Read These 10 Secrets To (Fill in the Blank)
Did that headline get your attention? Shame on you. This means you are reading this post to either learn some deep dark secret to growing 'your multi-million dollar solo practice working just one day a month' OR you were going to read it to mock me. The point is these stupid headlines have the power to draw you in and that is what the newest parade of carnival barkers, snake oil salesmen and the latest hard core hit-and-run product/service people will be throwing at you to extract your hard-earned dollars.
I've finally reached my tipping point. With the economy in a tailspin, layoffs, fear of unemployment, these hyenas can smell the fear in your sweat and they are swooping in to offer you 'the secret'. And it is starting to really PISS ME OFF!
See, in another life I was educated at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications and went on to work at both large and small advertising agencies. I understand the psychological pull of phrases like 'the secret'. It is emotional and compelling language and we are drawn to it like a moth to its death by the allure of the flame. So I'm going to use the word now but in a sentence you may not like:
There are no 'secrets' to success. And if there were...it would be these:
1. You must learn to be a good lawyer
2. You must have tools which will increase your productivity
3. You must learn to use these tools for maximum efficiency
There are no secrets to creating a thriving and healthy solo practice. The methods are as old as dirt. Only the tools have changed.
But I will use an analogy near and dear to my heart. Imagine you want a baby. It is indisputable, undeniable, physiologically impossible to have a healthy baby without the baby being permitted to grow for the required nine months (preferably in a human woman's womb.)
1. Some people are very fortunate and on the first attempt at conception - Voila! Pregnancy. Yet there is no shortcut around carrying that baby to term. They may not have morning sickness and be blessed with a quick and painless labor. But in order to have a healthy baby - nine months.
2. Some will have trouble conceiving, need assistance from fertility doctors, an understanding spouse if one is in the picture, health insurance which will cover the procedure or an equity line of credit. The road will be more difficult and the key to success will be finding the right information, referrals leading to (reputable) assistance. If and when it happens, the baby still has to be carried those nine months. Only this mother may have all day sickness for nine months, be on disability and full bed rest and need a c-section and additional recovery time. But the baby still needs to grow for nine months. The end result, a baby.
3. Others won't be able to conceive, may have to hire a surrogate, so someone else will do all the heavy lifting. Some how the wanna be mom finds a way to afford it. But even with a surrogate, it still takes nine months to produce the baby and this road to parenthood comes with a whole different set of issues.
4. And then there is adoption. Still nine months but someone else is doing all the work for you. At the end of the process (which can be far longer than nine months from start to finish), a baby.
We can take the analogy all over the place but let's not The circumstances to birth this baby will play out differently for every parent but nothing changes this fact: in order to bring home a baby it needs to grow for nine months before a parent can see the end result and experience the joy of a child that is theirs.
(And then comes the parenting regardless of how you got the baby. I'll stop with the analogies now.)
There is no 'secret' to building a successful solo practice.
However, it is #2, #3 and #4 which open the door to both reputable people and products that can help you achieve your goals and the not so reputable who will simply tell you what you want to hear while relieving you of your money and possibly more. And in this economy, if they work it right, your desperation will have you forking over your dollars to anyone who promises you the world and the 'secret.' The real 'secret' is the one these people know - it's called 'the pain point.' If they can identify your 'pain' they will gain because they will create a compelling message which will resonate with you. And that message is one that usually plays to your fear, your greed or your sloth.
I am on many a so-called 'gurus' e-mail lists incognito to see what happy horseshit is being peddled because my clients will often ask my opinion. My e-mail is full of these wonderful 'formulas' for success asking from $5.00 to $12,000. (The $5.00 one is my favorite because if 1000 people send him $5.00 they're not going to miss $5.00 but he'll be $5,000 richer for a mass spamming of lawyers.) And they are usually e-mailing you from their luxury yachts on a break from their vacation or while jetting off to another exotic location where a group of sycophants are impatiently waiting to hand over thousands of dollars to learn 'the secret.' God forbid you miss your one and only opportunity to learn from the great one himself.
There is no getting around the realities of building a solo practice. You must learn to practice law well. Pick your mentors wisely. Select with care the law practice management products and services appropriate in the 21st century, products and services designed to boost your productivity and help deliver your message. Then make sure you commit to using these tools to their maximum potential.
There are your 'secrets'. And it didn't cost you a penny.
(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.
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