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.


Last week we went over some ideas in how to figure out who your target market(s) is.


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).


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!




So you have taken a week to absorb my last blog and to reflect on EXACTLY who your target market(s) is. Next………

I’m sure you’ve been told the next step is to find out where your target market hangs out, what they read, etc.


  • First, step into their shoes.  Again let’s take the example from last week about the probate, wills, trust attorney. If you were to target market(TM) the young family market, pretend you have just started a family(or remember when you did) and begin a journal about what your concerns are.  I think you will find Mothers have different worries than Fathers.  Also people who are starting their families later in life are in a different situation.   Think about any differences in concerns for that age group? Write this in your journal.
  • Instead of just finding out what the TM is reading, read it yourself.  Buy a parent magazine and see what the subjects are about.  Check out Amazon and find out what books young families s are buying. Read them. Put the information you find out in a separate part of your journal.
  • If you know a new family, interview them. Tell them you are writing an article on what worries new parents the most. To make this sincere and legitimate, you are going to also have to write the article as well, which is a good thing.

These are just a few ideas that I thought of to start thinking outside the box.  I’m sure you will come up with many more once you stop thinking in only the traditional way.

THE NEXT STEP: Believe it or not, is to start formulating your Business Mission Statement. 

You can go to the internet and find instructions about how to formulate a good mission statement.  I suggest you have both a business and a different personal mission statement. They will overlap somewhat but separating them seems to make more sense to attorneys.

Once your business mission statement is completed, you will use it as the basis for all further marketing including your LinkedIn profile, Website, advertising and all written communication.  Even a shortened version on your stationery!

Remember good mission statements are sincere and filled with real promises that you will fulfill.  Not just what you think you should be saying but how you plan on being of value to your clients.

Let me demonstrate using our example above.

BAD “I am a highly experienced and gifted attorney who will fulfill your every wish in the end of life documents I draft for you.” (this doesn’t tell the reader what needs the attorney is satisfying and is much too self serving and overblown. Additionally, the term, end of life, is scary.)

GOOD  “ A firm dedicated to helping you fulfill your wishes to have a secure and accurate distribution of your assets”(the word accurate is not exactly right, but best I can do right now). ( You can see the difference in that this ones speaks directly to the potential client and tell him/her your promise.)

This gives you enough to think about and implement next week.  Remember, I will be writing at least four more blogs on Solo Marketing helpful information. If you actually implement these new approaches you should see results in about three to six months.  Let me know how it is working for you.


So you have identified your challenge and made certain that the description is accurate.  Then you decided on some goals and tasks to start working on overcoming that challenge.  The last piece is to do those action tasks until you have the desired results.

SOUNDS ALL TOO SIMPLE?  Actually this third step is the hardest.  Usually you start out relieved to have finally pinpointed exactly what the problem is.  Then you have taken precious time to decided what steps you need to take. Now you can start worrying that these may not be the right actions and/or that you can really do them.

NOW THE HONEYMOON IS OVER.  The last step is to pull out all stops and devise a method to actually do the actions tasks and to stick with them, revising along the way until you are rewarded with the right results.

This takes ACCOUNTABILITY.  Who are you going to be accountable to?  I always say that if you at least go out to the nearest tree and tell it your action tasks, that is on the right path to becoming accountable.  Actually having a live person to hold your feet to the fire is even better!

What about FOLLOW THROUGH?  Is there something that you must do to make sure that your action task actually got done?  Simply giving someone a call but never reaching them, is not enough.  Here you need to develop your “stick to”brain cells and write these further actions down!

TENACITY is the overall talent that makes all the other steps fall in place.  This may take some support as you begin to lose your will to push forward.  Some challenges take ten minutes to overcome and some take ten days, ten months or ten years.  You need the tenacity to stick with your goals no matter what.



I wanted to let you know that we are forming a Mastermind Group for Attorneys here in Santa Cruz, CA.  Below is the announcement.  If you don’t live in this area but are interested in attending a group , let me know.  We will be expanding into other regions by skype or phone shortly.

                                      DYNAMIC  ATTORNEY MASTERMIND GROUP FORMING:
Led by Eleanor Southers, owner Professional Legal Coaching and Mastermind Facilitator

Mastermind Groups were originated by Napoleon Hill author of THINK AND GROW RICH and have helped people for several generations come together to support each other in reaching greater success and happiness. “Two minds create a third person”.

The structure of the Group forming now is as follows:
• Meet twice a month on Mondays beginning Monday, March 7, 2016.
• Meetings will be 90 minutes long and will be in person or if occasionally unable to attend, then by phone or skype.
Will be limited to attorneys who want to increase their revenue through new marketing skills and more effective networking.
• Will be limited to attorneys ready to take a chance to improve their lives with the help of a trained and experienced facilitator and support of like-minded attorneys.
• All participants will sign a confidential agreement so that there can be a free discussion of needs.
• Group is limited to a maximum of 6 attorneys.
• Group will meet at my office: 1362 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, Ca 95060.
• Time will be early morning or late afternoon and will be decided after group is formed and what is most convenient for the participants.
• Participants are asked to make a 3 month commitment and the cost is $450.00(payments possible). Participants will also receive a copy of my book, BE A BETTER LAWYER: A short guide to a long career.
• Participants will commit to formulating and working on personal goals consistently for three months.
• I promise that in three months participants will be equipped to earn more dollars and have some fun along the way while using new skills/tools.
Enrollment takes place during February, 2016. In order for this kind of group to work, we need to put together attorneys who are focused and want to make a difference in their careers. Also ones who are tired of working on their own and want the comradery of a group that wants to talk about their business. Therefore, only serious applicants should apply. Please fill out the brief application below and email it to me ASAP. Applications close Feb 29, 2016 so we have time to begin on Monday, March 7, 2016 and we will only be taking 6 attorneys. Email: [email protected] or call 831 466-9132 .
Area of practice:______________________
Years in practice:_________
What results would you like to get from this
Mastermind Group?_________________________________

Have you ever been in a Mastermind Group previously?_______________
If yes, when and what were the results?______________________________________________
Which time, Morning or late afternoons, would be best for you?______________________
Anything else you would like to add?_____________________________________


Everyone knows that the most people rank public speaking right up there with root canals or at least something to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, attorneys also know that being an effective speaker, whether it be in Court or in a Seminar, is a great benefit to their profession.

