Month: August 2020

EP 69 – David Miller – Expanding Your Practice to Incorporate Niches Your Competition is Overlooking

David Miller started his career in finance and investment banking and he worked very heavily on collateralized debt obligations. When the financial collapse occurred in 2008, David was just finishing up law school and with his previous background and experiences, he transitioned into a securities litigation practice that he has been in now since 2010. He teamed up with his current partner, Tom McCulloch, who has been doing estate planning for the past 30 years. They are trying to focus now on Complex Estate and Elder Law – what that means is having a plan not only for divesting your assets after you pass, but having a continuing care plan during your retirement and making sure that the right people are empowered to help you. If you would like to learn more or get in contact with David, email him at or reach out to Crystal Collins at

Using Your Background and Experiences to Help Your Clients

In David’s litigation practice, having a financial background helped him with his clients from a legal standpoint. He was a registered representative and very familiar with the sales practices and rules and regulations going into it. David developed a knack for how securities work, how they don’t work, who is making money, how that money is being made, and the real risks that were out there. Translating all of that into his litigation practice put himself and his firm at a higher competitive edge because they could act as their own experts. Being able to do this is helpful for the clients because you understand the concepts from the beginning and it also reduces the cost of litigation and expert fees if you can keep a lot of the work in-house. 

One of the main things that David and his team talked about is that a majority of the attorneys had a financial background and had been in the industry previously and knew the ins and outs and the pitfalls and that resonates with clients. Clients respond to attorneys who specialize in one, two, or three things rather than whoever comes in the door. They were able to establish themselves because of their specialty, which is good and bad. On one hand, you are out there in a very niche market and you can put yourself at the top of that market, but on the other hand, you are also very dependent on that small niche market. That is why they began to diversify into the estate planning field and determine how to distinguish themselves. 

How to Expand Into Other Niches and Why It Is Beneficial

The background facts need to be out there to understand the Medicaid practice. The number one fact is that the world and the United States are getting older and there are advances in medicine and medical technology, medical practices have expanded, and the life expectancy has increased exponentially and that number is supposed to double in the next 40 years. With that, there are ever-increasing costs. The reality is that costs are going up during retirement instead of down and that is due to the medical advances. Medicine is expensive and aging is expensive. Declined health comes with increasing costs in care. David’s firm is looking at and focusing on less how you pass things on after you die and more about having a plan in place while you are still alive and dealing with capacity issues and end-of-life costs. They are focused on ensuring that the right people are empowered to help someone as their mental and physical capacity declines and they have the mechanisms to pass control and they have instructions for agents and caregivers as to how they want to age and how they want to be cared for and making sure that there is a plan in place to fund it. 

David and his team were introduced to this practice and it is not a very common practice out there. They are dealing with Medicaid and two sets of rules, both the federal and state government rules. A lot of attorneys do not want to mess with it because it is complex, it is labor-intensive, and it does take a lot of investment. It is an under-served market. The system of retirement that we have set up in the US does not support the costs of long-term care. You have 4 different options for payment – you private pay because you are wealthy, insurance will pay, a family member of yours pays, or the government pays. What they are trying to do is find the best combination of private pay and the government pays so that you can protect assets and still have a cushion to supplement care and cost of living.

Fostering Relationships and Tactics to Bring in New Business

Once a client understands the cost, understands the numbers, and understands the investment, the plans almost sell themselves and it becomes a no-brainer. Selling that value proposition to a client is not that difficult because the ROI’s are pretty apparent. The problem that they have is getting clients past mental roadblocks. To get past the mental roadblocks, you need education – educating clients and educating their financial advisors as well. A couple of ways to do this is through workshops, web-based Zoom meetings or webinars, and through financial advisors. They want to get clients thinking about these things before they even come in and meet with them so that when they do meet, they are already primed for these types of topics. 

