Billable Work vs. Investment Hours

Paul Morton has a lot to say about the term “non-billable hours”.  Paul is the COO of the law firm Burns and Levinson in Boston.  He has been a figure in law firm administration for well over 30 years and he has seen a lot of changes during that time including increased billing pressure on lawyers.  But according to Paul, billable hours should not take priority over all non-billable work.  In fact according to Paul, the phrase “non-billable hours” should be replaced with “investment hours”.

Simply put, attorneys need to generate income for their firms in the short run.  But they also need to invest time in marketing, law firm management, professional development, and self-care.  In the long run,

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Recycling Can Increase Your Marketing Efficiency

For many lawyers, carving out time for marketing activities is challenging. When there is billable work to do, spending time on things that don’t immediately generate revenue is hard to prioritize. Of course as I’ve written many times, making marketing a habit will ensure more marketing success in the long run (see Mindlessness is the Key to Marketing Success).

One hack that can help you generate more marketing activity without adding a lot of time to your day is to recycle. If you have some content that you can use in a variety of ways, that enables you to better leverage your time.

For example, if many clients are asking questions about a particular subject, you can turn that into a blog post. That blog post can become a LinkedIn post. Similarly you can then turn that into a presentation and maybe include links in a newsletter to a workshop you are planning.

Another marketing hack is to take evergreen marketing content and promote it more than once. If you post on LinkedIn, different people in your network will see it and are online at different times. Posting the same contact more than once is a

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Integrity Matters-remembering my father on Valentines Day

On this Valentines Day, I’m remembering my father Bernie Seckler.  Dad died at the start of pandemic and would have been 96 today.

In the Jewish tradition, keeping alive the memory of your loved ones is very much part of the mourning process.  So today, I’m remembering how important integrity was to my father.

Zealous advocacy is an important part of the practice of law.  Persistence is an important part of recruiting.  But integrity matters for both.

So what kind of lawyer do you want to be?  Someone who fights hard for their clients but does so in an honest way?  Or someone who lawyers and judges don’t trust because you are not true to your word.

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Practicing Law with a Side Hustle (“Mindful Return”)-on the C2C Podcast

Lori Mihalich-Levin is a partner in the Health Care practice at Dentons where she spends half her time on medicare reimbursement issues.  The other half of her time is spent on the business she created, Mindful Return.  Mindful Return is a program to help parents returning from parental leave. It was born out of Lori’s experience as a lawyer and as a new mom with a demanding job.  In this episode of the Counsel to Counsel Podcast, Lori talks about how she created Mindful Return, how she balances her consulting business with the practice of law, and how having a “side hustle” makes her a better lawyer (and how being a lawyer helps her business succeed). 

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Episode 55-Professionalism in the Practice of Law with Don Frederico [on the C2C podcast]

If you are an attorney, what does it mean to be a professional?  What is the borderline between zealous advocacy and uncivil and obstructionist behavior?  My guest in this episode, Don Frederico, has a lot to say about that subject.

Don is a lawyer I met over 30 years ago when I began my own legal career at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.  At that time, Don was a litigation partner at the law firm McDermott Will and Emery. Today, Don leads the Class Action Defense Practice at Pierce Atwood.

I met hundreds of lawyers during my days at MCLE.  While many of our volunteers were true experts in their fields and generous with their time in helping to educate the bar, there were some standouts.  Don was not only someone who was willing to step up when asked, but he was an enthusiastic participant and someone who I thought really modeled true professionalism in the way he treated

Read moreEpisode 55-Professionalism in the Practice of Law with Don Frederico [on the C2C podcast]

Creative Ways to Differentiate your Law Practice (without showcasing your expertise)

I joined the ProVisors business network in June of 2019.  There are many things I love about the group and during the pandemic, it has been a great way to stay connected to a very giving group of professionals. While meeting wonderful people has been the best part, my involvement with ProVisors has also been a great lesson in how to differentiate yourself.   In the network, there are many lawyers, accountants, financial planners and other trusted advisors who do similar things.  So “choosing your lane” and making yourself memorable is important.  Many ProVisors members do that well.

