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Law Is Business with Rusty Fleming
30 minutes | Oct 19, 2015
Season 1, Episode 020: Season Finalé: Lesson Recap
Welcome to the Season One Finale. Today we’ll take a look at the best lessons and sessions from this season. I am at a great time in my practice; things are really humming along. The lesson from this is that we should always look to learn and grow. Darren Hardy says, “You can never own success; you can only rent it, and—guess what? The rent is due every day.” Like fear, success will hold you back in your practice, so you have to pursue it every day. Here are some of the best tips from excerpts as we recap Season One: Consider your brand. Is it good? Do you need to change it? Be intentional about your plan. Develop real relationships with clients. Know and understand your financial numbers. Identify your avatar—your ideal client, then use this to plan your marketing strategy. Niching down and scaling will increase your profit margins. Know market trends, pivot when necessary, niche down, become an expert, and add complementary services for your clients. “Go one inch wide and one mile deep.” Niche down and make your message clear. We all fail, but it’s what we do after the failure that counts. “Hire slow and fire fast.” If it’s not a “Hell, yeah—then it’s a NO.” Focus on your core practice. Don’t be afraid to ask the right people for help. Value your services appropriately. Bundle your services to existing clients, especially to new business startups. Know how to use alternative fee arrangements. Be in the top 3% of the population; 97% don’t contemplate or plan their life’s direction. Personal development and professional development are important in running your life and your practice. Get Jim Roan’s Lessons of a Lifetime. Find it online or download it to your phone. Use your commuting time to learn and grow from the wisdom of others. Use my wagon wheel assessment tool to balance the different aspects of your life. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Find resources that will help you learn from others who have gone before you. I hope you have enjoyed Season One and have learned some of these valuable lessons. I look forward to Season Two with more great information. As always, thanks for taking the time to listen.
26 minutes | Oct 12, 2015
Season 1, Episode 019: Tips for Overcoming Analysis Paralysis
Welcome! In today’s episode, we’ll discuss Tips for Overcoming Analysis Paralysis. I just returned from a trip to NY and was able to visit with existing and potential clients. We’ve discussed the need to keep contact with existing clients. Do what it takes to stay in front of them, in face-to-face meetings when possible. I encourage you to get on the phone today and schedule a meeting or a quick lunch with an existing client. So, what is “Analysis Paralysis”? It’s the inability to make decisions based on the need to analyze and gather information. It seems to be worse in the legal community because we are trained to think analytically at the highest level. It can bottleneck the decision process. How do you make decisions? Do you overthink and over-analyze? Psychologist Barry Schwartz speaks of the “paradox of choice.” This is the fact that, along with the increased information in today’s world, we have too much information, which leads to greater anxiety and dissatisfaction. Analysis Paralysis is dangerous for your practice and stems from the fear of loss. Here are my Tips to Overcome Analysis Paralysis: Differentiate between major and minor decisions. Consult your Strategic Plan. (Refer to our previous two episodes for more info.) Intentionally limit the amount of info that you consume. Farm out the information investigation process to a third party. Perfection is not the goal. Eliminate bad options. Go with your gut and don’t look back. Outsource the entire decision-making process. Hire an expert to help you with the decision. Embrace the fact that you may fail. I hope you enjoyed this episode and can put these tips into practice in your decision-making to avoid Analysis Paralysis. Thanks for joining me!
26 minutes | Oct 5, 2015
Season 1, Episode 018: Creating and Developing a Strategic Plan for Your Life
Welcome! Today we discuss the importance of having a strategic plan for your life and how to develop that plan. We talked last week about developing this plan for your business, but it is equally important to have a plan in place in your personal life. Using an excerpt from Alice in Wonderland, I illustrate the point that if you don't have a plan for your life then it doesn't really matter what path you take. Remember, the purpose of the strategic plan is to set goals and then develop concrete action steps to achieve those goals. Use three questions to help develop your strategic plan: Where are you now? *Use the "Wheel of Life" picture of a wagon wheel with eight spokes to illustrate your life. The spokes represent the eight primary areas which you should evaluate first: physical, financial, career, recreation, mental, spiritual, family, and relationship. I tell you how to score each of these areas from 1-10 to get an honest evaluation. Where do you want to go? *Set your 1,3, and 5-year goals using the acronym SMART. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed. What do you need to get there? *These are the Action Items that are necessary to achieve your goals. Use the questions What? Who? When? What Resources? and Who Should Know? to help you formulate your Action Plan. *Find podcasts and audiobooks to listen to while commuting. Goals without action are just dreams. Finally, let me give a few final tips about implementing your Strategic Plan: Even if you falter, keep moving in the right direction. Schedule regular, quarterly evaluations of how you are following the Plan. Use the Plan as a road map for success. Rely on expert knowledge and resources from others. I personally recommend Success magazine as a great resource! Thank you for joining the Law Is Business Podcast!
