Everyone is an entrepreneur. Including you.


It doesn’t matter whether you’re employed or self-employed, you are an entrepreneur.

Deal with it.

You are an entrepreneur because every day, you take risks with your career. You may get fired today. Your partnership may break up. Your biggest client may leave you.

You are in sales, too. You sell your services (and yourself) to an employer or to individual clients. Every day, you sell or re-sell yourself on getting and staying hired.

But every day you also have the opportunity for gain. You may get a raise. You may get a big case. You may start to embrace marketing and double your income.

Risk and reward. The yin and yang of the entrepreneur. The only question is, how much risk are you willing to take?

You do know that a job doesn’t mean safety or security? In fact, it means just the opposite. You don’t control your fate. Others do. Just ask people who lost their job two years ago and are still unemployed.

Starting your own practice or business isn’t risk free, of course, but if you fail, you will at least have a skill set that allows you to start over.

In fact, the very act of failing makes you more likely to succeed the next time. The greatest risks are often borne by those who have never failed.

Venture capitalist Ben Narasin says that he sometimes funds startups run by people who have never failed at anything. He says,

Sometimes these prove to be the founders most likely to fail. They’re likely to fail exactly because they are afraid of doing so. They’re so used to winning, so used to the orderly, structured, achievable goals… conquerable by brain power and effort alone, that they are ill-prepared for the entirely messy reality of entrepreneurship.

Being an entrepreneur is messy. You might fail. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Building a law practice is easier when you know The Formula


The one thing you need to do to build a successful law practice


Do you remember the Billy Crystal movie, “City Slickers”? There is a scene where Jack Palance’s character, Curly, is about to tell Mitch (Crystal) the secret to life? “There’s just ONE thing,” Curly says, holding up one finger. All eyes are fixed on Palance. What will he say? What is the “one thing”?

Curly never does answer. When I saw the scene, I thought he would say, “That’s what you have to figure out”. That’s your quest. Figure out the one thing and everything else will take care of itself.

I don’t know if that’s what he meant, but it makes me wonder, is there “one thing” for building a successful law practice? One thing that can take a lawyer from where they are to where they want to be?

Yes there is. For most lawyers in private practice, the one thing that would make all the difference is getting more clients.

Getting better clients is important, of course, and should be on every lawyer’s to-do list. But for both short term and long term success, getting more clients is the one thing that changes everything.

More clients means more money. More money allows you to improve your lifestyle. More money means you are able to help more people and leave the world a better place.

Yes or yes?

Okay, so more clients is the main ingredient. With a side dish of better clients. The next question, of course, is what’s the one thing about getting more clients?

You know the answer to that, amigo. It’s marketing. That’s how we get clients, after all.

But marketing is big and scary. There are too many variables. I don’t know what to do. Tell me, is there “one thing” about marketing?

Hold on, now, you want me to sort through everything there is to know about marketing professional services and tell you the “one thing”?

Okay, I will.

It’s referrals. Get referrals right and you may not have to do much of anything else.

Referrals have always been the number one way clients find attorneys and it still is today. The Internet is important, vital even for many types of practice, but it’s number two on the list.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. To build a successful law practice, referrals are king. But. . . but. . . what’s the “one thing” about getting referrals?

You ask a lot of questions, Chachi. No worries. That’s what I’m here for.

Anyway, whether it’s referrals from clients, other professionals, or anyone else, the one thing, the Holy Grail about getting referrals is. . . delivering value.

Not just doing good work and treating people with respect. That’s expected. That’s the standard of care. Every lawyer should do that, and most lawyers do. No, if you want to get more referrals and stand out from the crowd, you have to do what most lawyers don’t do.

You have to do more than do your job.

The lawyers who get the most referrals are the lawyers who do things for their clients and contacts that transcend their work and their professional relationships. They help them, unselfishly, without being asked and without expecting anything in return.

Yes, the golden rule.

There, I said it. Call me a sentimental fool, but there you go. Help others, give to others, treat others the way you would like to be treated.

What’s the “one thing” when it comes to the golden rule?

That’s what you have to figure out.


Put away your shotgun and get out your rifle


I found a book yesterday which purported to be about marketing for attorneys. I didn’t buy it.

I didn’t buy it because the author isn’t an attorney, nor is she a marketing expert, for attorneys or anyone else. According to her bio, she’s a freelance writer. Nothing against freelance writers, but given the choice, attorneys prefer to learn from an attorney who built a successful practice, a marketing consultant for attorneys, or ideally, from someone who is both.

