Here are some of my favorite posts.  I hope you enjoy them.


Communicating Value and Price

I’ve been a big fan of Merlin Mann for several years now.  As I was checking out his website yesterday, I found his pricing page cheekily titled: Do You Charge Money to Do Things? Here’s how Merlin describes his pricing scheme:

For most all of my speaking, consulting, and advisory work, yes: I do charge a fee, plus expenses. And, candidly, I charge kind of a lot….  I learned a long time ago to only work for or with people with whom you have mutual admiration and respect—and who already think you’re valuable and great at what you do. In my experience, the folks who expect you to make a case for your own value make for terrible clients. They may be good negotiators and nice people, but working for them is a gut-wrenching travesty. And I don’t do travesties.

With all that said, I do a fair amount of (private, unpublicized, non-ribbon-based) work with non-profits and other deserving groups. And, no, I normally do not charge for this work. So, If you’re working for a good cause or represent an organization that’s trying to do something you know I care a lot about, please ask me. No promises, but I’ll do what I can with what I have.

So, yep. “Expensive” or “Free.” It’s a fee schedule that works.

I think it would work well on a firm website, and provides an important reminder every lawyer should have on their desk: “The folks who expect you to make a case for your own value make for terrible clients.”

Give Clients More Certainty

Clients crave predictability.  They find comfort in knowing what to expect — especially in stressful situations like the ones you handle for them everyday.

But how can you deliver more certainty to your clients?  After all, outcomes are impossible to predict and matters ebb and flow from beginning to end.  You keep your clients “in the know,” writing them when something’s going on, calling or meeting with them when there’s something to discuss and billing them (almost) every month.

If you want to understand how predictable you are to clients, begin by looking at each file as they do.

While a file may remain “active” to you, your clients may feel otherwise.  Their only cues to the activity on their case come from you, in the form of correspondence, calls, meetings or bills .  When they’re not receiving regular, predictable updates on what’s happening, they become uncomfortable and stressed.

Want to better understand how your clients perceive your handling of their matter?  Using the diagram below as a guide, take a few active files and a blank calendar, and map out  for each the days you write the client, call them, meet them or bill them.  What do you see?

If you asked your clients to name the next thing they expect from you (and when they’ll get it) would they have a answer?

If your client interactions look as unpredictable and scattered as the ones below, that’s probably how your clients are feeling about the work you’re doing for them.  By giving them a measure of certainty about the things you can control, you’ll have much calmer clients, who are much happier with the work you do.

 

Resolve to Let Clients Set Your Price

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I’ve been using my “You Decide” fill-in-the-blank invoice, for over a year now.  In that time, I’ve found time and time again that my clients pay me more than I would have charged them.  And, in situations where clients demand a fixed price, I’m quoting them much higher prices (coupled with a money-back guarantee) than I would have before my invoice experiment.

Even though I’ve been doing flat-fee work for almost a decade, I used to (even subconsciously) focus on the time it took me to do something.  Now, everything I do is focused on delivering the biggest “bang” for my clients, knowing that the “bucks” will come.  I don’t track phone calls, preparation time or limit meetings, and I don’t charge for materials, travel, meals or other expenses.  In short, I trust that my clients will take care of me if I take care of them — and they always do.

In 2010, I’d encourage you to resolve to let your clients set your price — at least once.  Ask a trusted client to list all the services they’d like you to provide for them.  Suggest unlimited phone calls, regular meetings, document reviews, etc.  Provide all these services to them for a month’s time.  Then, ask them what they’re willing to pay for all the work you’ve done.

You may find your clients value your services more than you do.

Thinking Unthinkable Thoughts

Kevin Kelly thinks about thinking the unthinkable: The futurist Herman Khan introduced the idea of “thinking the unthinkable” as a way to loosen up the imagination in trying to forecast the future. Most time we are unable to guess the future because we are inhibited by conventional wisdom – something that everyone knows is true. For…

Resolve to Land a Big Fish

Almost every lawyer has a “big fish” they’d like to land. Whether that fish is an individual client, a corporation, an insurance company or even a great referral source, your big fish isn’t going to catch itself. And what better place to find advice on catching “big fish” than on a website called TakeMeFishing?  Some…

100 Tweets: Thinking About Law Practice in 140 Characters or Less.

I really like Twitter.  For those who follow me, you know that I try to share lots of legal-themed tips, thoughts and ideas.  In fact, most of my Ten Rules posts started out on Twitter — where I’ll test 15-25 “rules” to see which ones work best before picking the ten favorites. However, there’s lots…

Ten Rules of Client Service

Quick, name your favorite customer service class from law school.  Can’t do it?  I’m not surprised.  Most lawyers don’t learn much about client service in school, and the only class that touches upon service at all is Legal Ethics — which is kind of like teaching someone to ride a bike by showing them lots…

What are your Relationship Rituals?

