“Recruit and Grow Rich” ebook just released on Kindle

Share

How many ways can a lawyer create passive income? I’ll give you a minute. . .

The answer is not many. That’s the conclusion I came to over a decade ago when I was contemplating the concept of retirement. I realized that I would have to save or invest several million dollars to be able to retire and live off the interest or cash flow that those assets produced, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Even if you earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, after taxes and expenses, most attorneys aren’t going to arrive at their retirement years with a big bucket of cash or a steady stream of cash flow.

When I admitted this to myself, I knew I had to find a plan b.

I started a network marketing business and began earning passive income. That income grew to over six-figures a year, which provided me with the retirement income I sought but had never achieved in over twenty years of practicing law.

I’ve written a book about it and it’s now available on Kindle.

It’s part “my story” but it is mostly training. It presents the system I’ve used to recruit hundreds of people (mostly lawyers) who wanted the same thing I wanted. It’s called “Recruit and Grow Rich” and it shows you how to work smarter in your network marketing business, instead of merely working harder.

If you have a network marketing business, or you have been thinking about starting one, this book could shave years off of your learning curve, and help you achieve your goals quicker and with less effort.

The first review came in, from an attorney, who said, “This book is an absolute must read for any attorney considering a network marketing opportunity.” He also said, “Building a network organization is counter-intuitive to the way attorneys have been taught to think and act.” He’s right.

Of course you don’t need to be an attorney to benefit from the lessons in this book. So if you know anyone who has a network marketing business, tell them about it.

Here’s the direct link to the book in the kindle store where you can get more information.

NB: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read Kindle books. Amazon has free apps that allow you to read Kindle books on your computer, tablet or phone.

Share

Keep it simple, stupid

Share

One of the most valuable skills for any lawyer is the ability to make complicated subjects simple and easy to understand.

Simple communicates. Simple persuades. Simple sells.

KISS or “Keep it simple stupid” is a principle that acknowledges that most systems work best if they are simple rather than complicated. Simplicity is a key goal in design, where the concept originated; unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

If your website is filled with complex documents and analyses, you’re not doing your clients or yourself any favors. The same goes for your ads or marketing documents, speeches and articles. Unless you’re writing for other lawyers, and I would argue that even if you are, your number one goal should be to write simply and plainly.

Robert Louis Stevenson, said, “Don’t write merely to be understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”

When a prospective client comes to your site, or reads your marketing document, they want to be able to quickly understand your message. Make it easy to read and easy to understand. Use lots of white space, short sentences and paragraphs, and bullet points. Use active verbs and vibrant word pictures. Illustrate your points with relevant stories and examples.

But simple doesn’t necessarily mean less.

When someone has a legal problem and goes shopping for an attorney, they want to see lots of information. Choosing an attorney is a serious undertaking. Most people want to make sure they make the right decision.

When I go shopping for a new product on Amazon, I read everything about the product. All the reviews, too. I’m sure you do, too. Why would anyone do less when shopping for an attorney?

An article on Forbes makes the case that because people are bombarded with too much information today, offering more information “isn’t working like it once did”. The author uses Apple as a paradigm of the “less is more” approach to marketing. Their ads are indeed simple, and I have no doubt they are effective. But selling computers isn’t the same as selling legal services.

Apple can get away with less information because people are familiar with their products and what they do. They see them everywhere. Their friends have them, and rave about them. All the cool people in movies and TV have them. Apple has a well-known reputation and doesn’t need to load up their ads or their website with an abundance of information.

Apple also doesn’t have any competition. Yes, there are many other computers available, but there is only one Apple.

Buying a computer is usually not an emergency situation. Hiring an attorney often is.

Buying a computer isn’t intimidating. It’s fun. I don’t think the same could be said for hiring an attorney.

Lawyers need to keep things simple, but don’t confuse simplicity with paucity. When it comes to marketing legal services, “more is more”.

What to put on your website. Go here.

Share

Getting things done by getting rid of your to do list

Share

No matter which method of task management we use, the challenge we all face is having a task lists that has become unmanageable.