Although there is not enough space here to go into details, I wanted to open up a conversation to explore why it is so scary and how attorneys can work towards feeling more comfortable in speaking.

  • Let’s first look at why this topic causes so much fear. Are you afraid you will make a mistake? You have no idea what to speak about? Do you think everyone will walk out when you start speaking? Do you feel it will open you up to criticism? The reasons go on and on. See if you can identify yours.
  • Next thing to do is to refute the idea that you can’t do it. This means you have to change your mind as well as your behavior. If you can identify your reason as really ridiculous (everyone will walk out), then you can start to dig your way out of your negative thoughts. Take a look at what might disprove your thoughts. If you can’t find something to speak about, look at the needs of your target audience. You can even ask them what they would like to find out about. You will make less mistakes if you are thoroughly prepared and have rehearsed.
    If all else fails, think about joining a Toastmaster’s Group where you can get some support and practice.

So, you have made up your mind that if other attorneys can do it, so can you. Where do you start? First, you will need to find an audience. This should be people in your “target market”. That means people who have the ability to become clients or refer to you. Also you will want people or a group where you can get some publicity and help in branding yourself as a competent and knowledgeable attorney.

For instance, if you are a family law attorney, Marriage and Family Therapists(MFCCs) might be part of your target market. They often need to refer clients to family law attorneys. What do these therapists need to know about the law? Is it about adoption? Is it about family support? Is it about bankruptcy? Is it about the rights of parents? The list goes on and on. Here you might want to run any ideas by a family law attorney that you know and find out what is of interest.

Next you will need to find out where these groups meet. Do they have an organization that you can approach for speaking? If so, prepare a few topics and write up a proposal allowing them to pick from it a topic that they want to hear about. If you can’t find a group, it might be possible to form your own little seminar by inviting all of the MFCCs in your area to a free seminar. Sometimes libraries will have free facilities to do this or you may have to use someone’s large conference room or even rent a space.

Next you will have to PREPARE, PREPARE AND PREPARE some more. Research and have a “core” of information that you are going to concentrate on. This will make you less nervous because you have facts, opinions and ideas that you are going to give to your audience. You will also need a beginning and an ending. If you aren’t a good joke teller, forget that. Often times you can start with a scary story about how a MFCC got in trouble for not knowing the law. You need something up front to grab the attention of the audience immediately.

Last, know your venue. Arrive early to set things up. Coordinate with the sponsor (if there is one) so you know the time allotted for your talk. Leave time for questions or tell your audience up front that you welcome comments and questions during your presentation. Be sure you have a microphone available if you need it. Also it is very important to have hand outs so you can put your contact information on it.

So I have skimmed the surface of public speaking. Hopefully, I may have calmed some of your fears about trying it to increase your marketing. Have a lot of your friends in the first audience. That always helps and get their reviews.


I wrote this outline as a possible presentation at law schools.  It occurred to me that you might know some school or organization or even a student who could use this kind of information.

As part of my coaching practice, I have seen how different the legal job market is from even just  few years ago. So, we really have to approach it differently.

If this program or coaching using this type of information could help someone or an organization,  please suggest they read this blog.  Thank you.

Since the downturn in the economy in 2008, Law School Students are finding it harder to get legal jobs right after law school. A much more aggressive and pre-planned approach is necessary these days to insure success.
Additionally, the larger debt owed by students has created even more stress in obtaining work as soon as possible. Consequently new tactics in job preparation as well as job searches and decisions needs to be made by Law Students starting in their first year of law school.
This short program hopes to give the student at all stages in law school the insight into the present job market and to help make decisions how to best get rewarding employment.
Some of the topics which will be covered are:
• What are the present statistics for the legal market place in the student’s community?
• What is the present general economic condition of the community?
• Where does there appear to be potential growth in the legal community?
• Where is there potential decline in the legal community?
• Tools and hints about how to keep abreast of changes in the legal community.
• The importance of timing in preparing for the job search
• Pinpointing the career path.
• Selecting the area of practice (can’t do this too early any more!)
• Selecting the form of practice (Associate, InHouse, Solo, Teaching, Public, etc.)
• Identifying the necessary steps to take while still in law school to maximize getting the desired job after graduation.
• Establishing a detailed plan that will support the steps outlined above.
• Pinpointing resources which can assist in the planning.
• Resume/ the good, the bad and the ugly.
• Contacts/ how to organize and use them.
• Unusual resources
• Keeping positive
• Acing the interview
• The Fundamental requirements to open a solo practice.
• Resources
• How to get started
In order to cover all of the material adequately the program necessitates about 3 hours. This can be done by one or two speakers. Written materials and participatory exercises throughout the presentation make it relevant to the students and get them motivated to start thinking about this now. This will guarantee greater success in their future decisions.

By: Eleanor Southers
1362 Pacific Ave. #216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831 466-9132


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.


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!)