As founder and president of Paula Black & Associates, Paula Black has delivered powerful and innovative marketing and business development solutions for more than twenty years. Follow this blog to find inspiration, big ideas, and practical guidance for your journey towards a thriving legal practice that exists in harmony with the rest of your life.
When you think about success you probably think of the millions of things you think you “have” to do. The things everybody tells you that are the right things to do. But… What do YOU want? Yes, it is possible to consider what you want. Jack Canfield author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Success Principles has been talking about the possibility of “getting what you want” for years. And I have to tell you… it can happen!
I have seen it happen for client after client and I have seen results in my own life as well. Getting what YOU want is possible. But it doesn’t happen just because you WANT it to. You have to do your part and thanks to Jack, here are his… 7 Steps for Creating the Life YOU Want.
Take No Less than 100% Responsibility for Your Life
When we take 100% responsibility… the buck stops here! Yes, you have to stop blaming the economy, your partners, your practice area and the list goes on. If you don’t like what you’re doing, where you are or the money you are making… change it!
Be Clear Why You’re Here
Why did you go to law school? What drove you to go into the practice area that you chose? Maybe you found them or they found you, but whatever it is you must find your purpose. You may not be in a position today to experience it. But when you experience it… YOU will know it. You’ll feel it in your gut.
Decide What You Want
Many lawyers that I talk to are on that treadmill, going through the motions with no particular direction. They are just processing files. What do you want? Grow your practice, build a book of business, become a judge, write a book, teach… If you know what you want, you can figure out how to get there.
Believe It Is Possible
This is a huge obstacle for lawyers. You seldom do anything that hasn’t been done before. That is your training. Few lawyers will go out on a limb and try something new. But those that do… do it because they have faith that it is possible to succeed. What do you believe is possible?
Believe in Yourself
Listen up! Take a deep breath and OWN your expertise, your experience, and your power! Find your self-confidence and if need be… fake it until you make it!
Become an Inverse Paranoid
I think Jack wrote this one with lawyers in mind. You are trained to be paranoid. Instead, believe that the world will conspire to support you.
Unleash the Power of Goal Setting
It’s no secret that I believe in the power of goal setting… in fact, it’s a bit magical when you see it in action as I have with my clients.
If you’re not happy… what are you going to do about it?
I worked with a new client and we embarked on a journey to figure out what she needs to do to leave her job and start her own firm. We created a roadmap. We started by exploring her personal brand… what’s her unique position in the practice of law and what personally sets her apart from the rest. It’s a very vulnerable place to poke around; it’s not for the faint of heart.
In my effort to find encouragement to share with her I found a speech by Dr. Brene Brown, Why Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count. It so gets to the core of our fears when we embark on new ventures… we stand at the ledge and look out. What do we see? What can we hold on to help us move forward, little step after little step? Brown addresses the critic both external and the one in our head. She reminds us that the critics AREN’T the ones that matter and AREN’T the people we should be trying to please. If you are on a ledge looking to create a new future for yourself, listen and I believe you will find courage and comfort in her words.
Do you want a sure-fire way to predict when something is going to go terribly wrong? There is a way and it’s not a crystal ball or Ouija board.
It’s complacency. The legal profession is changing rapidly, and the ability to spot and adapt to the changes is invaluable. Are you stuck in… I’m too busy! I don’t do online advertising! I only get business by referrals! I hate networking!
Complacency comes in many forms. The most harmful to a lawyer’s business is… “I’m too busy!” Yes, I acknowledge that you may have a heavy workload, but I ask you… Are you working as efficiently as you could? Are you leveraging the skills of a team? Are you making every minute you spend on business development count? If not maybe you have become complacent and begun to settle for business as usual! Now that you know complacency is a sure sign of impending disaster… what are you going to do about it?
Here’s some inspiration: a quote to download and print out to put in a place you will see to remind you to NEVER live in complacency!
Beyond your wildest dreams… First… you have to dare to dream!
Sometimes there is a fine line between pain and pleasure… dreams and nightmares. We have all had that experience of not being sure. I have worked with many clients that I have coaxed out on to thin ice to find that they were quite safe being there… and now very comfortable staying there.
What are your dreams? I have asked many a lawyer that question and I get answers like… “be a great lawyer.” To me, that isn’t a dream… that is reality… generally they are already a great lawyer. Could they be better? Of course.
