Book Smarts Build Cases. Street Smarts Build Businesses.


Is becoming a better lawyer really the best way to build a successful law practice? As attorneys, we are rigorously trained on the importance of book smarts. From getting into law school, surviving it, and then passing the bar, book smarts are the key to getting ahead. So many people believe that by going to a top school they will automatically pave the way to a better life. Is that actually true? First, what do I mean by book smarts? I mean being such a good lawyer at the technical aspects of the law that your clients stand up and say, “Wow, you won my case like a rock star lawyer on ‘Suits.’”


Book smart people usually make for great employees. They don’t run great legal businesses. Building a great legal business requires creatively using the resources around you that most people are oblivious to. It takes street smarts. Why does it matter? Most clients don’t purchase enough legal services to know the difference between a great lawyer and a mediocre one. In fact, nine times out of 10, before meeting you, they use only your website to judge your perceived competence. They aren’t sophisticated legal buyers. That means they decide based on your self-created online perception. It’s why everybody knows that one successful personal injury lawyer who is 99 parts promoter and only one part attorney.


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Unfortunately, book smarts don’t make clients decide to hire you in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. There are other benefits to being a legal rockstar at the technical aspects of law – winning cases, negotiating deals or zealously representing a cause that matters.


“If I just become a better lawyer, I will get more business.” Many attorneys unwisely follow models and mentors who have never achieved the result they desire. However, there are smart lawyers who have built successful practices without Ivy League educations. Many of them work just 30 hours per week or less, for ideal clients they enjoy, all while making top dollar.

How did they create a successful legal business? For starters, they first figured out the outcome they wanted in their life. They were driven by the desire for quality family time, abundant income and real lifestyle freedom. From that, they reverse engineered what clients, situations and cases supported that lifestyle. They didn’t create marketing to get more clients. They created marketing to get more clients that support their life goals. They were willing to turn away business from clients who had the money but compromise that freedom.


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How can you learn from their success? It starts by knowing what will have the single greatest impact. If you ask most attorneys why they don’t have enough business, it’s simply because they just don’t have enough clients looking at their website. If that were true, they would turn around, give their credit card to Google and count the clients by the dozen. It’s that easy to run ads, yet they don’t do it. Why? Because when clients see their website, they don’t call. What they really have is a website conversion problem in disguise.

Bar none, the single most powerful resource you have to consistently make your phone ring is your website. Unfortunately, most attorney websites read like an overly factual online business card. Here are a few powerful pieces of information you can use to vastly improve your website. What are you client’s most common questions? What are the most common types of mistakes they should avoid? What are some common myths they believe that aren’t true? What benefits will they enjoy as a result of working with you? How does your type of case work? What are the basics they need to know? You don’t need to go into excruciating detail. Clients are just looking for enough information to believe that when it comes to their legal problem, you understand what they’re going through and you can help them. Your website should be entirely about your client’s situation and barely even mention words like we, I, us or our.

Before they even call, how helpful is your website to your clients? Frankie Fihn


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