This is the next post in my discussion on building a million dollar law practice. My last article discussed how successful law firms focus on opportunities rather than obstacles. Most attorneys won’t be successful because obstacles give them a built in excuse for not doing what needs to be done. Successful lawyers, by contrast, recognize that obstacles are simply something to deal with while seizing an opportunity. This post is going to focus on a big, big, big, big (big) mistake I see law firms making all the time – the need to admire and emulate success rather than resenting it. If you want to be successful then this is a philosophy you should adopt. If you don’t, then don’t. Let’s get to it.

There’s a big difference between the mindset of millionaires and those who remain mediocre. That difference is in how one views successful people. A millionaire looks at a successful person and thinks “good for him or her.” The next thing that millionaire will do is think “what traits of this successful person should I be emulating?” A mediocre person, by contrast, looks at a rich person with resentment before taking advice or tips from another mediocre person. The former is the path to looking like this:

Happy people with money

While the latter is a path to looking like this:

Unhappy man

Personally I would rather look like ‘da fine folk’ in the first picture. Let’s look at an example of attorneys who make the mistake of resenting success and refusing to emulate it, using marketing and a firm’s level of business as a context.

In the years since I’ve been consulting for law firms there’s one comment I’ve heard from lawyers repeatedly which blows me away. It’s common for an attorney, who has been practicing for a certain amount of time, to express anger that someone who has not practiced as long is ranking higher in search. I often hear lawyers say “this person ranks high and they’re a bad lawyer.” Another comment I hear is “how do they do this? I’ve been practicing for twenty years and they’ve been practicing for two but they have more business! It’s not fair!” These same attorneys then keep on doing things the way they’ve been doing them without any changes and just continue to complain when they get the same results. You know what I call this? Complaining about other’s success instead of admiring it and refusing to emulate it.

There’s a big flaw with getting angry that someone is successful and calling them a “bad attorney.” That flaw is failing to recognize that clients are the ones who, at the end of the day, decide if your firm succeeds or fails. If enough clients are happy with your services (meaning they think you’re a good lawyer) then you get to keep the lights on and come to work tomorrow. If not enough clients think you’re a good attorney then you get to close up shop. In other words, these resentful lawyers are defining someone else as “bad” by their own standards instead of the standards that matter, which are those of a client. Perform the following test:

  • Look at how active that other attorney’s blog is compared to yours
  • Compare your Google reviews to those of the attorney you are upset about

Now consider the following:

  • That other attorney is providing information that people want to see, in the way they want to see it, through their blog
  • That other attorney has all those good reviews because clients felt as if they had a good experience

All those “bad lawyers” are doing is providing value to the community through their blog. That value, in turn, results in phone calls to the office. Those attorneys then make sure that their clients have a good experience. That, in turn, results in clients leaving good reviews because they are happy. Those happy clients also become more likely to refer a friend to the firm at some point in the future. That’s why they are successful.

Instead of resenting those other attorneys one should say “how can I provide value through my website also?” It’s also important to make sure your clients are having a great experience. Looking for some tips on providing a great client experience? Consider these articles:

Recognizing that success is something to be emulated is crucial. This means opening yourself to the possibility of change and recognizing that the way you’ve been doing things may be wrong. Many attorneys will fail to do this and will continue to take advice from other lawyers who are struggling. This is about as effective as taking financial advice from one’s lazy, shiftless, and useless brother-in-law who is regularly asking for a place to stay.

Want to take your firm to the next level? Ask yourself who the truly successful attorneys are. I don’t mean the one’s who are “doing well.” I’m talking about the one’s who are a clear cut above the rest. Then realize they are someone to admire and ask yourself what it is you can emulate in your practice.