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Lawyers: 2 Simple Lists Can Result in Big Wins for 2017

November 9, 2016

Filed under: Client Issues,Enjoying Life,Lawyer Coaching,Marketing,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Stress Management — admin @ 4:16 pm

The holidays are nearly here, and for many lawyers that means using this time to sit back and reflect on their successes or failures of the last year. Some of you will armchair quarterback yourselves over what you should or should not have done.

Stop it. Looking back in regret will not fix those issues. Just because a calendar year is nearing its close does not mean it’s okay to navel-gaze instead of looking for opportunities to improve. You risk falling behind.

Now is the best time for lawyers to set personal and financial goals for 2017. I encourage my coaching clients to write two simple lists to help them make progress in both life and business for the coming year.

Setting Simple Goals

The first list is your top 10 personal and financial goals for the year – as simply stated as possible. This list might include paying more attention to your children, exercising more, increasing your business’ marketing efforts, or paying off old debt by following a new budget plan.

One goal you might consider is hiring an accountability and strategy coach!

Of course, you don’t have to finish this list in one day and laminate it! Some people get writer’s block if they are on deadline. Instead, draft it out, set it aside for a day or two and come back to it to make revisions or additions.

Repetition and Reminders

Once you’ve set these goals, make three copies: one for your desk at work, one taped near the bathroom mirror at home, and one miniaturized in size to carry in a wallet or purse. This might seem silly to some, but reading one’s goals regularly can really help ensure commitment to achieving them. It’s a practice in self-accountability.

Share these goals with your key assistant or another attorney you trust, if you are comfortable doing so. That way, you’re saying you want to be held accountable to meeting these goals because you want this person to check on your progress.

The Little Things

The second list is all about the little things you have been tolerating over the last year. Take 15 minutes and sprint out a list of these annoyances. Don’t worry about prioritizing it, just put pen to paper.

Maybe you’ve been so busy wrestling with issues at home that you’ve come to accept working in a messy work space or office? Or, you’re missing a button on your favorite jacket, and are reminded of it each time you put it on to take the dog on a walk. It might be a garage door that needs fixing or a checking account that needs reconciling.

Perhaps you sacrificed having a dental issue treated because of unexpected business expenses? Or maybe the list will contain names of problematic clients you’ve tolerated instead of letting go.

Once you begin writing these things down, it becomes clear just how many annoyances you’ve been putting up with in daily life that need addressing. Regardless of its content, this list of tolerations will certainly grow if it is not addressed.

You don’t need to take an oath to eliminate each of these issues within the next year, but you will have a much better chance of addressing most of them if you just start by writing them down.

As always, I hope this article has helped you and your practice. If you have a specific practice management issue or concern you’d like to share, please contact me.

Lawyers: Do You Have a Practice Growth Mindset?

September 15, 2016

Filed under: Practice Growth,Practice Management — admin @ 12:28 am

Do you only see what you want to see? Your mindset, or view of the world, is the key to setting the pace for growth in your firm. The amazing difference between a lawyer who grows quickly and profitably and one who does not has everything to do with how they see the world. I want to encourage you to have a Practice Growth Mindset™.

A lawyer’s mindset for opportunity, self-development, and general attitude about life can drive growth far more than his or her legal skills.

I see great lawyers struggle with growth issues because they don’t see them as growth issues. They see them as hassles, aggravations and frustrations. They see them as things getting in the way of being “a great lawyer.” Ironically, this view or mindset is the very thing that blinds them to what is in the way of significant practice growth.

Growth Depends on Attitude

It reminds me of the old joke: “Wherever you go, there you are.” Depending on whether you have Practice Growth Mindset™ or a status quo mindset, those will be the results you will see in your life. If you are not getting what you want from your practice, it may have more to do with the mindset you bring than anything else.

Which then begs the question: Is it possible for you to change your mindset? I think yes, of course, it is possible.

But are you willing to take a risk and invest the time to change to a Practice Growth Mindset™? If that’s the case, then I encourage you to attend an Atticus webinar I’m hosting on Oct. 4 called “But I Can’t Do That! – The 10 Big Lies That Stop Practice Growth.”

In this hour-long discussion, I’ll reveal common misconceptions lawyers have about why they can’t grow their practices. And I’ll share the truth about improving your firm and your life. I hope you can join me.

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.

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