I’m often asked what the keys to building a successful law practice are. Here are my Top 7 keys to creating such a practice. There are others of course but these are my Top 7
1. Success Requires Courage
Courage is really 50 percent fear. Being courageous means having a goal that you believe in. You must have a vision of where you want to be 5 or 10 years from now. And I don’t mean just money. What do you want to be known for? What do you want your reputation to be? The more deeply you believe in your goals the more fear you are willing to overcome. The key is to look at the end game first. You must have a vision and let your key people know that vision. They can’t help you reach your goals if they don’t know what they are.
2. Keep Overhead Down
One of the biggest reasons that law firms fail is the lack of cash flow. The key is whenever you’re making a decision for any expense; you must ask these two questions.
1. Will it make me any money?
2. Will it save me money?
If it does not do one of these two things, then do not spend the money. Remember, it’s not what you gross, it’s what you net.
3. Never Give Up Control Until You Sell
If you give up control you risk losing the culture in your law firm and your vision. It can take forever for a decision to be made when you have partners or give control to some other person. This is why I always recommend if you have lawyers in your law firm who want to be partners, make them non equity partners. Give them a percentage of the profits. But do not let them share in the control. This also makes it much easier if your non equity partners leave versus an equity partner.
4. Create a Marketing Message That Stands Out from Your Competition
You must stand out from the clutter of the thousands of advertisements and messages lawyers are sending to your prospective
clients. What you must do is create a unique selling proposition or what some people call a differentiator. We teach this at our Fast Implementation Boot Camp. We work shop it and create your differentiator proposition before you return to your office. I’ve always told lawyers I coach that the No. 1 thing they should do before they spend one cent on marketing is to create a unique selling proposition that makes them stand out from their competitors.
5. Love Your Clients
Once you start getting successful, you begin believing your own press. This is when things can go bad. I see lawyers fall in love with their law firms and themselves. This is a recipe for disaster. Remember your roots, your vision. You must love your clients. You must practice the theory of preeminence. Preeminence means that everything you do, is for the betterment of your client. You must keep this thought instilled in all your lawyers and staffs’ memory banks to have a successful law firm and to have continued growth.
6. Be Decisive
I see lawyers, on a daily basis, who struggle with making decisions. People in your firm want a decision and they really don’t care if it’s the right one or the wrong one. They want to know what to do and they don’t want to wait 4 or 5 days for a decision from you. The key is they just want to know what they need to do next. And if you’re going to be the leader of the firm, then you’ve got to make decisions. I understand that bigger decisions do take a little bit of time. But in the day to-day running of your law firm you must be very decisive. Here’s a good tip. If you’re struggling with a decision on whether to pull the trigger or not you’ve already told yourself your decision. You should not do it. Remember, be decisive.
7. Find a Good Mentor
Over the years, I have hired many mentors to help grow my practice and to help me grow personally. There is a good reason you want to do this. They have already made all the mistakes and can share with you the shortcuts to reaching your goals. I’ve always said that you can learn from your own mistakes. But it’s easier to learn from someone else’s mistakes. As you know, I coach and mentor lawyers with 1 hour calls each month, I also have a consulting company where I actually go to your law firm for 2 or 3 days. Whether you hire me or hire somebody else, just do it. The key is to hire someone to help you get to the next stage in your practice and reach your goals and your vision. The road to success will be much shorter and much less bumpy.
If you follow these 7 keys, you will create a thriving law practice you can be proud of.