Someone like me, for example.

Because of my background and experience, attorneys prefer to buy my books and courses instead of those written by people with generalized marketing experience, or no marketing experience. They’ll pay more, too, because I’m worth more. At least to them.

We speak the same language. We understand each other. You don’t have to explain your situation, I’ve know it, either because I’ve lived it or because I’ve helped others in that situation.

By contrast, the aforesaid writer doesn’t have that connection. In her book description, she reveals that failing when she says, “. . . in your attorney business,” instead of in your firm or practice.

Nuff said.

This is why I preach to you about niche marketing. Your task in marketing your services is to show prospective clients, and the people who can refer them, that you are the best lawyer for the job. The simplest way to do that is to show them that you are the closest match to what they need and want, by virtue of your experience in helping other clients like them.

If a real estate investor is looking for an estate planning attorney and learns that you do estate planning exclusively and represent hundreds of real estate investors, he is more likely to choose you instead of another lawyer, and more likely to pay your well-deserved higher fee.

The key to attracting high-value clients is focus. Stop trying to be all things to all people. Put away your marketing shotgun and get out your marketing rifle.

How to get focused and attract your ideal clients


My take on gun control


I have a very strong opinion on the gun control issue. I’d like to share it with you but I would be a fool if I did. I write about marketing, not politics or policy. Telling you my opinion on an emotionally charged issue like gun control might satisfy my need to express myself, but from a marketing standpoint it would be a mistake.

I might lose half of my readers who disagree with me. If I represented a special interest group or had a talk show or forum of some sort where “taking sides” was part of the deal, fine. But I don’t, so why unnecessarily alienate people who might hire me?

As a friend of mine colorfully advises, “Don’t shit on your money”.

And that’s my advice to you.

There is a way to talk about issues like gun control, climate change, abortion, and the like without stabbing yourself in the back. You do that by writing about those issues as though you were writing a Bar exam essay.

Present both sides of the issue–the legal arguments and the body of law–in an unbiased manner. The facts and arguments on one side, and then the other. Leave out the conclusion altogether, or couch it in terms of “if/then”.

State the facts and keep your opinion to yourself.

Your clients and prospects, readers and listeners, will appreciate you for educating them about both sides of the issue and for giving them credit for making up their own mind. You have presented a valuable service to them, and haven’t pushed anyone away.

I know, it’s hard to keep mum about what we think, especially when we have strongly held opinions about important issues. But we just can’t go there.

When I see what some people post on Facebook, I have to bite my tongue and watch cat videos to calm down. But I don’t comment. I also don’t like political posts I agree with. I don’t let anyone know my opinion.

Lately, however, I’ve taken to un-following people who reveal their foolishness through their posts. I’m not their client or prospect, so it doesn’t matter, but if I were, their opinions might cost them a small fortune.

What to write on your website or blog



Lawyer to lawyer referrals: don’t ignore this potential gold mine


How many lawyers do you know in another state? Probably not many. That means there are a lot of attorneys in other states who also don’t know you and if they don’t know you, they probably won’t send you referrals.

What if there was an easy way to change that?

In the Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals, I said that the simplest way to get more referrals from other lawyers is to get to know more lawyers. Yes, you want to know more lawyers in your local area, but there’s a very good reason for getting to know lawyers in other states: no competition.

If you are in Pittsburgh, PA, an attorney in San Diego, CA might not have a lot of referrals for you, but if you’re the only lawyer he knows in Pittsburgh in your practice area, when he does have a referral, you’ll be the only one on his list.

Me entiendo?

Imagine having an email list of lawyers in other parts of the country, or in other countries, who know who you are and what you do? They hear from you occasionally, getting updates about your interesting new client, your big settlement, or your latest article or blog post. Your name and contact information is continually in front of them.

Of course you also ask them to keep you informed about their practice, because you might have a referral for them, or know someone who does.

Many of your contacts will never pan out, but some will. If there are 100 lawyers on your list, you’re going to get some business.

In fact, make that a goal. 100 lawyers on your list in the next 60 days. (You could do this in two days if you wanted to.)

Lawyers are easy to find. They have websites, they are on social media, they advertise. Find lawyers who represent the kinds of clients you target, contact them and introduce yourself.

You can call first, or email. Calling is better; email is faster.

