Contact Irene Buy Irene's Book Map of this site

Law Practice Tips Archive: 101 - 150

Current Tip
Archive 201 - 250
Archive 151 - 200
Archive 101 - 150
Archive 51 - 100
Archive 1 - 50

Tip #150

Get in Touch With Three Past Clients

One of the easiest ways to get a new client is to contact old clients you've done no recent work for. Check in with them to see what's changed in their businesses or circumstances that you might be able to help them with. Phone with the idea that you're curious about what's going on with them, not with the premise that you're soliciting work.

What three clients come to mind?

Tip #149

Rather than getting angry during negotiations, take the blame instead

Getting angry or frustrated with the other side will not enhance your position. First, you need to notice that you are angry or frustrated and then not say or do anything out of anger. Having a tactic to rely on when you notice you're angry will help you handle your anger constructively.

Rather than retaliating, decide to take responsibility for your part in the escalation of the conversation. Apologize and come up with a question that can help you get the conversation on track to the conclusion you'd really like to have happen.

For example: You're right; it's not appropriate for me to bring up that incident from two years ago at this time. What do you see as the issue that needs to be addressed?

How do you handle your frustrations?

Tip #148

Stop Being Too Busy To Put Your Practice Development First

I am surprised by how often I hear "I don't have time to market my practice." Promoting yourself and your practice is, in my opinion, the number one effort you can make in creating the kind of practice you can enjoy. Stop using the excuse that you are too busy and find creative ways to promote your practice.

What needs to happen to have you put your practice development first?

Tip #147

Use Your Credit Card To Promote Yourself

A client of mine has the word Attorney on her credit card. She has been retained by at least three good clients as a result of a vendor asking about her being an attorney.

Will you add the word Attorney to your credit card?

Tip #146

Your Telephone Advice is Valuable, So Bill for It

Your ability to give clients quick answers by phone and email comes from your many years of complex legal training, both in law school and in subsequent legal practice. These are what establish the underlying value of a quick and concise answer.

The reason clients call you is that they don't know things; and it is important for them to have answers to the things they don't know.

Those two factors point to the value of your answers. Don't downplay this value by failing to bill clients for your time, no matter how little of it was actually used in the answering. On the contrary, clients should be pleased with your ability to answer their questions and address their issues so quickly and concisely. Bill them for it.

What decision do you want to make about your billing practices related to the quick answer?

Tip #145

Be Proud of Yourself When Networking

Whenever you interact with people — clients, vendors, friends, family, colleagues, peers, staff, and adversaries — you are networking. Those people in your network are the ones that may send you your next great client. Ensure all your interactions are ones where you are proud of yourself.

Tip #144

Take a Business Course

If you want to improve the business of your practice, taking a business course for the first time or a refresher course can help you focus on what you now need to learn in your practice.

What areas of the business of your practice need to be improved?

Tip #143

Send Something of Interest to two Contacts

Make sure you know enough about your contacts to send things that would interest them and therefore remind them of you. If you are an introvert, and many lawyers are, it is especially important to find passive ways to stay in touch with referral sources.

What do you need to do to take action on sending things of interest to your contacts?

By the way this tip, "Today I will - Send something of interest to two contacts," is tip number 21 in my marketing BusinessAction™ cards.

Tip #142

When Delegating, Be Clear About Conveying the Result You Want

If you are very specific as to the various steps you want your delegatee (the person to whom something is delegated) to take but don't include the actual result you desire, your expectations might not be meet.

For example you say "research this case, this case, and give me a memo on x, y z." If you fail to tell them what you want them to achieve in writing that memo, they may miss the point or idea you intended. Of course, you also want to balance that with fostering their own initiative, but that is a tip for another part of learning to be a good delegator.

How can you be clearer in conveying your desired results?

Tip #141

Be Consistent in Your Marketing Efforts

Once you have decided on your three marketing areas, consistency and persistence at those efforts will be rewarded.

Tip #140

Seek Out New Markets

Peter Darling's article "Seeking Out New Markets" in the September 2006 issue of Law Practice Magazine published by the ABA is worth reading to inspire you to think about what new practice area you could serve.

Darling came up with three questions to help you seek out new markets when looking at new events, regulations, laws, etc:

  A Lawyer: What does this new law mean?
  A Marketer: Who will it affect, and is there anyone new in this group?
  A Strategist: Do we have expertise in this area that we can leverage and market?

"You don't talk about what your firm does-you talk about what the prospective clients need. You don't talk about what they already know-you talk about what they don't know-yet. You don't talk to them about where they are-you talk to them about where they're going to be." Peter Darling

What do you want to do about seeking new markets?

