Targeting the Hispanic market by going in the side door


In most of the many offices I have had in my legal career I have had Spanish speaking employees. This only made sense in a city like Los Angeles.

According to this article on the dramatic growth of the U.S. Hispanic market, today you might want to have Spanish speaking employees no matter where you practice. But there’s another way you can leverage this growing market.

The article lists seven industries that will benefit most from the growing Hispanic population:

  1. Residential buying, food (grocery and restaurants)
  2. Retail (especially clothing and electronics)
  3. Education (higher education and technical schools)
  4. Financial services
  5. Transportation (automotive and airline)
  6. Entertainment
  7. Media

Legal is not on this list, but it doesn’t matter. You can leverage the growth of the Hispanic population by aligning yourself with professionals and businesses in these industries who already target the Hispanic market.

Let’s take financial services, for example. By networking with bankers, brokers, financial planners, and CPAs who target the Hispanic market, you can grow with them.

What this means is that you don’t have to re-brand yourself for the Hispanic market in order to benefit from its growth. You can piggy-back on the influence of business owners and professionals who have already established themselves in that market.

Of course this is good advice in any market. When I moved out of Los Angeles and started over in a city where I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t merely hang up a shingle and try to compete with already established firms. I hired someone who had a lot of contacts in the market I chose to target and through him, met many professionals and business owners who already had influence in that market. My practice grew quickly because I wasn’t really starting from scratch.

The next time you want to get into a new market, try the side door.


I wish I knew this before I opened my law practice


In high school and college I did some entry level work during the summers. I was a stock clerk at a department store, delivered flowers, that sort of thing. In law school, I worked as a law clerk.

By the time I graduated law school, the sum total of my work experience was. . . nothing to write home about.

I opened my own law office about a year after graduating and passing the bar exam. I had very little experience as a lawyer, no clients, and no money. Most importantly, my network of contacts was almost non-existent.

As you can imagine, my first few years of practice were very difficult. If I had known what it would take to start a practice and make a go of it, I might have done things differently.

Yes, I knew it would be rough. But I naively thought I would make up for what I lacked with hard work and determination. Like Mary Richards, Mary Tyler Moore’s character on the 1970’s TV show, I had spunk.

Unfortunately, spunk doesn’t buy groceries.

Anyway, things would undoubtedly have been different if I’d had a network of contacts before I opened my office. When you have relationships with the right people, you can leverage those relationships to get clients, leads, introductions, and advice. You can hit the ground running in a new practice. You’re not starting completely from scratch when you can tap into other people’s established networks.

The lesson is this: build your network before you need it. Or as Harvey MacKay puts it, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”

It’s more difficult to build a network when you need it. “Hello, I’d like to introduce myself and ask you if you can send me some business.” And yet, it can be done. If you approach them the right way, and you approach enough of them, strangers will help you. But it’s much easier to get that help from people who already know, like, and trust you.

If you’re thinking about opening your own practice, build your network before you make the move. You don’t need a huge network–a few well-connected individuals is all you need to start. They can lead you to others.

First, identify by category the types of people you would like to know. Then, look for ways to find and meet people in those categories.

If you have already opened your own practice, it’s never too late to start building your network.

The best day to plant a tree is 100 years ago. The second best day is today.


Organization 101: File it, don’t pile it


I’m looking at the table I use for a desk in my home office. There is an in basket, a vertical file holder, and one stack of files and papers. At first glance, it is the desk of an organized person. It’s tidy and there is only one (short) stack of files and papers.

At second glance, it is a mess. It’s a mess because the files and papers in that one stack belong in a file drawer, not piled on the desk.

But on third glance, it is the desk of a genius: someone smart enough to know that filing (or scanning) the papers in that stack can wait until other, more important tasks are done.

At least that’s the way I choose to look at it. And being organized is subjective, isn’t it?

But only to a point.

We’ve all seen (and maybe been guilty of having) desks that look like the aftermath of a tornado. I don’t care what the owner of that desk might say or think, they don’t know where everything is. The owner of a desk like that is not organized.

But look, if you can find the file or paper you need (rule of thumb: thirty seconds or less) and you feel in control of your work place, who am I to suggest you need to get more organized. If, on the other hand, you are often unable to find what you need and you’re not happy about it, it’s time to do something about it.

Un-piling your desk isn’t difficult. I think the hard part for some people is the notion that if they file something away, they won’t remember a task they need to do or they won’t remember where they filed something they need. Ironically, that’s exactly what their mess of a desk does.

The solution is to have a system that (a) allows you to remember what you need to do, and (b) lets you quickly find what you have filed when you need it. That’s what Getting Things Done is all about. That’s what a program like Evernote allows you to do.

Getting things out of your head and onto paper or its digital equivalent is the first plank in the Getting Things Done platform. The second is having a system that allows you to regularly review your lists of tasks so that you will be reminded of them and can choose what to do next. The third plank is having a reference system that allows you to put things away, out of sight, but easily retrievable.

