Oh Please don’t harp at me anymore about goal setting!  How often I hear this.  The truth is that we do some sort of goal setting every day.  We have a goal to brush our teeth.  We have a goal to get in the car and drive to work.  We have a goal to eat lunch. We meet these but they seem like “easy” goals.

People view hard goals as ones in which they have to make substantial changes in their lives.  Basically many people don’t see any advantage in making changes unless they are in real trouble.  If they are going bankrupt, then it might be time to make some changes.  If their spouse wants a divorce, then change is inevitable.

Many lawyers see advantages to themselves in setting goals.  Like better time management gives them less anxiety and more control over their life.   Setting goals to achieve a promotion or to be a better parent is seen as worthwhile.

So why are there so many failures in reaching the goals we set? “I didn’t lose the weight”, “I didn’t get the promotion” , “I didn’t write my blog this week” can really be discouraging.

So here’s the SMART way to do goal setting: 

  • S  Specific
  • M Measurable
  • A  Achievable
  • R  Realistic
  • T  Time Based

Actually this formula has been around for some time.  Those people who take it to heart when they are preparing their goals have a much better chance of success.

So, you have to be specific:   Not, “I want to lose some weight”  Better:  “I want to lose 25 lbs”  Then make it measurable:  “I want to lose 2 lbs a week”.  Make it achievable and realistic?  Is 2 lbs a week realistic with your life styles.  What information might you need to achieve that goal?  Last, is it time based?  So it would go something like “I want to lose a total of 25 lbs by January 1 by losing 2 lbs a week starting tomorrow” .

When goal planning is done this way, your little neurons seem to like it better.  It is positive and it tells you what the outcome will be if you do it this way.  It meets the SMART way to go about goal setting.


Your assignment:  Make one very small goal this week but follow the SMART rule.  See how it works.  Let us know!


Just having got back from my trip to Italy, I was cogitating on what I had learned that might be important for my clients.  I came up with the concept of community.  We often talk about the “legal community” to which all of us who are lawyers belong.  How we use that and  respect it gives us all in the way of tremendous value and a means of not doing this job alone.

I visited many little towns in Como and Tuscany and saw community at its best.  Here the kids all congregate after school in a local park.  The older children play with the younger ones and the adults sit on a bench and don’t interfere. In the late afternoon you see groups of 4-5 adults all sitting and talking. Women and men are separated but you see the same people day after day just sitting and talking. They stare at all the strangers as they go by and you are not sure you would be welcome in their groups if you tried (especially if you didn’t speak Italian). But they are demonstrating a resourceful community.
Now there is quite a bit of time for people in Italy to do this because lunch is between 1-2pm and dinner not until 8:00pm!  so the whole afternoon and early evening is free for chatting.  Not so in the larger cities.  They are busy at work from late morning to late at night.  The evening meal after 8:00pm seems to be the time to get together with family. They are missing out on the community of the smaller villages, just like us.

Park Moms and stay at home  Dads are often seen in the US at parks with their children, talking and forming their own community. Other gatherings such as Church also offers a time for community contact. But these gatherings frequently take a backward priority when it comes to WORK.

 If we as lawyers have a complaint that our life is lonely, especially solo attorneys, then what can we do it increase community in our lives?

If you can see the logic here, then let’s aggressively focus on ways to include more community in our journey.

  • Attend more Bar Association Meetings.  Get involved in committees where you have a group of people that support each other for a cause.
  • Talk to your family about community and its importance.
  • Consider pro bono work which offers contact with other people.  Choose carefully.
  • Find a support group where you can discuss your work.  Family Law Circles are famous for meeting once a month and floating ideas and cases by each other.
  • Select activities which will provide ongoing Community activities.  This could be a sports group or a book club or all the other occasions  just waiting to be used by the community. How about organizing a “block party” or starting a lawyer’s Book Club?

These are just some of the ideas I came up with after sensing the need attorneys have for more contentment and less stress in their lives.  Give me other thoughts.


This morning on the radio I heard that the number of average annual required billable hours for attorneys not so long ago was 1,600 a year.  Today that number is 2,100.  Taking pen in hand I found out that was 500 more than it used to be.  And that is 15 – 40 hour weeks a year more! This is absurd! We all know that this kind of slave driving will lead to an incredible amount of “fudging” and over billing.

Even more damaging is the fact that not all hours are “billable” and every attorney knows they have to work approximately a third more hours to bill out at that rate.  Many attorneys are working 7 days a week to meet these goals.  They are suffering loss of family and recreational time. Their health is sometimes affected and they are unhappy with the practice of law.

