The secret to building a more successful law practice

give-and-takeIf you listened to this weeks podcast, you know that I am currently reading a book called Give and Take, by Adam Grant. In this book, Mr. Grant separates businesspeople into one of three different types of people: givers, takers, or matchers.

On the website for the book, Mr. Grant describes the differences between the three personality types:

Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

These styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

How can we use the principles from Give and Take to build an extraordinary law firm?

I don’t know that we can. What we can do, however, is become aware of the people we come into contact with (clients, other lawyers, etc.), and try to determine, according to the framework that Mr. Grant provides, whether these people are givers, takers, or matchers.

After you read Give and Take, your natural inclination will be to try to categorize everyone you know as either a giver, taker or matcher. Mr. Grant points out that this has become increasingly easy when the person you are categorizing has a social media profile on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. Some of ways to spot takers is that they:

  • Post information that is more “self-promoting, self-absorbed, and self-important”
  • They feature “boastful and arrogant” quotes
  • They have significantly more Facebook friends, many of which are “superficial connections” – The goal of this being to advertise their accomplishments and stay in touch to get favors
  • They post “vainer, more flattering pictures of themselves”

Give and Take will also help you become more aware of your own actions. Which personality type are you? Do you freely give to others with no expectation of anything in return, or are you trying to get as much as possible from other people without giving anything in return?

What’s interesting about this is that there are numerous examples throughout the book of both givers and takers that have reached extraordinary success in their business lives. However, because takers often have to “mask” the fact that they are takers so that they appear to be givers instead (and become what Mr. Grant describes as “fakers”), it is only a matter of time before takers are brought back down to earth by virtue of their past interactions with people in which they took and took without giving anything back to the relationship.

Develop a “giver” mentality in your law practice

Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals put it best when he said, “givers gain”. In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says, “It’s better to give before you receive.” One of my favorite online personalities is Pat Flynn, author of the Smart Passive Income Blog and Podcast, who is an enormous giver.

I would encourage you to start looking for ways that you can help your clients and your staff, without expecting anything in return. Here are some quick ideas of things you could do:

  • Throw your staff a small bonus that they weren’t expecting (especially appropriate with the holiday’s approaching);
  • Take some time to call a couple of clients each week to see how they are doing (without billing them for the call);
  • Maintain a website with lots of free information to help people who just have a couple of questions and don’t need a lawyer;
  • Pick one person a month who you know had a hard time finding the money to come and see you and give them a significantly reduced fee on your consultation; or
  • Go on LinkedIn and provide some recommendations for other lawyers in your area that you have worked with, without expectation that they will provide a reciprocal recommendation.

There are a million things that you could do to create value for those people you work with and for.

There is a common saying in business which is that “people do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like and trust.” The best way to get people to know, like, and trust you is to become a consummate giver without expectation of anything in return.

Thoughts or comments on this article? Have you read Give and Take and have a different take on it? Feel free to post below!