This is only the beginning of four years of doing everything we can to uphold the Constitution and our civil rights and more important, save our children’s future!
I have, for the past few years, made this blog about giving attorneys things to think about during each week and hints about actions they can take to make their practices better. I have the overwhelming need now to change direction, at least for awhile, to keep my audience aware of what they can do each week to resist the destruction of our beautiful nation.
This week Paul Ryan’s office is conducting a phone poll and wants to hear overwhelming opposition to the Affordable Care Act. So here’s what to do: call (202)225-0600 and press 2. You will then hear instructions to press 1 if you continue to support ACA or press 2 if you don’t support continuation. There are a lot of other people calling in, so be patient and keep trying. This doesn’t mean that you might feel the ACA needs tweaking but the basics need to stay in place. Please press “1” and send a message. Thanks to my friend Elena Nini Cohen for this information.
Many people are telling you to contact your senator and congressperson. Living in California and in Santa Cruz, my representatives are aware of what the majority of their constituents are wanting them to do. This is why I think it is important that each individual takes the responsibility of acting each week to keep the values of the Women’s March alive and well.
You might also want to follow THINK PROGRESS on the internet and facebook. The publication has hired 2 investigators to give us blow by blow accounts of Trump’s actions which are destructive for all humanity. They are looking to hire 2 more investigators and are about $40,000 short of being able to do that.
I hope you will continue with me in this journey of resistance!
So all you nice people who read my blog can be assured that after I spend time with my children and grandchildren and old friends, I’ll return with an outstanding blog for Monday, January 2, 2017. How did it get to be 2017 without my knowing it?
So, here’s wishes you all the best Holiday you deserve in this terrible time of trouble in our beautiful country. Rest assure, we will not let those idiots ruin the climate change agenda and we will continue to fight for the rights of all humans. That’s my pledge for the New Year and I hope it is yours.
LOVE, PEACE, TOLERANCE AND JOY TO ALL WHO DESERVE IT
As the year comes to an end, you know I like to give advice about how to handle the new year. Well, this year is no different. Both you and your clients have had some real difficult times and some very unique challenges this past year. Between the stock market behavior , job problems and the election debacle, doom and gloom has run rampant. Many lawyers have suffered significant disruption of their businesses as clients and employers try to keep their heads above water.
Now, some of the experts tell us that the recession has turned around. Other experts tell us that there is more disruption to come as the government goes crazy.Whatever happens, guess what? WE STILL ALL HAVE THAT PIECE OF PAPER THAT SAYS WE ARE LAWYERS! Most people in the world don’t have that piece of paper. We have infinite possibilities to use that piece of paper to not only provide us with a living but to give us job satisfaction as well.
In line with that thinking, for many of you it may well be time to review your work situation and make decisions about how you might want to change your practice in the coming year. Take a minute and do a quite survey about your present career situation by answering the following questions:
Am I making enough money to cover my business and personal expenses?
Am I making enough money to fund my retirement account each month?
Do I like to go to work each day?
Do I like the people I work with?
Do I like most all of my clients?
Can I get my work done in 40-50 hours a week?
Do I have enough time for my family each day?
Do I exercise enough?
Am I eating a healthy diet?
Am I taking enough classes to keep up to date in my practice areas?
Do I often feel lonely?
Do I have mentors?
Do I play and have fun on a regular basis?
OK, OK, you get the idea. If you answered NO to a lot of these questions, then you need to start on your New Year’s resolutions early. Think of change ( which is scary) as MORPHING. Morph yourself into a more fulfilling career.
How do you do this? Look at the “nos” above. Now decide one thing you could do today to start changing that answer to a “yes”. Some people call that shifting your outlook. Yes, it takes work and focus but its certainly better than being whiny ( you know I hate that) and depressed. Call me. I’d love to discuss 2017 with you.
Wishing you all a glorious and prosperous New Year…..
I’M FINALLY COMING OUT OF MY POLITICAL FUNK. HOW ABOUT YOU? OR ARE YOU STILL WITH YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND AND TRYING TO WAIT TO COME OUT UNTIL THINGS GET BETTER?
One of the things that helped me come back to the world of the living was to decide what actions I could take to fight the obvious screwed up thinking of many American voters. I started with a subject that I have written about previously which was Why Do People Choose to Do Things that Injure Themselves? Why would someone not take a life saving drug? Why do people vote for something directly opposed to their self interest?
