Marketing legal services by offering digital document signing


Technology allows us to get legal documents signed without ever printing them. This post on the Evernote blog shows how to do that with two free apps, Docusign and Evernote (or Box, Google Drive, Dropbox).

I have Docusign and several other apps like it. I have pdf’s emailed, open them in the app, sign them, and send them back. It saves time, paper, postage and/or the cost of a messenger. And saving a copy in Evernote allows me to access those documents everywhere. (For more on how to use Evernote for storing client and other documents, check out my ebook, Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity).

If you have a tech savvy client, they can download the app to sign and return the documents to you by email. If you don’t, or if you need to explain the document to the client before signing, you can meet with them and have them sign on your tablet.

Offering digital signing is a benefit to you and to the client. If you offer it, you should promote the fact that you do. Make a big deal out it. Let clients and prospects know what you do, how it works, and how it saves them time and money.

Even if other attorneys do it the same way, most of them don’t promote it. When you do, you will “own” that benefit in the eyes of your target market.

To stand out in the crowd, you must show people how you are different. Click here to learn how.


Digitize your life with Evernote’s “Paperless Challenge”


When I want to find something stored in “My Documents” on my Windows machine, I have to open and close a lot of documents to find the one that has what I’m looking for. When I want to find something stored in Evernote, I rely on its ability to search through the entirety of those documents to find what I need. Very fast, very accurate.

Finding something in paper files are even more challenging, of course, and that’s one of the reasons so many people are “going paperless.”

If you’d like to join the crowd, Evernote is conducting a “Paperless Challenge” to help you. It started January 8 but there’s no reason why you can’t get started right now. Make sure you download Jaime Rubin’s “Paperless Challenge Checklist” to use as a guide.

Lifehacker just posted a comprehensive article, “How I Went Completely Paperless in Two Days.” I think two days is a bit ambitious for most attorneys due to the amount of paper in our possession, questions about security issues, and our innate resistance to change, but even if it takes two years instead of two days, it’s worth it. I’m not yet completely paperless but my file cabinets are empty, I’ve trashed dozens of boxes of paper collected over thirty-plus years, and we get very little (important) postal mail these days. I’m well on my way to digitizing and simplifying my life.

Speaking of security issues, this article has a summary of some of the options. (Hat tip to Robert Oschler, developer of the forthcoming Evernote search client for Windows desktop, BitQwik.)

Finally, my own Evernote for Lawyers ebook discusses security issues and how to deal with them, as well as helping you through the process of going paperless.

By the way, even if you don’t use Evernote these resources can still help you in your quest to reduce or eliminate the paper in your life.

Did you know: Evernote for Lawyers has a chapter on using Evernote for marketing.


The Ten Commandments of “Getting Things Done”


Many people refer to David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, as their productivity Bible. Like the real Bible, however, Allen’s book isn’t particularly easy for the uninitiated to digest. It took me several reads and a lot of hi-lighting before the ideas started to sink in.

And yet the principles in Getting Things Done (GTD) aren’t that complicated. In fact, the system is basically your calendar, a few lists, and a process for organizing everything so that you know what to do first and what to do after that. This allows you to be effective (getting the right things done) and efficient (getting things done right).

The sub-title of Getting Things Done is “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” and that is an apt description of the ultimate benefit of mastering GTD.

If you’re trying to learn GTD, or this is your first exposure to it, here is a summary of its key components, the “Ten Commandments of “Getting Things Done”:

  1. Put everything in a “trusted system”. Get it out of your head, off your desk, and into one “Inbox” (or a few), ready to be processed.
  2. Organize your tasks into lists, for example, “Today,” “Next,” “Someday,” “Waiting,” and “Projects”.
  3. A project is anything that requires more than one step (task). Each project should have a list of tasks needed to complete it.
  4. Organize your lists by “context”: Where (@Office, @Home, @Errands), Tool: (@Internet, @Phone), People: (@Debbie, @ABC Board). That way, when you’re @Office, having a meeting with @Debbie, you can zero in on appropriate tasks and not be distracted with @Errands or chores you need to do @Home.
  5. Use your calendar to record future tasks by date (i.e., appointments, start dates, due dates, review dates). The calendar is sacred territory. If it’s on your calendar, you should do it.
  6. Use a tickler system to remind yourself of things you may want to do or review in the future but aren’t due on a specific date (and thus, not on your calendar).
  7. Process your Inbox often: If something is actionable, either Do it (immediately), Delegate it, or Defer it (Calendar, or “Next” list). If it’s not actionable, either Trash it, put it on a list to review in the future (“Someday” or “Tickler”), or file it as Reference material.
  8. Review your lists daily. Decide what to do based on your Time and Energy and the task’s Priority. Don’t prioritize in advance because priorities (and Contexts) change constantly.
  9. Plan every day in advance. Review your plan and your progress once a week at a regular Weekly Review.
  10. As you process your Inbox or review your lists, ask yourself two questions: What’s the successful outcome? And, What’s the next action (logical next step) to make it happen? David Allen says, “These provide fundamental clarity for Getting Things Done, and they lie at the core of most everything I teach.”

