Every lawyer wants to change something.  It might be a very small change, like not having to look for their keys every morning.  Or something big, like the area of law that they practice.

When you look at it, the small change seems simple.  Simply put a dish by the door and drop your keys in it when you come in and pick them up when you go out.  If you need to, do the same at your office.  Or always put them in a designated pocket.  It is a wonder that people will continue to spend valuable time looking for keys when 10 minutes of planning would eliminate that time waster.

Also some people like to organize and stop wasting time, other people could care less.  They might moan and whine but don’t have the energy or inclination to take the steps to change.  Some people feel so overwhelmed by the day to day activities that they don’t want to even look at the small annoyances in their lives, let along change them.


Now take this opportunity to decide how you will go about making this change:

  • Begin by writing down the small change you want to make.
  • Can you think of any reasons you have never tackled this problem?
  • Ask yourself, what is the advantage of not tackling this problem? Yes you might find that if you make the change, then you have to look at the big changes in your life.  Or maybe you would have to give up whining and getting other people to give you suggestions….which you never follow.
  • What specific steps do you have to take to make the change? Write those down.
  • Write down the date that you will complete the change.
  • Write down how you will feel after you make the change.

That’s the small change.  We’ll talk about the big change next week.  So stay tuned.


This is a question that really bothers me!   Since we now know that 25 years after we were told that Women Lawyers were making only 75% of Male Lawyers and that the statistics are still pretty much the same, we have been inundated with ways to be more like men.  I hate that! It’s not because I don’t like the way men act and don’t feel that they can teach us a lot but I feel like that view discounts what women can bring to the table that men don’t.

I recently heard a speaker say that because women lawyers ask questions after being given an assignment, that they are less likely to be seen as confident.  Men, on the other hand, just accept the assignment without asking for any further clarification or help and are then seen as more confident.  Something is really wrong with that scenario.

So this means if the women doesn’t ask questions in order to complete the assignment quicker and better, she is seen as not confident about her work?  Or is it because men know that they can get the support they need later if they have questions about the work?  More importantly, do men know they won’t be judged if they ask for further help but may be judged if they ask for help right away?  If so, how did they learn this?

This sounds reasonable but I have no answer.  I’m guessing that men don’t really have an answer either because it is such an unconscious known fact to them.  Or maybe they have been taught not to ask for further instruction very early on.

Let’s look at male team sports.  The coach says:”Now we are going to do a forward push right through their middle and wipe them off the map”.  Even if a new player has no idea what a “forward push” means or how to execute it, they certainly wouldn’t hold up the game by asking for a complete description of what to do next.

On the other hand, if a tennis coach says to a female athlete: ” Hit the ball, don’t push it”, the student may ask the coach to demonstrate it or to explain more in depth what pushing is.  Can you imagine a male student doing this?  So the genders are taught how to be confident differently.  Males by not clarifying and females by clarifying.  Adopting  techniques which are not inherent in our natures can only lead to trouble and we need to find a way to value both styles.



For the last couple of weeks we have been working on just plain old asking for what we want.  Now let’s explore asking a group for something we want.  Here we can use some of our techniques for public speaking to think about how to go about asking a group, which may contain strangers, what you want them to do for you.

You might think that it would be easier to ask a group of  people you know but truth is that it is harder.  Why?  Because you will want to keep up a good ongoing relationship.  Whereas with strangers, you will never see most of them again and their opinion of you doesn’t mean as much.

So what will be different?  With people you know, some will know your needs and others will not.  Let’s take the example of getting new business.  If you are dinner with 5 other friends how do you pose the statement: ” I need more clients”.  First, do all these friends know exactly what you do?  Do they know what kind of client you are looking for?  If not, you need to do some basic work to get everyone on the same page. There are several ways of doing this which should not seem intrusive. One way is to identify an area of your practice that you are promoting . Conversation could go something like:” I have recently noticed the need of my clients for a probate lawyer who understands special needs trusts. I am thinking of expanding my practice into that. What do you think?”  Then you can find out how many of your friends even know you do probate……If it becomes clear that your job is to let your friends know more about what you do, you have a platform to do that.

The basis of marketing is to be sure that your contacts know exactly what you do and how they can help you.  This starts with your elevator speech and mission statement.  Then it get expanded into your website and Linkedin image.  Then the next step is to take that information to as many people as possible.  Even your friends at a dinner deserve to have a short clear statement of what you do and what you want if you find that there is a lack of understanding. Remember people don’t know what you need if you don’t tell them.

