Putting some practice into your law practice


A Facebook friend mentioned a recent conversation with a photographer who told him, “You need to practice your craft! Ask any serious musician, actor, actress, vocalist, writer, painter, etc., how often they practice and they will tell you. So often I talk to photographers and ask them the same question and they get a blank look on their face and say, “Practice”?

What about lawyers? Are we not serious professionals? Are we not creative?

We practice law but how many of us practice the practice of law?

Most trial lawyers practice their closing arguments. But how many practice interviewing a hostile witness? How many practice writing a more persuasive brief or settlement package?

Lawyers want more clients but how many practice meeting new people at a networking event? How many practice what they will say to a prospective client who comes in for a consultation?

I’ll admit, in my law practice, I did very little practicing. Over time, I got better at writing and speaking not because I made a conscious effort to do so, not by practicing but by speaking and writing for real clients in real cases. How much better might I have been had I worked on this between clients?

An actor rehearses before he goes on stage. He works on his craft when nobody is watching or in a workshop among his peers. He practices and practices so that he can deliver the best performance. Musicians do the same.

Writers churns out millions of words that are never seen, honing their craft, improving their work product. Painters do studies, dancers rehearse steps, singers do scales.

In law school and in bar review courses we took practice exams, getting ready for the real exam, the one that counts. Why do we stop practicing once we get licensed to practice?

Want ideas for articles, blog posts, and speeches that make the phone ring? Go here.


How to qualify prospective clients in four seconds or less


Would you like to know if someone is a candidate for your services within four seconds of meeting them?

I just read about a financial advisor who built a very successful business doing that. He cold called investors, introduced himself, and asked a simple question: “Are you looking for a new financial advisor?”

He didn’t ask if they were interested in getting information about a hot stock. He didn’t invite them to a seminar. He was looking for people who wanted a new advisor and that’s what he asked.

They either were or they were not. If they said yes or maybe, he moved forward. If not, he moved on.

Hold the phone, I’m not suggesting you cold call. Or that you ask people you just met a qualifying question. “Hi, I’m Joe. Are you looking for a divorce lawyer?”

But I am asking you to put on your thinking cap and come up a good qualifying question for your services.

There are many ways to phrase the question:

  • Are you looking for. . .?
  • Do you need. . .?
  • Which of these works best for you. . .?
  • Do you have this problem?
  • Have you ever. . .?
  • Why are you. . .?
  • Are you ready to. . .?

You might put the question on the home page of your website, front and center, to let visitors know they’ve come to the right place. You might not ask until someone has had a chance to read something, get their questions answered, and get a sense for who you are.

You might ask in conversation. Or hand over a brochure or report that asks for you.

On the other hand, you may never vocalize the question or put it in writing. The question may be no more than sub-text. But there it will be, guiding you and qualifying your reader or listener.

Crafting this question will help you define your “ideal client”. What is their problem? Where are they in the process? What other solutions have they considered or tried? It will help you qualify prospective clients, possibly in four seconds or less.

So, what would you ask someone to find out if they are a prospect for your services?

Do you want help describing your ideal client? Get this.


People are stupid


It is said that one should never underestimate the intelligence of our fellow man.

That’s a load of crap. People are stupid.

They can’t think. The can’t write. They don’t understand.

Their vocabulary consists of twelve words, none more than two syllables. They have the attention span of a goldfish.

Dumb. Thick as a brick. Stoo-pid.

If you don’t believe me, go read the comments on just about any Youtube video.

See? People are stupid.

At least that’s what you should assume when you write or speak.

Never assume people will understand what you are saying. Spell it out. Say it so they can’t possibly misunderstand.

Use plain words. Short sentences. Word pictures.

Short lists. Simple examples. Precise instructions.

This actually takes some work on your part. It’s not easy to write simply and plainly and not sound like you are talking down to people. It’s much easier to write like a lawyer, but I urge you not to, even if you’re writing for lawyers.

Write and speak to communicate, not to impress. Don’t make people work any harder than necessary to understand your message.

Keep things simple so everyone can understand. Stupid people will thank you. Smart people won’t mind.

If you want a (simple) marketing plan that really works, get this.


WTF: Cussing in email, blogs


Last week I got an email from a subscriber who disapproved of my use of the word “bastard” in a blog post. He referred to it as a “strong cuss word” and thought I should refrain from using such terms.

That surprised me. I don’t consider that a strong cuss word. I’m not even sure it’s a cuss word anymore, at least in most circles.

I think I monitor my language pretty well. I don’t use four letter words in my posts and emails. But coarse language does have its place in communication. If used appropriately and not overdone, it can add color and contour to our writing and speech.

So, at the risk of pissing off some of my subscribers (oops), I don’t plan to change anything.

On the other hand. . .

If most of my subscribers told me they didn’t approve of my language, I would be foolish not to listen. If you want to stay in business, you have to pay attention to your market.

But you can’t listen to everyone who is unhappy with something you said.

At the end of the day, you have to be yourself. You will attract people who like you “as is”. They may not like everything you say, but if they read something that bothers their sense of propriety, you have to assume they will let it go. If they don’t, it’s their loss, not yours.


