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


Ten Rules for Law Students

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 InnovationTen 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.

Ten Rules of Rainmaking

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 Rules of Rainmaking,” I’ll use the term here.  Let me know what you think:

1. You’ll never be passionate about rainmaking until you start searching for clients you’ll be passionate about serving.  Remember, a great client is one for whom you’d work for free, but one who’d never ask you to.

2.  The best way to get new clients is to impress old ones.  Measure the happiness of your existing clients with the same diligence you measure your time, so you can work less on developing new business and more on deserving it.

3.  While there are hundreds of “strategies” to get new clients, there’s only one strategy to keep them:  serve them well.

4.  When meeting a potential client, don’t sell your competence, sell your compassion.  They must know you care about them before they’ll care about you.

5.  The single best way to get new clients is to ask your best ones, "How do I get more clients like you?"

6.  A client will never be as surprised by great legal work as they will by by good service.  

7.  Your new client’s definition of a “great” lawyer is probably far different from yours.  You must understand their expectations before you’ll ever be able to meet them.

8.  Recognize that while it is usually easier to ask for new business from prospective clients than it is to ask for more business from current ones, it is rarely more profitable.

9.  If your answer to “What kind of clients are you looking for?” is “Ones who pay,” you’ll get paying clients.  Terrible paying clients.

10.  The best thing you can promise a prospective client is more sleep.  Ask what problems keep them up at night, and build your practice to solve them.

I'd love your input, and feel free to add any of your "Rules" in the comments.  If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten Tweets about TwitterTen Resolutions for the New YearTen Rules for Law Students, Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal InnovationTen 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.

Best of NBH: Counting Cards

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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 gem:

Get seven decks of cards with similar backs. Lay out all seven decks on your living room rug, backs showing. This is a year of days (give or take). Let the magnitude of a year sink in. Experience this wonderful availability of time. (This is a powerful exercise.)

Carefully count the number of days between two widely-separated holidays, for instance New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. Envision starting a large project on that first holiday (today!) and completing it by the second.

It also works great with clients!  Give it a try.

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,…

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…

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…

Resolve to Let Clients Set Your Price

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…

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…

Your clients still don’t care where you went to law school.

This is an update to this post from a few years ago.

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…

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…

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…

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…

Resolve to Count Cards

As 2009 draws to a close, we all find ourselves with lots of stuff on our "to do" lists for the next year.  Whether your thinking about finding time to meet your deadlines, accomplish your goals or even follow your resolutions, there never seems to be enough time to do it all. As you begin…

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…

The Haiku of What You Do

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…

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…

Best of NBH: Autopsy Your Dead Files

Remember the television show Quincy?  Jack Klugman played a Los Angeles medical examiner, and in every episode, his autopsy would reveal that the decedent (who’d seemingly died of “natural” causes) was a victim of foul play.  Using the clues he’d gained from his examinations, Quincy would convince the police a homicide had occurred, and then manage…

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:

Best of NBH: Stop Fixing Your Own Tech

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…