20 minutes | Sep 28, 2015
Season 1, Episode 017: Creating and Developing a Strategic Plan for Your Practice
Welcome! Today’s topic covers the importance of having a strategic plan and how to develop that plan for your practice. One reminder for you: we are co-sponsoring a networking event on October 22 at Your Pie in Buckhead, GA. If you’re in the Atlanta area and want to attend, send me an email at email@example.com. I would love to see you there! As we look at today’s topic, it’s important to understand the difference between a Business Plan and a Strategic Plan: A Business Plan is usually developed when starting your business. It includes goals, projections, and visions for your business. It usually has a specific purpose of obtaining financing. The Plan is often full of “fluff” and feel-good language. A Strategic Plan is an under-utilized tool that is a roadmap for the success of your business. This plan can assist in making decisions, help set realistic plans for the future, and use concrete goals for the future on your business. A Strategic Plan is a vital document that can help set overall goals for your business and develop concrete ways to reach those goals. Consider the following guidelines: Ask three questions to help develop your plan. Where is my practice now? Where do I want to take it? What do I need to get there? Be SMART about goals and objectives for the next 1,3, and 5 years. Specific—Ask the right questions. Measurable—Goals must be trackable. Achievable—Goals must be realistic. Relevant—Goals should support long-term objectives. Timed—Have a specific time frame for goals. Action Items can turn dreams into reality. What actions need to change or occur? Who is going to complete the action? When will they be completed? What resources will you need? Who should know about this action? Evaluate your action items for the Three C’s: Are they complete, clear, and current? In conclusion, make strategy a habit for your practice. Devote yourself and your resources to following your plan. I hope this podcast will be something you can turn to as a resource to help you and your business. Thanks for joining me.
37 minutes | Sep 21, 2015
Season 1, Episode 016: Growth Strategies, One Touch Law and Advice on Getting Advice
Welcome! In today’s episode, I’ll discuss Growth Strategies, a service called One Touch Law, and Give Advice on Asking for Advice. Before we touch on these topics, I wanted to discuss briefly what my biggest challenge was this last week. The idea of Work-Life Balance is something many people face. The word “integration” may be a more suitable word than balance because I don’t think work and life can ever really be balanced. We all deal with competing priorities that battle for our attention. There are two requirements to make this integration work: a good team and good technology. True integration will make you productive and valuable in both areas of work and life. Achieving this integration is one of my goals for this year, so I’m working hard to be proactive; I hope you can do the same! Growth Strategies: These are ways you can grow outside your practice after you have established your niche and marketed your existing clients: In Market Leverage: In this strategy, you focus on existing clients for “up-selling” and “cross-selling.” Near Market Expansion: In this strategy, you focus on new markets that are complementary to your practice and expanding into a new geographic area. Disruptive Growth: This strategy is not ideal and can be costly. It occurs when you move into a “hot” area in law practice.
32 minutes | Sep 14, 2015
Season 1, Episode 015: Lawyers Help Lawyers with Leonard Martinez and How To Deal With The Imposter Syndrome
Welcome! Today’s show contains an interview with Leonard Martinez of www.lawyershelplawyers.com. He explains this valuable resource. I also discuss “The Imposter Syndrome.” I provide a follow-up to a story I told a few episodes ago about creating relationships with clients. I explain how an existing client can provide profitable referrals if you foster that relationship properly. It’s not a quick process, but it’s the way to do client development. Check out my blog for the D.I.M.E. method. I’m excited about the new Law is Business app. Yes, we are now an app! Find it in the App Store and Google Play and Amazon for Android users. You can always be connected and have access to the latest show episodes and past episodes along with the show notes. Go get it now! The “Lawyers Help Lawyers” resource is like Ebay for lawyers! Leonard Martinez has practiced law in CO for 20 years. He watched his wife, a teacher, purchase a lesson plan from a website for use in her classroom. He wondered why the same thing didn’t exist for lawyers to share and purchase documents, so he created it. Lawyers Help Lawyers is now a full-functioning website with about 200 members. Leonard shares the following about this resource that can increase efficiency and profitability: Documents can be uploaded and available for sale to other lawyers. There are four different membership levels available, including one for law students.
