Find a niche… easier said than done, right?

Usually when I mention finding a niche, most lawyers’ push back. They generally explain how they don’t want to miss this kind of case or that kind of case. Their practice areas list looks like that of a firm of 10 lawyers. How can you possibly market such a list? How can potential clients and referring attorneys remember what you do? Will they think of you when any of those practice areas are mentioned? Probably not!  If your list is a practice group with a long list of sub practice areas… that works. However if your list is: criminal defense, real estate closings and business transactions… that’s another story.

Continue Reading Legal Business Development: Find A Niche

Are you one of thousands of lawyers that are just going through the motions? Are you just doing what is expected of you? Because… that is what an associate does in order to make partner… or that is what a shareholder does simply because you’re a shareholder… or that is what you do to keep your firm moving upward?

But what you do each day is not what fuels you… you’re simply going through the motions. It’s a job! If so… I challenge you to change it! Find what fuels you. If you aren’t working on the matters that energize you… then find the kind of work that will. If you are not in an environment that feels right then do something about it. If you are struggling to move your firm forward, step back and ask yourself the tough questions. Do what you need to do to change things. Find your passion. Find the fire in your belly. Find your calling!

I know you can find it! I work with lawyers every week who are finding it. When you do, it makes dealing with the long hours, demanding clients, and the work that business development requires a lot more palatable.

So… find it! Because it is the foundation needed to build a solid book of business. You can’t fake it or just go through the motions. Your inauthenticity will show. But when you have passion for what you are doing people can sense it… you never have to “sell” it. You just have to be genuine!

Black Pearl: The Success Principles by Jack Canfield says it all in the tagline… How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. This is a jewel of a book! His opening chapter… Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life… is a kick in the butt. It had a powerful influence on my life, you may find the same.

When you love what you do… it shows. I had a busy weekend, meeting with clients that didn’t have time to meet during the week… so maybe it was the relaxed feeling of a weekend…. OR they genuinely love what they do! I think it is the latter. What are the signs someone loves what he or she does?

Their face lights-up when they talk.

The excitement is audible in their voice.

There is a twinkle in the eye when they reveal the cleverness with which they won the case.

The smile is undeniable.

Were they selling… absolutely NOT! They were all telling stories about a case or transaction they had worked on. Simply telling a story! I found myself wishing I had been in the courtroom or their office as they did what they do so well and LOVE.

Let me tell you… when they share these stories with friends, family and colleagues they will ALL have more work than they could handle. Why? Because those friends, family and colleagues will never forget WHAT they do… or the PASSION and COMMITMENT with which they do it.

For some reason we tend to hold that passion inside and only share it occasionally. I’m here to tell you… LET IT OUT!

Show people how much you love what you do… it instills confidence to refer clients to you.

Tell compelling stories… it helps people remember what area of the law you practice.

Talk about your successes… it builds your credibility.

Is it selling? NO. It’s sharing… what you LOVE. AND that my friends… IS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT!

Live life fully and as the song goes… I Hope You Dance! Finding joy and contentment in what you do for a living is JOB ONE! Erin Schulte, leadership editor of Fast Company put together five articles that I’m sure will inspire you.

Live Fully
Make small steps toward improvement. Build a strong foundation for 2012 with this simple yet effective list of five things to do every day for success.

Get your workout in–and not just for the sake of the scale. For artists, entrepreneurs, and any other driven creators, exercise is a powerful tool, says author Jonathan Fields. It can transform the persistent uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that accompanies the quest to create from a source of suffering into something less toxic, then potentially even into fuel.

Don’t let the Internet kill your productivity. You’re probably reading this during your workday as a distraction from whatever it is you’re supposed to be focusing on, which is likely sitting open and untouched in another window. Imagine how much you’d get done and how many fewer hours you’d have to work if the Internet weren’t eating up all your time–follow these easy steps and you can make it happen.

Quit that dead-end job. Leaving a career you’re not excited about to pursue your passion is the greatest escape there is–but one that’s totally possible (even in this economy). Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your dreams a reality.

Mean It
And finally, for the lazy or merely goal averse, here’s the one resolution you should make for 2012.

If the last one sounds familiar it’s because I blogged about it…. The One Thing That Can Change Your Life! Do what you say you are going to do. Mean it… it’s a game changer! As that song ends… "Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder, where those years have gone?"

Happy Thanksgiving! I always post on Thursdays and I almost took the day off today, but decided that it would be a missed opportunity. This is an opportunity to reflect back on an incredible year that I have experienced and to take a moment to breathe in the gratitude. 

Success can be measured in a multitude of ways… little steps and giant steps. They are both signs of progress and we need to acknowledge them. Often times we only see success as the finish line… and that is not always the end-all. Here are a few things to think about that my clients, friends, colleagues and yes, I experienced and can take a moment to feel gratitude for.

Thank You for the COURAGE

I have several clients and friends that had the courage to go out on their own to do what they know how to do… their way! 

Two clients stepped out onto thin ice and with courage became more knowledgeable in an area that they had a passion for. Today they are both recognized experts in their specialty, way beyond their expectations because they had courage.

Thank You for the FAITH

More than I can count… clients and friends have rediscovered their strengths, talents and uniqueness they have to offer others. We can be thankful for the added confidence that faith brings.

And still others were encouraged simply because a friend or colleague had FAITH in their ability.

Thank You for the ADMIRATION

How many times have we thought about how admirable someone was… this year I heard it from many. Partners that spoke so highly of one another that it was no wonder that they had been partners for years.

And others who looked to meet with people in their communities to say " admire how you do what you do and could use your "… how flattering.

