Marketing legal services with a rifle, not a shotgun


Most attorneys use a shotgun in their marketing. They spray marketing pellets far and wide, hoping to hit anything that flies by. Because they aren’t focused, they spend too much time (and money) and are often frustrated with their results.

The most successful attorneys use a rifle in their marketing. They aim at carefully selected prospective clients and referral sources. They may not always hit something, but when they do, the usually win the big prize.

Let’s look at two estate planning attorneys seeking to build their practice through networking.

Attorney number one goes to a networking event at his local Chamber of Commerce. He meets as many people as possible and comes home with 20 or 30 business cards. He sends everyone a “nice to meet you” email and waits to see what happens. And waits. And waits. Because everyone he met is busy, and also marketing with a shotgun, not much happens.

Attorney number two focuses on professionals in the health care industry, so he attends a networking event sponsored by an association of health care professionals. Before he goes, he does some homework. He finds out who will be speaking at the event, and gets a list of the event organizers and committee heads. He Google’s these people’s names, visits their websites, and sets up files on three people he wants to meet at the event. He knows where they work, what they do, and what’s important to them.

At the event, he meets with his chosen three. He takes notes about their conversations. He hits it off with the administrator of a big hospital, in part because they know some of the same people.

The attorney sends follow-up emails to his three. He notes that one belongs to another organization which has a meeting scheduled in two months, and makes a note to ask him if he will be attending that meeting.

The attorney calls a physician he knows whose name came up in his conversation with the hospital administrator. He tells him about his meeting and asks a few questions about the administrator, adding this information to his notes. He says something nice about the administrator.

He does more research on the administrator and his hospital. He finds out which law firms represent the hospital. He subscribes to their newsletters. He does the same thing for the hospital’s insurance brokers, accounting firms, and some of their major suppliers. He sets up Google alerts for these firms and their partners or principals, so he can stay up to date on any news.

He calls the administrator and leaves a voice mail message. He says he enjoyed meeting him and says he spoke to the physician they both know and told him about their meeting. He says the physician said to say hello.

He emails a copy of an article he just wrote for a health care web site to the three people he met at the event. Because he took notes, he is able to add a personal note to each email, mentioning something they talked about at the event.

Okay, you get the idea.

Attorney number two is focused. He doesn’t try to meet everyone, he is selective. He does his homework and he follows up. And because he’s not “targeting” everyone, he has the time to do it.

Attorney number one may get some business from his Chamber of Commerce network. But attorney number two is networking with heavy-duty centers of influence in a niche market. Because he specializes in that market, those centers of influence will notice him and eventually, provide him with referrals and introductions to other centers of influence in that market.

Marketing legal services with a shot gun can make you a living. Marketing with a rifle can make you rich.

Want help choosing the right niche market for your practice? Get this.


I wouldn’t fire this guy, I’d promote him


In school, if you paid someone to write your paper or take your test, you got in trouble. A big F. “No soup for you!”

So naturally, when you get a job and you pay someone else to do the work for you, you should also get in trouble, right? Fired on the spot!

Not so fast.

Isn’t that what we call “business”? Don’t we do this in a law practice?

We have customers or clients who pay us but our employees do a lot of the work. Maybe most of the work, if you look at the hours. And our clients don’t care, as long as the work gets done and is of sufficient quality.

That’s how we earn a profit. We’re “working smart”. We have leverage.

So, let me ask you, if you found one of your employees was outsourcing his work, what would you do? If he hired someone else to do the work and earned a profit on the difference between what you paid him and what he paid to get the work done, would you have a problem with that?

Assuming the work was high quality and no confidential information was shared, of course.

A software developer at Verizon was just discovered doing this very thing. He earned six-figures in his job and paid a Chinese firm ,000 to do the work. He spent his day surfing the web, playing games, and posting on Facebook.

When his employer found out, they fired him.

Me? I would have given him a raise and a promotion.

The work done by the Chinese firm was considered first rate. Praised for it’s quality, in fact. And always on time. The fact that someone else did it is irrelevant.

The man was lazy but very clever. He should be praised for his cleverness, not punished for it.

During World War II, a brilliant German military strategist described his criteria for managing personnel:

“I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.”

The author (there is some question as to which of two men actually said it) thought that someone who is “clever and lazy” is qualified for the highest leadership duties, “because he possessed the clarity and composure necessary for difficult decisions.” They are “natural delegators,” always looking for simpler, easier ways to do things. They “focus on essentials, and despise ‘busywork’.”

If the developer at Verizon worked for me, I’d slap him on the back and ask him to show me other ways I could get a six-figure job done for only $50,000.

But no, his boss was probably embarrassed by what he did. “Clever and diligent,” no doubt, and had to fire him.

All our lives, we’ve been told that laziness is a sin. We’re punished for it in school and on the job. We’re told that hard work is a virtue. But it’s not true. Hard work, for the sake of working hard, is the sin. If there’s an easier way to do something and we ignore it, we squander God’s gift of time.

You owe it to yourself, your family, your employees, and your God, to find the easier way, the better way, the more leveraged way to get things done. You’ll earn more and have plenty of time to play games and post on Facebook.

Leveraging time is one of the six keys in The Attorney Marketing Formula


Working smart doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or personal attention


I got an email from an attorney who read my story about the changes I made in my practice that increased my cash flow. (If you’re on my newsletter list, you have or will get the email, promoting my Cash Flow for Attorneys program). One of the things I did was delegate as much of my work as possible, eventually getting to the point where I did “only those things that only I could do.”

In reply, this attorney said,

“The lesson may be that sacrificing quality and personal attention to the clients can raise your bottom line. The moral should be: what client would pick that savvy business owner over the harder working practitioner?”

I understand how one might think that delegating as much as possible and running your practice like a business would lead to a lower level of quality or personal attention. In reality, it is just the opposite.

My clients got a higher level of service and more personal attention because I wasn’t trying to do everything myself. Think about it: attorneys works long hours and are stretched so thin they often don’t have time for lunch. They have less time for clients because they’ve got too many other things to do.

When you delegate work, it frees you up to do the things that really matter. You have time to greet new clients and introduce them to the staff who will take care of the mundane work. You have time and energy to oversee the important legal work, and to perform the work that “only you can do”. And you have time for marketing, so you can bring in more good clients, allowing you to hire more staff to better serve your growing practice.

If you’re trying to do too much yourself, you must find a way to delegate as much as possible. Continue to supervise your employees, to make sure the work is getting done and the clients are getting served, but let go of the notion that just because nobody can do it better than you means nobody but you should do it.

Do the math: you’re worth at least $300 an hour and, arguably, much more. If you continue to do $25 an hour clerical work, you’re working for your practice, not the other way around.

A law practice is first, a business. That business hires you, the professional. As the owner of that practice, you earn for what you do as a professional and you earn a profit on what your business takes in from paying clients. If your business doesn’t bring in clients, you won’t have anyone for whom to practice your profession.

I was a sole practitioner for my entire legal career, and I worked hard. Damn hard. Early on, I worked long hours and was always on the brink of exhaustion. I did my best to serve my clients but my best was limited to what I was able to give them with the limited time and energy at my disposal. It wasn’t until I starting working smart and delegated as much as possible that I was able to achieve the levels of financial success and time freedom I ultimately enjoyed. And because I was “selfish” enough to make that leap, my clients got better service than they ever got when I was doing almost everything myself.