To get clients, David’s firm relies heavily on other professionals and other personnel. They work with the care providers and care managers directly at skilled nursing facilities. Care providers and care managers are in the industry and dealing with those particular clients on a day in and day out basis. Once they have developed a good relationship with the firm, they are comfortable referring clients to them. They are comfortable with the referral because it is helpful for the client and they are getting paid by the government, so the faster that they can get an application through or someone approved for Medicaid is the faster that they are going to get paid. David and his team foster those relationships, they meet on a regular basis, figure out what is going on in their business, talk to them about their challenges and try to help them out regularly without charge so that they are comfortable referring clients over to them. The other main referral source is financial advisors and they are a little trickier to deal with because they are more transactional. They have to sell them on a different type of value other than just referring new clients. What they try to do for them and sell them on is how they are going to help them maximize their assets under management. They do a lot of trust planning which is complicated – trusts have to be funded and they have to be administered correctly. That helps an advisor pick up orphan IRAs or other brokerage accounts and get all of the clients’ assets in one place which makes their job easier and they are getting more revenue off of that. Once the referral relationship has been developed, down the road it makes it a lot easier for them and their clients when they have to start funding trusts or administering trust because they include those other professionals in those conversations.

EP 68 – Elise Holtzman – Developing Your Law Firm from a Business Development Standpoint

Elise Holtzman is the President and Founder of The Lawyer’s Edge. Elise is an experienced attorney, certified professional coach and consultant. She is a former lawyer, no longer practicing law, and practiced in the area of commercial real estate transactions for two New York City law firms. When she was practicing law, she found that there were no coaches or very few female mentors in a similar situation. She got involved with professional coaching because it would combine everything that she loved that utilized many of her strongest disciplines she had developed during her professional career. Now, she helps lawyers and law firms become more successful in terms of bringing more revenue into the firms and running their firms like a true business. Elise does this by helping law firms develop their people into great business developers as well as great leaders. 

You can reach out to Elise by visiting her website at or send her an email at

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Business Development

The way that Elise and many others in the industry look at it is that marketing and business development go hand-in-hand with each other. So, what is the difference? Marketing is one to many. You are one person or one law firm and you are marketing to many people. It could be your website, you could be giving webinars, you could be writing articles, you could be posting on social media so that a lot of people are seeing you – they understand what it is that you do and who it is that you serve and they see that you are visible in the legal space and the business space. Business development is really more one-on-one. This is where you are developing relationships, preferably mutually beneficial relationships, with people so that they get to know you, you get to know them and understand what their needs are, and you can deliver value to them. Ultimately, when people have a sense of what you do and whom you serve and you have been delivering value to them and they know, like, and trust you, they are much more likely to hire you or to make a referral for you. People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. It does not necessarily come as easily through digital marketing – it certainly helps, and there are people who feel like they know you, but developing one-on-one relationships is critical. It will not change how you do things to understand the difference, but it is important to know that they do work hand-in-hand. The combination of the one-to-many and the one-to-one are critical to a law firm.

Investing in Yourself and the People on Your Team

One of the things that organizations like to say, and law firms are no different, is that “our people are our greatest asset”. If you are looking at your people and saying that they are your greatest asset, would you let your asset go to waste? If you had a physical asset such as a computer system in your office, would you not repair it, or update it and upgrade it, would you not keep it clean and tuned up? What happens is lawyers are expected to emerge from law school ‘fully formed’. It is true that your people are your biggest asset and there is a huge cost to having a revolving door. Where is the law firm investing in them? It is a two-way street and you are asking people to invest their time and energy and sweat equity in you (and yes you are paying them), but if you want to retain your talent, you have to invest in your people. If you want your law firm to be a growing, breathing entity that can keep doing better over time, you cannot let it stagnate. It is critical to educate your people on things other than technical legal skills, which also includes not only educating them, but also following up with support, whether it is individual coaching, group coaching, or getting them involved in certain initiatives and giving them the opportunity to get in front of clients and get in front of prospects so that they learn how to do this over time. You are investing in them over time and that sort of investment pays off. If you view it as a cost then you shouldn’t do it. It is a tremendous investment. 

Fixed Mindset Approach vs Growth Mindset Approach

As a law firm, let people know that it is a growth environment. There are two different approaches – a fixed mindset approach and a growth mindset approach. Some people take a fixed mindset approach to business development and you are either born with the ability to do it or you are not. What that means for everybody else is don’t bother trying because you will never be able to figure it out. However, if you have a growth mindset, there are many people who are going to get on board. It is really important for a firm to be able to set up that environment for people and understand that you may want to hire, or even promote, people who lock onto that culture and are willing to go with it. It does not mean that every person who is not willing to sign on has to be kicked out the door, it just means that some people are much better suited to be doing that work, cranking out the hours, and serving those that are out there doing the business. You will find that some people are going to be a good fit for you and that some are not. If you want a business development culture, or a diverse and inclusive culture, or a culture where leaders are made and not born, you are going to attract people over time that want the same thing. Over time, you fulfill your own desire to have a thriving, living, growing, breathing law firm.

