What if you could only have 10 clients?

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What would happen if you allowed yourself to have no more than 10 clients or 10 active cases at a time? Everyone else gets referred out or turned away. Or told they have to wait until you have an opening.

Because you only take 10 clients at a time.

I’ll tell you what would happen.

You would have more time to serve your clients, which would help you attract better clients and bigger cases. You would be able to charge more, have lower overhead, spend less time on admin and marketing, have more focus, less stress, and enjoy what you do.

In short, you’d earn more and work less.

That’s the theory, anyway. Is this practical? For most attorneys, no. Not without making a lot of changes they aren’t willing to make. So I’m not recommending this way of doing business to all attorneys.

I am recommending that all attorneys think about it, however, because this is the kind of thinking that can lead to some great ideas.

Ideas that can help you earn more and work less.

So. . .

What would you change about your practice if you adopted this rule? Which clients would you eliminate to make room for your 10?

What types of cases would you turn down? What would you change about your fees and retainers and billing? What expenses would you be able to eliminate or reduce?

What would you change about your work process? How would you make things easier, quicker, or more effective?

Let your mind run with this idea. Imagine what your practice (and personal life) would be like if you fully embraced the “no more than 10” rule.

You might get some ideas you can use immediately, or start working towards. Or gain valuable insights about what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.

After this exercise, you probably won’t go “all in” on the “no more than 10” rule. But you might.

Would you like to build a “100% referral” practice? Here’s how

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The need for speed

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I’m a simple man with simple needs. I don’t need a powerful computer because I don’t edit videos or images, work with complicated databases, or play games. I work with text and use a handful of simple apps to manage my work. 

I could do that on just about any piece of silicon, and as long as the gear I’ve got is still working, I usually wait until it dies before I replace it.  

The thing is, we don’t know what we don’t know and I didn’t know I was long overdue to replace my laptop, which I finally did after Calvin (yes, named after Calvin and Hobbes) recently bit the dust. 

Today, I’m a new man with a new computer. 

A fast processor, a fast SSD, and a new perspective on the value of upgrading even when you don’t think you need to.

I knew Calvin had slowed with age (he was 7 at time of his passing), but I didn’t realize how bad off he was. I blamed Evernote when I should have blamed Calvin. 

Now, Evernote flies. It launches in seconds, notes open as soon as I click them, and everything works the way it’s supposed to. 

All my apps work that way. I don’t have to wait for anything to launch, pages to load, or functions to engage. 

Who knew?

And, what else don’t I know?

Whether it’s computers, workflows, or the people in our lives, we get used to them and often can’t see their flaws. We don’t realize how much we might improve our situation if we change them. 

We need to train ourselves to periodically stand down from our daily routines and take inventory. Examine where we are and what we’re doing and see how we can improve.

What we’re doing might be working but something else might work better. 

Or faster. 

So that’s my story. I’m a new man with a new computer and I like the new me. 

There’s just one problem. I haven’t decided what to name my new baby. Hey, how about Barry? You know, Barry Allen, aka “The Flash”?

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The problem with keeping a journal–and a surprisingly simple solution

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Many of us who have kept a journal in the past, or are trying to do that now, face the challenge of keeping it up.

We get caught up in our day’s activities and don’t seem to find the time to do it. At the end of the day, we’re tired or have forgotten what we wanted to say. We miss a day and then another and soon, we’re not doing it anymore.

Which is a shame because a journal is a powerful tool for improving productivity, creativity, mindfulness, and more.

A journal can help us:

  • memorialize our days accomplishments
  • gain clarity about our goals and the path to achieving them
  • record ideas
  • improve our writing skills
  • prioritize our day
  • plan the future
  • make better decisions
  • track how we spend our time
  • track our daily state of mind
  • track our habits
  • record inspiring thoughts and ideas
  • and so much more

The solution? Instead of scheduling time to write in your journal, write in between your other tasks. It’s called “interstitial journaling” and for me, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

As you go about your day and think of something you need to do or want to remember, or you want to reflect on something you did well or something you want to improve, take a minute to write it down–in the moment.

No need to wait until it’s time for journaling.