34 minutes | Sep 7, 2015
Season 1, Episode 014: SEO in Today's World with Luke Ciciliano and the One Trait that All Successful People Have in Common
Welcome! Today’s podcast includes an interview with Luke Ciciliano about SEO and what that means in today’s world—for lawyers AND those in other professions. I’ll also share the ONE TRAIT that all successful people have in common. As we are here at the Labor Day holiday, we have to realize that we are quickly moving toward the Holidays and the end of the year. That means it’s a good time to assess your goals for the year and any changes you need to make. 2015 will be over before you know it! THIS WEEK IN MY PRACTICE One dilemma I faced this week is a common one in business: how to get your work done but also market and build your practice. You can’t wait until you “have the time” to do marketing. There is a constant struggle to prioritize servicing existing clients and secure new clients. I have a few tips to break it down: Manage your time. Leverage your staff and technology. Just move ahead and get it done! SEO FOR LAWYERS
28 minutes | Aug 31, 2015
Season 1, Episode 013: Networking Strategies and the Two Wolves
Welcome! You’re going to notice a change to our show format for the future. Instead of focusing on one topic, I’m going to cover multiple topics and features. My goal in this change is to bring more value to you---the listener. Reach out to me and give me feedback about the podcast via the website. On to today’s show . . . There were two significant events that happened in my practice this week: A new associate joined our firm. This is a great time to evaluate the systems and processes since you have to teach them to the new associate. I developed a new relationship with an existing client. Always look to expand with a client in their other offices and locations. NETWORKING Remember, it’s all about building relationships. Here are some strategies to use as you plan to attend networking events: Only attend events that make sense for your practice and your target clients. Decide which events fit your personality, whether those are structured events or more informal small-talk situations.
37 minutes | Aug 24, 2015
Season 1, Episode 012: How to Develop Great Hiring Practices
Welcome to another show! Today we are talking about The Hiring Process and How To Make Great Hiring Decisions. My guest is Diane Camacho, who has 20 years’ experience in managing people and law firms. Although she began her legal career as a secretary, she began her own consulting business in 2013. Her focus is helping small law firms manage transitions. She also teaches Law Firm Management at San Francisco University and trains people in using Net Documents. Join us to learn more from Diane’s vast experience in Human Resources. Net Documents is a cloud-based document management and email system. It has distinct advantages: It is customizable for the end user. It allows access to documents anywhere via an internet connection. It has good security systems in place for your protection. Cloud-based technology is growing in popularity. Diane gives details about the systems she helps firms utilize for organization and management. These can be for accounting, checks and balances, marketing, etc.—they are essentially processes that help with uniformity and consistency. Diane’s focus today is The Hiring Process, and she gives the following advice:
27 minutes | Aug 17, 2015
Season 1, Episode 011: Personal Development - A Key To Growing Your Practice
Welcome to another Law is Business podcast! Have you put much thought into your personal development? Did you know that 97% of people don’t contemplate life’s direction or chart any course? They simply “muddle through.” That decision leads to mediocrity and failure to achieve your full potential. Don’t you want to be in the top 3%? Take control of your life and your practice. We all know that, for your practice, professional development is important. On every level, locally, statewide, and nationally, there are resources available for professional development, but very little about personal development. In episodes of the Law Is Business Podcast, we’ve talked a lot about professional development, but today, let’s take a closer look at personal development. What does PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT do for you? It helps you better understand yourself
27 minutes | Aug 10, 2015
Season 1, Episode 010: ABA Resources and Other Insights from Al Harrison
Thanks for joining me for another podcast episode. I attended the ABA Annual Meeting last week in Chicago and learned some great tips and insights. I was able to interview today’s guest, Al Harrison. Al is the incoming Chair of the GP Solo Division Resource Center Committee and holds several chairs and committee positions in his home state of Texas. He has more than 30 years of experience as a patent attorney. Al is here to educate us about the many resources available through the ABA. Al shares the following about his practice: 85% of his practice deals with patents and trademarks. Many of his cl
31 minutes | Aug 3, 2015
Season 1, Episode 009: Social Media: A Question of What, Not If
Welcome! Most of us know we should be using social media as part of our marketing plan, but how? Social media platforms are not all the same. My hope is that this podcast will give you a better understanding of what each platform does and how you can use it for your practice. Join me for a look at six of the most popular social media platforms, including facts, pros, and cons. Facebook is the mother of all social media. It’s the first one to be widespread and is too big to ignore. Facebook has 1.3 billion monthly users with active accounts. Over 800 million users log in every day! Almost 30% of Facebook users are ages 25-34; 50% are women, and Facebook is multi-generational. Pros: Facebook is great word of mouth marketing, has easy-to-share content, and allows you to talk directly to consumers. You can also target your audience with ads. Cons: It is a busy, cluttered marketplace that makes it hard to control the message. It’s an open forum, which can be good or bad. Twitter has over 700 million users with a 50/50 breakdown of male/female. It is popular among African-American and Hispanic people and is widely used by ages 15-25.
