A simple marketing and management checklist


There are a lot of things you can do to increase the gross and net income in your practice. This checklist can help you identify strategies that might be a good fit for you to use or improve: 


  • Client relations
  • Referrals
  • Following-up/Staying in touch
  • Networking
  • Advertising/Lead Generation
  • Public Speaking/Seminars
  • Public Relations
  • Content Marketing (Blogs, Articles, Books, Audios, Videos, Podcasts)
  • Event Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing


  • Stay in touch (clients, prospects, business contacts)
  • Repeat Services/Updates/Maintenance
  • Other services (Yours, Partners’, JVs)


  • Higher Rates
  • Bigger Cases/Clients
  • Upsells
  • Addons
  • Bundling/Packaging
  • Sell Value, Not Time


  • Better Employees/Vendors
  • Better Training
  • Outsourcing
  • Parnters/JVs
  • Systems
  • Personal/Professional Development
  • New Skills
  • Better Tools/Equipment

Which of these strategies do you currently use? Which need improving or expanding? Which should you let go of or downsize to make room for something else? Which seems like a good fit for you and is worth starting or exploring?


Keeping your powder dry


What do you do when someone won’t call you back? I had an adjuster write to me on a case and ask me to contact him to set up a time to talk, ostensibly about settlement. 

I called. I emailed. Called and emailed again. No response. 

The statute was coming up soon but this was a small case, not worth filing on unless there is no other choice.

What do you do?

You could keep trying. More calls and letters and emails, increasingly urgent and sterner, maybe threatening, or maybe using some humor. That’s what most lawyers do most of the time, and it works most of the time. 

Another option is to go around the adjuster. 

Call their supervisor and ask if the claim has been re-assigned, “because I can’t seem to get ahold of him and I’m going to have to file soon”. 

The supervisor looks at the file, see’s it’s ripe for settlement, rattles the adjuster’s cage, and you get a call. 

That woks. But sometimes it pisses off the adjuster (and his supervisors) and since you will have to deal with one or both of them on other cases, maybe it’s better to use the “idea” of talking to the supervisor to wake up the adjuster. 

Leave another message for the adjuster and ask if they’re still handling the claim. Tell them you’re concerned they might not be getting your messages, or they’re ill, (and you’ll have to file soon).

And then you say if you don’t hear from them, you’ll contact their supervisor to find out. 

Not in a threatening way but in a way that suggests, “this is a problem for both of us, let’s work together to resolve it”.

You know they don’t want you to call their supervisor. It makes them look bad. They also don’t want to force you to file because it makes more work for them (and they look bad). So they call. 

By positioning the issue as a mutual problem, you increase the odds of getting a mutual solution.

You can always play hardball. But maybe it’s best to save that for another case.


Yes, it is all about you


People connect with people, not businesses or law firms. Your clients may like your partners or employees and think highly of your firm’s reputation, but they hire and refer you. 

That’s true of consumer and business clients alike. 

When they have a friend or business contact with a legal situation or question, your clients tell them about YOU, not your firm. 

They hand them your card. Tell them about their experience with you, the lawyer they know, like, and trust, and say, “Call my lawyer” — not, “Call me firm”. 

They promote your brand. You should too.  

Tweet (or whatever it’s called today) in your name, or at least create a handle that includes a version of your name, NOT your firm. 

Promote your speaking events, even if your firm is conducting the event. Write articles and keep a blog with your byline, not the faceless entity you call your employer (even if it’s your firm). 

When you are introduced, people should hear about you, your capabilities and your accomplishments. And hear something personal about you.

Because you are the one people will talk to, connect with, hire and refer.

It’s all about you, you stud. 

You may work for the biggest and best firm in town, and that’s worth mentioning. But you are the main attraction, no matter how wet behind the ears you may be. 

It’s your career. Your name and reputation. They are your clients. And you are their attorney. 


It’s an investment, not an expense


Yesterday, I talked about following up with prospects and clients before, during, and after the case or engagement. Most lawyers get it. But many lawyers don’t do it because it takes a lot of time. 

I say it’s worth the time because it helps you get new business, keep clients from leaving, and generate positive reviews that can multiply that effect.  

But (surprise) lawyers are busy. Even if they want to do it, it’s too easy to let it slide. 

I mentioned having an assistant do it. Have them make the calls, send the emails, and otherwise manage follow up and other marketing activities for you. Yes, there is a cost, just as there is a cost to you if you handle this function yourself. If you take an employee away from their other work, that work might fall through cracks and cause problems. 

I say it’s worth the risk because the benefits outweigh that cost. Especially if you have a reasonable volume of cases or clients. 

Think about it. Do the math. If you hire someone part time and pay them $4000 per month, and they’re able to save one case or client per month or get one client to return, your costs would be covered, wouldn’t they? And if that assistant is able to stimulate clients to provide more reviews and more referrals, and this generates two additional cases (or saves) per month, you would double your investment. 

