legalpodcast

EP 72 – Tangi Carter – How to Attract the Ideal Client and How to Weed Out the Bad Clients

Tangi Carter is the Owner of Tangi Carter Law Firm and Business Mentor and Coach at The Peaceful Lawyer. Tangi began practicing in Florida right out of law school and she started out as a Public Defender at the age of 25. She started learning how to network, who the judges were and what their quirks were, so by the time that she opened her own practice, she felt as though she had a very good background to be able to do that. The best thing that she has learned throughout the years is to treat your current clients very well – take care of the people that have already paid for your services – the best clients are referrals from other clients. Tangi also coaches female lawyers. 

If you want to reach out to Tangi, you can email her at tangi@thepeacefullawyer.com or find her on social media – Instagram (@the_peaceful_lawyer), Facebook, and LinkedIn. For a copy of the ‘7 Steps to Attracting the Ideal Client’ Guide, visit https://thepeacefullawyer.lpages.co/7-steps-to-attracting-your-ideal-client/

Tips from 7 Steps to Attracting the Ideal Client Guide

A lot of the questions that they have asked are on that initial phone call when the client calls into the office. Tangi and her firm do charge a consultation fee, where many other lawyers do not. When someone comes in and pays for the consultation fee, you know that they are serious. If that client chooses to hire her, she will then put that consultation fee towards whatever the retainer may be. If they can answer those questions from the phone call favorably, then they will come in and meet with Tangi herself. Within the last 5 years, because of doing this streamlined system, they have been able to double their prices on everything and they are still getting it. You can do it if you are worth it – you have to do something for the client – answer their phone calls, etc. At Tangi’s office, they have a policy to call their clients back within 24 hours. 

Correlation in Quality of Clients and Raised Prices

There is no doubt a correlation between the quality of clients and the raised prices. Tangi takes a very wide range of cases and it helps, as long as the client is okay with it, if they can stay up to date on the online portal and stay informed. A lot of people do not devote any of their time during the week to their business. Most attorneys seem to be more reactive and they are not taking the time to talk about growing the business with their staff. Utilizing the consultation fee is one of the best ways to determine those people who are just shopping for free legal advice. You can facilitate and help those to get a public defender appointed on their case. In the criminal defense area, you are not just telling someone to get out of your office, you are trying to help them.

Asking the Right Questions to Weed Out the Bad Clients

Tangi sees it all the time where people will come in and attorneys do not take any information from that person and then they have no recollection of who they were. She will tell people that come into her office for a consultation to go talk to other attorneys to find out who they are comfortable with and to see who they mesh well with. They need to make sure that that person primarily focuses on the area that they are seeking help in and that they know the judges as well. If you ask the right questions, you can weed out the bad clients. Tangi asks questions such as if the client is currently represented by anyone, do they have any pending lawsuits, have they ever been represented by an attorney – who was it, and what was that experience like with that person, etc. You want to do your homework because one person can take up the majority of your time. When you begin using the intake sheet, you need to keep that person’s name to be able to search for potential conflicts. Come up with a way to do a conflict check so that something does not come up and surprise you.

EP 71 – Brett Trembly – Utilizing Virtual Staffing Within Your Law Firm

Brett Trembly is the Founder of Get Staffed Up as well as Founder at Trembly Law Firm. Brett started his law firm in 2011 in Miami, Florida. In 2018, Brett and his partner started Get Staffed Up as ‘the ultimate side hustle’. Their strategy was to get a few clients and then build out their system and nail it down. They spent the first 6 months of 2018 developing their pipeline, relationships, countries that they wanted to be in, and all of the back-end stuff and then began trying to make sales in July of 2018.

If you are interested in learning more, visit getstaffedup.com and fill out the contact page or you can email them directly at freedom@getstaffedup.com

What Work Can You Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) To Do?

Brett has learned to get rid of the things that he is either not good at or that he does not want to do. It is easier read than done – not said than done. It is a hard thing for people when they know that they need to hire someone, but it is so daunting and expensive. He wanted to help lawyers and entrepreneurs really learn how to delegate their way to freedom. It turned from saying that there are cheaper options and better talent, energy, and attitude to just talking to people about hiring better and smarter. Outsourcing the hiring and having someone given to you that is really good and friendly, that you are involved in the interview process with, that is now a part of your team is what has been so cool about this. 