What do you want in your life that is beyond your wildest dreams? Is it that BIG giant case? Is it to grow your practice to an unthinkable level? Is it to turn your sights on politics? Is it to leverage your legal knowledge into a business venture? Is it to use your compassion and knowledge of the law as a Judge? Is it to become the next John Grisham? All of this is possible if you dare to dream.
Sometimes when I’m working with a client I can see that there is something unspoken… lawyers resist. You are great at presenting all the evidence as to why your dream isn’t a good idea. I beg you… let go!
One of the obstacles that get in the way of progress for many of my clients is waiting for things to be “perfect” before they make the next step. Sometimes achieving positive results just requires a little faith in you, not perfection. Let me ask you: When was the last time you, REALLY failed at something? Probably NEVER. You wouldn’t be where you are if you had. Yes… you have made mistakes and taken the wrong path… we all have. But you are smart and have many experiences that will help you avoid pitfalls, so have a little faith in yourself and take the leap even if things aren’t perfect. Your instincts will guide you. Let’s face it… PERFECT doesn’t exist anyway. Every single thing can be improved.
For example, when is an article ready for publication… after 4 hours, 40 hours or 400 hours? If you are writing about what you know it can be 4 hours or even less for that matter. Some people work on an article for weeks. If it is for business development purposes… stop!
Think about the results you could achieve this year if you take a leap of faith… then assess the situation, make adjustments and try again. I have had the pleasure of watching many clients do just that and the results are amazing. So, you can choose to adjust and adjust until you think something is perfect OR you can choose PROGRESS. What would you like your 2014 results to look like? Make your 2019 Big Idea … Progress Over Perfection!
If you’d like to discuss this topic further, shoot me an email!
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” —Wayne Dyer
First—was 2018 what you imagined it would be? Oh, you didn’t really think about what you wanted to accomplish in 2018? You just went where the crisis-of-the-day lead you? From one overwhelmed day to another. Then when it was all over and you looked around, there was nothing in the pipeline? Panic set in and you got out there to get the work to start flowing again. Month after month it gave you a sinking feeling and you took it out on your family? Things started to pickup, after a while. Then the cycle happened all over again… From one overwhelmed day to another… over and over again.
In 2019, let’s stop the cycle. Think about what you want. Here are twelve questions to answer:
Is it time to make a real change? Change what you do and where you do it?
2. Is it time to find more harmony between work and family?
3. Is it time to grow your practice with intention?
4. How much revenue do you want?
5. How much time do you want to work?
6. How much time do you want to spend with your family and friends?
7. How much time do you want to take off?
8. Are you happy with the type of work you do?
9. If not what kind of work do you want to do?
10. Do you like the clients you work for?
11. If not, what kind of clients do you want to work for?
12. Is there enough happiness in your life?
Answer these questions as honestly as you can. The answers with help you identify what your big over aching goals for 2019 should be. Commit to 2 or 3 of them, and then you can start to add strategy to each of your goals in order to achieve them. Goals without strategy are just dreams. If you have always said you would like to write a book and have never done anything to move in that direction; never put your thoughts down on paper, never attended a seminar on publishing, never researched the books in the same genre—for you to write a book is just a pipedream. On the other hand, if you have done these things, you are on your way to accomplishing your goal.
Here are 3 rules to keep in mind when adding strategy and measurable benchmarks:
Set a timeframe: time of day, days of the week or time of month you will do something or expect something to occur. For example: Every Friday I will leave the office at 4:00 and plan activities with your family or friends. With the rigor it would take if I were catching a weekly business flight out of town.
Make a measurable commitment. For example: At every networking event I commit to having 3 meaningful conversations and end the conversions with a plan; get together for coffee or I will send the person something or introduce them to someone.
Keep a log or journal. It’s important to see the results of your commitment to your goals. When you can look back on your progress a couple of stumbles won’t be so significant.
When you create goals and strategy for your business and personal development it is important in 3 ways—it helps you to set your course, articulate your commitments and fosters a sense of accomplishment. Now tell me—who doesn’t want all that!
In this business of LAW, there is no stronger business development tool than BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. Few would argue with that!
A few years ago I had the privilege to be a speaker at the Spain-Florida Law Firms Forum. It was a two-day conference organized by the Embassy of Spain – Trade Commission. They invited 15 firms from all over Spain to meet and collaborate with 30 firms from South Florida. The opportunities are endless…
Spanish clients could invest in the affordable Florida Real Estate markets.
Miami could be the entry point to Latin America and the Caribbean for the Spanish firms and their clients.
