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.
Over a year ago, I wrote 15 Thoughts for Law Students. It was one of my first “Rules” posts, though I wasn’t calling them that at the time. Since then, it has been one of the more popular items on this blog, and was even republished in the Canadian Bar Association magazine.
I’ve revised it just a bit, and shortened it to 10 “rules” for the law students out there. Enjoy.
1. Law school is a trade school. The only people who don’t believe this to be true are the professors and deans.
2. Being good at writing makes you a good law student. Being good at understanding makes you a good lawyer. Being good at arguing makes you an ass.
3. You can learn more about client service by working at Starbucks for three weeks than you can by going to law school for three years.
4. Law school doesn’t teach you to think like a lawyer. Law school teaches you to think like a law professor. There’s a huge difference.
5. The people who will help you the most in your legal career are sitting next to you in class. Get to know them outside of law school. They are pretty cool people. They are even cooler when you stop talking about the Rule Against Perpetuities.
6. Law is a precedent-based profession. It doesn’t have to be a precedent-based business. Challenge the status quo. Somebody has to.
7. When you bill by the hour, getting your work done in half the time as your peers doesn’t get you rewarded. It gets you more work.
8. Your reputation as a lawyer begins now. People won’t remember your class rank as much as they’ll remember how decent and honest you were. They’ll really remember if you were a jerk.
9. There are plenty of things you don’t know. There are even more things you’ll never know. Get used to it. Use your ignorance to your benefit. The most significant advantage you possess over those who’ve come before you is that you don’t believe what they do.
10. People don’t tell lawyer jokes just because they think they are funny. They tell lawyer jokes because they think they are true. Spend your career proving them wrong.
If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal Innovation, Ten Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.
Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.
“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, I give you my Ten Rules of Legal Innovation. Enjoy!
1. The practice of law requires precedents. The business of law does not. Knowing that other firms aren’t doing what you are isn’t cause for concern, it’s cause for celebration.
2. There are (at least) ten things your clients wish you’d do differently, and I bet you don’t know what they are. Innovation begins with conversation. Engage your clients so they’ll keep engaging you.
3. If you’re the first lawyer to do something that other businesses have been doing for years, it isn’t innovative, it’s about time.
4. When you focus on being just like your competitors, the worst thing that can happen is you might succeed.
5. If you have to tell your clients you’re being innovative, you probably aren’t.
6. Innovation is just like exercise. It isn’t particularly hard to do, but you won’t see results if you don’t practice it regularly. Also, the more you do it, the better you’ll look (to clients).
7. The best ideas in your firm will come from your staff. While you’re paying attention to your clients, they’re paying attention to your business. Ignore them at your peril.
8. To be a more innovative lawyer, look inside the profession for motivation, but outside the profession for inspiration.
9. Your failure to capture your ideas is directly proportional to your failure to implement them.
10. Remember, though your clients may tolerate your failure to innovate, they’ll never forgive your failure to care.
Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.
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…
A few days ago, I wrote about how I was suffering from The Curse of Almost Happy. I realized that being “close to” fulfillment in my life and career wasn’t close at all. So, as I’ve spent this past weekend knocking off several things on my “To Do for Too Long” list, it hit me…
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…
Everyone makes mistakes. Even lawyers. That's why, in 2010, you should Resolve to Apologize Better. Why apologize? Apologies increase client loyalty and reduce malpractice exposure. But how do you apologize better? Practice! Here's a great guide from Psychology Today (about apologizing to women) that sets out the six mandatory elements a good apology: 1. Acknowledge…
I’ve always thought the idea from this post was a powerful way to understand the gift of time and what you can accomplish in a year: Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006. From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this…
I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats. Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the…
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…
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…
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…
Here’s a tech-related tip from this post: 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 time is better spent building your business and serving your clients than it is crawling around on the…
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…
I’m going to be re-sharing a few dozen of my favorite posts from this blog over the next several weeks. This is an excerpt from one of my all-time favorites, written in December 2008 as part of my Resolution series. It still resonates with me today. I hope you like it. 1. Resolve to be better to…
You have just enough time to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients this year. Why Thanksgiving cards instead of other holiday cards? Here are a few reasons from this 2008 post: Thanksgiving is a holiday about giving thanks. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to offer your clients a genuine “Thank you for being our…
I often quibble with the term “rainmaker” because I think it too often describes lawyers more interested in getting new clients than in keeping current ones. However, because “10 Rules for Business Development,” and “10 Rules for Keeping Clients So You Don’t Have to Replace Them” don’t have the same nice ring as “ 10…
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…
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