Whether you are a big firm, a solo practice, or something in between – you need process and structure. Today I chat with Steve Fretzin about how he helps his clients by understanding their personalities and leverages that to create processes and structures that give them the best chance to succeed in efficiency. No one has to be terrified of winging it, or feeling like they are flying by the seat of their pants with a proper structure in place.
In this episode we discuss:
- How important is developing your time management skills.
- Learn how you are spending the time doing business development.
- Spending your time efficiently
Steve Fretzin Podcast: Be That Lawyer
Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science
Sales Free Selling
Legal Business Development
Website URL: https://fretzin.com
LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:26] Welcome, my dear Steve Fretzin to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.
Steven Fretzin: [00:00:31] Hey, Alison, how are you doing?
Allison Williams: [00:00:32] Hey, I’m doing well. You know, I’m excited to have you on. We’ve had you on before. Every once in a while, you get a really great guest. We have a great conversation and a lot of value to the audience. So you’re definitely one of those people I wanted to have come back, but even after I made the decision I was going to invite you back, I saw that once again. You’re at it in this, in this author biz that you’re in. And I wanted to talk to you specifically about your book, because I know that it is starting to get a lot of buzz in the legal industry.
Steven Fretzin: [00:01:03] Yeah, it was a, it was a blast to do. And I got a really big kick-off even without doing like a book launch party, which I would normally do. Non-covid I got a really big international bestseller status in four countries and I was just so excited about it. And it’s six years of work into this book, so really thrilled about it and I appreciate you having me back.
Allison Williams: [00:01:24] Yeah. So congratulations on the international bestseller status. For those that are watching us on YouTube, you can actually see the title of the book over Steve’s right, right Shoulder. But for those of you that are listening on the podcast platforms, the name of the book is Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science 250 plus easy and actionable ways to grow your book of business in less time and with greater results. So I know that was a, that was a mouthful, but it tells you everything you need to know about why this is going to be such a great resource for those of you that really want to expand your legal career and generate more business. So let’s talk about the book and let’s start first by giving some people that have not been introduced to you before or have not heard you on this podcast before. Learn a little bit about you. Right? The fact that you are not a lawyer, but you play one on TV, I think is remarkable because you blend right in with us. But tell us about you, Steve.
Steven Fretzin: [00:02:20] Yeah, so I’m someone who got pulled into the legal industry in 2008, never realizing or even considering that lawyers needed help with business development. My father is a retired attorney now, but he always, as a solo, had plenty of business, plenty of work, he made plenty of money. There was all, he was the total package, not having to network, not having to do. It just was natural that relationships would happen for him. So he didn’t really have to think about it. He never wrote a plan. He never considered time management or any delegation skills or anything that we’re teaching lawyers on a daily basis just wasn’t a part of his makeup in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. And so I got pulled into this in 2008, working with an individual attorney in the real estate space. And what he loved about working with me is that I actually Teach Sales Free Selling, which is one, which is the name of my first book. I love to work with lawyers to teach them, you don’t have to pitch, you don’t have to convince, you don’t have to sell. It’s all about relationships. It’s all about being consultative and understanding and walking people through a buying decision to see essentially if it’s a fit.
Steven Fretzin: [00:03:26] So one lawyer turned into two, two and a three, then a firm, then another, and it just took off. And within about a year and a half to two years, Allison, I looked at my numbers. I was like, Wait a second. I think 80% of my total business this year are attorneys. And I didn’t even oh my God. So I had been teaching lawyers about specialization and all that. I said, you know, maybe I need to practice what I preach a little. So I pushed my chips in, changed my name from a very salesy name. Sales Results Inc Which lawyers go you to Frets and Inc, which they were like, okay, that’s just his name. We’re used to that, right? So that’s how I got going in. Even recently, I’ve adapted even more where I’ve, I’ve stopped working with law firms a couple of years ago. I only work with highly motivated and ambitious individual attorneys at all levels and all practice areas. And I also run peer advisory groups to help them win their successful to maintain and continue to develop even after they’ve become a great, be that lawyer type of lawyer.
Allison Williams: [00:04:25] Yeah. Well, since you mentioned be that lawyer, for those of you that don’t know, Steve has an amazing podcast affectionately known as Be That Lawyer. And so a lot of your work actually does stem from some of the major concepts that I always learn about as a, as an avid follower of your podcast. So talk to us a little bit about the podcast and then we’re going to shift back into the book. So I really want to get some of those, those meaty topics covered in your book talked about today.
