We see them everywhere we look – those hapless souls who appear in court unprepared, embarrassing many of us in the profession. They are often the reason that lawyers have a “bad rap” among the general public. They usually lack time management skills.
Many incompetent practitioners are nearing the precipice of malpractice because they try to do everything for everyone who walks in the door. In the process, they constantly tread on the path to malpractice. They fear that if they turn away a potential client, they will be unable to pay the light bill. The truth is that you cannot maintain expertise in multiple areas of the law without tremendous inefficiencies. At the same time, you constantly risk missing critical steps or updates in the broad expanse of legal theory overtime you tread water in a new pond. Narrow your focus, enhance your efficiency and don’t reinvent the wheel every time a new client walks in the door. There are always more clients in your narrow field of practice – you just need to be more effective at marketing your skills and developing expertise to justify higher billing rates and greater success for your clients.
Or attorneys who bill their clients for work this is unnecessary as they do not have the confidence that they have done enough. They are running scared of committing malpractice, and in the process, they don’t know how to be efficient and competent without “breaking the bank” for the client. They don’t understand that “perfection” is not necessarily the best standard when it is taken to the extreme.
Many attorneys who represent an opponent come at you with an attitude that they will not settle, or even engage in meaningful discourse. They do so because it increases their hourly billings. You know it when you see it – you can’t prove it, but we suspect they pad their hourly billings to generate more income. It is incompetence to the extreme and their clients often don’t realize it is going on. Those lawyers feed on individuals who tell the lawyer, “I don’t care what it costs, it is the principle!” And that type of lawyer fosters client’s malevolent behavior and builds his or her practice upon revenue generated wherever he or she can find it. These are the lawyers who were not there when self-confidence, good will, entrepreneurship, creativity or ethics were handed out. Fortunately, most lawyers don’t fall into that category. The bad ones have one-time clients who they burn out. Then they look for more victims elsewhere. They never learned how to establish relationships.
As I look back over the past year, many times I have been confronted with a confrontational client. Fortunately for me, I get a pay check every two weeks and I am not dependent on legal fees for a living. I can turn them away. Or, at least I can explore how they will never get real satisfaction out of a court order. Court orders never deal with the real psychological issues at play. You might say it is easy for me to tell you how to run your practice to avoid the temptation to bill to the extreme and play off of those miscreants as I have the luxury of turning them away. But, I can tell you that if I were dependent on legal fees for a living, I would focus on all the opportunities that abound assisting individuals in positive and productive ways. There are plenty of opportunities where fees can be earned and one can still foster professional and ethical standards of conduct. One way to expand your area of influence is to establish relationships, narrow your focus and market on a wholesale basis.
If you have been following my blog over the last year, then you already know that I am a strong believer in the principle that there is plenty of business to keep every lawyer busy. Also, sound practice skills start with sound business principles. Those who focus on marketing, practice management, and good time management make very good livings and maintain a good quality of life in this profession.
As you go forward planning for the new year, I will ask you to start with a review of five of my blog posts which I feel are critical to your understanding how to reconfigure your practice for greater success. They are:
- Time Management – http://sololawyerbydesign.com/time-management-forget-about-it-part-ii
- Narrow Your Focus For Greater Profit – http://sololawyerbydesign.com/five-steps-to-develop-a-niche-practice
- Realize that perfection is not the standard – http://sololawyerbydesign.com/perfection-in-practice
- Build relationships to grow your practice – http://sololawyerbydesign.com/want-to-grow-your-business-just-ask
- Wholesale marketing – http://sololawyerbydesign.com/wholesale-vs-retail-marketing-efficiency-101
Start the new year out right and set your sights on productivity and profitability. Follow my advice in these 5 blog posts and I believe you will find greater success in 2016. Happy and prosperous new year for you and all of those important to you in life.