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Steve Riley Coaches Attorneys Who Want To Grow Their Practices 4 Ways To Contact Steve

Lawyers: Should you make the switch to Apple?

August 15, 2016

Filed under: Law Firm Technology — admin @ 8:41 pm

Converting from PC-based systems to Macintosh computers seems to be a very popular question these days among solo and small firm lawyers. The popularity of the Apple product line among attorneys is exceptionally deep, and its overall customer loyalty appears to me to be beyond that of any other tech brand in the market place.

When I lead workshops for Atticus and at legal conferences, I pay attention to the types of laptops and tablets I see lawyers using to take notes. Hardly anyone uses a good old-fashioned legal pad anymore. Among these workshop audiences, Apple seems to be the dominate brand of choice. And yet, when I ask what kind of computers these lawyers use in their offices, the predominant answer has been PCs. These attorneys are using iPhones and iPads, but they’re unsure if they want to commit to having their firm move from PC to Macintosh.

I’m asked from time to time, “Steve, do you think I should convert to Apple in my law firm?”

I actually have no opinion or expertise to offer for this question. So, I found someone who does. The next monthly edition of the Atticus Practice Development Series webinar (12pm EDT, Sept. 8) will feature Tom Lambotte, CEO of GlobalMac IT.

Tom’s firm provides technical assistance and computer support to law firms that are Apple-based, or are wanting to make the change.

During this webinar, Tom will speak to the benefits of using Apple in your firm, specifically the financial ones. He’ll touch on security issues, productivity, and how to be comfortable and confident in using Macs.

Naturally, Tom is very, very biased about Apple. But, his take on things is certainly worth your time to listen to, especially if you’ve been considering such a transition. Join us and listen to Tom discuss his argument.

It’s fast and easy to register for the webinar.

And, if that is not enough Apple for you, our long-time client and friend, Attorney Victor Medina, sponsors an annual conference for lawyers who use Apple products in their law firm. The conference is called MacTrack Legal.  Check it out, tell him Steve sent you.  (Maybe if I get enough of you to visit his conference website, Victor will send me a new iSomething that I didn’t think I’d need, but that I ultimately will find that I can’t live without.)

Lawyers: Proposed regulations offer marketing opportunity

August 5, 2016

Filed under: Legal Issues,Marketing — admin @ 2:37 pm

Lawyers: Protect Your Vacation … from Yourself!

June 13, 2016

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Lawyer Coaching,Practice Management,Stress Management — admin @ 6:38 pm

Is it possible for you to take a vacation and not check your email?

Ninety percent of the lawyers I meet will say no and that they feel better checking email once, twice, two hundred times a day while on vacation. It makes them feel in control and less stressed.

But by doing so, they are not present to their family. They are not resting, rejuvenating, and letting themselves recover from their demanding profession. They just work remotely and do nothing to protect themselves from the effects of overworking.

I can go on and on about the benefits of not reading and responding to email while on vacation. The attorneys we work with at Atticus with who do not check their email return to talk about the “greatest vacation ever.” They report back feeling “rested, rejuvenated, reconnected to loved ones, energized, ready to get back to work.”

The lawyers who keep accessing email say things like “Well, my family had a great time, I just worked in a different location. I am tired. It was a ‘working vacation,’ ” (which to me is like “fat free ice cream”— a unicorn, a myth).

Here is the truth: You have to plan your vacation to protect yourself from yourself. It is not the office that is the issue; you are the issue.

Thanks to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, we have further proof that the Zeigarnaik Effect is one of the elements at work. The brain will try to hold on to something that feels “incomplete.”

To protect yourself from this effect, you need to plan how to protect your brain from feeling incomplete about email. Yes, it is true that you will have cases that are ongoing during your vacation. And so, it is important to strategize with your team on how to protect you from anything that you may feel incomplete on during your vacation.