This probably represents 90% of the GTD system. There are many nuances and refinements and many of us have modified “pure GTD” to suit our work flow and preferences. You can spend a lifetime tinkering with GTD or, once you have a basic set up, simply get things done.

GTD can be done with pen and paper. There are also many GTD apps for your smart phone or computer. I do all of this in Evernote (plus my calendar). My GTD system is presented in detail in my Evernote for Lawyers ebook.

Do you use GTD? How has it helped you to get things done?

You can use my Evernote GTD system even if you don’t use Evernote. Read Evernote for Lawyers, however, and you’ll want to use Evernote. Even if you’re not a lawyer. 


Evernote search just got easier. Well, sorta


Although I use it extensively, I don’t write much about technology. One reason is that by the time I’m up to speed on a new piece of software or hardware, it’s usually old news. One exception is Evernote, my favorite tech tool.

I’ve written before about how I use Evernote for everything from note taking to writing to managing all of the information in my personal and professional life. I also use it for Getting Things Done (GTD).

In fact, so great is my love for Evernote, I wrote a book about it: Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity.

I included in the book’s resources an extensive list of Evernote’s “Search Operators”–the syntax used by Evernote to find notes. These search operators are powerful but can be difficult to remember, so many of us use “Saved Searches,” another Evernote feature that comes in handy, especially with complex searches. But Saved Searches don’t help when you’re looking for something for the first time.

I just found an alternative that looks promising. BitQwik is free software (for PC’s and Mac’s that can run Windows) that serves as a front end portal for searching your Evernote database using natural language. That is, you don’t have to remember precise search operators to find something. Instead, you can use a regular query, much like you would ask Siri.

Here are some examples, from the BitQwik web site:

  • “Show me notes created between May 1st and March 15 that are tagged with robotics, surgical robots, or telepresence”
  • “I want notes sent to me via the E-mail gateway”
  • “Find my encrypted notes that have the words financial data or private in the title but leave out notes I created yesterday”
  • “Give me notes with pictures from Skitch”

I usually find notes in Evernote by browsing tags and using a few simple search operators. But as my database has grown to over 5,000 notes, I find myself relying more on search, and BitQwik looks like it might be just what the doctor ordered.

I just downloaded BitQwik, so I don’t have a lot to report just yet. If it pans out, I could see Evernote adopting this technology, and that would be great because I don’t like the idea of using yet another piece of software. But I’m not holding my breath because everything Evernote does has to work on ten platforms, not just one, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

If you’ve tried BitQwik, let me know what you think. You can add your comments below, or join me on the Evernote Forum.

Get your copy of Evernote for Lawyers. Unless you don’t want to be organized and productive.


My one page productivity system


When I was in high school I used a simple system for planning my day: a single piece of paper. I folded it three times so it would fit in my shirt pocket. On the page I would list the things I needed to do that day: tasks, errands, classes, homework. As I completed each one, I crossed it off the list. At the end of the day I would look at my list and feel good about what I had accomplished. I would then write a new list for the following day.

Putting everything on one page forced me to decide what was important for the day. There were many things I could have done each day but I wrote down only the things that I intended to do. Sometimes I numbered them so that I knew what to do first.

There was room on my page for ideas, things to do tomorrow or next week or someday, or to jot down random thoughts about life.

My one page productively system was all I needed for the day. It worked so well, I stopped using it.

I still plan my day and sometimes I put it on paper, but most of the time, my plan is in my calendar and in Evernote.

The last few days I’ve been playing around with an app called WorkFlowy. It is a list-making/outlining application that lets you put everything on a single “page”. You can use it for your task list(s) or to outline projects. You can create nested outlines to unlimited depth. I’m using it to outline a book.