Tell them you saw their website or ad or read something they wrote. Pay them a compliment or ask them a question. And then tell them that you’d like to know more about what they do because you don’t know any lawyers in their area and you never know when you might have a referral.

Of course they will ask about you and your practice.

It really is that simple.

For more ways to find and approach attorneys, both locally and in far off places, see Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals.


What, are you chicken?


What are you afraid of? Public speaking? Writing and putting yourself out into the world for all to see? Are you afraid to network and meet strangers? How about asking for referrals?

I’m calling you out. Issuing a dare for you to do the thing that scares you. Because the thing that scares you might just be the best thing you could do.

Yes, there are risks. You might fail. You might be embarrassed. You might do something stupid and lose a client or a friend. But you might also find that the thing you dare to do opens up vast new opportunities for you and catapults you to an amazing level of success.

Back to the Future is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. If you recall, Marty McFly didn’t like anyone calling him chicken. He did things, on a dare, and it got him into trouble, but it also took him on a grand adventure. He was the hero of that adventure because he dared.

Yesterday, I had an email conversation with an attorney who has started a network marketing business. He told me that he was hesitant to show his professional contacts what he was doing. He’s read my network marketing books so he knows that I understand. When I started my business, I felt the same resistance he is feeling.

Whether it’s practicing law or building a business or doing anything that takes us out of our comfort zone, there are many things we can do to help lessen our fears, or bypass them. One of the best is to get a workout partner to hold us accountable to doing the activities we need to do to reach our stated goals.

I told the lawyer that eventually, he would experience a breakthrough, and that right now, he should focus on doing whatever he can do to get started. I know that once I did that in my business, my fears quickly proved to be unfounded and I was on my way to success.

Whatever it is you fear, just do it. Get started. Trick yourself if you have to, get drunk if you have to, take someone to hold your hand if you have to, but do it. Take the leap and build your wings on the way down.

He might not find a breakthrough, of course. He might let his fears get the better of him. Like so many, he might find himself in the “I wish I had” club, instead of the “I’m glad I did” club. But if he never starts, he’ll never know.

I broke through my resistance because I was at a point in my life where I was tired of working all the time and realized I had to do something about it. I wanted the benefits of time freedom and retirement income and the associated lifestyle that goes with it and my desire was stronger than my fears.

In other words, I felt the fear and did it anyway. And I’m glad I did.


Write for your clients, not your prospects


A question posed on a marketing blog caught my attention: “How might your attitude to writing your newsletter or blog improve if you saw every reader as a client?”

It’s a great question.

You know your clients, and care about them, and so when you write to them or for them, you communicate at a deeper, more informed level than you do when you’re writing to strangers. You understand your client’s business. You know their family. You know what they like and how they think, what they need and what they want.

You have a relationship with them and when you write to them, you are more relaxed, more open, and more genuine.

Why not be that way with everyone?

When you write a blog post or article, when you speak before a group, when you meet people while networking, think about them as though they already are your clients. You may know nothing about them (yet) but by showing them that you care about them and want to help them, when you generously share your knowledge and advice, when you have a conversation with them instead of talking at them, they will come to know you and trust you.

Some of them will become actual clients. This is a great way to accelerate that process.

Website? Blog? Newsletter? Here’s what to do and how to do it


Five keys to growing a law practice and increasing cash flow


You probably know most of what I am about to tell you, but knowing something doesn’t mean you’re doing it or that you can’t do it better. So consider this a helpful reminder to regularly examine these five areas of your practice:

1) Marketing

Marketing is everything you do to get and keep good clients, and it should be your top priority. Examine the marketing activities you now do and see how you can do them better. Look at other strategies you can implement. Look for ways to expand what’s working and minimize or eliminate what’s not.

2) Systems

Every practice should set up and maintain manuals that detail every aspect of work flow and office management. Detailed checklists, forms and templates, and the like, help you do what you do more quickly and efficiently, train new hires and temps, reduce mistakes, save money, and increase profits.

3) Personal Development

Everyone associated with the practice needs to continually re-fresh and improve their professional and personal skills. These include staying current on law and procedure, learning how to use technology, and improving their writing, speaking, salesmanship, marketing, and productivity skills and habits.

4) Human Resources

Hiring and outsourcing are an important part of improving profitability. You need to regularly review who’s working for you, what they’re doing, what else you can assign them, training, scheduling, and incentives. You should also consider when to hire additional staff or replace the ones who aren’t doing a good job.

