Atticus Law Firm and Attorney Coaching Workshops

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A good staff is the backbone of any successful law firm, and the difference between a good staff and a poor one can make or break your practice. But a good staff doesn’t happen by accident. From vetting to hiring, from training to empowerment, a good staff is built carefully with people who embrace your values and vision. When you finally have your optimal team in place, your office runs smoothly, efficiently and, we hope, profitably. A good staff, especially one that's been intact for a considerable amount of time, combines unique strengths from its members. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. A study in Harvard Business Review found "familiarity was a better predictor of performance than the individual experience of team members or project managers." Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt; it breeds competency. That said, however, turnover is the one universal truth among any workplace or organization — your law firm included. The challenge is to keep your team as intact as possible, and here’s where incentives play a part. A good, competitive salary is a must. People want to feel like they’re valued, and often they equate that to the dollars on their paychecks. But beyond salary are...

Busy attorneys find it greatly difficult to find enough time to handle the scheduling and logistics of marketing lunches, meetings, and other social events. They're too distracted by constant interruptions, difficult staffing issues and demanding clients, and so they don't take (or make) the time to do what they need to. Many attorneys can be quite good at marketing when they inadvertently find themselves in the right situations but getting there on purpose is the issue I’m addressing here. In general, most attorneys aren't very good at the initiation phase of marketing. Getting started is essential. Without someone to initiate and organize these steps, most marketing efforts never get off the ground. If you aren’t successful in setting up lunches, dinners, and meetings with referral sources, then your client development efforts are going to be haphazard. If you’re not meeting with the right people, then you're relying on happenstance to promote your practice. Instead, I'd like suggest a more proactive approach. Enter the Marketing Assistant When one of our coaching clients had difficulty marketing his firm, he sought help. It came in the form of student majoring in marketing at a local junior college. Although his new assistant had little real-world working experience, the attorney immediately noticed the...

We held our second annual SUMMIT last week, and it was an incredible success. Over 200 of our attorney clients and their law firm staff members attended this unique event. They represent the best of the best in the legal industry and in their respective practice areas. Each of the SUMMIT's three days carried a specific theme. The theme for Day 1 was Inspiration with Keynote speakers Dr. Jeffry Life, John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan, and singer-songwriter Mandy Harvey. Their presentations inspired people in the room to commit to making changes in their lives to become healthier and have the courage to take calculated risks. Mandy's presentation really instilled that a positive attitude and "tethering" yourself to the right people can make all the difference in your life and your practice. Day 2 was themed for Innovation. Eleven Dominate Your Market™ presenters spoke about innovations they implemented in their personal lives and law firms that brought them success and happiness. Kimberly Lee kicked off the day talking about her "Not Yet" projects, a concept learned after reading Mindset by Carol Dweck in the Dominate Your Market™ program. Each quarter since reading Dweck's book, Kimberly set a goal of learning something new....

The first rule of marketing is to never, ever, ever stop marketing. The second rule of marketing is to never, ever, ever stop marketing. Now is a good time to kick-start your law firm's marketing plans to make next year your best year ever. To get started, focus on the first three months of next year. Here are three questions that, when answered honestly, can help direct your firm to get a quick start: What one thing can you do in the first quarter to get your marketing moving forward? What's one thing that scares you, but you know if you did it that it would be a big marketing boost? What's one thing that would give you and your team the most marketing confidence? How you answer these questions will be different for you than for different firms and, unless you just completely drop the ball, there are really no wrong answers. Anything that gets you moving, that motivates you, is worthwhile. With that in mind, let's look at your referral marketing — because referral marketing is one of the least expensive and most productive marketing activities in which you can engage. You need a systematic process for building relationships with key referral...

Running, running, running — a marathon at a sprinter's pace. All year, you've been focused on growing your practice, providing superior service for clients, and increasing profits. Whirlwind days turned into weeks, which turned into months. I encourage you to take stock of your past year by examining the big takeaways from your victories — and from your losses. But let's not rest on our laurels, okay? Because before the holidays get underway, you should set aside at least a little time for planning on how to make next year your best year ever. In fact, the first thing you can do is sign up for my upcoming webinar (Dec. 4) called "3 Things You Should Do NOW to Give Your Law Firm a Head Start in the New Year". Next, start thinking about the biggest three victories or accomplishments your firm had this year. It could be anything that brought value to your practice. Maybe it was a big court victory that brought in a ton of revenue. Maybe it was a new associate who invigorated the staff. Maybe it was a new referral source who consistently sent "A" clients to your firm. Whatever it is, take a moment to write them down. Next,...