Florida firms could assist Spanish firms and their clients entering the US market.
Just to name a few. Yes, that was the intent of the Forum… to find ways to build business between Spain and South Florida. After all, that is the job of a Trade Commission… right?
Well, there was another benefit that wasn’t as obvious… the bond that was forged with the group of 15 Spanish firms. I witnessed it build over the two days I was with them, (lunch and dinner… not to mention South Beach until 1:00 in the morning!) They were from all across Spain… north, south, east, and west. They represented the entire country. They each gave a 3-minute speech about their firm intended for the Florida firms but, in doing so they became knowledgeable about each others practice and started to think about ways they could help one another in Spain. They became supportive of one another because they had a common interest… develop business!
Sometimes there are opportunities we overlook that are right in our backyard or under our nose. The most fruitful among them will be the ones where you have a common focus… business development. You don’t need to wait to be invited to an event organized by a Trade Commission… create your own group. Find firms of similar size with different but compatible practice areas to forge a business development partnership. Learn what kinds of cases are ideal for their practice… and they learn yours. You have now multiplied your business development possibilities.
I was talking with a client today about an article opportunity and on the surface it sounded very attractive. This publication’s target market is a good one, the magazine has published my client’s work before, so she already has some exposure to their readers and she can easily figure out a strategy for the article.
Sounds very doable… RIGHT? On the surface it does. But when we start to think of all the other irons she has in the fire, it may not seem so attractive. The big question is… What does the opportunity cost?
What will she set aside in order to have the time to devote to this article?
Is THIS target market where she can get the most return on the time invested?
What is the projected time frame to expect a return on the time invested from this article?
After careful consideration, the conclusion is: She needs to FOCUS and spend her time more wisely. Work on client matters, continue to stay in touch with prospects that are considering the possibility of hiring her in the near future and complete the writing assignments she has already committed to. That is what’s at stake if she loses focus. A much wiser course of action… don’t you think?
She’s a get-it-done-kind-of-gal. She first sees the WHY she should do it… then she sees the HOW to get it done. She is a lot like me and chances are, many of you. Let’s add a third step… ask “WHAT is the opportunity cost of doing it?” This will help set priorities and will help you FOCUS…FOCUS…FOCUS!
What do you want? If you “want to have your cake and eat it too”… as the saying goes, this (true) story just might help you see that it’s possible.
When a client of mine left her prestigious firm she told me… “I want to spend time with my kids… but I still want to build my practice. Do you think I can do that?”
My answer: Absolutely… you can do it your way. We just have to figure out your priorities.
So my client and I figured out what her priorities were…
1. Flexibility. Flexibility was important to her, so she managed her client’s expectations where possible. She worked when the kids were at school and after they went to bed. But she was there to take them to school most mornings and to various activities in the afternoon.
2. Maintain her reputation for exceptional client service and legal work. This one was tough because she had to be real with herself. It required acknowledging what clients really wanted… not what she thought they should have. Some clients were not a good fit and she had to fire them.
3. Maintain at least 50% of what she was making at her firm. So we got to work. We set hourly targets. Billable: 20 hours a week. Business development: 10 hours. And personal hours… as much as she could get! In her previous position, she was working 45-60 hours and personal time was scarce.
She tracked her hours every day and we reviewed them monthly. We made her business development hours count! We looked for quality clients that could pay good rates and have repetitive matters. And an astonishing thing happened… she is working probably a 3rd of the time she was working before and her income has nearly doubled that of which she was making at the firm! And best of all her family is happy to have her around… what could get any better than that?
Let me tell you that YOU CAN have it your way! You have to FOCUS and you can’t have it ALL at the same time. What are your priorities? How can we make them mesh and build a life that is in harmony?
If you would like to chat about how you can have it YOUR way, give me a call or send me an email.
There is no greater gift than to be able to do what you love. When people talk about their work as a passion, they often say that they would do it even if they were not paid. Their enthusiasm is contagious, their clients and colleagues feel it.
Do you love what you’re doing… or do you dread going into the office each morning? Many of the clients I work with are sick and tired of having that feeling of dread each morning. We explore what’s at the heart of the frustration…
Do you hate the practice area you find yourself in?
Do you hate the way your superiors, colleagues or clients treat you?
Do you hate the hours you are required to work?
Life is too short to “hate” what you do for a living. That isn’t why you went to law school. The big question is… What are you going to do about it?