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Yesterday, I mentioned that specializing was one of the keys to growing my income and cutting my work to three days. Many attorneys resist the idea of specializing.

Some believe that having more practice areas allows them to earn more overall by having more services to sell to their clients. “Why refer it out when I can do it myself?”

Some think like a professional instead of the owner of a law practice that employs lawyers (including themselves.) Because they can, they think, they should.

And some have a poverty mentality and are afraid to let anything go.

When I decided to specialize, at a time when I was barely surviving, I was scared to death. It was the most counter-intuitive decision I ever made.

But it was also the best decision I ever made.

Yesterday, I got an email from an attorney who agrees. He said,

“When I did that [specialized], I did notice a slight drop in income for about 2 months (it was not that great, and didn’t last long). The drop was only due to not taking every case that came in the door. I referred those to other attorneys doing that specific work, who in turn, would refer my types of matters back. This allowed me to meet the needs of my clients without doing it all myself. I began seeing increased earnings quickly, could concentrate on matters that really interested me, built my referral network, and most importantly worked fewer hours, but billed more.

I know what you’re saying does work. People do have to get off the fence and commit to what they truly want, though.”

Think about joining us. But only if you want to earn more and work less.

Here’s where to start

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Opportunities or obstacles

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Wealthy people, and those destined to become wealthy, look at problems as opportunities, stepping stones to something greater.

An opportunity to learn, meet new people, or improve their skills.

Others look at problems solely in terms of the risks and costs.

Wealthy people don’t try to avoid problems at all costs. They look for the opportunities hidden in those problems. They continually try new ideas and new methods and eventually realize the outcomes they seek.

Everyone solves problems but wealthy people go out of their way to find problems they can solve. They believe that the bigger the problems, the bigger the paycheck.

If you have trouble seeking out big problems in the quest for a bigger paycheck, as an attorney you can do the next best thing: seek out clients with big problems.

In your quest to build wealth, remember that the problems you solve don’t have to be your own.

How to identify and find clients with big problems

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High ticket vs. low ticket

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When I started practicing, I took anything that showed up and what showed up was mostly small stuff. That was fine because I needed to settle cases quickly to pay my bills and smaller, less complicated cases made that possible.

Besides, I didn’t have the experience or resources to compete with bigger firms. So I didn’t try.

Focusing on smaller cases also meant that no one case or client was make or break. If I lost a case, if the client went away, I had plenty more where that came from.

For a long time, I was able to keep overhead to a minimum so my practice was profitable. Eventually, as I hired more staff and moved to bigger offices, overhead made a significant dent in the bottom line.

There is also psychic overhead. More clients mean more people to worry about, and more staff to manage.

So today, I would do things differently.

As soon as I could, I would move towards having fewer clients who pay higher fees.

Fewer clients mean lower overhead and fewer people to keep happy. Bigger clients mean bigger paydays.

To earn $300,000 with small clients you need a lot of them. To earn the same amount with bigger clients, you only need a handful.

One writer summed up the difference this way: “I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies”.

True, to compete with the big boys and gals you need to be one of them. You need a higher level of skill. That takes time to acquire.

And, with fewer clients, losing one could be costly so you need to work hard to keep them happy and have a way to replace them when they go away.

Both models work. High volume and high ticket are both viable ways to build a practice. And there’s nothing wrong with having a mix.

But while I could handle the tumult of a high volume practice when I was younger, today I like to keep things simple. And quiet.

Earn more. Work less. Here’s how

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Will your law practice make you rich?

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I was reading one of “those” articles, you know, the ones that give you a list of reasons why certain types of people, habits, or beliefs are more conducive to success.

This one was about what rich people do differently.

One of the items on the list caught my eye because it’s something I did in my practice and something I preach in my sermons to you.

Verily: “Rich People Choose to Get Paid Based on Results”

When I began my practice, I charged by the hour and made a good income “per hour”. I earned a lot more, however, when I moved away from hourly work and focused on cases that paid contingency fees. It didn’t matter how many (or how few) hours I worked on a case. On more than a few cases, I earned the equivalent of thousands of dollars per hour.

If you practice in areas that aren’t conducive to contingency fees, there are other ways to be compensated that aren’t tied to the number of hours you work.

Charge by the matter, not by the hour. Ask for higher fees or bonuses for better results. Work with clients who offer equity instead of just cash. Hire more attorneys and earn the difference between what you pay them and what you bill the client.

If you can’t do this, look for other opportunities, outside of your practice. Because you’ll never get rich trading time for money.

How to do legal billing right

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Some thoughts about multiple streams of income

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My income doesn’t depend on any one source. That affords me a degree of safety and peace of mind and lets me peruse creative interests. I didn’t create these sources of income at the same time, however, and if you’re thinking about starting something new, neither should you.

Don’t spread yourself in too many directions or you will find it difficult to excel at anything.

Mark Twain said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket”. If you want another basket, make sure the eggs in your first basket are safe.

