Playing hooky


Fun times. Skipping school, going to the movies, eating junk food, goofing off—with nobody around to tell you what to do.


What? You never did that? You should have. Everyone should do it once in a while, even big kids like us.

Hey, how about tomorrow? Take the day off and do something non-billable.

I know, you’re busy. Do it anyway. It’s good for you.

The work will be there when you come back. If it won’t, because you don’t have enough work right now, then you really need to play hooky, but instead of going to the movies, write your own movie—a visionary tale of your future.

What do you want that future to look like?

This is your movie. You are the writer, producer, director, and star. Write the movie of your future the way you want it to be.

Don’t hold back. This is a fantasy, not a drama, and you can be, do, or have anything.

Set your movie 5 years from today. Are you still practicing or have you moved on to something else?

Where do you work? What are your hours? Who do you work with, or for? Do you have people working for you? How many? What do they do?

Do you do client work? Handle cases? What type? How big? How many? Or do you do corporate work? For what kinds of clients?

Speaking of clients, how do you get new ones? What marketing strategies do you use? How much revenue do you produce? How much do you net?

What does a typical day look like? What time do you start work? How many appointments do you have? What do you do all day?

Do you do all the legal work? Some of it? None of it?

Do you spend your day writing? Seeing clients? Negotiating deals? Supervising your team?

In this movie, anything is possible. Anything. No matter what your current situation, level of experience, resources, or lack thereof. Pretend you have a magic wand and when you wave it, your dream comes true.

If you’re a little too linear in your thinking and find it difficult to imagine your ideal, think about someone who has what you want and use their life as a model for your own.

Okay, you have a picture. How does that feel?

If it feels good, you’re doing it right. If you have doubts or fears or any negative feelings at all, something’s not right. Get out your magic wand and make it right.

Okay, yes, there is a point to this exercise. Actually, two points.

The first is to help you decide what you want, something we don’t always allow ourselves to do. We usually let our current reality tell us what’s possible, but that’s what is, not what could be..

If you’re happy with all aspects of your current reality, great. But if you want something different, let your imagination tell you what that is.

Which leads to the second point to doing this exercise—to help you create a plan of action. A list of what you need to learn, acquire, change, or do.

A mighty list, wouldn’t you say? Worth taking the day off to create.

Nicely done. Now, choose something from your list and get to work.

How to grow bigger, faster


It might get worse, but then it will get better


No, I’m not talking about the economy or anything political, but that will get better, too. Right now, I’m talking about your practice or business.

If you’re going through a tough time, hang in there. It will get better. It will get better even if you’re not having a tough time.

It will get better because you will get better. You will improve your skills, habits, and workflows, and get more experience. You will meet someone who advises you or inspires you or pick up a couple of new clients or cases that lead to you many more.

You might do something big that changes everything. For me, early in my career, my decision to specialize was one of those things. You might start a new practice area or get rid of one that isn’t right for you. You might cut your overhead and use the savings to do something you’ve never done before. Or you might find a new niche, commit to it, and dominate it.

You might take on a new partner who fills a gap in your practice, or get rid of one who has been holding you back. You might hire more help and free up three hours of your day.

It might be a crisis that does it. Illness, injury, addiction, divorce, or a major financial blow. Something that hits you in the gut and forces you to wake up and smell the coffee.

You might even decide to change your career and take your life in a completely new direction.

I don’t know what it will be for you, but I know it will happen. Things will get better.

How do I know?

I know and believe this because this is what I must believe, and so must you. To believe otherwise, to lose hope, is not why we were put here.

It’s also a major bummer.

So do yourself a favor and start believing in a better future. Because it awaits you, and all of us who believe it does.


Why do you do what you do?


You’re building your career. Putting in the hours, doing the work, learning and creating and fighting the good fight.

Why do you do it?

Please don’t say “money”. Sure, money is important but only insofar as it allows you to do something you couldn’t do, or do as well, without it.

You want to earn a certain amount so that. . . (fill in the blank with something important).

For some, money means independence. No longer having to answer to someone who doesn’t appreciate what they do. For others, money means being able to move to a safer neighborhood to raise their kids. Some want to take care of aging or ill parents. Some want to help their church. Some want to change the world.