For me, filing reference material was the hardest part of the system, at least in a paper based world. For one thing, much of the reference material I collect has more than one purpose and could be filed in more than one place. Indecision often led me to defer filing and I wound up with boxes filled with paper.

Today, I file most things digitally. The pile on my desk will be scanned into Evernote. With Evernote’s  keyword searching capability, and other tools like tagging and “note links,” I can quickly find what I’m looking for, as I detail in Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity.

If your desk is a mess, it’s time to un-pile and smile.


The secret to creating blog and newsletter content your prospects actually want to read


Many lawyers say they want to start a blog or newsletter but are afraid they won’t have enough to write about.

If you think your prospects don’t want to read all about case law and procedure, you’re right. There will always be exceptions, but most clients have their own lives and businesses to run. If they were that interested in the law, they would go to law school.

Here’s a heads up: PI lawyers, nobody wants to read for the umpteeth time what to do in an accident or how to maximize the value of their case. I’m not saying this isn’t important information–it is. You should write about it. Once. And link to so those who want and need this information can go read it.

So, what do you write about if not about your field of expertise?

Actually, the answer to this question is incredibly simple. And yet, not one in 10,000 lawyers does it, at least not consistently. When you hear what it is, you may just slap your forehead and have one of those “of course!” moments.

Now, I should also point out that when you do this, you will have a never-ending supply of fresh content and a huge surge in reader involvement and viral traffic. You’ll have people talking about your blog and about you. Other blogs will mention your posts and link to them. Reporters may call to interview you.

Have I got your attention?

Here’s the secret: don’t write about the law, your services, or your cases, other than occasionally. When something interesting happens. Instead, most of the time, write about the niche market or markets you are targeting.

Did I just lose you? Well, if you don’t have a target market, maybe so. If you think “anyone who gets injured as a result of someone else’s negligence” is a target market, you’re wrong. It’s way too big. And every other PI lawyer says the same thing.

You want to target smaller sub-sets of the entire market. In a niche market, the people know each other on social media and in real life, they attend the same meetings, and read the same blogs. There is strong word of mouth in niche markets. And it’s easier to identify the key people in them.

A niche market would be something like “health care professionals in Los Angeles County”. Not too big, not too small. As a matter of fact, this happens to be a good target market. When a physician is seriously injured, there’s usually some serious damages. But I digress.

So, you write about health care in Los Angeles. You write about who’s doing what–promotions, speaking gigs, published articles. You write about trends and issues that affect this market. You champion their causes and support their charities.

You interview people who work in this niche. You read the popular blogs and comment on their posts.

So, you might write about some changes in policy at XYZ hospital. Not legal issues, necessarily. It could be anything that people want to know about.

Here’s more good news: you don’t have to do all the writing yourself. Other professionals who target this market will be happy to supply content. Consultants, sales people, other lawyers, accountants, hospital administrators, insurance brokers, medical supply reps–dozens of informed people with big networks of their own and they would love to provide a guest post or supply some tips or let you interview them. All you have to do is ask.

Guess what will happen? The people in your posts and those affected by this information will talk about them and share them with their colleagues and co-workers. They’ll post them on Facebook and link to them on their blogs. Your blog will get noticed and so will you.

Writing a blog about your target market is one of the smartest things you could do. You’re learning about this market, aren’t you? Take what you learn and turn it into content.

Use your blog as a platform to stay in front of your market. You will become the attorney in this niche, the one that everyone thinks about when they think about personal injuries and the one they call when they need your services or know someone who does.

This is not rocket science. Choose a niche market and dedicate yourself to it. Learn everything you can about the market and the people in it. Subscribe to their blogs and newsletters. Attend their meetings. Become an expert in that market and then write about it.

And if something law-related occurs in that market, go ahead and write about that, too.


How to make people like you


No, I’m not talking about cloning. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Psychologists tell us that the most important ingredient for success in personal and business relationships is “liking”. The more people like you, the more success you will tend to have.

The Law of Association says that people associate how they feel about you with how they feel at the time they meet you. If they are in a good mood when they meet you, they tend to associate those good feelings with you and, as a result, be more inclined to like you.

“If you want to be liked by a person, try talking to him when he is in a good mood or excited about something. These feelings are anchored and associated with you, and this person will then come to have positive feelings toward you,” says David J. Lieberman, Ph.d, author of “Get Anyone To Do Anything.”

Most people meet an attorney under times of stress and difficulty. Your challenge, then, when meeting new clients is to make them feel hopeful and positive about solving their problems and about the future. As early in your first meeting as possible, you need to make them feel that “everything is going to be alright”.

That ties into another psychological principle cited by Dr. Lieberman as being a factor in “liking”: positive attitude. “We all seek, like, and admire those who have a positive, happy outlook and perspective on life. Why? Because that is what we all want,” he says.

Don’t worry. Be happy. Get folks to like you.