Nor do you have to write it in an actual journal. Write it down in whatever you have available to you–your notes app, your task app, your legal pad, or your calendar.

Capture the thought or idea and get back to what you were doing. Do this throughout the day and at the end of the day, your journaling is done.

You might be recording notes about a file your working on when you have an idea about your upcoming presentation. Record that idea alongside your other notes.

No need to switch apps if you won’t want to, or wait until you’re working on the presentation.

Won’t those ideas get lost or buried under your other notes?

Not if you do this digitally and tag your thoughts or tasks or ideas. When you want to review your journal notes, click the tag or link to call them up. You can then transfer your journal notes to other apps if you want to, or keep them where they are.

When you get in the habit of journaling this way, you’ll find yourself doing more journaling than you ever thought possible. I write “journal” notes every day now, something I’ve never done before.

I don’t schedule time to write in a journal. I spend a few seconds, a minute or two, throughout the day writing a few lines here and there, between tasks or appointments or calls, or whenever I take a break. I write what I thought, how I felt, what I did and what else I want to do.

Not only has this made me more productive, it’s also liberating to be able to empty my head any time it fills up.

Keeping a journal this way is simple because your journal isn’t a special notebook, you don’t have to allocate time to write in it, and you don’t have to worry about having anything to say.

Write in between the cracks of life and you might be surprised at how much you have to say, and how easy it is to record it.

Do you keep a journal? Have your tried interstitial journaling?

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More is better, unless it isn’t

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The more books you read, the more likely you are to find the information you seek. The more people you know, the more likely you are to develop valuable relationships. The more marketing strategies you try, the more likely you are to find the one that works best for you.

All true. Unless they aren’t.

Because there’s a lot that can get in the way.

Reading a lot of books is a waste of time if they’re not the right books. The more people you engage with, the more opportunities there are for arguments and bad decisions. The more marketing strategies you use, the more opportunities there are to become distracted or spend time or money best spent on something else.

So, it depends.

Successful people get a lot done because they don’t try to do everything.

They reject most projects. Avoid most tasks. Take on fewer commitments.

Fewer projects started means less time spent on research, less money spent on failed ventures, and fewer projects abandoned. Fewer unfinished projects leads to more clarity and better results.

Fewer books read means fewer hours wasted reading things you already know or don’t need, and fewer opportunities to follow bad advice.

Fewer marketing strategies means less time spent learning and doing and supervising, and less time wasted trying to improve things that provide too little return.

The lesson?

Be selective, not exhaustive. Focus on high-value activities and high-potential projects. Take on fewer relationships, read fewer books, do fewer activities that don’t align with your most important values and goals.

Do less so you can accomplish more.

If you find yourself trying to do too much, working too hard and making too little progress, don’t increase your workload, reduce it.

Take a page from the most successful people in the world and regularly ask yourself, “What can I stop doing?” and “What or who can I avoid?”

Develop the habit of saying no to most things.

Because when you use the right strategies, cultivate the right relationships, and do the right things with your time and money, the results you achieve can be so much more.

Leverage is the key to bigger and better results.

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5 easy-to-write topics for your newsletter or blog

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If you’re struggling to find topics to write about in your newsletter or blog, or to post on social media, the place to look for ideas is right under your nose.

Start with the obvious. The things you do every day. 

These also tend to be the easiest ideas to write about–the kinds of things you could write in your sleep, or in the shower as one subscriber recently told me she does.

Here you go:

1. Check your email. What questions are your clients, prospects, and subscribers asking you? Answering their questions is about as simple as it gets. 
2. Check your files. No doubt you have or have had an interesting case or client at some time. It may be nothing special to you, but it’s the kind of thing your readers would love to hear.  
3. Put on your law professor’s hat. Explain the law or procedure or legal terms in your practice area. What does it mean, how does it work, what are the steps?
4. Check your calendar. Describe a typical day in the life of a lawyer: meetings, calls, letters, research, drafting, negotiations, settlements, discovery, arbitration, or whatever else you do. 
5. Go through your reading pile. Share your thoughts about an article, book, or blog you read, or a podcast or video you heard or saw. Summarize it, give your opinion, or use the ideas presented to write your own article or post.  

