Let’s play tag

Share

I add tags to all my notes and tasks and projects. They help me identify things and find things and organize everything into a workable system.

I have action-related tags, contextual tags (for people and places, etc.), tags for each Area of Focus, e.g., Work, Personal, and reference tags. Each project has it’s own tag.

I use @ and # and other symbols or numbers to group tags together, allowing me to nest tags under top-level categories (in Evernote).

I often experiment with different tags, to see which ones I like best, which ones I use most, and which ones fall into the “it sounded good at the time” category.

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all the time, I find myself having too many tags. I create a new tag for something only to discover that I already had it, or something very similar. For this reason, I periodically go on a “tag cleanse” to tidy things up.

Anyway, if you’re into tags like I am, or if you do something similar with labels or notebooks or folders, I thought I’d share a few of the tags I use, or have used, because you might find something you like.

For the sake of simplicity, I won’t include reference tags and I’ll use only #hashtag symbol:

  • #incubate (something to think about and come back to)
  • #decide (similar to #incubate)
  • #checklist (#weekly-review, for example)
  • #daily, #weekly, #monthly, #yearly, and #recurring 
  • #emergency (if I get locked out of the car, I can quickly find the number for road service)
  • #needs-reply
  • #remember (things I want to remember–quotes, mantras, habits)
  • #r/r (read/review)
  • #defer-to-do (something I plan to do later and don’t want to look at until then) 
  • #defer-to-review (something I don’t want to consider until later)
  • #wip (work in progress, so I can find things I haven’t finished)
  • #bm (bookmark; external or internal, ie., within the app.–links, sites, phone numbers, etc.)
  • #due, #pay, #buy, #amazon
  • #mit (most important task)
  • #on-hold, #pending, #planned (for projects)

I also use (or have used) some of the usual gtd-type tags:

  • #today or #t 
  • #next or #n
  • #soon
  • #later
  • #now
  • #waiting
  • #s/m (someday/maybe)
  • #errand
  • #call
  • #name (people I know or work with)
  • #computer, #home
  • #tickler and #calendar 
  • #do
  • #doing
  • #done
  • #mon, #tues, #wed, etc. 
  • #jan, #feb, #mar, etc. 
  • #5-min, #15-min, etc.
  • #high, #medium, #low (energy level needed for the task)
  • #1, #2, #3, #A, #B, #C (priority)

So, there you go. I’ve shown you mine, how about showing me yours? Because you can never have too many tags. 

My Evernote for Lawyers ebook

Share

Thank you

Share

A prospective client hires you. You send them a welcome letter, thanking them for choosing you and assuring them you’ll do a good job for them.

Well done.

What about prospective clients who don’t hire you? Or who meet with you and haven’t yet decided to go forward? Do you send them anything, a thank you note for meeting with you and considering you?

You should.

Not only is it good manners, it is an easy way to show people your character and professionalism, and convey to the would-be client that you want to work with them.

Smart job candidates send a thank you note after their interview with a recruiter or hiring manager. When a prospective client meets with you, they’re interviewing you for the job, aren’t they?

Send a letter, an email, or both. Tell them you appreciate being considered, say something positive about something they said or about their case or company, showing that you understand their situation and believe you can help them.

You might consider a hand-written thank you note because few people do that anymore.

Actually, few lawyers send a thank you note of any kind after their first meeting with a prospective client. That’s another reason you should. It is a simple but effective way to get prospective clients to put you on their short list.

Thank you for reading this message. I appreciate that you took a few minutes from your busy day to read my words. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.

Share

Clumping, bunching, bundling and blocking

Share

Let me look at my calendar. . . this morning, as soon as I get back from court, I have an appointment with a new client. That’s all I have scheduled so the rest of the day, I’ll review files, do dictation, and catch up on calls and email.

Sound familiar?

It’s nice. We like having a flexible schedule, don’t we? And a little variety keeps things interesting.

But is it the most efficient way to work?

Some people say no. They group their tasks together into clumps or bundles or blocks of time. They’ll make calls for one hour, for example, and then turn to something else.

If you look at their calendar, you’ll see blocks of time throughout the day and week: one hour mid-morning for email, two hours in the afternoon for client meetings, and so on.

