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Nothing Sells Like A Magic Statement

“So… what do you for a living?”

I think we’re all familiar with that question. But if you answered with “I’m a _________ attorney”. You’re already doing it wrong.

Just take a second to remember how many other attorneys have told you the same thing, in the exact same format.

In fact, you might have even responded with “Oh, me too!”

When people ask you what you do, what they’re secretly asking is what you can do for them.

Think about it. Who would your clients hire if they could? Your law firm … OR a magician who can swiftly make all their problems disappear?

It’s obvious. But I really hope I’m driving the point across. Just stating what you do isn’t enough, you have to let your potential clients/referral sources know the benefit of what you do.

Your magic statement tells people what they REALLY want to know about what you do.

So, go ahead and give it a try. Here are some ways to start your magic statement.

“I help…”

“I protect…”

“I defend…”

“I fight for…”

“I represent…”

Do it now! Grab a piece of paper and write something, anything, down. Because the next time someone asks you that question, your magic statement makes it possible to quickly and clearly paint a vivid image of the value you offer.

Why not brain storm some ideas with a member of our team?

Because you never know where your next great idea may come from. Click HERE to get started.

Kite Surfing, and becoming a first time Million-Dollar Law Firm Owner.

It takes time, practice, and guidance to master a new skill, whether in business or out on a beach. You didn’t learn how to run a business in law school, so owning and growing your law firm is a new skill you are learning to master.

How to Network Strategically and Get More Referrals

Watch as RJon Robins explains how to effectively network and how networking is one of your most powerful marketing tools.

How To Begin Measuring The Right Law Firm Financial Metrics To Improve Profitability

RJon Robins gives a detailed description as to what financial reports your firm should have and the staff requirements to get those reports. Watch Now!

Networking That Doesn’t Suck: Four Steps to More Profitable Networking

Lots of lawyers think that networking is a waste of time. And it IS a waste of time for many of them. But not because networking isn’t a great way to develop business. (It is.)

Networking doesn’t work for lots of lawyers because they don’t know what they’re doing.

They haven’t thought about it strategically, they don’t have a plan, and they certainly don’t have systems in place to get the most out of the time they spend. So they don’t get results.

When it’s done right, networking is a great way for a small law firm to generate business. (Check out our video on the subject.) It’s especially valuable for a firm in the early stages – where the lawyer typically has more time than money available.

So how can you make networking WORK for your firm? Here are four tips:

  • Select the right target audience. Who should you be building relationships with? The answer: people who are in position to give you business, either directly or through referrals. It’s baffling how many lawyers spend their time networking with other lawyers in the same practice area… of course those lawyers aren’t going to send you business! So start by identifying individuals and groups of people that are in position to give you business.
  • Look to give before you get. Once you’ve figured out who you should be networking with, the next step is to start developing relationships. And you do that by GIVING before you GET. How can you provide value to the people you’re meeting? Maybe by connecting them with others in your network… maybe by providing them with some friendly advice or feedback… maybe by sending them a memorable gift. This approach won’t generally create instant results, but it does lay the groundwork for a highly profitable long-term relationship.
  • Listen more than you talk. Most people would rather talk than listen. To actually create relationships, you need to do the opposite. People like to be listened to. When you listen, and when you ask intelligent questions to show that you’re listening, your conversation partner walks away feeling good about what just happened. And, listening gives you the opportunity to glean valuable information that you can use later to strengthen the relationship… hobbies, professional dreams, challenges, and so on.
  • Follow up… follow up… follow up! If you walk away from a networking event thinking that you’ve just had some great conversations and those people are going to remember you forever and send business your way every opportunity that they get… you’re crazy. It doesn’t matter how impressive you are. We’re all busy, we’re all distracted, we all have thousands of thoughts racing around our minds every day. So it’s your job to make sure these strategic connections you’ve just created don’t forget about you. Send them a note. Give them a call. Send them a gift on their birthday. Forward them an article or a blog entry that may be helpful to them. Stay on their radar screen.

Networking CAN be a waste of time… but it doesn’t have to be. Keep these four tips in mind and your networking will be more effective than ever.

Don’t Set Yourself Up to Fail: Five Signs That Your Factory Can’t Keep Up With Your Marketing and Sales

Many of you know that there are seven “Main Parts” of your law business. Building a seven-figure business requires that you have all seven of these Main Parts working together in synergy. When everything is working together properly, it’s a beautiful thing. But when one part of your business falls out of alignment with the other… watch out, because bad things are going to happen.