Right now, I have over 600 “next” items on my list. (I keep everything in Evernote using tags.) That’s too many.

The “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system requires us to go through our lists once a week, to update our priorities for the following week. But my list is too big and it’s been a long time since I have done a weekly review.

Please don’t tell anyone.

The weekly review is what makes the whole system work. When you stop, you no longer have a task management system, you have a library.

How do I fix this?

I’m thinking about doing something drastic.

I’m thinking about starting over. Clean out the list and start a new one.

Yep, get rid of all of my “next” items and start from scratch.

What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll forgot something I haven’t thought about in months? It couldn’t be that important, could it?

Don’t we pretty much know what’s important? Aren’t we already working on what we need to do right now? Don’t we also know what we’ll probably do after that?

And we’re got our calendars for anything with a deadline.

A clean slate sounds like it would be delightful, doesn’t it? After you add back a handful of “next” tasks you remember or that come up this week, your weekly review will be quick and easy. You won’t avoid it. You’ll start getting things done.

But letting go is hard to do for a lawyer. Too many “what ifs”.

So here’s an safer alternative:

Move all of your tasks to a temporary folder or apply a temporary tag. Then, go through everything one time and decide if it should still be on your next list. If so, add it back. You will probably delete a good portion of your list this way.

Of course the danger with this safer method is indecision. We have too many things we are sure we need to do, and we can’t eliminate them.

Being a lawyer can be a royal pain in the arse.

Okay, if you can’t decide, move those tasks to “someday”. Keep your next list lean and mean.

Yes, we’re also supposed to go through our someday list during our weekly review. But if you don’t, if you go through it every six months, or every once in awhile, I won’t tell anyone. Pinkie swear.

See how I use Evernote to manage tasks and projects. Click here.

Share

Send your clients to client school

Share

Wouldn’t it be great if there was such a thing as client school? A place where clients would learn about the law and procedure, so they would understand what’s going on with their case and not have to ask you so many questions.

They would also get schooled on how to work with you: how to help you do a better job for them, how to contact you, what to send you, what is expected of them, and what to avoid. Client school would teach them about other services you offer and how they can benefit. They could learn about fees and billing, costs and retainers, and everything else a client needs to know.

No client school would be compete without a course on how to provide referrals. Clients would learn why sending you referrals helps them (i.e., it keeps your marketing costs low and you can pass the saving onto them, you don’t have to spend as much time marketing so you can give your clients more attention, etc.) and how it helps the people they refer (i.e., they get high quality help, they don’t have to spend time finding someone, they don’t take a risk of making a bad choice, etc.)

They would then learn what to do to make the referrals, i.e., what to say to their referrals, and/or what to email them or what page to send them to.

Client school would be great, wouldn’t it? Fewer questions, happier clients, more referrals.

So, why not start one?

All you have to do is put all of this information in writing, or record videos, and post everything on your website. You can put some or all of it in a password protected “clients only” area, or make it public so prospective clients can see all that you do for your clients. You can print transcripts and mail these to clients who prefer this, or put everything on DVD’s and give them to every new client.

You could have some of your staff record a video or two. Directions, where to park, office hours, and so on, or more substantive matters. They could do a walking tour of your office, or demonstrate the process for opening a new file. If appropriate, ask some articulate clients to record something.

More ideas? How about quizzes and a diploma for those who take all of the classes? How about things for kids, like legally themed pictures they can print and color, word search, crosswords, and so on?

Start with basic information. Add what you already have: articles, blog posts, recorded webinars or speeches, forms and checklists, reports and ebooks. Then, make a list of other areas you want to cover. Record one or two five minute videos each week. Don’t get fancy. Just talk into your webcam. Or put up a few slides and narrate them.

If you make some or all of this public, every time you do an update, notify your email list and your social media followers.

So, what do you think? Would you give this idea a passing grade?

For more ideas for your website, get this

Share

Striking a balance between accessibility and availability

Share

At one extreme are lawyers who are always available. They give out their cell phone number to everyone, answer their own phone, and respond almost immediately to email. There is no buffer between them and the world.

