Category Archives: Ten Rules

Ten (New) Truths of CLE

To many lawyers, their state-mandated continuing legal education (CLE) is a necessary chore to be completed, rather than an anticipated opportunity to hone their skills in an exciting and stimulating environment.  Part of the reason lawyers don’t love CLE more is that the traditional panel-centric format has — to put it nicely — grown stale.  Even if listening to three speakers reading their slides worked once, it doesn’t work now.  The audience has changed — and the industry must change with it.

In this article, I offer ten observations, tips and even some advice to those in the CLE business.  Though these aren’t my talking points, they mirror much of what I’m going to be speaking about at the Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) in my talk “The Innovative CLE: Ten Bold Proposals for Change” later this month in New York City.

1.  If you ask your attendees what they’re buying from you and they answer “CLE credit,” you’ve got a terrible problem.  Stop selling credit, and instead sell understanding, collaboration and community.  Give lawyers what they need to keep their clients happy — not just what they need to keep their license.

2.  Your audience has far less attention to pay than they once did.  Recognize that your events must change because your attendees already have.  And never confuse your audience’s attendance for their attention:  while you only have to earn their attendance once, you’ve got to earn their attention all event long.

3.  Your audience’s ability to pay attention at your event is inversely proportional to their ability to pay attention to the outside world.  There’s a very fine line between supporting their technology and giving them yet another way to check their fantasy football standings.

4.  Lawyers love online CLE — not because it improves upon the in-person experience, but because it duplicates it.  If lawyers are going to passively consume information from a speaker or panelist, they might as well do it from their desk as they get some “real” work done.  If you want lawyers to attend your programs, offer them something they can’t get online, like the ability to work with (and learn from) the other attendees in the room.

5.  Convincing lawyers to attend your programs begins with answering their one simple question: “How will this make me better at what I do?”  Focus less on the specific things they’ll learn, and more upon how their practice will improve the moment they leave your event.

6.  People complain loudest about the price of things they don’t want to buy.  If your customers say your prices are too high, focus first on giving them more value — and if you must cut the price, don’t be afraid to give them less.  Also, never forget that the price of your event matters less to attendees than their cost to attend it. 

7.  Your attendees will get far more “networking” done when they are thinking together than when they are drinking together.

8.  Imagine a second-grade class room where the teacher never makes time to answer the students’ questions.  Asking 300 people, with two minutes left before the next session starts, “Are there any questions?” is a lot like that.

9.  You aren’t serving lawyers well if you refuse to teach them to attract great clients and run their businesses better.  It is a hell of a lot easier to be a competent, ethical attorney when you’re not worried about keeping your lights on and your family fed.

10.  Just because your audiences aren’t asking for a better experience doesn’t mean they don’t deserve one.  Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Think about ways to build a better CLE.  Experiment, and try new and novel things.  Your audience is far more likely to forgive your ambitiousness as they are to tolerate your ambivalence.

Ten Rules for Presentations Slides

Here’s are the slides for my “Ten Rules for Presentations” posted to Slideshare.  Enjoy!

Ten Rules of Client Service Slides

I’d like to share the presentation of my Ten Rules of Client Service with you.  Here are the slides (posted using Slideshare).  I hope you like it.

Ten Rules for Presenters

Lately, I’ve been giving lots of presentations, and have six more coming up before the Summer ends. I work pretty hard on my speeches (here are a few examples of my slides) and thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned the hard way in this Ten Rules post. Enjoy!

1.  The greatest gift you can give your audience is a passion for your material. If you don’t care for it, they won’t care for you.

2.  Your audience’s attention is a lot like your virginity. You only get to lose it once.

3.  PowerPoint is always optional. A great speech doesn’t improve when accompanied by slides in a dark room.

4.  If PowerPoint makes it easy to do, you probably shouldn’t do it. Avoid bullet points, clip art and cheesy animated transitions at all cost.

5.  The number of words on a slide is inversely proportional to the attention your audience will give it.

6.  Your slides are not your script. The purpose of PowerPoint is to help others understand your material, not to help you remember it.

7.  Never read your slides. When you do, it suggests to your audience you think they’re incapable of doing so themselves.

