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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Go plagiarize yourself

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I have another project for you for the new year. In a nutshell, you’re going to inventory everything you’ve written or recorded in the past so you can use it again.

It’s about leverage. Getting more value out of your previous work, and saving a bunch of time and effort in the process.

First, gather up the following and put them into digital files:

  • Forms, documents, and other work product.
  • Frequently used emails and letters.
  • Content: articles, blog posts, newsletters, podcast, video, and interview transcripts, presentations, reports, ebooks, etc.

You might break up work product by practice area, type of matter, type of client, or stage of the proceeding. Instead of files, you can use tags or labels.

Calendar some time in the coming weeks to go through your files, and then:

  • Update forms and documents. Create an index of these documents, with searchable tags.
  • Convert emails and letters into boilerplate: transmittal, demands, notices, client updates, marketing, newsletters, etc.

Re-use, update, or re-purpose other content:

  • Re-publish blog posts, newsletters, and articles. Or combine parts of several posts to create new ones.
  • Convert blog posts, articles, podcasts, and interviews into ebooks, reports, presentations, social media posts, lead magnets (giveaways), and bonuses. Convert presentations, ebooks, reports, etc., into blog posts.
  • Update older posts, etc., with new information, new results, different opinions, predictions, etc. Consolidate several posts into round-up posts. Break up longer posts into shorter ones.
  • Modify marketing documents for use with different types of readers or markets

Do a little bit each week and you should soon find yourself saving time and getting better results.

You should also set up files to save copies of “incoming” content from other lawyers–documents, emails they sent you, (subscribe to their newsletters), forms they use (when you sub-in on a file), and so on. No, don’t plagiarize their stuff, use it for ideas for updating yours.

C’mon, you know they’re doing that with your stuff, don’t you?

Evernote for Lawyers

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Looking for clients in all the wrong places

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When you’re new, starting to build a practice, you do everything and anything to bring in business. If you’re still doing that after you’ve been around awhile, you’re missing the boat.

When you’re new, the objective is to build a client base. Once you do that, that base of existing and former clients, prospective clients, and professional contacts you’ve made along the way is your best source of new business.

I’m not saying you should stop networking or advertising or creating content. I’m saying it shouldn’t be your main focus.

Focus on retaining existing clients. Keep them happy. Get them to hire you again. Make it easy for them to refer.

Focus on getting existing and former clients to hire you again and buy your other services. If you don’t have other services they need, promote the services of other professionals you know and ask them to do the same for you.

Focus on converting prospects into clients. Offer them an introductory deal they can’t refuse and if they’re not ready, stay in touch with them until they are.

Focus on getting your professional contacts to refer more often and to introduce you to their colleagues.

Focus on building stronger relationships with influential people you know, and new relationships with the people they know.

Focus on the people who already know, like, and trust you, instead of trying to convince strangers to take a chance.

Why do most attorneys focus elsewhere? Because they hear that it’s important to continually generate more leads, build a bigger social media following, network more, advertise more, speak and write more, so that’s what they do.

If that’s you, you’re working too hard. Stop acting like you’re new. All of the clients you could want, and more, are right in front of you.

If you want a simple marketing plan, get this

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You’re smart enough but are you lazy enough?

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You know I’m a fan of the book, “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. He wrote a sequel, “Living the 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. In it, Koch quotes General Erich von Manstein, an officer in the German army, speaking about leadership:

“There are only four types of officers.

First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm.

Second, there are the hard-working intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered.

Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace, and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody.

Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

Different versions of this citation have appeared, sometimes attributing the quote to others. In 1942 Viscount Swinton (Philip Lloyd-Greame) spoke in the House of Lords in London. He described the four classes of officers and credited an unnamed German General:

The clever and lazy you make Chief of Staff, because he will not try to do everybody else’s work, and will always have time to think.

What does this tell us? I think it tells us that maybe we are too industrious for our own good. Maybe we need to do less work and more thinking. Maybe we need to delegate more work to hard-working intelligent people who will take care of the details while we take care of the big picture.