10 tips on public speaking for lawyers


Admit it. You’re a ham. You like the limelight. You love to be in front of the room.

Okay, even if you don’t, you know that public speaking is an excellent way to market legal services.

Here are 10 tips on public speaking for lawyers:

TIP #1: Write your own introduction. Your audience will hear everything you want them to hear and nothing you don’t. It’s better to let the host say nice things about you than it is to say them about yourself.

TIP #2: If you use handouts, pass them out at the END of the talk. Otherwise, everyone will read and not listen. (The exception would be handouts that track on screen bullet points.)

TIP #3: Don’t read. You should know your material well enough that you don’t need to read anything. It’s okay to have notes with you but only as reminders of points you want to cover.

TIP #4: If you use slides, aim for no more than three bullet points on each slide. Keep it short, simple, and easy to read. No animation or fancy graphics. Also, try to use no more than a dozen slides. The audience is there to listen, not read.

TIP #5: Tell stories. All facts make Jack a dull boy. Stories show people what is important and why. People relate to the people in your stories on an emotional level.

TIP #6: Engage the audience. Make eye contact. Speak to individuals in the room, not to “the crowd”. Mention people by name. Ask rhetorical questions (e.g., “What would you do if that happened?”) and questions that call for an audible response.

TIP #7: Mix it up. Vary your speed, tone, and voice level. Pause for effect. Gesture. Walk from one side of the room to the other. Point to something.

TIP #8: Aim for one main take-away. One main point, one memorable line, one evocative story. If they are asked about your talk two weeks later, what’s the one thing you want them to remember?

TIP #9: Keep it short. Twenty minutes is ideal. After twenty minutes, people get restless. If you have a bigger topic, break it up into twenty minute segments.

TIP #10: Close with a “call to action”. Tell them what to do next: visit a website, fill out paperwork, call to make an appointment. If you tell them what to do, more people will do it.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Please share in the comments.

Start your marketing library with The Attorney Marketing Formula.


Do you and your clients speak the same language?


Why do app developers who aren’t fluent in English insist on writing their own app description? Do they think their English is good enough? Do they just not care?

Whatever the reasons, here’s what happens when you don’t have someone “translate” your broken English:


Support sending international fax! !
Phone pictures or mobile phones to take pictures of the file obtained images into the nearest scanned copy binarization pictures, and sent to anywhere from any fax machine.

Approaching the ultimate speed of processing image! !
Most satisfied with the effect of processing pictures! !
Send a fax, the cheapest price! ! !
The fastest speed of service of the destination fax machine! ! ! !
In short, pack your satisfaction.

Not kidding. This is the actual description of an app I looked at. And no, I didn’t buy it.

I don’t care how good the app is, when I see a description like this I move on. I don’t want to invest even two dollars in a company that doesn’t pay attention to detail or care about it’s customers.

It’s not about the app. It’s about the total user experience.

The same is true in a law practice.

If clients don’t speak your language and you don’t speak theirs, you must have someone available to translate. I’m sure you do.

But what about that other language lawyers speak? You know, legalese?

Lawyers need to be able to communicate in plain English. We all know lawyers who hide behind overly ornate language. Clients don’t get all warm and fuzzy about a lawyer who continually says things like, “With respect to. . .” and “Notwithstanding. . .”. (Anyone remember Marcia Clark?)

Plain English, please.

Get rid of unnecessary words. Don’t use a ten dollar word when a fifty cent word will do.

Use the active tense. Action verbs. Specific nouns.

Don’t write (or speak) to be understood. Write (and speak) so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.

If you need help, get help. Take lessons. Get an editor. Practice.

Or clients won’t buy your app.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients.


Use emotional word pictures to sell more legal services


Let’s say I’m selling oranges instead of legal services. I want you to buy my orange so I give you the facts: oranges are good for your health, they taste good, and they are economical. I am very experienced in growing oranges. Many people have bought my oranges and been satisfied with their purchase.

So, do you want to buy my orange?

Maybe, maybe not.

How about if I tell you my orange has a brightly colored peel and a nob at the top and the skin is not too thick and not too thin. You can picture my orange, can’t you? It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

But you still may not be ready to buy. Let me have another go at it:

The orange is hefty in my hand and as I squeeze it and tear away the upper part of the peel, juice squirts into the air and I can smell the distinct orange fragrance. The naked orange feels sticky in my hands. I dig my thumbs into the top and pull it apart and juice drips onto my fingers. I put a slice into my mouth and the sweet liquid makes my mouth pucker. As I bite down, juice explodes inside my mouth and cascades down my throat.

Not only can see the orange, you can smell it, feel it, and taste it.

My mouth is watering right now, how about yours?

Emotional word pictures stimulate the right side of the brain, where our emotions operate. Engaging the emotions of your listener not only makes it easier for them to understand your message, it also makes it more likely that they will be persuaded by it.

You may not always be able to invoke their other senses, but if you can help them picture what you are describing, or better yet, the results of what you are offering to do for them, you will make it more likely that they will hire you to get it.

