Haters gonna hate

Surprise: not everyone loves you. Truth be told, many people don’t like you at all.

Because you’re a lawyer.

And they don’t like lawyers. Never have, never will.

They think we’re corrupt. We lie, cheat, and steal as a matter of course. We’re greedy. We think we’re better than them.

Lawyers are evil. End of story.

And then there our clients. The ones who think we failed them or overcharged them or were mean to them. The ones who leave bad reviews, file complaints against us, and tell everyone they know to avoid us.

Yes, we’re in a tough business. Clients with stressful legal situations, a society that needs a scapegoat to blame for its ills, and, let’s face it–we’re not cheap.

So it’s easy to blame us and be jealous of us.

We shouldn’t be surprised when people talk bad about us or about our profession.

Because that’s never going to stop.

What can we do? We can ignore the haters. Don’t let their vitriol seep into your psyche.

Ignore them and focus on the people who appreciate you.

Many of your clients love you. They know you care about them and work hard for them. They trust you and will come back to you when they need you. They will tell their friends good things about you.

Focus on them.

And remember, when the haters need you, when their liberty or dignity or bank account is on the line, they’re going to call you and pay what you ask.

Because they need you.

Also remember that the best clients don’t begrudge what you earn. The best clients know you’re worth every penny.

You solve problems for them and help them achieve their goals and they gladly pay you to do that.

The best clients want their lawyers to be well-paid.

If you’d like to get more of those types of clients, then check out my video course on using leverage to grow your practice.

Are you an authority? You could be.

Are you better than other attorneys in your practice area or market?

Better than some? Better than most? Does it matter?

Yes, it matters. Better clients prefer to hire better attorneys and they’re generally willing to pay more to get them.

But how do they know you’re better?

If you have 20 years experience, clients usually see you as better than attorneys with only two years experience. If you’ve won some big verdicts or have an office on “attorney row,” clients tend to see you as the better choice.

When you look successful, people see you as an expert, an authority in your field. They tend to trust you and value you more.

Brain scans confirm that people process information coming from authorities differently than from other sources. That’s why success breeds success.

What if you don’t have a long track record or a big office? What can you do to get prospective clients (and the people who refer them) to see you as an authority?

Positive reviews help. So do testimonials and endorsements from influential people in your niche.

Get ’em and feature them on your website and your marketing materials.

Public speaking helps, probably because so many people fear it. Do what you can to get in front of a room a few times and add this to your bio.

Finally, one of the best ways to be perceived as an authority is to publish a book. Authors are author-ites, so get to scribbling.

Give people reasons to see you as an authority and more people will see you as the better choice.

Want help writing and publishing a book? Contact me

Why am I not surprised?


I just saw an infographic depicting “America’s Most & Least Trusted Professions”. Lawyers ranked near the bottom, just above business executives, car salespeople, and swamp-creatures, aka, members of Congress.

I’ve noted before that lawyers are an easy target. We do everyone’s dirty work and tend to make a lot of enemies, after all. And who doesn’t like a good lawyer joke?

But that doesn’t mean we should accept the world’s collective opprobrium. Neither should we single-handedly attempt to repair the reputation of an entire profession. 

Instead, we should take steps to differentiate ourselves. To show the world that we’re one of the good ones. 

We can do that, we must do that, by going out of our way to foster trust in the eyes of our prospects, clients, and professional contacts. 

This covers a lot of territory, everything from treating people better than they expect (or deserve) to be treated, to displaying the accolades and endorsements of others who vouch for us, to doing charitable work usually associated with good people, and everything in between. 

We should, of course, also refrain from the types of practices we know client’s dislike. Failing to keep clients informed about their case and charging for every little expense and every nanosecond of time are common examples.  

Another way to earn trust is to exceed our clients’ expectations. Giving them extra services, delivering better results, and showering them with the highest level of “customer service” not only goes a long way towards earning trust, but it can also stimulate a heap of positive word of mouth about you. 

In our marketing, we can build trust by showing our market how we are different or better than our competition. This can be as simple as providing more information than most attorneys do, or doing so in an interesting or entertaining matter. 

Finally, one thing we shouldn’t do is deny the fact that lawyers tend to rank low on the trust totem pole. Instead, we should acknowledge this fact and help people understand what to do about it. 

Educate your market about the standard of care, so prospective clients will know what to expect and demand. Teach them what to do when a lawyer doesn’t deliver.

And teach them what to look for when they are looking for a lawyer in your practice area. Give them the questions to ask and the answers they should get.  

Do this, and you will take a big step towards showing the market that you are indeed one of the good ones.

How to build trust and get more repeat business and referrals

Posture

Yesterday, I talked about how some lawyers are afraid of their clients. They bend over backward to give them whatever they want, even if they don’t deserve it, because they’re afraid of losing the client or having them say bad things about them.

