Whether you are looking for an additional revenue stream for your law practice, or to switch from a law practice area you detest…
If you’ve ever wondered about adding estate planning to your practice (or starting up an estate planning practice from scratch), this article is for you.
Even if you’ve been practicing for years, you can add estate planning to your services. The same goes for being a new lawyer fresh out of law school…
It’s actually really easy to incorporate this lucrative and fulfilling revenue stream into your law practice, no matter if you are a multi-partner establishment, or a solo lawyer.
First, some compelling reasons why you should:
Why You Should Add Estate Planning Services
1. Providing Meaningful Service
You might think we’d put the money first. Au contraire! If you know anything about the New Law Business Model, you know that we put service and meaning at the TOP of the list. And, it’s absolutely true. To quote Martha Hartney’s recent blog, “Estate planning is a very profound spiritual practice. It suits people who are interested in fulfillment, connection, supporting growth and family harmony.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!
Fact is, estate planning is far more than paper pushing. Done right, you’re serving your community in a deep way, dealing with issues they really care about in ways that feel 100% fulfilling to you and to your clients. With the right systems in place, you not only provide peace of mind and ease of transition to a family during the most difficult time in anyone’s life—the loss of a loved one—but, you help them to be better parents, business people and citizens of the community during their lifetimes.
That, my friends, is a privilege.
2. All Families You Already Know & Serve Need Estate Planning
A close second in the top reasons why you should add estate planning to your law practice (or start up an estate planning practice from scratch) is the fact it’s such a needed service, (especially if you do it the right way.)
Every adult over the age of 18 needs estate planning, whether they know it or not. (Which requires so much more than a set of meaningless form documents.)
Your job, once you know how, is to educate the people in your community about what estate planning really is, and why they want to create a plan that leaves their loved ones a trusted advisor, (not just a set of legal documents) all while showing them how considering death during life isn’t anything to be afraid of… but instead the greatest motivator ever for a life well lived.
Plus, the market is built in! If you’ve got clients, you’ve already got a well of people with families. AND you have a relationship with them so, (hopefully) they already trust you. Once you learn how to properly educate people and package and convey these valuable services, your established relationship will become that much deeper, making you their trusted advisor.
3. Clients Will Love You (& You Them)
Did you read my recent email about lawyers who get flowers and gifts from clients? I kid you not…
When you provide these sacred services and become the go-to advisor, your clients LOVE you. They are so grateful that they often show it with flowers, cards and gifts. But even if they don’t, it’s been my experience that the work takes on such depth and connection that you genuinely love working with these clients. It feels GOOD. It feels good to be providing the peace of mind. It feels good to be appreciated. Everyone wins.
4. It’s a Growing Market
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the baby boomers are the biggest market on the planet. If they haven’t already, the boomers in your community are soon going to be ready to get down to the business of getting their affairs in order.
If they have an estate plan in place, believe me, they’ll want you to review it when you let them know about all the common mistakes that get made, even by experienced planners! (Read my blog about my own family’s disaster.)
Not only that, but the kids of boomers have or are now starting to have their own families and they are gearing up to receive $3 trillion from their parents over the next 20-30 years (just from households with less than $500,000 in net worth). Plus they’re busy earning their own personal wealth and starting to see the importance, with proper education, of planning for it now. Just as many think they are “too young”, though (as the “News You Can Use” article in our newsletter this week, highlights.)
Fact is, families young and old NEED estate planning in some form. That’s where you step in.
5. Referrals Are Easier to Come By
There’s rarely a conflict of interest in this law practice niche. Clients can refer you to their friends and family, business partners… whomever. Plus, since they love and adore you (if you do estate planning the right way, that is!) they naturally refer you to everyone they know.
What we see repeatedly is that once you are THE go to lawyer in your community, planning with you becomes a rite of passage for all the families. That’s when things get really good and it’s not that hard to get there, with the right systems and support.
6. Full Control of Your Schedule
One of the things I hear over and over from our lawyers is how estate planning has given them the freedom to live the balanced life. Mothers (and fathers!) get to have time with their kids… To easily attend soccer games or school plays. Some lawyers take every Friday off. Others only work 3 days a week… from home! (Read Jill Gregory’s story at the top of this page… but there’s many more just like it.)
You don’t have to become a slave to your law practice when you are an estate planning lawyer (though of course I met plenty of lawyers who were because they didn’t have systems or were trying to reinvent the wheel when they did not have to).
When your estate planning law practice is set up right, it is the most flexible niche in terms of having control of your life, schedule and income. Which brings us to the big kahuna…
7. The Money
Most lawyers really don’t understand the economics of an estate planning law practice. They think that it’s pennies here and there, but that’s only if you are selling form documents with little value rather than a comprehensive, meaningful service that truly makes a difference in your clients’ lives and their family’s lives as well.
The cash flow in a well structured estate planning practice will provide you with a minimum 33% profit margin and can be as high as 50%. And you can choose to bring in anywhere between $240,000 to more than a million dollars a year in law practice revenue, depending on whether you structure your practice with other attorneys seeing clients or just you, outsourced support to help you serve more clients, or you want to do it all on your own. It really depends on what YOU want.