Here are three steps:

  1. Train someone to check your work email and handle time-sensitive questions/issues. The lawyers I coached to do this went on extended vacations from one week to a month, and it worked brilliantly. The key element was that they had to remove email access from their phones. The easiest way was simply to log out of their email service. For some, it meant using a different cell phone during vacation.
  2. Make a list of anything you might feel incomplete about during your vacation. Specifically, include anything that needs to be managed from an email perspective (and case perspective) and tell your team how to handle it.
  3. Create an emergency protocol. You start by defining an emergency. We don’t do surgery, so the odds of it being an actual life-threatening emergency is slim. Just let your staff know what a “real emergency” is to you versus what a client or opposing counsel claims to be an emergency.

Give it a shot. Worst case scenario: Your vacation is ruined by an actual emergency. Best case scenario: You have the most rejuvenating vacation you’ve had in a long, long time.

Try it, let me know how it works.

Lawyers: Can you get your inbox to zero?

January 13, 2016

Filed under: Practice Management,Staffing Issues,Stress Management — Tags: — admin @ 11:13 pm

Aiming for an email inbox count of zero sounds about as reasonable to most lawyers as finding a unicorn galloping about town.

Many attorneys start with such a goal, and then they give up after some effort and go back to what they were doing previously – desperately trying to reply to as many messages as possible.

The biggest challenge here is not achieving zero emails. It’s the assumption you could even try do it without taking three key steps.

  1. Get clear on your expectations. Appreciate what email is really about. It’s essentially a communication tool. You are not managing emails. You are managing communication. If you are solely focused on getting your inbox to zero, then you are missing the underlying issue, which I suggest is getting clear on what you want to communicate via email and what you do not want to communicate via email. Decide what kind of messages you want to send and receive via email. It might feel silly, but start by writing this list down.
  2. Tell your clients your expectations. I remind my clients that I view emails the same way I view the paper mail I get from my postal carrier. I retrieve it one time per day, and I typically reply to it one time per day. I am not in a chat room waiting for electronic messages, and they should not expect an instant response. If the email relates to an hourly matter, then they should expect to see a charge if the email is substantive in nature. Be frank with clients on this. If necessary, put it in your engagement agreement. It is amazing how many times I meet lawyers who tell me they don’t charge for emails but they do for phone calls and appointments. How long do you think it takes a client to figure this out?
  3. Tell your team your expectations. A lot of lawyers try to use email as a form of delegation. Yes, email can work well for simple delegations handed down to your staff. But it’s amazing how many delegations actually come up from the team to the lawyer via email. Teach your team what is okay to email and what is not okay to email. For example, if they send questions about a case that require more than yes or no, then they are delegating up. They should bring the file (assuming you are not a paperless office) and meet with you in person. You both save a ton of time since you’re not sitting there trying to analyze what to do or say step-by-step via email for the next hour.

In my experience, lawyers can shrink the size of their inbox if they implement these three steps. Working and responding faster to email will not solve the problem. The more clients and staff you have, the more email you will receive. If you plan on growing your practice, then your inbox will grow with it. So, as it grows, you must really think through your underlying communications strategy via email before you can start the quest for zero.

Lawyers: 3 Key Questions for 2016

November 18, 2015

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Stress Management — admin @ 11:51 am

I know you’re busy. All attorneys are busy. When I attend bar conferences, the lawyers there all trade stories about how busy they are. The real issue is not how busy you are, but how effective you are.

The end of the year is a perfect time to evaluate your personal effectiveness. One way to do that is to take time to learn from the past year and set up a great new year. While I highly recommend that you do an end-of-year planning session with your firm, I also suggest you do a planning session for yourself.

Here are three key questions to ask:

  1. What were the three key strategies that made this year a great year? What did I do that allowed me to move my practice forward?
  2. Where am I stuck the most?
  3. If I were to focus on five objectives or strategies for next year, what would they be?

In my experience, if you take an hour, with no interruptions (no email, phone calls and texts) and do the above, you will have greater clarity for you planning next year. Now, for extra bonus points, do the exercise again 72 hours after you did it the first time, and see what happens to your thinking.

Good luck and best wishes for your 2016 planning.

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