This post continues my discussion on building a million dollar law firm. My last post quickly mentioned that most attorneys want to make more money but follow an outdated business model in doing so. The big issue to recognize is that the traditional law firm business model is fundamentally broken and you cannot “fix” something that is flawed at its most basic levels. This post, and the rest of this series, will hopefully help you form a foundation from which you can truly grow your practice. Yes, I recognize that there are many lawyers who make a good or comfortable living by following the traditional approach. If you are happy with that comfortable living then these changes may not be something you want to make. If, however, you want to take success to a level that not many firms achieve then the topics laid out in this series are going to be crucial.
This series will be drawing on the ideas found in a book titled Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. I decided to write these posts after reading this book. The author, T. Harv Eker, doesn’t lay out any revolutionary ideas. Instead, I see the book as more of a statement of truisms; the points made show the common traits of the truly successful and it is important to remember that people are successful because they do these things. In reading this work I (patting myself on the back) took pride in the fact that I believe I have applied many of these traits in different businesses where I have been a member and in my law firm (which grossed $1,046,695.00 in my final year of practice). If you want to be successful then start applying the concepts I’ll be laying out in this series. If you don’t then……….don’t.
Without further adieu, let’s get to the first point – thinking big rather than thinking small.
Attorneys miss out on income because they “think small” with their time and money
Most attorneys will never build a million dollar law practice because they “think small” with their time and money. By this I mean that they focus on a small item, which is right in front of them, rather than “thinking big” and looking at the larger picture. The truth of the matter is that by doing this you’re missing out on larger opportunities. These missed opportunities compound over time and you make less money as a result. Let’s look at some specific examples.
I’ve written quite a bit on this blog on how attorneys can make their practices more efficient with a little bit of a time investment. A few of these tips (there are many more) have focused on the idea of “only handle it once,” the idea of doing a weekly calendar review to resolve issues before the arise and to reduce distractions, and to complete a list of preliminary tasks each time a new case comes into the office. I won’t rehash those discussions in this article. Here are the links to those discussions so you can give them a gander:
Most firms, however, don’t implement these types of strategies because they feel they “don’t have time to.” This is a great example of thinking small. Such firms are concerned with saving the two hours that it would take to do a calendar review and resolve issues for the following week. They miss the big picture – taking that two hours this week would have saved many more hours next week in unnecessary court appearances, distractions, inefficiency, and other problems. Let’s say that a calendar audit could have saved six hours of time the following week. This means that small thinking would have just cost the law firm four hours of time (six hours which would have been saved minus the two hours not devoted to a calendar audit). Over the course of a year this four hours per week equals a net loss of roughly 200 hours. Because the attorney is working 200 unnecessary hours they feel they are “so busy” that they then hire extra staff. That staff comes with payroll. A weekly calendar audit could have given the attorney more time, made additional staff unnecessary, and resulted in the attorney having more money at the end of the day. Compound this effect over years and it’s easy to see why most attorneys aren’t millionaires. Think big with your time – invest some time into tasks today so that you’ll have even more available time in the future.
I’ve also written at length as to how law firms can invest in their own marketing assets rather than spending money on ad space from third parties. An example of this was my discussion on why lawyers shouldn’t use pay-per-click. Even though using third-party ads, of any type, makes essentially no sense most attorneys will continue to do so. They don’t realize that they are thinking small. If Joe Lawyer spends $1,000 on paid ads this month and receives $10,000 in revenue then he will get excited. He doesn’t realize that the $1,000 is gone, that he’ll never get any additional revenue out of it, and that he has to spend another $1,000 next month to bring in revenue. As part of our attorney website services, we often write blog posts on the behalf of clients. In January of 2015 we wrote a post for a client which has received 1,561 organic clicks as of yesterday and it continues to get traffic. We charged the client $125 for the post which means that his cost per click so far has been roughly eight cents (a little better than the $25 which most attorneys pay for a click through PPC). It goes without saying which of these is more profitable for a law firm. Why don’t more firms choose to invest in their own content? Because they’re not “thinking big” and seeing the larger picture; instead of investing today and seeing a larger return over time they choose to spend today and see a small return that is entirely realized in the very short term. The latter is not a path to becoming a millionaire. Instead, it’s a path to burning money like this:
Do you want to build a million dollar law practice? You have to think big and avoid the “small thinking” which is baked into the traditional law office model. This means that you need to stop sacrificing hours tomorrow just to save a few minutes today and that you need to stop sacrificing tens of thousands of dollars, realized over a few years, to make a few thousand dollars today.
Most lawyers will not become millionaires due to small thinking and missing out on the bigger picture
The idea of thinking big was one of the portions in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind which really stood out to me. I say that because I see the type of behavior, described above, constantly in law firms. One important thing to remember is that lawyers can do the things I just discussed but that most will simply choose not to. You can make a choice to see the bigger picture and to grow your practice larger than your peers while doing so in sustainable way. Want to gross seven figures? Think big. If you don’t, then don’t.
Why do you feel so many law firms take a short term approach when it comes to time management and marketing? Please chime in through the comment form below.