One common example is when your Factory can’t keep up with the business that is being generated by your Marketing and Sales. This usually occurs when you and your team are doing a GREAT job reaching your target audience and converting them into clients… but your associates and your support staff aren’t able to handle all of the new work.

Is your Factory being overwhelmed? Here are five signs that this may be the case:

  1. Clients are complaining about delays. Is it taking too long for you to deliver the promised work? Do you find that you can’t produce the work as quickly as your marketing & sales say that you can?
  2. Clients are upset because the work is sub-par. Are you and your team increasingly prone to making mistakes? Does your work lack the quality that previous clients have come to expect, or that your marketing & sales promise? This is a major problem and can lead to bar grievances or worse.
  3. Your people are overworked. Are your associates and your support staff increasingly stressed out and unhappy? Are they putting in longer hours than they should be? Are they grumbling and talking about leaving the firm?  
  4. You’re stressed and can’t stop thinking about work even when you’re at home. If you can’t relax and stop thinking about the work while you’re at home… if you’re distant and not fully present… consider whether the root of your anxiety is fear that your Factory can’t meet its obligations.
  5. You are terrified to take a vacation. If the idea of taking a vacation is out of the question for you… most likely your Factory is not keeping up with workflow. If you feel that your business can’t keep producing without your physical presence, something is wrong with your Factory.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? You’re not alone! Many lawyers become “victims of their own success” in this way. It’s GREAT that your marketing and sales efforts are working. But make sure you give your Factory the resources and attention it demands so that your marketing success doesn’t ultimately sink your business.

Three Reasons Most Solo Lawyers Never Create a Plan for their Small Law Firm (And Why This is a Recipe for Disaster)

Running a law firm – or any business – without a business plan is setting yourself up for disaster. Sure, you might have “always done it that way.” And you might be making money, even without a plan. But operating your law firm without a strategic plan is likely to lead to any or all of these problems… and plenty more that we don’t have time to list in this blog entry:

You’re broke – you are consistently NOT making enough money, so you’re making lifestyle sacrifices.

You’re stuck in a boom or bust cycle. Some months are great, some are terrible. And you don’t feel like you have any control in the matter.

You’re miserable. You’re making money, but only because you are doing work that you hate, or for clients that you hate.

Any of these sound familiar? The good news is that creating a plan for your law firm can change all that. We’ve personally seen hundreds of lawyers create consistently profitable law businesses which allow them to spend their time doing work that they LOVE… or even better, spending their time golfing, traveling, or having fun with their family.

So why doesn’t EVERY owner of a solo or small law firm have a written plan?

Here are three common reasons we’ve encountered. What’s holding you back?

1) Ignorance. No one ever taught us anything about the business of how to manage a small law firm, back in law school.

The people who decide which CLE programs to offer are usually coming from the same school of thought as those who decided to send you out into the world without teaching you about how the heck a law firm actually operates.

“Just be a great lawyer and the magic law firm management elves will absolve you of your responsibilities as a business owner.” This is HORRIBLE business advice and a losing strategy.

2) Embarrassment. Probably 99% of the lawyers you will ever meet at a bar function have no written plan for how their firm is supposed to work.

Do this test and prove it to yourself: Ask the next 100 lawyers you meet, if they can explain to you in plain English how their law firm works. Then decide if that’s a business you’d feel comfortable with one of  your own clients investing in.

If you do this test with 10,000 lawyers, as we have, you will prove to yourself that 99% of the small law firms in this Country (and it’s the same in other Countries too) are drifting aimlessly with no strategic direction. But rather than face reality, most lawyers concoct stories about how the business of a law firm is somehow exempt from reality.

As if marketing, sales, staffing, financial controls, budgeting, and cash flow projections apply to every single OTHER kind of business on the Planet…but not law firms!

“We can evade reality but we cannot avoid the consequences of evading reality.” ~ Ayn Rand

Embrace reality… even if that means admitting that you don’t know everything about everything yet!

3) Compromise. At some point, many lawyers just give up. Maybe they didn’t go to law school with the intention of making a million dollars a year. But few people go to law school with the intention of working long hours, missing out on important family activities, doing the work of their own receptionist or secretary and having to scrape by, struggle or compromise on important “stuff” in their life.