Steven Fretzin: [00:04:52] Yeah. So the show, you know, jeez, you know, it’s one of those situations I think you can you can understand where I’m coming from or I wish I had started at five years ago, not two years ago, but we’re coming up on 200 episodes at the end of this month. And I’m doing two a week right now. And the reason is, is I keep meeting so many amazing people like you, Allison, and others that have so much to share and so much to give to the legal community that it allows me to get to three or four takeaways from every single show because I’m drilling down similar to you to get to the, the nuts and bolts tactical stuff. How does, how does this actually work? So it could be anything from time management to health and wellness to marketing, branding, and of course, business development, networking, and developing that book, that almighty book of business, which we all know is so important. So that’s the podcast and I just love doing it similar to like you and I just we enjoy it. We enjoy meeting people, we enjoy interviewing people, and having these fun conversations. And sure enough, if we can get sort of like to the middle of that onion from peeling away some layers, it ends up being a really interesting show with lots, again, takeaways for the audience.
Allison Williams: [00:06:01] Yeah, yeah. So and you are such a great interviewer, Steve. I had the pleasure of not just being on your podcast, but also you did a celebration for Women’s History Month and you brought together an amazing panel. And we talked about a lot of different topics relative to business development in the law. And I just I wanted to make a special nod to you for that program because I don’t think a lot of people really refine the art of being a good interviewer, and I think that you really excel at that exceptionally.
Steven Fretzin: [00:06:29] I appreciate that. And it’s funny because if I’m going to do a 200 episode special and if you go back and listen and I’ve done this a couple of times to like the first ten or 20 episodes, they’re very different than the last 20 or even the last 100 because as you know, it’s, it’s one of these skills that you have to keep refining. You have to keep considering how am I getting more out of the guest? How am I getting so I might ask someone to explain something to me and then I’ll say, Hey, do you have a specific example of how you did that? And then they talk about how they worked with the client to get a result. Well, that’s going to resonate with people more than just an explanation of something. So that’s the kind of stuff that Howard Stern and Oprah and some of the best interviewers on the planet do. And I, and I’m just trying to emulate what I’m, what I what I’m hearing from others, and what I’m what I know will resonate with my audience.
Allison Williams: [00:07:21] Yeah, well, we definitely want people to check that out because we have I have had the pleasure recently of some of my clients saying, oh, yeah, you know, you have gotten better at this. And I say, God, well, how bad was I? And said, Well, it wasn’t that it was bad, but it has gotten better. And so I love getting that feedback and I know that it’s something that it’s kind of the universal experience of people that do what they love and love what they do and really lean into it. So let’s now shift back to the book because, you know, when when you think about the idea of a legal business development book, I am sure lawyers have thoughts about what that means, what that could be. But why don’t you kind of in a nutshell encapsulate for us, what does the book offer to someone who wants to learn about legal business development and why is it a resource that you recommend that people check out.
Steven Fretzin: [00:08:09] I would say in the most important part of the book is that you can read it cover to cover, but it’s not a book you have to read cover to cover if you’re in a solo practice and it’s really important for you to get out in network, well then there’s some chapters on networking and you can just read those chapters as a starting point to kind of start get your skills together, your mind together, your plan together as it relates to networking, best practices. And what I do when I write, and I write articles for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, I write for impact lawyers out of, out of the UK and stuff like that is I try to write in a very simple tactical, here’s what you do, here’s what you say. And it’s not that I have all the answers, but it’s evolved over time where I’m, I’m getting feedback from clients, what’s working, what’s not, what I do, what that’s working, and what’s not. So that when I put together an article or a book or a chapter, it’s going to, it’s going to be something that people don’t just, Oh, that was a great idea but I don’t know how to execute on that. No, no. Here’s what you do and here’s what you say. And just do what I’m saying and tweak it for your own personality, tweak it for your own practice area, whatever you want to do. But I try to write in that, in that type of here’s three bullet points that you can follow, and here’s the actual quote of what you would ask or say so that it’s going to hit home for the people that read it.
Allison Williams: [00:09:30] And so when you say 250 plus examples, I mean that, that is a lot. So you’re calling this information where, where are these examples or these strategies coming from?
