Scott Limmer

This week Oscar and Scott discuss a recent Above The Law article about getting clients. The author of the article discusses how she thought about the steps she took when she selected a professional to hire. She applied what she did in those situations and what was important to her in developing her practice.

The first step most folks do in selecting a professional is seek suggestions from their referral network. They then will check the person’s credentials, give them a call and examine their responsiveness.

These are steps that your clients will be taking when selecting a lawyer so you need to examine how you would be judge by this criteria.

The authors also discuss keeping your name and services on top of your client’s mind by using newsletters, blogs, and emails. It’s not easy – it takes planning, patience, attention to detail and consistency but keeping contact with your clients and keeping a strong online presence is a necessary step in rebooting your law practice.

 


Episode transcript

INTRO:                      Welcome to Reboot Your Law Practice, two lawyers, a podcast, and a plan to help any solo or small firm, hosted by Scott Limmer and Oscar Michelen.

SCOTT:                      Hi everybody. This is Scott Limmer.

OSCAR:                      Hi everybody. This is Oscar Michelen. First of all, I want to thank everybody for some nice reviews and some comments that we’ve gotten on our prior podcasts. We ask you that if there’s something you want to tell us about on the show – you like something, you don’t like something, you want to add to the discussion, or frankly you wanted to just maybe suggest a topic – you can come to the LawReboot.com website, find us there. Find us on Stitcher, make a comment, make a review, and we’d be glad to hear from you.

Scott, what is the topic for this week’s podcast?

SCOTT:                      Today Oscar, I was reading Above the Law last week as I seem to tend to do and I was reading a very interesting article by Susan Cartier Liebel from Solo Practice University. Her article was basically her explaining how she looks for a professional service provider in 2015 and I really thought it was very interesting because she used her perspective as a regular person looking for someone in what she would look for. I think when you have that perspective, it really opens up a lot of ideas.

OSCAR:                      That’s’ interesting because as you know in an upcoming podcast, we’re going to be talking to someone from the client side about what they like about lawyers, what they don’t like about lawyers, about their interaction with legal counsel in their business and in their personal life to try to help our listeners figure out what it is he clients want, but this is a lawyer now giving us her perspective. Give us a rundown. What did she say?

SCOTT:                      She talks about who she looks for first, how she tries to find that professional service provider. The first thing she talks about is she will automatically always go to her referral list. She will ask people who she should use. The next step she is going to take if she can’t find someone through a friend…

OSCAR:                      Or recommendation.

SCOTT:                      Through recommendation, she’s going to use something called credentialing. She’s going to find a professional through a credentialing activity – the newspaper, LinkedIn, something along those lines, a blog. She’s going to look at that person and she’s going to then do more research and find out as much as she can about that person.

OSCAR:                      The first step is to try to find something that is automatic accreditation to that person.

SCOTT:                      Which sounds familiar, if I’m not mistaken, I think we’ve been talking about that for a couple of weeks.

OSCAR:                      We’ve chatted about it once or twice. So far, I love the article. Go ahead.

SCOTT:                      When you see it in writing and you see that somebody is actually doing this, it makes you really understand what it is that we should be doing. It makes perfect sense. You want to use somebody. You want to find out if they are good. You want to find out something about them and you go to credentialing activities, as she calls that.

OSCAR:                      Right, exactly. What’s the next step?

SCOTT:                      The next step is credentialing activities from contact. What she is looking for, she’s looking for someone to get back to her quickly and further the discussion with them to see if she’s going to find somebody who is going to help her.

OSCAR:                      Again, that’s important because you always say, first impressions are important. How quickly you get back to that person is going to be in the mind of the client, how quickly that you’re always going to get back to that person and how quickly you will respond to their concerns and their issues, so if you’ve got a new inquiry and it takes you three days to respond, that person is going to say, “This guy is not that hungry or not that interested. I’m moving on to the next person.” I think she’s right about that also. You have to expect quality people will get back to you quickly to have an organized practice and having an efficient response. They will get back to you in time because people need to remember, when you seek a professional, you normally in stress of some kind. You have a problem. Something has come up that you need to get advice on. I think she’s 100% correct on that category also.