At the other extreme are lawyers who are hard to reach and hardly ever available. Clients and prospects speak to intermediaries. If they want to speak with the lawyer, they make an appointment and it might be days or weeks before that takes place.

Always being available is neither good posture, nor a good way to value and manage your time. If you are always reachable, people will start to expect it. You don’t make your schedule, others do.  It doesn’t allow you to focus on the most important people and tasks in front of you. And, if people can’t reach you when they want to, as they have come to expect, you will have disappointed them.

Some lawyers can (and do) successfully maintain the other extreme. They are very difficult to reach and are thus seen as successful and desirable. Not everyone can pick up the phone and speak to Donald Trump whenever they want to. You have to pass through the gauntlet before you get an audience with The Donald.

It takes the right practice area and clientele to pull this off, however, as well as a high degree of confidence. If you are inclined towards this position, do you establish these guidelines first, before you are busy and successful, or do you evolve into this persona when you’ve got the chops to prove it? Tough call.

For most lawyers, it’s probably best to strike a balance between availability and accessibility. Be reasonably accessible but not always available. Don’t give out your cell phone number to everyone, reserve that for your inner circle or perhaps also for your best clients. Don’t make people wait weeks to see you, but don’t tell them they can see you “any time this week”. (Give them a couple of open time slots later in the week.) Don’t ignore messages or turn everything over to intermediaries. Return messages in a reasonably timely manner.

Show people that you are accessible but that you value your time and are busy doing important work. Unless it is an emergency, they need to accommodate your schedule, and they may need to speak to someone else before they can speak to you.

Share

How will you increase your income next month?

Share

So next month will be better than this month? You’re going to bring in new business or bigger cases and your income will increase?

How? What’s your plan? What will you do to make that happen? Because these things don’t just happen by themselves.

What will you do this month that will bring in more business or increase your income next month?

Be specific.

What emails or letters will you send? Who will you send them to? What will you ask or offer?

What will you do to build your list? Get more traffic? Get more website visitors to call?

How will you get more referrals from existing clients? Former clients? Prospective clients and other contacts?

What new markets will you target? What services will you offer? What will you say to convince them to trust you and hire you?

How will you get more referral sources? What is their background? Where will you find them? How will you approach them?

What articles or blog posts will you write? Who will you offer a guest post to? Who will you ask to do a guest post for you?

Where will you speak this month? What seminars, webinars, or teleconferences will you conduct? What videos will you post?

How will you increase your social media followers? Stimulate engagement? Provide more value?

How will you get more prospective clients to make an appointment? How will close them? Get them to hire you for bigger engagements?

What will you do to collect money that is owed you? How will modify your billing practices to get more clients to pay on time? What changes will you make to your fee structure?

Will you start advertising? Increase your ad buys? Hire a new copy writer?

What will you do to lower your overhead? What can you do about rent, salaries, or other fixed costs? How can you get better deals on variable expenses?

I’m all for being optimistic. But thinking next month will be better without having a plan to make it better is not the way to run a business. Go through the above questions and write down three things you will do this month. Then, start doing them.

Want some help?

Okay, for a simple marketing plan, get this.

For help with your website and online marketing, get this.

For help with writing and referrals, this is what you need.

And if your billing and collection practices need a shot in the arm, run, don’t walk and get this.

Share

Earning the right to ask for help

Share

A lot of people ask me for help. They want me to promote their event, link to their site, or donate to their cause. I do what I can, but I can’t help everyone with everything.

But when my friend Mitch Jackson asked for help with his Rotary Club’s fund raiser to end polio, I didn’t hesitate.

I made a donation and then posted this on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Anyone who sees my post is invited to donate. I’m asking you to do the same. Just go to http://MonarchBeachRotary.Club. Their goal is to raise $20,000. With our help, I know they can reach it.

Polio has almost been eradicated, but still exists. If you have known someone afflicted with this horrible disease, as I have, you know it’s time to wipe it out once and for all. So please help. Make a donation. Any amount will help. And promote this cause to your contacts.

