I’m a young lawyer. I started law school in 2010, which was a scary time to be entering the profession. Jobs had disappeared and a scarcity mindset had taken root. I was relieved when I managed to find work, first as an appellate clerk, and then at several mid-size Seattle firms. But relief and satisfaction are two very different things and, after three years in private practice, I still wasn’t satisfied with my firm job.
So, just last August, I quit and started a solo practice[…]
Post author Mark Tyson found that going solo was the right choice for him. Why?
You can (and will) master the business of law
You’ll have to learn, by necessity, how to write a business plan, develop a marketing strategy, create key performance indicators, track conversion rates, and so much more. You’ll make lots of mistakes and learn from them along the way.
Being a solo allows you to lead with your values
I value organizations devoted to social and cultural enrichment. To support these organizations, I incorporated a sliding-scale fee model into my pricing structure, which allows me to offer reduced rates to those who need services but can’t necessarily pay market rates.
You are free to be creative
Writing interesting and useful content has been the creative outlet I hoped to find as a lawyer… I enjoy writing, so it rarely feels like a chore to blog, especially when a new prospect calls after reading my latest, or when one of my posts hits the first page on Google.
I only help clients I truly care about
When I opened my firm, I got some advice that’s shaped my approach to marketing: “Tell at least one person a day who your ideal client is.” The directive is to be bold, yes, but also targeted in your marketing. You’re not just looking for anyone who’s willing to pay your fee—you want someone who’s a good fit for you.
Mark’s main takeaway: Starting your own firm means battling insecurity every day, but the satisfaction is well worth it.
From a big picture perspective, all three choices are valid. What they lack is a reasonable chance of success.
You can greatly improve the odds of achieving your goals by taking these three simple steps:
Create measurable goals
Write your goals down!
Have I written about this before? Yes, indeed. But a reminder never hurts!
Create Measurable Goals
If your goals and objectives aren’t measurable, how will you know if you succeeded? It’s easy to say “I want to grow my client base,” because this statement can mean so many different things: you want to increase revenue, open more client files, or start taking on clients in a new area of law. Perhaps keeping your goals fuzzy is a way of feeding a tendency to procrastinate or avoid identifiable failure ….
If you want to grow your client base, start by articulating what this means to you.
Let’s say your goal is to increase new client retention by 10%. Start by assessing your success in converting clients (new clients interviewed vs. new clients who retain you as their lawyer). If your conversion rate is less than 75%, it is time for introspection and some retooling. What issues are you facing?
Do you need to bolster your confidence? Finding support through peer groups or counseling may make a big difference.
Perhaps you need to learn more about a specific area of law so clients are assured of your knowledge. Contact the Oregon State Bar and Professional Liability Fund. Access OSB BarBooks, download PLF Forms, attend CLEs, join Bar Sections, and read pertinent publications.
Maybe you can benefit from polishing your client interviewing skills or learning more about client needs? Find a mentor, reach out to colleagues, search this blog for posts on client relations and marketing – there are a ton of resources available in this area if you ask. It may be as simple as observing your mentor or asking her to sit in on your client interviews (screen for conflicts; get client permission).
Identify the challenges – there may be several – then dial down. Create a series of measurable steps to help you achieve your goal of increasing client retention by 10%. Be concrete and set time limitations. Here are examples from a prior post.
Continue developing additional specific, measurable steps you can take to improve client retention.
Putting pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) is an inescapable part of making your goals more real, concrete, and achievable. You can improve your chances even more by keeping your goals visible: a sheet kept on your desk, a series of post-its on a bathroom mirror, or saving a screen grab to your desktop or mobile device.
So if I write a text or send an email to a friend,
“Hi Sheila, I’m setting goals for my law practice this year. One of my objectives is to read the OSB Family Law BarBook cover-to-cover by June 1. I need you to hold me accountable for getting this done. Can I send you weekly progress reports?”
and my friend holds me to my promise of sending weekly progress reports, there is a 76% likelihood I will follow through? I’m on board! Naturally you can buddy-up on this idea: find a colleague with whom you can exchange goals and weekly progress reports. You will both benefit by holding the other accountable.
Get underway with the process of goal setting, marketing plans, and business development by accessing the great resources available on the PLF website. Choose Practice Management, then Forms. Under “filter by category,” select “Marketing.”
You can make this happen. Commitment and follow through make all the difference.
Last Call to Register for “7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships”
Join me for a CLE on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 about how to cultivate your network, balance client expectations, proactively control social media content, meet client needs, and become more client-centric by exploring the 7 steps to building better client relationships:
Capturing better clients
Polishing communication skills
Advancing client service through technology and staff
Managing social media
Improving client satisfaction
Strengthening client retention
Topics include how to CYA the right way, how to say “no” gracefully, dos and don’ts when responding to negative online reviews, how to thank clients as part of your everyday, the simple six-step process to stay in touch, and why you should modernize fee arrangements and billing.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time. This is a live, online webinar.
Who Should Attend?
Lawyers, office administrators, or staff – anyone interested in building better client relationships.
Discounts available to firms who wish to register 5 or more attendees. Contact organizer to arrange a discount code before registering: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does the Program Include Written Materials?
Yes. Written materials are distributed electronically with your registration confirmation.
Ask Questions/Live Polling
Questions are welcome during the live event. Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.
$25 – Visit the Upcoming CLE page, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.
1.50 practical skills pending.
Video and audio recordings of 7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships will be available to download along with the program materials following the December 6 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me or visit my online CLE store after December 6.