In today’s online, demand-driven economy, understanding how to place the right bets on yourself and your practice is an important tool to have in your toolkit. The second day of Lawyernomics 2017 focused on what it means to be an entrepreneur in a changing industry, how to position your brand across platforms, and how to best support clients who are in a stressful legal situation.
Betting big in business
Las Vegas is about a lot of things, from hospitality, gambling, to entertainment, but at the heart of it, the city is really about people aspiring for a better tomorrow. And part of achieving that success, according to Tom Breitling, serial entrepreneur and author, is about taking risk and placing bets on yourself and your business. Here are a few ways you can leverage the Breitling mindset:
- Listen to customers. If you listen to your customers, they will give you the answers you need to build a successful business. Listen to what they want; don’t tell them what you think they need.
- Trust your partners – and your lawyers. Surround yourself with people you trust to help build your business. Without trust, success becomes much more challenging to achieve.
- Not every bet pays off, but don’t be afraid of failure. Losses can feel like a punch to the gut. But failure is a fact of life, and experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted – and that experience is important.
The future of law in 30 minutes: three dynamic speakers share their vision for our profession in 6 minutes each
In six minutes and exactly 20 slides each, three speakers presented their argument for why what they contribute to the legal industry will help shape law in a positive way. Dan Lear, Director of Industry Relations at Avvo, encouraged attendees to take off their lawyer hats and listen to these visions of the future.
- Andrew Arruda on Artificial Intelligence. While many might think that AI is new, it’s actually been around for decades – and it’s not about robots. It’s software that is built to help human perform tasks more efficiently (in other words, your career is safe).
- Vanessa Vasquez de Lara on working to live, not living to work. You can design your firm to work for you if you are intentional about your life and work goals. If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail. “My priorities are my family and vacations,” said Vanessa. “I take the time to plan and create the firm to allow me the time to do those things.” And make sure you hire the right people to help you – don’t spend your time on non-lawyer work.
- Nicole Abboud on how Millennials think. Growing you network online is a matter of deciding which neighborhoods you want to live in: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then, you can become a great neighbor by posting useful content to those who live next door.
In the hot seat: understanding how client stress can help grow your business
People with legal problems are stressed out. And stress makes people behave in ways they normally don’t, impairing their ability to think clearly. While this isn’t exactly new news for lawyers, the fact that you can help mitigate stress for your clients might be. Here are a few tips from Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo:
- Communicate with your clients in a way that reduces stress. Provide them with clear information about what to expect from you and the legal process – and explain how you will help them resolve their legal issue.
- Understand that your clients may not remember things. Stress makes people forgetful. Repeat what you’ve told them both in-person, via email, and over the phone.
- Tell your clients what the final bill will be when possible. Seventy-seven percent of legal consumers worry about the price. Offering unbundled services or flat-rate billing can help alleviate this stress.
Reboot your law practice – you can learn to have a successful law practice
The legal industry is evolving and changing every day, making it challenging to be sure you’re staying in front of your target audience. Scott Limmer, lawyer and host of Reboot Your Law Practice podcast, explained how attorneys can stay relevant and thrive.
- Do a market evaluation. Understand how many potential clients there are versus how many lawyers are in your practice area and geography. This will help you pinpoint your market opportunity and business objectives.
- Learn how to be more efficient and productive. Evaluate your daily work and prioritize it by what tools you have available to do that work (do you have some down time in court and can write a quick blog post?), time available (is 30 minutes enough?), and energy reserves to complete the task. Check out The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It and Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business for additional tips and tricks.
- Make sure you are acting as the CEO of your business. Create a business plan so that you have a clear vision of where you are going. Understand where you acquire your clients, where your time is being spent, and evaluate your income and expenses. You can and should hire help if you need it, just make sure you are in charge. It’s your business.
Betting on your brand
As a frequent legal commentator on local and national news stations including Fox News and CNN, and a regular contributor to Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog and industry publications, Jennifer Brandt, Co-Chair Family Law Department at Cozen O’Connor, has honed a successful brand as a thought leader and family law expert. She discussed the importance of building a brand as part of your overall marketing plan, and offered a few starting tips to help frame your personal and practice brand (s):
- Branding works best when we stay true to our authentic selves. Think about your best qualities and develop them. Understand the competition bud don’t feel compelled to copy. Clearly define your goals – where do you want to go?
- The relationships between brands and people needs to be made and remade. Reinforce what established the relationship in the first place, what attracted people to your brand, and make sure you stay true to that and your audience. You are often your business.
- Don’t let your bio get stale. Everything that you do, update your bio, your profile, your blog. Link your social profiles together when you have something to share – an event you’re attending, a speaking engagement, a new case – and give your clients and community a holistic view of what you offer at all times, from whatever platform they find you on.
Refine your LinkedIn message; communicate your personal and firm’s brand
As clients, lawyers, and other professionals all use LinkedIn to connect with other business-minded professionals, leveraging this social networking platform can have excellent benefits for your business growth. Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist, shared tips for how to best optimize and manage their personal profile page whilst keeping branding and professional networking in mind:
- You are never a finished product. Always be evolving, learning, and innovating. There are always new ideas to adopt into your law practice, and you never know where these new things will take you.
- Know why you do what you do, and how your qualifications help your clients hire you. Your past determines your present, and your present determines your future. The skillset and value proposition you offer today will follow you into the future. You are in command of your future – it will offer you new opportunities when you tell why you and the skills and values you possess propel you.
- Be mindful of the words and headshot you use on your profile. Mix it up. Say what you need to say in your summaries on profiles, and make sure your photo communicates what you want your clients to think of you. Change up your language every once in a while. Share the why of what you do – convey your experience, passion, and what you’ll do for them.
Pro tip for LinkedIn – turn off your notification settings. You may not want all of your updates to be captured.
The report cards you never see
With an increasingly competitive market, it’s essential for lawyers to understand how their clients assess their performance so that they can maximize the generation of new business. Rob Thomas, VP Sales at Latitude Connect, walked us through actionable steps to ensure that you successfully serve and retain your clients:
- Adopt a satisfaction strategy. Send updates, minimize surprises. Provide status on a regular basis to reinforce value-adds. Discuss evaluation process. Understand rating system and ask for feedback.
- Keep correspondence simple for your clients. Be clear and concise in your communications with clients, whether it’s over email, on the phone, etc. Keep the contents down to tasks, meetings, decisions, and documents.
- Set realistic expectations. If you’re being judged on the criterion, make sure you’re a part of the process. Clarify value added. Explain challenges, quantify outcomes, share lessons learned.
Thank you for a fantastic Lawyernomics 2017! We enjoyed the past couple of days with all of the amazing attorney and sponsors who were able to make it to Las Vegas this year. Mark your calendars now for May 21 – 23, 2018, when Lawyernomics will take place at the Venetian Las Vegas.