The drug analogy came from an article that I read and also from my Ophthalmologist who has me on eye drops that slows and maybe even stops Glaucoma if taken every day. Malcom Gladwell wrote about this saying that, as I recall 35% of the people who need this drug, don’t use it every day. It is clear, if you use the drops you won’t get Glaucoma, if you don’t use the drops you will get Glaucoma because it has already been determined that you have the beginning signs of the disease. Blindness is the result. Isn’t that a heck of an analogy to our present situation!
Now we come to why people vote against what would be best for them. The basic answer I believe, is that they do not take the time to be informed about the facts of their decision. I was appalled at the latest news that the internet is allowing “false” news to be broadcast. Unfortunately, both CNN and Fox News were guilty of this. Most people now rely on the internet for their news. They expect the entity publishing the news to have fact checked it. If that were true, how did we get a report that Clintons had a child porno ring at their home? At least this was a news story that people might question. More insidious was the half fact/half truth stories that came out. They sounded real, and lots of Americans bought them.
Also the news media needs to be held accountable for making an obviously unsuitable candidate seem suitable by giving his campaign so much coverage. He didn’t even have to buy ads, because he was getting so much coverage. Also none of the media (except a few) did any fact checking before publishing what they found to be “news”. This was all done in the name of GREED for selling their product.
Bottom line however, as an example, is still why would people vote for closing down immigration and deporting millions and other stupid ideas? Americans all came here first as immigrants. Everyone single American, except the indigenous peoples, can trace their ancestry back to another country. Also, from this kind of legislation comes all sorts of bad laws that will affect our society. China, Japan and India will not be sending their best people for those high level jobs because of the new laws. We will all suffer a “brain drain”. Immigrants who have lived here since they were babies, live in constant fear. Families who have been here for sometimes 30 years, working, paying taxes and contributing to our society, will be separated and sent back to a country they escaped from and found a better life. Again, don’t be stupid, these people will find a way to come back to their US families, wall or no wall. If Americans were more informed about our present immigration laws, they would know that it is arduous to obtain a green card and certainly, if a immigrant commits a crime they are sent back to their country already! You can fact check this or take my word as a former immigration attorney….I insist you fact check!
So my job now is to stand up as soon as I see our beautiful Constitution being threatened and to hopefully find a way to harass the internet to be a strong proponent for the truth. I will keep you posted as I find out the most effective ways to do this.
THANKS FOR LETTING ME RANT……I FEEL BETTER ALREADY.
I came across an interesting topic about the question of “Should I do stuff as a lawyer for free?”. This is a little beyond basic pro bono work which is almost a requirement for most attorneys. This explores more the areas of doing volunteer work as well as free seminars, etc.
Let’s step back from this seemingly innocuous question and ask ourselves what is the motive behind doing free work? Is it to obtain more clients? Is it to make ourselves feel better? Is it because of guilt? Are we looking to impress someone? Or do we just want to do something with our friends that isn’t straight legal work?
The reasons behind what we do each day is very important and will guide us into success or failure. If we coldheartedly go out to try and persuade colleagues and clients that we are doing works because we are true caring individuals, this doesn’t work. Somewhere along the line, if not done for the right reasons, the truth will emerge, especially when the going gets tough.
Then, what should our attitude be?
First of all, a bit of soul searching needs to take place. It is true that volunteering in organizations can produce clients and contacts as a by- product, but that must never be the main objective. It is also true that volunteering can relieve some of the day to day stress of being an attorney. This could be our main objective. Now the question arises, what is the difference? The volunteer organization is getting the same commitment and outcome so why should it matter?
The answer is how you feel. If you don’t get any new clients or leads, you will be disappointed and discouraged. If you get new clients and leads, you may feel guilt if that was the only reason you were doing good works and feel disappointed and discouraged. There is a greater chance that you will come out feeling badly if you are doing this for monetary reasons as your main objective. If, on the other hand, you have chosen the volunteer group on the basis that it will produce the most joy in your life, then more than likely good feelings will flow from your efforts, whether or not clients are forthcoming.
