Since it is the first of the year, it is still great fun to talk about money!  Last blog you got on it and created a plan to find out if you were meeting your monthly nut.  Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few hints or “sound bits” that you might do immediately and make more money.

  1.  RAISE YOUR FEES:  Even a small increase of fees will bring you substantially more revenue.  Its January and the perfect time to tell your clients that its time to raise fees. Or, don’t tell them until you start doing it and ask if they want to pay you a retainer now at the old fee scale.  Money will go into your trust account and be reimbursed if it isn’t used but it will be accessible immediately, saving your wait time.
  2. PAY YOURSELF FIRST:  This is one of the oldest but wisest tips for earning more.  When you get revenue put 10% of it in a  interest earning (LOL) bank account that is sacrosanct and don’t touch it.
  3. NEVER DO ANY WORK THAT YOU CAN HIRE OUT AT LESS THAN YOUR NORMAL HOURLY FEE AMOUNT.  This is one of the hardest but best advice I could give you.  First decide how much your hourly worth is.  Please say at least $200.  Then look around and see if you are doing anything that is not going to increase your revenue for less than that amount.  In other words, networking and marketing will produce your correct hourly rate so its worth $200 an hour to do it!  But doing your own accounts and taxes that can be done by an accountant at $40 an hour is not worth your time or effort!
  4. BUDGET,BUDGET,BUDGET.  Look over that P & L statement each month and see if you can find any places that you can reduce your expenses.
  5. HIRE A LEGAL COACH.  We can always save you money with careful planning and increasing your revenue!!!!!




Review your income and expenses in 2015 NOW.  Yes, I know you don’t have to do taxes for a few more months but this is really important.  Also label expenses or categorize them so you can see where your money went.  Be brutal and don’t let anything get by.  Can you tell how much you spent on designer coffee?  How much for gym or classes? What was your overhead total? How much was spent on marketing?

Now go through and mark each expense as N. Necessary or NN. Not Necessary. Look at the N’s and see if all or part of that expense was not really necessary and mark it.  N is things like rent, reasonable food, gas, phone, gas, car expense, etc.

Look at the bottom line.  Did you make enough money to cover your expenses this year?  Did you incur any debt? If so how much?


First, take another look at the NN expenses.  How many can you cut out altogether or decrease?  How many of the N expenses might be reduced, if even slightly?

When you have done this as Step 1, you will be able to see if you can set your 2016 goals to recover at least as much income as your 2015 revenue.  If not, then onto Step 2.

This is about finding out how much more income you need to make in 2016.  Look at your overall short fall for 2015.  How much was that?  Do you want to add any expenses to 2016?  At this point, you need to figure out a good estimate as to what  income you need to generate in 2016.

Some insightful authors have determined that to be at our happiest as attorneys we need to make $70,000 a year.  Does this seem reasonable to you?  This figure is, of course, balanced with having less income but more happiness and work/life balance.  If you are willing to take this information at face value, it may be a place to start your next year’s budget.  It means you won’t have so many goodies but more time to enjoy the ones you already have.

So, all of this is your decision.  UGH

I have found that this is a really simple way to look at your financial situation.  We’re not talking about saving for retirement or anything else at this point. Just how did you do money-wise last year.  Debt reduction and proper savings come later.  This exercise should be done at least once a year.  Now is a great time.


If you can decide this upfront, you can get whatever you want or need.  It’s as simple as that. 

The catch is that you have to come up with a wished for result that is reasonable and available.  I can’t ask that the result I want is to become a star ballerina within a year’s time (or a life time) because that is not reasonable nor achievable for me.  I could ask, however, that I become a good salsa dancer in a year’s time and that is achievable if I am willing to plan carefully and be committed to my goal.

You ask, how is this different from setting a goal?  Good question. Answer is that you have an “end” to work back from and are clear about what you want.  This makes goal setting much easier and more rewarding because you know exactly what you want the goal to materialize into.

Try this out with your New Years Resolutions.  Exercise is usually one of the biggies in this area.  End result might be that you want to be able to enter a half marathon in a year.  That result will then put you on a goal track to achieve the endurance to do it.  Can you see why you might get a bigger commitment to exercise if you see yourself running a marathon at the end rather than just forcing yourself to go to the gym?

THINK BIG.  I am finding more and more in my coaching practice that clients aren’t thinking on a big enough scale. It’s just as easy to plan for a 50% increase in revenue as it is to set up goals for a 10% increase.  It might be less scary to go for a lower figure but you are more likely to succeed by shooting higher. There is still success in reaching a 30% goal and adding a 20% goal the next time.