At Get Staffed Up, there are three categories for the virtual assistants – the marketing virtual assistant, administrative virtual assistant, and lastly, the clerical virtual assistant. If you are the lead singer of a band and hiring a guitarist, you do not bring them in and read their resume, you hand them a guitar and make them play. It is the same thing when you are hiring someone for any business – you give them the task that you want them to do and you test them and that’s how you find good people. You can hire for attitude and train for skill. You can call it outsourcing, but you are paying Get Staffed Up and it is a full-time employee for you, so it is more like insourcing.

Benefits of Having Full-Time VA’s

Sometimes it takes convincing for companies to hire full time because they will say that they are only looking for part-time. When you put it like this, “Do you really not think enough of your own business and enough of yourself as a business person …”, it makes that decision a bit easier. When you don’t have an assistant to delegate to, things just begin to pile up on the shelf. Sometimes what is really valuable is having an employee with a little bit of excess capacity that you can say “That is who I need to jump on that project”. To Brett’s team, the part-time to full-time is a no-brainer, but the price point allows them to hammer that home. They find someone, they go through the process, they match them with a client, and then they have a client happiness liaison. 99 times out of 100, the client says that the person is phenomenal and they love them. 

The other thing that hiring full-time allows the team to do is focus on growing the business and adding more value because they would spend so much time trying to play those Tetris hours if clients were just hiring part-time. They have put so much thought into everything that they have done and it comes back to, “How do we build the company that we want, not the company that other people think that we should have?”

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them 

It takes 7 or 8 tries before you get someone that you like and that works with you the way that you want them to. A lot of people that do it themselves, if they ever figure out how to, will try it once and it will not work and then they will basically write it off. There is a huge mindset component behind that, but quitting is the number one thing. One of the other mistakes that people make is not having a plan for what you are going to delegate and how you are going to check in on the process. You have to have a very thought-out plan for how you are going to give your employees feedback. One of the things that Brett and his team have learned is to have a very strategic meeting rhythm. You want to have check-in points throughout the week, but one meeting per week – block out 90 minutes per week to work with your virtual assistant. 

For expectations in project turn-around-time, It depends on the position that the VA is in. There are daily tasks, but when Brett is talking about a weekly check-in, he is referencing the bigger type project that takes a while. It is also very crucial to focus on the relationship that you are creating with all of your employees, even virtual. Bonuses are fine and good and they are going to make people happy, but make your virtual team members a part of your team. When you make people feel a part of something bigger and a part of the team and appreciated and you give feedback and praise their work when it is appropriate, that is how you build loyalty and you build great teams. Brett encourages his clients to treat them as they are a part of the team like they would any other team member. You don’t have to over-do it – these are all things that we used to have to go more in-depth about, but people just get it more now.

EP 70 – Nat Slavin – How to Gather Feedback and Create Loyalty Within Your Clients for a Better Experience

Nat Slavin is the Partner and Co-Founder of Wicker Park Group. He has been talking to lawyers for over 25 years about how to bring a clear voice to their clients. Nat and his partner started Wicker Park Group in 2007 and for the last 13 years, they have been primarily doing direct client feedback. They have developed training programs and other workshops for lawyers to help them act on the information they receive. The single most important thing in client feedback is if you are going to take the time to ask someone what they want and value, you have to be prepared to act on that.

Reach out to Nat by visiting his website at www.wickerparkgroup.com and if you are interested in learning more, email him at nat@wickerparkgroup.com

Connecting with Your Clients In Order to Receive Feedback

For law firms that are trying to make the best possible business decisions, if you don’t know what your customer is going to be doing next, what is top of mind, and what their internal pressures are, then how can you actually deliver service? Law firms still struggle to figure out the right way to do this.