Now let’s talk about giving seminars or Blogging or tweeting. In these types of setting, we need to give value. The emphasis is not what we are getting but what we are giving. True, again we may be able to increase business this way, but just putting out self- serving tweets won’t do it. Focus on the audience, not what you have been told you should be saying. What do they want to hear? What could make their life easier or give them some new important information. This is the reason that Personal Injury attorneys need to be blogging about the safest cars and the rules concerning infant seats, not how many cases they have won. Probate attorneys need to look to informing the public about scams perpetrated on the elderly, not on their low rates for wills. IT attorneys about how to keep our computers out of the hand of hackers, not about the latest very expensive gadget. And on and on….
There is also the problem of expectations. If you go into an activity with the belief that you will get tangible rewards from doing good work, better take time to re evaluate the situation. The best way to approach free work is to have a very low expectation of what will be the personal result. The most effective way to think about this is that you are very likely to get good feelings as a by-product, not a direct known result.
And remember, it is called Free Work. It is WORK and you are not getting paid for it. Payment may not be in money but many times, we expect that we will gain respect or camaraderie from it. That may or may happen. One thing you can be sure about however, is that you will gain SELF RESPECT if you come with a truly open giving heart.
How about the attorney who is on an extremely limited budget? Is it realistic to expect pro bono work as well as volunteering? This is a large question and there has been rumors that some Bars are going to require Pro Bono work be reported. If this comes about all the problems associated with requiring that we work for no monetary or career gains will fail. Bad attitudes will disrupt any kind of good intentions. Let’s keep it so that when we feel able to give that we can do it with generosity and gratefulness for our choice.
Look, everyone in your target market is smiling. That should make you happy. Now what doyou sayto them?
FIRST OF ALL THE DON’TS:
Tell them how wonderful you are
Tell them how much you have accomplished
Tell them how much experience you have had
Tell them specifics about other clients
Tell them how much money you can make for them
Tell them that you can solve all their problems
WHAT TO DO:
Acknowledge their problem in specific terms
Outline the gap between where they are now and where you hear they want to be
Ask questions to get as much understanding of their needs as possible
Listen, listen and listen some more
Tell them you understand their problem and this is how you might be able to help
Tell them the ways that you have solved this problem for other clients in general terms
Ask them if they would feel comfortable in talking about how you would go about solving their problem
Ask them if they would feel comfortable talking about what you would need from them
Ask them if they would feel comfortable discussing the cost of the retaining you
IT’S A GOOD SIGN AT THIS POINT IF THEY ARE STILL SMILING
IF THEY ARE NOT SMILING:
Ask them what would make them feel better right now
Ask them if they have heard anything that bothers them
Ask what obstacles are standing in the way of working with you to solve this problem
IF THEY ARE STILL NOT SMILING:
Tell them it has been a pleasure talking with them
Tell them you hope that they find a solution to their problem
Tell them that if you can ever be of help in the future, to call you
Tell them that you hope they find a solution even if it with another attorney because you do see they need legal help
Wish them well
NOW LOOK BACK ON THE WHOLE CONVERSATION AND SEE WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER.
HOWEVER, IF THEY ARE STILL SMILING AS THEY SIGN THE RETAINER, TELL THEM HOW MUCH YOU APPRECIATION THEIR CONFIDENCE IN YOU AND THAT YOU WILL STRIVE TO GET THEM THE BEST POSITIVE OUTCOME TO THEIR PROBLEM.
Last week we went over some ideas in how to figure out who your target market(s) is.
THIS WEEK, WE ARE GOING TO FIND OUT HOW TO CONNECT AND ALLOW THOSE TMs TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND HOW YOU CAN HELP THEM.
There are a few rules that should be discussed before we begin:
Always identify what your main TM’s needs are before you start.
Be sure to get as much information as set out last week, about your TM before starting.
Identify any person or entity that your TM might go for legal advice or referral.
Designate these “gatekeepers” as a new TMs and devise a strategy to contact them in the same way you are doing for other TMs.
Widdle down your TM’s description to the specifics. Don’t worry about excluding anyone at this point.(for example- “People who don’t have a will or have an outdated one” TO “Parents who don’t have a will or have an outdated one” TO ” Parents who own their home and don’t have a will or have an outdated one.)
Ask yourself: What could I give to this TM that he/she can’t get anywhere else. (here it can be personal service like coming to their home or with the above example, it might be expert tax and wealth saving information).
Be creative. Think Outside the Box.