Life isn’t all about driving a nice car, living in a beautiful home, taking luxurious vacations, eating at great restaurants, and being able to give your family the finer things in life.

But what if, by taking the time to create a strategic plan for your law firm, you could actually help more clients AND enjoy more material comforts too?

Your law firm needs a business plan. How long will ignorance, embarrassment, or compromise hold you back? Please contact us today to learn more!

Fear

Fear

It’s what screws things up for most lawyers who aren’t as happy with their law firms or their lives as they could be.

And fear has an ugly way of growing into frustration,  resentment, defensiveness, anger and worst-of-all the twin-devils: Justification & Compromise.

I say “happy lawyers make more money”.  So what happens to lawyers who make compromises with themselves and then turn their skills of advocacy in-ward on themselves to justify their compromises?

For one thing, they eventually become angry.

They also don’t make nearly as much money as they could.

That is to say, all things being equal, an unhappy lawyer could be a much more profitable lawyer if only he or she took the steps that would result in him or her being a happier lawyer.

What makes most lawyers happy? 

  • Is it a temporary bump in cash-flow?
  •  Or a victory in court on behalf of a third party whose case, cause or matter doesn’t really matter that much to you?
  • What about a nice stiff drink or some other “vice” like gossip or criticism of people whose own happiness shouldn’t affect you one bit, but inexplicably it still does!?!?

No, what makes lawyers happy is when we get to do what we love to do on cases, causes or matters or for people whose outcome resonates for us.

And what enables a lawyer to engage in these activities which make us happy?

Proper, professional and reliable “real world” law firm management.  Which such management includes marketing, sales, financial controls.  And policies, systems & procedures that work to protect us from all the b.s. we don’t like to do.

Because law school didn’t teach us anything about the business of running a law firm, did it?

Now, when I say “happy lawyers make more money” you can now recognize that it’s the law firm management that causes us to have the option of doing what makes us happy.  It makes the law firm more profitable too.

So why did I write “fear” in the subject line of this email?

Because fear, more than anything else is what prevents far-too-many lawyers from taking the steps that lead to being a happier lawyer with a more profitable law firm.

But it’s not fear of failure that gets in the way.

Of course that’s the “accepted” and the politically-correct explanation that all our friends and family and bar officials and CLE directors and everyone else is prepared to undertand and accept.

No-one challenges us on it when we give them these types of explanations for why we don’t do the things that must be done to find out just how great our law firms and our lives could be:

“I’m afraid if violating bar rules”

“I’m afraid of losing money”

“I’m afraid of getting a bar grievance filed against me”

 BULL SHIT!

You might as well add, “I’m afraid of being eatten by a crocodile” to the list because, afterall, being eatten by a crocodile is universally-accepted as a bad thing.

But what do any of these fears have to do with building a more successful law firm that enables you to explore your true potential?

I’ve been at this for more than 10 years now.  I have had the unique opportunity and the privlege of working with thousands of lawyers.  And I myself have had my struggles with my own fears too, both as a lawyer and an entrepreneur.

So I can tell you with a high-degree of authority that the fear that holds most lawyers back from doing what must be done to be happier and consequently more profitable lawyers is NOT the “fear of failure” .

It’s actually fear of success.

I’m going to let that sit with you for awhile.

And when you’re ready to talk-about, doing-something about it, you can decide for yourself which description resonates most with where you are today with your law firm or in your legal career and then schedule a call to speak with me at www.HowToMANAGEaSmallLawFirm.com

…sooner or later you sleep in your own space.

Originally broadcast to my ezine list 9/27/2011…

be·lieve

[bih-leev] Show IPA verb, -lieved, -liev·ing.

verb (used without object)

1. to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so: Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.
Would you do something today, if you had absolute proof that it would bring more business to your law firm tomorrow?
 
