Thursday, July 12, 2018

Top Habits of the World’s Best Lawyer Rainmakers


MIND-SET & THINKING 


1.  Embrace the discipline needed to be successful and the power of habits.

2.  Have an authentic willingness to invest in yourself and others.

3. Be very aware of your personal style and preferences and how they can add to or detract from relationships and communications and adjust accordingly. 

4.  Behave in a professional respectful and kind manner to all people you encounter - both internally and externally.

ORGANIZATION & ROUTINE 


1.  Have and use a strategic list.

2.  Include and/or dovetail your client outreaches and communications into your weekly planning time and to-do list.

3.  Use never-ending, weekly, recurring Outlook auto-reminders to remind you to follow-up and stay in touch.

4.  Plan outreaches and communications from the client/contact’s perspective – internally and externally.

5.  When travelling or going out-of-office, double and triple down.

6.  Use and train your assistant to implement a one-hour or less response time for all calls, emails and other inquires. 

LEVERAGE – SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE


1.  Have a system and method in place for every person you meet, everyone on each case/matter, and every business card obtained. I.e. create an Outlook contact, connect on LinkedIn, add to relevant firm mailing lists/CRM system, etc.

2.  Create an internal support team and use for marketing support, communications, research, briefing, getting updates, follow-up, etc.

3.  Use technology to stay abreast of clients, industries, new developments, etc.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

What Doesn’t Work to Develop Business for Lawyers


1.        Using a scattered, “when I have time” approach to business development; engaging in random acts of lunch; and mistaking activity for productivity.
2.        Waiting for the phone to ring in the hope that new work will simply come to you.
3.        Speaking, blogging, and attending conferences and assuming that this is enough to attract new work.
4.        Doing any of the following when communicating: not being present (i.e., being absorbed in your mobile device); assuming you already have full knowledge of the situation/case/matter; not showing any interest or concern; not asking questions; focusing/constantly refocusing on your mobile device; being distracted or uninterested; giving less than full attention; and appearing aloof, judgmental, dismissive, condescending, superior, arrogant, self-consumed, curt, short, or rude.
5.        Not having a meaningful, usable, trackable business development plan, list/pipeline, or accompanying habit/routine in place.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

6 Common Rainmaking Mistakes Most Lawyers Make


1.        Highly educated lawyers tend to think they already know everything they need to know about developing business, which can cause incorrect assumptions and presumptions regarding current and prospective new clients.
2.        Many lawyers think “sales” and business development are easy and require little more than common sense.
3.        Most lawyers default to some combination of mile-wide, inch-deep, broadcast “marketing” efforts and reactive, opportunistic responses to questions and inquiries.
4.        Many lawyers mistake activity for productivity.
5.        Most lawyers know their own practice, but not the whole firm’s – i.e., they have a “hammer looking for a nail” mentality.
6.        Most lawyers do not have or use a regular outreach and client development action plan. Instead, they engage in client or business development only when they are not busy (which, for most successful lawyers, is not very often).

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Top 10 Secrets of the World’s Best Networkers


Networking is the art of conversing with people reciprocally, where a conversation is an exchange of ideas, leads, and/or suggestions that support the professional and personal lives of both parties.
  1. The best networkers do not attend networking events with a “What’s in it for me (WIFM)?” mentality. Rather, they approach networking with a “What’s in it for them (WIFT)?” mentality, i.e., focusing on how they can be helpful and/or useful to other people.
  2. They focus on treating other attendees as people, not as contacts who can do something for them.
  3. They focus on being sincerely interested in other people.
  4. Before attending, they have a plan and approach for capture any new business contacts and important conversations by inputting that information into their automated contact systems and/or connecting to those contacts on LinkedIn and other relevant social media.
  5. When attending events and conferences, they plan ahead to mingle and circulate.
  6. They are friendly and open, focusing on listening to people, one on one, and with sincere interest.
  7. They pay attention by listening to understand another’s perspective. They listen with their eyes and ears, and remember and/or take note of what they discussed, heard about, and learned. They listen for commonalities and mutual interests, and expand upon them.
  8. They are open to serendipity, things that happen coincidentally, or what they hear/learn about unexpectedly.
  9. They are disciplined with initiating follow-up and following through.
  10. They thank and/or acknowledge everyone who has given them their time, ideas, leads, resources, referrals, word of mouth, etc., and stay in touch.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Insure Client Service Excellence: 10 Tips


1. Excellent service providers do not do only what is asked of them. They go above and beyond and offer to help in many ways.  They think ahead, think proactively, set calendar reminders-to-self to make time to stop and think about their clients and contacts, then suggest and initiate ideas/options.

2. Never forget that all of us who work in law firms are in the service business. You are never going to be done paying dues, so own the fact that nothing is beneath you.  It may sometimes seem the work is beneath you.  You may not enjoy it.  Others will likely take credit for it.  But this is a lawyer’s job…to make clients look good and be more successful.

3. Always be just a little bit early for an appointment.  If you must be late, call ahead to warn them.  It shows that you think they are important.  Everyone likes to feel important.

4. When your client or colleague is coming to visit or is in your office, you are the host.  Act like one. Make it easy for them to find you, park, get their parking validated as needed, etc. When they arrive, ask to take their coat, ask if they would like water, coffee and/or food as appropriate.

5. Remember that lawyers/clients don’t always want nor need something actually done.  Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them.  

6. Before beginning the work, ask your client and/or supervisor what success will look like.  I.e. ask: what are your objectives/desired result(s)? Don’t just guess or assume.  You’ll probably be wrong.