SCOTT:                      From there, if she can’t find anyone and this is what I think is really the most important, one that we talk about, a good online presence is critical when there’s no direct referral.

OSCAR:                      Right, there you go.

SCOTT:                      She talks about, she went online, used the directory, and she couldn’t really figure out a way other than her own eyes and her brain to really distinguish between, maybe she opened up four or five different practitioners in Chrome in different views and maybe she looked through them. She has to decide who she thinks is the best by looking at it.

OSCAR:                      Right and that’s what the consumer is going to do and what’s important is again, we’ve had people on the podcast as guests. We’ve had our own discussions about lawyers getting Uber and the legal marketplace becoming an Uber like marketplace. It’s not the death knell for lawyers. In fact, it could be an asset to smart lawyers take advantage of that by making sure that when people take that step where there is four or five in her list and begin to look at your online presence that they are going to see what you want them to see and it’s going to make them comfortable to pick up the phone, send you an email, contact you in one way or another, and it’s again, you have to take those steps to put yourself in that place before you go out and try to develop this new practice that we’re talking about.

SCOTT:                      So there are some other things that she goes into after that. She talks about signing up for newsletters to see if she likes the people’s content and then she will consider using them. Talks about how service provider should never be out of the minds of their clients and talks about that on the very least, you should be on LinkedIn.

So look at those three last things – newsletters, don’t be out of the mind of your clients, and be on LinkedIn – all things that put yourself on the minds of your clients. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re giving people the opportunity to find you whereas they would never find you otherwise.

OSCAR:                      I thought you were going to say, “All things that we have suggested to our listeners.”

SCOTT:                      No, no.

OSCAR:                      That’s also true because again, I don’t think a newsletter will work to get the client on the very first take because of the stressful situation in which most people come to lawyers. It might work if someone is maybe looking for corporate counsel down the road, maybe thinking about forming a will or a trust for them, their children, or their parents, and then they have time. It’s not a matter of, “I’ve got to do it tomorrow.”

I think other than those kind of long-term situations, a newsletter won’t help you get that person in the first time but it’s going to help you have that person either refer you or think about you for the next time they have a legal service. I remember, one of the things when I started to reboot my own law practice after we had the problems that we’ve discussed before in previous podcasts, I started thinking about different things. I started listening to salesman tapes.

SCOTT:                      Right.

OSCAR:                      Not the kind of Tony Robbins affirmation. It’s just tapes like Dale Carnegie type.

SCOTT:                      Business tips to understand better sales management.

OSCAR:                      Correct. How to make a close, I remember one I listened to all the time was a guy named Zig Ziglar. I don’t even know if he’s famous or well-known. I’m maybe embarrassed to even admit that.

SCOTT:                      Everybody knows who he is, I think.

OSCAR:                      Is that right? Okay.

SCOTT:                      Yeah, I think so.

OSCAR:                      So he kept saying the phrase “top of mind,” and that’s what the newsletter does and what this author was talking about – keeping yourself on the top of your client’s mind and your referral partner’s mind, by the way.

SCOTT:                      I want to talk about something about that, Oscar. It’s just something hit me because I’m reading this book and I think this is very important. I’m reading The Slight Edge. I can’t remember who the author is but it’s a really good book. One of the things he remarks on is you have to make all these changes. You have to keep yourself on your client’s minds. You have to shake hands with someone. You have to present yourself well. The interesting thing is that he says, “And the reason it’s so hard is you get no immediate feedback whatsoever.” Nobody is hiring you because you wrote a good blog, you know, right that second. Nobody is hiring you because you presented yourself well to somebody.

OSCAR:                      Yeah, exactly.   That’s why they get your newsletter and email.

