13 Mistakes Law Practice Owners Make That Kill Work/Life Balance—and How to Fix Them

I discovered the following 13 mistakes after nearly bankrupting my own law practice (and life) by following the traditional law practice-building advice. That was years ago now, and since then I’ve helped thousands of lawyers learn from my mistakes.

Here are the 13 Mistakes Lawyers Make That Kill Work/Life Balance—and the Solutions to Fix Them

#1 You have no set time and money goals for your life or law practice

Or you do (if so, that’s rare), but then you have no accountability structures in place to ensure you meet them.

The solution here is what we call “Money Mapping” your law practice so you know exactly how many clients you need to serve, at what average fee, and in how much time you have to reach your money goals in your law practice. You can get started with this free resource and create your own Money Map for your life and law practice here.

By applying the Money Map in your law practice, you can take full control over your time and your income. You can book in just enough initial consultations to hit your goals each month, and then work backward to create an effective marketing plan for your law practice from there.

This will also allow you to time block your calendar. With a time blocked calendar that starts with self-care as primary, then just the number of initial consultations you need each month to keep your practice full, and time blocks for admin, continuing ed, and of course client work, you can actually have a life worth living.

Finally, weekly “metrics meetings” with a coach, your team, or even just yourself to measure whether you are on track.

#2 You worry a lot about money in your law practice, however, you do not have a system for cash flow forecasting that lets you breathe easier and sleep well at night

I’ve been there! Even after earning more than a million a year in my law practice, I was still stressed out about money constantly, because as the money came in, so did the expenses. In fact, the more I made, the more stressed I got.

The solution here is cash flow forecasting. I know, I know, no one ever taught you this one. Me neither and it cost me YEARS (and bankruptcy) to figure it out.

But, you don’t have to risk your financial life because I’ve put all of my insight into a cash flow forecasting system, specific to lawyers, which you can download for free right here.

#3 You want more clients, but you hate selling

Most people hate selling, and everyone hates being sold to, especially people considering hiring you as their lawyer.

You’re probably selling the old way we’ve been taught, using selling that’s more about convincing than guiding.

Forget selling—for good. Instead, structure your client intake process so you are seen as a trusted advisor to your prospects/clients right from the very first time they email, call, or even hit your website.

Ready to fix your intake and enrollment system? Download The 6-Steps to the Perfect Client Intake Process for Lawyers here, and get happier clients, at higher fees, right away.

When your focus goes from selling to pre-educating, and from convincing to informing, your prospects have the opportunity to make confident, empowered decisions, and it follows that more of them make the decision to hire you.

#4 You understand you need to invest in marketing, but you don’t really understand how it all fits together or how to get it all done

Marketing (email newsletters, blog posts, advertising, and direct mail campaigns) requires consistency, and it can be a lot to figure out how to get it all done!

Here’s the great news, once you create a system for it — or have it created for you — it truly does run itself with just a bit of monitoring by you.

The solution here is to leverage technology and a new way of marketing which is structured to help you "become omnipresent" in your community of ideal clients. Becoming omnipresent is one of the 5 shifts our most successful lawyer members make to build high 6 and 7-figure law practices.

Yes, you invest in setting it up, but once you do, it goes.

And, once you know how to engage clients and command premium fees (while still being the most affordable solution for your clients), investing in setting up systems to keep your pipeline full of clients is totally worth it.

#5 You don’t book speaking engagements

Are you relying on networking events and lunches or coffees, hoping and praying you’ll make valuable connections who will refer you business?

Relying on referral sources to send you business leaves the growth of your law practice outside your control. And, who has the time to go to all of those insufferable lunches and coffees that rarely turn into anything of value?

You really don’t, trust me. My guess is that you only do it because you don’t know what else to do.

Our most successful member lawyers do not rely on networking that doesn’t work. If they do network, it’s with clear goals and objectives, which pay off every time. Quite frequently, they use speaking to educate their communities, and they do it in a way such that it doesn’t just turn into people saying how great the talk was, but then never become clients.

When you watch our 5 Shifts Masterclass training, you’ll learn about the “new way of marketing” your law practice, so you can stop wasting time and money on marketing that doesn’t work.

#6 You either have no staff support, or you’ve built a team, but they feel more like another costly overhead expense than the support you really need

Here’s the reality for most of us: we were not trained to be business people and we mostly are winging it when it comes to the business of law practice.

As a result, you probably haven’t thought through how to find, hire and train a great team. And your leadership skills may need a little (or a lot) of work. Lawyers are notoriously the worst bosses. I know I was!

So, the way to fix this is to acknowledge it, first and foremost. Then, be willing to get help. And, get clear on exactly what outcomes (not tasks, but specific outcomes) you want each person on your team to be responsible for that will lead to your achieving your business objectives.

#7 You’re trying to grow your practice out of the revenue you are bringing in

And this results in your never being able to get ahead enough to hire support or have the consistent cash flow you can count on.

And while you might be growing your revenue, it still feels like you’re drowning because your expenses are growing too quickly in conjunction.

