307 posts categorized "Tips for Lawyers"

April 02, 2014

Tip of the month: Become a better listener by asking probing questions

You can improve business development results by becoming a better listener.  The easiest way is to use simple probes to keep people talking such as “Tell me more about…,” “Could you elaborate on…” or “Give me an example of…”  Many lawyers may react the way I did when I first read about using questions like this:  Why should I say “tell me more” when I already got the point?  But probing questions will make you a more active listener and this will lead to more new business.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more examples of probing questions, see page 160 of my Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide, which is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

 

March 05, 2014

Tip of the month: Plan regular progress reports for every important matter

Start by asking top clients how often they would like to review the status of their matters, and whether they prefer email reports, phone calls or in person meetings.  If practical, offer the matter reviews for free and repeatedly emphasize that you are doing this to assure client satisfaction at your own expense. 

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more ideas to increase satisfaction, see my books the Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide and the Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

February 05, 2014

Tip of the month: Ask top clients what you could do better

The next time you take a client to lunch, probe for areas where they are looking for improvements, including responsiveness, timeliness and value.  Than brainstorm together about how to meet those needs.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more ideas to increase satisfaction, see my books the Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide and the Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

January 01, 2014

Tip of the month: Develop a defensive marketing plan for 2014

Exactly what will you do this year to protect your top client relationships?  In the current competitive environment, no client can be taken for granted, no matter how long you have worked for them.  If they are already happy with your service, what could you do to make them even happier? 

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For specific ideas to increase satisfaction, see my books the Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide and the Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

December 04, 2013

Tip of the month: Ask top clients what they like, and dislike, about other law firms

Prepare for your next business development lunch by listing a few questions that will make it easy for your client to do most of the talking. Here are two of our favorites: 

  1. What are some of the things you’ve liked most about working with law firms, both ours and others?
  2. What have you liked least about working with law firms?

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For a list of 65 additional questions you might ask, see my book the Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide.

November 07, 2013

Tip of the month: Set a listening goal for every meeting

Experts say that when you are building business relationships, you should listen at least 50% of the time.  This guideline applies whether you are seeking new clients, defining the scope of a new matter with an existing client, or getting feedback on a matter that was just completed.  For your next meeting, set a goal of listening 50% of the time or more.  After the meeting assess how well you did.  Then do it again.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. This month’s tip was adapted from my book the Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide.

October 02, 2013

Tip of the month: Evaluate results regularly, and learn from mistakes

Once you have established metrics for evaluating the success of your legal project management or business development program, key decision makers within the firm should evaluate results quarterly or on another schedule, to review what worked and what didn’t. In this new, more challenging, world, it is not possible to avoid occasional failures. But it is possible to learn from mistakes and to improve results.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. This month’s tip was adapted from my book Legal Project Management, Pricing, and Alternative Fee Arrangements.

September 04, 2013

Tip of the month: Define and measure success

Whether you focus on legal project management or increasing new business, some of your efforts will be much more successful than others. You need to specify the metrics that will be used to identify the winners and losers, so that you can refine your tactics and increase your success rate.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. This month’s tip was adapted from my book Legal Project Management, Pricing, and Alternative Fee Arrangements.

August 28, 2013

Key questions lawyers should ask to improve management

Effective legal project management starts by asking the right questions. While there are hundreds of questions lawyers can ask to improve the way they manage matters, this list summarizes some of the most critical ones.  It is organized in terms of the eight key issues in LPM discussed in our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

Set objectives and define scope

  • What business problem does the client want to solve?
  • Are several outcomes acceptable?
  • What deadlines matter to the client?
  • Are there strict budget limits?
  • Who is the ultimate decision maker?
  • How does the client define success?
  • How will you know when you are done?

Identify and schedule activities

  • How can large matters be subdivided into smaller discrete tasks?
  • Which tasks are on the critical path? That is, which tasks must be completed before others can start?
  • What deadlines will best align the client’s needs with the firm’s interests?

Assign tasks and manage the team

  • Who will be responsible for each task?
  • How long do they think the tasks will take?
  • What help or support will they need to finish on time, within budget?

Plan and manage the budget

  • How much should be budgeted to complete each milestone in the project?
  • How much was actually spent?
  • If at any point actual spending exceeds the planned budget, what can be done to get back on track?
  • Can savings on one activity be applied to compensate for overspending on another, within the overall budget total?

Assess risks to the budget and schedule

  • What could possibly go wrong that would increase the cost, delay the project, or decrease client satisfaction?
  • How likely is this to happen?
  • How serious would the impact be if it did happen?
  • Which risks should I plan for in advance?

Manage quality

  • Does the client have any concerns about the quality of the work?
  • How should I monitor the quality of work performed by other team members?

Manage client communication and expectations

  • Who is responsible for communicating with the client decision maker?
  • What does the decision maker care most about?
  • Does the decision maker prefer formal reports, informal email, regular phone calls, face-to-face meetings, or another type of communication?
  • Should brief standard reports be submitted every week or month?

Negotiate changes of scope

  • How should I track changes to the work required and their implications for schedule and budget?
  • What criteria should I use to decide when a change in requirements should lead to a client negotiation for additional funding?

 

This post was adapted from the third edition of our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

August 07, 2013

LPM tip of the month: Increase efficiency by adapting tools from other professions

Learn from other industries and professions by adapting tactics they have developed in decades of experience bidding, planning and managing work to maximize efficiency and quality.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. This month’s tip was adapted from my book Legal Project Management, Pricing, and Alternative Fee Arrangements.