8.  The average person remembers just three things from your presentation. Great speakers make certain everyone remembers the same three things.

9.  Unless your presentation tells a story, the audience won’t care about the ending — they’ll just pray for it.
 
10.  Never underestimate the impact a great presentation can have on your audience or your career. Being prepared serves both of them well.

If you’d like to see more Ten Rules posts, you can check them all out here.  If you’d like to read thoughts like these as I have them, follow me on Twitter.

Ten Rules of the New Web

I just returned from the fantastic Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference, where I led a session (with Reid Trautz) unofficially titled the New Web for Lawyers.  We talked Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogs.  Here are some of “Rules” we discussed:

1.  “Social media” isn’t rocket science.  It’s just sharing who you are, what you do, and what you think with friends, colleagues and clients online.

2.  LinkedIn is: “Where are you working?” Facebook is: “What are you doing?” Twitter is: “What are you thinking?”

3.  Ever thought it would be cool to be invisible?  Ignore Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and to a vast number of your potential clients, you will be. 

4.  Want to understand the value of being active online?  Ask the guy standing in the corner by himself at your next networking event how many friends he’s made.

5.  First impressions are no longer made in person.  People want to get to know you before they meet you — and the place they go is the web.  Are you there, and what kind of first impression do you make?

6.  Just because you are “friends” with someone online doesn’t mean they’d recognize you in a crowd of three people.  Make your online connections the start of relationships, not the extent of them.

7.  Unless you measure the value of your real friendships by business you receive from them, it is unfair to hold your online friends to a higher standard.

8.  The only thing you’ll get from your online friends are their updates… unless you ask them for more.

9.   Before Facebook, what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas.  Now, what happens in Vegas can impact your business.  Be careful on Facebook, but ignore it at your peril.

10.  The most important social media tool is the telephone.  Reaching out to online friends can turn them into real ones.

If you’d like to see more Ten Rules posts, you can check them all out here.  If you’d like to read ideas like these as I develop them, follow me on Twitter.

Ten Rules for Conference Vendors

In March, I shared Ten Rules for Conference Attendees.  As the spring and summer conference seasons heat up, I’ve put together Ten Rules for Conference Vendors.  Here they are:

1.  If the only way you can sell your value proposition is with a white paper, you don’t have a value proposition.

2.  You do not earn my attention by giving me a pen. You earn it by solving a problem I can’t solve without you.

3.  The more your booth looks like everyone else’s the more I think your product does what everyone else’s does, too.

4.  Don’t get offended if I don’t believe your product will do what you promise.  I’ve been burned before by people who sounded and looked a lot like you.

5.  Everyone working your booth should have a 7 word answer to the question “What do you do?”  The first three words of that answer should be “We help you…”

6.  The number of words on your booth is inversely proportional to the likelihood I’ll read any of them.

7.  These five words should NEVER appear on your booth: Trusted, Leading, Innovative, Premier, and Unique.  If they do, you probably aren’t.

8.  Dump the booth babes.  If I can’t trust you to make good decisions about your marketing, how can I trust you to make good decisions about serving me?

9.  Your product’s benefits are not as different from your competitors’ as you believe them to be.  Instead of selling me “unique” features, sell me outstanding service.

10.  Capture my attention before you capture my contact information.  A one-dollar USB drive in exchange for a year of emails and telephone calls is not a fair trade.

You can read the rest of my 10 Rules Posts here

Ten Rules of Networking

Networking events are part and parcel of a business person’s life.  Next time you find yourself at a networking event, keep in mind these Ten Rules, and the people you meet will thank me:

1.  “Network” isn’t something you do, it is something you build.

2.  Meeting someone for five minutes at a networking event does not entitle you to become their “friend” on Facebook. Ever!  Feel free to send them a LinkedIn invite, though.

3.  It takes more time to recover from a weak handshake than it does to learn to give a firm one.

4.  Your life story is far more interesting to you than to someone you’ve just met — and you’ve already heard it before.

5.  Stories that start with, “This one time, I almost ….” are boring as hell.  Learn to embrace experiences instead of avoiding them.

6.  Never enter a conversation at networking event with more than half a drink in your hand. Needing a refill is great excuse to leave.