They try to please everyone, thinking they’ll attract more clients, but all they do is drive clients away.

When you’re too eager to please, too available, or too generous, you project an image of neediness. Clients can sense it.

When clients see you as needy, they get nervous. It’s like pulling up to a restaurant at 6 pm and seeing an empty parking lot. Nobody wants to eat where nobody else is eating.

People want to hire attorneys who don’t need their business. True or not, that’s what you want them to think.

Don’t be so quick to give them what they want. Make them wait a day or a week to book an appointment. Have them speak to someone on your staff or fill out a form on your website before they get to speak to you.

To pull this off, you have to believe that they need you more than you need them. If you don’t believe this, you need to work on that. For starters, make your services different and better than what other lawyers offer, or at least package and present them that way.

It’s called posture and the most successful attorneys have it in spades.

Have you seen attorneys who accept new clients “by referral only”? That’s posture.

You want to attract clients, not chase them. You want them to see you as the best choice, not just another pretty face in the crowd.

On the other hand, don’t do what some attorneys do. Don’t overplay your hand. Some attorneys come off as cocky, expensive, and too unavailable. Hey, if a client wanted that they’d hire a doctor, not a lawyer.

How to get clients to see you as the one they want

Do clients hire ugly lawyers?

Apparently, eyebrow toupees are a thing. Who knew?

It looks like Canada’s Justin Trudeau wears them. Over the weekend he had what appeared to be an eyebrow malfunction when one of those puppies started to come off.

Embarrassing.

Why would someone glue artificial caterpillars over their real brows and take the risk of being discovered?

Vanity.

We all want to be more attractive. It’s in our DNA. Experts say that fit, attractive people attract more mates and produce more children.

Or something like that.

Studies show that good looking (and taller) people tend to be more successful in life, at least financially.

Fortunately, clients hire lawyers for our beautiful brains. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to make ourselves as physically attractive as possible.

Most of us do that by eating well, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and bathing regularly. But there’s nothing wrong with getting a little extra help.

Men, if you’re losing your hair, shaving your head is a viable option. Some studies show that many women find bald men more attractive. Have you seen Jason Statham’s wife?

Some guys wear makeup. Some have shoe lifts. Some get plastic surgery. It’s all good.

But, here’s a thought. If your eyebrows aren’t as lush and sexy as you’d like, get a friggin eyebrow pencil. Because eyebrow toupees shouldn’t be a thing.

Marketing legal services: here’s the formula

Why you should zig when everyone else zags

You really don’t want to stand out, do you? You’ve heard the reasoning behind it and you get it, but if you have a choice, you’d rather blend in with all the other guys and gals who do this legal thing.

You want to be left alone to do your work. You don’t want people to pay attention to all your typos and blemishes and weird ideas.

And yet, you must. You must put yourself “out there”. You must take the risk.

If you don’t give people reasons to notice you, remember you, and hire you (instead of any other lawyer), you shouldn’t be surprised when nobody does.

So, baby steps. Start with something easy. It almost doesn’t matter what it is so long as its different from what most lawyers do.

I’ll give you one. Email. When every other lawyer (and other professional) sends fancy newsletters, with pretty pictures, stylish formatting and modern layouts, do the opposite.

Plain text.

Go on, I dare you. It is a very simple way to stand out.

Plain, ugly, mono-type. The plainer the better. Like I do. Your newsletter won’t look like everyone else’s. It won’t look like something you bought from a company. It won’t look like a commercial product.

It will look like an email. Which is why it will stand out. And why it gets read.

Make your email look like a personal communication, not an ad. It’s an easy way to stand out and build a relationship with the people on your list.

You do know how to write an email, don’t you? You just put your lips together and. . . okay, nevermind. We’ll talk about that another time.

Need ideas for your newsletter? Get them here

You are what you appear to be

Marketing maven Dan Kennedy talks about something he calls the “full parking lot phenomenon”. He says nobody wants to buy from a store, eat at a restaurant, or hire a lawyer with an empty parking lot.

It’s true.

If your parking lot or office waiting room is empty, if you don’t appear to have many clients, people get nervous.

They want to buy from successful merchants. They want to hire successful attorneys. You need to do whatever you can to create and maintain that image.

If you have lots of clients, talk about the work you’re doing for them–in your newsletter or on your blog, and in your conversations. Yep, tell war stories (but make them quick.)

If you are just starting out, talk about work you did for the firm you worked for prior to opening your office. If you’re going through a bad spell and you aren’t flush with clients, talk about the clients you do have or the ones you’ve had in the past. Nobody needs to know how long ago it was.

Book appointments back to back so that clients see other clients in your waiting room.

Talk about things busy lawyers do–your speaking engagements, writing, and networking. Let the world know that you are “in demand”.