EP 67 – Kirk Smith – How Lawyers Can Add Value and Enhance Experiences for Clients That Have Been Taken Advantage Of

Kirk Smith is a Managing Partner at Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas, LLP. He has been practicing law for over 21 years and was also a former stock broker. Kirk’s firm largely represents consumers against brokerage firms or investment advisors and they look to help consumers that may have been taken advantage of either in their portfolio or retirement savings. Often what went wrong inside a person’s portfolio could be due to the broker or brokerage firm’s negligence and Kirk looks to help those consumers and file cases on their behalf in what is called finra arbitration. If you are interested in getting in contact with Kirk, visit his website at or you can call his office at 800-259-9010. 

Red Flags That You Can Look For When Speaking to Your Clients

The first thing a lawyer could look for or field a question on is if there is a huge loss (mostly for those in retirement or nearing retirement). It will often be brought up to the lawyer because they are seen as such confidants and in a few other situations, you may just have access to that information. In many instances, the client trusting the attorney will broach the subject and that is how a lot of their business comes in. If you are not as common with their finances, you can simply ask them how things are going. Something as simple as that and you would be surprised about what it would yield – you will be surprised at what people open up and tell you. 

If that lawyer has a personal financial advisor that they trust, they can always bounce some ideas off of them or seek out an attorney. If you don’t know yourself, speaking with someone who does is very helpful. Other easy things to uncover aside from concentration are the use of margin or a credit line attached to the portfolio which can really decimate the account. Margin is the means by which you can borrow money from the firm to go and buy more bonds or stocks or other products. It certainly should not be used by anyone that is close to retiring or in retirement, only by those that know what they are doing. There are also lines of credit that are collateralized against the account. So other obvious ones are the use of margin and the use of credit lines collateralized to securities – just unusual products, if it is not a stock, bond, or mutual fund then people should not be in it. People do not understand what is going on because they were not given the full disclosure but they may have signed off on something. 

Why Are the Elderly Targeted and More Susceptible?

Kirk tries not to advise clients too much on who to use. As a rule, the larger firms have smart people that work there and trustworthy people, but there are always going to be bad apples wherever you go. He tries not to give too much direction to any one brokerage firm after they are done with his firm. Older people tend to be the ones that are targeted or more susceptible because they are more trustworthy of a person in an apparent power of authority or knowledge, but they also have larger amounts of money after working a lifetime. As far as making the claim goes, they should be treated differently in a more conservative fashion. Obviously fraud is looked upon a little more aggressively and they will view the brokerage firm in a different light. Either way, it is recoverable but you might get a larger reward or potentially get some costs / interests. It is still actionable – malpractice is malpractice and negligence is negligence. People who have suffered shouldnt bear the financial loss for the mistake, the mistake should be borne by the professional. A lot of times, older adults do not want to discuss their finances with their children, especially if they have several and there may be some issues there. You would be surprised.

Misrepresented Products and Topics to Stay Away From

He has spoken at a few different associations and some younger attorneys will attend classes for CLE and he will speak there about different topics and products to keep an eye out for and the process for how to present a case as well. People were investing or recommended to invest in Master Limited Partnerships or MLP which is tied to oil and gas and always recommended as a safe and secure product (as an alternative to a fixed income like a bond fund), but in reality it can fluctuate greatly. The price of oil does have a negative effect on it and many people were invested in these and suffered huge losses. Another thing are REIT’s which are real estate investment trusts. These are almost a mutual fund composed of real estate and people get stuck in them, especially these days. A lot of things are misrepresented to people or they are sold risky products. Each person is different and each situation is different. You can certainly expect to get more money back than if you did nothing. But there are so many different variables – what was said, if there are any emails, whether you are or were a blue collar worker, a professional, or a widow, and what type of concentration it was. They would not be doing it if they were not getting good returns for the clients, but it is hard to quantify. 