7.  Asking someone “What do you do?” w/in a minute of meeting suggests your interest in them depends on their answer.

8.  When you meet someone for the first time, make certain they don’t hear you complain. About anything.

9.  The most underrated skill to possess at networking events is ability to end conversations, not start them.

10.  Never “network” to meet people. Network to help people.

You can read the rest of my 10 Rules Posts here.  I’ll see you at the next networking event!

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 of stuff that lives on Twitter now that used to live here on the blog.  And since I don’t expect everyone reading this to follow me there (or go back and read through my 2000+ Twitter messages), I decided to compile a “Best Of” list of my favorite tweets.

So, here (in .pdf form) is a little e-book I’ve titled:  100 Tweets: Thinking about Law Practice in 140 Characters or Less.  It contains my favorite 100 tweets, in no particular order, and should give you a sense of what I share on Twitter that you don’t always see here.

If you enjoy it, and would like to follow me on Twitter, I’ll see you there.

Ten Rules PDF Preview

As I gear up for several speaking engagements this summer, I'm putting together my slides and handouts this week.  While most of these will ultimately live at my LexThink site, I thought I'd share the first one with you here on the blog.

Here are my Ten Rules of Client Service (from my original post here) in a spiffy new pdf format that I hope will turn into an e-book of sorts.

I hope you enjoy the look, and find the pdf easy to share.  Let me know what you think.

Ten Rules for Conference Attendees

With the ABA’s Techshow and the LMA Annual Conference kicking off in tandem this week, I thought it was a good time to revisit a list I did a few years ago about attending conferences.  Here are my Ten Rules for Conference Attendees:

1.  The amount of preparation you do before the conference is directly proportional to the benefits you’ll receive after it.

2.  Never attend a conference without at least three questions you want answered.  Never leave until they have been.

3.  Your ability to pay attention to conference speakers and attendees is inversely proportional to your ability to pay attention to the outside world.  If you can’t leave the real world behind for an hour or two, please don’t leave it at all.

4.  The most important people at the conference are sitting next to you.  They are like you.  They can help you.  Ignore them at your peril.

5.  Vendors know your industry and the other attendees better than you do.  Talk with them.  Learn from them.  Then take a few pens.

6.  A conference rolls thousands of first impressions into a three-day period.  Be kind, listen well, don’t dress like a slob, and pick up the tab every once in a while.

7.  Don’t go to a conference until you can answer — in less than 5 seconds — the question, “What do you do?”

8.  Don’t tell someone you’ll follow up unless you intend to.  Breaking the first promise you make to someone makes them believe you’ll break others, too.

9.  The only thing you need at most conferences is an exhibit hall pass.  The true value of the event is in the conversations and not the presentations.  Forget the sessions, hang out in the hallway (and the bar) and listen.  A lot.

10.  Knowing someone online is not the same as knowing them in person.  Don’t assume that someone you follow on Twitter, friended on Facebook and linked to on LinkedIn knows who the hell you are.  Introduce yourself as if you’re a stranger, make friends the old fashioned way and your relationship will be stronger as a result.

You can read the rest of my 10 Rules Posts here.  I’ll see you at the next event!

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 of bicycle accidents.

By delivering great service, you can delight your customers, increase their satisfaction (and reduce malpractice exposure), cut your marketing budget and turn your clients into your best salespeople.  And because many of your peers believe something as simple as returning client calls is optional, the bar to delivering the best client service in your community is set pretty low. 

Here then, are 10 simple “rules” to help you remember that it is your customers who keep you in business, and when you work to delight (instead of frustrate) them, you’ll both be successful.

1.  Just because clients don’t expect great service from lawyers doesn’t excuse you from providing it.

2.  Don’t assume you’re great at service because your current clients don’t leave.  Many remain your clients because they fear their new lawyer will treat them just like you do.

3.  It costs less to delight a client than it does to frustrate them.  You pay to delight them once, but you pay for frustrating them forever.

4.  It is also far cheaper to compete on service than it is on price, because there will always be someone far cheaper.

5.  People tell others about service they receive, not competence they expect.  Ever heard someone brag about how clean their dry cleaners get their clothes? 