Tip #139

Rather than telling clients they can't, tell them how they can

When I was general counsel, one of my biggest complaints of lawyers who worked for me was when they told me I couldn't do something and did not offer any solutions to the problem. Fortunately I knew enough to probe with questions to get to a solution. Many clients don't. It is easy to say something can't be done. What is hard and makes for good lawyering is advising your clients on what can be done, notwithstanding the obstacles. That kind of response is worth a lot to your clients.

Tip #138

Make the Most of What You do Well

Focus on what you are good at. Spending time worrying about what you don't do well is useful only if you balance that with reinforcing what you do well.

What are you good at that you will do more of?

Tip #137

Stand out from the Crowd

What do you do that makes you different from other lawyers? What value do you bring to your clients that other lawyers don't? After identifing those skills or qualities make a point of highlighting them in your marketing efforts.

Tip #136

Talk and Write in Plain English

In order for your clients to know, like and trust you, they need to understand you. If you talk in plain English you increase the probability that they will understand you. If they understand you - that helps create good relationships. And good relationships are the key to building the kind of practice you want.

Tip #135

Create Artificial Deadlines to Help you Move Tasks Along

If you'd like to get out of the rut of starting things late or completing them at the last minute, create artificial deadlines to pace the project.

Tip #134

Use your email signature block for marketing

Make sure you are taking advantage of your email program's signature block. Have your name, contact information and your practice area identified. This is an easy way to get your marketing message across.

Tip #133

Recognize The Achievements of Your Employees

What has happened in the past few weeks that is worthy of celebration? Which individual achievements are worthy of recognition and how should they be recognized?

Employees are more motivated when their achievements are acknowledged.

Whom will you recognize?

This week's tip was written by Helena Clift, an ex-lawyer turned coach, who is setting up a practice to coach dissatisfied lawyers who are contemplating leaving the law. Helena is based in Vancouver, Canada, and will coach by telephone and/or by email, or in person. You can contact her at (604) 221-6129.

Tip #132

Join Groups for the Right Reasons

Join a civic, non-profit or social organization because you believe in its mission and goals, not just because you want to make business contacts. If you believe in a group's mission and goals, then your participation will likely enhance your reputation because you will be involved, because you care. If you join solely for the sake of joining, you are more likely to harm your reputation, if you appear apathetic, disinterested or "just there to meet people".

Tip #131

Apprise Your Clients of Your Communication Policies

Educating and updating your clients regarding your communication policies will reduce communication problems.

These policies might include:

  • Your promise to respond within x hours to voice and email messages.
  • That you track and bill your time in x minute increments for all voice and email communications.
  • That clients should be advised not to send urgent or confidential correspondence by email.
  • Your cell phone or PDA usage.

Your communication policies should be designed to help you deliver more than you promise to your client.

Tip #130

Listen and stay focused on your client during telephone calls

Don't try to answer e-mails, open the mail, or do other work when speaking to clients on the phone. Your best form of marketing is building a solid, respectful relationship with your existing clients. When you are distracted by other tasks your client might not be able to see you doing those things, but they sense your distraction or inattention.

Tip #129

Practice the 4 D's

Dump, Delegate, Delay, Do.

Which, of the 4 D's do you need to do more of?

Tip #128

When firing an employee be honest and nice

When it is clear an employee is not working out it is best to face that situation head on and be honest with the employee as well considerate. Let them leave with respect and their dignity. Give them as much notice as possible and work with them on what their next opportunities might be. If it was a bad fit they know it too and will be glad to leave.

Tip #127

Use Your Bills to Augment Client Communication

Your statement of account is a good way to communicate your value to your client and deepen their understanding of the importance of the services you provide. Provide sufficient detail and information to keep the client informed.

What will you do, if anything, to improve the content or of your bills?

Tip #126

Review Your "Dog" Files!

If you have any "dog" files – and you know what I mean – either do what you need to do and have been avoiding, or give the file to someone else.

Tip #125

Commit To Continuous Improvement

Schedule Planning and Practice Development Time for Your Practice Now!

Although it often seems as if there is no quiet period or down time in which to improve or to plan, it is usually possible to identify the times of the week, month, and year that typically are less busy than others.

Identify these periods by looking back over the past five days, weeks, months, and years respectively, with the aid of whichever time recording system you use.

Take advantage of this knowledge by scheduling 15 minutes each day or the equivalent per week, month or year, according to when your less-busy times usually fall. Then use this time for thinking of and implementing new and better/faster ways to do things and for planning and practice development time.

Keep a list over the year of all the things you've improved - you'll be amazed at what you can do in 15 minutes a day!

This week's tip was written by Helena Clift, an ex-lawyer turned coach, who is setting up a practice to coach dissatisfied lawyers who are contemplating leaving the law. Helena is based in Vancouver, Canada, and will coach by telephone and/or by email, or in person. You can contact her at (604) 221-6129.