Keith Ferrazzi shares a few simple “Relationship Rituals” that should be on every professional’s weekly checklist: 1.    First thing every day after you turn on your computer, ping one friend and one acquaintance. 2.    Every weekend, invite someone else into an activity that you normally do alone (walks, gym sessions, gardening, shopping trips). 3.    Pick…

Resolve to Support the Causes Your Clients Do

If you’ve got a big client, odds are they’ve got a pet project.  Whether it is for a community organization, charity, civic group or volunteer event, supporting the causes your clients do can deepen your relationship with them while benefiting those in need. That’s why, in 2010 you need to Resolve to Take Care of…

Resolve to Ask Current Clients More

If you’re a lawyer who only surveys your clients once the engagement’s over, you’re leaving a lot of information on the table — information that will not only help you serve future clients, but your current ones as well. That’s why, in 2010, you should Resolve To Ask Current Clients More.  Institute a regular, ongoing…

Best of NBH: Quarantine Your Best Ideas

Do you have Shiny Shiny Syndrome?  I do.  Here’s a post from January 2012 about a technique I still use: Many of the attorneys I work with suffer from the same thing I do: Shiny Shiny Syndrome.  You suffer from S3 when you regularly give in to an overwhelming urge to start working on something new…

Ten Rules of Legal Innovation

“Innovative Lawyer” shouldn’t be an oxymoron.  Lawyers — who are constantly applying their creative, problem-solving skills to help clients — too often turn their innovation engines off as soon as their “billable” work ends.  If you’re a lawyer, and willing to set aside some time to innovate, I am happy to help you.  Until then,…

Focus on Quality of Experience

Lots of lawyers claim to be “results-focused.”  Clients want good results, after all, and marketing yourself as one “focused” on delivering them has got to be a lot better  (to clients, anyway) than being “timesheet-focused.”  However, I think  many lawyers who focus only on the result are hurting their clients (and their own practices).  Let…

Explain the “Why” to Your Clients

Smashing Magazine has published a tremendous guide to designing an easy to understand e-commerce checkout process for web sites.  If you take credit cards on your site, it is a must-read. However, even if you don't charge people on the web, you should check out the article anyway, because it explains something about collecting sensitive…

Create a Menu for Your Practice

Do you know all the kinds of things your firm does?  Perhaps you should take a page (literally) from the restaurant industry and create a “menu” of your services.  Though you may not decide to use it with clients, merely deciding what goes on the menu — and what gets left off — makes you…

The (Auto)Complete Lawyer

I ran across a funny list of Google Autocomplete “Fails” and thought I’d see how Google would autocomplete a few legal-related queries. Sadly, the results aren’t very promising for lawyers.  Here are just a few of the results: My lawyer is …  Lawyers are …  My Lawyer Won’t … Perhaps none of this comes as…

Resolve To Fix Your Technology Less

This resolution is for nearly every solo and small firm lawyer out there (including those with computer science degrees): Resolve to Fix Your Technology Less. How many times has a quick technology fix turned into a day of un-billable time?  Trust me on this one, no matter how much (or little) work you have, your…

Is your website for your clients or for your peers?

Inspired by this venn diagram found on Business Pundit,  I thought I’d do one for Law Firm Websites:

Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Legal Marketing has changed.  It used to be enough to keep an ad in the yellow pages and belong to the Rotary Club.  Not anymore.  Times are tough, so I present to you Ten “New” Rules of Legal Marketing.  Let me know what you think. 1.  “My lawyer can beat up your lawyer” isn’t a…

Resolve to De-Confuse Clients

What confuses your clients?  What are the things that your clients never seem to really understand?  Is it the directions to your office, your retainer agreement or their monthly bill? No matter how much you deserve it, undivided attention from clients is a rarity today.  Whether it is because of their email pinging, cell phones…