Learn more about how to be more persuasive in The Attorney Marketing Formula.


The secret to success in the courtroom, boardroom, and new car showroom


If you want to win more trials, negotiate better deals, and make lots of money so you can buy new cars, the secret has just been revealed.

According to a study of over a billion Tweets during sporting events, being confident makes you more popular than being right. “The more opinionated [the tweeters] were, the more influential and trustworthy they were perceived to be,” the study found.

I’m not surprised. People are attracted to confident people. They listen to them and want to follow them.

I am a little surprised, however, by the researcher’s correlation of “loud” and “confident”. “Despite professional pundits and amateur fans making a similar amount of correct and incorrect predictions, the tweeters who ‘yelled’ louder were seen as more trustworthy and had more followers,” they said.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear people “shouting,” I see it as a lack of confidence. When you have the facts on your side, you don’t need to shout. But maybe that’s not true on Twitter where you have to make noise so you can be heard above the incessant chatter.

In the real world, I have occasionally raised my voice slightly to emphasize a point in a negotiation or in oral argument. It is done sparingly and it is very brief, no more than a word or two. Mostly, I rely on a calm and sober recitation of the facts. I’ll bet you do, too.

Maybe that’s why many attorneys aren’t loving social media. We’re too self-conscious. We want to win friends and influence people but we don’t want to shout to do it.

Fortunately, there is another way to be popular on social media. According to another study, referenced on the same page, “Twitter users who posted positive, easy-to-read messages that contained news and other factual information, gained 30 times more followers than grumpy, self-centred [sic] tweeters.”

So, if you want more friends and followers, and you want to win more arguments and more trials, be confident, stay positive, and share valuable information. And if you are inclined to shout, make sure it’s not about you.

Want to attract more good clients? Click here to learn how.


Public speaking tips for lawyers


Public speaking is a great way for lawyers to build their reputation and meet new contacts. But great material isn’t enough to make a great presentation. You have to deliver that material with a great performance.

The first rule of public speaking is displaying good energy. You may be passionate about your subject matter but unless you transfer that emotion to the audience, through your words, tone of voice, and body language, your message won’t get through.

I’ve had to work on this myself. I recall a time about ten years ago I gave a presentation and when I got off stage I asked my co-presenter what he thought about my talk. He said, “Do you drink coffee?” When I said I did, he told me I should drink more.

If you do any live presentations (or want to), here are a few tips for doing a better presentation:

  • Don’t attempt to teach your audience everything. A few key points is all you need and all anyone can handle.
  • Never tell “the history of” anything. Get to the point: what do I need to know right now?
  • If you use slides, don’t cram them with text. A few lines with a few words each.
  • Speak into the microphone and project your voice to the back of the room. Nobody will hear you or understand you if you sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.
  • Modulate your voice. Use a mixture of highs and lows, fast and slow pace.
  • Talk to the audience, not at them. Ask questions, tell stories, say something unusual or funny.
  • Make eye contact with as many people as you can. Use their names if you know them or you can read their name tags.
  • Don’t just stand there, move. Walk around, gesture, throw something (just kidding).
  • Keep it short. Twenty minutes is about all anyone can handle before their mind wanders.
  • Tell them what to do next. Give them a web site and tell them what to do when they get there. Offer something in return for their business card. Or give them a homework assignment.
  • Thank your hosts, thank the audience, and thank God nobody fell asleep.

I’m certainly not the best speaker in the world. But I’m better today than I was last year and I’ll be better next year than I am this year. Speaking is a skill and it can be learned. Practice, get feedback, and practice some more.

Being an attorney will get you asked to speak. Being a good speaker will get you asked back.

Want more ways to build your reputation? Here’s The Formula.


Law practice development tools: sports, museums, and hip hop


I read a lot about marketing and productivity. That’s my field and I need to keep up. Most of what I read, however, is cumulative: things I know, things I already do and teach. There are occasional new twists on old ideas and changes in technology keep things fresh and interesting. But by and large, when you are an expert, unless you are doing original research, you already know what there is to know.

If you’ve been practicing for more than a few years, you may feel the same way about your area of expertise. Still, we read. There is always something new, something we can learn. But if we only read in our areas of expertise, eventually, we get stale.

I get some of my best ideas from reading about things that have nothing to do with marketing or the law. I read blogs and magazines and listen to radio. I talk to people in different fields. I pay attention to what’s going on in my neighborhood and in world politics. I’m not interested in sports but I know that Alabama just clobbered Notre Dame. I’ve never listened to Justin Bieber or One Direction but I know who they are.

I encourage you to read broadly, outside your field. Keep your eyes and ears open to what is going on around you, in sports and pop culture. Study history and economics. Listen to TED talks on science and psychology.

Alfred Whitehead, said, “Novel ideas are more apt to spring from an unusual assortment of knowledge – not necessarily from vast knowledge, but from a thorough conception of the methods and ideas of distinct lines of thought.”

The more diversity you have in your knowledge, the more ideas you will have and the more interesting you will be in conversation, in writing and speaking, and as a lawyer doing your job.

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