Steven Fretzin: [00:09:42] So what I try to do, and this is in every chapter, but most chapters I try to pull from an experience in my life. So this one isn’t in the book, but I’ll give it is because it’s such an easy one for me to pick on. I’m dealing with a teenager at home. All right? And I was a teenager and I was difficult. And guess what? I’m getting it back. It’s coming back to me now. So my teenagers up here, moody and Dad, come on, I want to talk about it. And then he’s down here where he’s like, Hey, you want to hang out and want to do this? And then the other. I don’t necessarily always know what teenager I’m going to get from day to day, from hour to hour. So I’m like, Where’s the support group for this? So I decided, you know what? I had like an experience with him recently where I was like, You know what? I’m just at the end of my wits. Here I am. Teaching lawyers, building $1000 plus an hour how to build a successful law practice.
Steven Fretzin: [00:10:30] They’re listening to every word I have to say. They’re at the edge of their seats, but my teenager thinks I’m a moron. My teenager thinks that everything I say is just the dumbest thing, one after the other. So it’s like, All right, there’s an article here and there are some takeaways here from this so that I think the article is like, are lawyers really just moody teenagers? And then, of course they’re not, but I make a goof about it, and then I give like, here are some things that we need to consider as it relates to how to how to do legal business development and keep a straight mind about it. So then I’ll break it down and give some bullet points on that, on that topic. So it could be fishing, it could be a sport I’m playing, being competitive. It could be swinging a golf club. It could you know, there’s all different ways to create content. And I just try to use my own life experience as a way to make it a little more interesting for the reader.
Allison Williams: [00:11:19] Well, and I think that that’s just really the key point there, right? Because as soon as you say teenager, you know, you heard me sigh childfree by choice and revolves around the idea that teenagers are not something I ever experience intentionally. But as, as somebody who is a father, and a business person, and somebody who works with lawyers, you know, you have a lot of, of your unique personality that comes through in what you read and what you write and what you say. And I think that bringing that to the legal marketplace, it’s just going to make for an entertaining read. And if not just the immense value that, of course, I know you bring from your years of experience doing this.
Steven Fretzin: [00:11:58] Yeah, I mean, think about business development for lawyers. So they’re not taught in law school. They’re generally not taught at the law firm level. And you know this because you’re in that you’re in the space that it’s a learned skill. But then the question is how many attorneys are interested in learning the skill or putting time into this skill? 5% of the population, maybe. So this is a book that if you’re going to learn business development and you’re interested in business development, you need a place to start or you need a place to kind of like, I’m doing it, but I want to just kind of check how I’m doing and see if there are maybe some additional ways to do things better or more efficiently, etc. Well, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not giving ideas that aren’t going to move the needle. I mean, I’m working with attorneys, you know, 8 to 10 hours a day, every day, five days a week. So I’m in the weeds with the lawyers. It’s just a matter of, of what can, what can we all keep improving? We all need to keep improving. And so why not learn from someone who’s been in the, in the in that, you know, in the weeds with attorneys as long as I have. And see if there’s nuggets that you can pull out of it that, that you can use that are going to improve your game or make it more fun or interesting to do business development. Not such a drug, such drudgery.
Allison Williams: [00:13:08] Yeah. Well, so I love that you put the phrase put fun together with business development, because I don’t think that most people, when they hear that, especially most attorneys, are going to think of fun and business development. But that’s really your approach to it. So talk to us about when you say you’re kind of been in the weeds with the lawyers, you know, you’ve been in the struggle with us. What are some of the things that lawyers really struggle with that you help with? And how do you help them to ultimately over overcome those struggles so that they can get to the success that they desire?
