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Law Business Manifesto

Why Building a Law Practice Like a Business Is So Freaking Terrifying

business for blogYou thought you were going to law school to be a lawyer and counsel clients, and help people.

You thought you’d get a well-paying job in a law office afterward, or if you went out on your own, that the clients would show up with ease.

Now that you are out on your own (or considering making the leap into your own law practice) you are discovering there is this whole other piece no one ever told you about…

The Business Aspect of Law Practice

  • Rainmaking Those 2-4 clients per month you need to make to even your base overhead every month don’t just show up like magic, even if you think you are doing what you are supposed to be to get them.
  • Managing Money The cash flow roller coaster is making you nauseous each month wondering how you’ll pay the bills, especially when each month you start over at zero.
  • Hiring, Training and Keeping Team Members Law school certainly didn’t prepare us for leading people, and in fact, may have done the exact opposite – most people don’t like working for lawyers
  • How Much Dang Time it ALL Takes! Maybe you thought it would all go so much faster and be so much easier than it appears to be…

It all probably feels pretty overwhelming.

I was there myself.

And I’ll tell you, even after 13 years in business, I still feel scared quite often.

Each time I uplevel – from the plateau that I hit – and want to go to the next level of income and impact and freeing up my time, I have to do things I’ve never done before.

And mostly those things are things I never wanted to do.

Like investing more time and money in hiring team support, or coaches and mentors, or to get my financials in order.

Sometimes, it seems like maybe it would be easier just to stay small, not make the investments, maybe even go back and get a job that doesn’t really allow us to love our lives.

But, that’s a lie that keeps us trapped by our limited thinking.

And, doesn’t ultimately get us where we want to go.

The answer is to refocus on what you really want, and then be willing to go all in to create it.

It’s called resolve. And, every single time I do it, I’m rewarded with the results.

You will be too.

I worked with two lawyer clients recently.

One of them was just starting out in practice for herself and thought she’d just engage 2-4 clients a month, have an easy, simple practice, not invest much in it, and have it pay her $4,000 a month.

a balanced scale, with a clock on one side, stacks of coins on the other

But when we got on the phone for a cash plan forecasting call to review the actual reality of the time and energy commitment to consistently generate 2-4 clients a month, we saw that it’s actually more profitable for her from a time and money perspective for her to invest to build a real business.

Without systems in place, 2-4 clients a month consistently is a farce.

It’s a lie we tell ourselves because it seems easy, but it’s not.

It requires as much system and team support to have 2-4 clients/month as it does to have 6-8 clients per month.

But the financial results and the support you have are far different.

Yes, you have to invest to get to 6-8 clients per month, and then maybe even 10-12, but you’ll invest far more of your time, energy, attention, and money to try and create a 2-4 clients per month practice – and you could find yourself spinning your wheels and sinking in the quicksand of a practice that doesn’t really work, for years.

How long are you willing to invest time, energy and attention – which you’ll never get back – to keep doing what you’ve always done, and hasn’t been working for you?

Money, you can always make more of.

When you can financially buy back your time and your energy – by getting support and hiring and training a team to support you, and putting in place systems – you are using money the right way – as a tool to create the life and business you truly want.

When you use your time, energy and attention to try to save money, you are digging yourself into a hole you can never get out of.

Just look at any lawyer you meet who hates his or her life and law practice. That’s exactly what they are doing:

  • If they are lucky, they’ve created a job for themselves, that pays them enough that they can never retire.
  • If they are unlucky, as most are, they’ve created a time and money suck that actually costs them more than they receive back in return.

I met with another lawyer this week at the opposite end of the spectrum.

He started working with us about 18 months ago when he was just going out on his own from a big law firm.

And he decided to invest in growing his law practice into a business.

man dressed in nice suit looking pleased with himself

Today, he has a steady 15-20 new clients per month, two team members, takes home around $8,000 a month in a combo of salary and distributions and works 4.5 days a week.

He made the investment.

He’s reaping the rewards.

And, of course, looking at what’s next:

  • Will he coast for a while?
  • Will he bring on an associate and grow so he can free up more time?
  • Will he keep working the 4 and a half days a week and bring on a new associate and sock the extra money away in a retirement account so he can have freedom later?

Either way, he’ll need to invest in his next level of growth.

Learning how to bring on an associate, learning how to be a manager, not just an attorney.

And, of course, he’s scared.

I think, like me, he’s begun to think like an entrepreneur and he recognizes that feeling scared and feeling excitement are just two sides of the same coin.

He’s choosing to see it as excitement.

What makes life wonderful is being at the leading edge of growth and feeling that energy of excitement – which feels a lot like terror sometimes – that lets you know you are on the right track to your own next level.

Resolve is the answer. Clarity about the life and income you want- and then single-minded focus on creating it, being willing to invest in the support you need along the way to get there as quickly as possible.

About the Contributor
Alexis Neely is a bestselling author and has been a frequent guest on numerous network talk shows and news broadcasts. After graduating first in her law school class from Georgetown Law, Alexis clerked for Senior Judge Peter T. Fay on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and then began her career at the #1 AmLaw rated firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson. She went on to build her own law practice into a million dollar a year revenue generator within just three years by creating a revolutionary New Law Business Model you’ll hear about on the call. She is a leading expert on teaching lawyers how to attract more clients, engage those clients at higher fees,* and to serve those clients using this completely different law business model. Lawyers using Alexis’ systems report far more happiness, bigger bank accounts, and that they love being lawyers again.

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