I’m going to take some time to think about this. How about you?

Behold: an easier way to get more referrals from other professionals

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Live, from your office. . .

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The other day I recommended not relying solely on live presentations but to record them so they can go to work for you 24/7.

It’s leverage. Do it once, use it over and over again.

But don’t stop doing live presentations.

I don’t just mean “live and in person”. I mean live online. Podcasts, hangouts, chats, webinars, and so on, that are presented in real time. There’s magic in something done live.

When you promote a recorded video, it’s harder to create a sense of urgency. You can say, “This will only be available until. . .” but you then lose the ability to get eyeballs on an ongoing basis. If you leave it up all the time, many people say, “I’ll catch it later,” but we all know that later often never comes.

When you do it live, however, you can promote it as a special event because it is special. You can say, or more likely imply “Never before and never again,” has this been done, creating an even bigger sense of urgency.

When it’s live, you can say, “Join me” or “Ask me anything” and thus provide more value and build a closer relationship with your followers. Or you can promote it by saying you’re presenting some new or timely information that shouldn’t be missed.

One of the biggest draws of a live event is that nobody knows what will happen. What will be said, what will be asked, what information will be shared for the first time? And let’s face it, one reason people watch live events is that they know it could be a train wreck and they want to see that.

One way to make your live events have more train-wreck potential is to have someone else speak with you. If you have a co-presenter, a panel discussion, you interview someone or have someone interview you, the likelihood of something noteworthy or cringeworthy happening is even greater. (You’ll also get the other speakers’ followers to tune in.)

Do some live events and watch your subscriber numbers and engagement soar. Of course, you should also record these events so you can use them again or make them available 24/7. But you might not want to mention that you’re recording it when you promote it for the first time.

Let your website do the heavy lifting: Marketing online for attorneys

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If I could save time in a bottle

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If I could save time in a bottle. . . I’d sell it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to buy more time? More time with your family. More time for hobbies or worthy causes, more time get more work done.

How much would like to buy?

Unfortunately, I can’t sell you any time. But I can show you how to get it for yourself.

The first way to get more time is to steal it. Steal it from what you’re currently doing by taking on fewer tasks and projects or fewer cases and clients, and focusing on a smaller number of more valuable matters. Delegate less valuable work to others.

The second way to get more time is to get your work done more quickly. You can do that by improving your skills and knowledge, learning new skills and methods, using better tools, and developing better habits and workflows. Delegating work to others will also help.

The third way to get more time is to specialize in your practice areas and in the clients you target. This will allow you to charge higher fees and attract more clients (and better clients) who prefer attorneys who specialize.

The fourth way to steal time is through marketing, which will allow you to bring in bigger cases and clients, and allow you to hire more help.

Even better, instead of “one and done” marketing activities, do things that can bring in new business with little or no additional effort. Instead of only doing live presentations or seminars, for example, record them so they can go to work for you 24/7. Instead of networking to find clients, network to find more referral sources.

All of these will give you more time and more income. I know, because this is what I did to build my practice when I was struggling.

Work on fewer more valuable things, become more efficient, specialize, and get better at marketing. That’s how I was able to earn more and work less, and that’s how you can, too.

How I did it: the formula

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Put this in your pipe and smoke it

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Suppose I am a notary who works near you. I call you and offer to provide my services to your clients for a few hours each week, at no cost to you or your clients.

Interested?

You can promote this as an added benefit to your clients. You can put “free notary services” in your advertising and on your website and attract more prospective clients.

And it won’t cost you a dime.

I’m willing to do it because it lets me introduce my services to lots of new clients.

Do we have a deal?

Okay, you like the idea but you’re not getting calls from notaries offering this.

Well, you could ask someone in your office to take the class and become a notary, or you could do it yourself. That’s good, but how about thinking bigger?

How about picking up the phone and calling some notaries, to see if they like the idea of getting some free exposure. Why is this better than doing it yourself?

