How to Hire Top Talent for Your Law Firm
One of the questions I am asked most frequently by my clients is: “How do I make sure I am hiring the best available person for this position?”
The question is important especially when the person asking it has an empty role within his organization and he needs to fill it immediately with a superstar.
This is part of the problem with the conventional view of attracting top talent. People view it as a situational activity. That means: someone quits, you begin the process of recruiting, interviewing a person to fill that role.
This is dead wrong.
That approach is based upon the view that people are an expense.
People are actually are an asset and they should produce a return on your investment in them almost immediately.
Note: If you do not have this view and you need to be convinced, please listen to last week’s podcast titled Six Strategy Questions that Predict Your Future.
Once you view people as an asset to your business, you begin immediately looking to attract as many of these highly valuable assets as possible because they will help you exponentially grow your income.
But What If I Don’t Have Any Money?
If you are making the proper hiring decisions, you only need to “bridge the gap” between their hire date of this person and the day they start producing a positive return on your investment in them. In most cases, that time frame is 90 days.
Here is an example:
As a transactional Intellectual Property attorney you hire a lawyer and pay her $150,000 per year. That’s $12,500 per month (I’m using round numbers and not including benefit costs.) If you only use her to work with new clients and her role is to only file new trademark applications and respond to office actions, how many months will she work with you before you begin seeing a positive return on your investment?
Well, let’s say you offer a package service. You do a United States specific search, file trademark applications and respond to office actions until the mark is approved or the pursuit of trademark protection is abandoned for $3,000 per mark.
If you bring in just five new matters each month, and this attorney handles them, you area receiving a positive return on your investment.
That is a simplistic example. Don’t get hung up on the specifics. It simply illustrates the point of how you can receive a positive return on your investment quickly.
Always Be Canvassing
It is for this reason (return on investment in talent) I encourage my clients to always be on the lookout for talented people.
I use the A-B-C acronym, not dissimilar to the one in Glengarry Glen Ross. Except the “C” in my model stands for “Canvassing.” Which is to say “searching for top talent.”
Through the years I have developed a system to help identify, attract, hire and retain top talent. It works well and it has become a competitive advantage everywhere I have initiated its use. I have shared that system with my listeners in this week’s podcast.
Listen to the audio program on the player below or follow the link to download it.
Talent can not only be your competitive advantage, it can also add enormous value to your firm. Consider implementing this system immediately.
These Lawyer Success Tips Will Kill Your Firm
There are lots of people out there who want to help you out.
These days, it seems like everyone who can’t find a job is some kind of “consultant.” Even many lawyers, whose success credentials are suspect (at best) or fraudulent (at worst) are getting into the act. Every week I get an email from some lawyer offering to give me the “secrets” to this or the “keys” to that.
It’s a good thing I’m here to help you separate truth from fiction.
Here are five common success “tips” spouted by the “gurus.” Follow this guidance and you just may wind up in the poorhouse.
Just be a good lawyer and clients will find you. This is not only bad advice it is usually given by someone who is hypocritically promoting himself via a blog or on television or in a networking group or on social media. You must promote yourself if you ever want to be a good lawyer for a paying client.
Until people understand the depth of your knowledge, until they have a good sense of your capability, until they experience your brilliance, you are irrelevant.
Yes, you must be a good lawyer. But once you are, you need to be great at legal marketing or you will be the best lawyer nobody knows.
If a client balks at your fee, reduce it. This is what losers do. Your fee should be fair compensation for the value you provide. The more your client invests in working with you, the more value he receives. If you charge $150 per hour, the client’s perception will be “you are half as good as someone who charges $300 per hour.”
By the way, people who punch a time clock are always going to be starving for cash. If you bill by the hour you are an amateur. Plain and simple.
Figure out how much value you provide to your client and charge accordingly. Think this isn’t possible? Think your clients aren’t ready for it? Lawyers in every practice area are doing it every day. Lose the crappy mindset and be creative.
Every client only wants to work with you. A client will work with a lawyer they know, like and trust. If you position yourself as the only person in your firm who can handle certain issues, of course clients will resist working with someone else.
As a business owner (a law firm is a business) you must develop systems, processes and procedures to handle all clients and matters. Over time, your role must morph into leading the team rather than doing the work. If it doesn’t, your income will be severely limited.
If you educate people they will solve the problem themselves. I hear this all the time from lawyers. My response is simple: Anybody who is going to file his own trademark application, or defend himself on a DUI charge, or file his own immigration paperwork, would be a terrible client for you anyway.