Your clients look up to you regardless of what service you are performing and when they need help, they want to turn to someone that they can trust even if it is a little outside of what that person does.

EP 66 – Peter Walts – Building Business Development Through IP and Value Proposition

Peter Walts is the Founder and CEO of Centropy Group as well as the COO of Employment Law Alliance, otherwise known as ELA. Peter is focused on creating new value and client momentum through business strategy, alliances, licensings and transactions. He has been in this business for about 20 years now and has enjoyed helping companies look at building alliances and building business development within their firms. Has been helping law firms specifically for about 7 years primarily through ELA. Peter also hosts a few different podcasts but mainly focuses on Employment Matters. 

You can learn more about Peter at and you can learn more about Employment Law Alliance at You can find his podcast ‘Employment Matters’ at and connect with him via LinkedIn at

Leveraging Intellectual Property Internally

They call it one of the business development assets,  not only the logo, the trademark and those things, but it’s the way the firm is perceived in the market and the individual expertise of the subject matter experts within the firm. When you break it out and look at how firm’s can leverage their intellectual property it is really the things that they are doing one-to-one with a client and how they can package that in a way that it is now creating best practices or experiences that other firms can benefit from. The way that you help someone may be different than the way that someone else helps them. Look at your firm and really take inventory of what the practice areas are that you have strength in, what relationships that you have strength in – not only existing customers, but market segments, industry segments – and how you can take your message with that subject matter expertise out into the marketplace and use it to help others, even other law firms. Your clients are looking for the best advice that they can get and the best relationships that they can get so wherever you can help them by leveraging not only what you know but who you know is going to help them immeasurably and they will stick with you forever. 

Look at intellectual property as an intangible – as the expertise of the firm, as the reputation of the firm, as the good works of the firm – and then move through the organization. You should be mining talent right from the beginning as a law firm and look at the intellectual property that the younger lawyers can bring to the table when looking at social media or reaching out or building a parallel network within the firm or with another group of young lawyers across the country or across the globe. Do this in a way that is inclusive and that clients see them as a generous provider of content and not as a competitor to all of the other law firms in that space. Look for opportunities to team with other colleagues in your practice area from other firms or to find other firms outside of your geographic area that you can partner with that will really make your message stronger to the clients that you have and make you more attractive to clients that you want to bring in.

Assessing Your Unique Value Proposition

It is important to identify what your unique proposition is. We all have at the baseline that we are lawyers and we can all assume that we are good lawyers and that we have existing clients. We all accomplish those things in different ways and may be handling the same type of legal issues in a unique manner. Ask yourself what industries do you have particular expertise in and how can you help guide that industry? If you have one client in an area, you have expertise in that area. There are opportunities for you to look as a firm for marketing. Don’t think of the other law firms in your market as competitors, think of them as service providers who are all providing unique value propositions or unique intellectual property to help clients and clients will choose where they want to work. Let’s all grow up and work together because we need each other. That is the strength of networks and alliances and the formulas of those is how you put together what is usually an unlikely combination.

Benefits of Strategic Alliances for Law Firms

There is uniqueness in being an independent firm and building an alliance if you get that opportunity to continue in your own practice and fill in those areas where someone else may have strength. All parties in an alliance see value in a similar way – start small and one of the best things is that you just have to work on something together. The advantages in alliances over acquisitions is that they are quick to form. You don’t have to have a lot of equity in it, they’re flexible, you can decide as a group what works,and  they don’t take much cash or drain a lot of resources. Try something that allows you to align around a certain practice area. Today, some of our vendor sources may be in a lot of trouble so now is a good time to start thinking how do we as an industry go out and start building alliances so that if someone is struggling and they are critical to the supply chain we have a way to help them. You can create vertical alliances or you can create alliances around technology and those are things that make alliances beneficial and there really isn’t a restriction on where you can have them. 

Think about some of the other firms that you have strong relationships with that are not in your market and some other firms that have expertise like you do in another industry segment and what other people in your industry you know that you can partner with where you don’t compete directly. That is the making of the beginning of an alliance. Firms that have developed and documented their intellectual property may be better suited to be a part of these strategic alliances. Think about what you have to offer and what they have to offer and what you can bring together. Marketers need to be looking to other marketers for best practice. They need to be listening to podcasts to learn how they can build on the knowledge of others. The first thing to do is take an inventory of what the firm has to offer and go down to the individual person. Find out where all of the intellectual property or firm assets are across the skillsets, the interest, the industry expertise, the relationships and the charitable contributions and start to knit those together with who you can partner with.

