Arezou Kohan 2016-12-01 00:09:10
I was at a resort recently when I overheard the president of the resort interviewing a potential employee. “We are interested in building long-term relationships with our guests,” she said. “We want to give them a positive experience so that they not only come to us for their wedding but think of us for all special occasions.” Listening to her, I thought to myself: she gets it. The most successful business model is one that is relationship-oriented. Toward that end, here are five secrets to a successful law practice. 1 Operate with Integrity. To have the kind of practice that you want, you need to act with integrity. Integrity encompasses more than “ethics.” Operating with integrity is about creating a practice that is aligned with who you are in the world — one that honors your personal strengths, gifts and talents. Being ourselves is a recipe for success. Operating with integrity can be energizing. By contrast, when we are doing work that is not in integrity with our inner essence, it can be draining. The latter is a recipe for burn-out. Moreover, one of the best ways to establish trust with our clients is to be ourselves. The part of our brain that decides whether we forge relationships is interested in our safety. Authenticity and transparency can instill trust because it shows that we have nothing to hide. Being open and honest gives the client permission to be open and honest with us. It makes for better attorney-client communication. This, in turn, makes for a better attorney-client relationship and increases the odds of retention. 2 Know the Exact Practice You Want to Create and Do Not Settle. Many lawyers put up with a lot of things they do not like about their practice. We do these things for one reason and one reason only — somewhere down the line, we started to believe that we had to. It is what we saw other lawyers doing and so we copied them. We never stopped to think about how miserable they might be. We never considered there might be a better way. To gain clarity about the kind of practice that is right for you, ask yourself the following: Who do I want to serve and how do I want to serve them? What do I want to be earning every month? Who do I want to work with? Who do I want to not work with? What do I want to spend my time doing every day? Science has proven that we can reprogram the neuro-pathways in our brain. So much of success is about mindset. A great mantra is, “I can and will create the practice that I want.” Once you become clear on the exact practice that you want, nine times out of 10 you can make it happen. It is like setting your internal GPS. Do not settle for less. 3 Make the Client Relationship Your No. 1 Priority. The No. 1 mistake that lawyers make is thinking that they will have better retention through good results. However, the single biggest indicator of retention is not results. Rather, it is whether the client feels heard and acknowledged by us. The key to a healthy client relationship is good communication. By making it about the client and providing exceptional client service, you will not only garner client loyalty, but you turn your clients into your marketing department. So, consider that as an attorney, you are not just selling your time or expertise. You are selling a positive legal experience. It is really no different from seeing a good movie or having a great dinner and spreading the word. When clients have a good experience with you, they go out and spread the word. 4 Find and Build Your Tribe. It is much easier to form relationships with those with whom we can relate. Consequently, some of your best referrals are likely to be under your nose. They are people with whom you already have a genuine connection, with whom you share common interests. Building your tribe is about cultivating and nurturing alliances and partnerships. It can feel very rewarding to be part of something that is bigger than us. There are many ways to find and build your tribe, such as being active in a Facebook or Meet Up group, or volunteering for a local bar association. Finding and building your tribe can make it much easier to attract your ideal clients. When you are being of service, helping and contributing, it gives people a chance to get to know, like and trust you. It also allows you to attract opportunities and leads more organically. 5 Have a Good Mentor. In other emotionally-charged professions, such as coaching and therapy, coaches and therapists are required to see one of their own to help them process their experiences. Lawyers do not have this built-in outlet. As such, many are using coaches to fill this gap. The most important criteria in a healthy mentorship is the ability of the mentor to listen without judgment so that you feel heard. Sharing our thoughts can help us gain clarity and can create accountability. I also recommend that your mentor be someone who can give you new ideas without imposing their own views. The most suitable mentor is someone who is positive, encouraging and has the ability to draw out the best in you. The biggest secret to a successful practice is not doing things the way they have always been done. Rather, it is about building a practice on purpose — one that feels right to you. Arezou Kohan, Esq., CPCC is the author of “Coaching Your Client: A Lawyer’s Guide for Improving Communication and Client Outcomes” (American Bar Association 2015). Please direct inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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