Tip #124

Live Beneath Your Income

One of the principal reasons lawyers are limited in their career options or remain stuck in an unsatisfactory practice situation is the need to make a high level of income. Take action to reduce your spending to a level that will ultimately give you more freedom.

Tip #123

Remember to Breath!

If you're like me, when things get tense you hold your breath or stop breathing. One of the easiest and quickest things you can do to release stress is to breath.

Read the short article at for more on breathing.

Tip #122

"Google" Yourself!

Are You Happy with What You See?

When someone refers a potential client to you these days, more often than not the potential client will 'Google' you, or check you out on the Internet, to see how you come across.

If the only information that comes up is dated, too 'technical' or too vague, or just visually uninspiring, think about the message those potential clients are receiving about your practice. You are probably losing business without even realizing it!! Take more control of what is out there on the Internet about you and be sure it reflects how you want your practice to be seen.

This week's tip was written by Helena Clift, an ex-lawyer turned coach, who is setting up a practice to coach dissatisfied lawyers who are contemplating leaving the law. Helena is based in Vancouver, Canada, and will coach by telephone and/or by email, or in person. You can contact her at (604) 221-6129.

Tip #121

Survey Your Clients

Having past and current clients complete a survey concerning your services is a well established effective business development tactic.

Points to consider for a well thought-out survey:

  • Have a clear reason for your survey. What is the purpose of your survey? For example: Do you want to find out if your clients are happy with the way you provide your services? What would your clients change about you or your firm?
  • Ask carefully crafted, easy to answer questions.
  • Make sure the clients see value to themselves in answering the questions.
  • Inform the client how you plan to follow through on what you learn from the survey.
  • Share the results of the survey with the client.
  • Follow through with what you learn - this is key.
  • Clients for whom you no longer work are a good target for finding out what you or your firm did to lose their patronage.

Tip #120

Congratulate Yourself on your Successes in 2005!

Look back over the past year and make a list of your successes. These can be personal or professional, large or small. Anything that you feel proud of or gave you satisfaction makes the list!

A good way of getting started on this is to set a timer for 10 minutes and then write down as many as you can before the buzzer goes off. You'll probably find that over the next few days other ideas will pop into your mind, and you can then add them to your list. Print the list out and put it where you can see it often.

You'll be able to use the successes you have listed to help you update your website, create new marketing materials, and develop a great '30-second infomercial' (see Tip #102 in the Archive).

Most of all, it will help you feel great about yourself and get you and your practice off to a great New Year!

This week's tip was written by Helena Clift, an ex-lawyer turned coach, who is setting up a practice to coach dissatisfied lawyers who are contemplating leaving the law. Helena is based in Vancouver, Canada, and will coach by telephone and/or by email, or in person. You can contact her at (604) 221-6129.

Tip #119

Follow an Agenda For all Meetings

Answer these questions to create your meeting agenda:

  • What do I want to get out of the meeting?
  • How much time will I give the meeting?
  • How will I start and end the meeting?
  • How will I get the information I want during the meeting?

Tip #118

Embrace a Healthy Life Style - Exercise Regularly

As you know, physical exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress. Plan to enter 2006 choosing to exercise regularly.

If you do not exercise regularly, ask yourself, "What must I do to fit exercise into my life style?"

If you do exercise regularly, ask yourself, "What, if anything, do I want to do to improve my exercise program this year?"

If you would like coaching on this area, please consider contacting me to see how I can help you.

If you have colleagues who would benefit from this law practice tip, please forward it to them and invite them to subscribe at

Tip #117

Throw away all those magazines

This week's law practice tip is card number 16 of the Today I will cards in my new Time Management BusinessAction™ Cards decks.

Tip #116

Identify Your Best Clients and Deliver 12 out of 10 Service

Clients who are delighted with your services will do more to promote your practice than anything else you can do.

What actions do you need to take to deliver way over and above your clients' expectations?

Tip #115

Aim for a 100% Collection Policy

Rather than planning on writing off some portion of your receivables, plan instead to collect 100% of your accounts by having policies in place intended to help you attain that goal.

What policies, if any, do you need to put in place?

Tip #114

Arrange to publish an article in a local small newspaper, trade journal, client newsletter, business magazine,...

An effective means to increase your visibility and credibility is to publish.

What would it take for you to publish?

If you would like coaching on this area please consider contacting me to see how I can help you.

Tip #113

Ask yourself "How long will this take?"

That question is probably one of the most important time management questions you can ask and answer. My experience, both for myself and my coaching of clients, is that we always think we can do something in less time than it actually takes.

When putting your Daily To Do list together, in addition to adding a task to your list, allocate the expected length of time it will take to complete the task. Allocating the time will help you be more realistic with what you can actually accomplish in a day.