Decide what tangible small value you can give to your TM right away. (example: A planning booklet to keep all the necessary probate information in and to let their heirs know what’s available).
NEXT MAJOR PLANNING ITEM FOR YOUR MARKETING PLAN IS TO DETERMINE YOUR BRAND.
How are you going to brand yourself????? As an expert? As an experienced attorney who can save time and money? As a parent and care giver yourself who understands the needs of his/her client?
Whatever your BRAND may be, it should reflect and answer the needs of your TM. No client wants to hire an attorney who doesn’t know what they need and want. Use stories of past successful results to assure your potential client that you want to take care of his/her problems. You have the knowledge and the expertise to do it!
PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM TRYING TO MAKE MARKETING AS SIMPLE AND DIRECT AS POSSIBLE. AS YOU GO THROUGH THESE EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE KEEPING THEM SEPARATE FROM YOUR OTHER WORK. BE FOCUSED ON GETTING THAT GPS TO ALL THE CLIENTS YOU WANT. MORE NEXT WEEK……
I know you don’t want to hear this, but there are many attorneys who don’t really want to market themselves or their firm out of pure fear. Unfortunately, solo attorneys don’t have a choice and have to market their services or be working at a severe disadvantage.
Introverts especially don’t like to feel that they are “imposing” on others. So let’s look at some of the reasons that solos may be afraid to even do a marketing plan for their firm.
they feel their services are not worthy
they think that they might offend someone by asking for business
they think that they are entitled to business without having to extend themselves
they are afraid of the time it takes to market correctly
they don’t like to plan because then they have to try to meet goals
they don’t buy the notion that every solo has to be a marketing guru
they think that they don’t know how or have the skills to market
This last one leads to real trouble because frequently solos will spend big dollars to hire someone to market for them. Unfortunately, this only really works when the attorney knows how to market and exactly what he wants the outcome of the relationship with the “marketer” to be.
In other words, it is the preplanning of an entire marketing campaign that coordinates the various outlets (Linkedin, Avvo, website, blog, networking) with a targeting of your specific market that reduces the mistakes and overspending. Read my previous three blogs to get even more information.
If you are unsure how to market or your marketing is not working, it’s time to review what you are doing and to revise your marketing plan (or get one LOL). In this economic climate, the best way to do this is to not only take into consideration how you want to market, but what this diverse culture needs. Marketing to millennials is different from the people in Generation X, let alone Y.
GOT YOUR ATTENTION? HOW ABOUT IMMEDIATELY REVIEWING OR CREATING A SOLID MARKETING PLAN FOR YOUR FIRM. CALL ME IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS. I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY HELPED AT LEAST 100 LAWYERS WITH THIS!
I’ve always wanted to use that phrase because the media seems to use it to get your attention to buy stuff you don’t want!
However, I want you to “buy” my stuff. Why? Because coming out of denial and starting to market strategically and consistently is the way to increase your profit as well as your ultimate success.
For three weeks you have hopefully been reading about target markets and mission statements. But have you done any work about implementing them? This is where I hear solos saying they don’t have time, etc. I once heard that you have as much time as Beyonce! She gets a lot done and looks great.
A recent survey showed that Solos spend a majority of their time on practicing law. Here comes the UNTOLD TRUTH: You should be spending at least 45 to 50% on tasks that are important and not urgent. This includes marketing, planning and networking, not practicing law. This also includes keeping yourself healthy and not stressed out. (see Covey books on this). You don’t ignore the important and urgent tasks but those are calendared and completed, leaving a lot of your time open for the “business of your business”.
I also came across another survey attempting to locate what made attorneys happy. The most important thing was to have client contact. Guess what? You have to have clients to have contact. Feeling that you are helping someone is usually a very high priority of solos. The trouble is that you can’t have clients without proper marketing.
That brings us to the ULTIMATE MARKETING TASK….THE MARKETING PLAN. If you don’t have one then you are without your best GPS for finding business. You can wonder around the desert for days, weeks without a CPS in your car and you may finally get where you are going but with a lot more time and energy wasted by not having a step by step plan with a well defined end in place.
IF YOU WANT SOME HELP WITH YOUR MARKETING PLAN, GIVE ME A CALL. I WILL BE HAPPY TO DISCUSS WHAT YOU WANT AND HOW TO GET THERE.