Over time, these numbers would compound.

You know I’m a big proponent of making referrals a primary marketing method for most attorneys. If you’ve read me for a while, you also know that you can stimulate referrals without explicitly talking to clients about the subject. But, let’s face it, talking to clients about referrals is a powerful way to get more of them. A lot more. 

If that’s not something you want to do, have your marketing assistant do it for you. 

I built my practice primarily with referral marketing. A key to making that happen was delegating as much as possible to assistants. 

It was an investment, not an expense. And it paid off in spades.

How to talk to clients about referrals




It’s not easy to define, but you know it when you see it. 

007 had it. He was unflappable. And unstoppable. You always knew that in the end, he would beat the bad guys and save the world, and no matter what happened, you’d never see him sweat. 

Your clients want that in you. 

Calm, cool, collected. Strong and confident, ready to save the day.

How can you convey that? 

Say less. Tell them how you can help them, but don’t try so hard. Let your deeds (and reviews) do most of the talking for you. 

Be willing to admit you don’t know everything, and don’t do everything yourself. You have top quality people who work for you or with you. You count on them and so can your clients. 

Don’t push, don’t convince, let the facts do that. 

Don’t react, respond. Your manner should display a relaxed intensity. Calm, cool, collected, remember? 

Don’t be a slob. 007 was always impeccably dressed. If he had a desk and an office, you know it would have been immaculate. 

Don’t talk about how busy you are. It makes you look needy. Instead, let them see a busy waiting room. And don’t always be available whenever they want to talk to you.

Don’t cut your fees. You’re the best and deserve to be paid accordingly. 

Don’t chase. You’re 007. Let ’em chase you. 


It’s your client’s birthday. What do you send them?


A birthday card is nice. Especially when it is handwritten and signed by you personally. It shows you took the time to acknowledge them on their day, and you did it yourself instead of having your assistant stick something in the mail your firm sends to everyone. 

What about a gift? 

That’s nice, too. Everyone enjoys getting gifts. But gift giving can be more complicated, and expensive, so maybe a personal gift for only your “best” clients. A gift certificate to a local restaurant is a good choice. 

On the other hand, there is something you could send to every client (and business contact), that isn’t expensive but can make a lasting impression. 

I’m talking about giving a book. Especially one you liked and recommend. 

Add a note: “This is one of my favorite books” or “I got a lot out of this book and thought you might like it, too”.

Even if they don’t read the book, or like it, they will appreciate you for thinking of them. I know I would, wouldn’t you? 


Screening calls


People call with a question, about your services or about their case. Or they call to sell you something. Everyone wants to speak to you immediately, and if they leave a message, they want you to call them back the same day. 

But you can’t talk to everyone immediately, or call back everyone the same day. At least you shouldn’t. You need to a gatekeeper to screen calls for you.

If a client calls with a question about their case or another legal matter, your gatekeeper needs to know what to do. Your clients need to know what will happen when they call. Who will they speak to? Where can they get additional information? What to do in an emergency?

Clients should be told all of this the day they become a client, so they can get the help they need in a timely manner, and not panic if you’re not available. 

What about prospective clients? They might expect to speak to you when they call, or at least speak to someone. If they cannot, they need to be told (by the gatekeeper, voicemail, website) what to expect so they don’t call someone else. 

People with something to sell? You don’t have to take their call, return their call, or reply to their email. And you probably shouldn’t.

Okay, the basics. But you might want to refine the basics to make things run more smoothly. 

One way to do that is to have different policies for different types of calls and emails:

  • Prospective clients with a certain type of case 
  • New clients
  • Long-time clients 
  • Business clients
  • Consumer clients
  • Referred clients
  • Emails (who gets a form reply, who gets a personal reply, who gets called)
  • Inquires from old/dormant clients
  • Calls/emails from other lawyers (non-case related)

What to do, what to tell them, and when (or if) you will follow up.

You might create a list of clients your screener should always put through to you, and another list of clients you don’t want to speak to. A list of clients to call back immediately and a list of those who should be called back within 48 hours. 

Lists like these can make life easier for your clients and prospects, and more profitable for you.


You’re not going to want to do this (but you should)


Have you ever stopped to think about how much more you could accomplish if you just had the time? The projects you could finish (or start and then finish), the skills you could learn or improve? 

You want to take a course, learn a new language, build a second brain, or finish that book that’s gathering dust on your hard drive. You want to learn how to get more referrals, better clients, more leads, more subscribers, or more people registering for your seminars. You want to expand into a new practice area or open another office. 

But you’re busy with work and don’t have the time. 

That’s the problem. The solution is to do it anyway. Take some of the time (you don’t have), and dedicate it to doing things that allow you to “level up” your practice and, eventually, allow you to buy back that time. 

