“We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us”

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

20140408 We Have Met the EnemyWhen you’re searching for solutions to personnel problems in the office, take steps to make sure you have accurately identified the source of the problem.You need to uncover obstacles to good performance by your office staff by being sure they have the necessary training, optimal equipment and clear instructions.

What if you’ve done all of these things, but you’re still getting poor performance? Is it time to terminate him?  Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Have you had difficulty finding anyone who could perform these job responsibilities well? Have you had trouble keeping the talent who did perform well? You might first verify that you are paying a competitive salary. If you are underpaying the market, talented personnel may not be attracted to the position, or they may parlay the experience and training they get in your office to a higher paying job. Read more «“We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us”»

Who Will Pinch-Hit for an Injured Solo?

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

20140407 Pinch-Hit for Injured SoloA lawyer client recently posed a question to me about obtaining professional liability insurance. She practiced in a larger firm, and now she wants to start her own solo practice. Solos face some unique issues in obtaining insurance and making disaster contingency plans. Some legal malpractice carriers require a solo to designate an attorney who will step in for her if she is incapacitated due to illness, injury, or even death. How does a solo find a lawyer willing to do that? Here are some of my suggestions:

Perhaps you have a colleague with a similar practice in a solo or small firm. They need lawyers available to cover for them, too. By making a reciprocal arrangement, you may be able to persuade a lawyer to take on that daunting responsibility.

If you don’t know someone who would be a good fit, however, it’s time to develop some additional relationships. How could you go about that?

1. Start by getting involved with your local bar association, particularly in the sections that focus on your practice area. You can’t just show up to your first meeting and start polling the attendees about whether they would be willing to stand in for you, however. You’ll have to invest in building relationships.

2. Go to the meetings regularly so that people can start to recognize you and get to know you. If you only attend sporadically, people may unconsciously perceive you as unreliable or disorganized. Read more «Who Will Pinch-Hit for an Injured Solo?»

“Circle of 8″

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

20140407 Circle of 8Mastermind groups are a small group of colleagues who meet regularly and can provide support, accountability, solution brainstorming and a sense of community in your law practice. Mastermind partners usually share experience and resources. They can also offer crucial reality checks that keep you from launching bad ideas.

You can create your own support and referral group that can be particularly helpful for your law business. It is called the “Circle of 8,” so named because it shouldn’t have more than eight members. It is a hybrid of a mastermind group and a business networking group. It consists of a limited number of select entrepreneurs in related, but non-competitive businesses. Besides the masterminding aspect, the Circle of 8 differs from traditional networking or leads generation groups because (i) the number is limited, (ii) all the participants serve a similar target audience, and (iii) the members are handpicked.

Circle of 8 Benefits

A Circle of 8 delivers value in many ways. As a result of the shared target audience, the members jointly have a 360 degree view of their market, with which they can educate and support each other. Your circle members may come into contact with someone needing your services before you do, so they can be good referral sources. You’ll be able to provide better service to your clients by confidently introducing them to reliable resources for their non-legal needs. Circle members may hear opinions expressed by your potential clients about what they really appreciate in legal services, or dislike about other lawyers, giving you an edge on your competition. They may be able to give you valuable feedback about your own services that your clients don’t tell you. Participants may collaborate to put on seminars or other marketing events, thereby introducing you to their customer databases and expanding your reach, while at the same time reducing your event costs. Read more «“Circle of 8″»

What Clients Want

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

20140407 What Clients WantIn 2000 Mel Gibson starred in a movie called “What Women Want” in which a freak accident caused his character, Nick Marshall, to suddenly have the ability to hear women’s unspoken thoughts. He initially found it to be a very disconcerting experience, because (1) he discovered that he had some erroneous assumptions, and (2) women’s impressions of him were not very flattering. In fact, many of them thought he was a jerk. It turned out that what they said to him and what they actually thought did not exactly coincide.

Eventually, however, Nick realized that he could use his new abilities to do research that would allow him to understand women better. He began to modify his own assumptions, expectations, perceptions and behaviors, based on his research. His interactions became more effective and enjoyable. He became more successful in his career. Read more «What Clients Want»

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