A Lawyer Coach for your Solo and Small Firm
I’m Lakin, a practicing criminal defence attorney, strategist and lawyer coach that teaches other lawyers to make more and work less by running their firms like a CEO. Lawyering is a difficult and demanding profession. It has a notoriously low job satisfaction rating.
“Your law firm is a business. You should run it like one.” We lawyers sacrifice both our physical and mental health to solve other people’s problems. We provide them with a sense of security while we lay awake at night hoping we have not made any mistakes.
It is always heart-breaking for me to hear my colleagues advise young students with an interest in our profession to pursue another dream. I once asked a lawyer “if you were not a lawyer, what would you be?” Her response, “Happy”. Unfortunately, I can relate.
How did I Become a Lawyer Coach?
My journey in law has not been an easy one. In my first year I made just enough to be above the poverty line. By the end of my second, I had racked up tens of thousands in receivables that I would never collect.
In 2016, during a hard fought trial with a harsh prosecutor, I was officially diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. The jury acquitted, but the impact of the trial on me was significant.
Shortly after, I started considering a new way of doing things. At that point, I realized that my dream of developing a busy practice was materializing, but at an enormous price.
Further, I learned that busy doesn’t always mean profitable and vice versa. It was then, that I started to discover how superior systems, marketing, and good clientele could result in significant profits without the associated stress. “Many lawyers know that they need a website but do not know how to use it or why they need it.”
Consequently, my law practice has grown rapidly in the past three years. I hired more full time lawyers. We quadrupled revenue in 18 months and opened another office. Also, we rank #1 on google for a number of search terms in three different cities.
As a result, many of my colleagues have sought my advice on how I achieved this. Looking back, I realize that there were three areas that I improved in that ultimately led to the success that I now enjoy in my law practice: presence, practice and profit.
Lawyer Coach with a view to Profit
There are many different types of lawyers and many different types of lawyer coaches. My focus is coaching solo and small firms looking to increase in profit but not in stress. Essentially, I work with you with a view of expanding your revenue by focusing on the three areas that I did to grow mine.
Lawyer Coaching for Your Online Presence
There is this idea among lawyers that simply doing good work will grow a firm. This may have been true in the past, but it won’t be as true in the future. The consumer of the future is the millennial.
We do everything on our phones. More and more, people are using google to find their lawyers. They read the reviews and ratings, they browse the websites and read profiles. “Without a clear plan of what you want your website to achieve, you cannot evaluate its usefulness.”
Many lawyers know that they need a website, but they do not really know how they will use it or why they need it. They feel that simply hiring a flashy marketing company to design one will achieve their unstated goal.
I used to think that way as well. Below, I explain how this thinking is wrong.
You Should not Abdicate the Digital Marketing Throne
Let me use this example to illustrate the problem with the common approach. Imagine for a minute you’re looking to purchase your first coffee.
(I know you probably drink a ton of coffee already, if you are the typical lawyer, but bear with me.) For the purpose of my example, you’re a lactose-intolerant diabetic. You know coffee is a beverage but that is all.
When you arrive at the coffee shop, the barista asks how you like your coffee. You say “I know nothing about coffee but I heard you guys make really good coffee. Jimmy sent me here, give me what he orders.”
Two minutes later, the barista returns with a dark roast with extra cream and four sugars. In your ignorance of coffee and its contents you guzzle it down.
Your blood sugar immediately spikes and in a few hours you GI tract is feeling the effects of the dairy. Many lawyers approach digital marketing like the uninformed coffee drinker in this example.
They are completely ignorant of the product they are purchasing. They abdicate the decision-making role and vest all discretion in the marketer. When it comes to expressing their desire, they simply know they want a shiny new website, but not much else.
The marketer is often ignorant of your marketing objectives, because they are ignorant of the intimate aspects of your business.
Thus, they deliver you a website that does not and cannot meet your objectives because you have not properly identified these objectives.
Unless you have clear purpose and goal for your website, you cannot evaluate its usefulness. As I explain below, your law firm’s website must measure up in three areas if you want to maximize the leads it generates.
Over the years, my law office has had five different websites. I have overhauled the previous version before each revision. In addition to this, I have advised countless business owners and lawyers on how to design a lead-generating website.
I used to assist in managing the website for a menswear company I ran and I have also launched websites for other projects and businesses.
My knowledge of conversion-conscious web-design is an asset that I carry into my lawyer coaching and consulting. As a result of my experience I have come to learn that a website for any business must have the following three elements: Credibility, Visibility, and convertibility.
You Law Firm’s Website Must be Credible
Credibility – In order to attract premium clients, you must present a premium image. Poor photography, spelling mistakes, and outdated design won’t cut it.
Your branding needs to be exceptional, so that your first impression doesn’t scare away potential leads. You should write every word with the intent of converting a visitor into a paying client. Your law firm website must be professional and confidence inspiring.
You Law Firm’s Website Must be Visible
Visibility – A credible website is useless if no one visits it. A lead-generating lawyer website will be easily found online. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of ensuring that when people search for a lawyer, they find your well-branded law firm’s website.
There are a lot of companies that offer SEO services. Many of them prey on lawyers because of the significant return on investment we generate from our files.
In fact, prior to learning marketing, I had been scammed by 5 different companies. Now I work to spare my colleagues from the same fate.
You Law Firm’s Website Must Generate Conversions
Convertibility – So, your website is visible enough to be found, and credible enough to keep visitors from bouncing. Now what? What do you want people to do once they find you?
Are you looking to have someone book a consultation? Do you want them to “call now”? Are you offering a free case evaluation?