The money is a means to an end, and it’s important to know that end because that’s what drives you.

We all tend to focus on “how” but “why” is much more important.

You can learn everything there is to learn about how to be a good lawyer, how to bring in more clients, or how to increase your income. But if your “why” isn’t strong enough. . . you might not use what you learn.

It’s all about your “why”.

When your kid needs life-saving surgery and your insurance doesn’t cover it, you get up early, work late, get out of your comfort zone, and never make excuses. You’ll do whatever it takes to pay for that surgery.

You probably won’t if you just want a nicer car or a bigger house.

Be honest. Where are you right now, career-wise? Are you hitting your goals? Are you doing the activities you said you would do when you created those goals?

If you’re not, it’s probably not because you don’t know “how”. It’s because you don’t have a strong enough “why”.

So I’ll ask you again, why do you do what you do?


Burned out and loving it


You’ve got way too much to do and you’re overwhelmed. You’re stressed out, perpetually tired, making mistakes, and alienating clients or staff, or you’re bored out of your mind and wondering why you’re still doing this.

It’s called a sign. A signal that something’s not right and you need to do something about it.

The good news is that when you do, there’s a very good chance you will come out the other end much better off. Productive, happy, centered, and far more successful.

So, when you get that signal, what should you do?

I don’t know. But you do. Or rather, your body and mind do and they will guide you. But whatever it is they want you to do, don’t do immediately, reflexively, impulsively.

Don’t be rash.

Write it down and see what you think and how you feel about it. Talk to people who care about you, or a pastor or therapist. Tell them what’s going on with you and let them help you work through it.

And then explore your options.

At various times of my career, most of the following have helped me get unstuck and go on to bigger and better things, and I’ll bet they can help you do the same:

  1. Exercise, get more sleep, eat better, take some time off; you will feel better and be able to think more clearly and that might be all you need to reset.
  2. Delegate more. If you’re like most lawyers, you do too much yourself. Give more work to others so you can focus on what you do best and enjoy.
  3. Get help. Hire a business coach to help you sort things out, focus on what’s important, let go of what isn’t, and hold you accountable. Or team up with another professional to share ideas, progress, encouragement, and accountability.
  4. Get a hobby. Or a girlfriend. Or a side business. Something else you can focus on that makes you happy and gives you something to look forward to.
  5. Follow the plan. After you get some rest, sort out your goals and your process, developed some new habits or jettisoned some bad ones, get back to work. Action is almost always the cure for what ails you.

But if nothing you do seems to work despite your best efforts, start looking for the next chapter in your life. I did that, too, and I’m very glad I did.

If you need someone to talk to, let me know


How to avoid feeling unprofessional


Does marketing ever make you feel less than professional? Do you ever tone down your message or convey it less often because you don’t want to appear pushy or needy?

Why don’t you stop?

Stop writing articles and doing presentations. Stop blogging, networking, and advertising. Stop sending your clients anything other than what’s related to their case.

Stop marketing. And see where that gets you.

Or. . .

Continue doing what you’re doing, but change your approach.

And by approach, I mean your attitude. How you feel about what you’re doing.

Because if you feel better about it, you’ll do it more easily and more often and reap the benefits thereof.

How do you do this?

You reframe your marketing to see it for what it really is: another way to help people.

Do you truly believe you can help people? Not just with your services, but with what you show them and tell them even before they hire you?

Do you believe that providing them with information about their situation and the solutions and options that are available to them can comfort them and give them direction? Help them make better decisions, minimize their damages and pain, avoid additional problems, and otherwise make their life better?

Good. Now think about what prospective clients are going through just before they contact you and hire you.

Have you ever had a problem and gone online to see what you can do to fix it, or to find someone who can help you?

When you found the information or the person, did you feel better about your problem?

Ah, so you do understand how your prospective clients feel. You know what they’ve been going through.

Okay, then. Instead of framing marketing as self-promotion and distasteful to the extreme, think about it from the prospective client’s point of view.


People want to hear from me about this; they’re hurting and looking for answers. They don’t know what to do or where to turn and I’m doing them a lot of good by sharing some of my knowledge and wisdom and helping to guide them from where they are to where they want (and need) to be.