Because some of their notary clients will need legal services.

And there you are.

Many real estate agents are notaries, and open to a bit of creative marketing. Or you might partner up with a real estate attorney who has a notary in the office (assuming you don’t compete with them). Accountants, escrow officers, mortgage brokers, and banks also have notaries.

If free notary services doesn’t work for your practice, find something that does.

Make a list of the types of professionals and small businesses that target the same clients you target. Contact them and see if they have a free or discounted service you could offer to your clients. Or a free consultation. Or free information.

Then, see if you can do the same for their clients.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

More ways to work smarter

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Know, like, trust, rinse, repeat

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You’ve heard it before: “All things being equal, clients prefer to hire attorneys they know, like, and trust”.

You need all three but let’s take a minute and talk about “know”.

In a sense, it is the easiest of the three because it is the simplest. The more people who know you, the more clients you are likely to get. Assuming you are reasonably likable and trustworthy, getting more people to know you is the 20% activity that brings you 80% of your results.

Note that it’s not necessarily how many people you know, it’s how many people know you. How many recognize your name? How many people who go looking for an attorney will find you?

It’s called exposure.

One of the best ways to get more exposure is to leverage the contacts of influential people in your target market.

Centers of interest in your community. Professionals, executives, business owners. People who run blogs and video channels. Authors, consultants, and sales people who write for, sell to, or advise people in your target market.

They can give you direct referrals. They can publish your guest post on their blog or in their newsletter. They can interview you for their podcast or video channel. They can promote your seminar, become an affiliate for your book or course, and promote your free report to their subscribers.

They can give you exposure to a large number of prospective clients. Even better, they can influence them to follow you and hire you. When they promote you, or even just mention you to their clients, readers, and contacts, they are impliedly endorsing you.

That’s the best kind of exposure you can get.

Do yourself a favor and get to know more people like that. Start by asking your existing professional contacts to introduce you to other professionals in their line of work.

You still have work to do with these new contacts but the most important part is done. Thanks to your mutual friend, they now know you. They’ll take your call and reply to your email. You’re on your way to getting their contacts to know, like, and trust you.

How to get referrals and other help from attorneys and other professionals: here

 

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Can you really earn more by working less?

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We’ve all been taught that more is better so how is it that some people earn more and achieve more by working less?

They do it by choosing the right things to do.

The most successful among us focus on doing things that allow them to take giant leaps instead of incremental steps. The kinds of things that let them leverage their resources and get “eighty percent results with twenty percent effort”.

It’s not that they ignore the little things. It’s that at any given moment, they’re able to zero in on the one thing they can do that will give them the most bang for their buck.

Real estate entrepreneur, Gary Keller, made this the theme of his bestselling book, The ONE Thing. He says that we can become much more successful by finding and doing the one thing (activity, task, decision, etc.) that can allow us to achieve extraordinary results.

Keller suggests that we look at our goals and for each one, ask, “What’s the ‘ONE Thing’ [I] can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

If your goal is to bring in ten new clients per month within 90 days, for example, out of all the things you MIGHT do, you should find and do the one thing that is likely to make it most likely that you will achieve that goal.

Start by brainstorming possibilities. You’ll probably think of hundreds of ideas, and if you don’t, read through my blog and courses. Put your list aside for a few days, come back to it and look for your ‘one thing’.

You may reason your way to a decision, but it is just as likely that your “gut” will tell you. If you’re not sure, go through your list slowly, think about each idea and see how you feel about it. If it feels good to think about it, if you find yourself getting excited about it, the odds are that’s what you should choose.

Your ‘one thing’ will likely be different than any other lawyer’s. You might decide that your one thing is to hire someone to create a new website for you. Another lawyer might decide that his or her one thing is to meet prospective new referral sources. Someone else may decide that advertising is the right thing for them.

All of these things, and others, might help you reach your goal, but you should consider them later. Right now,  you should find your one thing and do it.

Your website can bring you a lot of new clients

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