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


Slow down to speed up


Yesterday, I talked about the advantages of following a non-linear workflow, that is, working when and how your body and brain tell you is right instead of slavishly following the calendar. 

Among other things, this means taking breaks when you feel you need them, and not feeling guilty because you’re doing that “too often”. 

Taking breaks also gives you the opportunity to evaluate what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it, and make improvements. You’ll be able to see things you might not have seen because you’ve been too busy doing the work. 

If you continually run from one project or case to the next one, your practice or business is running you instead of the other way around. 

You want to go faster and grow bigger, but you can’t do that if you’re constantly running. You need breaks so you can evaluate what you’re doing, make improvements, or change course. 

Maybe you need to do something different on that project, or put it aside in favor of another. Maybe you need to let go of doing everything yourself and get some help so you can free up some time and energy for projects that are more in line with your goals and purpose. 

Periodically slow down (or stop). Go through your projects, your cases, your client list, and your plans. Stand down for a day or a week and figure out what you can do better or instead.  

When you get back to work, you’ll be able to go faster.

Success isn’t just about doing the work to the best of your ability. It’s also about doing the work that best serves your future. Sometimes, you need to back away and figure out what that means.


Start with what, not how


I’m guilty of this myself. Trying to figure out how to do something or improve something when that’s the wrong question to start with.

The right question is, “What do I want?“

Because when you know what you want (to be, do, or have), you can almost always figure out how.

Asking “how“ before you know “what“, often leads to wasting time on less important projects or goals.

Finding solutions without a problem.

Example? You’re trying to figure out how to set up a new website. All your energy is dedicated to looking for ways to do that, or finding people who can do it for you.

If you had first asked, “What do I want?” you might have realized that you want more opt-ins to your email list, and while a new and improved website might help, there are other things you can do to get what you want that don’t require a new website.

“What” is more important than “how”.

If you’re not sure of what you want, or even if you are, a good follow-up question to ask yourself is “why?” Why do I want that? Why is it important to me?

The answer to that question will confirm that what you said you want is indeed important and valuable to you, (or it isn’t), and provide you with the motivation to move forward.

Why do you want more opt-ins? Because this is a simple way to get what I want: more clients from the visitors to my website.

First, figure out WHAT you want (and why). Then, figure out HOW to get it.

Email marketing for attorneys


Simply the best


You are the best in your field. The most talented, the most successful, the most dedicated to your clients. 

That’s why your clients hire you; that’s why prospective clients should do the same. 

Unfortunately, you can’t go around saying you’re the best. Even if it’s true. 

You want others to say this about you. Which is why you should do everything you can to obtain testimonials, positive reviews, and praiseworthy survey responses from your clients, and endorsements from prominent people (especially other lawyers).

It’s also why you should get yourself invited to be interviewed by centers of influence in your niche and be seen in their company. 

If you say you’re the best, people will doubt you. Maybe laugh at you. If your clients and others say you’re the best, it must be true. 

Not only does third party praise help you bring in more business, these kinds of comments give your clients a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that they made a wise decision to hire you.

It also means you’ll attract higher-paying clients and a lot more referrals, because you’re not just competent, you’re the best. 

Don’t be shy about asking your clients for reviews and testimonials. If they’re happy campers, they should be happy to provide them. But you have to ask because they may not know how important this is to you.

And, while you’re collecting these, you can create the same effect by liberally adding client success stories to your articles, posts, presentations, and other content. That’s where you describe a client’s case or situation before they came to you and how you rescued them and made everything better. 

Set up a file to collect emails and quotes from people who say something nice about you. Thank them, tell them how much it means to you, and ask, “May I quote you?”

Happy clients are the foundation of a successful practice


Lawyer advertising is expensive. Or is it?


“How much are the ads?” is the wrong question. The right question is “how much can I profit after I pay the cost of the ads?“

Because if you spend $30,000 per month on ads but take in $150,000 in fees, that $30k ad budget looks like a pretty good deal.

The cost of ads is relative. It doesn’t matter how much you invest, what matters is how much your investment earns. Your net profit after the cost of the ads and your overhead.

Is it really that simple? Yes, and no.

Yes, because it’s just math. No, it’s not that simple because you have to consider the risks.

The risk that you won’t take in enough revenue to cover the cost of the ads (and overhead). The risk that the ads that work today won’t continue to work tomorrow. The risk that you’ll get complacent and mess up something, or you’ll let your guard down and some charlatan will take you to the cleaners.

I’ve lost a lot of money on advertising. I’ve run ads that bombed, been cheated, and spent more than it tuned out I need to spend. But I’ve also made a lot. More than enough to cover my costs and turn a handsome profit.

But if you’re considering advertising, there’s something else you need to know. You can still make a profit on ads that break even or even show a loss.

How can you lose money and still make money?

On the backend.

Your front end is the business (and revenue) you get directly from your ads. The backend is the business and revenue you get from repeat business and referrals.

If your ads bring in a client who has a lot of legal work, you might break even on the first case they hire you to handle, but get a steady stream of repeat business (and referrals) for years to come.

And all that backend profit is net profit, since you already paid the advertising costs to bring in the client.

Many attorneys lose money on every one of their ads, but make a fortune on the backend.

So, that’s the big picture. Advertising could be the best thing you ever do for your practice, but if you’re not careful, it could leave a big red stain on your books.

Fortunately, you can minimize your risks and simultaneously maximize your profits.

You minimize risk by learning all you can about advertising and not blindly turning everything over to someone else.

You minimize risk by starting small and testing. See what works on a small scale before rolling out on a bigger scale. You don’t invest $5000 on an ad until you see that the $750 version is doing okay.

I started out with classified ads. Then 1/4 page. Then 1/3 page. Then 1/2 page. And eventually, full page.

Start small and if you see a profit, continue running the ads and, eventually, expand into more ads, bigger ads, more publications or sites, and more keywords.

If profits decline, you fix things, or scale back.

You minimize risk and increase profits by continually testing other ad copy, headlines, keywords, and offers.

You can also minimize risk by targeting smaller markets and niches where there is less competition and the cost to advertise is lower. These can be as profitable as bigger markets, and are often more profitable.

Another way to minimize risk is through multi-step marketing. Instead of expecting to make the sale on your frontend ads, you capture leads and stay in touch with prospects, some of whom will “buy” weeks, months, or years down the road.

And you minimize risk by avoiding the same kinds of ads other attorneys run and making yours different or better.

Risk is part of advertising. But so is opening an office, hiring help, going to court, and everything else you do to build a law practice. That’s business.

But in business, success doesn’t require the elimination of all risk (even if that was possible). It requires intelligently managing your risks.

Same as everything in life.

How to get more repeat business and referrals