EP 65 – Terri Pepper Gavulic – Benefits to Being in a Law Firm Networking Group to Obtain Referrals and Expert Opinions

Terri Pepper Gavulic is the Chief Business Officer or TerraLex. TerraLex started as a referral network nearly 30 years ago and now, they are a membership network by invitation only. Her company  has made a conscious effort to morph from being solely a referral network to having a platform for their members to collaborate which gives them the opportunity to have an even larger  global footprint.

How Does the Membership and Vetting Process Work?

Within TerraLex, members can go and find others who may be members elsewhere, but many of them also know each other because of all of the ways that they meet throughout the year. Members will inquire about who is the leading person in a specific area and then they will move forward from there to help their clients. The reason it is palatable to the client community is because TerraLex  is invitation only and they also  go through a pretty rigid vetting process which is then followed by on-going quality control assurances, so it saves their clients a step so they don’t have to go through that vetting process themselves. 

TerraLex members have exclusivity in the jurisdiction that is their ‘territory’ which means that they do not have a lot of openings. When an opening becomes available, they will do the research, talk to their members, talk to their clients and find out who the leading firms are in that jurisdiction. Other times they will approach them and they will have conversations with them and then talk to clients and other members. If they still cannot assure the quality by looking at rankings and other things like that, they might give them a try on some matters by having someone refer work to them and seeing the quality there. Once they are sure that they are the right quality and the right fit and right practice-mix, they are invited into membership. TerraLex works very closely with their members and Regional Vice Chairs (board members) conduct a review every 2 years of each member to assure that there are no issues and that they are maintaining the kind of quality that they want. They have a pretty sophisticated team on board that also works hand-in-hand with the clients.

Important Elements of Networking to TerraLex Members

With the way that the network started, referrals are certainly the heart and soul of it, but their members also collaborate and work together on projects and also have a courtesy advice policy. Members also share marketing and business development ideas with each other. The company’s responsibility, as they view it, is to help members understand how to market their firms by leveraging TerraLex. They provide council and facilitate members sharing and collaborating on ideas with each other. 

TerraLex has recently taken all of their meetings online and have found that members who are working remotely seem to have more time to join in on those endeavors. They are also seeing a lot more people in the member-firm join in on different projects. While there are some elements of meetings that are really important to their members, the ability to network with other members and have  focused discussions around client development and global connections has still remained. They have been able to add other elements that they might not have been previously able to if they were not in a virtual environment such as social activities and keynote speakers. Members are truly close-knit and they like each other. Throughout the invitation and vetting process, they are very careful to bring in other members that fit in with the current members so that when they get together there is a lot of education, there is a lot of business conducted, but there is also a lot of just plain connecting socially and enjoying each other’s company that will build those trusting relationships that lead to people working together.

Ways for New Lawyers to Get Involved in Referral Groups

One thing for new lawyers to learn in the beginning is that you can’t be everything to everybody. You need to figure out how you are going to position yourself and then find some sort of interest group. If Terri were a young lawyer starting out, equally to determining what her practice area would be, she would immediately try to figure out what industry she wants to get more in depth with. Build a best friend’s network, but there needs to be a commonality of what you want to do. You have to, at some point, pick one interest to market yourself and do it well but devote all of your limited time, your limited dollars, and limited efforts in one direction and that seems to pay more benefits to a young lawyer trying to start their career than trying to scatter themselves.

EP 64 – Doug Ott – Getting to Know Your Contacts on a Personal Level to Improve Business Development

Doug Ott is the Founder of Doug Ott Consulting, LLC. Doug has been coaching and mentoring lawyers and accountants for the past 15 years and has been in business development for his entire career, over 30 years. He opened his own consulting practice about 4 years ago. Doug realized that there was a huge need for telling lawyers how not to sell, but how to connect with their prospective and existing clients to help them grow their business. His company, Doug Ott Consulting, works with lawyers all over the US including  small, medium, and large firms. 

