Planning for the Future: 5 Habits of Highly Successful Lawyers

Out of the many great attorneys I work with every year through Law Firm Mentor, I noticed a problem that we all tend to have — and I’ve been there — is that when you’re new and when you want to set up your own independent firm, you don’t know what to do. There are too many moving parts. Nobody told us how to run a business when our noses were buried in legal textbooks!

Here’s a few solutions to that “lack of knowledge” problem. Do what the really successful lawyers do! Here are five habits of highly successful lawyers.

1. Don’t Plan from Hunger

“If I can make X amount of money in February, then I’ll have enough to pay the bills and meet payroll and that will be a good month!”

That’s planning from hunger. Been there, done that.

If you set yourself up in your mind to just make 100% of what you need to stay operational, your business will fail. I realize it’s important to pay the electric bill and meet your staff payroll and pay your own bills. But when you plan this way, you are just planning to stave off hunger. It’s like setting a cap in your mind that limits your income potential.

Instead of thinking, “Here’s what I need to do to meet my needs next month,” start thinking, “What do I need to do to generate 100% over my firm’s needs next month?”

2. Keep Improving

The most successful lawyers never stop learning and improving, so that they can be even better attorneys for their clients. Every day when you wake up should be a new day with a new set of challenges to improve your skills. The most highly successful lawyers have new clients seeking them out, because their clients refer friends and family to them on a regular basis. Be willing to reach out for help, ask questions and study what the big-league folks are doing. Heidi Grant Halvorson is the author of “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.” Here’s a condensed version of her tips on this topic.

3. Be a Goal Achiever

We all know the difference between a goal setter and a goal achiever. The problem many of us struggle with is that we have too many goals, so we spread ourselves too thin trying to achieve them. This results in partial success on a lot of smaller goals. Instead, focus on achieving one goal at a time: “I want to bring in five additional, brand-new clients next month.”

Also, when you achieve a goal, stop for a moment. Take a breath. Think about and analyze the steps you took that helped you to achieve that goal. Figure out how you can use that success to systematize more of your goals.

4. Have a Positive Mindset Every Day

The most highly successful lawyers have a truly positive mindset. We often tend to be our own worst critics — at least in our own minds. Focus on how you talk to yourself when you’re getting psyched up for something. Do you have a positive or negative mindset? For example, picture a big day in court when it’s time for closing arguments.

Negative Lawyer ‘A’ thinks, “I hope I don’t mess this up.”

Positive Lawyer ‘B’ thinks, “This is what I went to law school for. I’m going to knock this out of the park. This is the moment where I need to be the best that I can be for my client.”

Who do you think is about to win?

In addition, you don’t ever want to get stuck in a “fixed mindset.” Here’s a great resource from Thomson Reuters on how attorneys with a fixed mindset (as opposed to a growth mindset that can quickly adapt) are being left behind in the modern age.

5. Copy Success

From the first day of kindergarten until the day we graduate from law school, what’s the one thing drilled into our heads every time there’s a test?

“Don’t copy other people’s work!”

In life, the opposite is true. Copy me! I’ll even teach you how to do what I did. Copy highly successful attorneys who you admire. I don’t mean that you should plagiarize anyone. Copy their model for success, because there’s no rule against that.

Understanding how the most highly successful lawyers do what they do is part of your growth process. One of the many ways I help my clients be successful is by having them implement a system that fits their business, empowering law firm owners to crush chaos and gaining them plenty of free time. To learn more on how you can start implementing a system for your law firm watch my free webinar “Systems How to Crush Chaos.”