6.  The time clients care about isn’t yours, it’s theirs.  Build your practice to save them time and they’ll be less reluctant to pay you for yours.

7.  Though you might be measured against your peers in a courtroom, when it comes to service, you’re measured against everyone.  If your clients named the top ten places they get great service, would your business make the list?  It should.

8.  Eighty percent of your time should be spent on satisfying your clients’ expectations and twenty percent should be spent on exceeding them.

9.  You can’t measure how you’re doing when you only ask how you’ve done.  Improving client service begins with learning how to serve your current clients better.

10.  If your clients can go months without hearing from you, they can go forever without recommending you.  To lawyers, indifference and incompetence are two different things.  To clients, they are one in the same.

If you’d like to see some more posts like this one, check out: Ten Rules of RainmakingTen 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 see hundreds more ideas on creative ways to deliver great client service, check out all of the Client Service posts here on this blog.

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.

Ten Tweets about Twitter

As I've prepared for my LegalTech session on Twitter, I've been thinking about what to say.  Since I've been having so much fun with all of my "Ten Rules" posts, I thought I'd do Ten Tweets about Twitter.  As a bonus, all but the last one are exactly 140 characters!  Here you go:

1.  It's easy to learn how to use Twitter, but it's hard to learn why.  Once you get the “why,” you'll move from skeptic to disciple overnight.

2.  Twitter isn't like Facebook: Twitter starts conversations with people you’d like to know. Facebook starts them with people you used to know.

3.  The greatest value of Twitter doesn’t come from knowing what the people you follow are doing.  It comes from knowing what they are thinking. 

4.  Ever think, “If only I could get 5 minutes with Mr. _______, my biz would explode” moments?  They’re on Twitter, you’ve got 140 characters.  Go!

5.  If you want to extend your Twitter relationships into the real world, be a real person on Twitter — and don’t call yourself “@imgreat12375”

6.  If you fear Twitter will interfere with your ability to get your work done, you’re not afraid of Twitter, you’re afraid of doing your work.

7.  Twitter helps start conversations like kindling helps start fires. However, without further attention and real fuel both will soon burn out.

8.  Twitter's like a networking meeting on steroids — though the conversation’s better and there're a lot fewer insurance salesmen in the room  

9.  There are Twitter friends and real life friends.  The successful Twitter user values both, but knows how to turn the former into the latter.

10.  The number of followers you have is far less important than the number of followers you deserve.  Always work to deserve more. 

BONUS:  Twitter How To: Follow, Care, Follow, Share, Connect, ReTweet, Repeat

If you'd like to catch up while at LegalTech, shoot me an email at Matt@LexThink.com. You can also follow me on Twitter here:twitter.com/matthomann


Ten Resolutions for the New Year

As 2008 draws to a close, it is natural to think about New Year’s resolutions.*  We think about our businesses, our clients and ourselves and resolve to do better next year.  If you’d like some help, or just some inspiration, here are Ten Resolutions for the New Year.  Enjoy:

1.  Resolve to be better to everyone.  Start with yourself.

2.  Resolve to choose your customers as carefully as friends, knowing that you’ll work best when they’re one in the same.

3.  Resolve to know your business better.  Recognize that being good at what you do is unimportant if you’re not good at being in the business you’re in.

4.  Resolve to stop doing the things your customers don’t pay you to do, unless you love doing them so much, you’d do them for free.  Because you are.

5.  Resolve to value your life by the things you experience instead of the things you possess.

6.  Resolve to eliminate the things in your life that wake you up in the middle of the night — unless you’re married to them, or they need to go outside for a walk.

7.  Resolve to become more useful to your customers.  Stop thinking about what they expect from you, and focus instead on what they don’t expect from you.

8.  Resolve to help the people who work with you (and for you) become better at what they do.  Give them what they need to excel at their jobs, and you’ll find you’re more likely to excel at yours.

9.  Resolve to understand the difference between what you do for clients and how long you take to do it.  They care about the former, and can’t understand why you charge for the latter.

10.  Resolve to do the work you long to do, instead of the work you’ve been doing for too long.  Follow your passions, honor your principles and strive to add value to every relationship you’re in. “Next Year” begins now.  Get started on making it great!