RIGHT NOW take pen and paper or iPad and decide one result you want in the next three months.  Write that result down and look at it at least once a day.  Tell it to one person.  Send it to me. I’d like to see it.  I guarantee that just doing this step will excite a few of those pesky neurons to act.


***One of your New Years Resolution is to set up a 15 minute conversation to see if we might be a good fit to collaborate on your future as a better lawyer.

See my website for directions on how to do this. My Website


When thinking about a subject for my blog this week, I decided to take the plunge and discuss that I really believe that most of the lawyers I meet don’t aim high enough.  The goals they start out with are ones they can easily reach. True, many of them never even reach those, but I am now thinking that is because they are dull and boring and don’t excite the spirit enough to be committed to actualizing them.

What about if instead of just wanting more revenue, the lawyer’s umbrella goal (read my book for an explanation) was to become a judge?  Certainly if the lawyer were in desperate financial shape that might not be appropriate but there are many attorneys out there who only think they need more income.

Wouldn’t the juices start flowing if it could be shown that a high lofty goal would benefit the attorney in more ways than simply lock stepping into traditional goal setting.  Simply overcoming the resistance to thinking BIG will build confidence.  This confidence then can be spread down into the attorney’s everyday life.

One of the valuable tools I present to coaching clients is to discuss how many more years of productive work lies ahead for each.  A twenty five year old has 45 years if his/her health holds out.  The fifty year old still has 20 years in this day and age. That doesn’t mean full time work all those years and there may be some break in time for children, etc. but the law allows us to work will into our “later years”. We are then EXPERIENCED ATTORNEYS.

When lawyers think in terms of years, they can begin to see that they have quite a bit of time to make changes and morph into lots of ways.  Thinking of how far one could go in that time, is exciting.

I think I have been guilty of this myself.  I often just plan for the next year and I used to plan just to survive. This is no fun.  I’ve decided I’m going to reach very high (maybe not president!) but set some realistic but a lot higher goals than I have been working on.  Want to take this journey with me?   Give me a call at 831 466-9132 and we’ll talk about it.


We have all run into people who have real trouble with commitment. And NO I don’t just mean men about marriage.  I find the ones even more irritating that say YES to a goal or project but only last a week or so before being no longer committed.  Even more frustrating are the passive aggressive types who keep saying yes but never do any work on the goal or project.

We all sometimes commit to too much and we have to withdraw.  It is perfectly acceptable to explain your reasons once you see the error of taking on the assignment in the first place.  This is the adult way of handling the escape.

But let’s look at the mere fact of a belief that you could never be over committed.  What a thought!  There is that saying that “it is best to give a job to a very busy person because they will get it done”.  This holds true because that “very busy person” is usually brilliant at TIME MANAGEMENT.

I love the concept that we all have as much time as President Obama or Beyonce. That means that each of us has 24 hours in a day.  What we do with those hours is our choice.  Even more importantly, lawyers sell their time.  Even those lawyers working for a set salary, work for a certain number of hours every day producing results which are services, not products. How they arrange those hours results in what they produce.

Always being fascinated with the Renaissance, I have trouble equating how little new ideas, art, music, etc. we produce today with what they were able to produce during that time period. How could Michelangelo paint, sculpt, invent, design architecture and do all the things he did in the same amount of time that we have today?  And what about Napoleon who as commanding an army at 19 years old? Do you think either of those two felt over committed?

Let’s take a look at your life.  Sure, you probably played  a lot more and have a better life balance than these two gentlemen but what more could you have accomplished if you had better organized your life?  Someone said (and I don’t remember who) that a life unexamined is a life not worth living.  That’s a little harsh but I would challenge you to take a few minutes each day to examine your life.

  • Are you doing what you want?
  • Do you have growth goals in place?
  • Are you taking care of yourself?
  • Are you doing important things?

That’s your job this week.  Next week we will look at how each of us might find a better way of organizing or live so that we, too, can create extraordinary results.  What FUN!


What that means in legal terms is changing or adding a different area of the law to your practice.   Below is a reprint of an article I did in my former column as Philida, the Oracle  for BIG NEWS FOR SMALL FIRMS, State Bar Publication.  Good information here:


Dear Philida,

I opened my solo practice three years ago doing social security work which I had previously done as a law clerk. I would now like to expand my business in bankruptcy. Do you have any suggestions about how I can become competent in the field as I don’t have much time or money at this point.

Puzzled in  Long Beach


Dear Puzzled,

And probably perplexed. This is like starting a new practice and holds all the good, bad and ugly parts with the additional piece that you also have to keep your other practice going strong.