It’s an investment in your future. 

Specifically, block out one hour on your calendar every weekday. Call it your “power hour”. Or your financial freedom hour. Or don’t call it anything, just do it. 

I know, it’s too much time. You’re not sure how you’ll use it. You think I’m crazy for even suggesting this nonsense.

Block out the time even if you don’t know if you should or how you’ll use it. You will use it. And be glad you did.

You’ve heard me talk about calendaring 15 minutes a day for marketing. 15 minutes is a great place to start and create a daily habit, but imagine what you could accomplish if you used an entire hour for marketing. 

It’s your power hour. Use all or part of it for marketing if you want to. I did that when I was struggling in my early days and it changed my life.

If you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around using that much time for non-billable work, start with 30 minutes. Use your lunch hour. Or do this early morning before you start your regular day. 

But do it. Because it can change your life. 


3 things you need for success in private practice


What does it take to make it? A lot of things can help. Cash, for one. Because if you can put it to work wisely, you can get things off to a good start or more easily move to the next level. But cash isn’t one of the 3 things you need. 

How about mental toughness? Also good. But also not essential. Even for litigators. 

Knowing a lot of influential people? Excellent. But not on the list of must-haves.  

Charm? Good looks? Being smarter than the average bear? 


So, what then? What are the 3 things you need for success? 

At the top of the list, far above the other two, is desire. You’ve got to want it. So let’s call it, “burning desire”. 

But not necessarily the desire to be a successful lawyer. The desire to be, do, or have something that being a successful lawyer makes possible.

Something that’s important enough to you to get you out of bed in the morning and do things you might not feel like doing. 

For some, that might mean being able to move their family to a safer neighborhood or helping their older parents (finally) retire. For others, it might mean helping to save humanity. 

Something you are passionate about. Something you might be brought to tears when you think about not getting it. 

That kind of desire. Not ego-driven desire. 

Desire is at the top of the list because that’s what will see you through the tough times, disappointment, and sacrifice that often go hand-in-hand with building a successful practice. Desire is the key to everything else.

What’s number 2? Willingness to learn. But not just legal knowledge or your core legal skills. 

There’s a lot to learn about marketing, hiring and keeping good people, budgeting, productive work habits, and all the paperwork. 

Most of all, there’s a lot to learn about yourself. Your personal and interpersonal skills. Because success means becoming the kind of person who is successful. 

As Jim Rohn put it, you need to work on yourself more than your business. 

Which leads to number 3. Willingness to do the work

You may have the desire and be willing to learn, but if you’re not willing to show up every day and do the work, and keep doing it, you’re not going to get to the promised land. 

I’m not saying you have to continually burn the midnight oil, never take breaks, or do things you hate doing. You needn’t work till you drop. You can (and should) look for shortcuts, and create systems and habits that make things easier and better.

You can have a life while you’re building your business. 

You can also go quickly or slowly and take the path that’s right for you. But you have to do the work and that means you have to keep moving.

Because there’s a lot to learn and even more to do. 

The Quantum Leap Marketing System (if you’re ready)


Revenue generating activity


Business advisors of all stripes talk about the primacy of revenue generating activity for sustaining and growing a business. They tell you to should spend most of your time doing this because it is the only thing that brings in income.

“Everything else is an expense.”

Literally, that’s true. If you spend most of your time and resources on creating value for your clients, your business will be profitable and grow.

So, how do we define revenue generating activities? 

For lawyers in private practice, anything you do that allows you to bill a client clearly qualifies. Admin tasks might be necessary for managing the people and processes for creating and collecting that revenue, but don’t qualify as revenue generating by themselves.

Okay, so you want to spend most of your time doing billable work. But how much?

If you spend 80% of your time doing billable work, is that enough? Is spending 20% of your gross income (and time) on admin too much? 

Ultimately, this is the debate we have with ourselves, our partners and advisors.

But it doesn’t only come down to doing the work vs. the cost of getting it done. There are other activities that come into play.

Continuing education, personal development, and business development, for example. 

These aren’t revenue generating in the classical sense, but they can create significant revenue, arguably with significantly less effort than it takes to do the billable work. 

It’s true. 

When you improve your marketing skills, you can get more leads and prospective clients, attract bigger cases and better clients, expand into additional markets, and increase profits by being able to hire more help and/or open more offices.  

When you improve your personal skills, e.g., sales, networking, speaking, writing, productivity, etc., you can attract even more prospects and close a higher percentage of them, get more repeat business, streamline your workflows, and build deeper relationships with other professionals who can lead you to additional opportunities to develop your practice and career. 

And when you improve your core legal skills and knowledge, you can increase your value to your clients, allowing you to bill higher rates. 

Revenue generating activities, to be sure.

I can’t tell you how much time to spend on these activities, only that if you want to grow, you should consider spending more. 

When you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your practice, here’s what to do