Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
The beginning of a New Year always offers us so much hope. Hope for a new start. Hope for another chance. Hope to improve, learn and grow. Hope for whatever it is that we want more of.
That brings me to my all-time favorite quote. It comes from one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can-begin it-boldness has genius, power and magic in it”
Happy New Year! With so many people around the world saying goodbye to a very tough year, and beginning a new one with renewed hope for a better future, the concept of time comes to mind. On the treadmill the other day and watching the clock count down, I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I had with my Grandmother when I was younger. By the age of 25, I had already noticed how fast time was going by. She laughed and said, “Gary, wait till you get to my age”. She was 82 at the time. She said, “the more of life you have behind you, and the less you have in front of you, the faster it goes.”
Back to the treadmill. As the time was getting closer to my goal, it hit me. She was right. The more time I had already completed, the faster it went by.
So with this Year New Year, what are you going to do with your time today? What are you going to do with your time this year?
Due out September 24, 2014 from Carswell is my second book aimed at helping lawyers and law firms grow. In this edition I take you through my proprietary methodology TST™, Targeted, Strategic and Tactical. Working with Lawyers these past nine years I developed systems and processes allowing you to get more clients with less time invested. When you become more targeted, strategic and tactical in your approaches, you will see better results.
There are two editions, one for lawyers at large firms, and one for lawyers in small firms. The small firm edition includes an entire chapter aimed at law firm leaders wishing to grow the firm. It includes:
- Becoming more effective as a leader
- Balancing Lawyering, leading, and rainmaking
- Engaging your entire team in business development
- Compensation models to reward your people and incentivise them to achieve
- Succession planning
If you are looking to grow your firm or practice, this book is a must read. You can pre-order it online from Carswell. Just follow this link. http://www.carswell.com//product-search/?qa=prod&qt=Raindance
Situation: A 4th year associate already engaged in business development wants to take it to the next level and begin attracting the ‘bigger fish’. She has the attention of one of the senior named partners and decides to invest in coaching to help her build her practice. I was not surprised to learn that she was going to pay me directly and not ask her firm to cover the investment. She did this for many reasons, not the least of which being that she didn’t want anything hanging over her head. She didn’t want the firm to hold expectations over her. The only person who knew about my work with her was the senior partner that she did work for. And he was very supportive.
Approach: We created a business plan for her practice. We identified key events to attend and network. We identified key contacts to help her build her network of referrals. Her confidence in herself and her ability to attract new clients is increasing. She created her own networking/mastermind group and meets monthly. I helped her build her LinkedIn profile and network.
Results: By taking this initiative and hiring me directly, and gaining business development skills, this makes her more valuable as a Lawyer. Whether she ends up staying where she is or looks to move to another firm, her ability to build her own book of business makes her more valuable and attractive to partnership. She invested in herself, in her career and her success. Based on my experience, she will see that investment pay off in dividends for years to come.
I am very pleased to chair “Raindance: The Business Development Bootcamp for Lawyers” to air September 24th. This Bootcamp is especially geared towards solo practice and small to mid-size firms who are looking to grow. Working closely with the conference organizers at The Commons Institute, we’ve put together a stellar group of presenters including legal practitioners and legal marketers who are leading innovation in today’s marketplace. You will hear from a Law Clerk who will share what she did to grow her network and bring in clients to her firm; a 4th year M&A Lawyer who will share her approach to business development, and a Managing Partner will share how he continued to make rain, lead the firm, manage his people, engage his team in business development and grow his firm. We also have Jana Schilder, my Co-Founding Partner of Legal A Team, who will cover the value of media relations in growing your firm, and Susan Van Dyke of Vandyke marketing, who will cover off effectively using Social Media.
In addition to the amazing content we will cover, each participant of Raindance will receive a copy of my 2nd book, “Raindance 2: A Blueprint for Growing Your Practice”, and a one-hour coaching session with me to follow the conference. If you are looking to grow your practice or firm, this webinar cannot be missed. GO to The Commons Institute and sign up today. Early bird rates are still available. I look forward to working with you to grow your firm.