My suggestions are: First, find a mentor. Look for someone, maybe in your Bar Association, who has been doing bankruptcy for a long time and doesn’t feel that helping an attorney will be competition. Or someone a little out of your geographical area where you wouldn’t be competing. Find out what it takes to set up a practice.

Next, make a list of your major expenses. One would be buying new software (find out from your mentor which is the best). Another would be a budget for classes you need to take and groups that you need to join. Also you will need some funds for advertising and marketing. This would include expanding your web site. Be realistic. Decide where this money will come from. Do you need a small loan? With interest rates so low right now, it might be time to go to your local Credit Union. They frequently have small loans available without collateral for small businesses. You will have to give them a business plan but that would be good for you to do anyway.

Find out what pro bono services for bankruptcy there are in your community. These are usually legal aid or other types of low cost legal clinics. Volunteer so that you can learn the fundamentals of the business and work on real cases with supervision. Your mentor, especially if he/she is very busy, may let you come into the office and work on cases pro bono ( or at a minimum rate).

Last, find out who are the “ players” in bankruptcy in your community. Go to your local Court and meet some of the lawyers and judges that work there. Sit in on a couple of hearings.

Gear up to spend considerably more time and energy on your practice. You may be working evenings and weekends for awhile but it will all be worth it as you have already proven yourself to be a productive lawyer and good business person if you have had a solo practice for three years. It is now just a matter of building on the skills you already possess. Also, you have picked a good parallel area to open a practice because your social security clients (old and new) will be a great referral source. When you are ready, be sure to do a giant mailing with follow ups to all of them.

Puzzle Solved ( how bold I am!)



Sorry, I missed yesterday.  I know you are all waiting with bated breath (that’s holding your breath in fear. I just looked it up) for my new blog.  So here goes:

I asked myself as I coach more and more attorneys, what holds back attorneys from working their goals.  You have to understand that as a collaboration, the client and I set goals that are derived from what he or she wants to accomplish.  That is the client’s decision in coaching.  So if he or she and I have an agreement that working those goals will make the client richer, happier, more successful, have more leisure time, or whatever else they want, why doesn’t the attorney work them?

What happens time after time, that many clients have some reason that the goals are not even started.  Not to instill guilt because that is not healthy, but I ask myself what the heck is going on?

Now, we do know that some people don’t really like to set goals. The Myers/Briggs Temperament system can spot those people and we can work with them a little differently.  However, still if a person is scattered and not focused , it is extremely difficult to be successful.  For example if a solo is trying to practice in too many areas of the law, this can be not only unsuccessful but very anxiety producing.   Think of all the different target markets to solicit and all the different laws to learn.  It is a disaster waiting to happen.

Good time management needs to be leaned and used.  The discipline to plan a calendar out the week before seems overwhelming to some but is the bedrock of getting a lot done without a great deal of anxiety. Everyone who is a lawyer found a way to get through law school and pass the bar.  This took the same kind of time management. So why are many attorneys so resistant to learning and using time management on a consistent basis?

Probably the answer comes in very personal ways, such as:

  • To be held accountable for accomplishing something in a given time produces anxiety when its not done. Better to never start at all.
  • Better not to start something that they might not finish.
  • Better to keep putting goals off to do when there is a “better time”.
  • Better to fail so that people can’t expect more.

These are just a few of the answers I’ve come up with.  I’m sure there are plenty more.  Do you see yourself in any of this?  If so, let me know.  I can help. 


Last week we talked about work/life balance and the draw that lawyering has on your time. This week let’s talk about expectations of other folks that may also put that work/life balance out of wack.

How many people go to law school because Mom or Dad thinks its a good idea?  Quite a few.  Mom and Dad would be proud to have a lawyer in their family to brag about, even if it is not the ideal job for the son or daughter.  Many times its the line of least resistance to just accept the support they would get from your family in going to law school instead of insisting on their own choices of career.

Think about how work/life balance can really get upset when the work part is something that you hate to do. Yet, we all know many attorneys who really don’t like their work life.  In my coaching, I find that sometimes it is not actually the lawyering part they hate but the area of the law that they are practicing.  This is fairly easy to fix.  The real problem comes when one day the attorney wakes up and says, I want to be an artist, plumber, surgeon or anything but an attorney.

Usually by this time, the attorney has a student loan to pay off, maybe a mortgage and children to raise.  To make a dynamic shift in career is really taking a chance and involves great risk. This is the time that we as coaches suggest that the attorney explore his or her support system and find out what kind of back up there might be for drastic changes.  Many people have been surprised when the spouse has said “I would love to go back to work.  You can take care of the kids and save day care costs. Then you can go to school at night or explore the alternative careers you might like to pursue.”  Or they may find that there really is no support for this change other than their close friends.