Perception is everything. If you look successful, clients will assume that you are successful.

Does that mean that you should continually upgrade your image as you grow? New office, furniture, clothing, and car?

To some extent, yes.

If your clients (or the clients you wish to attract) expect their attorney to fit a certain image or profile, you should probably accommodate them. I know, we’ve all seen some very successful (and wealthy) attorneys who wear old clothes and drive old cars, but not everyone can get away with that.

Keep up appearances but don’t go overboard. You don’t want clients thinking you charge more than you’re worth because you are addicted to wearing $4000 suits.

You don’t need an expensive website. Here’s what you do need

The easy way to stand out from your competition

“Most lawyers offer the same services and deliver the same results. There’s no advantage to hiring anyone in particular so you might as well hire the cheapest one”.

That’s what many clients think, isn’t it? And the client is always right.

Most lawyers look alike and sound alike. Their websites are nearly interchangeable. Swap the name and contact information of lawyer A with lawyer B and you would never know the difference.

That’s also true with ads. Presentations. Podcasts. Videos. Social media posts. Brochures. Newsletters. Articles.

Lawyers wear the same clothing. They have offices on the same street. Their waiting rooms, desks and chairs, and wall adornments all look a movie set.

Welcome to Blandville, where everyone is the same.

If clients can’t perceive any difference between you and your competition, how do you expect them to notice you, remember you, and choose you?

It’s a problem but it is incredibly easy to fix.

There are many ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Many ways to show clients why you are the better choice.

One of the best ways is also the easiest.

Do this one thing and you will no longer be McLawyer, serving the same (dull) food as everyone else.

The missing element? The magic potion? The easy thing you can do to stand out?

It’s you, my friend.

Your personality is what’s missing from your marketing and your public persona. It’s the one thing no other lawyer has or can copy.

Put your personality, your style, your stories, your opinions on your website and in your emails, articles and presentations. You are unique. There’s only one “you”. Let that uniqueness shine through the boilerplate and the legalese and you will instantly stand out from the masses of legal humanity.

I know this may be tough for you. You play your cards close to your vest. You don’t like to share anything personal. You do good work and expect your work to speak for itself.

It doesn’t. It needs a spokesperson. It needs you.

Give this a whirl. Start with something small. Put a little you into your next email to a client.

Add a P.S. and share something that doesn’t belong in that email. Mention something you did recently or something interesting you saw or read. Ask for their opinion about something other than the subject of your email. Ask if they’ve seen an article you posted on your website. Or if they’re a fan of a program you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix.

Go ahead, try it. You may like it. I know your clients will.

More ways to differentiate yourself found here

Change is exciting, unless it isn’t

New ideas. New methods. New technology. It all sounds good, doesn’t it? We want our law practice to be on the cutting edge of change, leading the charge in the face of a changing world.

The problem is our clients don’t. They don’t necessarily want their lawyer to change what they do or how they do it because change is scary.

Every time you bring something new into the mix, something your clients see as deviating from tradition, they wonder “What else might change?” or “What was wrong with the old way?” and they get nervous.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep up with times. You should. You must. But you don’t need to be an early adopter of everything that comes down the pike, nor do you need to fix things that aren’t broken.

Like everything, you have to find the balance between modern and old fashioned. Enough, but not too much. Or too fast.

When you make a change, don’t do it abruptly or indiscriminately. Changes should be thought out, measured, and introduced smoothly.

Don’t avoid change. Don’t be the proverbial dinosaur. You don’t have to hang onto your aol email address because you’ve had it since the beginning of time. Actually, that would be one change you should make because “never changing” can be just as frightening to clients.

Change for change’s sake isn’t a virtue. If you find ways to deliver your services faster, cheaper, or better, you should do it. But do it cautiously and explain to your clients what you are doing and why.

Whether you’re introducing a new practice area, unveiling a new website, or moving to a new office, understand that while you may be excited about these changes, your clients might need a little hand holding.

Because change is exciting, unless it isn’t.

In praise of boring lawyers

If you’re a bit reserved and boring, you are exactly what most clients want in their attorney.

They don’t want their attorney to be flamboyant or silly. They aren’t looking for you to be charming and colorful. They’re not looking for a buddy, they want their attorney to be the adult.

So if you’re somewhat introverted, quiet, or lacking in personality, that’s okay. In a tumultuous, frightening world, being calm, cool, and collected is a tremendous asset in an attorney.

Clients want to know that you’ll take care of things. Help them get through the ordeal. Make sure that the paperwork is right, the details are under control, and you’re ready for anything. If they see this in you, you’ve got the job.

Because more than anything, clients want their attorney to make them feel safe.

If you’re boring, own your boringness. Don’t fight it. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Calm, cool, and collected, but when called into action, ready to get the job done.