Make sure you have partners or employees you trust and systems in place that afford you time to invest in your new venture. And, if possible, choose as your next venture something that allows you to leverage the knowledge, contacts, and resources you developed in your practice or first business. This will give you a running start.

On the other hand, it is by no means clear that you should do anything other than what you’re already doing. If you’re doing well and enjoy it, why stop?

Don’t start something new merely because you think you must have additional sources of income. You don’t. Unless you have a strong reason to start a new business, you’re almost always better off taking what you’ve already built and making it even bigger.

As you develop excess cash flow, you can invest it in ventures that don’t require much of your time or mental bandwidth.

I retired from my practice because I didn’t want to do it anymore. If that had not been the case, I probably would be just as happy and prosperous today, or even more so.

How to earn more and work less: click here

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I challenge you to double your income

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Are you satisfied with where you are in your career? I hope not. I hope you’re doing well, of course, but you’re hungry for more.

If you’re complacent, that has to change. It’s time to find another itch to scratch.

I have a challenge for you. You can set the time frame but I’ll give you the goal: to DOUBLE your income while cutting your work hours in HALF.

How does that sound? Scary? Crazy? Or exciting as hell?

I can’t imagine you wouldn’t want this to happen but I can see how you might question if it is possible. So start there. A new project. To find out if this goal is possible for you and what you need to do to make it happen.

Do you know (or know of) any lawyers who earn twice as much as you do? Sure you do. But do any of them work half the hours you work? That might be a little harder to deduce because “busy” is how professionals define success. So, make that a part of the project. To find the “Tim Ferriss” of the legal world.

Contact some higher-earning lawyers and ask about their schedule. You can start with me. When I was practicing, in a short period of time I quadrupled my income and simultaneously cut my work week down to three days.

I know, I know, your practice is different, the competition is greater, the world is a different place. To which I say, “Hell yes, it’s different. For one thing, you have the Internet. It’s easier to scale up your income today than when I did it.”

Doubt me if you wish. Then, go prove me wrong.

If you’re nervous, don’t attempt everything at the same time. Start by working on the income side of the equation. Once it starts going up, work on cutting the hours.

On the other hand, you might be better off doing them together.

I think I was able to increase my income so quickly because I simultaneously cut my hours. Working less forced me to think outside the box I had been living in, to work smarter and do bigger things.

I did it because I was miserable. I had to change my life. If you’re not in the same place I was, it might be harder for you because you might be unwilling to take chances and endure the discomfort of change.

It comes down to this: To double your income and cut your work in half, you have to either be fed up or fired up. If you’re content right now, you need to find something outside of yourself—a cause, someone you want to help—and do it for them.

Fed up or fired up.

That’s my word for the day. Let me know if you accept my challenge.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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Do you (still) work nights and weekends?

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When I started practicing, even though I had few clients, I showed up at the office every day, including Saturdays. I spent most of that time setting up form files and writing form letters I could use once I got some new clients, and doing whatever I could think of to try to make that happen.

When I finally got some new clients, I started staying late at the office and bringing work home with me. I thought that’s what I had to do to make it and I was too scared to do anything else.

Maybe you are where I was. Maybe you’re working longer hours than you need to, or should. Even if you are getting things done and making money, at some point, you have to ask if this is the right way to go.

What if you set up some boundaries for yourself? What if you worked a full day but reserved your nights and weekends for yourself and your family? What if you actually scheduled took a vacation?

In the short term, as you work fewer hours, you’ll probably earn less income. In the long term, probably sooner than you think, you might see your practice explode, as mine did when I made the switch.

All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy.

Start living a little. At night, on weekends, read novels, play games, take the kids to the park and toss a ball. If you don’t have kids, start making some. You’ll have the energy now, so get busy.

Leave your work at the office. Turn off your phone. Use your free time to get in shape. Start a hobby. Take a class or join a club. Not only will you have some fun, you’ll meet some new people (who share your interest) and have something to talk about besides work.

You’ll be more relaxed. More interesting. And have more energy. You’ll attract new friends, business contacts, and clients. You’ll have time to work on taking your practice to the next level.

You’ll earn more without working more. And finally realize that work isn’t the goal, it’s how you reach the goal.

How to earn more without working more: go here

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Why don’t you charge more?

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Some lawyers charge $1000 per hour. Some charge even more. Some charge flat fees and can earn $20,000 in a day. Some get bonuses or a piece of the action and earn more on one deal or one case than many lawyers earn in two years.

How about you?

How much do you charge? Why don’t you charge more?

You’re worth what clients are willing to pay you (and you are willing to accept). If you would like to charge more but don’t think clients will pay it, stop and think for a minute: what if you’re wrong? What if you could charge more? A lot more. And get it, all day every day.

What would that do for you?

Would you be able to get rid of low-paying clients and work you don’t enjoy?

Would you be able to hire more employees and provide your clients with more value, allowing you to further increase your revenue?

Would you be able to improve your marketing and bring in better clients or bigger cases?

Would you be able to move to a better office that’s more appealing to higher-end clients?

Would you be able to open a second office and leverage a client base in another market?