33 minutes | Jul 27, 2015
Season 1, Episode 008: Alternative Fee Arrangements: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Thanks for joining me for another episode! One of the worst things about being a lawyer is “the billable hour.” Everyone hates it! For this reason, alternative billing/fee arrangements have gained in popularity. Let me explain their growth with a timeline reference: In 1993, the New York Times printed an article about the “new” concept of alternative billing. In 2008, a Managing Partners Survey showed that only 7.6% of large law firms were using alternative billing. In 2009, the recession hit, and the balance of power between law firms and clients changed. In 2012, an updated survey showed that 15-20% of large firms were using alternative billing. Alternative fee arrangements have become more accepted and more widely utilized. In my career, I’ve had a lot of experience with alternative billing, and it can be very profitable. As a partner in a large firm, I can tell you that 100% of my department’s transactions use a type of alternative billing. Also, when I was in solo practice, I also utilized these billing methods 100% of the time. These types of arrangements hone in on the central need of the client.
41 minutes | Jul 20, 2015
Season 1, Episode 007: Interview with RJon Robins
Welcome to another episode! I’m excited to have RJon Robins as my guest for this episode. RJon is an attorney who is dedicated to teaching other lawyers about the business side of running a law firm. He is quick to point out that lawyers are taught NOTHING about the business side of their profession in college and law school. For this reason, most lawyers finish law school with a sense of entitlement and end up falling on their faces when their practice fails. RJon admits that this was part of his experience and wants you to know that you are not alone if you are struggling in your practice. “Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.” Join me for some “help” from RJon. There are Seven Main Parts of Every Successful Law Firm: marketing, converting prospective clients to paying clients, processes and systems, hiring/training/supervising, physical plant, financial controls, and YOU-the owner. What are two common mistakes most lawyers make? They don’t follow their own advice! Lawyers tell clients, “You can’t help yourself in legal matters, so YOU NEED ME!” Lawyers fail to ask for help when business matters expand beyond their expertise. They violate their own rules of risky investing. Lawyers would never risk their livelihood, savings, family’s security, etc., by investing in a business owner without a written business plan. They do this every day! The four predictable stages of growth and development in a law firm are as follows:
29 minutes | Jul 13, 2015
Season 1, Episode 006: 5 Things I Did Right When Starting My Law Practice
Welcome to another episode! Last week, I talked about failures. Specifically, my failures when I started my own law practice. Today, I wanted to share with you 5 things that I actually believe I did right when I started my practice. There are some lessons in my successes that you can take with you as you build your practice. We are celebrating some wins this week! First, we reached the milestone of having over 500 downloads for this podcast. We are thrilled with those results for such a niche podcast, and appreciate all of you that have taken the time to leave us a rating and review in iTunes. Second, you may remember me telling you about a potential client that I have been nurturing a relationship with for over three years, and this week we received our first deal for that client. Taking the time to build that relationship has paid off. 1. I planned my budget. Figure out your Gross Possible. This is the rate of billable timekeepers times the the number of hours you want to bill. It’s easy to figure out as a solo practice, and it is more difficult as you grow. My budget was my gross possible discounted at a 70% rate. That way my break even rate, including paying myself. Know your numbers on the expense and revenue columns. Research rent and overhead numbers to try to get a realistic picture of your expenses. Trim the fat because starting out is the time to be lean. Touch base with your numbers at the end of each month and adjust your projections as your numbers change. You can sign up for a 12 month budget in Excel format, with a Gross Possible calculator and a Gross Margin calculator by going to our
27 minutes | Jul 6, 2015
Season 1, Episode 005: Five Mistakes I Made When Starting My Solo Practice
