If we could put a definition behind the word success, it’d list a combination of things. Being more profitable is a success measure. Sometimes productivity for lawyers is the most important metric. But those things that make an attorney or a law firm more successful are really leading to relief and overall happiness with practicing.
So are there any secret tricks to being successful? Kind of. They don’t seem all that mysterious when they’re listed in front of you, though. In this article, we’ve cited seven habits that can be used TODAY to boost profitability and productivity for lawyers.
1. Get Difficult Things Done First
Your most challenging task on a given day is going to be the one you’re most likely to avoid. Even the most responsible humans naturally have a tendency to procrastinate. It’s because we’re wired to win - which is especially true of attorneys. Facing a lengthy or complex task triggers pessimistic thinking and avoidant behavior. The thing is, though, you’ve already faced a lot of different challenges in the past and overcame them. You can do the same thing with your current task, as long as you get started now. Then you lose any underlying stress or distractions from checking the rest of the client work off your list.
2. Turn Off Email Once Per Day
Attorneys are always plugged in. We ask clients questions, then wait on responses. We answer client questions, which sometimes require multiple explanations. We delegate to assistants, but still need status updates so we can stay in control.
Just take a break. Once a day, for at least an hour, close your email application. Put your phone in your desk drawer. Unplug from communication and give yourself time to focus.
With the instant gratification we get from technology, it’s easy for lawyers to get caught up in a reactive groove. While clients may appreciate responsiveness, the problem with being reactive is that you’re not in control. When you lose control of your day, you sacrifice practice development and continued revenue growth.
3. Read a New (Non-Legal) Article Every Day
Any professionally or privately successful person will verify that continued education is a fundamental component of their success. That holds true for attorneys, too, but it isn’t as straightforward as reviewing the latest legal journal entries. It’s important to pursue learning in outside subject areas you’re interested in, and more importantly, ones that your ideal clients are interested in. Regular study doesn’t just help you solve client problems, but it helps you relate to the clients themselves. This is vital to developing trust and marketing to your prospects.
Practice Alchemy develops entire campaigns focused on building trust between attorneys, their referral partners, and their clients. Learn about our done-for-you Marketing Services.
4. Counter Every Doubt With an Opportunity
As legal professionals, it’s in our nature to be wary of different situations. Just think about how you work with clients. You’re always asking, “What can go wrong?” in order to build a defense around vulnerabilities. When it comes to running your practice, it’s good to have those failsafes in place. Truly successful attorneys take it one step further, though. If they encounter a possibility of failure, an effective practice CEO will start a project that produces the opposite result.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a campaign to recruit clients through social media. Your doubts may be, “Am I reaching enough? Can they find me on here?” Hopefully you’ve gathered the information to answer those questions already, but let’s assume you’re unsure whether the campaign will be a flop. Take action to safeguard against that by probing another channel, your referral network, for any new prospects.
5. Write Down That Sudden Idea
Big changes will often come from small ideas. A good way to build productivity for lawyers, who are constantly shifting gears between practice management and client work, is to keep a notepad handy. Anything that pops into your head, whether it be an idea for a new marketing channel, a forgotten to-do, or a name of a potential referral partner, should be written down. Getting into this habit can have a range of benefits, from easier recollection of details to sparking the next campaign to grow your practice.
6. Stick to Your Ethics
Integrity is one of the most sacred - and marketable - aspects of a law firm. Being able to leverage your position as an authority and develop functional and beneficial partnerships with referral sources hinge on an attorney’s integrity. That being said, adhering to legal ethics doesn’t just apply to desk work or the courtroom. Adhere to mandated and privately-held ethical standards to deliver a consistent message and portrayal of your firm’s brand. Successful attorneys get connected with the right clients and colleagues because they are transparent about their services and how they’re delivered.
7. Know When to Call It a Day
You can’t tackle everything in one day, so stop trying to. The most important asset in your practice is your brain. If you’re walking into the office at 5:30 AM every day and walking out at 8:00 PM, does that seem sustainable? And do you think you’re able to make decisions with clarity and purpose? Go home, turn off your gadgets, get some quality sleep, and refresh your mind for the next day. As a side note, you’re always going to be more productive in the early morning hours when you have less distractions. If you’re going to shorten your work day, leave earlier instead of arriving later.
If you make these habits part of your routine, that’s just the start of building success for your firm, and establishing stability in your work. You’re only going to drive the practice forward by executing marketing actions and seeking out new business. See the proven formula that Practice Alchemy members follow in this free downloadable guide: How to Grow Your Firm Predictably & Create Freedom For Yourself.