Steven Fretzin: [00:13:40] Yeah. So what I do is I sit down with an attorney that I meet through a presentation, through referral, through whatever, and I always do like a 30 to 40 minute evaluation. And it’s interesting to go through these evaluations every week, multiple times, and hear the same things over and over again. So I’ll give you the top three and then if we can go from there. But number one, poor time management, they’re not really they never learn time and so again, learn skill time management to learn skill. I am the perfect example because I’m a feather on the wind. I am the least organized person you would have met 15, 16 years ago. And it took really learning and dedicating time and energy. And now I don’t have an open email. At the end of the day, everything’s been been handled. There’s no paper on my desk. Everything’s done through my remarkable two, through Dropbox, through whatever. So organization is something that’s number one on the list. Number two is how are they spending their time doing business development? And in most cases, it’s not being done in the most efficient way. They’re not in the right place with the right people. They’re out spinning their wheels, presenting all over. They’re networking haphazardly. There’s no plan in place of how to go after low-hanging fruit, how to go after where the business is. So I say this to attorneys all the time. You realize there’s a table right in front of you with a pile of money on it, and you’re walking around it all day and they go, What? I go, Yeah. Like all the business you ever need and will ever need is right in front of you and you’re not taking it. They go, Well, why? Well, okay, so you have 250 clients that think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread and you’re not asking them for introductions to people they know to get new business. Well, I’m not comfortable with that. Well, there you go. There you go. So where’s the gap? Well, the gap. Is the lack of process and lack of language to make it comfortable, to make it easy. So that’s where we’re in the weeds, that’s where we’re working every day, and most importantly, getting in front of decision-makers and, and having a process to walk them through a buying decision. So most lawyers call it a pitch meeting. Hey, we’re going on a pitch meeting. Right. And I hate it. I hate pitch, I hate convince. I hate sell. I’m very anti-sell. My first book is Sales Free Selling. Why? Because I’m teaching lawyers, you don’t have to go out and be a salesman. All right? You can do it through relationships, consultative, questioning. You can do it through empathy, listening, and most importantly, qualifying. They go qualifying. What do you mean? Well, you’re presenting and giving solutions to people that aren’t qualified and they go, What do you mean? I go, Well, they’re not the right decision maker. They’re not committed to sign up with you. If, if they, if they, even if they wanted to and they don’t have any money to pay you, but yet you’re spending a year chasing after this person that’s never going to work with you. So how quickly can we figure out that someone’s real or not is a huge part of where lawyers spin their wheels and spend their time inefficiently.
Allison Williams: [00:16:32] Yeah. So a lot, a lot there that you just shared with us. And the thing that I think that of all that you just describe that really resonated with me is the idea that it sounds like just having a system and an approach to doing things can take away the stress of the unknown, right? It can give you a certain level of you might not immediately feel comfortable, but it can at least give you the bravery to get out there and do it. Scared, right?
Steven Fretzin: [00:16:57] Yeah. Yeah.
Allison Williams: [00:16:58] And then the other piece of it is having someone like you to actually not just hold them accountable, but to actually guide them through what to say, where to go, how to be, what to, what not to overlook. Because, you know, there are so many things in this that are self-evident when you’re looking from the outside in. But, you know, when you are in the center, right, when you’re the epicenter of your own life, you oftentimes can’t see what you’re missing. So we just go right past it without help.
Steven Fretzin: [00:17:24] And it’s interesting because I’m not only working with lawyers in every practice area, but I’m working with the most extroverted lampshade on the head at the party fund lawyers. And what are they lacking? Well, they’re lacking process and structure, similar to what I was lacking because I was that person. So I need to bring them into process and structure so they can leverage their personality and their energy in a way that’s going to be efficient with their time. Now, on the other side of it, I work with some of the most introverted like IP attorneys and people that don’t want to go anywhere, do anything. They don’t want to be in front of anybody. But they also recognize that the key to freedom and success and control in a career, whether you’re at a big firm or a solo, is having more of your own business, selecting your clients and having that. And so they love the fact that I’m giving them the structure, the language, the process to follow because they are scared and terrified of winging it and failing, or they’ve already tried winging it and failed. And now it’s like, well, why bother? Well, so the structure works for everyone that’s willing to put the time in to learn it and execute on it, internalize it. It’s all there. They just have to have they have to draw a line. I mean, literally, I need people to kind of convince me that they’re going to work with me. It’s not just about me saying convincing them to work. They need to convince me that they’re going to put the time in and they’re going to follow the structure to get the results. Because if they’re not, then I don’t have the time to spend with them or want to spend with them because I’m only as good as my players, right Allison? That’s what it comes down to. We need to find the right players. That’s how we win.
Allison Williams: [00:18:57] Yeah. And it sounds like no matter what type of lawyer you are, no matter what type of personality you have, whether you are an introvert, extrovert, and I would dare say andover, right, those folks in the middle that kind of go both ways. You know, there’s a strategy for you and it really just takes finding someone who has the dedication and the talent to be able to guide you to the right strategy for who you are.
Steven Fretzin: [00:19:16] Yeah. And the best part is and I don’t if you find this too, I work with the best, smartest, most enjoyable attorneys that exist. Now, why is that? Well, think about who wants to learn. Think about who wants to achieve. Think about who can get their ego in a place where they can take advice and they can take coaching. Those aren’t the crazy people at the law firms that everyone’s afraid of. Right. These are people that are humble, and open, and modest, and interested in developing, and that makes them the best people for me. I just every day I get to enjoy my job and enjoy my career helping these attorneys take it to the next level. So it’s just like I wake up every morning just excited to go to work.