We also know that Law Firms have been in trouble in the past few years.  Clients are more demanding and new business is slower. It would seem a good business decision to ask known good employees to simply work longer hours and not have to hire new attorneys that have to be trained.  But at what real cost?

It would seem odd at this time when the minimum wage is being raised to $15.00 an hour that law firms can’t make decisions that do not cause harm to their staffs.  It is the same kind of budgetary factors which create more income in less time that should be developed.

So if you agree that this is a factor in causing a lot of attorney disillusionment and unwise activities like drinking and taking drugs, then what can you do about it? Some will say it is embedded in law firm culture and can’t be changed.  However, I bet the Millenniums with their work/life balance goals are going to have something to say about this.  They will be seeking out firms that don’t require such Draconian hours and perhaps even taking lower paying jobs to find the satisfaction they are craving.

Would it seem so far fetched to offer employment at a smaller wage in exchange for fewer billable hours to those who want it?  There would have to be incentives to be able to make the job attractive and ways to grow in the firm.  All of this could be done but a clear change of culture would have to be instituted.  These attorneys can in no way be considered second class attorneys. They need the same respect and prestige that their fellow colleagues have. They would simply be on a “different track”.

What do you think?  Every day I hear attorneys say that they went into law to “help people”.  If they are over billing and exhausted it is pretty hard to feel like they are helping anyone, let alone themselves. If we like this idea, what is the next step?  Or are all you too exhausted to think about that?



Your website is your best brochure and your blog is your most effective device to keep in contact with your clients and colleagues.
Now that we have millions of websites to evaluate we have learned a few basic rules that are replacing the sort of random marketing that websites have produced. Among those are that it needs to be EXTREMELY USER FRIENDLY, have great EYE CANDY and allow the viewer to have a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
What group of people do you want to reach? Where do they live? What is their wealth status? Is there anything unusual about them?
Define your target market as narrowly as possible. Get it down to the ideal client that you would like to see walk in the door. See the difference between “has a family law problem” and “has a family law problem and is financially able to retain an attorney”. One target market is very different from the other. One narrows and one widens. Exactly who you want to call you and take your precious time needs to be carefully thought out.
After you have determined your target market, you need to find your target Market’s weed. What would be the most troubling thing to them? What is the “weed” in their garden that you can get rid of. We have recently found out that lay clients look for their “weed” in your home page. If they can relate to what you are saying you can help them with, they will be much more inclined to hire you than if you lay out in detail your credentials, etc. They assume since you are a lawyer, that you will know what to do.
So find out what troubles your clients. Ask old ones or pretend you are a client. What would you want to see on an attorney’s Home Page that would tell you he or she recognizes your exact problem.
You might also want to explore the circumstances that has brought on their need. In family law, it may be an unhappy or scary scene. In probate law, the actual need is a little different because the need is for the future. Being aware of these problems will help you to focus on what exactly is important to your future clients and create an up to date website.
Simply and clearly restate your target market’s “WEED”. Use the magic words that will hit the search engines.

First of all, this is where your picture goes. What kind of a picture should you have? The usual rule is that you dress like your client would expect a lawyer to dress if he or she were to appear in court. This does not meant that you flash the Rolex watch nor other expensive jewelry. And for heaven sake, smile. Warm, friendly is what you are going for.
Then, the most important part of this page is to tell your story here. Why did you become a lawyer? What type of cases have you handled? What has brought you joy as an attorney. This is not a time to spill your guts but to be sincere and forthright about why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t brag. At the very end you can give a brief overlay of your education and experience. Also do a link to a more extensive resume.
Get people to write comments about their experience with you. Be sure to get their OK to use their full names. No one believes testimonials that are from Jane D.
Simple, Simple, Simple. Again go back to the “Weed” and identify and then address the client’s need in each area.
Make sure these are helpful and not just fill ins.
Add in anything which will make the site more useful and allow for more in depth viewing if the reader wants it. This could be publications you have written. Helpful tips about your area of the law or your blog.
Your entire site has to be attractive and something that an audience wants to look at for more than 20 seconds. Choose your colors carefully. If you are a Probate Attorney you don’t want a predominately black website.
Remember that most of your audience is visually oriented. A few are auditorally oriented and even less are tactilely oriented. So, if you have no sense of color or are unsure, get some help. But do this with guidance from you. What “feeling” do you want your viewers to bring away from your site. Is it calming? Is it aggressive? Is it exciting? It is very important that any designer or webmaster understand that you are at the helm and determining what is best for you.
We are going to see a lot more video in websites. These will be either a quick introduction on the Home Page with the attorney addressing the audience or links to videos in different areas.
If you want to venture into this area, make sure that you get professional help if you need it. Make sure that you have the right light and camera equipment to do good production. Remember you are competing with 12 year olds that can whip out a professional looking You Tube rendition which will make them millions.