Would you be able to upgrade your wardrobe and automobile, network with better prospects and professionals, and thus take your practice to an even higher level?

Would you have more time available, to improve your health, to be with family, and to do the things you’d like to do to build your career instead of grinding it out in the trenches all day?

Lots of things you could do if you were earning more. The question is, what do you have to do to earn it? How could you charge (a lot) more than you charge right now?

Make a list of ten things you can do that would allow you to charge higher fees or otherwise significantly increase your revenue. Narrow the list down to your top three ideas. Then, choose your best idea and get to work on it. Work on it every day. Make it your focus and keep working on it until you get it done.

When you’ve tripled your income, send me $100,000 as my fee for helping you get there.

That’s the way it works, bub. You get paid more when you’re worth more. And you ask for it.

One way to earn more is to improve your cash flow

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Three ways to level up your practice

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When it comes to growing a law practice, slow and steady works. But, by definition, it’s slow. What if you want to grow quickly? What if you want to dramatically increase your income in a relatively short period of time?

Oh yes, it can be done. Some lawyers do it right out of the law school gate. Some do it when they reach their “day of disgust” and finally decide to get serious about marketing. Some do it when they see their numbers dropping and their fear of losing everything motivates them to finally take action.

But it can be done.

There are lots of things you could do to dramatically increase your income. I’m going to give you three. But more important than “what you do” is “what you think” and so first, I’m going to give you a few mindset adjustments.

First, to significantly boost your income you’ll need to do things that offer a big potential payoff. That means there might be additional risk and additional expense and you have to be prepared to accept this. You also need to be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.

Second, you have to jettison the idea that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you work and the amount of income you earn. It’s not about how long it takes to do the work, it’s about how much value you deliver.

Third, you have to look for ways to employ leverage. One of the simplest ways to do that is to hire (more) people or outsource, and delegate as much of your work as possible. Rule of thumb: you should ONLY do those things that ONLY you can do. NB: there is very little that ONLY you can do.

Fourth, no matter how good you are getting things done you’ll probably need to get better. If you want to dramatically grow your practice, working harder is an option but so is working smarter.

Working smarter means “doing the right things,” the “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results and income”. It also means “doing things right”–getting the work done more quickly, efficiently, and with less effort.

With these principles in mind, here are three ways you might level up your practice:

(1) Bigger cases or better clients.

Bigger cases pay bigger fees. Why settle for an average fee of $10,000 when you could get $25,000? Or $100,000? The cases are out there and there’s no reason why you can’t get them.

Better clients pay higher fees and have more legal work. Why settle for “one of” work when you can bring in clients who have a steady stream of work?

(2) Increase your fees

One of the simplest ways to earn more is to charge more. Consider increasing your fees.

Not ten or fifteen percent, thirty percent. Fifty percent. 100%. Or more.

Crazy? Maybe. But maybe not. There’s only one way to find out.

Yes, you’ll lose some clients who can’t afford the increase or don’t want to pay it, but the new clients you bring in could more than offset those losses.

(3) Better referral sources (and more of them)

One of the best ways to bring in more business is to find referral sources that can send you more clients (and better clients, while you’re at it). Find professionals who can refer you five clients per month instead of five clients per year.

They’re out there and you can find them. Here’s a hint: they usually hang out with each other. Find one and they will lead you to others.

So, what do you think? Are you thinking, “These won’t work for me,” or are you thinking, “How can I make these work for me?”

Your attitude will determine your altitude. Translation: if you want to get big, fast, you need to think big and take massive action.

And remember, if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Plan your plan with this

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I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t

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It looks like self-driving vehicles are here to stay. As this new industry grows, a lot of people will make a fortune.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some of that action?

Maybe you can.

Maybe you can target your legal services towards companies in the supply chain. Help them grow, comply with new regulations, protect their IP, make deals. Maybe you could focus on torts, representing manufacturers or consumers. Or maybe you can work the legislative side of things, representing associations, consumer groups, lobbyists, or municipalities.

How could you leverage your current skills, experience, and contacts to get a foot in this gigantic door? What new practice areas could you take on? What new skills could you learn?

Study the industry. Read everything. Become an expert on the legal issues. Go to industry events. Spend time with experts, entrepreneurs, consultants, and other professionals.

Ask lots of questions. Look for problems that need solving. Look at what others are doing and see if you can do the same.

If you find a way to participate, go for it. In two years or ten, you could be a major player in this new industry, or your research could lead you to other opportunities.

If you can’t see a way to leverage this trend–let it go.

You tried, it wasn’t there for you. Go find something else to get excited about. Maybe “drone law” is a thing.

Unless you can’t let it go.

If you are enamored with the self-driving wave, if you love reading about it and watching videos and talking to people, if you want to be the first kid on your block to drive, uh, own a self-driving vehicle, stick with it.

You may never find a way to marry your interest with your law practice but it’s nice to have a hobby that fulfills you. A happy hobbyist makes a happy lawyer.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

How to find and approach new referral sources

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