Recently, our editorial staff asked Ali Katz, founder of New Law Business Model, what she sees as the top important habits of the most successful estate planning lawyers. Ali has trained over 2,700 lawyers over the past 12+ years on the New Law Business Model she created when she was in private practice. She’s seen firsthand what differentiates the wildly successful lawyers in this practice area from the rest.
Here’s Ali’s list of the top 7 habits of the most successful estate planning lawyers:
1. Stop thinking of yourself as a lawyer who drafts documents and start thinking of yourself as a trusted advisor, who helps your clients achieve desired outcomes.
People don’t necessarily want estate planning or even think that they need estate planning but they do need expert guidance to keep their loved ones out of court, able to navigate conflicts should they arise, and to prevent them from having to clean up a big mess when they do pass away.
2. Stop trying to serve everyone who needs an estate plan and start focusing on a very specific segment of people that you want to serve.
For example, in the beginning, lawyers implementing the New Law Business Model focus on serving one of the following segments:
- New parents
- Parents with children (ages three to 14)
- Parents who have kids going off to college (soon to be empty nesters)
- Parents who have both kids at home and elderly parents that they’re caring for (the sandwich generation)
- Small business owners
Each one of these groups of people is a very specific group of people that you can reach in your community. And there’s plenty of them for you to serve. As a bonus, when you focus your marketing on educating and counseling these specific groups, you tend to attract a wide range of additional individuals you did not directly market to as well.
3. Use the 80/20 Rule to your advantage.
You don’t have to be doing everything yourself, but what you do need to be doing is educating your community and counseling your clients. Educating and counseling your clients is the twenty percent that has the greatest impact on revenue.
For the remaining eighty percent of the work required to support your business and clients you need to:
- Implement the correct systems
- Hire support staff and
- Use a proven way to properly train your staff
4. Get your own estate plan in place, up to date, and your assets inventoried.
If you haven’t completed the process yourself why would potential clients?
Make sure all of your loved ones know:
- What to do when you pass away,
- Where to find what you have,
- How to navigate family conflicts, and
- How to stay out of court.
Going through the entire process yourself gives you the insight you would not otherwise have and a way to connect authentically with your clients and their own experiences.
5. Stop trying to be an “affordable” lawyer.
It may seem like it’s in service to your community to provide affordable legal services. But in your quest to be the “affordable lawyer”, you may actually leave your clients (and yourself) worse off as a result.
Set the traditional concept of billable hours and filling out forms aside for a moment and consider the following:
- What would it take to deliver truly exceptional service to clients?
- What fee would you need to charge to cover the expertise and guidance shared and the time invested?
Now compare that to the cost to clients of doing nothing. Or even worse, doing something and doing it wrong. What would it cost their family to end up in court and conflict after losing a loved one? In the context of what is at stake for clients, a cheap estate plan may turn out to be the most expensive decision they ever make for the people they love.
Instead of trying to be the most affordable lawyer in town, structure your practice to charge fees that are meaningful enough to provide extraordinary service and deliver the best possible outcomes for your clients.
For example, New Law Business Model trained lawyers help their clients choose the right fee to work with them based on their desired outcomes. The “right fee” is meaningful enough to allow these lawyers to provide a comprehensive service, without sacrificing their lives to do it, and still be the most “affordable” solution for their clients. This is what we call “The Affordability Paradox”, and you can read more about that here.
6. Always be learning new strategies for serving your clients well.
Look for opportunities to:
- Make their lives better and/or easier in some way.
- Save them money.
- Educate them on ways to keep them and their loved ones out of court and out of conflict.
7. And lastly, if you want to be among the most successful estate planning lawyers, do not go it alone.
If you find yourself wasting countless hours on your logo or your website, building out your technology, or chasing new clients, pause for a few moments to consider the possibility that there is a better way.
What if you didn’t have to reinvent the wheel because somebody else had already figured out what works? And they were willing to share their expertise, resources, and offer guidance on your own journey to building a successful practice you love?
Truly successful lawyers and other professionals often enjoy helping peers find their own success. In fact, that is what New Law Business Model is all about.
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