So how do you ask a group of strangers for something?   Usually, the best kind of public speaking in marketing is by giving the audience something of value and not  selling yourself.  This takes some subtle maneuvering to make asking happen.  If you are presenting a wills, trusts and estate planning seminar for your community you will be able to give the audience not only advice but a wealth of materials to enlighten them about what they need for good planning.  But how do you tell them that they should sign up with you for their estate plans?  First by showing your competence.  Then by being open to their questions. Last by emphasizing the need for professional help.  This can be done through stories of people who have ignored their planning or done it on their own with really bad results.  The newspapers are filled with stories about celebrities whose beneficiaries  have suffered as a consequence.  Get creative.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas about ASKING AND GETTING.  Next task is to plan such an event. Either a dinner with a group of friends or a public speaking engagement.  Words are just words……until you take action.


Ever hear the old phrase “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”?    Well, its true.  Last week you were tasked with asking one person for what you wanted.  Did you do that?  Did you think about doing that?  Did you come up with excuses like I didn’t want anything or I couldn’t find a person to ask?

If you did, that is called PROCRASTINATION.  Everyone would agree that asking is a very good idea and have some belief in that there is a benefit in at least asking.  Yes, for some it is very hard to do.  Obviously we learned last week it is harder for women to ask.  However, what if women followed men’s lead and assumed that asking was creating good relationships.  Asking assumed that it was a welcome part of the relationship because there would be mutual giving on the other side.  Would this make it easier for women to ask?

Women and some men, may also feel like they have to “give” something first in order to ask.  Some ways this is a good idea to always be trying to find things of value for other people.  Zig Ziegler said something like ” If you find other people enough work, they will find you enough work”.  Keeping your eye out for business for your contacts is really good business for yourself.  I have had people tell me that this is manipulation.  No, it is a very nice thing to do, especially if you don’t expect immediate return or a return at all.

What about asking several people at once, like on Linkedin.  Now we get into if this is advertising or solicitation and if that is ethical.  I don’t advise anyone to solicit directly on social media without making sure that they have put all the required State Bar language in their “asking”.  Blanket asking on Social Media is really a no-no.  Specific requests are a bit different.  Same is true with List Serves.  But since they are limited to a special group, such as other attorneys, different rules apply.  If you ever have any questions, call the California State Bar Ethics Hotline.  They don’t give legal advice but are really helpful in locating the up to the minute law in these areas.

If you are really shy about asking, start out by asking the people you know will probably be able to give you what you want.  This might not be business but maybe more on a personal level.  How about asking your husband, wife or friend for a night out on the town going to a specific restaurant or club. Or a movie of your choice.  Some people find this even hard to do.  They would rather let the other person decide what they want to do or what movie they want to see.  Getting your way may take baby steps to achieve.

So, if you didn’t ask last week, ask this week.  This is the only way to find out that it works!!!!


Some attorneys, especially women, think that asking for business is right up there with being a really bad person.  The Yellow Paper Series at  published a recent article which followed a research project to find out if men were better at asking for business than women.  Guess what they found out.  They are.

Bottom line was that women felt that building relationships was a goal in itself while men felt that having a relationship was to produce business.  The men were thus producing more actual business than the women.  The study found that  men and women see the importance of networking and do about the same amount.  The difference is striking, however, in that the men produce results in the form of business at a 8/10 ration while the women did it at a ratio of 2/10.

When questioned closely in the study, it was found that the women found that they had guilt about asking for business from the relationship that they had developed.  One woman said “I almost did. I almost asked for business, but I felt guilty like I had been using him all along just to get business.  It caused me too much stress, so I didn’t ask.”

Not surprising the men didn’t have the same concerns.  If they didn’t ask for business it was because of business concerns, such as inability to provide business in return.  Most illuminating was the find that women perceived the ask as selfish whereas the men saw it as something that could benefit both parties.  So there seems to be a a difference in the idea of reciprocity between genders.  How interesting!

Another conclusion was that women felt like they were asking while the men felt like they were telling the other party what they could do for them.  Women were uncomfortable asking and possibly didn’t lacked confidence in being able to provide help to the other party.

So what can be done about this disparity?  As always, first women need to recognize that asking for what you want is not something that you should feel guilty about.  It is a business tradition.  Carefully looking at the concept that one shouldn’t “use” another person for self gain, seems to open up a lot of questions as to where that comes from.  Are women less worthy of getting what they need and want than men?  If so, where did that come from? Are men perpetrating this or are women just buying how they think they should act?

There is no doubt that many women feel uncomfortable in an assertive mode.  They don’t want to be called “bossy” or that other “b” word.  Asking for business certainly involves being assertive.  Another way to look at this is that women don’t give the other person the opportunity to say yes or no.  They are so concerned with what the other person may think about them, that they don’t allow the other person to be a grown up and respond.  How screwy is that?

Your TASK for this coming week is to ask one person who you already have a relationship with for business or support.  This is a good one for both men and women.  See how you feel, see what the response is and finally, see what you get……what fun!