SCOTT:                      Right, exactly. So because that’s the case, you have to keep pushing and realize that these things will work if you have a concerted effort. We were talking off the air before but we’re going to do an episode very soon about planning and goals. These are all things that you have to, if you make a plan and say, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it for six months” and don’t worry about the results right this second but know that you know what you’re doing and you have a good plan,” then you can’t help but do well.

OSCAR:                      Exactly and also for example if you’re going to launch a blog, don’t launch it without three or four articles in the can, maybe not fully written, but drafted and outlined so that you know that you will be able to get a jumpstart and have an article this week, maybe another one towards the end of that week. Then one the next week, then one the week after so that you can be comfortable that you’re going to have that content up there to create that constant connection of information because a lot of times, I see a lot of blogs that get started. They write their first article and the next one is four weeks later.

It’s like you’ve already forgotten that first article you wrote and that you disseminated to your referral list, to your former clients, current clients, business partners, family, whatever it is, it’s already out of the window because they forgot your article because you’re not keeping on top of it. It takes this kind of long-term planning to build up this presence. You’re not going to do it in a day but when you launch, you should already have the full website, a couple of blog articles ready. Convert the first two blog articles into newsletters. Get those things going so that you’re already up there and established as far as your presence is concerned.

SCOTT:                      One of the other things I read in this book which I wanted to follow up with this is just kind of how our culture perceives certain things. Our culture always looks at the big break. Our culture always looks at the lotto winner. Look at our TV. Look at what our TV is based on now. It’s based on people going and playing games and winning $1 million or $500,000.

OSCAR:                      America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Voice.

SCOTT:                      Yeah and this is what people strive to do. Kids that want to be in the NBA or in the NFL, this is what people strive to do, they think they are going to get that big break if they try hard and they practice. The reality is that you and I and everybody else listening knows, the big break really doesn’t happen very often.

OSCAR:                      Right. It’s a slow build.

SCOTT:                      It’s plugging away.

OSCAR:                      And having the forethought not just doing something willy-nilly for the sake of doing it. “Oh, my practice is going bad. I’m going to buy a billboard next to the highway or next to the FDR here in New York” or whatever without thinking about, “Well, what are you going to say on there? Are you going to have people ready to take the calls when they come? What’s the content going to be? Who are you trying to get?” It has to have some kind of focus. A blank and scattershot approach is not going to work.

SCOTT:                      Oscar, what exactly do you mean by that?

OSCAR:                      I’ll give you an example. A letter came across my desk from an attorney who I’d heard through the grapevine is having a little bit of a tough time, was involved in the area of bankruptcy that wasn’t doing very well.

SCOTT:                      Bankruptcy is a general practice right now. It’s not doing all that well.

OSCAR:                      It’s very tough. He’s obviously sending out a letter to lawyers that he knows and saying that “It has been great. I have been practicing for 20 years,” which a lot of people think, “Well, if you’re practicing 20 years, you have to have it made.”

SCOTT:                      Right.

OSCAR:                      Those are the real lawyers. A lot of those lawyers in that area who we’re speaking to have had it good and their practices have faltered and they have no idea how to get back on their feet. At least I gave this guy credit for thinking about a way to generate business and try to do it, but frankly, I think he wasted the stamp.

SCOTT:                      So what did he do?

OSCAR:                      The letter says, “I’m no longer doing the one thing you’ve known me to do for the last 20 years in which I used to proclaim myself as an expert on. I am now doing…” and he lists several different practice areas including just PI, medical malpractice, divorce, child support, custody, crim law, wills, estate, sorority court matter, real estate, sales and real estate refinancing for closure defense, and loan modifications. I mean, other than negotiating treaties on behalf of the United States, I think he has covered just about everything that a lawyer does in the practice of law. I look at it, I’m like, “How are you all of a sudden doing 15 different practice areas?”

SCOTT:                      On one hand, I understand. He’s obviously been practicing for a while. He’s probably got a good client list and he’s trying to utilize that client list to make himself the most money he can, but although that might help him in the short run, I don’t see this being a very good long term marketing plan.