Then this is the time to seek out attorneys who have made drastic changes in their professional life and find out how they did it.  These are the people that are going to give them support and ideas about how to go about a change.  They may even find groups of people who have done this and have really good advice for them.

This is also the time for brainstorming.  We, in America, have so many different opportunities that sometimes just uncovering what might be available (even from crazy advice) is a clue to how to solve our problems.  Keeping an open mind and a resolution that they deserve a happy work life is tantamount to truly having work/life balance.

So, we can all celebrate with Ma, I Did It!  I gave myself permission to make myself happy by doing whatever it takes to follow my own path!   


Many times while coaching attorneys I forget to ask if they are feeling lonely. BAD COACH!  This is really a vital question to be asking yourself on a regular basis.  Loneliness leads to doing strange things like getting mixed up with toxic people or drinking or taking drugs. Something to fill the emptiness is a big incentive to grab at the first thing that might make you feel better.

The truth is that lawyers have to go out of their way to build a support group early in their career.  Immediately out of law school, the focus is on getting a job which frequently entails long lonely hours of work.  Recreation and friends are frequently put aside. This is a recipe for disaster.  Friends and even family begin to come second.  This is one of the reason  why there are so many divorces in law school and soon after.

Or there is the scenario where the lawyer is finally established and looks around and sees that he or she is essentially just plain lonely.  There may be colleagues at work but they mostly talk business.  Nothing really personal happens with them.  Humans need personal human contact on a regular basis, not just when they are babies.

If a lawyer wants to create a family or have a life partner, he or she can’t keep putting that aside and hope that the exact right time will come along. We all know, that it rarely happens that way.

So what are some proactive things you can do to keep loneliness at bay:

  • Check in frequently to see if you are feeling lonely.
  • Look at your time and see how you are spending it.
  • See if you can determine why you are lonely. Poor work/life balance, laziness, a little OCD with your job, or whatever else may be producing this feeling.
  • Stop being a lawyer for some part of each day.  If all you can talk about is your job, then you are really limiting your ability to connect with all the other humans who are not lawyers.
  • Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. Start planning how to accomplish these wishes.
  • Begin to smile more.  Smile at strangers.  Make connections.
  • Locate old friends on Facebook.  Have a coffee date and see what happens.
  • Join at least one group where they talk to each other. This may be a book club, a discussion group, a men’s or women’s group, a church function or wherever you can find people to connect with.
  • Take a class that is not about law.  Colleges have all kinds of interesting classes for the community to take. I learned to paint by taking some of these classes at a junior college and met a lot of nice people.
  • Reconnect with your family( at least the members you like).

Try some of these things.  See what might work for you.  If you are an introvert, push yourself a little to start doing things that make you happy.  That is your assignment for this week.


As Steve Jobs said: “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been NO for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”.

This actually sounds like a great idea.  That question should give you a good idea if you are at least contented with your work.  If not, then just answering NO, even if it is only to the mirror, is not a solution.

There are several steps you need to take:

  • Determine exactly what is it about the work that you dislike. This is easier said than done.  Is it the clients? Is it the actual work? Is it your co workers or boss?  Is it the stress? Not enough income?  exactly what is it?
  • Next, determine what you do like about your work.  This is usually easier.
  • Take one of the items you have determined you don’t like about your work.  For instance, maybe it is the long hours and the stress that produces.  Ask yourself if this item could change would I want to go to work?
  • If the answer is still NO, go onto the other items you have identified and ask yourself that same question.
  • What you are trying to do with this exercise is see if small changes could make you happier or if you have to chuck the whole thing and start over again with a complete change.
  • If changing individual items could produce a better environment, then begin to work on those. If you don’t like the long hours and stress, can you re-frame that by making less income? Can you delegate more?  Do you have someone in your organization you can talk this over with?
  • If you come up against a lot of push back or negative feedback with a small item, it may develop into a large item that needs significant change but you won’t know unless you begin.

By doing this exercise you should be able to determine if enough change can be realized to allow you to stay in your present situation.  If not, then you need to start looking for another job.  Face this fact.  Don’t make excuses.

Take the time to plan exactly what will make you want to get up and go to work each morning.  Work with a coach or create a step by step plan to find a way to grow in what you want your life to be.

Most importantly, don’t let yourself get into another job where you will be doing this exercise again in a year!

Keeping up with our June review, next week we’ll look at feeling lonely and how to make a fuller life for yourself.