SHOULD MY WORK CLOTHES BE PAJAMAS OR A SUIT?

What the heck am I talking about? You guessed it:  A HOME OFFICE OR NOT?

Best to give this one a lot of thought before you go forward with hanging your shingle on your front porch.  First of all, it is more than likely that clients will know your home address at some time, even if you meet them at a Starbucks.  Certainly most of the time this is OK until you get that client from (you know where).  Then you are not protected from all kinds of tactics including stalking and harassing you.  Remember this is why attorneys rip off the address labels on magazines that they bring them from home to their offices.

You can certainly have a mail box address which can appear as a real street address and this may help.  Also inexpensive “group” offices which allow you to use their address and facilities on a monthly basis can give you some protection.

More importantly, you need to think about how this all looks to your clients.  Fortunately if you are practicing wills, trusts and probate, you could offer to go to their homes, especially if they are elderly.  However, if you have a substantial client that you are doing long term estate planning and business trusts, etc. you  really can’t meet in a coffee shop.  If your goal is to attract these kinds of clients and your marketing is focused there, maybe biting the bullet and getting a shared office at least would be more feasible. Again, it goes back to carefully identifying your target market (check out my blogs on that).

If you do decide to have your practice in your home, be careful how to describe where you are located on your Website.  Many people choose their attorney by where they live.  If you have a rent by hour group office, you can put that address there and meet there, but how do you describe where you are if you are meeting them in a coffee shop?  Some attorneys put “ by appointment” but that is also confusing.  You can offer to come to their home but , as said above, that may turn off your larger clients.

Home offices are really best suited to practices which don’t involve much client contact such as Appeals and International Business which can be done mostly by internet.

Certainly, some attorneys are able to work out of their homes as they keep their practices small and don’t need much help, but you can see it is not an easy task.  Lastly, look around your home and decide exactly where you are going to have your office.  Do you have a separate room or are you doing this in your living room?  Is it quiet? Do you have enough space to have a copier, computer and filing cabinets?  Do you work well  in this environment or are you easily distracted? Or do you favor straightening your sock drawer over working on that horrid writ?

All of these can be obstacles to a productive practice.  You are going to have to be rigid in your scheduling of time.  Is working in the evenings going to be a no no?  Solos have to put in anywhere from 45-55 hours a week setting up, marketing , networking and then doing legal work for at least 2 years to successfully launch  a business, whether its in their home or office.  Be truthful and answer if you can do that and you will save yourself a lot of stress and heartache.Good time management is a necessity when you opt to work at home.

Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.

OH,OH, IT’S ALMOST RESOLUTION TIME AGAIN!


Dear Readers,

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:

  1.  Am I making enough money to cover my business and personal expenses?
  2. Am I making enough money to fund my retirement account each month?
  3. Do I like to go to work each day?
  4. Do I like the people I work with?
  5. Do I like most all of my clients?
  6. Can I get my work done in 40-50 hours a week?
  7. Do I have enough time for my family each day?
  8. Do I exercise enough?
  9. Am I eating a healthy diet?
  10. Am I taking enough classes to keep up to date in my practice areas?
  11. Do I often feel lonely?
  12. Do I have mentors?
  13. 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…..

DON’T BE STUPID, BE INFORMED AND ACT!

business man with his head buried in the sand

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. 

MY FORBES ARTICLE


THIS WEEK I’M STILL NUMB SO I’M ASKING YOU TO CLICK INTO MY NEW FORBES ARTICLE FOR YOUR MONDAY HIGH!

RESPECT: A DIFFERENT AND MORE POWERFUL PERSPECTIVE

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/11/18/respect-a-different-and-more-powerful-perspective/

NUMB

 I’M NUMB. HOW ABOUT YOU?

Sorry, I couldn’t even POST last week.  My nature is not be depressed or numb but that is what I still am.

I am in fear for our country, for our children and grandchildren and for ourselves.  I know I will find a way to fight aggressively against the prejudice and craziness but it will take some time.

If I can find a way to join those who are willing to advocate strongly against any abridgment of our civil and moral rights, I will.  I will keep you posted so you can join the struggle.

 STAY TUNED…….

DO YOU LIKE VAMPIRES?

LAST NIGHT I WATCHED “SECRETS OF THE DEAD” ON PBS AND THE SHOW WAS ABOUT VAMPIRES. I learned how their existence got started and how it remains today. I felt virtuous for watching such foolishness  because it was on Public TV.