Whatever the case may be, it must be clearly communicated in a way that facilitates the action. Otherwise, you may simply have visitors who take information from your website and leave you with nothing in return.
As a lawyer coach I work with you to identify and clearly define your online presence. We define you goals and then we then work together to create a roadmap to achieve them.
Lawyer Coaching Produces Great Systems
Your law firm is a business. You should run it like one. I coach attorneys to accomplish this. In my journey to creating the efficient practice that I now enjoy, I researched and studied various ideas on business.
After more than a year of digesting countless hours of information, I am more convinced of this one truth than I ever was: A business is only as good as its systems.
In order to consistently function at an high level of efficiency and consistency you must have good systems. The good new is that you already have systems. Every business has systems. However, not every business has good systems.
Systems in Small and Solo Firms
What is a system? A system is simply a process that you use to achieve a desired result. Every result that you consistently achieve in your business is because of a system that you have.
When you book an appointment for a client through email, that is your system. If you send an email to your assistant to do the task for you. That is is the system. Systems are simply the way you run your business on a day to day.
Don’t run Your Small Firm Like a Pick-up Game
Many lawyers in small firms and solo practice do not pay much attentions to their systems. They simply have a way of doing things that works well enough for their purposes.
They are like a group of guys playing pick-up sports. In pick-up sports, just like in the big leagues, your goal is to score as much much as possible.
Now compare a game of pick up to legendary team led by a legendary coach. Phil Jackson, Scotty Bowman, Vince Lombardi they knew about systems. They had many small systems to that worked as parts in a larger system with the goal of building championship teams and winning championships.
Of course there are many differences between your beer league team and the pros. One of them however is the systems. Good systems can generate remarkable results with mediocre players. Don’t believe me?
What Your Law Firm Can Learn From McDonald’s
Think of one of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the world. McDonald’s is effectively run my 16-year-olds. To quote Michael Gerber “They come in late, leave early and smoke dope during lunch.”
How do a bunch of pimple-faced teenagers produce a product that has the same consistency of quality in New York, Paris and Sydney? How do they run a multi-billion dollar corporation that delivers yearly returns to it’s shareholders?
They do this through very good systems. How do you build good systems. The same way legendary coaches build systems that win championships. Watching the game tape.
Great coaches study their games. The watch the tape and they pause, rewind, and take measurements or “stats”. You should do the same in your law office. Let’s go back to the example of booking an appointment for a client.
You can have a system that involves you calling the client whenever you have time and adding this to the never ending list of tasks that you will one day get to. You can also delegate this task to an assistant.
The assistant calls and she is met with a voicemail. She leaves a message. The client calls back while she is on lunch and leaves a message. Now you are playing phone tag. After 5 phone calls you connect and the appointment is booked.
Let’s review that game tape. What at first looks like a communication problem is a synchronization issue. There is a problem with scheduling in a way that ensures both parties are available at the same time.
How can you fix this? By using the information that you have learned to create a better scheduling process. So next time rather than playing phone tag like we did back in the 80s, you can use email.
Put a scheduling link in the email with your law firm’s availability. The client see’s the availability and schedules a time. You get an email confirmation. This happens without even having to pick up the phone.
Your system just got better. This frees up time. This process may just free up six minutes a day. If you tweak other systems to make them more efficient this can mean 1 extra hour of day.
Over the years, this can ad up to hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. As a lawyer coach, I am really big on the idea of the aggregation of marginal gains. Smalls changes over time can result in dramatic improvements.
I coach clients to develop systems that deal with every aspect of the practice. From banking, to trial prep, to reporting letters and initial communication. Small improvements in each of these areas will result in big changes in your bank account.
Now let’s imagine that you have a system for reaching clients that is based on knowing the best time and best way to contact them.
You know the best time to contact them because you have another intake system where you ask this information. When it comes time to book an appointment, you know that you should call your client’s mother because he works night shifts.
You call her, she books the appointment on his behalf, and everything works as planned.
Maximize Your Earnings With a Profit-minded Attorney Coach
Good lawyers are not always the best paid. In fact, I know many good lawyers that are too busy lawyering to get paid for it. Just like anything else, law is a business. If you are not pro-active about collecting your fee’s you will not collect them.
Hundred dollar discounts and receivables add up to thousands, tens-of-thousands, and hundreds-of-thousands over time. Reminders, interim-billing, and notices go along way in ensuring that you collect.
Your approach to getting paid should be as deliberate and conscientious as your approach to client representation. Exceptional service should be exceptionally compensated.
You Must Know Your Worth
As a new lawyer I was often hesitant and almost ashamed to charge what my services were worth. Clients would haggle with me, telling me that their case was a big case and a great opportunity for me to “get experience” and make a name for myself.
I spent the first few years of my practice with a massive imposter complex. Over time, I realized that it was impossible for me to convince a client to pay me an amount that I did not even believe I was worth.
The beliefs that I had about myself as a lawyer showed through to the way I ran my practice. Many times our approach to both business and life is governed by the way we view ourselves. This is further discussed in this blog.
I coach lawyers to to asses their identity. Are they business people in law or lawyers that so happen to have a business. A simple shift from being just a lawyer to being a chief executive attorney can make a dramatic difference.
Lawyer Marketing Coach
My coaching is primarily focused on business development, marketing and advertising. There is a lot that we are not taught in law school. My approach is to inform you of the things that you don’t know that you are unaware of.
We then work together to create a process for you to attend to the deficiencies that we find.
Call me for a free consultation. You have absolutely nothing to lose. I guarantee that what you learn will open your eyes to a whole new way of practicing that most lawyers don’t know exist.