Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
I will be speaking at this very timely conference on October 23, in Toronto. Motivated by the rapidly evolving legal landscape, this program will provide a unique forum for senior legal industry stakeholders to come together and discuss developing trends, innovative concepts and related issues, domestically and globally, that will directly affect your profession.
What you’ll get:
Leave equipped with multiple perspectives from managing partners and general counsel who are successfully navigating this evolving legal landscape as they deliver insights into what is working for them, including:
- Practical guidance on implementing Alternative Business Structures
- Assessing and improving law firm fiscal management
- Insights from the Legal Innovators
- Understanding your role in the fight for access to justice
- Creating and maintaining a cross-generational team
- Expert advice on what the in-house client really wants
- Proven strategies to increase profitability using different billing guidelines
- Learn how to preserve your corporate legacy through succession planning
REAL-WORLD APPLICATION! Deep-dive into building a pricing framework from both a private practice and in house perspective, to achieve client satisfaction and derive value at our Pricing Workshop.
Reserve your space today by calling 1-877-927-7936 or by faxing your registration form to 1-877-927-1563 or online. Mention my name, Gary Mitchell and receive a $200 discount. See you in Toronto.
Situation: A very unhappy 5th year associate decides he can no longer practice as a litigator. He approaches his firm to get support in making a shift to build a solicitor practice. The marketing department hired me to work with him to turn his career around.
Approach: As we began to create his business plan, we focused on his definition of success, what did he ultimately want to create for his career? We focused on his values and what was important to him. Before we decided where he would focus his attention we spent some time figuring out what made him tick. As it turned out, environmental issues were very important to him. So we investigated the ‘green’ market and how it was being served. Through his connections and contacts he was able to get some meetings with green start-up companies.
Results: It didn’t take too long before he was bringing in new business. He created an IP practice and worked under one of the partners at his firm. The shift that he experienced was clearly visible to his colleagues at the firm. He was happy, engaged, motivated and committed to building his practice. It wasn’t too long before he was basically caught up to the partner track he had been on. What was that worth to him and his career? What was that worth to his firm instead of losing this talented and loyal associate, they made a small investment in him and helped turn his career around? And what did it mean for his career?
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” That quote from Charles Darwin is particularly relevant to lawyers and law firms right now. So much change is happening and it seems the speed at which it’s changing is constantly increasing. You have two choices. One, do nothing and hope for the best. What’s the definition of insanity again? Or, adapt, look for ways to change your approaches and habits and how to increase your client satisfaction and loyalty. Look for ways to do what you do better, faster, more cost-effective. Look for ways to further develop your people and increase productivity and loyalty. If you’re stuck and don’t know where to start, give me a call. I can help. That’s what I do.
When it comes time for business development you seem to have a habit. That habit is not making time for some of the most important tasks. If you want to grow your practice or your firm, you have to make time. How much has that habit cost you over the years? I know times are tough and you are challenged with time. It could start with looking at your priorities and making adjustments to allow more time for business development.
You attend conferences and listen to webinars. You read books on marketing and business development. You even get a little excited on these webinars. But then you go right back to your old habits and create an excuse or excuses for not to jump into action. I challenge you right now to think of one action or strategy that you’re learned recently and run with it. Run with it all the way to the bank. Just one thing. That will start a chain reaction of results and motivate you to try more and different things. As I tell my clients, “Nike”-just do it! If you want help, call me. That is what I do; help my clients get into action. Do the work, and live the results.
How does all the disruption in the legal market affect you and your clients? How can you make it easier for your clients? How can you make it easier for new clients to retain you? A good place to start would be to have a dialogue with your clients to fully understand all of their challenges, priorities, goals, and their big picture vision. Then look at your competition. What are they doing? What are they not doing? Where are the opportunities for you to stand out? How can you better deliver your legal services with more efficiency and value?
Disruption can mean opportunity.
I know it’s tough out there right now. Lawyers are being squeezed from top to bottom. And the challenges are not always the same. Let me be clear. But it doesn’t have to be all ‘doom and gloom’. There are opportunities to get out there and re-invent ‘you’, be a part of the change, even lead the change.
