Five Strategies for Building Your Collaborative Law Practice

In the last post I discussed the three essential principles for creating a thriving practice that brings value to your clients and fulfillment to your work.

The following are five strategies for building your Law or Collaborative Practice.

1. Be remarkable at what you do: Excelling at handling client matters requires continuous personal and professional growth. What skills do you want to develop that will increase your value to the clients you want to serve? What additional knowledge and information do you want to acquire that will position you as the best in your field?

2. Stay connected: The foundation for building your practice is based on relationships. The number one way to build relationships and trust is to spend time making a contribution to your community and showing an interest in others.

Who are the most important people, organizations and groups in your professional life? What is your plan to develop higher quality relationships with them? Be selective about the organizations you chose to be involved in. It is better to spend more time on fewer organizations that are in alignment with your interests and target market verses less time on a larger number of generic organizations.

3. Invest in your professional network: People will do business with those they know, like and trust. Professional outreach requires building a successful network of referral sources and staying “top of mind” with key professionals in your network. It also requires making connections with targeted professionals who are not in your network. The outreach you do today will affect the quality of your referrals tomorrow.

Are there professional relationships that might need a little more investment from you? Can you make a contribution to their business or practice? Are there additional influencers you what to include in your professional network?

4. Create exceptional Client Value: Satisfied clients are your best source of referrals. Higher client satisfaction requires a focus on providing superior service, consistently communicating with clients and delivering exceptional value to clients. How can you create an exceptional client experience- one that inspires your clients to tell others about you?

5. Make it easy for your ideal clients to find you: Once you identify your target client, your next step is to be easily found by clients looking for your services. How can you increase your visibility among clients who need what you do best? How can you demonstrate your understanding of “your ideal clients” problem and your capability to solve their problem?

Give consideration to each of the above strategies. What is the one strategy that will make the biggest difference in your practice? In other words, what one thing can you begin doing today that will help you to change your practice and attract more collaborative law cases?

Tip: The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) web site is an excellent resource for achieving all of the above strategies. Attending Bridging the Globe, the upcoming IACP 12th annual networking and educational forum in San Francisco, is an action step you can take today to “stay connected” and improve your collaborative practice skills.

Have you attended a previous IACP networking forum? If so,  how did it help you to build your Collaborative Practice?

For additional resources on growing your collaborative practice visit Collaborative Law Resources at www.ferrisconsult.com 
 

Five Characteristics of Successful Collaborative Law Practitioners

I just returned from speaking at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals 11th annual networking forum  in Washington D.C. The theme of the conference was Creating the Collaborative Connection - Commitment, Competence and Community.

The conference brought together lawyers, mental health professionals and financial advisers who want to  help clients settle cases outside of court and minimize the financial and emotional destruction of divorce and civil disputes.

Throughout the conference, the importance of establishing a commitment, creating community and achieving excellence through competence was emphasized as the foundation for building a successful collaborative law practice .  I would like to add two additional characteristics to the formula for accelerating the growth of collaborative law. These include communication and client value.

The following is a summary of the five characteristics that work for practitioners who have succeeded in building a collaborative law practice.

#1 Successful practitioners know what they want, believe in their vision and are committed to achieving their vision.

Another way to describe this characteristic is through commitment, which is defined as “The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action.” The first step in building a strong practice is having a clear idea of what you want, internalizing the value for achieving this goal and committing to the “action” to realize your goal.

"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans"     Peter F. Drucker

#2 Successful practitioners have a relentless pursuit for competence.

What every successful practitioner has in common is they consistently work towards mastering the underlying skills necessary for delivering exceptional client value.  With increased skill comes confidence, allowing practitioners to internalize the value of their service and communicate this value to clients and referral sources.

Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.”                                                        -Twyla Tharp

#3 Successful practitioners contribute to building their community

Participation in your professional community is essential to growing a strong collaborative law practice. One of the critical requirements for consistent referrals is establishing a foundation of trust among professionals. The number one way to build trust is to spend time making a contribution to your community and showing an interest in others.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
                                      -
Sir Winston Churchill


#4 Successful practitioners effectively communicate what they do, who they do it for and the value of their service.

In the Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes a “sticky message” as one of the rules for creating a tipping point. Stickiness is a message that makes an impact, is easily understood and is repeatable. Successful practitioners consistently communicate a clear message about their practice so everyone knows what they do, the value they provide and who can benefit from their service. 

 #5 Successful practitioners have a “client- centric” practice.

Creating and maintaining a client-centered practice is essential for growing a successful practice. A client- centered approach requires the practitioner to deliver superior service and value to clients. This means knowing the needs, interests and goals of your clients and delivering exceptional results. The fastest way to grow a practice is through word of mouth marketing. This will happen if clients have a positive experience with your service.

The only way to grow a business is through remarkable service.”
                                                - Seth Godin, Purple Cow

 
In summary the five “C,s” for successfully growing a successful collaborative law practice include:

  • Commitment
  • Competence
  • Community
  • Communication
  • Client-centric focus

Review the above characteristics and conduct a self assessment of your strengths and weakness. What areas are you strong and which areas can you improve?  Create a plan today for making these characteristics an integral part of your practice. By mastering these characteristics, you will be taking essential steps toward growing your collaborative law practice and creating “the practice” you want, a practice that brings value to your clients and fulfillment to your work.