As we watched Hurricane Michael devastate Florida’s Gulf Coast region this autumn, it reminded us that it's critical that your practice has an emergency action plan in case disaster strikes. A hurricane at least gives you time to prepare for when it hits, but other disasters — natural, terrorism-related, technological, medical — move faster, leaving no time to prepare on the fly. Your law firm needs a plan in place before a disaster strikes, and you need a strategy for how to deal with the fallout after a disaster leaves destruction in its wake. Before the storm There are real risks to not having a plan. If you or a lead attorney in your firm is incapacitated, it creates a leadership vacuum. Who is in charge to make critical decisions? Without a written protocol, your staff is left wondering, "What do we do now?" And clients may suffer from a loss of their personal information and case files. In devising an emergency action plan, a place to start is by brainstorming the worst-case scenarios. Imagining the worst thing that could happen will help your office devise a strategy to deal with the disaster. What happens if a fire breaks out that can’t be contained?...

As a solo or small practice attorney, the holiday season can be stressful, and things that normally occupy your attention can get overlooked or put on the back burner. It's a time to connect with family and friends, but it’s also a time to connect with marketing contacts and referrals. You market all year to improve or build your client list, sure, but what is marketing at its essence? It's connections — human connections. The heart of those connections is truth, is authenticity, is honesty. Clients come and go, but good referral sources built on genuine emotion can turn into good friends. During the holiday season I urge you to reach out to those marketing contacts. Send them a card or a note to let them know you’re thinking of them. Thank them for their friendship, professional and personal. We know one attorney who has made it a tradition to send specialty sweet treats each holiday season. Cards can get lost or just ignored once they’re opened, but his contacts look forward all year to seeing the treats box in the mail. It reinforces their connections and makes him stand out. It’s his niche. If your firm has the means, why not try sending...

Let's face it — we need email. But, we also need a way to control the beast that email can become. It is estimated that almost 30% of our workday is consumed by dealing with email. How do we tame this beast so that it doesn't take over our day? The 80/20 rule applied to your inbox. The Pareto Principle applies to email as it does to so many areas of our lives. Probably only about 20% of the emails you receive require a response from you. This means that as much of 80% of your emails do not need a response. In fact, a large portion of that 80% may not even need to be read by you! Begin to tame the email beast by eliminating the useless and unnecessary messages cluttering your inbox. Our frustration with email often results from how we approach email. All too often we view email as a big box of emergencies requiring our immediate attention. Here are a few tips to begin improving your approach to email. Apply Rules Apply rules so that unnecessary emails are directed to folders rather than your inbox. List serves and enewsletters are prime candidates for this approach. Even necessary emails can be...

Here are five basic tips for hourly billing attorneys to help maximize your cash flow and realize a profit. Are you uncomfortable discussing fees with your clients? If so, you may be prone to setting lower hourly fees, be too willing to negotiate discounted retainers, and be unmotivated to pursue the money you are owed. Unfortunately, a whole host of issues may arise from your lack of comfort in setting and collecting fees. Our suggestion: if you cannot go through your fee agreement and articulate your arrangements in a clear and concise way, delegate it. Have an office manager or other trusted, responsible person go over the agreement with prospective clients. Others are often less attached and better suited to have these discussions without self-doubt issues clouding the conversation. Are you sending out invoices on a monthly basis? This is incredibly basic, but a problem we constantly encounter in our coaching practice. If you let long periods lapse before billing clients, you are cheating yourself. The chances of being paid in full lessen over time.  Psychologically speaking, clients value your work when their problem is most pressing and less so after it’s resolved. If you don’t send out bills in a...

How does the average solo and small firm partner think about the profit their firm produces each year? In very simple terms, their mental equation probably looks something like this: Revenue – Expenses = Profit This is the traditional and very rational view of how profit is produced. And the traditional result is that profit is incidental. Basically, what’s surplus after the bills are paid. But, according to the book Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by former Wall Street Journal columnist Mike Machalowicz, the right equation should look something like this: Revenue – Profit = Expenses This new approach turns the traditional "profit is what’s leftover after overhead and expenses are paid" method on its head. According to Machalowicz, a much more proactive approach is needed to guarantee that a profit will be there at the end of the year. He advocates that when revenues come in a portion is immediately set aside for profit and the rest covers overhead and expenses. To do this successfully means profit is budgeted for in advance.  How is that done? We believe you do this by looking at the last several years of gross revenues and profit percentages to...