If you would like to get in contact with Doug, you can check out his website at or connect with him on LinkedIn ( You can also call him on his direct line at 415-350-9423. Doug is happy to offer a free 30min consultation for any quick question you may have.

Organizing Your Contacts List and Tracking Development of Relationships

Our current times are new territory for all of us and we have the opportunity to take advantage of the extra time that we have. It is a time to get better organized and become more focused. Even tactical business development efforts have been changed because of the situation. Doug is telling his lawyers to reach out to their contacts and just check in with them on a personal level and not worry about the business. Take this opportunity to reach out to contacts (prospective clients, existing clients, internal colleagues, referral sources) – you just need to be out there reaching out to people. 

Doug just released a 4-week challenge. The rules to his challenge are to reach out to 1 contact every day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. The stipulation is that the contact has to be someone that you have not talked to in at least the last 4 weeks. The idea behind this challenge is to see who you have not talked to in a while and what relationships are important out there that you could rekindle. Don’t call your contacts and talk business, but  just reach out and ask how they are doing. You can ask how they are coping with COVID and the lockdown situation. This might lead into a conversation for you to learn more about that person on a more personal level. Take this time to really change the way that you are reaching out to people. Leave it on a personal level to begin with and if that conversation then migrates into a business conversation, great, and if it doesn’t, then that is okay too. 

When we get out of lockdown, the more challenging thing will be just reaching out to people and seeing how people are doing because the conversation starter may be a little more difficult. If you start to learn more about that person on a personal level and make those mental notes, then you can check in on that person in a month or 3 months and ask them about those things. Whatever you learn about your contacts on a personal level now can help you so much down the road. It is going to pay off when you are trying to figure out ways to stay in touch with those people and just check in with them.

Staying Top of Mind in Business Development

What are you doing to stay top of mind? Doug will usually task his clients to not only know that their contacts have a spouse and 2 kids, but to know the names of their kids and how old they are as well as the name of their spouse. Making your conversations more personal can make a huge difference in how you differentiate yourself from your competition. People want to work with those that they like and appreciate. Doug recommends using a relationship tracker and he created his own that is an Excel spreadsheet. It segregates clients into different buckets such as corporate clients, internal colleagues, referral sources, alumni network, and others. There is also a timestamp so you can timestamp everytime that you reach out to this person so that you can track the cadence of how often you reach out and also record the notes. Keep it simple and make sure that it is something you can actually use easily. You also need to be patient in what you learn about someone today might not pay off until a year or two down the road. Gifting can be great and if you can do it at a time that is not typical, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it will stand out even more. Just do something different. 

If you would like to receive a copy of the relationship tracker Doug mentions above, send him an email at

Collaborating with Internal and External Colleagues

Collaboration is critical. If you work with a professional services firm, whether it is accounting or legal, the internal relationships are paramount to be successful in that firm. Usually the common thread is that the really successful partners have an incredible network internally within their own firm. Obviously the larger the firm, the more important it is because there are easier allies. Pick up the phone and call someone. Make a list of all the important internal colleagues that you need to maintain a relationship with and put that list in your relationship tracker. It is still a very important process to be staying in front of your colleagues during this time as well. It is proactive thinking and thinking about who else could you be really strategically targeting within your own firm who could help you grow one of your larger clients. You will also just develop great friendships. This is another opportunity to do that because this is a personal environment. Right now is really the time to open up and reach out to others to learn more about their practice and see how you can help eachother out. This is a time to connect with a mix of people in your network. Keep plugging away and keep planting those seeds and making the effort because the conversations you have today may really pay off in the next year or two.

EP 63 – Chase Williams and Ryan Klein – Why You Need to Start the Approval Process for the Biggest Google Update in Years

On This Episode, We Discuss …
• Why the Legal Local Service Ads Are Important to You?
• Where to Begin with Google Screened Local Service Ads
• Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Google Local Service Ads

To view the screen share video:

If you are interested in learning more, check out Ryan’s blog post – and if you would like to schedule a video consult with Ryan, use the following link to select a date and time –

EP 62 – Jason Levin – Getting Started with a Business Development Plan to Raise Your Profile

