why don’t you have enough money to cover this month’s bills? Because I don’t have enough clients.
  2. Why don’t you have enough clients? Because I don’t do enough marketing.
  3. Why don’t you do enough marketing? Because I’m not good at it.
  4. Why aren’t you good at marketing? Because I haven’t found enough strategies that I am comfortable using.
  5. Why haven’t you found enough strategies? Because I haven’t spent enough time learning about the available options or how to use them.

The root of your money problem, and the solution thereto, is thus revealed.

If you stop asking “why” after your first answer (not enough clients), you may not discover a solution other than sending out late notices. If you stop after your answer to the third “why,” (you’re not good at marketing) you might conclude that things are hopeless for you in this department and give up.

Ask why 5 times and see where it takes you.

Why? Because I said so. Now go play with your toys. Mommy and Daddy are busy.

Avoid having to send out late notices with this


Have you pissed someone off today?


Yesterday’s email was about the seemingly uncontroversial topic of dressing like a lawyer. I heard from several lawyers who shared their thoughts.

Some cheered my message and deplored the way some lawyers dress today. An entertainment lawyer friend had mixed feelings about the subject. One lawyer told me he wears a pony tail and does just fine.

Another said, “Perhaps you should set aside your fatuous fashion jihad for a moment and review the fundamentals of grammar, to wit: The plural of “client” is “clients,” not “client’s.”

Fatuous fashion jihad? Hmmm. . . Something tells me he’s upset about something. Call it a hunch.

And does he really think I don’t know how to pluralize “client”? Me thinks not. That’s his anger talking.

Apparently, he strongly disagrees with my opinion that lawyers should “wear the uniform” and “look like a lawyer”. He didn’t say why. He didn’t share his preferred sartorial style, nor offer any reasons why everyone else should accept it.

But I like that he spoke up. I like that he disagrees with my old fashioned take on the subject. In fact, I wish I heard from more people who were pissed off at me.

Look, if you’re not not upsetting some people, if everyone agrees with everything you write, you’re going to put people to sleep. Lawyers tend to be especially boring and bland in their writing.

We need to stir things up.

Conflict keeps people watching TV shows and it keeps people reading your writing. So court some controversy. Push the envelope. Say things that make people go “huh?”

You’ll stand out, be read and remembered, and build a following of people who like your style. They’ll share your content, buy your products and services, and recommend you to their friends.

Of course you will also get people who think you’re an ass-hat, say you’ve gone too far or you’re too vulgar for their taste, and they will un-subscribe.

Good. You don’t want them. They’re not your fans and will probably never hire you or recommend you. They need to go. Give up their seat so you can fill it with others who like what you say, or at least like that you’re not afraid to say it.

For more on email and marketing online, go here


You don’t dress like a lawyer–does it matter?


So Mark Zuckerberg wears the same t-shirts and hoodies every day. Same color, too. He says it’s easier that way because he doesn’t have to take any time deciding what to wear. I admire his efficiency but why not wear a blue suit, white shirt, and red necktie every day?

Why dress like a teenager who doesn’t care about how he looks or what people think? Why not hire someone to choose his clothing for him?

Because he’s a billionaire and he can do whatever he wants. Because he owns the stock and nobody refuses to do business with him. And because he’s in tech, not law.

Yeah, he’s in an industry where dressing casually and being quirky is cool and dressing in traditional business attire isn’t. If you’re a billionaire you can do the same thing. Otherwise, you probably need to dress like a lawyer.

Your client’s expect you to “look the part”. If you don’t, if you vary from their image of what a lawyer is “supposed” to look like, they get nervous and may doubt you and your abilities. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the way it is.

So men, you need the suit and tie. Women need to wear appropriate business attire.

Lawyers shouldn’t have tattoos showing. Men shouldn’t wear earrings. Or long hair. Or purple hair. Women can wear earrings and have long hair but not purple hair.

What if you handle entertainment law? That’s different isn’t it? Maybe. You can probably get away with dressing casually but you won’t be laughed at if you dress like a lawyer. (I wonder what Zuckerberg’s lawyers wear?)

Yes there are exceptions. An office in Beverly Hills is different than an office in Omaha. Seeing a long time client on a Saturday is different than meeting a prospective client on Monday morning.

But you get my point. Optics are important.

We see politicians on the campaign trail today and many of the men remove their neckties and wear blue jeans. I’m sure it’s because they want to look like a regular guy. That’s okay if they’re at a picnic or riding a tractor; otherwise, I think they need to look the part they are auditioning for (even if they’re not a lawyer).

Yes, I know it’s not the 1950s. And yes, I’m old fashioned. But so are voters. And clients. And judges. And other lawyers who might not send you referrals if you wear gray t-shirts and hoodies every day.

Get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals. Here’s how