Every great story is actually the same story. Your story is no different.
As humans, we need this story to find meaning in our lives. To wake up with energy, thirst for more, and go to sleep with a sense of contentment.
How does this story play out?
The hero of our story is unassuming, living out their life.
Then, they are called to a quest or an adventure. A friend, guide, or mentor comes along and invites them to an adventure.
The hero is not always ready, and they might even refuse it. But through whatever circumstances, they begin their quest.
Soon, they come across their mentors, allies, and enemies (internal or external). The go through an ordeal, get their reward, and are changed in the process for the better.
This story has played out for centuries. Katniss, Harry Potter, Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Neo, Gilgamesh, and more have lived this story.
So are you.
The legal profession is filled with more opportunities than ever before - no matter the type of work you do or where you are in your career.
You’ve been called to this adventure.
Greater control, greater freedom, and financial rewards await - you truly can have it all.
But to get there, you need a plan. And unfortunately - whether in law school or in most firms - you are never given that roadmap for success.
And so we end up on a scattered journey.
Of course, it’s not your fault. You’ve been set-up to fail. What worked decades ago doesn’t work anymore. Or the sacrifices don’t seem worth it.
However, finding a road through these dense jungles has been our work.
It’s really simple. Master 6 critical things (all of which are very teachable), and you become the master of your domain.
Greater control, greater freedom, and financial rewards - you truly can have it all.
Or you can continue on your scattered path, hoping that things will work themselves out by chance.
The choice is yours.
We’re running free workshops next week about this very topic. We hope you’ll make the choice to embark on this adventure together.
I) March 8 from 12-1pm EST
We’ll help you understand the roadmap for your business development success. You won’t want to miss this one!
II) March 10 from 9-10am EST
We’ll help you undue the damage of BD myths that you’ve been taught and that have been holding you back from the control, freedom, and financial success that you’re seeking. This one is going to be good!
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Pareto Principle. The 80/20 rule is all around us.
- 20% of roads are used for 80% of the traffic.
- 20% of the colleges get 80% of student applications.
- 80% of people take vacations at 20% of the calendar year (a bonanza for those who can go off season).
What most people miss is that this applies equally to your life.
This principle tells us that your 20% of your strengths, skills, and relationships account for 80% of the income, satisfaction and opportunities in your life.
The ratios are of course not exactly 80/20. They can be 60:40, 70:30, and increasingly 90:10 and even 99:1.
Most people spend too much time compensating for their weaknesses. Wasting their time on the non-essentials.
You’d be much better off investing in your strengths. The place where you have a disproportionate edge.
If you can build on your strengths and interests, you will get outsized gains.
There’s a reason why business development is one of the most sure fire ways to have greater control over your career.
It is the micro skill that disproportionately gives you freedom, control, and mobility in your career.
Everything is not equal.
Stop investing in the wrong things. Go all in on your strengths, skills and relationships.
My boss pushed to file a lawsuit before it was ready.
I was a first-year associate right out of law school.
I knew the lawsuit wasn’t ready.
I went to my boss for help, and they pushed me away, not even making eye contact. “Figure it out, and it must be filed tomorrow.” They didn’t explain why it had to be filed “tomorrow.” There was no statute of limitations issue, so I believe it was client pressure.
I was also working at the office over a holiday weekend - again. Another colleague instructed me that at this firm, the lawyers “didn’t get holidays.”
I was in over my head.
I went to a senior associate and begged them to look at the Complaint. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never filed a lawsuit before.” They looked at it and made some edits for me but were terrified too.
We both went to my boss’s office saying the Complaint wasn’t ready, and that we needed their feedback to make sure it was correct for the client.
My boss snapped at us and said, “Figure it out. And figure it out by tomorrow.”
We didn’t stand up to the boss. We were terrified. This was the point where I knew I had to leave this firm. I kept being put in situations where I was in over my experience level, being told to figure it out, and not having any sort of lifeline.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stand up to my boss. I wish I had, but I was worried about my job. The Complaint was not ready, but it still got filed. I did not put my name on it, because I didn’t believe it was properly prepared.
I left the firm for another one as soon as I could.
When you know something is not right – don’t give in. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Stand up, and don’t back down.
Katie Lipp is the Founder of Law Practice Queen, where she coaches female lawyers on business development, to achieve more power, flexibility, and control in their lives. Katie also runs her law firm, Lipp Law, in the Washington DC metro area. You can learn more about Katie at Law Practice Queen.
It’s time we get past the to-do lists.
Let’s face it. Days go by and even when you finish all the tasks on your to-do list, it doesn’t feel like you got anything real done.
Lean into instead a success list.