Jason Levin is the Founder and Owner of ReadySetLaunch. Jason implements a specific set of tools and approaches that lawyers should be using for law firm business development. ReadySetLaunch  has been around for nearly 9 years as a full-service coaching and training company for attorneys doing business development for councils, partners, associates helping them create a road map and execute it so that they can succeed within their firms and within their practices. If you are interested in contacting Jason, please visit his website at or email him directly at

Understanding Discipline and Focus in SMART Goals

When Jason thinks about focus, he thinks of having a target market of who you are planning to serve. You first need to understand within a focus perspective who is the end buyer or person that will sign off to allow you to be able to practice. He defines discipline as coming up with a set of tools and tactics so that you can get closer and closer in front of the people that will be in a position to buy your services. Both discipline and focus go into a business development plan. There are several different versions of this, but essentially there are components. The 1st piece is listing who your current relationships are. In terms of relationships, it can be as small as who is in your practice or who is in your office and then your own personal relationships such as law school classmates, undergrad classmates, friends and family, etc. The 2nd piece is determining the types of people that you want to be working with. The 3rd piece is then based on current relationships and targets and evaluating some ways that you can get in front of those people whether it is via webinars, conferences, or newsletters. It is crucial to know the types of things that these people are reading and where they are congregating. This will  help the attorney identify different areas that exist for them. 

Using SMART goals allows you to then bring that into your own calendar. If you don’t have SMART goals in your business development plan, you are not executing on your business development plan. The biggest issue attorneys run into is that they will write the business development plan and then it will go on a shelf, when in reality it is a living document. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results Oriented, and Time Sensitive. Jason is a 90-day person, so he wants to set something so specific that you can achieve it in 90 days. You can have SMART goals among relationships, among conferences, among thought leadership and make sure that it is specific enough so that you are not thinking about business development, but rather what you may have promised yourself that week. 

It is all about time and calendar blocking. You need to own the calendar block and be very, very specific about it. Jason refers to MIT as the Most Important Task. Attorneys can have an MIT for business development and it does not have to take that long. He also looks at the Pomodoro Technique which is Italian for tomato timer. Francesco Cirillo came up with a technique where he put a tomato timer on his desk and took away all distractions that he might have. He took 25 minutes to read and when the timer went off, he took a 5 minute break. He started to think of his work in terms of pomodoros, so for business development, instead of a 25 minute pomodoro, you could do a 12 minute or a 6 minute where you come up with a discrete task and put everything else away to complete that so that you can get closer to completing your SMART goals. Some attorneys have clearly busy times and Jason is always working with them to see what discrete, very specific things that they can do even during those extremely busy times. Busyness is okay and can actually be a business development opportunity with the people that you are already working with.

Common Traps that Lawyers Fall Into Within Business Development

Some attorneys fall into loving LinkedIn so much that they will connect with everybody and then think that they have a problem with LinkedIn. They don’t have a LinkedIn problem, they have a content problem because they do not have anything to share on their personal page. You need to generate thought leadership and then use LinkedIn and other social tools as a sharing mechanism. Another thing that lawyers fall into is that they don’t understand their market all the time, so they need to be going to the right conferences, reading the right trade publications, understanding what their clients’ issues are and doing the right types of research to determine a solution. Attorneys struggle with the asking of questions. Try asking a question and then answering the question that your client asks you and then continue the conversation. Just ask a question and then see where things go. You must be present and in the moment and use your listening skills as a form of having the right discipline.

Pro Bono as a Part of the Business Development Plan

Something to start thinking about are the kinds of things that your clients are doing in the community and how you could help with what they are doing. This is something that directly aligns because if your clients care about it, then you care about it. Whatever your cause is, there is an opportunity within your community to find non-profits that are looking for board members. You, as an attorney, bring an incredible skill set and you start to meet groups of people that you normally would not meet that share your same interests and values. The greatest way to get to know someone is to work with them to determine how you interact with them and then they will begin to trust you. Jason works with attorneys to go after pro bono opportunities that align with their specific values. When you get outside of the law firm setting and into board meetings, you see how other types of people communicate and what their needs are. When an attorney gets a board seat, it is an opportunity for them to add value and the non-profit appreciates it and it raises awareness of who you are and your practice group / your firm. Just get started. It is so easy to get into your own head and only hear all of the different reasons why you should not reach out. Get started and it will be amazing what you will be able to do by just having a weekly approach to raising your profile.