Last week I told you we would look into ways you could “partner” with another attorney but not in a traditional way with contracts, space, etc.


One of the first ways is, of course, by sharing space.  In this scenario you simply rent a space with communal areas that you share. This is usually a waiting room, kitchen, copier, etc. You split the rent.

CAVEAT:  Be sure to keep your signage separate so that clients could never mistake the other person for your partner.

A second way of partnering is by joining with another attorney on a legal project.

CAVEAT:  Take care to have the responsibilities and fees figured out in detail before you begin. You might even have a written informal contract to lay out who will do what and who will pay costs. How fees will be collected and distributed is a major decision.

Another way to partner is to do networking and speaking together.  This works best when the two people are not practicing in the same areas(but related) and can make their talks more interesting this way.  Such as a Family Law Attorney and an Estate Planning Attorney.  Lots of cross referrals can come from this.

CAVEAT:  This arrangement also has to be talked about before undertaken.  It can be very effective but each attorney has to understand the ground rules and really want to help his or her “partner”.

Joining a support group that get together on a regular basis to discuss challenges in each attorney’s practice.  When I was practicing we had a Personal Injury Group Support (PIGS) which met monthly.  We laughed a lot and were able to keep up on the latest law while getting help with problem cases. These people act as a helpful partner would on a very limited basis.

CAVEAT: These groups take organization and on going care to stick together.  Also everyone needs to take an oath of privacy so members feel free to share. 

So here are some ideas that you can put into immediate practice if you would like to try a “nontraditional partnerships”.  The main purpose of having a partner is to be able to share and get support and each of these models do that without a tremendous commitment. Let me know how that works for you.

***Sorry, I had to give you just a beautiful picture today because I couldn’t find a cute or catchy partner photo!!!


One of the most traitorous task is setting up a law office partnership. Sounds so great in the beginning to have someone to work with every day, to share your problems and joys, to equally contribute to the financial end of things…..Ah, what does that sound like?

Yes, indeed, a partnership is fraught with all the dangers of marriage and then some. What starts out with a honeymoon period can easily end up in a financial and emotional mess involving many more people than in a marriage. Let’s start by looking at the essential elements of a healthy partnership:

1. Partners have the same set of values, including legal ethics.(If your partner wants to fudge on your JOINT tax returns, how would you feel?)
2. Partners have a high tolerance for change and re-evaluating the partnership.( Change is the only thing that never changes)
3. Partners have approximately the same work ethic.( Do you like to work 8 hours a day and go home? Does your partner work 12 hours a day and weekends?- guess who ends up feeling resentful)
4. Partners are willing to acknowledge their individual short-comings and recognize their partner’s strength and weakness.( Obviously, one of the advantages of partnership is to share the work….can you figure out who should be responsible for what and stick to it).
5. Partners consistently strive to keep the partnership on an “equal” level.( this is hard to do if you become the partner of your former boss, or one partner has a lot more experience or money than the other).

Now what are the necessary things that partnership must have:
1. A written partnership agreement including ALL the problems and contingencies they can think of (death, sickness, financial ruin, etc.) Also include a written agreement as how to handle gross disagreements about the firm. Will you go to a mediator, etc.
2. Insurance policies in the approximate amount of ½ the worth of the firm on each partner, naming the other as beneficiary. (You don’t want to end up as partner with your expired partner’s wife or husband—-unless you have been involved in something really hinkey)
3. Disability insurance on each partner (this can be the making or breaking of a partner who gets ill…if there is enough insurance to cope with every day living expenses, most times the healthy partner can continue to run the firm, until the disabled partner can return, while not crippling the firm.)
4. A joint agreeable neutral CPA (this helps to keep the playing field level).
5. An iron clad agreement to meet with each other and review business matters on a weekly basis. This should be calendared and sacrosanct. This is also a time for goal setting and reviewing any changes you want in the office.
6. A meeting to let your families know what you are doing and what their responsibilities will be if you die while the partnership is still in force.

