Atticus Law Firm and Attorney Coaching Workshops

Public Resources

Home / Public Resources

You only get one chance to make a first impression — so make it a good one. What's true in meeting someone new is also true for your law firm — so make your online presence a good one. When a potential client is searching for a law firm, they'll likely do a Google search for lawyers in their area. Your firm has only a few seconds to grab someone's attention and hold it, so making a good first impression is key. Your website should be clean and clear, with easy links to information a potential client is looking for. Designs can vary, but too many bells and whistles on the homepage creates noise in the message you’re trying to convey to a potential client. Simple is better. Display your credentials prominently, including where you earned your JD. A few statistics about your practice can be mentioned, such as how many estate plans you’ve set up, or how many criminal cases you have won. Again, simple is better, and include a link to more detailed information. You'll likely have a photo of you and your associates on the homepage, so make sure it's a quality professional photo, not something your secretary took with her...

An advocate for women lawyers, Nora Riva Bergman, an Atticus Certified Practice Advisor and Attorney, continues her 50 Lessons for Lawyers series with a new book, 50 Lessons for Women Lawyers — From Women Lawyers. The book contains lessons and stories for women at every stage of their law careers. “As women lawyers, there is so much we can learn from each other,” Bergman says. “I think that we are at an inflection point in the legal profession. We are at a place where women can have a tremendously positive influence on the practice and business of law. If a woman reads a lesson in this book and thinks to herself, ‘That’s me,’ or, ‘If she can do that, so can I,’ that would be awesome.” Atticus Clients Contributed The book — which includes stories from 11 current and past Atticus clients — is filled with practical advice for women attorneys, covering topics such as carving your own path to leadership, and wellness and self-care. Bergman’s book is centered around the idea that women, especially successful women, should lift up other women. The diverse group of contributors includes women in private and public practice, current and former national, state and local bar association presidents,...

Recent studies show that most people in the workplace spend 28% of their day dealing with unnecessary interruptions of all kinds. Some are self-generated; some come from co-workers and colleagues and some originate from a disruptive environment. No matter where they come from, though, we spend a great deal of time complaining about them. In fact, if you listen to what people say about interruptions you’d believe they were the sole reason for the lack of productivity and focus that is rampant in today's workplace. Of course, what we say about something is often very different from what we do about it. And this very much applies to managing interruptions. If you watch people's behavior, very few people actively resist being interrupted. It could be they don’t know what to say or do to resist being interrupted. Or maybe they don't want to seem inaccessible. Or maybe they don't want to appear out of touch and not monitoring many things at once. The reasons vary, but the fact remains – most of us allow ourselves to be interrupted constantly. And then we complain about it. Loudly. Could it be, that on some subconscious level, we actually like to be interrupted? Yes. New studies confirm...

What we say: There's never enough hours in the day. What we mean: I’m really poor at managing my time. Time management is one of the pillars of creating and sustaining a profitable law practice, but controlling the work clock isn't an innate human skill. Babies and toddlers and young children have no sense of time, and that's true of millions and millions of adults, too. Distractions are everywhere. The phone, the computer, the shiny thing over in the corner. Our days are filled with distractions, and we often find ourselves switching from one distraction to another while what we should be focusing on is ignored. Here at Atticus we know how hard it can be to stay on task, but there are things you can do to make you a better time manager. When you get into the office each morning, make it a point to get your email inbox to zero. Think of it as triage and use the "Four D" approach: do, delay, delegate or delete. If it's something that needs to be done today, do it. If time isn't of the essence, delay it. If someone else can do it, delegate it. And if it's an offer for the latest gadget...