Now, why did I agree to help Mitch and his cause? Because he’s earned the right to my help. He has supported me and promoted me over the years and this is one small way I can reciprocate.

And that’s the lesson for the day. If you want people to help you, your practice, or your cause, become worthy of their help. The more you do for others, the more you can ask others to do for you.

Share

Is it unethical for lawyers to use ghostwritten blog posts?

Share

Kevin O’Keefe says that ghostwritten blog posts are unethical for lawyers. Unlike legal briefs or other work a lawyer may have penned by others, blogs are considered a form of advertising. If you say you wrote the piece but you didn’t, you are guilty of misrepresentation.

O’Keefe says that clients rely on blog posts to choose attorneys. “The ghost-written post may be better written, funnier, or just plain different than the attorney’s own work product. Even worse, the post may have a completely different perspective or contain better ideas than what the attorney is capable of.”

Basically, clients might hire you because you made them believe you are a better lawyer than you really are.

I have a question. What if you’re a great writer but a mediocre lawyer? Don’t your blog posts misrepresent your abilities? Should we tell average lawyers who write well to dumb down their writing, lest they entice unsuspecting clients to hire them under false pretenses?

How about lawyers who are better at public speaking than they are in the courtroom. Doesn’t their speaking ability give people a false impression of their lawyering skills?

While we’re at it, should we also charge lawyers with misrepresentation if they wear a hairpiece, makeup, or an expensive suit? Won’t prospective clients think they are better looking (and thus more effective) or more successful than they really are?

Just out of law school? Better not have nice office furniture. Clients may think you have more experience than you do.

Are clients so stupid and helpless that we have to protect them against every possible harm? By attempting to do so, don’t we make it more likely that someone will get hurt because people rely on the government to protect them and stop thinking for themselves?

I realize lawyers are held to a higher standard, but what part of arms length transaction is unclear? When did caveat emptor become bad advice?

Anyway, if people who can take away our licenses say we mustn’t say we wrote blog posts we didn’t write, we probably shouldn’t ignore it.

Are there any loopholes?

Can you use ghostwritten material without any byline? If you add the name of the ghostwriter to the byline will that do the trick? How about a disclaimer that the article wasn’t written by you but is posted with your approval?

I don’t know if any of this will suffice to stave off the wolves, but I have another idea.

See, I don’t recommend using “canned” articles or hiring a ghostwriter to write you blog, but not because they may cause harm. I’m against them because they aren’t very good.

Canned articles are usually generic and simplistic. Lifeless and boring. They don’t reflect the real life experiences or opinions of the attorney, and thus, aren’t effective at connecting with readers or persuading them to choose the lawyer who posts them over anyone else.

All this huffing and puffing about how ghostwritten articles get clients to hire lawyers under false pretenses is much ado about nothing. If anything, they usually do the opposite.

Ironic, isn’t it? You post canned articles, thinking clients will be impressed and choose you, but they yawn and look elsewhere instead.

The system polices itself. Imagine that.

On the other hand, ghostwritten material may still be useful by giving  you a place to start.

Re-write the ghostwritten article. Put it in your own words and add your own examples and stories.

Problem solved. The final piece will be more interesting and engaging than the original, and you can honestly say that you wrote it.

Just make sure it’s not too good, or that your head shot isn’t too flattering. The bar police are watching.

Want to get better at writing blog posts? This is what you need.

Share

5 critical skills to teach yourself before opening your own law office

Share

Reasonable minds may differ, but rarely do they differ so completely.

Exhibit A is this article: 5 critical skills to teach yourself before starting your first business. The skills, along with my comments:

1. Daily routine

I wouldn’t classify this as a skill. More like a habit. Quibbling aside, should this really be number one on the list of “critical” skills to teach yourself “before” starting your first business? Valuable? Yes. Critical? Not really. Could you develop this habit after you start your business? Um, yes you could. But then, reasonable minds may differ.

2. Email management (etiquette, productivity, security)

Okay, you haven’t opened your business, so you’ve got no emails to worry about. Are these skills going to bring in business? Help you get financing? Or do anything else a new business owner needs to survive and thrive? And couldn’t you just read an article or two to learn what you need to know and do?