5) Infrastructure/expense management

Every dollar saved is a dollar earned. This category includes offices, leases, service contracts, technology, library, supplies, repairs, insurance, etc. Can you get it for less elsewhere or by buying in bulk? Can you negotiate? Can you eliminate it? Also look for ways to make the work environment safer, more compliant, and more pleasant for staff and clients.

Of these five categories, most lawyers should focus 70-80% of their time and resources on marketing. When you bring in more clients, bigger cases, or higher fees, the rest of the things on this list will be relatively easy. When you don’t, the rest don’t matter.

Marketing plan for growing a law practice: Go here


What kids can teach you about marketing legal services


If you have kids you know that they are like a Terminator when it comes to asking questions. They never stop. They have an innate and insatiable curiosity about the world and their place in it and asking questions is how they make sense of it all.

Of course you also know that their favorite question is “why?”

When you tell them to eat their peas, they ask why. “Because I said so” isn’t a very good answer.

And yet “because I said so” will get many kids to comply. It is a reason, after all, even if it carries an innate threat of punishment for failure to do so.

On the other hand, if you give them a good reason to do what you ask, you should find it easier to get them to comply.

Well guess what? It works the same way with your clients, prospective clients, friends and followers on social media, and everyone else in your life. You want someone to hire you? Tell them why. You want them to click and read your post or register for your event? Tell them why. You want them send you referrals, tell them why?

What’s in it for them? What will they get out of it? What will happen if they don’t?

I got a text this morning from one of my business partners. There’s a conference call at 10 am and he would like me to listen to it. He told me what to do, but he didn’t tell me why.

What I will learn? What’s the subject matter? Who is the speaker? What will I get out of the call?

Many people will do what you ask out of habit or allegiance to you, out of curiosity, or because you said so. But more people will do it if you tell them why.

Studies have shown that the reason doesn’t have to be particularly strong. Offering any reason will increase response. “It’s Monday and we have a call at 10 am” isn’t a very good reason but it’s enough to get some people to dial in who otherwise might not.

But if you ask me, and you do, offering better and more compelling reasons will get more people to sign on and do what you ask.

In fact, the degree of your success in marketing legal services is a direct function of the persuasiveness of your message.

No reason? Some will comply. Lame reason? More will do so. Great reason? Home run. Multiple reasons with valuable benefits and invoking a fear of loss if they don’t? Grand slam.

You can’t threaten to send clients to their room if they don’t hire you or send you referrals. You need to tell them why.

Get this and you will get more clients and increase your income


Do you have five minutes? Great, then you can market your law practice


Like a broken record, I promote the idea that you can market your law practice in only 15 minutes a day. You repeatedly hear me say, “Put 15 minutes on your calendar and make it an appointment with yourself.”

But I know that many lawyers don’t do it.

Is that you? If 15 minutes a day is too much, how about 5 minutes?

The beauty of five-minute marketing is that it can be done on the spur of the moment. You don’t have to schedule anything. When you’re waiting for your next client, when you’re eating lunch, when you’re driving, you can make calls, dictate emails, or brainstorm ideas.

You can even write the first draft of a blog post or article. Yes, in five minutes.

The trick to writing an article in five minutes is to separate the idea-getting from the writing. Set up a notebook dedicated to ideas for articles or posts. When you have five minutes, add a few bullet points, examples, or sub-topics to each idea.

When you have another five minutes, you’ll be ready to crank out the first draft of an article.

Assuming you’re writing about something you know, with notes in hand, in five minutes you should be able to write 200 to 400 words. More if you dictate them.

Whether you type or dictate, the trick is to write for five minutes without stopping to edit or even to think. Remember, you know this subject and you know what you want to say about it. That’s enough for a first draft.

That draft will be rough and better for it because it will sound conversational. At least it should.

Put the first draft aside and come back to it when you have another five minutes. Re-write, add links or cites or quotes, edit and polish.

As proof, I wrote the first draft of the foregoing in about five minutes. I’m taking another ten minutes or so to make it pretty for you.

Whether it’s writing articles or emails, calling former clients to say hello, or calling other lawyers to talk about how you might work together for your mutual marketing benefit, you can do a lot in five minutes.

If you’re not willing to commit 15 minutes a day to marketing, make a list of things you can do in five minutes and keep it handy. If you are willing to commit 15 minutes a day to marketing, during those 15 minutes you can do three of them.

How to talk to lawyers about referrals