They say there are advantages to “time blocking”:

  • You know in advance what you’re going to work on so you’re ready for it
  • You avoid the loss of momentum associated with “context switching”
  • You can schedule time for “deep work”–research or writing, for example, without distractions or feeling like you should be doing something else
  • You are in charge of your schedule; you can pace yourself and your energy
  • You don’t fall down the rabbit hole by checking email all day

Some take this a step further. They dedicate certain days of the week (or half-days) for specific tasks. For example, they might schedule Mondays and Wednesday afternoons for working on files, Tuesdays and Thursdays for seeing clients, Fridays for admin.

Some people schedule entire weeks for specific projects. The second week of each month might be dedicated to all things marketing, for example.

Is time blocking more efficient? Yes. Clearly. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

You may have limited control over your schedule. Your work may naturally have periods of feast and famine–signing up clients every day for a week and then no new clients for the next three weeks, or a two-week trial followed by no court for a month. Or you might simply enjoy a more free-floating approach.

I prefer a less rigid schedule, but I often work in bunches. After I send this, I’ll go through all my email before moving onto something else.

Do what works best for you, even if it’s not “best practices”.

Some people use todo lists, some put everything on their calendar, and some (most?) use both.

But there are outliers who don’t use either one.

They must spend a fortune on sticky-notes.

Share

Are you nuts, you can’s say that!

Share

If you’ve ever felt like you aren’t a good writer, or if you think you’re okay but want to improve, I have some advice.

Put people in your writing.

Facts and logic are obviously important. But people provide context and an emotional element, helping your reader understand, relate to, and remember your message.

Tell stories. Give examples. Use your cases and clients and prospects to illustrate your points.

The other day, I read an attorney’s email newsletter. There were some good ideas in it but I can’t remember any of them. The information was good but his writing was abstract and boring.

So, don’t do that. When you talk about a problem, tell me about someone who had or has that problem. How does the problem affect them? And. . . what happened?

Yes?

Now, there’s one person in particular who should appear in your writing. You.

People want to know who you are, what you think, and what you’re like as a person. Prospective clients want to know what it would be like having you as their attorney.

Put more of you in your writing.

Don’t make it all about you. Nobody wants to read that. But don’t hide yourself, either, something I see a lot of attorneys do in their writing.

I used to do it myself.

As a young attorney, my writing was stiff and formal. One day, I decided to take the stick out of my assimus maximus and write like I speak.

Less formal, less measured, more transparent.

I was afraid I might hurt myself by sounding unprofessional. I was afraid I might reveal something about myself that I shouldn’t, or say something I thought was funny and wind up being offensive.

I’ve done all of the above, but, on balance, putting more of my personality in my writing was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Try it. It may take some practice but once you get into the swing of things, once you let down your guard and have some fun with your writing, I know you’ll be pleased with the results.

One caveat: if your gut tells you you’ve gone too far, show your draft to your spouse or secretary or someone else who cares about you enough to say, “Are you nuts, you can’t say that!”

How to write a more effective newsletter

Share

What’s next for you?

Share

It’s the middle of the year. It’s also the middle of the month and the middle of the week. For some, it’s also the middle of the day.

You’ve accomplished some things this year, yes? The question is, “What’s next?”

What project are you working on now? What do you plan to start soon?

It may be vacation time for you and your clients. Things may be slow. But that won’t last. Before you can say, “motion granted,” the holidays will be here and we’ll be on the cusp of a new year.

My advice: use this time to figure out what’s next for you (if you haven’t already done that) and begin working on it.

Get thee ready for the coming storm.

You should do this even if things aren’t slow right now because you have to stay ahead of the game.

Where do you start?

When I start a new project, the first step I take is to write down the desired outcome. What do I want and why do I want it. Nothing fancy.

This may change. The project may expand in scope, contract, or the entire idea may become something else.

Then, since I’ve probably been thinking about this for awhile and have some notes, I gather up those notes and divide them into three categories: Tasks, Resources, and Notes.

Tasks are things I have to do or might have to do, even if that means thinking about something or doing a little exploratory research.

Resources are links and docs or people I might need.

