Technically, this is Part III in my series on the rising rates of suicide among lawyers and what we need to do to stop it now…
Today though, we are moving beyond the depression, struggle and anxiety and getting into the good parts of the story.
If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, you heard all about how disillusioned I was by the reality of the practice of law and the traditional, broken business model. You heard about the transformation I made into serving clients in a way that felt great to them and to me.
And now, it’s time to talk about the money part.
Because, sure, it’s great to be a lawyer who is loved by your clients and who loves the people you work with, but if you aren’t making a great living doing it, you’ll burn out quickly.
So, how long do you have to wait after transforming your practice to see the money to start coming in?
It’s probably the number one question I am asked by lawyers who are considering joining our programs, and using our services for transforming their law practices into businesses they love.
For me, the money started coming in once I got exceedingly clear about how much money I actually needed and truly believed it was possible.
That started within the first year of my practice and the first number I was clear about needing was $10,000/mo. That was my first objective.
I knew that if I could engage just three new clients at around $3,500 per month, I’d be covering my basic expenses and have just enough to invest a bit in taking things to the next level.
And, because I was clear, I was able to do it. Now, the clarity alone wasn’t the answer. I also had to figure out how to eliminate appointment cancellations that ate up my time and provided zero return on my investment.
I also had to learn how to engage the people who called my office and turn them into paying clients at an average fee of $3,500.
Once I did that, everything shifted.
Knowing how to engage just about every person who called my office, at an average fee of $3,500, and have them happy to pay me, allowed me to know I could invest in my practice and grow it because I would have consistent, steady, predictable cash flow once I did.
Once I knew how to engage clients in my law practice through a system I could count on, I was then able to hire my first team member to support me, I was able to confidently invest in running ads in my local community, hire someone to help me book speaking engagements and eventually use direct mail.
The key, though, was knowing that every qualified person who called my office was going to book an appointment with me, keep that appointment and more than 85% of the time (for most lawyers who have learned my system it’s 100%) go on to write me a check.
That’s the place to start. Before you invest in marketing. Before you invest in a fancy office. Before you invest in just about anything else, your best investment is to learn how to engage the people already calling your office at higher fees using packages (instead of retainers and hourly billing) a whole lot more easily than you are right now.
Now, I want to warn you that engaging a steady diet of clients is addictive. Things turn around quite rapidly when you have people wanting to pay you $3,000, $4,000, $5000 and more for the services you are providing, and who are happy to pay it!
I went from depressed, struggling, wondering if I would have to toss out the big investment I had made in my law degree (yes, I had that book “What Color is Your Parachute” at the ready so I could leave the law, if necessary) to having a million dollar a year revenue generating law practice.
Now, truth is that I could not have generated that million dollars of revenue (while only working in my office a few days a week in the 2nd year) if I had to do it all alone. In fact, that was one of the biggest problems I had once I started being able to engage just about every prospect who called my office — how would I see all the clients, get all the work done, and manage the office while also being a mom?!?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone (not that I could have!) because once I had a system for engaging clients, I could teach it to other lawyers who could then work in my office engaging clients while my team handled the client care and service experience.
Suddenly, I had a serious business.
Truth is though, building a 7-figure practice, with other lawyers seeing clients and a lot of team support isn’t for everyone.
But, whether you want a 7-figure practice or a nice healthy 6-figure paycheck from your small practice (which of course you do or you wouldn’t have even read this far)…
The place to start is learning to engage clients in a new way.
No more hourly billing.
No more cancelled appointments.
No more shopping around.
No more undercutting your pricing.
No more hard-to-collect invoices.
And all of that begins when you change the way you engage your clients. That’s where things really turned around for me.
Once I learned how to engage nearly every prospect who called my office, and feel great about the way I priced my services, quoted my fees and delivered my work…
I went from that depressed and struggling state we’ve been talking about to more excited than ever about the practice of law and how it could actually be sustainable for clients and lawyers.
Today, I have taught this process to hundreds of lawyers (not just those in my law practice) and universally I hear from those who implement it that it has changed their lives.
So, what’s the cure for the increasing suicide rate among lawyers?
A return to the reason so many of us went to law school — supporting more lawyers to actually make a difference in the lives of their clients, to receive training to build businesses that make people happy, and to give lawyers the tools, training and resources they need to come back to what it really means to be a lawyer.
Most of all, we need to remember, law is a helping profession. Lawyers are here to serve. And, deserve to be paid well for it, be able to take vacations, spend time with their families and feel confident in the services we provide.
Finally, you are probably still wondering — if you commit to this path… how long does it take until you do see things turn around, until you do see the money coming in.
Well, that depends on a few things:
1) Do you already know how to serve families in a meaningful way by helping them with Wills, Trusts, Health Care Directives, a Kids Protection Plan® if they have little ones at home, business structures, and the like?
2) If not, do you have a systematizable non-conflict oriented practice area already, such as bankruptcy, amicable divorce, real estate, business planning or immigration?
3) How quickly can you learn and apply a system for engaging your clients in a new way?
We’ve created some internal pro forma financials to actually answer the question — how long does it take for a lawyer to start making money with our systems and building up equity in their law practice? Keep an eye out in your email and on our social networks for details about that, coming soon.
I’d love to break these down in detail for you next week, but here’s just one example that we saw for a lawyer who already knows how to serve families, already has invested in learning the practice area, and knows how to engage clients the way we teach… a $15,000 investment easily comes back to them, doubled in just 6 months (even with outlays for all the start up expenses that come with a new practice).
Now that’s exciting. Let’s discuss more next week.