The Legal A Team is a newly formed alliance of legal marketers who have big firm experience with a focus on small firms and solo practice lawyers. As a Co-Founder, I’m pleased that we can offer the small to mid-sized law firms and solo practice lawyers the same level of expertise usually only found at the big firm level. We have assembled a team of experts who have worked for some of the biggest law firms in North America. We have a complete range of services: business development training, business development coaching, legal marketing and branding strategy, legal public relations, legal social media, and websites.
We know the demands of small-and mid-sized firms are great. An up until now, they haven’t had access to the same resources of larger firms. Finding the right coaching, training, marketing, and PR people for you and your firm while still running your practice and serving the needs of demanding clients is a huge challenge. Enter Legal A Team. Small firm focus. Big firm experience.™
If your firm is like the small firms I’ve worked with, you have a cohesive and happy team. If you follow the advice I’ve shared with you, it will only improve that culture of team and success; which is why you must be relentless when bringing on new talent.
First thing is you must ensure anyone coming on board will be open to business development. Moving forward that should be a part of the staff and lawyer profile you are looking for. This is one way you can ensure your firm will continue to grow.
Another thing to keep in mind is ‘fit’. One of my clients has his law clerks and associates do the initial interview. This gives them the opportunity to see if this person is someone that they would like to work with. After you’ve done such a good job creating a cohesive place to work, the last thing you want to do is upset the apple cart by bringing in a dud.
I can tell you one thing, if you have created a culture where people love to come to work, it won’t be as hard as you think to get more great people. There are a lot of unhappy and unengaged people in the legal industry that would jump at the chance to work for someone they respect, be a part of a team, be a part of growing your firm. And when you are selecting lawyers ask yourself if this is someone you think could become a partner one day? Which leads nicely into the next section.
A general rule of thumb I share with my clients is this. If your time is not focused on doing the work, generating the work, or managing your people and the work, then whatever tasks are taking up your time should be delegated to a non-fee earner. Do the Math. Look at your billable hour rate. Or look at what your time is worth if you work on contingency. Does it really make sense for you to be managing your IT, or Admin? Couldn’t you easily pay someone in the neighborhood of $25-$30 an hour to take over those tasks? Again, if you’re not doing the work, you’re not billing. If you’re not bringing in the work, you’re not growing your firm. And if you’re not managing the people and the work, there is more room for error.
The same goes for every other fee earner at your firm. If your law clerk is busy doing admin, that is non-billable time. You can’t expect your people to realistically hit or surpass their targets if they are engaged in work that is non-billable. You have a lot of money sitting on the table that could easily increase your bottom line. Always make sure your people are doing what is most valuable to your bottom line. Consider out-sourcing part of the lower-level work, or hire someone part-time if there isn’t enough for a full-time position. There is always a solution.
This month I a dedicating my blog to those of you who have decided to grow beyond a solo practice and build a small firm and those of you who already have a small firm that you want to grow. There’s a huge leap from running your own solo-practice to growing and leading a small firm. So first let me congratulate you on your entrepreneurial drive.
Up until now you’ve likely been the only or at least main Rainmaker. So once you yourself have gone through the approaches and exercises outlined in this book, the next step is to get the rest of your team, anyone that is client facing and interacting with your clients, engaged in business development. And from experience, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. This could include all lawyers and staff. After-all, if Business Development is about building relationships, and it is, each member of your team has a different network and the ability to build relationships and attract referrals to your firm. In case you are sceptical…
Basically it’s simple, if you’re spending time on anything that isn’t generating more work, or working directly on client files, you are wasting money. No income earner at your firm should be doing work that a non-income earner could. It starts with you, but that should be your rule of thumb for all of your people, lawyers and law clerks and anyone else that generates income. It’s simple math. This is a little harder to implement at the larger firms, but I’ve seen it in action at the smaller ones. And I’ve seen a lot of money left on the table when lawyers and law clerks are taking up valuable time doing low-level admin or tech work. If you don’t have adequate support staff, hire them. You’ll save tons of cash which makes you more profitable.