A great example of leading the change (and capitalizing on it at the same time), comes from a Family Law Lawyer in the Toronto area. Recognizing the number of people self-representing themselves in Family Court is growing at a staggering rate due to rising legal costs, and greater access to information, he created a self-serve website to help educate people who were going to do it on their own. They can pick and choose from an a la carte menu the services they want without having to retain his firm for the entire process. He even offers coaching for the clients to show them how to do it. Brilliant! So Instead of losing out because of this challenge, he found a way to be a part of it and still bring in revenue. I feel this is an excellent example of understanding the challenges in the market you serve, and creating solutions that you can capitalize on. Check it out. FamilyLawHelp.ca
Recently in a discussion in ‘legal futures’, one of the groups I belong to on LinkedIn, and created in the UK, they were discussing the impact of having legal kiosks in Walmart stores in Ontario. Wow! Lawyers in the UK are talking about innovation and disruption in the Canadian Legal Market? You got to know that if Walmart is getting into the legal business, they see a real opportunity. How long will it be before we see them popping up in all of their stores across Canada. If Walmart is getting in to the business of legal services, how long before Target does too? And so on.
But back to the legal futures discussion. I found it fascinating one of the lawyers was spending so much time complaining about the ‘new reality’. I wanted to suggest to him that instead of complaining about it, perhaps he should focus that attention on figuring out how to be a part of creating the future. He just kept bringing up challenge after challenge and how tough it is. If you can hear someone whining in their writing, that’s what it sounded like.
I also wanted to point out to him that lawyers’ challenges have finally caught up to those that your clients have been dealing with for years. Greater access to information, greater competition (and not just from other lawyers, but other service providers), technology, social media, clients from small to large wanting better value, and the list goes on and on.
It doesn’t have to mean ‘doom and gloom’ it can spell opportunity if you keep your eye on the ball and focus on what your clients need. Change is all around us. Disruption is everywhere. But if you are still of the mindset that change is temporary and if you are patient, everything will go back to normal, stop kidding yourself. Change is and disruption is the new norm. Check out this link to a conference held in March at Harvard Law School about disruption in the legal industry. http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pages/kenny_event.php If Harvard Law School is talking about disruption in the legal market-it must be real!
Good morning Lawyer X, this is your wake-up call. It’s time to re-think your career. This is not a call you were hoping to get. But let’s face the facts. Your practice is nearly dried up. Your market is flat. You are not bringing in any new clients, and you haven’t for some time. And the bottom line is there are no new clients to get. To make matters even worse the clients you do have are going away or have nothing for you to do. Yes, it’s pretty bleak. But it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up, do something about it.
At the time of writing this, we are in the compensation season. And as a result, I expect we are going to see a lot of layoffs and more de-capitalization in Calgary and Vancouver in the coming months. There are a few practice areas that are feeling this pain, and basically on their last legs at many firms. This has been a long, deep and painful cycle. Your firm is unlikely to hold your life-line for much longer. And don’t think it’s any better across the street. No matter what firm you’re at, the work has dried up. The way I see it, you are left with the following three choices.
- Leave the profession and find something else
- Find an opportunity in-house
- Leverage your knowledge and experience and relationships and look for another practice area that you can apply them to
Look for my full article this month in The Lawyers Weekly where I discuss what your next steps should be if you chose #3.
Another area to consider before working to build your practice, is what kind of practice do you want? I often think lawyers and accountants get started in their careers without taking the time to really examine what you like to do. What is the types of files you like working on? What are the types of people you like working with most? What are you best at? What are your strengths? You certainly have several choices in building your accounting or legal practice. And just like Part One, when I spoke about values, this is about aligning what you’re good at with what you would like to build.
Some people are more suited to litigation, and others more of the high-volume solicitor work. There is no point working hard to build a practice if you don’t feel fulfilled. I once had a client who, at 5 years in decided he hated being a litigator. So our work then was to reboot his career in a different direction. And he did and went on to be not only successful, but also fulfilled. But do you want to effectively waste five years of your career?