I’d love your input, and feel free to add your resolutions in the comments.  If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten 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.

*  Thinking about Resolutions for Lawyers is something I’ve been doing for quite some time.  Here are my 30+ resolutions from 2004, 2005 and 2006.

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 for the New Economy

This economic downturn provides a tremendous opportunity for lawyers to look at their practices in a new (and different) way.  Here are ten “rules” for lawyers facing an uncertain economic future.  I hope you find them helpful.

1. Your best response to bad economic times is to become indispensable to your clients.  What can you provide to them that they can’t do without?  If you can’t answer that question, it is unlikely your clients can either.

2.  Never assume your current clients know all you can do for them.  Never believe your former clients remember all you did for them.  Reach out to both and remind them.  New business will follow.

3.  “Advertise more” is the advice you’ll get from the yellow pages salesperson.  “Blog and Twitter more” is the advice you’ll get from social media consultants. “Serve more” is the advice you’ll get from your clients.

4.  In a bad economy, you can be proactive, reactive or inactive.  Chose the first, knowing most of your competitors will pick the other two.

5.  Don’t lower your rates, increase your terms.  The easier you make it for people to pay you, the more likely they will.

6.  There’s a fine line between compassion and pity.  Your clients aren’t paying you to feel sorry for them, they are paying you so they’ll no longer feel sorry for themselves.  Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” tell them the six words all clients long to hear: “I’ll help you get through this.”

7.  When your worst clients use the economy as yet another excuse to not pay you, use it as an excuse not to keep them.

8.  Though you might earn less of your clients’ money, never deserve less of their trust. 

9.  Your clients never hired you because they wanted a lawyer, they hired you because they needed one.  When they leave you, it isn’t because they suddenly need you less, they just need other things more.  Don’t take it personally, you’d choose food and heat over advice, too.

10.  Remember all those rainy day, practice-improvement projects you’ve put off ‘til “someday” because you’ve never had the time to do them?  Guess what, today is someday.  Now is the time for you to make big changes in your business.  What are you waiting for?

If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: 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 for New Solos

As our economy sours and the legal job market dries up, there are lots of lawyers looking at solo practice for the first time.  As a former solo myself, I’m sharing these ten “rules” for new solos.  There are more to follow, and please share yours in the comments.

1.  The good news:  As a solo, you are your own boss, can do whatever you want and answer only to yourself. That’s also the bad news.

2.  Your solo practice is far more likely to fail because you’re a bad business person than because you’re a bad lawyer. 

3.  If you are a bad procrastinator, you’ll be a terrible solo.  Nothing will impact your ability to succeed as much as your inability to manage your time.  It is unimportant how great you are at lawyering when you don’t send your bills out on time.

4.  Never underestimate the value of the water cooler.  You can find many “co-workers” online in Solosez, Blogs, Twitter, etc.  Just don’t spend all your time there.

5.  Would you let your plumber appear in court for you?  Remember your answer next time you’re fiddling with your phone system, computer network, etc…  You can’t expect someone to appreciate your expertise if you fail to appreciate theirs.

6.  If you’re looking for a guru, you can have Foonberg.  I’ll take Elefant.

7.  If you’re thinking of opening a “general” practice, remember this: Your clients don’t have “general” legal problems, they have specific ones.  They’ll hire you because you’re able to help them, not everyone else.

8.  Your friends, family and business contacts may hire you eventually, but they’ll rarely do so right away.  They have to need to hire you, not just want to.

9.  Never tell prospective clients that being a solo makes you cheaper to them.  Show them that being a solo makes you better for them. If your clients hire you because your rates are low, they will fire you as soon as your rates are no longer low enough.

10.  There is no shame in going solo.  Your clients don’t care that the legal market tanked, that you got laid off from BIGLAW or that you “wanted more time to spend with your family.”  They have their own problems, and are looking to you solve them.  When you do, you’ll both profit.

If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: 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 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, 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.

If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  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.

