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A simple but important law practice management tool

In order to run a successful law practice, an attorney needs to be an entrepreneur, a manager and a technician. There are many ways to become more effective in each of these roles including attending CLEs, seeking out help from friends, contacting MassLOMAP, hiring a consultant, etc. Purchasing new technology can also have a big impact on your success. But there is a simple low-tech solution that can help lawyers in each of these areas. The tool I'm referring to is your ears.  

Simply put, if you focus more on listening to your prospects (and less on thinking about what you are going to say next)  your law practice will grow. Similarly, taking the time to really listen to your employees will breed loyalty. And if you truly listen to what your clients have to say (rather than trying to impress them with how much you know), you will deliver better service.

Law school taught you to think like a lawyer. In law school, you also learned how to advocate. Those skills will always be important to your success as a lawyer. But if you really want to become more successful as an entrepreneur, manager or technician, try to:

  1. Listen 80 percent of the time and speak 20 percent of the time.
  2. Make good eye contact.
  3. Avoid taking a lot of notes during a conversation (capture your thoughts on paper after the meeting.)
  4. Use strong body language which demonstrates that you are paying attention (e.g.  don't look at your blackberry or watch; nod to show understanding).
  5. Paraphrase what the other person is saying or ask for further clarification.
  6. Ask a lot of open ended questions.
  7. Summarize what you have heard the other person say and send confirming memos.

There are many ways to spend money on creating the law practice you want. You can always find new tools to increase your efficiency. But don't forget to make good use of the best tool which you've had since birth.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published October 6, 2011

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To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members, contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice Chair Stephen Seckler.
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