The 2-3 things (and no more than that) that you must do everyday. A success list is simple. It’s a reminder that if you do just those few things, your day will have mattered.
That you’re creating something in the direction of your vision, goals, and dreams.
Otherwise the currents of hollow to-do lists get you stuck in a pit of busyness and not real substantial change that matters.
Doing 5-10 minutes of business development can be one of the most helpful things you can do for your career.
Easy to do? Yes.
Unless of course you are ruled by to-do lists where you have to put out fires everyday.
What’s on your success list?
We’re curious to know one thing from you:
When it comes to business development and building your ideal practice, what’s the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem you’ve been struggling with?
Could you please tell us by clicking here?
Over 20 years ago, the flavour of the month in the legal press was that medium sized firms were doomed. The big firms were coming after our clients and we were going to lose them all. We had to merge with bigger firms or die. And yet, medium sized firms continue to flourish.
I practiced with a firm that grew from 14 to 40 lawyers while I was there. We had very little in common with Bay Street firms.
Among my client base were some clients who the large firms would have been delighted to have. The large firms certainly had the marketing budget and resources to go after them. So, how did this suburban lawyer attract and hold onto them?
Our lower fees were a factor, but they were certainly not the main reason that clients chose to deal with us. Value was.
So here is how I pitched it. (Now, to be clear, I believed absolutely every word of my pitch, but that does not mean that I was completely right or that a competitor could not have constructed a good counterargument.)
- You, Mr. Client, do not want to be small fish in a big pond. In a downtown firm, you will be lured in by the very impressive senior partner. You will then be introduced to a fairly impressive junior partner who will delegate your work to a sort of average but over-worked, over-stressed senior associate who will be swamped on bigger deals for bigger clients and sub-delegate the work to an over-worked, over-stressed, junior associate who is struggling to bill 1800 – 2000 hours and has no time for you.
At my firm, you will deal with me and an associate. You will be a big fish in a small pond. You can always call me. I may involve an associate or refer you to one of my partners, but it will be with your permission and I will supervise and take responsibility until such time as you have developed a relationship with them and no longer see the need for my involvement. Even then, you can always call me if you have any concerns.
By the way, I don’t work 1800 billable hours. I need to have time to go to lunch with you a few times a year and get to know you and your business.
- In addition to being over-worked and over-stressed, those big-firm lawyers will also be over-specialized. It will take six of them to discuss a transaction, because no one has a sufficiently general background except perhaps for the very senior lawyers who are not interested in your account because you are too small for them. The costs will sky-rocket and no one will be capable of understanding the entire picture.
I, on the other hand, have fairly general experience. When you come into speak to me about a transaction or a problem, you will meet with me and maybe my associate. I will be able to understand the whole picture. I can identify the employment issue (and call in my employment partner if necessary), the trusts issue (and call in my Wills, Estates and Trusts partner if we need her), the commercial leasing issue (and call in my Leasing partner if appropriate), etc. But most likely I can handle the entire meeting without a room full of other people billing you.
Although I know that cost is not your primary concern, I should point out that that the over-worked, over-stressed junior associate to whom your work is going to be delegated at a large firm will have less than five years of experience and will be billing you at close to the same rates that I will be billing you with 35 years of experience, and that assumes that he or she can find the time to do your work.
I would like to make an obscene amount of money from you, but I want to do that over a very long period of time. If I am not careful to build a relationship with you and bill you fairly at every step along the way, I will not have that opportunity. There may be some people downtown who would treat you that way, but good luck finding them and getting them to pay attention to a small fish like you. And the mid-level and junior people with the huge billable hour targets are just not going to ‘get it.’
You do not have to pay downtown rates for all of your general corporate and commercial work to get the specialized expertise that you need that our firm cannot offer. I will be the first person to recommend hiring a lawyer at a downtown firm or a boutique firm to provide whatever specialized advice that we do not offer. You will never see me trying to provide services in an area that we are not capable of handling.
Also, let’s talk about your litigation work. If you have any “bet the company” litigation and you would feel more comfortable hiring a Bay Street firm to handle that, by all means do that. But what about all of that everyday stuff? Why would you pay a junior person at a Bay Street firm to handle those files at their exorbitant rates when you can use a senior partner at my firm for less who will use her much greater experience to find a way to resolve the matter as cheaply as possible?
Bay Street firms have their place. Public companies should use them. Clients who want to buy General Motors should hire them. And of course there are many very specialized areas of law for which a Bay Street firm might be the best match.
But the general needs of entrepreneurial clients, even large ones, may be better served at smaller firms.
At least that is the way that I pitched it, with a fair degree of success.
Murray speaks about the legal profession from the safety of retirement, offers private courses in business law and mentors young lawyers. Learn more about him at his website.