Time Management Sucks
It sucks money from your pocket and it sucks all the positive energy right out of your body.
Trying to manage time is stupid.
Don’t do it.
In fact, you can’t do it.
It is impossible.
Go to classes.
Get an electronic phone/mp3 player/address book/calendar and type your appointments into it religiously.
Buy a watch with an alarm.
Hire an assistant.
Learn to multitask.
It won’t help.
There’s one thing you can do that will help you become more productive.
That “thing” is to take responsibility for the choices you make in your daily actions.
Unless you are in prison or in the military, you control what you do and when you do it. Outside forces may influence those decisions but ultimately you make them. They are your decisions. You decide whether or not to go to that meeting. You decide to go see a movie instead of writing the report that is due to the client. You decide if you should answer the phone or let it go to voicemail. These are all choices that you have made – and continue to make – over and over and over.
Once you decide to take responsibility for the decisions you make with your time, you obligate yourself to spend it in a more productive way.
Many people avoid taking responsibility for these decisions precisely for this reason. It is far easier to blame the client for calling at an inopportune time. It is easier to blame your partner for the amount of email he sends you. It is easier to blame the court clerk for the filing deadline.
In reality, you control the actions you take and when you take them.
Action management or activity management is worth studying. You will achieve a phenomenal return on your investment from working with someone who will help you organize the workflow in your office. Using a system that will help you prioritize and organize your activities is incredibly valuable.
Trying to manage time is not only foolish, it is impossible.
Manage your activity and you control your destiny.
Speak Like a Human and Get More Business
The conversation began just like the dialogue I’ve had many times with attorneys in just about every area of specialization. The attorney sitting across the desk from me began:
- “I’m really smart. Graduated top of my class. I clerked for Judge Smith. I interned at Smarty, Smarter and Billem and I was in Super Lawyers for my specialization in my state. In my current role, I help NGOs mitigate risk, terminate unproductive agreements and negotiate adequate consideration in transactions where we relinquish certain protected rights.”
As I scratch my head, he continues:
- “I just don’t understand why I have such a hard time finding clients.”
This conversation takes place a few times each month. Sometimes it happens on the phone and sometimes it happens in person. Sometimes the attorney is a “high potential” in a big firm who just can’t originate new business and sometimes he is an attorney in a solo practice who wants to make more money.
The problem is that these smart attorneys don’t know what the real problem is.
Here is the reality: Our friend in the example is smart. He is probably a good lawyer. But he forgot how to communicate like a normal person.
People want to work with folks they know, like and trust. They don’t want to work with an all-knowing computer. Communicating with a client is an interaction between two human beings. People have to like you before they will decide to work with you. It is the way of the world.
I know that you’ve heard that people want to work with the best. And you may have heard that they don’t care if the person is likable. You’ve heard that they want a pit bull for a lawyer. This may be true for an isolated case or in a specific incident. But for the long term, if you are going for the big prize of Client Lifetime Value, you need to be likeable and that starts with good communication.
Here are a couple of things to think about when you are meeting with a potential client for the first time:
Imagine that the client is your mom, dad, sister or brother. How would you treat them? What would be the level of respect you would show them? How intently would you listen before you spoke? What questions would you ask them? How would you ask those questions?
If you begin to THINK like this you will find yourself ACTING differently. Even your body language will be different.
Remember that although this may by your 1000th Real Estate closing or your 156th divorce, it may be your client’s first. They are confused, afraid and concerned about moving forward with the rest of their life after this transaction.
You have to keep those kinds of things in mind as you communicate with your clients. It is your job, but it is their life. Don’t ever forget that. Even in a corporate setting, someone may be betting their career on you.
Yes, they want to know that you’ve done this before. Yes, they want to hear about how you have helped other folks in similar situations. But they want to hear it within the context of their situation. That’s what is important.
Finally, if you have to use words that your 14 year old nice or nephew would need to look up in a dictionary, you will not be successful. Your primary responsibility is to give your client good advice. If they don’t understand you, you can’t advise them effectively.
This is particularly true for CEOs and their country club buddies. The only difference between them and mom and pop is that mom and pop will admit when they don’t understand something. Most CEOs will smile, nod and go along with you in the meeting room – and then have you removed from the case as soon as you walk out of the office.
You must be liked before you can be trusted. The process of winning someone over begins with good communication.
