by Jordan Ostroff of LegalEase Marketing
“Half of what we are going to teach you is wrong, and half of it is right. Our problem is that we don’t know which half is which.”
– Former Harvard Dean of Medicine
We live in the greatest age in history for learning. Imagine going back to even the 1980s and showing someone a modern iPhone…how would you even describe it? You have EVERYTHING ever in the history of time that survived right here. AND you can call anyone from almost anywhere. AND you can watch any movie ever made by a real studio. AND you can play every Nintendo game on it…the list goes on.
But…that makes it EASIER for us to “learn” things that aren’t true. And it expedites the impact those bad facts have on us, our relationships, and of course, our law firms.
Don’t believe me? Quick (and no googling):
Who was the first astronaut to see the Great Wall of China from outer space?
How long does it take gum to move through the human body?
What year did Citizen Kane win the Oscar for best picture?
(answers at the end)
For me, it was the concept of MORE cases. So there I was, 28 years old, generating $250,000-$350,000 a year in referrals for my first year of business (truly having NO idea what I was doing)…and I wanted MORE.
I hired employees to handle MORE cases.
I brought in marketing companies to get me MORE leads.
I went to more events to get MORE referral sources.
And you know where that quest for more got me?
With a 15-person firm – that I HATED managing.
With more cases – and $200,000 in debt.
With a son – who I couldn’t spend a ton of time with…
I was miserable. And I get it, the national average of depression for lawyers is 2-4x times that of non-lawyers (but about half what it is for law students…)
And here’s the craziest part – what is the ONE thing law school teaches you? How to think critically! So shouldn’t we be even BETTER at sleuthing the truth? NOPE.
In fact, the SMARTER you are – the MORE you are at risk of having issues making decisions. (there’s a LOT of research on this, but a good summary of the issues can be found here.
In her book, Thinking in Bets, World Series of Poker Champ Annie Duke suggests thinking like a lawyer.
But…well…we are lawyers.
So let’s think like a poker player. Not sure what that entails? I have 5 words for you:
Want to bet on it?
By thinking that way, rather than just assuming something is right or wrong, you can judge how STRONGLY you think something is a certain way. And that might be the difference between continuing down a path of destruction and making that pivot to success.
In my specific example, I probably should have come up with a very clear Ideal Client Avatar – who did I really want to work with? What kind of cases did I really want to handle?
That would have let me focus better, if your problems are ANYTHING like the ones I went through (which they probably are – thankfully we aren’t terribly unique that way).
I could have hired fewer people to handle fewer different types of cases. This would have freed money up to hire BETTER skilled people and maximize the efforts of Molly to help my firm attract and retain talent.
I could have told marketing companies that their efforts weren’t aligned with MY client. I could have put together an overarching marketing plan like we now do a LegalEase to help law firms focus their growth efforts on the right people in the right places and track the results in real-time.
I could have focused on my own role quicker and gotten more time back sooner. For example, I could have asked myself:
1) how much money do I NEED to make?
2) what work do I WANT to be doing?
3) how many hours do I WANT to work?
How often should you be evaluating this stuff? As often as you can do it deeply enough to make decisions and changes for it.
As a solo, that’s probably annually or quarterly.
As a small firm, it’s probably every quarter or every month.
As a larger firm, you can probably push a lot of this down on level and have it done monthly or even weekly.
And if you need help figuring what’s working and what’s not, or what needs to change – well, I’ve got someone for you (it’s us…the person is us)
And if you’ve made it this far, I have the real reason you’re still here – the answers to the questions above.
No one because the Great Wall can’t be seen from space.
The same amount of time as anything else you ate at that time.
It did not. In 1942, How Green was my Valley? beat out one of the most impactful movies of all time for the best picture.