The Value of a Law Firm Retreat- Don't let the "urgent" take over the "important"

 Last week, I received an email from a managing partner of a successful firm. He had just received an invitation from a legal education organization encouraging him to enroll in a CLE. Included in the invitation was the following list of what lawyers should worry about:

Things to worry about:

  • Worry about courage.
  • Worry about integrity.
  • Worry about efficiency.
  • Worry about whether you're a good enough listener.
  • Worry about whether you're honing your skills.

Things not to worry about:

  • Don't worry about popular opinion.
  • Don't worry about the past.
  • Don't worry about the future.
  • Don't worry about triumph.
  • Don't worry about failure unless it's your fault.
  • Don't worry about satisfactions.

 Things to think about:

  • How thorough is my legal knowledge?
  • How good am I as an analytical thinker?
  • Do I really understand people, and do I get along with them?
  • Are my skills better this year than they were last year?

His question to me was:

"How can you not worry about the future – that is what we are trying to improve!"

I believe the answer to his question can be found in the following quote from management guru Peter Drucker:

" The best way to predict your future is to create it."

I think every great lawyer wants to deliver exceptional value to clients, be part of a successful and innovative law firm and have security about the future.

The key to achieving these goals is to have the discipline to not let the urgent get in the way of the important.

You can accomplish this by taking a strategic pause from the "urgent" day- to- day activities and focus on the "important" long-term strategic activities.

Give consideration to an annual law firm retreat. In the retreat, focus on thinking critically, anticipating, deciding, aligning, learning and following up on breakthrough strategies that will move your firm in the direction you want it to go.

We are experiencing change faster today than at any other time in our history. Instead of worrying about the future, create the future you want.

The following are a few questions to ask the leaders in your firm :

Where is your firm today? ( Who are your clients? What is the culture of your firm? What are the firms critical issues and success factors? Assess and synthesize multiple sources of information)

Where does your firm want to be in the next 3-5 years? ( Look beyond the periphery of your current business)

What is your plan for achieving your goals? ( What needs to change? How are you prioritizing key strategies? What will you start doing more of/less of? )

What do you worry about? How do you take a "pause" from the urgent and focus on the "important"? What challenges do you face when trying to align your partners around a long-term vision?

Tips for Talking to the Media About Your Law Practice

 You provide a high standard of service to your clients and produce positive results. Clients and referral sources benefit from your experience and expertise and often times tell you how much value and peace of mind you have provided them during a difficult or challenging time. You want to educate the public on your legal services and attract more clients who want what you do best. Unfortunately, in your community not enough people know about you and your law practice and the value it can provide.

A key strategy for increasing awareness about your law practice is media relations. Clients listen to and are influenced by what they read in the newspapers and Internet, see on the television or hear on the radio. A notable story about you or your legal service in a reputable publication can significantly increase the visibility and credibility of your law practice in your community.

How do you attract the media to notice your law practice?

You have two opportunities to attract the press. One is through initiating the story though a press release that you create or pitching a specific story concept to a reporter. The second is responding to a call from a reporter for a comment.  

The following tips will assist you in talking to the media for both opportunities.

1.    Speak to the interests of your audience. Focus on what your audience wants to hear verses what you want to say. Avoid talking about the features of your law practice.  You will increase your opportunity for success if your story is on the benefits (verses the features) of your law practice, is newsworthy and has a hook. Example

 2.    Provide a real life example of how your expertise has benefited clients. Reporters want to know, “how has it helped people?” What is working? Example

 3.    Know the media source- Research the reporter’s web site, publication or radio station. Who is the audience for the publication? What is important to this audience? Pay attention to the tone and view point of the media source. Is the view point consistent with your message?Example

 4.    Research the reporter- What is the reporter’s style of writing? A simple Google search will provide relevant information on the type of stories they have written before. Be careful when talking to a “gotcha” reporter. This type of reporter may be looking for a story that conveys a completely different message than you intended. 

 5.    Ask about the reporter’s deadline and agenda.  Clarify the reporter’s deadline and the focus for the interview. Call the reporter back before the deadline and take a few moments to organize your thoughts and write down talking points. Try to avoid “spur of the moment” interviews without advanced preparation. Remember everything you say can be quoted.

 6.     Avoid legal jargon. Try to stay away from too many academic terms and industry jargon. Journalists like to hear human interest stories that tell a story verses an institutionalized description about process. Example

 7.    Control the interview. Make a list of the points you want to make.  Try not to have more than three key talking points. Find every opportunity to deliver your key messages. Think in headlines and respond in quotes. Don’t just answer the reporter’s questions

Almost every one of my clients has a story to tell that is worth listening too and provides valuable information. Take the first step by telling your story through on-line press releases, calling your local media or writing articles for local and national publications.

By being media savvy you can maximize the opportunity to increase awareness of your law practice and position yourself as a leader in the industry.