Allison Williams: [00:19:59] Yeah, well, I think that that is really the difference between someone who chooses a path where you chose lawyers. Right. So it’s one thing to be a lawyer and to experience the different shades of our personalities and the different types of lawyers that there are. But for somebody who’s on the outside, right, you start to experience what it is to work with lawyers and you start to see the complexity and the wide diversity of people that we are. The same way you find in every other profession and you chose to stick around. So I think, yeah.
Steven Fretzin: [00:20:27] I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. So, you know, my my legacy is, look, I’m only a one man band. I’m not going to work with more than maybe 30 lawyers in a year for my main like coaching and training program. However, when I as I go through this industry and as I eventually leave the industry and when I’m 100 years old or whatever it’s going to be, I want there to be a legacy. And the legacy is that I’m helping lawyers all over the world figure out something that they were denied in law school and they were denied at the law firm level. And that is a proper education and proper motivation to build the future and the life that they dreamed about when they went to law school. And it isn’t always happening. As you know, for most lawyers, they’re not always happy. They’re in there, in, you know, in the crap dealing with multiple partners, yelling at them, and forcing work on them. They’re in a bad culture environment. I mean, the great resignation is obviously helping to kind of weed, weed out the bad firms or weed out the, the egomaniacs that no one wants to work for anymore. Happiness has come to the forefront and I want to be a part of that future.
Allison Williams: [00:21:35] Yeah, well, you’re absolutely taking the right steps to let people know who you are, how you are, and what immense value that you add. I mean, I have I’ve exposed quite a few of our audience, obviously have have heard you on our previous podcast. You were somebody that got a lot of favorable ratings and I got a lot of very good feedback from the show before. And of course, I know that you offer immense, immense value in the books that you read that you write. So, Steve, thank you so much for being on. Thank you for sharing with us about your book, Legal Business Development. I want everyone that’s listening to check that out. It’s a great resource. And Steve, I would like you to let everyone know if they are interested in learning more about you, not just the array of your library, but also how they could work with you to please let them know where they can find you.
Steven Fretzin: [00:22:21] Yeah. So the easiest way is, is one of two places. One is my website, which is essentially my last name. So Fretzin and F, R, E, T, Z, I, N dot com. And that’s going to give you the information on my programs, videos of my clients talking about the programs I run and how they kind of viewed it from before they joined and after they went through it. And then, of course, I’m a big LinkedIn guy, so if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, just type in Steve Fretzin on LinkedIn and give me a little message saying you heard me on The Crushing Chaos in Allison show and that would be fantastic and happy to connect with lawyers all over the world and I do and again, then then you’re able to see all my content real-time.
Allison Williams: [00:22:59] Yeah. All right. Thank you so much, Steve Fretzin. You have always been a friend of the show and a great guest. And once again, we, we delivered on our great promise to offer you to the world. Everyone, all of Steve’s information is going to be in the show notes, so please do check that out. You are watching The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. I’m Allison Williams. Everyone have a wonderful rest of your day.
Allison Williams: [00:23:28] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.
Steve Fretzin Bio
Driven, focused and passionate about helping attorneys to reach their full potential, Steve Fretzin is
regarded as the premier coach, skills trainer and keynote speaker on business development for
Over the past 18 years, Steve Fretzin has devoted his career to helping lawyers master the art of
business development to achieve their business goals and the peace of mind that comes with
developing a successful law practice.
In addition to writing four books on legal marketing and business development, Steve has a highly
rated podcast BE THAT LAWYER and has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s and
Entrepreneur.com. He has appeared on NBC News, WGN Radio and has written articles for Attorney
at Law Magazine, the National Law Review, the American Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar
Association. You can also find his monthly column in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Podcast: Be That Lawyer
Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science
Sales Free Selling
Legal Business Development
Website URL: https://fretzin.com
LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin
My favorite excerpt from the episode: 00:14:16 (35 Seconds)
Now, the way that we do that in this office, in my law firm, is we have a meeting once a week and typically the lawyer and paralegal team decide what makes the most sense for them. Sometimes they do it at the beginning of the week, sometimes at the end of the week, but typically I recommend that it be one of those two. Because you want to be planning for the full week ahead. So if you’re doing it at the end of the week, you’re going to be planning for next week. If you do it at the beginning of the week, you’re going to be planning for the week at issue.