Two attorneys both attend the same law school, pass the bar and set up estate planning practices in similar cities. One has a practice that flourishes, while the other has some good years, some lean years, and a lot of anxiety about what comes next.
The key difference between the attorneys: one is a joiner, a thought leader and decisive about commitments to marketing and community. Her practice works with great efficiency, including systems for repetitive tasks that free up her and her team’s time. She belongs to the local and state bar association, one nonprofit that serves seniors, a faith-based organization and a networking group comprised of business owners. Her associates are told that part of their responsibilities at the firm include picking a nonprofit and growing into leadership roles.
Whether we like it or not, being the best estate planning and Elder Law attorney is not enough to ensure that your practice will thrive. In addition to digital marketing and media relations, attorneys need to become active members with a number of groups outside of their office.
Here are some suggestions to make your memberships matter:
If you joined the local and state bar association as soon as you entered private practice, that’s good. But have you gotten involved? Join a committee, if you haven’t already. And if you’ve been on committees for years, why haven’t you taken the next step and become a committee chair? It’s time.
State bar associations are easy to overlook, as they don’t directly impact your market. But how do you think your clients and local colleagues will feel if you are speaking at a state bar association program? Drawing from a wider talent pool means that it’s harder to be selected to speak or to publish an article. Capture the prestige and make sure to market your involvement: blog about your involvement, share it in your eNewsletter, post it on social media.
If you’ve been a member of five to ten organizations for years but haven’t done much more than pay your dues, stop! If you never make it to meetings because you don’t really care, then maybe you joined the wrong organizations. Think about what matters to you personally and to your practice. What would make you want to get out of bed an hour earlier to participate? Those are the kind of community engagements that yield results.
Who do you want to meet? If you are scouting organizations, take a look not just at the organizations, but their leadership. If there are already twenty estate planning attorneys on the board of directors, find another organization.
You may already be a member of a community organization but don’t think of it as a platform for leadership or growing your practice: the faith based organization you currently belong to. Yes, we agree that you need to balance the business/personal aspect, but if you are attending services on a regular basis, you are part of the community already. Step it up by offering to head up a committee or even serve on the board of directors.