I’m also using it to create my daily task list. I add a #Today tag to tasks I want to do today and filter the master list so that it only shows those tasks. On one page is my daily task list, just like I used to use in high school.

But I don’t have to print that page to put it in my pocket. WorkFlowy has a free iPhone app that syncs my lists. (There is an Android app, too.)

Nothing is simpler than a piece of paper. But this comes close.

Do you use Evernote? Check out my ebook, Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide for Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity.


How to answer the phone in your law office


If you want to be more productive and deliver a higher level of service (aka “earn more income”), every element of your law office operations should be planned in advance. Put it in a checklist, template, form, or script, so that everyone knows what to do, they do it right, and they do it that way every single time.

A good place to start is how you want the phone to be answered. Here’s how:

  1. Greeting (“Good Morning,” etc.)
  2. Lawyer/Firm Name (“Mr. Jones’ office,” “Jones & Michaels”)
  3. Name (“This is Sally speaking,”)
  4. “How may I help you?” (or, “How may I direct your call?”)

This lets the caller know they have reached the right place and that you are organized, professional, friendly, and ready to help. Ending with a question (“How may I help you?”) gets the caller focused on stating his or her business.

You should also have a standing instruction that no caller should be put on hold for more than 29 seconds. 30 seconds is too long. The receptionist should come back on the line, tell the caller why they are still on hold, and ask if they would like to continue to hold or be put through to voicemail (or take a message).

This is far more important than you might imagine. Clients, prospects, opposing counsel, and everyone else, judge you on these things.

Do yourself a favor, call your office right now and listen to how the phone is answered. If it’s not exactly the way you want it, write down what you want and make sure everyone who answers the phones has a copy and practices it.

Including you.


The Harley-Davidson of law practices


Seth Godin pointed out that it is more profitable to be #1 in a small market than number three in a larger market.

I agree.

He says the market leader sets the agenda and attracts the leading customers.

That’s true.

He says that Harley-Davidson isn’t #1 for all motorcycles but they are clearly #1 in their category.

Yes they are. They have a very loyal following and get lots of word of mouth referrals (or maybe that should be “word of ear” referrals).

There is great wisdom in this concept. I followed this in my practice where I targeted a small niche market, I preach it daily in my private consulting, and I write about it extensively in my new course, The Attorney Marketing Formula.

Let others fight over the mass market while you go fishing in a small(er) pond. Marketing is easier, the clients are better, the profits are greater.

As Godin points out, by redefining your focus and the way you serve your clients, you redefine (and come to own) your market.

As attorneys, it’s easy to stroke our chins, nod our heads, and say, “yes, this is truth.” But most attorneys go right back to swimming in the vast “mass market” ocean. Sadly, most attorneys will never come close to being #3, or even #333 in the mass market. But they could easily be #1 in a smaller market.

Yesterday I corresponded with an attorney who told me he is struggling to find a good niche market. I pointed out that in his email, he mentioned that his practice served many same sex couples and that this is a niche market.

By networking with other professionals and businesses owners who target that market, by working deeply in that market, he could become #1 in that market for his practice area.

Then he could afford a fleet of HOGS.


How to grow your law practice by establishing routines


Lifehack has a post today on improving productivity by turning important tasks into routines. The idea is that you are more likely to do something when it’s part of a regular routine, just like you do, for example, every morning when you get ready for work.

How might this be applied to marketing?

We know it’s important to regularly reach out to clients and former clients, via email, regular mail, phone (and possibly, social media). The return on your investment of time, in terms of repeat business and referrals, is tremendous. A few minutes a day spent connecting like this could bring you thousands of dollars in additional revenue every month.

Arguably, there is nothing more important to the growth of your practice.

It’s important, you know it’s important, you WANT to do it, but somehow, you’re not doing it. Life keeps getting in the way.

What if you established a new routine whereby every day at lunchtime, before you eat or before you leave for a lunch meeting, you take ten minutes to connect? You send out ten emails, make three phone calls, or write and mail a handwritten note.

Easy stuff. And because it’s your part of your daily routine, you do it.

At first, you schedule this ten minutes on your calendar. You see it there every day, reminding you to take action. You have an app send you an alarm. Later, when you’ve been doing it for a month or three, when it has become a habit, you won’t need to be reminded. It’s as much a part of lunchtime as eating.

Make a list of marketing activities you do, or know you need to do. Look for ways to make them routine.

