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Lawyers: Take more time off

July 7, 2018

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Lawyer Coaching,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Staffing Issues,Stress Management — admin @ 5:04 pm

In the whole of recorded history of lawyers, there has not been one attorney, who, on his deathbed, thought, “Boy, I wish I had been able to spend just one more day writing briefs.”

What do you want to be able to say in your later years, that you worked yourself to death in the office or that you enjoyed time with your loved ones, creating lasting memories during the vacations you took? If it’s the former, that’s just kind of sad because the latter is where we live and love and actually enjoy our lives.

Lawyers Need to Take More Time Off

Taking more time off will increase your productivity and create a stronger support team.

Vacations — time off — should be for leaving the office behind and relaxing, not taking the office with you.

Here’s a scenario: You decide to take your family to Hawaii for vacation. You’ve got a great room with a beach view and a loose itinerary that allows for plenty of spontaneity. Sounds great, right? However, if you check your office email and return phone calls every morning, then you’re not on vacation. You’re just working remotely from a much prettier location. All the stress you left behind at the office has followed you to Hawaii, stealing time from you and your family.

If you’re really, actually, positively going on vacation, then go on vacation.

Even Lawyers Need a Break

Your brain needs time to rest, to heal from the day-to-day grind of running your practice. My experience — personally and working with attorneys who take great time off — is that your creativity goes through the roof when you return to work. Client problems don’t seem so big, and you get a new perspective that allows you to grow your business dramatically.

I could list a hundred reasons why you need to take time off, but for today I’ll give you my top three reasons.

First, it’s good for you, mentally and physically. Too many lawyers are working themselves into an early grave, stressed out with high blood pressure and poor physical health. Time off allows you to shake off the stress and recharge your batteries. Investing time with the people you love can actually help you be more creative, interesting and productive than lawyers who are always in the office.

Second, taking off also gives your team an opportunity to take off the training wheels. If you’re there to solve every problem — whether it’s legal or customer service — they’ll never grow beyond you. If you’re the big tree blocking the sun, growth will never occur. Taking several weeks off will empower your team to make decisions. Let them know you won’t be checking on them. My prediction is that they’ll grow and learn and expand as professionals. If you never take time away , then it robs them of this opportunity. You have to learn to trust your people. And if you can’t trust your people, you’ve got the wrong people.

The third reason is that taking time off will help you see how your firm works without you. How do your systems for customer service and marketing work when you’re not directly involved in all of it? Does it wither or thrive? How is your case flow in your absence? More importantly, how’s your cash flow if you’re not the one driving it?

Off Means OFF

I encourage lawyers to take at least 175 days off every year — and when I say off, I mean off. No emails, no phone calls, no “I’ll just check this one thing.” If you get interrupted, then there a system or process that needs to be fixed. When you’re on vacation, an emergency is nothing more than an opportunity for your team to figure out how to fix that problem. Empowered team members are happy, productive people — the kind you actually want in your firm.

I could list another 20 or 30 reasons why you need to take time off. Instead, I encourage you to look for any opportunity to start strengthening your law firm and your capacity for joy. Expand your life and grow your firm by taking enjoyable time off.

Kick Start Your Law Firm Marketing in 2018

December 11, 2017

Filed under: Marketing,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management — Tags: , — admin @ 9:23 pm

Many attorneys struggle with dedicating enough time for law firm marketing. I recently posted about holiday marketing strategies.

Here are a few quick tips to help you position your practice for a great start in 2018.

I think of marketing in terms of strategy. If done properly, you won’t have to worry whether you’re doing enough of it and then play catch up when you think you have fallen behind somewhere around August.

Keep It Simplelaw firm marketing

Small, thoughtful moves made throughout the year can yield more than sporadic efforts without a marketing strategy. Make a plan, commit to it, but don’t overthink it.

Stay in Action

Consistency is key. Review your marketing strategy from 2017 and highlight what worked. It might be a good idea to double down on those things for the new year. It can be something as simple as writing articles on LinkedIn regularly, to setting referral goals for the month. Just be consistent.

Be Yourself

It is always best to be yourself in your marketing. If people feel like you’re being inauthentic they may not trust you to be transparent in your work. This would defeat the purpose of your practice. Your marketing efforts are an opportunity to establish trust. Stay true to yourself (your brand) across all your marketing efforts.

Be Selective

Every client isn’t a yes. And if you’re managing your business effectively, you can put yourself in a position to say no to clients who aren’t the right fit. This will save you time and money, allowing room for your practice to grow. Yes, sometimes less is more.

Get Guidance and Accountability

There are times when you simply can’t figure it out yourself. This happens to everyone.  The work of transforming your practice will come from the effort you put toward your action plan. If that’s something you struggle with, then I strongly encourage you to invest an hour of your time in a Practice Growth Diagnostic™. It is simply THE most effective way to determine where the holes are in your practice and what actions you can immediately take to improve your law firm’s profitability. Your ultimate success lies in your hands.