There are many different approaches to connect with your clients to get feedback. One of the biggest challenges if you asked leaders in firms is that there is a difference between asking the client how they are doing on a matter and truly getting into the relationship at multiple levels and understanding what those clients’ needs are. Some people play very important roles in the firm-client relationship, so getting down to that next level is a hard and important piece of feedback. One of the stumbling blocks that firms face is anxiety. Partners that have successful relationships don’t want to hear anything that they are not doing as well as they could be, and while feedback is not about criticism, 95% of the feedback that they usually get is positive. Law firms connect with their clients and do relationship visits, leadership visits, but those are very surface.

Adding Value to Your Client Relationships and What Questions to Ask

There is a great book, called The Ultimate Question, that was written by Fred Reichheld which focuses on the Net Promoter Score. In every interview that Nat and his team have done since 2007, they have asked the question, “How likely are you to recommend your lawyer to a colleague or peer?” Only 9’s and 10’s are promoters; 7’s and 8’s are neutral; 1-6 are detractors. They have a database of thousands of NPS scores and also some measurement scores around themes that they think drive client loyalty – responsiveness, communication, value for the fees, etc. The vast majority of the interviews are around the subjective drivers of the relationship. There are only a few things that matter in most client relationships which is if you understand their problem, if you understand their business and if you will make their life easier along the way. That is what every client truly wants. The more pleasant the relationship and the ability to make their life easier are drivers of the relationships. 

It is such a transactional business that every hour spent yields an hour of revenue and the clients are very conscious of that and they want efficiency. Adding value around very specific training, not just legal training but business training, and making it accessible is important. In every communication to your client, address the issue, the communication, and the next step. One of the greatest criticisms that they ever hear of lawyers is not wanting a ‘two-handed lawyer’. That does not help the client to decide how to move forward. Understanding the business, the workshops, and the training score very high on the unprompted asks when they ask the clients what they value. Socialization is what scores low every time. 

How to Immediately Increase Client Loyalty

Don’t make assumptions on what your clients need without asking them and confirming and knowing that every individual at the organization is going to have a different set of needs. If you uncover or learn in a conversation with your client their priorities and you have other lawyers working on their matters, make sure that is communicated to the team. Do the small things that drive loyalty. Being honest about the firm’s capabilities and your practice’s capabilities is a hard conversation to have with the client. What drives loyalty is saying “we could do this and figure this out, we’re not the best firm, but there’s a competitor at a different firm that I know can give you that answer and I want to introduce you” even though, theoretically, you are jeopardizing that relationship. Ultimately, those lawyers that are extremely candid are showing tremendous loyalty. 

Bad news never gets better with time. Never surprise your client and never anticipate or expect that they understand something until they have told you that they understand it. Make sure that you understand that the relationship is centered around a lot of vulnerability for the client. They have a problem, they have been hurt or harmed, and they need somebody to help them. The absence of information – clear, direct, and succinct information – makes a huge difference. A lot of times, the person generating the business is not the person doing the work, so the sooner that you can define the roles of your team and who to go to, the better. Create points of contact and let your clients know who your number 2 is and give them the information needed to reach that person. You can lower anxiety by over-communicating and setting and managing the expectations and it can be really powerful. The most important thing about getting the strong client feedback process started is sharing the outcomes in the organization. Lawyers want to see something that has worked in the past and then they will buy onto it. 

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 david@mcmfirm.com or reach out to Crystal Collins at crystal@mcmfirm.com

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 www.thelawyersedge.com or send her an email at elise@thelawyersedge.com

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 https://www.investorlawyers.com 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 centropygroup.com and you can learn more about Employment Law Alliance at ela.law. You can find his podcast ‘Employment Matters’ at https://employment_matters.buzzsprout.com and connect with him via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/peterwalts/

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 www.dougottconsulting.com or connect with him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dougott123/). 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 doug@dougottconsulting.com

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNM578QyCDM&feature=youtu.be

If you are interested in learning more, check out Ryan’s blog post – https://www.marketmymarket.com/google-screen-local-service-ads-expands-into-more-practice-areas-and-cities/ and if you would like to schedule a video consult with Ryan, use the following link to select a date and time – https://calendly.com/market-my-market/1-on-1-set-up