However, I will say that it’s super easy to create packages and a fee schedule that doubles or triples your usual fee. Not only that, but clients are actually, genuinely happy to pay it because of the value and continuing relationship you provide.
We talk a lot about the “$10,000 days” and “$25,000” months. Those aren’t anomalies. Those are real numbers. In fact, those are Martha’s numbers and even though she works completely on her own schedule, those numbers are growing. In my own practice, I was bringing in more than a million a year in revenue, had other lawyers working in my office and a full team, so I only had to go into my office a few days a week.
But, the beauty of adding estate planning to your law practice is that you can take on as many or as few clients as you wish. You can even structure your practice to have recurring revenue with a “membership” system that not only makes life easier for your clients, but gives you reliable income you can count on. (Read my blog about not having to scramble at the end of every month.)
Okay, so that all sounds incredible, right? But HOW do you get qualified if you didn’t study it in school, or are already immersed in a different niche?
How To Add Estate Planning to Your Law Practice
Essentially, there are two ways—the hard way and the easy way! (Martha and I both started out the hard way, so the following is a hard-earned opinion based on real experience.)
The Hard Way
1. Take Continuing Legal Education Courses (CLEs)
You could do what Martha and I did and spend tens of thousands of dollars (EACH) on attending in-person courses, both locally and across the country. We both went the extra mile (or thousands of miles) and spent a ton of more money to travel out of state, seeking additional knowledge, as well.
CLEs will provide you with both legal and technical principles to learn estate planning. That’s true. However, depending on your State’s offerings, you may have to mix and match or otherwise seek out the kind of education and information you need.
You’ll need to research and determine what your state requirements are, what the institutions are providing, and how you‘re going to incorporate that into your schedule.
It won’t be cheap. It’s not likely to be fast. (I’ll highlight other deficits with this method later.)
Get a Mentor
To be fully qualified you will have to take CLEs, but you could streamline the process a bit and count on a mentor to teach you the practical aspects of estate planning. A jump-start, in a way.
Of course, since you’ll be a newbie, you won’t have any idea if your mentor is making any of the common mistakes that even the most experienced planners make. That’s if you can find someone willing to teach you.
The Problem with CLEs
Both Martha and I discovered the same issues when we were taking CLEs for estate planning…
Besides the quality being hit and miss… they were way over our heads!
Now, I’m not too shy to clarify that I’m a pretty sharp tool in the toolbox, and Martha is definitely one smart cookie, too. The CLEs simply start out at too advanced a level to be truly educational. They skipped over the foundations completely. It was like asking someone to drive a Formula 1 race car (and win) before they’d learned to drive a stick!
Point is, the CLEs were insufficient. We both realized we needed the basics upon which to layer the more complex principles. You must have a foundation to understand how the different aspects of the law and planning connect, and how they can and cannot be integrated, customized, etc. etc..
The other stand-out deficiency we saw was CLEs really aren’t teaching you the part we think is most important — how to counsel clients from a heart-centered perspective, deliver a truly meaningful plan or build a business around your law practice. It’s pure legal/technical and (as I said) oftentimes over your head.
CLEs are coming at it from a legal perspective, not a client-centered perspective. And, they are almost entirely focused on a forms and documents-based estate planning practice, not a counseling-focused practice.
Did you really go to law school just to draft legal documents? And then nickle and dime it, competing with the online offerings FOR those documents?
In actuality, the advanced stuff can be the easiest to learn, once you have a great foundation, and happens quite naturally as you grow as an estate planning lawyer and practice. Getting a basic, thorough foundation? Well, that’s why we created the easy way.
The Easy Way
Remember, both Martha Hartney and I did exactly what we’ve described above. We did the CLEs. We traveled around, taking time away from our families, seeking further answers and qualifications. We both spent tens of thousands of dollars on this one aspect of our education. We had mentors to guide us. So, we can say with considerable authority that the easiest way to add estate planning to your law practice is to…
Start the Estate Planning Bootcamp (EPBC).
We’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve combined our forces, extracted the most important, relevant information any lawyer needs and can use to do estate planning and put it into one affordable package. You get to learn all you need to add estate planning to your law practice (or start an estate planning practice from scratch) AND earn CLE credits… all from the comfort of your home or office. (We can tell you more about individual State accreditation if you need).
Of course, with a name like “Law Business Mentors”, you also get the benefit of our mentorship. In fact all of the lawyers in our Estate Planning Bootcamp support each other in a variety of ways, including an exclusive private forum, so you get the benefit of a like-minded community to learn from, too.
Plus, 6 months of ongoing support from both me and Martha to not only learn estate planning, but to build your law practice into a business as well.
But that’s just an option. (To learn all about this option, you’ll want to listen to the training call Martha and I hosted, here.)
Bottom line is, however you go about it…
Adding estate planning is a win-win for you and your practice and definitely something to consider adding to your services. I highly recommend this law practice area to all lawyers, law students, solo firms and law practice partnerships. And, even if you’re not at all interested in looking at the EPBC, I’m happy to answer any questions about this law practice area, so go ahead and reach out.