Thank You for the PASSION

When you find passion it is truly a gift. Passion for your work is the fuel that can drive you and the power that can sustain you. I was the fortunate one to watch people around me find their passion. What a gift that was!

Thank You for your FRIENDSHIP

The other day I had a conversation about the nature of friendship… we concluded that it is unconditional. Wouldn’t you agree? To all those I call my friend… THANK YOU!

I don’t know who said this but it is so appropriate… "Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." 

Legal business development ideas and insights can come from anywhere and any industry. I just listened to an audio download of Derek Sivers’ new book, Anything You Want.

For those who aren’t familiar with Derek he is the founder of CDBaby.com. He started his business in 1998 with $500 and sold it for $22 million in 2008 when he realized that it had demands that he was no longer willing to do. Prior to the sale he set up a charitable trust for music education… which was the beneficiary of the sale. How appropriate since from day one… his mission… his focus… his passion… was to help musicians distribute their music. 

He tells an incredible story of his many unconventional business philosophies. As you read them I’m sure many will resonate as they did with me.

Stay true to your passion. We can always use a reminder that our passion is what we are born to do… so DO IT!

Be lean and mean. Bigger isn’t always better as the past few years have taught us. When you’re lean you are more agile and like a palm tree… able to bend with the wind… and stay focused. Derek refused investors because as he writes "none of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them". Duh!

Delegating is a must. It’s easier said then done, right?  Derek’s method? When people had questions he didn’t simply answer the question, he explained the thought process behind the answer. He had them write it down and put it in a manual. Clever!

Derek’s book is a fast read… less than an hour (like all three of my books… shameless plug!) And it’s full of fresh perspectives to common business issues and YES they are applicable to law firms… you just have to think outside the box.

The Tour de France… is it on your bucket list? Is cycling your passion? This weekend I had the awesome privilege to witness two friends of mine while they started to plan their trip to The Tour de France this July. First of all… their passion is cycling. When an opportunity presented itself they recognized it as an opportunity of a lifetime. There was no hesitation and no excuses… I can’t afford it… it will be too crowded that time of year… we probably can’t get flights. You know the routine… all the why NOTS! They viewed it "as if" they were already there. The friend that invited them to attend sent a DVD for them to watch. I wish you could have been at my house to watch their faces as they watched the video. It was like watching the faces of two small boys on Christmas morning. Pure delight and wonderment! They will be in one of the pace cars… how cool is that?

When was the last time you felt that passion in your work? I can just hear it… are you kidding me? Work is work and The Tour de France well it’s THE Tour de France! I assert that there is NO reason we can’t feel that passion in our work… pure delight and wonderment! The thought and feeling of… pinch me because I can’t believe I get to do THIS for a living!

Are YOU one of those lawyers who has given in to resignation? You have put your passion in a box and buried the key? I beg you… I challenge you… I order you… FIND IT and get into action.

What happens when you find your passion?

1. You LOVE thinking about it, talking about it and working on it.

2. You inspire others with confidence, trust and reliability that you are the right person for the case.

3. You are developing business without even intending it… it’s a byproduct of your passion. People want to be around you. People want to hire you and people want to refer you.

Say yes when opportunity knocks… no excuses. If you are in-touch with your passion you will recognize an opportunity of a lifetime with no hesitation. What’s the passion that will take you to YOUR Tour de France?

I had lunch with a lawyer the other day and she was lamenting the fact that she has lost the fire in her belly. She said "I have no passion and creativity in me anymore… it’s GONE". I have to tell you that this comment made me so sad, because the thought of living without passion or creativity… for me… is like living without oxygen… impossible. I happen to know because about 15 years ago I thought I had reached the end of my passion, I thought after 12 years in business I had burnt-out…. All I knew is that I was miserable… so I did a few things I’d like to share with you…

1. I identified what I liked doing. For 2 weeks I made a note every time I liked the task I was doing. Visit a client… yes! Help them figure out a strategy to build there brand… yes! Talk to a new prospect… yes! I only focused on what I LIKED doing… the list grew and grew. Why just the positive? Because… I didn’t want it to be a "bitch" session. It was apparent that I had NOT burnt-out. I liked too many of the things I was doing. 

2. I then took actions to alter or eliminate the things that were not on that list. I found a more qualified bookkeeper so I didn’t have to micro-manage. I fired clients that were toxic to our business AND weren’t even profitable… the new bookkeeper was able to produce reports that made this possible. I stopped doing other peoples’ jobs… this was a big one. I realized that I held a lot of resentment with those people that weren’t completing their work and I had to pick up the slack. Who allowed that to happen? DUH! Me. I confronted the issues and some people rose to the occasion and other did not. The list goes on and on… but you get the picture.

3. I allowed myself to dream! Yes dream… what do I want in my life? I wanted freedom, creativity and smart driven people to work with, to mention a few. I set out to make sure those things were in my life in some shape or form… every single day. I imagined myself writing a book… I had been telling clients to "write a book, it will give you instant credibility"… so why shouldn’t I write a book? I put it on my master list of goals and 10 years later that dream came true. Almost like a fairy tale… it won the Business Breakthrough Book of the Year and I went to Washington DC to accept the award with my mother by my side. What is YOUR dream? 

Today, my business is very different then it was then. Quite frankly… I love what I do… it’s my passion. As the saying goes find what you love and you will never work a day in your life. Maybe your passion is a more defined practice area or maybe it isn’t even the law. Whatever it is YOU need to find it and lay the groundwork to get there. It will not happen over night… so every day you waste not going in that direction you get further and further behind.

Find your passion. It may have been asleep for a very long time but believe me it will find YOU if you are open to finding IT.