Writing is easy when you write about your world. The things you do or consume daily may be mundane to you but your readers will find them fascinating. 

How to build your practice with a simple email newsletter

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How to monetize your brain farts

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A lot of people want to know where I get ideas for my newsletter and how I’m able to write something half-way intelligent every weekday without fail.

They think its alchemy. An amalgam of pixie dust, good looks, and a lot of luck.

Not at all. I’ve simply trained my mind to produce a steady stream of ideas.

How? By a daily dose of reading and watching videos and taking notes.

A good percentage of what I write comes from reflecting on what others have written or said and putting my own take on it. Someone else thought it was an idea worth writing about and that’s often good enough for me.

But sometimes, often, actually, I start with something much simpler.

I’ll see a quote I like, hear an interesting statistic or fact, or, as I did yesterday, I’ll start by asking a question.

Yesterday, I asked myself, “Is it okay to tell a client you don’t know?”

Just a question. No article to play off of, no notes, no stories, no questions from subscribers, nada. And no idea what I would say or even what I thought about the subject.

I had the question in front of me. Other than that, I was naked.

Sometimes, I realize I have nothing to say about the subject and the idea goes back into the idea pile. And sometimes, a simple question is enough to ignite the kindling and before I can say Jumpin’ Jehosafats, I’ve written hundreds of words.

After I wrote down the question, I thought that admitting you don’t know tells a client you’re honest, not trying to fake things. It shows respect for the client. And I asked myself, “What if you should know the answer?” and “Doesn’t it make you look weak if you admit you don’t know?”

I had a place to start.

Naturally, I thought about how we tell clients not to guess, that unless they’re sure of their answer they should say they don’t know or don’t remember, and I had my lead.

The rest kind of wrote itself.

Because I basically asked and answered a few simple questions, put my fingers on the keyboard, and let my thoughts spill out of my head and onto the page.

If you’re not writing as often as you’d like to, this same “seat of the britches” method might work for you, too.

Try it. Write down a question that pops into your head, or a question a client asked you recently, or a quote or story or idea that catches your attention. Something you’re curious about and think other people might be, too.

Write it down, play with it on paper, and see where it takes you.

Imagine you’re writing to your mom, a good client, or a friend. Someone who will listen to you merely because its you. Say what you think about the subject or what you’d like to know.

You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you have to say.

If nothing happens, if your brain just won’t cooperate, let it go and try something else tomorrow.

Before you know it, you’ll be writing a post about where you get so many ideas and how you’re able to write so often.

How to get more writing ideas than you can shake a stick at here

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Is it okay to tell a client, “I don’t know”?

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When we prep a client for a statement or depo we tell them it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. It’s safe. A way to keep them from guessing or lying and getting caught.

If you don’t know, you don’t know, so that’s what you should say.

But what if it’s something they should know? Won’t they look bad if they say they don’t?

Sometimes they will.

If the question is, “Where were you seated in the vehicle?” yes. They will look bad if they say they don’t know.

You sign ’em up and you take yo chances.

But what about us? Lawyers who have clients (and spouses) who ask us questions we should be able to answer. Is it okay to tell them you don’t know?

Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.

When a client asks, “How much is my case worth?” you better not give them an answer that doesn’t include the words “it depends.” On the other hand, if your spouse asks, “Do you love me” you damn well better have a different answer. And, for the record, if your spouses asks, “How much did you have to drink?” you probably don’t want to say you don’t recall.

But those are easy. What about difficult questions?

When a client asks you about the law, is it okay to say you don’t know? Should you offer an ambiguous “it depends” type of answer, tell them you’re not sure, or admit you don’t have a clue?

If you admit you don’t know something you should know, doesn’t that show weakness?

It’s certainly a good way to show the client you respect them and aren’t trying to bluff your way through an answer. It’s refreshing to hear an attorney provide a straight answer for a change, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know, it depends.

If you don’t know the answer, and you don’t know if you should admit that, I’d suggest going with, “I need to do more research.”

On the other hand, speaking from experience, I can tell you that’s not a good answer when your wife asks you (anything).

