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Checkout Part I in case you missed it…
5. Don’t Make Estimates; Make Promises! Meaning move away from just tossing out some hourly rate since there’s “no way to control a client’s costs.” The advice is to compartmentalize your legal services into ‘a la carte’ chunks and charge flat fees for each chunk. In probably 70% of the typical matters I handle I’ve moved to flat fee pricing…estate plans, landlord representation, real estate transactions, and even a lot of predictable in-court family law stuff. I still struggle with bringing predictability to longer in-court matters like an initial divorce or parentage case where it might drag on for a year or more. An idea I’ve heard discussed for longer in-court matters is flat charges for each task like per pleading or for a deposition, etc…need to puzzle on that a bit more. You can still have caveats in place that allow you to charge an hourly fee if something doesn’t go as planned.
6. Time Blocking/Management. Schedule a block of time each day/week to focus on building your business. Determine the true value of an hour of your time and if there’s anything you’re doing that could be delegated for less than your hourly rate then delegate it. Check email only a few select times each day and do the most important 2-3 items for the day first thing when you arrive in the office.
7. Strategic work vs. Tactical work. E-Myth says that tactical work (busy work) is all the work attorneys find themselves doing in a legal practice to avoid doing strategic work. Yet if lawyers did more strategic work and thinking they’d have less tactical work to do. Tactical work is all about answers; strategic work is all about questions. This thinking is consistent with the idea of working on the urgent at the expense of the important or Peter Drucker’s old activity versus accomplishment comparison.
8. Create Your Story & Organize Your Practice to Breathe Life into Your Story. “Your story should be an idealized version of your legal practice, a vision of what the preeminent attorney in your field should be and why. Your story must become the very heart of your practice. It must become the spirit that mobilizes it, as well as everyone who walks through the doors. Without this story, your practice will be reduced to plain work.” (Pg. 165). I’ve been thinking about this one a lot recently with regards to what areas of law I’m really PASSIONATE about and also what is the correct % of one’s worklife that it’s realistic to aim for real thorough enjoyment. In my personal example, there’s a practice area that I’ve been thinking about moving into where I have background in the field and there’s accessible clientele that I know I could tap into immediately. But I do not have deep personal passion for this particular field and it would not “mobilize” me to go work each day and I think I’m going to leave that money on the table for someone else. Finally, I think you want to be upwards of 50% in terms of worklife enjoyment or you may want to re-consider your story. I’ve heard others suggest 70% as the ideal, meaning, work isn’t a round of golf or reading a book on the beach (100% enjoyment for me) because there will be the meetings and administrative work and personnel challenges but the central driving goal or story needs to something you’re passionate about pursuing.
I think The E-Myth Attorney is book worth buying…time to return this overdue public library version. Most critically I want the book to spur me to take the following action:
- Know my firm’s revenue number & keep looking at it monthly/weekly even daily. Where I fail too often in planning and goal-setting is not in doing it but rather once it’s done too often it’s forgotten rather than serving as a year long guidepost.
- Create a Business Plan.
- Create my Macro ‘System’ Categories, then, the Processes within each System. I’ll likely begin with financial management because it’s the most important system and my assistant is actually most involved with it currently so it has the most processes in place already. There was a great quote from my pastor at church last week that applies to law firm financial management and it’s simply, “If you don’t get this right it’s hard to get anything else right.” It’s hard to be a great attorney w/o adequate resources.
- Written Service Guarantee. I’m going to roll-out a 100% service guarantee where if a client didn’t think she got the quality and value of services that she’s being billed for each month she needn’t pay us. Simple and this happens once we’ll make some changes and obviously if it occurs regularly then the relationship likely needs to end.