So mitigate the big words and cease and desist with the legal jargon and you’ll make more money.
With Clients - No Sex on the First Date
This article has been moved. You can find it on our new website under our new company name - Valtimax Consulting.
This article is here: No Sex With Clients On The First Date
Enjoy the article and the new website.
Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine
In the past month, how many new clients found you through your website?
How about in the past year?
Your attorney website should be one of the best ways for you to source new business. It should be one of the ways people find out who you are and what you have to offer. But it should also be much, much more than that. Your attorney website should be one of the most effective tools you have to sift, sort and screen potential clients. It should help you weed out the people who can’t pay, won’t pay or don’t pay.
A client who finds your firm through your attorney website should be ready willing and able to make a commitment to pay a premium for your services.
There are three ways to make sure that your attorney website is working hard to position you properly.
A good website does three things for an attorney:
- It educates the client on the attorney’s area of specialization.
- It helps build the attorney’s credibility in the eyes of the prospective client.
- It captures the prospective client’s contact information.
These three things are critically important. They must be built into the structure of the site itself.
As most bar associations will tell you, hiring an attorney is an important decision. It is also a decision that most of your clients will not take lightly. And you don’t want them to take it lightly. You want them to do as much research as possible.
Provide Educational Content
When you provide educational material on your website you help your client realize exactly how serious his situation is. This helps him understand that he will need a highly skilled professional to help him.
Bankruptcy Attorneys should provide information on their website about the complexity of bankruptcy law. They should cite several complex cases that demonstrate the need for an expert to help guide them through the maze of filings. Keep in mind that clients don’t know what they don’t know. You need to help them understand the depth of the law in your field.
Divorce Attorneys should help clients realize just how complicated a divorce can be from a legal prospective. The emotional toll will be enormous, and most clients expect to face that challenge. The challenge they will not anticipate and the challenge you should educate them on, is the implication of a poorly structured settlement. Help them see the things that they have no way of knowing. Help them understand that there is more to a divorce than fighting it out and signing some paperwork.
Corporate Attorneys should discuss the implications of not forming proper corporate entities or of not protecting the “corporate veil” or of poorly structured contracts.
There are endless topics that you can and should explore for your prospective clients. Help them get to a point where they can make an educated decision.
Having a law degree and listing your graduation date on your website is not enough. Providing a list of credentials is not enough. Posting a resume with significant accomplishments listed in chronological order is not enough. You need to demonstrate to your prospective client why you are the best choice for him. Your website must make a compelling case for hiring you and ignoring all the alternative choices in your field.
You must make this case on your website just as you would make a case to a jury in a courtroom. You need to lay out the facts and weave them into a compelling story. The story should be interesting and it should highlight the client as the hero.
The client is the hero of the story. He saved the day by taking action. He chose YOU as the attorney.
Capture Client Contact Information
This is the area where 95% of all attorney websites fall short. They have no built-in follow-up mechanism. Your website is only as good as the leads it generates for you. If you don’t have a way of knowing who is visiting your site, you can’t follow-up with them.
It is a cold, hard business fact that people do not take action unless they are prompted to do so. In the case of a law practice, that prompt should come in the form of a follow-up email directly from you asking if you can answer any questions. If your website does not give you that opportunity, you are going to miss out on a good deal of potential business.
Your website should be one of the most profitable investments you make in your law practice. It should pay dividends for you day-in and day-out.
Do a quick audit of your web presence and see if it meets the three criteria we discussed. If it doesn’t, there is a good chance your next million-dollar client will be walking into the office of your competitor instead of sitting down in front of you.
Here are three more articles you should review:
Most attorneys focus on the wrong activity. Most attorneys let clients walk all over them. Most attorneys are deficient in marketing capability. This article will help you get on track.
If you want to know what you should be doing to build and deepen your client relationships this is the article for you. Make a difference in a client’s life and you will keep that client for a lifetime.
We spend lots of time talking about success. We often point to successful lawyers. But the definition of success varies from person to person. Your answer to this question will determine how far you go in your career.
Don’t Practice - Play To Win
If you want to make a real living as an attorney you need to stop practicing.
You read that correctly.
Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes you poor.
You don’t have a “firm”.
You don’t have a “practice”.
You have a business.
You have a full-blown, pay the bills, make you rich, give-you-the-lifestyle-you-deserve business.
The sooner you embrace that reality, the sooner you stop killing yourself and start making some real money.