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How to Avoid Permanent Growing Pains in your Law Practice

Most lawyers have a very linear mindset when it comes to growing their practice.

They expect their practice to be a little bigger tomorrow than it is today. Maybe they’ll get help from staff, but in most cases, they keep doing more of the same.

Here’s the problem with that mindset. If you continue following the same patterns that got you where you are today, you’ll just exacerbate the negatives of your practice, even if revenue is growing.

And at some point, you hit the wall - your revenue stops growing. You've reached your ceiling of complexity. There's no more growth to be had, and because you never stopped to change how you do business, there's no time left to change what you're doing.

You're trapped.

I've seen it too many times before. And it's no way to make your life easier and your practice a better vehicle for your financial future.

Tomorrow’s practice needs to operate differently than today’s practice.

The guy selling flowers on the street corner approaches his business a lot differently than FTD does. And if he keeps doing the same thing he's doing today, he'll never be FTD. He'll probably never even have a storefront or two.

Why? Because he's thinking about his business in the wrong way. Following the same patterns that keep him small, at the whim of whoever happens to be walking by his street corner stand. Keeping him trapped.

If you want to avoid permanent growing pains, you have to set yourself up for success in advance. Think long-term.

Click here to get access to my free Law Practice Growth Guidethat shows you how to grow your law firm predictably and create freedom for yourself.

What do you need to do to support the kind of practice you want in the future?

Suppose your client base multiplies by 10 overnight. Then what?

Obviously, the number of hours in a day won’t grow by ten. Even if associates magically appeared, would they be able to deliver the same level of service as you?

How would you communicate with clients? How could you ensure that tasks are handled correctly? How would you know if deadlines are being met?

How would you know if you’re getting the highest number of referrals from every single relationship?

With 10 times the number of clients, the incremental thinking you’ve been using won’t cut it.

You can’t grow your practice and then later go back and fix your problems, at least not without a lot of heartburn and a lot of choices between revenue and doing the right thing.

The fact is, if you don’t build a solid foundation first, you’ll just sink deeper into a hole.

The Components of a Solid Foundation

First, you have to identify the right relationship between you and your firm.

Maybe today, the firm is just you. But as long as you and the firm are the same thing, you won’t have the capacity to grow 10 times.

And guess what, even if you just want to keep your practice small and become more profitable (or have an easier life as an attorney), you can’t be the same as your business.

Think of your business as your personal reward, both financially and psychologically. Think about what your relationship needs to be with a firm that eventually delivers that reward.

This means realizing something that 99% of lawyers never do. That you are not your firm even if it's just you today. You have to treat your firm as separate from you - where you could delegate things, have others do them for you - even if you don't plan on it.

Because that's what creates equity. A sellable practice. A controllable existence. Less stress. And easier growth.

I'll say it again because it's the secret. Even if you never end up delegating everything, even if you don't want to, the key is you must set up your firm so that you could. And the other secret? It's absolutely possible, in any practice.

Second, you need to position your firm correctly.

That means creating a market position that attracts the right clients and repels the wrong ones.

Repelling those who don’t pay. Those who are high-maintenance or difficult to work with. Those who make your personal life harder, not easier.

This can be done with the right positioning after you’ve created a profile of the ideal client, and you’ve developed the kind of marketing message that will appeal to the ideal client. Which, by the way, you can do even if you don't have any ideal clients today. Tomorrow's prospect doesn't know today's client. Every day you have the opportunity for a fresh start.

Again, something most lawyers never think about, but very fundamental.

It's something we do for all our Members for a reason. Go in depth about who their ideal clients are, to create marketing message that draw in perfect clients. And when done right, it's an awesome thing to behold. Commodity practices, all of a sudden sought-after. Attorneys lives made easier. Business that was just waiting to come their way, unlocked.

You can do the same.

Build a business that can be more than just you. Position yourself. Focus on these two foundational concepts alone, and you'll be set up for the next stage - capitalizing on having a business that's a real asset, and is far more rewarding than having a practice that gets more complicated as you try to grow, not less.

Raj Jha