Educational marketing helps clients make good decisions. This includes helping the client make a decision on which lawyer to hire and how seriously they should be taking their situation. Educate your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. It is one of the best ways to demonstrate the value you provide.
Side note: This is one of the reasons you must charge for your initial consultation. If they take your advice and use it themselves or worse, give it to another lawyer, at least you got paid for the value you provided. Additionally, anyone who will not pay an initial consultation is probably not going to pay your fee for representation. It’s better to find out up front.
You can just figure out your business strategy and marketing as you go along. Most lawyers allow their practice to “just happen.” If the phone rings they figure it is because they are doing a good job and their reputation is permeating throughout the community. This thinking is accurate until the telephone stops ringing.
Your future is too important to leave to chance.
Take action. Develop a plan. Focus on a business strategy that makes sense given your strengths and the market for your services. Adjust your plan over time.
This is the point in the article where I usually tell you to call me to find out more about these five myths and the fifty others you have come to believe over the years. That’s not what I want.
Don’t call me.
First I’m going to invest in you.
Follow this link to get my free CD titled “The Secrets Successful Lawyers DON”T want you to know.”
It will help you gain an understanding for the real path to making a great living and living a great life® as a lawyer.
Get the free CD by clicking here: “The Secrets Successful Lawyers DON”T want you to know.”
You’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll even pay for the postage.
Who Has Access to You?
Someone who is not a client comes up to you and says:
“Let’s go to lunch. “
“Let me pick your brain.”
“I need your advice.”
Do you jump at the chance to demonstrate your intelligence and expertise?
Do you allow someone to intrude on your train of thought, your workday, or your personal time?
Do you immediately react out of fear that failing to respond will cost you a case?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you have a marketing problem.
You are an expert. You should be respected and your guidance should be valued. Your prospective client should hang on your every word as if $100 bills were pouring from your mouth.
People place a value on things they invest in.
Your advice is your work product.
If you give away your advice, you tell your client it has no value.
What about advice on a website or at a seminar or in a book? Isn’t that giving away your work product?
Providing educational information is, in a sense, giving away a portion of your work product but it is not giving away the most important portion of your work product. That is the experience people have in working with you.
You see, reading an article on a blog or attending a seminar can never substitute for the actual experience of working with a professional.
Just like reading about flying an airplane cannot substitute for taking flying lessons and training for hundreds of hours.
Reading a book about removing an appendix or watching a movie titled “How to perform an appendectomy” will never replace four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and one year of surgical residency.
So what is the answer? What should you say when someone asks you, a lawyer, for free advice?
You politely ask them to make an appointment and pay a consultation fee.
And in case you are wondering how I answer that question…
My answer is:
“Yes. I’d love to give you my opinion. That’s what I do for a living.”
And I explain to people how my consultation process works.
I charge $250 for a 20 minute conversation and I rarely have a conversation longer than 20 minutes with non-clients.
Because my advice is valuable.
The advice I give you, if implemented, will change your law firm for the better and improve the quality of your life. Isn’t that worth $250?
If you’d like to learn more about how to position yourself and your law firm, visit the page titled:
This is the page on my website where I explain why I charge a consultation fee and what you can expect for your investment in a consultation with me. This may seem harsh but 90% of the people who pay for a consultation retain me. That’s a pretty good track record.
If You Want Better Referrals, Be a Better Friend
Every lawyer I know wants more referrals. But few know what to do to receive more referrals.
Lawyers believe referrals happen serendipitously. They just appear out of thin air. You do a good job for enough people and legions of supporters will go forth from your office and recommend you to people they find in the street.
Obviously, that’s not how it works.
I work with many excellent lawyers but only a couple of them receive a substantial amount of referrals from past clients. Those who are best at it have a process in place.
Here’s how it works:
First: Provide a great experience during your representation of your client.
The practice of law is adversarial. Your relationship with your client is not. You need to provide a great experience for your clients when they engage you.
You must treat your client like he has given you the most important thing in his world – his trust. What you do with that trust is critical. Do you honor it by partnering with the client to help improve his situation? Do you respect it by taking every interaction with your client seriously? Do you answer every question as if it is the most important question your will be asked today?
In some cases, a lawyer looks at his representation of a client as a job and an interaction with a client is a task, necessary to complete your work for that day. Those lawyers receive no referrals.
In other cases, a lawyer views his representation of a client as a necessary act in order to achieve a greater good. These people also receive no referrals.
In many cases, a lawyer accepts a client because he believes in them and their matter and he zealously represents that client while remaining emotionally distant. These people receive no referrals.
Then in the final case, a lawyer connects with his client on a personal (and emotional) level. He may not agree with the client or the client’s actions or approach, but there is a connection. That’s called trust. Those people receive lots of referrals.