Tip #112

Write Personal Notes to Your Clients

With the proliferation and ease of email, lawyers that send thoughtful, hand-written notes to their clients or referral sources stand out and create more personal relationships.

What would help you send out more written notes?

Tip #111

Apply Perfectionism to only 20% of Your Work

The 20% that really matters!
Make short cuts routine.
Reduce the number of edits.

Tip #110

Hire Good People

Being a good delegator includes delegating work to good people, so make sure you start by hiring the best for your needs. Good staff or associates make you look good; they can handle what you want handled, how you want it handled.

Tip #109

If You Have Bad News For A Client, Do Not Wait to Give It

The best thing you can do when you have bad news is give it to the client as soon as possible. The longer you wait the harder it gets to deliver the news.

Tip #108

Be straightforward with new clients - especially if what you have to say is something they don't want to hear

Don't be reluctant to let your new client know they have a bad case or matter, or that what they want you to do is going to cost a lot of money right up front. When you don't raise those issues at the start of the relationship you set up both yourself and your client for disappointment.

Tip #107

Update Your Web Site

If you have not updated your Web site for some m, schedule time in the next week to do so. Then create a periodic reminder to review your Web site at least annually to revise, modify, or update your site or your profile on your firm's site.

Ask yourself: Would I contact this person based on what I just read? Have I helped a potential client understand what I can help them with? What information am I missing that would carry more weight than my resume? Have I addressed what makes me more qualified than another attorney?

Tip #106

Arrive Early For Everything

One of the best ways to positively influence people is to make a good impression. One of the easiest ways to make a good impression is to be on time for meetings or appointments. This is especially important with clients, potential clients, and referral sources. Referral sources pretty well includes everyone you come into contact with - so plan to be on time by arriving early.

Tip #105

Plan For The Unexpected

One way to reduce stress in your practice is to make sure you leave room in your calendar for all the many unexpected emergencies and interruptions. Evaluate your practice. Is 25% to 50% or more of your time spent on unplanned projects that come up daily? If so, you need to plan for the unexpected by not filling your day with known projects - keep space open for the unknown.

Tip #104

Be Responsive to Everyone

Make being responsive an automatic habit with everyone with whom you come into contact. You never know who will be a referral source for your business or career. Responsiveness is one of the easiest ways to gain people's respect and trust.

Responsiveness includes getting back to people quickly, even if you don't have an answer or know what they want. If a client, consultant, expert, lawyer, other professional, employee, employer, vendor, or friend is waiting for an answer or response of any kind from you, don't keep them waiting - get back to them promptly.

Where can you improve your level of responsiveness?

Tip #103

Create Scripts* To Help You Handle Unfamiliar Situations

When it's time to do something you've never done before but know you should do, it makes it much easier if you've already thought out and practiced what you'll say. It's difficult to say something you've never said before, especially if it's something you find uncomfortable. So come up with a script*.

Here are some examples:

Asking for a retainer:

"I'll need a retainer of $5,000 before I can start working on your behalf. It's my standard policy to get a retainer."

"Bring your check book to our meeting."

At a networking event or calling a client or referral source you have not talked to for awhile:

"I've been noticing this trend in ___________. What challenges are you facing in your business?"

*Scripts are things you'll say that you've thought out, written down and then practiced saying out loud, either alone or with someone, until you're comfortable saying it at the next opportunity.

Tip #102

Have a 30 second infomercial that is easy for you to say that helps people really understand what kind of law you practice

Many lawyers are uncomfortable telling people what they actually do, and yet if you are given the opportunity to make a connection with a potential client or referral source it is so important to stimulate their interest.

If you are at a networking event, which of the following do you think gives more information and would likely result in more conversation?

  1. Hi. My name is Irene Leonard and I practice law. Or
  2. Hi. My name is Irene Leonard I am a real estate attorney. Or
  3. Hi. My name is Irene Leonard and I practice real estate law here in the Seattle area. My typical clients are large commercial real estate developers. Or
  4. Hi. My name is Irene Leonard and I practice real estate law here in the Seattle area. My typical clients are large commercial real estate developers and I enjoy helping them negotiate and close smooth, seamless deals that help them make a lot of money. What brings you here?

If you are not happy with your infomercial take the time right now to revise it. Make sure you are comfortable saying it. Practice it out loud a couple of times.

Tip #101

Keep in touch with past clients using some kind of written correspondence

Past clients are one of your best sources of new business. Make it a policy to find ways to keep in touch. An easy way is to send a generic newsletter covering what has been going on in your practice. It does not have to be formal - it could be a letter on your letterhead or an email. Or you could go a more formal route and have it written, edited and printed for you by an outside source. Or you could decide to send hand written cards to select clients. The key is to come up with something that you are comfortable sending to past clients.

What will it take for you take to keep in touch with past clients?