Over the past 15 years, I've trained more than 2,600 lawyers on how to build lives and law practices they love, and today I’m here to share with you the number one mistake I see lawyers make in high-pressure times like these. This is a mistake that is the most likely to cause long term damage to their law practice.
The mistake lawyers make is making decisions from a place of panic and fear – rather than calm, wise counsel.
Fear is a natural reaction to what is happening in the world today. The current pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and in addition to the threats to people’s health, it’s destabilizing their financial security.
When it comes to responding to these major world events, lawyers, in particular, are an important part of the equation. We’re often called on to step up in times of crisis to help people manage the impacts on their lives. The pressure can often overwhelm lawyers and cause anxiety and fear.
If you recognize that panic is driving your decision-making, it’s time to stop and take a breath.
Take a moment to recognize that you have everything you need to create the life and law practice that you want right now. As a lawyer, you are specially equipped to handle these times, and you’ve got everything you need to serve, greatly, as a true leader, and now is the time to use your law degree to be trusted counsel for the people in your community.
People are searching for the guidance that you are in a unique position to provide; yet, if you are using fear-based decision making, you may be discounting your services – or offering them for free – because you don’t realize how truly valuable your counsel is (even if you’re serving virtually).
If you are discounting your legal services, despite it preventing you from delivering truly meaningful service for your clients, I want you to stop.
If you discount your services or give them away for free right now, you will reach a point where you will not be able to deliver the highest and best level of service to your clients.
Instead, you must charge fees that are high enough that you can provide this kind of service to your clients. The right fee is meaningful enough to allow you to have the income you need, while you provide a great service, without sacrificing your life to do it. You can read more about this and on what truly makes a lawyer "affordable" for their clients here.
This also applies to serving your clients virtually. You can develop a genuine personal connection while serving virtually, provide exceptional service, and still charge the same fees that you would if you were serving in person.
Now, charging full price doesn’t mean you are being selfish. There is so much you can give to your community without compromising your ability to serve your clients at the highest level.
With your legal expertise, there is plenty you can do to educate in a general way that still provides worthwhile information. You can still empower people who can’t afford to pay you, showing them what they can do to protect their loved ones’ futures during these times.
It might be writing a blog about how to update an Advanced Health Care Directive. It might be making a Facebook post about how to take inventory of one’s assets in order to communicate where they are to one’s family if they become sick or pass away. It might be providing information about how to make plans for guardianship of a person’s children in a worst-case scenario.
This is all-important information regarding issues that people can take care of without your help. Use your law degree to lead them to control what they can, empowering them to do the right things for the people they love. This is serving and leading your community.
Want to see how our lawyer members are connecting with their community and providing value via social media? We’ve put together a guide with lots of examples and you can download it here.
At this point, people who have been listening to your lessons and following your lead might be ready to move forward with your legal services.
People who have expressed interest in your helping them can proceed from your free educational offerings to a complimentary private meeting—a working session. Ideally, this working session would have a name that expresses its purpose. And despite its waived cost, it would have great value.
For example, we teach our lawyer members to do a two-hour meeting called a Family Wealth Planning Session. In this working session, the prospects who come in have completed and submitted pre-work ahead of time. In fact, that's what they do to get the session for free.
The Family Wealth Planning Session starts with the prospects evaluating everything they have and love, while taking their family dynamics into account. Then, the lawyer applies the law to the prospects’ family dynamics and assets, which helps them make an empowered choice.
The lawyer does not provide a one-size-fits-all solution, but a variety of package options that they can opt-into based on their budget and the outcomes that they want for their family.
When our lawyers take their prospects through the Family Wealth Planning Session process, they're stepping into the role of a trusted advisor.
And those prospects almost always become clients.
Truly, adopting the trusted advisor role starts even before that point. It begins the moment the lawyer reaches out to the community with valuable knowledge only they can offer. The lawyers that we train educate their community broadly, and are seen as trusted advisors, even by people who can't or won't hire them.
You can apply this process to any practice area.
You serve your community broadly, and then invite those that need to, want to, and can afford to meet with you privately, to do so. The people who meet with you privately are the people who need your services. The people who can, will, and want to pay for them.
Remember: You shouldn't discount your services; you don’t need to. Instead, charge what you need to receive in order to provide the highest standard of service that you can.
And the best part? You can do all of this virtually.
You can step up and lead your community virtually. You can have your private sessions, whatever they're about, whatever they're called, virtually, no matter your area of expertise.
The connections you create with your clients will be just as powerful as they are in person, and you can still provide the highest level of service while still charging the same fees that you would if you were sitting in the same room with them. As long as you stop discounting, and start truly educating and being seen as the leader-expert in your community, now.