Marketing is easy. The hardest part is remembering to do it.


Three questions lawyers should ask prospective clients


When you have a prospective client in the office or on the phone, chances are you assume they will hire you. At least you should. Assuming the sale is a smart strategy in any sales situation.

But what you think and what you say aren’t necessarily the same thing. Sometimes, it’s too early in the process to talk to the prospect about taking the next step. They’re not ready.

This article presents three questions you should ask to qualify the prospect and better prepare them for taking the next step. They allow you to gain valuable information about where the prospect is mentally, and help them to commit to moving forward because that’s what they want to do.

These aren’t the only questions you can ask, and they might not be appropriate to every situation. But they show the client you aren’t pushing them and help you to find out if there are any potential problems (with the client or their attitude) before you move forward.

Here are the three questions:

1. Was there a compelling event that caused you to request information from us?

Do they have a problem you can solve? Do they have a lawyer they aren’t happy with?

The problem they’re having may be obvious (e.g., divorce, accident, foreclosure). A similar question, i.e., “What brought you to see me today?” will get them to focus on “what happened” and get them telling their story.

2. What is the most important thing you hope to accomplish by solving this problem?

This helps you understand what they want and what they expect. If what they expect is unreasonable, you need to address this before you present your solution.

This also helps you find out if they are serious about solving their problem. If they are, it gets them to focus on results rather than how much you charge.

3. It sounds like you could benefit from our solution. What would you like to see happen as a next step?

I like this question because it invites the prospect to be a part of the process. There’s an old saying in sales: “If you say it, they can doubt it; if they say it, it must be true.” If the prospect tells you what they want you to do for them, they are effectively giving you the go ahead.

These questions will help you gain valuable information and position yourself as someone who cares about what the client wants, not just what you have to offer. The bottom line is a more relaxed and open prospect who sells themselves on hiring you, instead of you having to sell yourself.


Why attorneys need to brag (and how to do it without opening your mouth)


One of the primary objectives for any attorney interested in attracting clients is to show the world why they are a better choice. One way to do that is by bragging about your achievements.

Unfortunately, nobody likes a braggart.

The obvious alternative is to let others brag about you. That’s what word of mouth is all about. Happy clients telling others. Your task, then, is to make sure your clients and contacts know about your achievements and have an easy way to share them with others.

You need a “brag book”.

What is a brag book?

A brag book is a place to collect laudatory information about you. It’s a physical notebook, or the digital equivalent, with pages of clips and stories and information about you and your accomplishments.

Those clips and stories show people what you have done for others and suggest that you can do the same for them. The book is filled with third party validation, proving that you are experienced and knowledgeable and trustworthy.

What’s in a brag book?

Your brag book can have a variety of content:

  • Testimonials
  • Endorsements
  • Awards
  • Thank you letters
  • Articles about you, your cases
  • Articles by you, especially if they appear in an important publication
  • Photos of you with happy clients
  • Photos of you with important people
  • Photos of you helping a charity or important cause
  • Photos of you speaking from stage
  • A photo tour of your office
  • Success stories about your clients/cases
  • Stories about big/important verdicts
  • Press releases
  • Your CV or bio
  • Client survey results
  • FAQ’s that show how and why you are different/better

How do I use my brag book?

Use the contents of your brag book whenever you create a new marketing document. Having this information and these documents and photos in one place will make it easier for you or your copywriter to put together new brochures, seminar slides, web pages, or other documents.

You can also put together an entire book that can be shown to clients and prospects, meeting planners, publishers, and others you want to impress.

Use your brag book, or mini-versions thereof:

  • On the table in your waiting room
  • Framed on the wall in your office
  • As a page your web site; link to it from your “About” page
  • As a handout at seminars, networking events
  • As your “firm brochure”
  • In your “new client kit”
  • Send it to prospects who inquire about your services

How do I start a brag book?

Start by collecting these documents and putting them in one location. If you have paper documents, scan them. You could set up a separate notebook in Evernote for this purpose, or simply add a tag (i.e., “bragbook”) to any note that contains brag-worthy information or documents.

As your collection of items grows, you’ll be prompted to seek out additional documents to add to your book. You might ask more clients to provide a testimonial, for example, or make a point of saving copies of photos you have been tagged in on Facebook.

Once you have started your book, it will remind you to fill it, and use it.

Do you have a brag book? Are you going to start one? How will you use it?