This week, one of the lawyers in our Personal Family Lawyer® program posted the following to our private member's forum:
"My assistant told me today that I am only appealing to the top 1% of people as potential clients, and that most people can't or won't pay our fees. He suggested that if somebody wants a will, then do a will, and charge him $500. Suggested that we should use PFL as a guideline, and not focus so intently on PFL. Compared the program to an infomercial when everything looks good, but 'results shall vary.'"
First and foremost, if you do join us, we think you should follow the system we've created, and not take advice from anyone who has not built a successful business serving families and/or small business owners.
Don't take out word for it, though . . .
Take a look at the responses from other lawyers in our forum on why they easily command premium fees with their law practice clients when they follow the system.
If you ever wanted the motivation to charge more, do more, and be the lawyer you've always known is possible – consider these responses to the above . . .
. . . on engaging clients:
"Ok, when it comes to this subject, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have been practicing for 22 years, and am a certified specialist in workers’ compensation. I was a defense attorney for 18 years (still am) but desperately needed to do something more with my practice.
It took me 3 years of watching and listening before I had the guts to follow Alexis and move forward with what was then only the PFL program. That was Geez, I think 3 1/2 years ago. During the three years, I watched and waited, I still paid to be a Wealthcounsel member ($400 a month or so) but was too afraid to do anything and I had no idea how to get a client anyway.
Fast forward to now - on average, I engage 2-4 clients a month at between $4,000 – $6,000. I still have my defense practice so my estate planning practice is very part-time. I am certain that I would engage more clients were I practicing exclusively in this area."
. . . on remembering your worth as a lawyer:
"DO NOT be persuaded by naysayers. It is so easy to listen and buy into someone else’s opinion about the value you provide. You are the lawyer. Remember how much blood, sweat and tears you gave during law school (cuz I sure do) and oh yeah, how much $$ your education cost? Your services are valuable, and believe it or not, people will pay what you ask . . . not everyone, mind you, but the right kind of clients will pay you what you are worth. I would rather have one great client for $4,000 than 3 miserable, price-sensitive clients at $1,500."
. . . on understanding how valuable your legal services truly are:
"As for your assistant, I seriously recommend that you evaluate whether his opinions will adversely affect your practice and ability to turn prospects into meetings. He’s gotta understand that the value of your services are what you say they are, which could require lots of education through this program, so that he will come to believe in them. An assistant who does not believe in the value of your services can really damage your business. All the best. You can do this!!!! Now get going :)"
. . . on clients being happy to pay meaningful fees:
"Yes, you are absolutely appealing to a smaller percentage of potential clients — and that's good. Because they are out there and yes, they will pay your fees and be happy to do so. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most of the clients I meet with purchase the trust plan at the $4,000 – $6,000 level. I have only had one client purchase the trust plan at $2,000 and the number of clients purchasing the wealth plan at $6,000+ has been going up.
I have a number of clients who are not wealthy by any means but they see the value in working with me, in having an attorney for life, and we work out some sort of payment plan or for single retired individuals on a fixed income, I offer the trust plan at $3,000. I have not met with one client that did not work with me because of the fees. Even the clients that want to haggle about price before coming in usually choose more expensive options after we meet."
Want to learn more about how this could work in your practice? Book a call to speak with one of our Law Business Advisors here.
. . . on who your clients really are:
"The biggest part of my practice is elder law and these folks are most certainly NOT the 1%. Most do not have anywhere near a taxable estate for NY ($1 million thresholds). However, they value their loved ones and they value the savings they worked hard to acquire. I talk to them about the actual cost if things are bungled or not done at all; i.e. the cost of a guardianship proceeding, additional court fees if a will is drafted sloppily and a construction proceeding needed, guardian ad litem fees for disabled beneficiaries, actual nursing home costs versus planning fees.
These are all real dollars and real comparisons so they can feel it. And I'm blunt that I know it's an investment and they can choose to do nothing, but at least now they're warned. If it were strictly on the price they would likely not engage, but once we sit down and they see everything that will happen with our office versus the cheap document preparer down the street they "get it."
They like my warm, personable staff. They appreciate the empathy when they call worried about something. They love the continuity and the one change I have made in the last few months is stressing in the FWP session how we build in 3-year reviews forever at no cost. That one little change alone seems to pop light bulbs (and I wasn't having trouble engaging before).
I would have a real heart-to-heart with your assistant, because if your intake person does not believe in you, you're sunk. He should understand that he is there for the business. It may be time for someone new, even if you have to go back to answering phones again yourself. I actually occasionally still grab the phone when I don't recognize the number and people are shocked and pleased to speak to me personally. Try it! :)
Anyways, hang in there. This field is so rewarding. Every hug from a client or widow telling me her mind is eased because we're in her corner makes it worth it."
. . . on the real reasons clients will almost always engage:
"I didn't start PFL as a brand spanking new practice area, but I did work the system, and have been very successful at it. Before I started PFL, I was already an estate planner, just not exclusively. When I started PFL, I gave up all of my other practice areas to focus primarily on families with young kids. Following Alexis' advice, I nearly tripled my fees (offering far more value than I was before). My wife (who is now my CSD) told me I was nuts, that no young family would ever pay that much money for an estate plan, and begged me not to do it. My well-meaning parents told me I was nuts. I did it anyway.
And, I did it in 2008/09, when the economy was starting to crater. Guess what I discovered? Parents will always pay for a plan that assures them that their kids will be well-cared for and well-provided for, no matter what. It doesn't matter if they are in the 1% or the 99%.
It doesn't even matter if the economy sucks. They'll happily pay to be relieved of the gnawing sense of anxiety that they haven't done the right thing for their kids. My wife is now my biggest cheerleader, and will proudly tell you that she was wrong in the beginning."
And finally... on the real reason it's all worth it, for you, and for your law practice clients:
"One more thing - when you engage your first client, or when you present your first workshop, and someone comes up to you at the end and tells you what a difference you've made in their lives, then you'll really know why you do this. It won't have anything to do with the money. And you won't ever want to stop doing it."
These are unvarnished, unedited responses from one lawyer to another. Reading them, I am reminded why I went to law school, and I hope you are, too.
I went to law school to help people, to deliver a service that would make a real difference in my client's lives and get paid well to do it.
These lawyers are experiencing that. You can too. It just means you need to stop listening to the people who say you can't, whether it's assistants, parents, spouses or even just the old voices in your head.
It's time for you to charge more, do more, and be more for your law practice clients.
I'll leave you with this note of gratitude that I got this week as well. It fills my heart to know I can contribute to your life and law practice in such a tangible, meaningful way. I truly and deeply wish the same kind of gratitude for each one of you reading this!
"It's still Friday (barely), so I'm adding some gratitude for this group as a whole for keeping me grounded (even if I don't say much here) with your advice and your camaraderie. Alexis, you have created a really good thing here. Seriously, I might not be practicing law today if not for this group. It gives me a place where I feel it's ok to think and live outside the box and still maintain a law practice that is unique to me, that is based on service to my clients and not driven by the highest profit or the most billable hours. Thanks!!"