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Why Successful Lawyers Take Unusual Risks

We're conservative by nature, lawyers.

We’re taught to do a lot of research. Think very carefully. Don’t jump to conclusions. Back up everything with evidence.

We have to work this way in the practice in order to be successful at our trade.

The thing is, over time that lack of risk-taking affects every aspect of our business. It hampers our growth as business owners, even as it serves us as attorneys.

Why? Because what we don’t do is follow our hunches. We don't make a decision based on an educated guess when it comes to building our practices.

Instead, we do what we see others do. We follow the herd. We follow precedent.

Here’s the problem with the herd mentality.

When you do the same thing that everyone else is doing, you’ll see no better than average results. Because just like everyone else following the same tired path, you're doing the same things the mediocre majority is doing.

You set yourself up for mediocrity, not success.

An entrepreneurial lawyer who wants to be far above average won’t think like a lawyer from a business growth perspective. Sure, you have to for your clients. But not for you.

You might need that lawyer brain for your trade, but you need an entrepreneurial brain for your business.

What does it mean to take smart risks?

Stop doing what everyone else is doing or what the majority of people say you should be doing. They're showing up at bar association mixers (and I've written before on how to use your networking time FAR more productively than that), letting other people set their marketing agenda, and being passive.

Their websites all say the same thing (too often, some version of the profitability-crushing "big firm quality at small firm rates" lingo) They're taking the no-risk, tried and true, but ineffective road.

Smart risk taking means looking for successful models, even if they’re in different industries, and see how you can apply them to your business model.

It means looking at those who have actually succeeded - not the majority - and finding what those top-5% lawyers did.

Every business owner should do this, whether they’re a lawyer, a doctor, a chef or a contractor. We're not exempt from economics, not exempt from having to be businesspeople because we're attorneys.

Successful businesses are built on the foundation of risk and reward. If you’re afraid of or unwilling to take risks, if you always follow the conservative path, you’ll always end up with mediocre results.

The bottom line? You have to detach from your trade brain and tap into your business brain.

Because what you do for your clients is not what you need to do for yourself.

Raj Jha