Ten Rules of Legal Technology

For your consideration:  Ten “Rules” of Legal Technology.  Not many are new, and very few apply only to lawyers, but these are a few more nuggets I’m pulling out of previous posts to fill out my portfolio of speeches I’ve got “in the can.”  Enjoy:

1. Since the first PC, legal tech companies have been promising to help lawyers capture more time.  Capturing time isn’t the problem, charging for it is.

2.  It is more important to get better at working with people than it is to get better working with technology.

3.  You should never have a bigger monitor or more comfortable chair than your secretaries do.

4.  Never brag about implementing technology in your firm that your clients have been using for a decade.

5.  The single piece of technology all lawyers should learn to use better is their keyboard. 

6.  Sophisticated clients don’t demand sophisticated technology, they demand sophisticated lawyers.  They assume the technology is part of the package.

7.  Social Media isn’t technology.  It’s your Rotary Meeting on steroids — though there are less lawyers in the room and the clients are better.

8.  Want to invest in an inexpensive communication technology guaranteed to improve your thinking skills and increase collaboration with clients? Buy a whiteboard for your office.

9.  Belt, meet suspenders: One backup solution is never enough.

10.  The only technology ROI that matters is your clients’ return on their investment in you.

Bonus Rule:  The one piece of technology your clients wish you’d get better at using is the telephone.  Call them back!

Also, check out Ten Rules About Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.  If you’d like to hire me to speak, head over to LexThink.

Ten Rules About Hourly Billing

After the great response I got to yesterday’s Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing post, I’ve decided to share a few more “Rules” of Hourly Billing I’ve culled from my blog and my speeches.  Enjoy!

1.  Ask your clients what they buy from you.  If it isn’t time, stop selling it!

2.  Imagine a world where your clients know each month how much your bill will be so they could plan for it.  They do.

3.  If you don’t agree on fees at the beginning of a case, you’ll be begging for them at the end of it.

4.  Sophisticated clients who insist on hourly billing do so because they’re smarter than you are, not because they want you to be paid fairly.

5.  When you bill by the hour, your once-in-a-lifetime flash of brilliant insight that saves your client millions of dollars has the same contribution to your bottom line as the six minutes you just spent opening the mail.

6.  Businesses succeed when their people work better.  Law firms succeed when their people work longer.  Your clients understand this — and resent you for it.

7.  Every time your clients jokingly ask you, “Are you going to charge me for this?” they aren’t joking — and they’ll check next month’s bill to be sure.

8.  The hardest thing to measure is talent.  The easiest thing to measure is time.  The two have absolutely no relationship to one another.  Your law firm measures talent, right?

9.  Would you shop at a store where the cost of your purchase isn’t set until after you’ve agreed to buy it? You ask your clients to.

10.  There are 1440 minutes each day.  How many did you make matter?  How many did you bill for?  Were they the same minutes?  Didn’t think so.

If you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.

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 marketing strategy.  “My lawyer will call me back before yours will” is.

2.  Google tells me there are 337,000 “Full Service Law Firms” out there.  Which one was yours again?

3.  Unless the person who founded your firm 100 years ago is still alive and practicing law, he’s completely irrelevant to every client who’s thinking of hiring you.

4.  Market to a “want” not to a “need.”  By the time your clients realize they “need” you, it’s often too late — for them and for you.

5.  Your “keep great clients happy” budget should exceed your “try to get new clients” budget by at least 3:1.

6.  Thanksgiving cards say you’re thankful for your clients’ business.  Christmas cards say you’re just like everybody else.

7.  Having the scales of justice on your business card says you’re a lawyer — an old, stodgy, unimaginative, do-what-everyone-else-has-done-for-fifty-years lawyer.  Same is true for your yellow pages ad.

8.  Speaking of yellow pages, don’t abdicate your marketing strategy to their salespeople.  They don’t know marketing.  They only know how to sell you a bigger ad each year.

9.  Your future clients have been living their entire lives online and will expect the same from you.  If you’re invisible on the web, you won’t exist to them.

10.  The single best marketing strategy in the world is to find your best clients and ask them, “How do I get more clients like you?”

Look for ten more rules next month.  For hundreds of legal marketing ideas, check out my Marketing Category on this blog.  And if you want to get these in real time, follow me on Twitter.