#8 You worry about having enough in the bank, but you haven’t learned to truly understand the metrics of your law practice

The solution to #7 and #8 are the same, and it really is about making the shift from law practice owner, to law business owner—by focusing on the metrics that really matter.

To do that, you need to be paying attention to metrics that will allow you to invest your time, energy, attention, and money (TEAM) resources wisely.

To know exactly where to focus your time, energy, attention, and money (TEAM) resources, consider tracking the following metrics:

  • How many inquiries do you get each month?
  • How much of those inquiries turn into booked initial consults?
  • How many keep their appointments?
  • How many of those kept appointments turn into paying clients?
  • What is the average fee?

If you begin tracking these metrics and aren’t getting hired by at least 80% of the people you meet with, who need your services, for a fee that you deserve, that’s the place to focus first!

#9 You think more clients is the answer, but you haven’t yet realized that more clients on a broken practice model just digs you into a deeper hole

#10 You are crazy busy, and since you haven’t fully gained control of your calendar, you are capped out on what you can earn, but still not earning enough to have the life you want

If #9 or #10 are all too familiar to you, then it’s time to 'break the time barrier.'

Imagine, never having to track or bill for your time again.

Imagine being able to spend as much time as you want to get to know your clients, without them worrying about what the bill’s going to cost them for your curiosity and connection. Imagine being thanked profusely for being the kind of lawyer your clients wish all lawyers were because they truly appreciate you. That’s what happens when you break the time barrier.

This is another one of the shifts we cover in our 5 Shifts Masterclass Training. (be sure to watch for Adam’s story in Shift #4, as you’ll get to see exactly how this works) Once you break the time barrier, you are able to command up to $1,000/hour for your services, while never charging for anything hourly.

#11 You’re nervous about your law practice’s survival, so you take whatever client walks in the door

Do you take clients even though you know you might not be the best lawyer for them? Do you figure you’ll figure out what they need, as they need it, but always feel as if you are failing?

Being a “door lawyer” is the worst kind of lawyer because you can never become expert enough in any one area of practice to truly feel confident. You can’t create any systems for efficiency and effectiveness, and the worst part about lawyering is feeling as if you may fail your clients.

When you specialize in a single practice area or focus in on serving a specific type of client, you can become THE "go-to lawyer" in your community for serving that client, and stop taking whatever walks in the door. Read more about Why Great Lawyers Don’t Accept Every Client Who Walks Through the Door here.

#12 You engage new clients but you haven’t learned to “WOW” them, so they forget your name

Whenever someone tells me they hired a lawyer for anything, I always ask them their lawyer's name. At least 7 times out of 10, they cannot remember!

If your clients cannot remember your name, they will never be repeat clients and they’ll never refer you to their friends, family, clients or colleagues.

If you create a “wow” raving fan client service, they will remember your name. And this doesn’t happen without systems in place to make it happen. The good news is that with technology, it’s easier than ever to put these systems in place.

Do not try to implement a technology solution on your own, unless you want to invest hundreds of hours to do it. Instead, leverage a done for you system, and shortcut your investment considerably. Do not reinvent the wheel here as it’s not necessary.

If you serve families or small business owners, talk with one of our Law Business Advisors to learn how you can get us to do your marketing and create your "raving fan" client service systems for you.

#13 Your follow-up communication process is broken

If someone doesn’t hire you right away, do they ever hear from you again? Or, worse, they do engage you, but you lose them to another lawyer when they fall into a black hole after they hire you.

As you can tell, we love systems here at New Law Business Model. And that’s because with technology today, you can truly differentiate yourself from the rest of the lawyers, and even the online document drafting platforms that will be the end of most lawyers.

We love to leverage what we call “automated personalization” systems to create WOW experiences for our clients after we get hired and turn them into raving fans who stay with us for life, pay consistently and are happy to do so, and who refer all their friends, family, clients and colleagues.

Our member lawyers also use these “automated personalization” systems to maintain communication with the people they meet out in the community (or via advertising) who aren’t ready to hire them immediately but will in the future, or who will refer to them in the future.

How You Can Fix These Mistakes In Your Law Practice For Good

After guiding thousands of lawyers over the past decade, NLBM has proven that each of these mistakes is fixable when you understand and leverage the New Law Business Model in your own law practice.

You don’t need to make these mistakes any longer.

You do not need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of your life making these mistakes! Instead, you can learn from my experience and that of our member lawyers. If you'd like to get to know us better, please join us in our private group on Facebook, The Lifestyle Lawyer's Club to get access to free training and resources from NLBM and connect with an awesome community of lawyers who are learning about practicing in a new way.

And, if you'd like to find out exactly how New Law Business Model can support you to build a flexible, fulfilling, and lucrative law practice serving families and business owners, book your call with one of our Law Business Advisors today.

Law Practice Framework for Predictable Growth Mini Class, graphic for offered class for lawyers from New Law Business ModelReady to Turn Your Law Practice Into a Thriving Business You Love? Learn the systems you need to turn nearly 100% of your prospects into clients who are happy to pay you in this free mini class from NLBM.