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Give people what they want? Maybe

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A YouTuber who “reacts” to musical artists posted a survey on her channel. She asked her subscribers to vote on which artist she should (continue to) react to.

87% chose one artist over the others.

As a result, she’s going to do more reactions to the fan favorite. But she’s also going to react to other artists, “out of fairness” to people who have other preferences.

Is that a good strategy? Or should she stick with what her subscribers overwhelmingly told her they want, because the customer is always right and we are all in the business of serving our customers (or clients)?

Well, if you polled your subscribers and followers, clients and prospects, and asked them what topics they wanted you to write or talk about, or what services they wanted you to provide, would you give them what they want because they want it?

Your answer should be “maybe”. Because the customer (client) isn’t always right.

Steve Jobs put it this way:

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

If I write about a marketing method you aren’t interested in, you might tune me out. If I write about it all the time, you might find someone else to read.

On the other hand, you might hear me talk about the benefits of that method and how you can do it effectively, and change your mind.

You might not know what you want until I show it to you.

But sometimes, our subscribers want things we can’t give them. If your readers or clients ask you to write about investing in crypto currencies or precious metals and you don’t know anything about the subject, don’t be too quick to say no and don’t try to fake your way through it.

Think like a marketer, not a lawyer and invite an expert to write a guest post on the subject. Or interview them. Because we really are in the business of serving our customers.

Give people what they want. If you can’t or don’t want to, find someone who can.

How to get more referrals from other lawyers

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Want to increase your income? Take more showers

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73 percent of people surveyed say they get their best ideas in the shower. If you want more ideas for marketing your practice, ideas for your blog or newsletter, or ideas for ways to provide more value to your clients, you might want to strip off and get your bum wet more often.

Why do we get more ideas in the shower? Is it the same if we take a bath? Or go swimming?

I do think water is part of the answer. Something about the feeling of being back in the womb that relaxes us, perhaps, and allows our subconscious mind to bring us ideas.

I get a lot of ideas when I’m out walking, especially when I’m near a park or other greenery, or the ocean. Something about nature seems to turn on the creativity machine.

I also get ideas while driving, when I’m on autopilot and can let my subconscious mind do it’s thing.

Reading fiction and playing games are also conducive to ideation, no doubt because they stimulate our imagination, but also because they distract us from the burdens of the day.

That’s a key to creativity, isn’t it? Distracting yourself from whatever you’ve been doing or you are supposed to be doing? When you turn off your logical left brain, you turn on your creative right brain.

Which means that goofing off when you should be working isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But I also get ideas when I’m working.

I got the idea for this post during my morning browse of articles. When I saw the survey, my creative (and dirty) mind told me to write a post with the words “taking showers” in the headline.

Because I know you have a dirty mind, too.

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Here’s the real reason you should take notes at a client meeting

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Some lawyers write a lot, some jot down key points, but most lawyers take notes when they meet with a client.

Why do it?

To document what was said? To record your thoughts about what was said? To write down additional questions, issues to research, or what to do next?

These are all important. But not the most important reason for taking notes.

The most important reason for taking notes is to let your client see you taking notes.

To show them you’re listening, recording ideas, plotting ways to help them.

You’re not just taking up space in the room, you’re working.

Taking notes is a way to document effort. The client sees that you’re doing what you were paid to do. Win or lose, they see that you tried.

Taking notes is also a way to validate the client. It tells them you value what they say, and, therefore, you value them.

When a lawyer doesn’t take notes, what’s a client to think?

Who knows?

It’s also important to take notes at a deposition, statement, arbitration, or hearing. You want opposing counsel, the adjuster or other parties to see you taking notes. It suggests that you are hearing things you can use to harm their case or enhance yours.

It’s a way of getting in their head, throwing them off their game.

You might think it works the other way around. You intimidate the opposition by not taking notes, showing them you’re not at all concerned about their case. Your nonchalance suggests you don’t see them as a threat, they’re not saying anything worthy of note. It makes them wonder if there’s anything they’re missing.

Which strategy is best? I’ll let you decide. But if my client is in the room, I’m taking lots of notes.

Want to know how to get more referrals? Here’s how

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