How many people will dress as Vampires tonight? How many children will want to be the “walking dead” while accepting real live candy?  What is the fascination with dead people who have come back to life?

The PBS show seemed to explain part of this by the fact that ancient people couldn’t explain why they had disease and barren crops much of the time.  It was easier to blame dead people who came back to haunt the living with catastrophic events.  Their solution was to dig up the buried person and cut out their heart and burn it in the village cross roads.  This supposedly took care of any further disasters from that Vampire. There were plenty more out there in the grave yards though!

The more modern Vampire, of course, was first made famous by Mary Shelley and other writers. Readers were quick to enjoy the threat of being scared by the monsters imagined to be rising up from the dead. Vampires had big front teeth to pierce the throat and suck blood from the living at night.  Then, they would go to their coffin and sleep during the day.  Then they didn’t need to have their hearts toasted, but just be stopped by a stake through their heart.

Today, this gives way to finding Vampires in all kind of normal circumstances.  Since Dracula was noted to be quite a gentleman and downright sexy when he was behaving himself, that image grew into young ladies swooning over them. Vampire stories are quite popular with teenagers.  Parents don’t seem to be discouraging this fascination on any great level.

So, I guess we have to just learn to live with the fascination of Vampires and even believe a little in their existence within our world. We can even dress up like Dracula and feel good about scaring people.  I guess we are also comforted by knowing that germs cause disease, not Vampires.

BUT I GUESS WE STILL NEED THEM AROUND……..BECAUSE THEY DON’T SEEM TO BE GOING AWAY! 

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR TARGET MARKET WITHOUT CRYING

THIS IS YOUR TARGET MARKET!  WHAT NOW!

Look, everyone in your target market is smiling.  That should make you happy.  Now what do you say to 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.

WHAT’S YOUR TARGET MARKET?

AT A RECENT SEMINAR FOR LAWYERS, I MENTIONED THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR TARGET MARKET. THE RESPONSE I GOT WAS “WHAT IS A TARGET MARKET?”

Target Market Means Aiming Strategy At Consumers Targeted

Since this is the basis of all marketing, I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time talking about what is a target market and how to locate yours!

A TARGET MARKET IS FIRST OF ALL:

  • Your best referral base
  • The focus of your marketing
  • Those sources that have the best possibility of directly becoming your client or referring clients to you (known as your “Gatekeepers”)
  • A good target market limits the number of cases you don’t want and increases the number you do want.

HOW YOU DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET:

  • Start with your mission statement.  What needs are you fulfilling for potential clients? Say for instance your mission statement is: Providing exceptional service to people who have been injured on the job, while maintaining  the highest professional standards, then your target market is people who have a work injury, with the expectation of those who might be a bit shady or not being truthful.
  • Now let’s change that to Providing exceptional service to people who are seriously injured on the job, etc.  Can you see that now you are limiting yourself to only seriously injured clients? Your target market is now narrower.
  • A clear, clean and precise mission statement is necessary to define your market.

HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY THE ACTUAL TARGET PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU WILL SPEND YOUR MARKETING TIME AND DOLLARS ON?

  • Your best referral base is your old clients because they have been within your target market because you have been able to help them.
  • The next best referral source for many practices is other lawyers. Perhaps you do cross referrals with these lawyers. Other lawyers refer to you because they have a clear idea of what you do and that you are ethical and very competent (also they don’t want to be named as a co-defendant in a malpractice action! )They also know you would support and refer to them if you have the opportunity.
  • Gatekeepers beside other lawyers are also in your target market.  Sometimes these are your family members or someone that your target market interacts with.  An example is a Marriage and Family Counselor who needs referrals for Family Law Attorneys and the lawyers who also needs referrals to counselors for their client. This is maximum cross-referring.

WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED YOUR TARGET MARKET(S):

  • Now you need to put all their contact information into guess what? YOUR CONTACTS
  • I suggest you make three lists of contacts. One is A for people you know will refer to you.  This includes old clients and lawyers. Second one is labeled B and is people who you have met and might refer to you. Last is C with who you have a casual relationship but who you don’t want to forget you. Outlook will do this for you with different colors.
  • Important technique is to keep these people on your radar. The As at least 4 times a year. Bs at least twice and Cs at least once.
  • At this point you will also “Cherry-pick” the people who fit in your target market but haven’t produced yet. Here is where you spend some time and money on reaching out to them. What do they read? How can you provide value to them? Does your website SPEAK to your target market? Does it invite potential clients to call you? There’s volumes on this subject but once you have developed your real target market, you won’t waste time and money trying to get to people on board who will never refer to you.  As my friend says:  Don’t go to the Hardware Store to buy a Hamburger.
  • Hint: The best marketing tool I ever used was sending Birthday Cards to old and present clients. Don’t do it to lawyers because they are jaded and can’t believe you really want them to have a Happy Birthday but clients are different…..as long as you are sincere. One client told me it was the only birthday card he got!