Next: Communicate before, during and after your representation.
This is where most attorneys fail. They do not communicate effectively. They get busy and the first thing that breaks down is their communication with the client.
Communication before the client comes on board is marketing. This sets expectations and positions your relationship.
Communication during representation is critical. You need to let your client participate in his matter and the way you do this is through communication in line with the expectations you set at the outset of your relationship. Set clear expectations. Live up to those expectations.
Communication after representation is the reason some lawyers receive referrals and other lawyers don’t. You need to keep in touch with your clients after your representation of them is over. This communication keeps you present in their mind and brings back the memory of the great experience you provided. If you have engaged that client emotionally, they have invested their trust in you, keep this relationship active by continuing to communicate.
Finally: Respect the person regardless of the situation
People need to maintain their dignity. Sometimes good people, under pressure, do unfortunate things. Never mistake the action for the person. If you treat everyone with respect and keep the relationship in focus, you will not go wrong.
Each person with whom we work has a network of at least 250 people who know them, like them, and trust them. The way you handle your relationship with your client will determine the amount of referrals you receive.
Do you treat him like he is a paycheck or do you treat him like he is a friend?
Here are three other articles you should review:
We all lose clients from time to time. How you respond to a lost client means everything. Here is a step-by-step guide to facing and reacting to this adversity.
Clients must overcome several different types of risk before they hire you. Have you made the case for your client to select you as an alternative to other “risky” choices?
If you want referrals you need to target referral sources. Figuring out who the good referral sources are and what you can do to engage them is a big part of law firm marketing.
Four Letter Word Everyone Hates
There is one four letter word lawyers hate when it comes to law firm marketing.
This word is not a common obscenity. It’s not a word that attorneys hate when it comes to legal activity. It’s not a word attorneys hate when we talk about juris prudence.
It’s a word attorneys only hate when we begin to talk about marketing.
The word the attorneys hate when we discuss marketing is the word “work.”
Why Attorneys Hate to Work on Marketing
You didn’t go to law school to learn how to attract clients.
You didn’t go to law school to learn how to deepen relationships.
You didn’t go to law school to learn how to run a business.
In fact, when you were in law school you may never have thought you would be running a business.
But if you are in a solo practice, or if you are a partner in a law firm, you are a business owner.
It’s Not Taught in Law School Does that Mean It’s Not Important?
They don’t teach the business aspects of a law practice in law school so most attorneys assume they are not important.
This is especially true of law firm marketing.
Yet when the rubber meets the road, attorneys need to know how to attract clients. They need to know how to develop and deepen relationships.
This is an interesting conundrum. They need this information but it is not found in law school.
Then the attorney stumbles upon this website. Here he finds all the information he needs on the subjects of: client attraction, business strategy, relationship development and practice management.
But discovery of this information is just the first part of the solution.
It Still Requires Work
Most attorneys who come to me are looking for the easy solution to attracting clients. The word easy is meant to imply as little effort on their behalf as possible.
They essentially want to hire me and wait for the clients to come into the office and sign up.
That doesn’t often happen without the four letter word.
The three areas that require law firm marketing work – with your involvement–include:
Crafting Educational Material: You know your area of practice. You know which parts of your area of practice resonate with your clients. You know the value your work provides to your clients. In order for you to demonstrate your value to your audience of potential clients, you must educate them.
Motivating People to Take Action: You’ve seen it all. You know the potential pitfalls your clients face. You know how to avoid those pitfalls. You know the likelihood of avoiding the pitfalls. Who is better to discuss the steps necessary to improve the client’s situation?
Differentiating You From Everyone Else: You must articulate your difference. This gives the client a reason to choose you over everyone else. Who is better qualified to articulate this difference? You know yourself. You know your competition. You know why people should hire you.
This is the minimal involvement you must have in your marketing. In most cases, in the most effective cases, you need to be more involved.
If you are a law firm owner, you must make marketing a priority. You have no choice. Without marketing there is no law firm. It just doesn’t exist.
Start thinking about your law firm as a business. Start thinking like a business owner. Need to hear this more directly?
Watch this video.
Here are three more articles you will find interesting now that you are focused as a business owner:
Successful attorneys have a propensity to take massive action. They don’t wait for things to come to them. The go out and make things happen. This article highlights this propensity for action.
The main thing that separates winners from losers is their ability to take action once they make a decision. When was the last time you made a decision and took action on it immediately? This article may have a few things for you to think about.
You choice is a simple one. Take action or go broke. If you do not formulate a law firm marketing plan and take the action outlined within it, you may not be in business very long.