345 posts categorized "Tips for Lawyers"

August 03, 2016

Tip of the month:  Adapt your reporting style to each client

Under-reporting of the status and results of legal matters can result in surprises to the client and unpaid bills.  But over-reporting can make clients think that you are insecure or even lack competence.  The trick is that different clients draw the line at different places, so whether your reporting consists of weekly phone calls or short monthly reports or something else will vary from client to client.  Success starts by talking with each client about what they want.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple reminder like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

July 06, 2016

Tip of the month:  Improve planning before scheduling an internal team meeting

Before you schedule an internal team meeting, outline a quick agenda that lists exactly what you want to accomplish.  Then re-consider whether you need a meeting to reach these goals.  If you do, set the shortest possible time for the meeting, and stick to your agenda and time limit.  (This may or may not apply to client meetings.  The client is always right, and may prefer a different style.)

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

June 01, 2016

Tip of the month:  Find the balance between too little planning and too much

When Andy Crowe studied the characteristics of 5000 project managers for his book Alpha Project Managers, he found that effective managers spend more than twice as much time planning as ineffective ones.  Lawyers often like to jump right in on a new matter because they “have no time to plan.”  But a little time devoted to planning upfront can save an enormous amount of time later.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

May 04, 2016

Tip of the month:  Involve team members in planning near the start of each large matter

On large matters, invite team members to participate in the early planning to get their buy-in on budgeted time estimates, and to assign tasks across the team in a way that maximizes efficiency by taking advantage of each individual’s personal strengths and available time.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

April 06, 2016

Tip of the month:  Set a schedule for internal and external progress reports

At the beginning of a large matter, define exactly when internal team members should report progress to the responsible attorney, and also when and how the responsible attorney should report progress to the client.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

March 02, 2016

Tip of the month:  Manage team members to stay within scope

Ensure that every member of your team is familiar with how project scope is defined in the engagement letter or in a written matter objective.  Use memos and emails to regularly remind team members of what work is within scope, and what isn’t.  When there is a legitimate reason to do work that is beyond scope, make sure team members check with you first.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For more about this tip, see our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.

February 03, 2016

Tip of the month:  Focus on improving personal time management

If you are one the lucky people who is already good at managing your time, stop reading this post.  For everyone else, there is no better way to increase efficiency than to improve your personal time management.  So type “time management” into Google and start looking for tips that fit your needs, or buy the Time Management Handbook for Lawyers: How-to Tactics That Really Work by LegalBizDev’s Gary Richards.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business.

 

January 27, 2016

To develop new business, focus on your personal strengths

According to traditional stereotypes, “a good salesperson can sell anything.” That good salesperson was probably on the football team in high school, is fun at parties, mixes easily at networking events, and can quickly become anyone’s new best friend. For all people who do not fit this profile (including most lawyers and me), the logical implication is that we were not born to sell, so we should not waste our time trying.

But when the Gallup organization collected systematic data on 250,000 sales representatives over forty years, they found that the “salesperson who could sell anything” was a myth.  In fact, top producers in one industry often perform poorly in another, because different types of selling require different skills. As Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano put it in Discover Your Sales Strengths:

The strengths that make someone an excellent pharmaceutical salesperson are different from those required to excel in selling real estate, or jet engines, or strategic consulting. 

Just as Michael Jordan found that basketball skills did not help him get to first base, a sales star in one industry may do poorly in another.

Gallup also found that each successful salesperson develops a unique selling style based upon their particular personality strengths. In their surveys, one of the items best correlated to sales success is the statement: “At work I get to do what I do best every day.”  High agreement links to job satisfaction, effective performance, profitability, and customer loyalty. And the more strongly you agree with this statement, the more productive you are likely to be.

Think about the top legal rainmakers you know. Chances are, some of them have succeeded by providing greater value, some through public speaking, some through community involvement, some by becoming active in professional groups, and some by taking clients to football games. Each has found how to apply their personal interests and strengths.

So when you plan your business development activity, think about what you like to do, and how you can focus on your personal strengths to build relationships and provide more value.

If parts of the process lie outside your comfort zone, remember that selling is a skill that anyone can learn, like golf. Not everyone will become great, but everyone can play the game.

The most important point for lawyers is that selling is a skill. To start learning, you must identify the tactics that fit your clients and your personality, and master a few basic techniques, such as listening.

Also like golf, selling is a lot harder than it looks. The good news is that you do not need to be great to win; you just need to be a little better than your competition.

Until a few years ago, that was easy, because other lawyers were so bad at it. But these days the bar is going up.

When one law firm succeeds in training its lawyers to get new business, it usually takes the work away from a second firm. When I interviewed chief marketing officers for an article a few years ago, several mentioned that when they compete with most firms, it’s easy to take away business by providing exceptional service. But when they compete with other firms that also provide exceptional service, getting new business becomes much harder.

How can you expect to keep up, if legal sellers become more sophisticated year after year? It’s going to take more time and money, and is a kind of arms race. Most lawyers find it is more efficient to hire sales experts as coaches and collaborators, rather than to spend the time to become sales experts themselves. Great golfers have coaches, and more and more legal rainmakers do as well.

Can you really expect to compete in this arena if you are not a natural salesperson? Yes. Natural ability is overrated. Focus on your personal strengths, follow up consistently, and you will succeed.

This post was adapted from my Legal Business Development Quick Reference Guide.

January 06, 2016

Tip of the month:  Improve the way you delegate work

Effective delegation is a key to efficiency, and it is also surprisingly difficult.  If you think this is an area you could improve, there’s an enormous amount of useful info on the internet, including in this blog.  If you own the third edition of my Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide, see pages 76-84.  Or buy Delegating Work from the Harvard Business Review.  It could be the best $11 you ever spent.

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business.

 

December 02, 2015

Tip of the month: Develop a defensive marketing plan for 2016

As legal competition continues to get tougher, it’s more important than ever to focus on protecting relationships with the clients you already have.  What have you done for your best clients lately?  What could you do to further strengthen your position next year?  If you’re not sure, just ask your clients.  But only if you are committed to following up, and actually doing what they ask.

 

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip like this to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business.