Here’s to a great 2018 and hoping it’s a transformation for you personally and professionally!

Law firm owners can get a head start on 2018

November 9, 2017

Filed under: Enjoying Life,Practice Growth,Practice Management,Stress Management — admin @ 5:16 pm

The holiday season is fast approaching, and I’ll bet you’re tempted to look back over this past year with a critical eye. Whoa there. Take a deep breath. Let’s look at your goals.

Acknowledge the things that went well in 2017. And, while it’s good to take note of the things that didn’t go so great (i.e. any frustrations, tolerations, or breakdowns), don’t dwell on them. Instead, use this line of thinking to propel your law firm into 2018 with momentum.

Possibly the best way to assess your practice’s past year is with an annual Practice Growth Diagnostic™ . It is the most comprehensive method to determine what is working well in your practice, what isn’t or needs attention, and how to strategize for the future. Check it out.

3 Things You Should Do

Set your practice up to win in 2018.

If you’re already wondering what you can do to prepare for next year’s challenges, I’m inviting you now to attend a no-cost webinar I’m presenting on Nov. 28 (12 noon Eastern) called “The 3 Things You Should Do NOW to Give Your Law Firm a Head Start in 2018.”

I’d also like to recommend a short exercise. Pull out a notepad (or use your computer or smart phone to start a new document).

Wrap Up 2017

Write down what you consider to be your practice’s three biggest accomplishments for the past year. Under or next to each item, write down the top three actions taken that generated this great result.

Is there anyone you should acknowledge who helped make these achievements happen? Probably, right? Make a note on your January calendar to speak with each person (not email!) to express your gratitude for their part in these successes.

Next, list all the little things you tolerated the past year. These could include staffing issues, daily interruptions, failing to find time for marketing, or hanging on to a troublesome client that you know you should have let go. As you write this, you will begin to see some of the small – but draining – matters that sapped energy from your practice.

The first step to addressing these kinds of distractions is acknowledging they exist. The second step is to choose at least one of these “tolerations” you’ve been putting up with that you’re annoyed enough about that you’ll commit to eliminating it by taking a specific action by a set deadline. Are you willing to commit to getting rid of more than just one?

Launch Into 2018

Finally, write down the goals you’d like to accomplish in 2018 both personally and financially. Give this part of the exercise some time, and don’t worry about making it perfect in one sitting.

This is going to be a “living document” you can refer to throughout the year, making additions and subtractions as needed. These goals are the foundation of your 2018 action plan!

Include the first action steps will you take to move towards achieving your personal and financial goals. If you feel like this is an area where you could use some reinforcement, please contact Atticus.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Don’t want growth? Keep thinking about it

August 15, 2017

Filed under: Marketing,Money,Practice Growth,Practice Management — admin @ 12:03 pm

I don’t procrastinate, ever. I just think about stuff for a very, very, VERY long time. I don’t actually act on anything.  I’ve found thinking about things to be very beneficial and recommend this strategy to small law firm owners and solo practitioners as a way of protecting their egos.

Let’s pretend I have a new marketing idea. All I am willing to do is think, “For this to be perfect outcome, what would have to happen?”

For the outcome to be ideal, which is what I want, the best thing to do is to think about it, strategize it, plan it and then think about it some more.  All the permutations and obstacles to my new idea fill my mind. And then, I spend time thinking about those.

Here are the key benefits of the “think about it” strategy:

  1. You can never be wrong. If you don’t take action, then you can always be right.
  2. You can keep your opinion, assumptions, and beliefs. Of course, action and actually testing an idea out is where the rubber meets the road – and that’s where all learning occurs – but by continuing to think about it, you could always just adjust your plan.
  3. I don’t have to learn anything (See No. 2). I mean, why bother? Learning requires risk and can be very frustrating. Acting is too ambitious.
  4. You don’t have to be accountable. This is a big one. If you keep thinking about it and don’t take any action, then no one can hammer you because you took action.
  5. You don’t risk energy or money. Sure, you waste some time thinking things over, but it’s totally worth it, right?

The truest thing I can say about the results of the “think about it” method is that nothing ever changes. Life stays the same. Your complaints of today will be your complaints of tomorrow. You know them well. They are like old friends. Your weight stays the same. Your fitness stays the same. And, so do your income and results.  There is no growth.

I think Abraham Maslow had it wrong. He said, “You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”

I love it. Safety is where it is at, right?

If you don’t want to grow your practice, then use the “think about it” strategy to avoid any form of risk, loss of money, embarrassment, or failure.

And, go one step further: Take no action from this blog. Instead, think about growth for a long, long time. It is a lot safer.

[In case you read this post and you’re not sure if I’m being serious, just think about it.]

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.

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