And I feel good about that.

You’re not a burden, you’re a welcome guest in their inbox. Instead of holding back on what you might give them, give them more.

That’s reframing. That’s how you see your marketing as a way to help people.

Is it okay if that leads to more business for you?

Email Marketing for Attorneys


Will it work?


How do you know if your marketing strategy will be effective? Will your article get calls, will your newsletter get subscribers, will your ads bring in leads?

How do you know? You don’t. You don’t know anything until you try it.

So you try lots of things and lots of different versions and you see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s called, “Plan, Do, Review”.

But with so many options available, how do you know what to try?

You read and watch videos. You observe what other lawyers are doing (that’s working), and what other professionals and small business owners do, too. You soak up a lot of ideas and choose one (just one), that you can see yourself doing, and you try it.

You might not stick with that idea and that’s okay. Everything you try has value. You might learn that you have zero aptitude or interest in doing (something) and either cross that off your list, delegate it to someone on your staff or hire someone else and pay them to do it for you.

Maybe you still like the idea, but you need help. You could hire a consultant to guide you, or outsource the entire project.

You could get a “workout partner,“ another lawyer or business contact or friend who is good at what you’re trying to do, or who is on the same path as you—trying to learn and implement the idea, and help each other.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you need accountability to keep you on course. That workout partner might serve that function, or you might hire a coach.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you want to get better results. You keep reading, take a class or course, and keep at it. In time, you get better and so do your results.

Or maybe you’re not getting any results to speak of but want to keep at it. How do you do that? How do you find the motivation to continue when nothing is happening?

You think about other things you’ve done in your life that were successful but had less than auspicious beginnings. Or think about your goals and why it’s important that you do this.

Or call your mom and cry on her shoulder.

Finally, maybe you’re doing it and getting decent results, but what you’re doing is taking time away from other things you’d like to try. Other things that might get better results or be a better match for you.

What do you do?

You either slow down or pause what you’re doing, to give you time to try the other idea, or you dedicate more time to marketing. Instead of one hour a week, for a while, you do two hours, do both, and find out what works best.

These are your options. This is how you find out if something will work.

This will help you create a simple but effective marketing plan


Play the long game


If things aren’t going the way you want right now, if your practice isn’t growing like you hoped, if you messed up something or your personal life is a dumpster fire, don’t freak out. Don’t panic. Keep calm and carry on.

But how?

How number one:

Find one thing that’s going right for you and focus on that. Think about it throughout the day, imagine it getting bigger and better, and enjoy that feeling. What you think about grows and if you think about what’s working for you, other things will start working.

It is law.

How number two:

Think in years, not days. This week there might be disappointments or challenges, but that doesn’t mean things will be the same next week. Or next year.

Ask “How will I feel about this a year from now? Will it even matter?“

Probably not.

Life might deal you some bad cards, but this doesn’t mean all your cards will be bad.

Five years from now, when today’s challenge is a distant memory, you’ll be playing a different hand. You will have recouped the loss, solved the problem, overcome the pain, found a new love, and be in a very different place.

That’s life.

Don’t dwell on the bad hands. Keep playing. Play the long game.


Better today than yesterday


A legal career is a long journey. You start out as a new puppy, trying to find your legs and learn about the world. Everything is exciting and new, and nothing is easy.

I remember those days. Figuring out the forms, learning how to talk to clients, negotiate, write documents, litigate, and do all manner of important things for the first time.

It was difficult, but I only had a few clients and plenty of time to figure things out. I was young and hungry and scared, but I enjoyed the newness of it all.

If you’re at this stage, cherish this time for what you are learning and who you are becoming.

As I got busier, I entered another phase, with bigger problems to solve, more clients to juggle, and much longer hours. I was busy, but I wasn’t making much money. I still had a lot to learn, especially the business of practicing law.

I got serious about marketing, made changes, and brought in more clients and bigger cases. I was able to hire more help and while I was busier than before, I no longer “lived” at the office.

If you’re at this stage, appreciate all that you’ve done to get here and the many discoveries and adventures that lie ahead.