Welcome to another podcast! Today’s topic is an opportunity for YOU to learn from MY mistakes. In business, I don’t think we focus enough on failure. Let’s face it, WE ALL FAIL. “It’s not what you do when you fail. It’s what you do AFTER you fail!” In coaching and consulting, I help clients with failure in two specific ways: I help clients “fail faster.” We all need to recognize our mistakes early, correct them, and move on. I help clients avoid failure. A great coach and mentor will help you leverage their experience and learn from their mistakes. My Five Mistakes: (learn from them!) Saying YES to everyone and everything---We all want to be people-pleasers. Entrepreneur Derek Stivers puts it bluntly, “If it’s not a ‘Hell, yeah,’ then it’s a NO!” Failure to focus---Focus on your core practice; everything else is just window dressing! Failure to ask for help---Don’t be afraid to get advice from someone with real experien
25 minutes | Jun 29, 2015
Season 1, Episode 004: Niche Down to Get Profits Up
In our last episode, we discussed Avatars - your ideal client. Niching your practice is the natural next step. What is a niche? It is a tightly-defined expertise. You can niche in different ways, such as type of practice, deal size, demographics and others. The FIRST step is to IDENTIFY YOUR NICHE. What is your expertise? What do you enjoy doing? Is there a market for your niche? Niching includes the following advantages:
27 minutes | Jun 22, 2015
Season 1, Episode 003: Avatars! What Are They? Why Do You Need Them?
I just got back from the Annual Georgia Bar Association meeting. I was able to make some great contacts and chat with a number of lawyers. One of those was “Joann”. I had a conversation with Joann about her practice and her success. I asked Joann what the avatar was for her practice. She told me she wasn’t exactly sure what an avatar was! I explained to her that an AVATAR is your ideal client. In other words, if you could hand pick the perfect client for your business, who would that person be? After I explained this, she quickly responded, “Brain damaged babies, whose injuries occurred during childbirth.” I asked Joann how many Avatars she had at the moment. She said none. I asked how many Avatars she had over the course of her career. She said 2! During her 30-year career, she had only 2 ideal clients. So let’s look at Joann’s Avatar, and the problems with Joann’s answers.
28 minutes | Jun 12, 2015
Season 1, Episode 002: Know Your Numbers!
Welcome to the podcast! Have you ever applied and been evaluated for a life insurance policy? It may sound like a crazy question, but, if the answer is yes, then you know about all the steps involved. There are endless questions and extensive medical tests---all designed to determine your risk analysis to the company. The extensive analysis undertaken by a life insurance company is similar to the in-depth analysis YOU should be doing for the financial health of your practice. Knowing your numbers is vital. WHY? It allows your practice to function without risk of liquidation or closure. It helps you budget for expenses. It helps you in making hiring decisions. It helps you in setting your rates. Some basic financial concepts every lawyer should know and understand are the following: BUDGET: Budget isthe vital component in managing cash flow.
34 minutes | Jun 12, 2015
Season 1, Episode 001: Branding, Marketing, and Business Development
Welcome to today’s episode! Believe it or not, most lawyers fail to understand the difference between branding, marketing and business development. “Branding, marketing, and business development are the stages of us ‘courting’ our future clients and building a relationship that makes them long-term, sustainable, and recurring clients, either directly through their business, or through referrals to others.” Topic highlights: BRANDING: “What you are.” Branding is what you are known for from a casual observer, but it’s much more than just a logo. We all have a brand, so what do you want yours to be? MARKETING: “What you use to TELL people what you are.” There are thousands of ways to spend marketing dollars. You must be intentional. Listen to learn the detailed ways to use my DIME Strategy for marketing. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: “What you do when the people have heard your message and call you.” In this episode we discuss how to strategically build relationships that are beneficial to your practice. We also discuss push vs. pull marketing. When we think of marketing, most lawyers think of “push” marketing, but “pull” marketing is the goal. We want clients to be “pulled” toward us through relationships that provid
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