Sleepless in Seattle: A Lawyer’s Occupational Hazard?


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

“If a man had as many ideas during the day as he does when he has insomnia, he’d make a fortune.” ~Griff Niblack

In my law practice I often began morning instructions to my staff with “In the middle of the night, I remembered that we need to . . . .” One day, my paralegal responded, “Don’t you ever sleep through the night?”

Taken aback, I stammered, “Uh…no. Do you?” I was surprised to learn that she usually did. Perhaps I thought waking in the middle of the night was an occupational hazard of working in a law firm. I had awakened for so many years that I forgot that some people don’t.

Waking is not really a problem, unless I can’t get back to sleep for hours. I appreciate my faithful spirit guide — or whatever it is — for the midnight alert that something is about to fall through the cracks or for gifting me with brilliant solutions to thorny problems. John Steinbeck said “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” I just wish The Committee would wait until morning to give me the good news. Who knows? Maybe the dark of night is the only time I am quiet enough to hear whispered answers or warnings. In any event, if I don’t get back to sleep until an hour before the alarm rings, I start the day in a fog and I’ll probably react irritably to someone by 3:00 p.m.

If this sounds too familiar, here are a few tips from an experienced wee-hour-waker that may help you get back to Snoozeville more quickly.

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Debra’s Now Guest Blogging for SPU


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Recently Susan Cartier Liebel, founder of Solo Practice University,  invited me to become a regular guest blogger for the Build A Solo Practice @ SPU blog. Although I had previously been a guest blogger there, my inaugural post as a team member was published on August 19, 2010. Got Clients? How Did THAT Happen? explains why lawyers should keep records tracking their marketing efforts, as well as ask new clients how they came to the firm.

In addition to the blog post, check out the comments for even more ideas on how to identify what really works in your business development efforts. And while you’re there, if you’re trying to get a solo practice going, check out SPU. It has a lot to offer.

“Succeeding at the Business of Law”

Debra is speaking about the How-To’s of Law Practice Management at a workshop called “Succeeding at the Business of Law,” sponsored by the State Bar of Texas on Friday, April 16th, 2010, at the University of Texas Law School.

3 Ways to Capitalize on a Referral Source Call


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Lee Rosen recently blogged about 5 Ways to Mess Up a Referral Source Call. He was talking about how some people make contact with a potential referral source, then start selling themselves and virtually assure that they’ll never get any referrals from that contact. 

I commend you to his post as an easy-to-digest reminder of 5 common blunders. They all boil down to being far more interested in getting your message out, than in listening to the other person and finding out how you can help them. 

Now that you know what not to do, what can you do to make it more likely that the contact will actually turn into a referral source? That really boils down to 3 basic principles. 

1.    Find a way to help them with something.  

This is the number one way to get more referrals. Studies show that when someone gives us a gift or does us a favor, we have an urge to respond in kind. So make an effort to send them a referral or at least make an introduction that they might benefit from. If you can’t do that right now, is there some information or a resource you can share? Maybe it’s a link to an article that provides an answer to a question or problem they mentioned.

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