Notes is for everything else.

And with that, the project is begun.

I give myself permission to put it aside, however. If I’m not ready to move forward on a project or I find something else I want to (or need to) work on, I put the project aside.

I have more than a few of these residing on my hard drive, ready for me to pick them up again.

Grab a legal pad or digital device and flesh out a project to work on over the next few months. If you have several options, choose the one that excites you (scares you) because that’s probably the one you should be working on.

If you decide you’re not ready for it, put your notes aside and flesh out another project. And don’t dillydally. It may be the start of summer but I can already hear the sound of sleigh bells in the distance.

I keep my notes in Evernote. Here’s my Evernote for Lawyers ebook

Share

Pay-per-ouch!

Share

I read an article about the options available to lawyers for marketing their services. One of the options was pay-per-click ads.

But, it’s expensive, the article says. To wit: “The search term “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” can cost as much as $140 per click.”

Not for a lead. Just for the click.

If ten people click on your ad, you’re in the hole for over $1,000 before you talk to anyone to find out if they have a case and can show them your dog and your pony.

That’s crazy, right?

Not necessarily.

There’s a reason PPC ads for PI lawyers in Los Angeles are expensive. They’re expensive because there are a lot of lawyers competing for those clicks, and they do that despite the high cost per click because they’re still able to make a profit.

If they weren’t, they wouldn’t bid so much for those clicks and the price would come down. Supply and demand.

The seemingly high price is proof that “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” is a profitable keyword. At least for some lawyers.

If you’re a PI lawyer in LA, it is precisely the kind of keyword you should consider.

If you have the money. And you’ve got your act together and can convert enough of those clicks into clients, and those clients back into dollars.

Lawyer #1 thinks:

“If I spend $10,000 for 100 clicks and sign up just one case that earns me a $20,000 fee, I double my investment. Plus, I might get an a smaller case or two out of those clicks. Plus, I can build my list and generate some referrals. Sure, I might not bring in any business the first few months doing this, but eventually, I could bring in one or two massive cases.”

Lawyer #2 thinks:

“Yeah, but I might not get any cases. Or the cases I get might not be any good. I could lose my shirt.”

Both lawyers are right, of course.

There are other options. Other keywords to bid on, other forms of advertising, and other forms of marketing.

Be thankful you have options. And don’t rule out anything just because it’s expensive. It might be expensive for a reason.

If you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your practice

Share

A missed opportunity?

Share

If you’ve ever been to the Old Town Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, you may have noticed the statue of a bronze cowboy seated on a bench, near some of the shops. You may have seen the many tourists who pass by and touch his hat or sit down next to him to have their picture taken.

But The Bronze Cowboy isn’t a statue at all, he is a man dressed, head to toe, in an amazingly realistic costume, much to the surprise and delight of the passersby who see the statue wave at them or put his arm around their shoulder when they sit down.

When the statue moves, his “victims” are startled and then laugh as they realize they have been fooled by what they were sure was a “real” statue. It’s great fun and makes for some great video content.

The Bronze Cowboy has a satchel on his lap and a few folks put a dollar or some coins in it but surely that’s not enough to justify sitting in the hot sun for hours at a time. No doubt his income comes from ads on his videos.

I was watching one of his offerings the other day and thought he’s missing a great opportunity to build his channel.

No doubt most of the dozens of people each day who sit next to him and have a good laugh would like to see themselves on youtube. Why doesn’t he give them a card with a link to his channel?

Many victims would subscribe to the channel and tell their friends to go watch them. Those friends would tell others.

But he doesn’t pass out a card. He remains silent and in character, waiting for his next victim to sit down.

Maybe he does hand out something and edits this out. Or maybe he has an assistant hand out a card off camera.

I hope so. With a little promotion, his channel and income would multiply.

The lesson for lawyers: The best source of new clients are your existing clients.

Encourage your victims, uh, clients, to tell their friends about you, your website, your presentation or offer, and your numbers will grow.

And you won’t have to get dressed up or sit in the hot sun to do it.

This shows you what to hand out to clients

Share

Reading this could be a waste of time

Share

Most people aren’t that interested in learning the bulk of what you could teach them about the law. If you’re trying to build a following by pushing out as much information as possible, no matter how good that information might be, you’re probably wasting your time.