Either you said “no” in which case we should probaby talk about how to manage your law firm more effectively.  So that you’re not afraid of more business.
Or you may have said “no” because the business you’re attracting isn’t the sort of business you want, not the sort of clients you enjoy, or requires you to do work you don’t find particularly motivating or stimulating.  If this is the case we should probably talk about how to manage your law firm more effectively.  So you can attract better business.  Marketing, afterall, is a critical area of management’s responsibility in a law firm.
Or you may have said “YES!”
If you did say “YES!” then I want to remind you that I’ve already shared two very simple, very inexpensive, and very-well-proven things you could have done last week to get more business coming into your law firm already by this week.
Did you implement either of those suggestions?
Why not?  Either it’s because you don’t REALLY want more business, or more likely there’s something keeping you “stuck” isn’t there? 
OK, so I’m going to share one more effective, and reliable “button” you can push today, that can generate more business for your law firm as soon as tomorrow. 
Remember: action talks, and bullshit walks. 
Keep that in mind as you begin to formulate excuses or explanations for why you’re postponing or even avoiding doing something so simple, so proven and so profitable, to bring-in more business to your law firm tomorrow.
Members of my coaching programs have the benefit of an easy “score keeping” tool that we use to measure progress and diagnose problem-areas and opportunities. 
We embrace reality and don’t make excuses.  Because reality doesn’t care about any of our excuses.
“We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” – Ayn Rand
What are the inevitable consequences of your current growth trajectory? 
Hopefully the inevitable consequences are that you’re going to be doing GREAT!  If that’s you I would encourage you to investigate our “Find Your Freedom” coaching program, or even our “Play A Bigger Game” group may be just what you’ve been looking for.
If the inevitable consequences are that you’re not going to be in a place where you’re going to be happy about being, then our “Get Out Of The Weeds” program may be able to help you. But only if you have the personal courage to deal with the reality of your current situation.  Not everyone is.
So ultimately, “the” question is, do you believe in yourself?
“…sooner or later you sleep in your own space.  Either way it’s okay to wake up with yourself.” – Billy Joel

Do This Today, Get More Business Tomorrow:
1.)  Pull 25% of your active files, conduct a 5 minute file review and “drop-in” on those clients with a telephone call to let them know you’ve been thinking about them and have a few ideas about their case you want to discuss with them. 
-or-
2.)  Go to www.HowToMANAGEaSmallLawFirm.com/Appointment to schedule a call with me to discuss where you are today, where you want to be tomorrow and what’s keeping you from getting there.

be·lieve

[bih-leev] Show IPA verb, -lieved, -liev·ing.

verb (used without object)
1. to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so: Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.

 Do you believe in yourself enough to take action and do something about it?  I hope so.

~ RJON

How to Start a Law Firm (part 2)

Steps

  1. Define your goals:
  • Financial – How much money does the firm have to ‘gross’ in order for you to ‘net’ enough to live the way you WANT to live? ;
  • Personal – How many hours do you WANT to invest on a daily, weekly and monthly-basis?;
  • Professional – What types of cases, clients do you WANT to work with in your practice?  Remember starting a law firm is an opportunity to create the life you WANT.  Don’t settle.

2.  Inventory your skills and resources.  If you know a particular practice area very well that’s probably the best practice area to concentrate on in the beginning rather than having to learn a new practice area at the same time you’re learning how to run the business of a law firm.

  • What kind of hands-on business management & marketing skills do you have?
  • What kind of budget do you have to cover living expenses while the firm gets established, working capital for start-up and operating expenses and to invest in educating yourself about the business of how to start, market & manage a law firm so you don’t waste years of your life & career learning these critical skills the hard way

There are many free resources available to help you.  Including many provided for free by me.

But consider the hidden ‘cost’ of free in terms of the time required to piece everything together vs. just enrolling in a course.

Imagine the difference between the student who chooses to enroll in a well-organized course in law school with discussions lead by a supportive and experienced professor vs. the law student who simply takes the course syllabus and endeavors to spend the whole semester on his own looking up and studying all the cases in the library by himself or with a few of his buddies.  Who is going to do better on the exam?

3.  Make a plan and put that plan to budget and time-table to acquire the skills you find yourself lacking in.

Do this BEFORE you start trying to follow anyone’s advice about writing a business plan or how to create a law firm website that actually generates business, etc.  The root cause of the successful law firms isn’t what you can see from the surface from a casual conversation with another lawyer in passing, or in a blog.

Warnings

If you’re reading this and you’re a lawyer I’m going to assume you’re a pretty smart person and you want to be successful.  So I’m going to skip the usual and obvious warnings here.  Instead, the biggest danger to look out for is advice from other lawyers.

  • Some aren’t nearly as successful as they’d like you to believe.
  • Some are in fact very successful but may not have traveled a deliberate and replicable path and so their well-intentioned advice can be a real distraction.
  • And sad to say, some lawyers are just jerks who would rather have company in their misery and can be quite persuasive in their efforts to recruit you into their merry band of losers.