Dan Hull over at What About Clients? has just made a post that EVERY business owner should consider to be mandatory reading. And that includes owners of law firm businesses.
Admittedly his firm has about a dozen attorneys and so qualifies as a “mid-sized” firm in my book, but the approach they take to year-end associate review I think is even more valid for small firms or solos looking for an exit strategy – where there is much less margin for error.
In short, Dan describes his firm’s approach as follows: "Dude, if you can’t steal our clients, you’re fired."
I LOVE THIS APPROACH! For years I’ve been coming at it from the other way around with my
Rainmaking Clients, telling them that "If one of your associates leaves
& steals a client, you deserved it!"
The fact of the matter is that "owning" a law firm
is one of the biggest lies the equity partners of law firms tell
themselves. When your most valuable
assets are free to walk out the door, take your best sources of revenue with
them and leave you holding the bag with a long-term lease and expensive
overhead you don’t "own" the firm, the firm owns you!
Harsh Reality, I know. But here’s what to do about it. . . cultivate relationships between your
firm and its clients. Offer clients
something they couldn’t get if they went somewhere else. Be a 21st Century Law Firm Manager and give
your associates and support staff too for that matter, something no-one else is
smart enough to do for them by taking a realistic look at the balance of power
and adapt the job to so perfectly fit their needs that they couldn’t possibly
go anywhere else. And don’t hire losers
just because you need to get the work done. Losers may never steal your clients. They’ll do worse. . .they’ll
drive your clients into the waiting arms of your competition.
This advice applies equally to support staff. I know of several support staff who have a
bigger book of business than some fairly successful lawyers out there. There’s just no good reason your secretary
shouldn’t be able to steal your clients too!
By the way, if you want some practical tips on how to
cultivate relationships between your firm and its clients, I suggest you check
out How To Have A More Enjoyable Small Law Firm.
And if you want to learn how to be a S.M.A.R.T. 21st
Century Manager, you should consider joining either my Silver or Gold Attorney
Coaching & Support Program because Members of both these Programs get to
listen to leading experts each month teach us about a wide range of law firm
marketing, management and lifestyle topics.