Just like you would advise your client to consult an attorney before entering into a partnership, that is not a bad idea for those envisioning a legal partnership. Either a coach or a counselor or attorney (not a friend of either of you) can act in this way, pointing out all the good and bad stuff. Then you can make a thoughtful decision.

Next week we’ll look at some of the ways you can ”partner” on a limited basis and obtain many of the goodies without the dangers of a true partnership….in the meanwhile, keep smiling and peddling….


Purpose is the final trait that brings Autonomy and Mastery together for greater success!  So, exactly what is Purpose? You would think we would all know. And how does it fit into our Success Trio?

Being the glue that binds Autonomy and Mastery, Purpose is a goal that is defined.  It takes determination and is the object for which somethings exists or is done.  The word, Intentionally, is very important.  Meaning that it is a goal that is intended and not something that is thrust upon us out of necessity.

People are often asked, What is the Purpose of Life?  Such a basic question can be answered all kinds of ways.  Did you ever hear the one about the man who spent all his life trying to find the meaning of life until one day he met a peasant who said that the swami who lived up this gigantic mountain knew the meaning of life.  The man climbed the mountain at great peril to himself for 10 days until he reached the top where the swami had a hut. In front of the hut sat the swami.  The man approached him and said “I understand you know the meaning of life,I have searched the world to find out, please tell me”.  The swami eyed him for a awhile and then said in a voice filled with knowledge: “Life is a Fountain”.  Shocked the man replied: “Life is a Fountain?”.  The swami got up from his cross legged position and walked up to the man and said: “Life is not a Fountain?”.

We might say that the man wasted his life looking for someone to define his purpose.  How many other people are doing that in real life? Are you?

To purposefully do a task, it must be planned.  First, however, there has to be a need.  Once that need is  uncovered, then the purpose becomes clear about what the outcome should be.  For instance, if your refrigerator is smelling, then you know something has to be done.  Your purpose is to have a refrigerator which doesn’t smell.  It is not for you to clean out the refrigerator. That only one way of handling it. It’s important to recognize the difference.  One is jumping to one possible solution while the real purpose is overlooked.  Also this kind of thinking can stifle creative thought.

How many other ways can you see to getting the refrigerator not to smell anymore? An obvious, but absurd one, is to buy a new refrigerator….however, absurd thoughts for other situations might prove fruitful… Don’t limit yourself!

Next week we will put all three Success Traits together and see what we get.  DON’T MISS IT!


For years I have watch the Today Show most mornings when I am getting ready.  I have noticed that in the past year or so they are having a lot of musical groups on in the first few hours of the show.  Then about 9:00am, they switch to grown up conversation although usually less newsworthy and more chatty than they have in the earlier time slot alongside the bands.

This morning I happen to turn it on at about 8:00am and they had a broadcast from Florida with a boy band of four young men.  Reminded me of the Beatles.  There were over 15,000 mostly young girls in attendance.  They were singing all the words which seem to be repeated over and over again at nauseam and doing a little dancing.  The girls were all smiles and enjoying themselves. Girls were also tweeting like crazy and no doubt upping the viewership.

Realizing that this seemed to be a switch from old broadcasting and being a marketing nut, I started to look at why this change in broadcasting.  Could it be that now the Today Show has acquired an audience of young people through catering to their musical tastes?  Are they the Ed Sullivan show revisited?

Ratings are ratings and if a show can acquire a whole new audience who,although they might tune out after the boy bands, they can still make points with the network.  Good marketing!

So then, of course, I wanted to link this to attorneys’ marketing.  Because most of our target markets are not young, teenage girls, we can’t offer the same thing as the Today Show to satisfy our clients.   But could we take this idea of looking at a segment of an untapped market and providing that extra “value” to satisfy their interests?

Certainly as the Boomers are edged out by the Gener Xers and Millenniums, lawyers are learning that they had better make their communication mobile, short and important if they want to entice them into hiring them.  No 25 year old that needs a lawyer wants to deal with someone who is still not texting or doesn’t have a website.  The 28 year old that has a new App wants a lawyer who understands his/her world.  Even the 30-40 year old that is starting a green-solar business looks for a lawyer who demonstrates that he or she respects that kind of product and uses it themselves.

Probably one of the most underused marketing tool is that of having a person from one of these groups endorse the work of an attorney.  Certainly, hearing from someone in their age group who has received value from an attorney would be a great marketing tool.  There are probably many, many other ways to entice these wonderful young people to use our services.  It just takes some creative thinking as well as a respect for their values which may be slightly different from ours to afford them great service.