“Are you the biggest producer in your firm?” we asked. “Absolutely,” the attorney told us with pride. He was a new Atticus client, but this was not a new conversation for us. In fact, it was all too familiar: the owners of most small firms are typically the firm’s largest producers, along with the firm’s biggest marketers. Then they wedge the firm’s many management tasks into any time that’s left – meaning they don’t have much of a personal life. And the fact that they are not well leveraged means they aren’t producing much of a profit either. “How many associates do you have?” we asked. “Two, but they aren’t that productive. In fact, I out bill them both,” he answered – again with a hint of pride. “Do they have daily or weekly billing goals?” “No, but they do have yearly billing goals,” he said. We expected as much. “How effective is that at motivating them?” He paused and said, “Not very good, I guess.” Not very good indeed. In order to train good producers, it’s best to take their large production goals and break them down into small goals, which are reviewed often. Large goals discussed once a year tend to fade away in the minds of...

Unless you’re independently wealthy and focus exclusively on pro bono legal work (in which case, congratulations!), you’re working to make a difference in your clients’ lives and make a profit while doing so. A profit, not just a living. Taking profit from your practice shouldn’t be treated as a bonus, it should be part of your operating principles. At Atticus, we teach our clients to take 35 percent of total revenues off the top as profit, with the remaining 65 percent for everything else, including your market-rate salary. Pay yourself a salary that reflects the work you do, no matter whether that’s $75,000 or $500,000. You pay your staff and associates (if any) a good wage, and you have to take one, too. That 35 percent before expenses is more time with family and friends, more and longer vacations, more satisfaction from the work you’ve chosen. To get there, you might need to break old habits and adopt new ones. As a solo or small practice attorney, you’re responsible for nearly everything that goes on in your firm — but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. In fact, trying to do too much can stunt your growth and profits by taking time...

Many of my coaching clients who are confident in their hourly rates are concerned about ways of determining profitability for their fixed price, or flat fee, services. They want to know how to reach a profit margin that will make them the kind of money they need to be successful. Profitability is a term that is thrown around in business settings, but people often use the word without knowing what it really means. In order to define it, let’s first talk about what profitability is not. Fair Price When I talk about profitability, I’m not talking about what you or anyone else thinks is a fair price. “Fair” is a relative term, and everyone has his or her own idea of what that means. Whose idea of “fair” are we talking about? Fair to you? To the client? Is there some sliding scale of “fair” out there? Of course not. Client Wish Profitability also has nothing to do with what the client would wish to pay. Most people are looking for ways to save money. But you are not in the business of providing the cheapest, bargain priced, clearance rack service. You are in the business of providing excellent service. And excellence costs money. If...

I am often asked by solo and small law firm attorneys if I can recommend a case management software system. They want to know: Should it be cloud-based or server-based? Which one is best? The least expensive? Which one will my staff not hate? Is there one that will do my work for me? Which one will sync with my smartphone, tablet, car, and brain? In my practice, I switched five times over 20 years to five different systems for several different reasons. Requirements In the end, I really don’t think it matters which one you choose provided that it does four critical things for you: Link your emails to the appropriate electronic case matter. If you receive an email relating a case, with one mouse button click the case management software needs to save the email into the client file so you can track what went where and when. This must be simple and fast. For example, I talked to four partners at a small firm that was using Outlook. Their “system” to save an email was to print it out (seriously!) and then put it into the client’s paper file. (I am still nauseated by this example. I could send both of...

Referral marketing is a numbers game. If you’re used to keeping your referral base data in your memory, it’s likely you’ve seen its limitations. You probably can recall facts about your clients and referral sources when you visit face to face, but you can’t perform from memory many advanced marketing functions. Contact management software allows you to perform high-level functions easier, faster and in greater numbers. You can track historical data on referral sources and other marketing contacts, generate reports on services performed and future needs identified, and inform clients and referral sources of future events in your office. Research software that is a good fit for your existing storage and record-keeping systems. These can be industry-specific and vary to individual preferences. Mailings You can track mailings to specific groups of existing and past clients for cross-selling and upgrading purposes. Target groups of clients in your database who fit the criteria for other services, such as a small business owner client who needs estate planning and asset protection. Tracking mailings also allow you to see how many referrals have been generated by existing clients over the years. You can track the follow-ups to each referral, such as a thank-you card or phone call. Database features Database features determine...