SO NOW YOU AT LEAST HAVE SOME IDEA WHAT A TARGET MARKET IS.  Please feel free to contact me for a 30 minute complimentary consultation to help you with this if you want to discuss this further.  

FOUR STEPS TO TAKE WHEN PEOPLE ARE ANGRY AT YOU

You might consider a few therapy sessions if these simple suggestions don’t work for you.  Because, let’s face it….you can’t be a successful, happy attorney unless you can handle a lot of negativity.  Solos have it even worse because they frequently don’t have anyone to “vent” or discuss the turmoil in their practices.

Anyway, let me give you a couple of ideas that might help or at least “band-aid” your angst.

  •             First, remember that none of this is PERSONAL. It is not about YOU. Most of the people who give you a hard time are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with reality.  It is about how they are choosing to handle the situation.
  •             Second, after assessing the situation to see if there are things you can learn from it, see if there is any action you can take.  Action means that you are tackling the problem, not letting it rest.

Now many times, action is not appropriate.  In these cases, such as when a judge tells you that your argument  is stupid, first assess the comment to see if he/she is at least partially right. After that write down what you learned and what you can do to rectify your error.  Then tear up the paper and flush it down the toilet. Then  read a really trashy book, go to a George Clooney/Brad Pitt movie or watch a comic TV show.

  •             Third, and probably the most difficult situation to handle is when you feel you failed a client.  The case is not going well for whatever reasons and you are in the dumps. Again, if you can do something about it, do it!  If not, then work on other cases that are more fulfilling because it is better to be a work- alcoholic for a short time, than to obsess on feeling bad about something you have little or no control over.  This is also a good time to have a volunteer opportunity open to you.  Those people appreciate you and want you to feel good and doing something for others can turn around your feelings quickly.
  •             Fourth, you need to prepare to have negative experiences on a regular basis.  It may help to take a class in handling angry clients or in honing your mediation skills.  Mediation is a time when you learn to handle hostility in a neutral fashion.  Again, you will learn that it is not about You, so you can remove your feelings from the tumult.

With hopes that this will help.  I’d love to hear how you handle anger directed towards you in the work place.   

GOOGLE SELF HELP VS COACHING

EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT YOU CAN GET ALL THE INFORMATION YOU WANT ON GOOGLE   true or false?

You can look up ways to market your business, you can look up ways to be happier and you can look up information about just any problem you are having. But what is the “clincher”?  You are getting an opinion designed for everyone, not just you!

I give a lot of value by publishing a book about being a better lawyer.  It is extremely helpful and is really a self help book for lawyers.  But, believe me, it’s nothing like working with me in a one on one coaching arrangement.  This is also true of the talks that I give.  You get value but then you may not be able to actually use it.

The underlying trick is to identify the proper problem. Often times it is hidden or the lawyer is so deep in denial that it takes time and energy to uncover it. It is a personal problem, unique only to you.

Asking your friends or even your mentor is not always helpful and can be hurtful.  Your family, friends and teachers all have their own “agendas”.  They are worried about their careers and lives first and that frequently colors any advice you get from them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have your best interest at heart. It just means they are human.

A coach, on the other hand, has no other agenda than to help you.  IT IS A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE TO HAVE A PERSON SO INVOLVED IN DOING GOOD FOR JUST YOU, THAT IT IS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE.

Take a look at this example:

An attorney would like to find more clients and make more money.  So he/she first turns to google and puts in the QUESTION.  Ok, so right here starts the problem. What exactly is the QUESTION.  Most business people, especially those starting out, what more clients and more income. So the attorney spends hours getting all the free information from google. Some “experts” say he/she should do more networking. Others taking a larger view just want him/her to have a marketing plan. Maybe one even hints that a look at his/her “inner child” might help.

What to do with all this sometime conflicting information?  My advice is nothing.  Don’t even start looking at freebies until you have defined exactly what your ultimate goal is and why you are not there yet.  My cynical view is that this is best done with someone who is totally invested in your success. 

AND GUESS WHAT?    THAT A LEGAL COACH!