3. HTML and CSS

Seriously?

I run a business. I know basic HTML (very basic) and nothing about CSS. I certainly didn’t need to learn anything before opening shop. I could make the case that this knowledge is even less important today, in view of WYSIWYG options like WordPress.

4. Marketing and Promotion

Finally, something we can agree on. Sort of. Marketing is a critical skill (a set of critical skills, actually), but you learn marketing mostly by doing it. Reading about it (or taking classes) doesn’t provide real world context.

In the real world, you learn an idea, you try it and see how it works. You adjust, make changes or try something different. You develop your skills by taking to real people. You learn by making mistakes.

In my humble (but accurate) opinion, you will learn more about marketing in a month of running your business than you will  in four years of college.

5. Data Analytics (Google, social media metrics)

Seriously?

Again, helpful, but not critical. And something you can learn as you grow. By the way, I can’t remember the last time I checked my stats. Just sayin.

Okay, what do you think about the author’s choices of critical skills?

What’s that? You want to see my list? Well, I have a different take on the whole subject.

I think that what’s needed before opening a business or a law office aren’t skills so much as values and attributes. Things like guts and persistence, the desire to change the world, a love of problem solving, and a passion for what you’re doing. That, and a big pile of cash, so you have time to learn and make mistakes.

I don’t think there any critical skills needed before opening your own law office. But if you want to be successful, here are 5 critical skills you should develop as soon as you can:

1. Salesmanship

Lawyers sell clients on hiring us, judges and juries on finding for us, and opposing parties on settling with us. There’s probably no more valuable skill for a professional or business owner than the ability to communicate ideas and persuade people to act on them. But like marketing, this is best learned in the act of doing.

2. Writing

If you’re not a good writer, you need to become one. You can read and take classes, (hint: study copy writing) but you have to apply what you learn. Write every day. In a year, you can become a good writer.

3. Networking

Arguably the most valuable marketing skill for professionals.

4. Leadership

Leadership is a skill and it can be learned. And it should be. If you have employees, or intend to, if you want to become a leader in your community or organization, study leadership, and start applying what you learn.

5. Touch typing

In terms of every day productivity, this is the skill that that I would put at the top of the list. And hey, it is something you can learn before opening your own law office.

That’s my list and I’m sticking to it. So there.

The formula for marketing legal services.

Share

How to be more creative

Share

You’re in a rut. Every day you do the same things. The spark is gone. Your creativity machine has become rusty.

What if you played a game where you used your imagination to come up with some fresh ideas?

It’s called, the “What if?” game and it will help you be more creative.

Let’s play.

What if you were marketing used cars instead of legal services. What would you do to get more people to your showroom, sell more cars, or earn more from each car sold?

Well, you might hold a big sale. “An extra $500 off on any car this weekend only”. You might have elephant rides on your lot and encourage people to bring their kids. You might take your sales people on a retreat and have a trainer teach them some new techniques. You might also have that trainer consult with you on how to motivate your sales team with bonuses, trips, and other incentives.

Okay, that was fun. It was nice to think about things you could do if you weren’t constrained by law and propriety. You discovered that you can still be creative.

But so what? You can’t really use any of these ideas.

What if you could? (Yep, still playing. . .)

You’re probably not going to hold a sale, but perhaps you could put together some kind of limited time offer. “Book your appointment this week and get free document updates for life.”

You’re not going to have elephant rides in your building’s parking lot, but how about adding a toy chest and coloring books to your waiting room so clients can keep their kids occupied?

What about that employee retreat and sales trainer idea? You actually could do that. Bring in someone to teach your employees how to work with clients, to keep them happy and stimulate referrals.

If you want to be more creative, look at things from a different perspective. Think about the question or problem as if you were a different person, or under a different set of circumstances. Imagine you had different tools or different skills.

In other words, think like a kid.

Kids don’t settle for the way things are. They use their imaginations. They think about the way things could be. They ask, “What if?”

Share