In the beginning, prospective clients read what you write in a blog or newsletter because they’re looking for information–about their problems or interests and about your ability to help them.

Once they’ve satisfied themselves that you can help them, they won’t continue to read what you write or watch your videos or listen to your podcast unless you give them a reason to do that.

And you want them to do that.

You want them to continue to read or listen to you until they’re ready to take the next step. You want to build a relationship with them because that relationship will mean that if they hire any attorney, they will be more likely to choose you.

That relationship can also help bring more traffic to your website, build your following on social media, and generate more referrals.

That’s one reason why I put a lot of “me” into my content, and why you should do the same. We are a lot more interesting to our readers and followers than the information we provide them.

Building a following isn’t just about showing people what you know. It’s as much about showing people who you are.

Let people get to know you; liking and trusting and hiring won’t be far behind.

To learn how to build a following with email, go here

Share

Fix what’s broken

Share

If you’re like me (and you are), you have one or more habits that often lead to problems or wasted time.

Back in the days when I was making a lot of calls, I had a habit of waiting until I finished the calls before scheduling the follow-ups. I liked to get through the calls as quickly as possible, and then do “paperwork”.

With some people, the follow-up was two days. With others, two weeks. It depended on the situation and the conversation.

The problem was, after the calls, even an hour later, I often couldn’t remember enough context to decide the best time to follow-up and had to go through all my notes again to make that decision.

Sometimes, I got busy with other things and the follow-up fell through the cracks. I would up with a bunch of people I needed to contact but no schedule for doing it.

The fix was simple.

I decided I would take a few seconds after each call to record a follow-up date. It might be a specific date or just “3 days” but I wrote something down before I went onto the next call.

Problem solved.

How about you? What do you often do inefficiently? Do you have any bad habits that slow you down or lead to errors?

Do you forget to put things on your calendar? Avoid dealing with certain types of situations (clients, emails, problems) and find them getting worse? Do you misfile things and have trouble finding them later?

These are relatively easy to fix, and worth fixing.

Create a new habit, a checklist, a reminder, or delegate the task to someone who can do it for you.

Figure out what you need to do and do it. You’ll save time and have fewer things to fix later.

Does your marketing need fixing? Here’s what I recommend

Share

No, really, why should I hire you?

Share

If a prospective client asks you why they should choose you as their lawyer instead of any other lawyer in your field, what would you say?

Most lawyers would point to their experience and track record. Some will mention well-known clients they represent. Others will point out their positive reviews or testimonials.

And all of that is good.

What’s even better is being able to show prospective clients the added value you bring to your clients that other lawyers don’t offer.

Something that benefits your clients in a material way.

What might that be?

It will be different for different client niches.

Most lawyers don’t target niches. They offer their services to “anyone” with a given legal issue or “anyone” who is interested in a given legal service.

It’s hard to stand out that way.

It’s better to choose a niche market and “specialize” in it.

A niche is defined by industry or culture, type of business or occupation, or other socio-economic or demographic factors. Specializing in a niche means dedicating yourself to it.

Immerse yourself in the niche, study it, and learn everything you can about it. Learn what they do, what they want, their problems, their pains, what’s important to them. Build relationships with the people in that niche and the professionals who advise them.

That’s how you find the added value you can offer prospective clients.

Example time.

Let’s say you choose “start ups” in a certain field as a niche market. You’ll no doubt discover that these companies need investors.

Because you have built relationships with people in that niche, you will have access to investors.

The added value you bring to your clients in this niche is your ability to introduce them to investors.

Your clients benefit when they choose you as their lawyer because you do something for them other lawyers don’t do, or don’t do as well because they don’t specialize in that niche and don’t have the relationships you do.

You also add value to your relationships with the investors and their advisors in the niche, because you’re the lawyer who can bring them the deals they’re looking to invest in.

You build a reputation in that niche which helps you attract more clients.

Choose a niche and dedicate yourself to it. When a prospective client wants to know why they should choose you, you’ll have the perfect answer.

Want help in choosing a niche? Here you go

Share