OSCAR:                      Especially because…

SCOTT:                      Who is going to do all these work?

OSCAR:                      Right, first of all, who is going to do it when it comes in? He’s going to probably refer it out. That means the people that go to him are not getting him and they are like, “Wait a minute, I thought you said you’re now doing all these practice areas but who is Joe Schmoe that you sent me to?” Secondly, it destroys the illusion of what he had before which is “I’m the go-to guy for this.” If you’re going to do this, where’s the authenticity? Why not say, “Here’s the case I resolved. I’ve done this. Look what I’ve recently done. We’ve expanded.” Put something behind it other than, “I am now doing seven new practice areas with, by the way, four sub-practice areas for a total of 13 new practice areas.”

SCOTT:                      That’s a bit much.

OSCAR:                      Yeah and without anything behind it.

SCOTT:                      I’m having trouble with it too.

OSCAR:                      Right. How did it come up? Why? Why did it happen? For example, particularly if, think of it this way, if he had done that in kind of the way I’ve branded myself in the sense of I’m a litigator. I litigate. This is what I do. This letter went out and said, “You’re in court and you have problems in court. You need somebody who can prove things in court and get things done. That focuses the topic area away from the subject that you’ve put out here and focus people now, “Oh, that’s what I want. I want a winner. I want a fighter. I want a guy who knows evidence that I can put down. Look, here’s an IP case I’ve won. Here’s a PI defense case that I’ve won. Here’s this case. Here’s that case. It covers the area.”

SCOTT:                      Some sort of proof, something.

OSCAR:                      Some authenticity is basically what we’re talking about here. I think a lot of what we’ve talked about today kind of doubles back on things we’ve spoken about but I always like in the podcast, we come back and we find other people out there adding their voices to these ideas. This woman who wrote this article gave a roadmap for Solo Practice University that essentially mirrors a lot of what we’ve been saying and what we will say in upcoming episodes when you hear from clients, other lawyers who have rebooted, things like that. I think it was very valuable to see that kind of we’re on the right path of the information that we’re giving to our listeners.

SCOTT:                      Yeah without a doubt. I think if anyone would sit down, if your family or friends would give you the time, give you 10 or 15 minutes and you discuss with them, how would you go about finding somebody? Say you needed a doctor or a plumber, what are you going to do to get that person? I think you would get the same answers from everybody. You’re going to look for the personal referral. You’re going to try to look online to see if that person knows what they are doing. I think it’s completely common sense.

OSCAR:                      Here is the simple test. I like this idea not just because I thought of it. What about if you said to five family members, “Do a Google search for a lawyer with this kind of problem and that would be the kind of problem you want clients to get.” Get their experience. What do they find when they search? Which websites? Would it be interesting to see if they all come up with the same lawyer or I’d say, “Who would you select based on what you’ve found in your internet search and I don’t mean who would you hire?

SCOTT:                      Right, just who interests you?

OSCAR:                      Who would you contact first, who would you contact second, and who would you never contact? You can learn so much from doing just a random survey there. You can even test your own website and see if it comes up but I think it’s a good way to try to give our listeners some homework to do. Consult your family, five or six of them.

SCOTT:                      I think it’s a very interesting idea to get a lot of perspective.

OSCAR:                      Have them do a search for maybe one or two of the topics that you might be interested in branching out into or what you currently do and see what their response is.

SCOTT:                      That’s a good idea.

OSCAR:                      Once again, thanks for listening. This is Oscar. You can reach me at Oscar@LawReboot.com.

SCOTT:                      This is Scott. You can reach me at Scott@LawReboot.com. Also if you would like to call in and leave a message, a comment, an idea of a show topic, you can call us at 516-900-4842. Thanks for joining us again. We’ll see you next week everyone.

OUTRO:                     This has been Reboot Your Law Practice with Oscar Michelen and Scott Limmer.

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