7. Value other people as highly as yourself. Other people are busy too.  Be considerate and guard their time as well as your own. Establish and maintain trust. Do not engage in and/or repeat gossip.

8. Your answer should never be “No, you can’t!”, instead say “Yes, let’s figure out how you can.”

9. Return phone calls and email promptly, or have your assistant do so for you, i.e. “John will be in court until late tonight” or “I will get to this on Thursday”.  Use auto out-of-office messages and be sure to include a back-up contact name, email and telephone number.

10. Say please and thank you to everyone, every time.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

How to Ensure Top-Quality Client Service for Lawyers and Law Firms


For every lawyer and law firm, existing clients provide the best opportunity to develop additional business. It costs one-fifth as much to gain additional work from an existing client as to gain a new client. An important element associated with gaining new business from existing clients is the level of service clients have received. To ensure clients are predisposed to using additional firm services, constant attention must be paid to the quality of service provided. Make no mistake — service delivery is a process, one that consists of predictable, often repeated steps.

Using the Japanese premise of “constant improvement” as the foundation, conduct an objective assessment and create a list or map of all possible service improvements that could be made throughout the firm to then formalize service steps and/or create a firm-wide service program as appropriate.

To begin, draft a list of all the positions in the firm that have contact with clients, from the receptionist to delivery personnel to the attorneys. Then define every contact made with clients. For example, the receptionist greets clients, escorts them to conference rooms, offers refreshments, takes coats, contacts lawyer to let them know guest has arrived, asks visitors to wait, determines how long the clients will have to wait before he or she calls the attorney, and so forth. It helps to meet with someone in each staff position and ask him or her to help you list everything the client may require from that position. Remember, clients often have as much or more contact with staff members as they do with attorneys, so involving staff in service improvement initiatives is essential. Similarly, a list of attorney contacts such as incoming phone calls, outgoing phone calls, meetings, lunches, dinners, letters, case correspondence, case status, bills, and overdue bill notices that define the steps in the full scope of attorney-client interaction.

A commonly overlooked service step is that of asking clients for their opinion about the quality of the firm’s service. Remember, it is not the attorney’s opinion about the firm and its service that matters; it is clients’ opinions that are worth their weight in gold. Client feedback can be obtained through a written survey, focus groups, informal inquiry, or independent board members. The idea is to gather the clients’ perceptions regarding service quality in a statistically measurable way to improve and further develop the relationship. Market studies show that when dissatisfied, only 4 to 5 percent of clients will complain directly. The other 95 percent will either tolerate poor service without complaint and will be receptive to competitors, or simply stop sending the firm work. In this competitive market, regularly asking clients for feedback regarding service quality is key to maintaining existing relationships.

Once client feedback has been obtained and client contacts have been defined, gather attorneys and staff for a brainstorming session on ways to improve or enhance each client contact. For example, with meetings, attorneys can prepare clients ahead of time by sending them the documentation and a detailed agenda for each meeting. Also, attorneys can ask their secretaries or paralegals to call or greet clients if the attorneys will be delayed for meetings or unable to return communication within 24 hours. There are a myriad of other proactive service steps that can be taken to improve both the level of service a firm provides and the client’s perception of the value received. The goal with each service step is to treat each client as if he or she is the most important.

Communication throughout the firm regarding the various steps each employee can take to improve service delivery will help educate and empower all employees about the importance of those steps. For example, you can email “service improvement of the day” messages to all attorneys and legal assistants. Or if you produce an internal newsletter, discuss service steps in detail in a column in each issue. Also, create a generic “service checklist” to send to attorneys when new files are opened. The attorneys can periodically review the checklist as a reminder of service steps they could be providing.

Training designed to enhance service delivery skills can be provided by position. For example, receptionists require different client interaction skills than do billing clerks or associates. Receptionists must be able to make an excellent first impression and manage the full scope of their client contacts. Associates must understand the difference between client service and development. However, all staff members require skills to effectively handle complaints and telephone inquiries, manage difficult clients, anticipate needs, and project a professional image.

A critical and often overlooked step in making improved service or a service program work is to establish incentives. Support staff should be rewarded for following up with attorneys and clients to ensure quality service is delivered. Attorneys should be rewarded for securing additional work from existing clients. Service is difficult to measure because determining who has been acting courteously and professionally, who has been going the extra mile, and who actually brought the additional business in the door is not always easy. The key is to measure and reward effort and results. One way is to track compliments instead of complaints. Special monthly bonuses can be instituted for staff members and lawyers who are recognized for their service efforts either internally or from clients. Once everyone is clear on what steps they can take to improve service and how to go about it, providing an incentive will make it happen.

Service improvement is an effective use of marketing dollars and will take firms a long way toward securing and enhancing one of the most valuable firm assets – existing client relationships.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

How can law firms and lawyers do more to support veterans, military service members, and/or their families?


Law firms and lawyers can do more to support veterans, military service members, and/or their families. There are many great ways to do so, and many pro bono efforts/charities/groups exist. Excellent and bona fide pro bono and/or volunteer programs that support veterans can be found by contacting:  The American Legion (http://www.legion.org/troops/volunteer); the VFW (http://www.vfw.org/Community/Get-Involved/); the ABA (www.americanbar.org) and/or state bars. To volunteer and/or donate in the most productive manner, be sure to first verify the group/organization (because not all veterans’ charities/organizations use/apply their donations legitimately). Websites to visit to verify charities’ track records include: the American Institute of Philanthropy, Charity Navigator and/or GuideStar.