One day, I realized things were just working. I had money, lots of work and lots of help, and I knew what I was doing. I was busy but not busier than I wanted to be, and I was happy that I could continue doing it without the struggles of days gone by.

If you’re at this stage, congratulations. You made it to the top. Your career is in high gear and you have options. You can continue to grow and take things to an even higher level or you can re-direct some (or all) of your resources into other things—business, investments, philanthropy, writing or speaking, or fun.

Wherever you are right now, whatever phase of your journey, you are precisely where you’re supposed to be. Appreciate where you are and where you’ve been, and get excited about where you’re going.




The end of the world is not nigh. The worst-case scenario isn’t a done deal. We’re not all on death’s door.

No matter how bad things (sometimes) appear, there’s plenty to appreciate, plenty to be hopeful about, and plenty we can do to make things even better.

When I see people saying otherwise, I tell myself, “they don’t understand” and hope that changes soon. I say the same thing when I see people ignoring reality, refusing to do their homework, and turning a blind eye to common sense.

Be careful what you read and who you listen to. Use discernment. Many people are mistaken. Many have an agenda. And many are so beaten down they’ve given up. Or just want to complain.

There may be plenty to complain about, but complaining isn’t going to help.

Refusing to submit to oppression helps. Standing up for the aggrieved helps. Offering a warm embrace to those who need it helps.

But what helps more than anything is being positive.

Let others see we’re not losing our minds, our principles, or our souls. We love life and our fellow man. And we’re excited about the future.

They may call us naïve or foolish. We’ll just smile and say, “they don’t understand” and hope that changes soon.


Reframe and grow rich


Many attorneys are uncomfortable with marketing. Or at least certain aspects of it. They don’t like networking, writing, or talking to people about referrals. They don’t like doing interviews or presentations. They don’t like advertising, generating traffic, or buying leads.

It’s out of their comfort zone and they resist doing it.

The old saying, “Do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable” comes to mind, but if you can’t or won’t start, you’re never going to get there.

There are two solutions.

The first solution, instead of trying to “jump” out of your comfort zone, ease out of it. Take baby steps until you learn to walk.

Make a list of options, different types of marketing and different ways of doing them, choose one, learn all you can about it, get some help if you need it, and do it on a very small scale, until you “get used to it”.

You don’t like networking? Take a friend to lunch or ask to accompany them when they go to their next meeting. Get your feet wet in a non-threatening situation where nothing is expected of you other than showing up.

You might find you don’t hate it as much as you thought and can eventually take the next step.

You don’t like talking to people about referrals? Try writing a letter to your clients about the subject and how it helps both them and the people they refer. Don’t send the letter, just write it for now. Maybe you’ll send it later. Or maybe you’ll read one of my books or courses and find better ways to ask or ways to get referrals without asking for them.

Baby steps, baby cakes.

The other solution? Sit yourself down and have a talk with yourself.

Talk to yourself about the activity you’re resisting and why you’re resisting it. Pretend you’re talking to a parent or teacher, and tell them all the reasons you don’t want to do it. Don’t forget to pout and say, “and you can’t make me!”

And then, talk to yourself as that parent or teacher and convince yourself that you can and should.

One way to do that is to reframe the activity by changing how you think about it, or contrasting it with the alternatives.

You did that somewhat if you looked at networking as just going to lunch with a friend.

You could explain to yourself that writing a weekly email may not be something you’re excited about doing, “but it’s a lot better than going to a weekly meeting” (if that works for you).

If you don’t advertise because you see it as an unnecessary expense, think about it as a investment which could have a very profitable return. Talk to someone who advertises, see what they do, play with some numbers, and you may find a way to eliminate your resistance and get excited about the possibilities.

Maybe you hate social media. You might remind yourself that, “It’s a lot better than cold calling or sending spam emails”.

You don’t want to do any marketing, it’s all horrible? Reframe this by telling yourself it’s a lot less horrible than having no clients and being one month away from getting evicted from your office, which is where I was early in my career, before I “got religion” and saw marketing as a better alternative to losing everything.

Baby steps and/or reframing. Two ways you can do what’s uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.

How to get referrals without asking for referrals