Sometimes I hear great tag lines that describe the expertise that the professionals bring to the table (e.g. Call me when you need to manage your client’s message with a megaphone or a muzzle.- Judy Rakowsky, a public relations professional; Call me when you are in the back of a police car or in the back of an ambulance– Chris Murphy, a lawyer who does criminal defense and plaintiff’s personal injury; I bring death and taxes to life-Jenn Taddeo, a trusts and estates lawyer; When the Feds come knocking, I’ll do the blocking-Jose Sierra, a white collar attorney—who is now in-house.)

I have also met a number of lawyers and other professionals who have found very creative ways

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A Conversation with Ben Sigel-The Great Connector [on Counsel to Counsel]

On the Counsel to Counsel Podcast, we talk a lot about relationship building.  Doing great work should always be your number one priority as a lawyer.  But successful careers are not built on merit alone.  The people in your network are critical.  Whether you are thinking about an in-house move or growing your law practice, relationships matter….a lot.  In my latest episode of the C2C Podcast, I speak with Ben Sigel, someone who is a master at relationship building.  Ben has been a litigator at several mid-sized and large firms, Director of Client and Community Relations for Mintz Levin, a Candidate for the United States Congress in my district, and President of the New England Chapter of the Hispanic National Bar Association.  He is someone who actively works to build communities and a natural connector. He is also someone with deep roots in both the LatinX and

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Be S.M.A.R.T. in the New Year

I love the New Year.  With the arrival of January, we all have the chance to reinvent ourselves, create new habits, explore new directions and in short, try new things out for size.  In 2021, this has particular resonance as many of us found 2020 to be very challenging.  While we have a ways to go before life returns to “normal”, this is a great time to create goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).  And as a reminder, once we have set those goals, it is important to create habits that move us towards those goals. (See “Mindlessness” is the Key to Marketing Success, my prior blog post.)

So what are your goals for the coming year?  Grow you practice by 20% in 2021?  Find an in-house counsel role by the Fall?  Build competency in a new practice area? Begin scaling back your practice and thinking about The Next Stage in your career/life?

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“Mindlessness” is the Key to Marketing Success

If you want to grow your law practice, having a good strategy is important. Figuring out who are your ideal clients and what are the ideal matters you want to work on is an important first step in building a marketing plan.  Creating a niche practice area is an important way to ensure that you have differentiated yourself from the competition. Mapping out who are your key referral sources and how you can build relationships with these referral sources is essential. The process of coming up with a marketing plan is anything but mindless. A scattershot approach that lacks focus is far less likely to be effective.

But once you have a strategy and you move to implementation, it is important to shift gears. Successful execution requires consistency.  Short bursts of activity followed by long breaks where you just focus on billable work, is not a good way to keep your name top of mind with your network.  Since it is hard to predict when your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources will hear about a legal problem that you might be able to solve, slow and steady wins the race.

Shear willpower is unlikely to ensure that you will have the consistency you need to remain visible.  Given the time pressures on most

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Business Development in 2021 with the Law Firm Success Group [on the C2C podcast]


The New Year is finally here and without getting into it, let’s just say that many of us are happy to welcome 2021.  A new year brings hope, a chance for a new beginning, and if you are in private practice, a great opportunity to ramp up your marketing and business development. In the latest episode of the C2C Podcast, I speak with Alay Yajnik, award-winning business coach and founder of Law Firm Success Group. Alay’s firm helps law firms owners across the country make more money, get better clients, and take more vacations.  I’ve already appeared as a guest on his podcast  the Lawyer Business Advantage.  Alay and I discuss

Read moreBusiness Development in 2021 with the Law Firm Success Group [on the C2C podcast]