planning for law firm growth, law firm growth, planning for growth, estate planning practice growth, be a better lawyer podcast, be a better lawyer, Dina Cataldo

#282: Planning for Growth

Are you planning for growth in your law firm? Or is it just happening to you?

A lot of law firm owners feel overwhelmed with the growth they experience.

If this is you, you probably feel like you’re drinking out of a fire hydrant. 🚒

Seems like a great problem to have, right?

More work = more money = more financial security.

But underneath it all, they worry.

😨 “Is this sustainable?”

😨 “Are people going to keep coming?”

😨 “What if my leads dry up?”

If you’re thinking any of these things, you may be:

Staying at the office late and skipping the gym because you don’t want to get behind on client work

Feeling guilty because you’re not working more to find leads.

Feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day

Want to work on creating leads for your business, but can’t find the time or energy

If you want to feel more focused and have a faster and sustainable plan for your firm’s growth, listen in to this episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast.

You'll learn:

👉 How many goals you should have each year for maximum growth and minimum headache

👉 What kind of goals to prioritize

👉 What you need to do to make implementation as simple as possible

You can confidently build a sustainable and growing practice without the overwhelm.

This episode will help you do it.


I can help you take action on your goals strategically in two ways:

1) Join the waitlist for my new course: “Precision Planning for Law Firm Growth: Your Step-by-Step Planning Process to Create Your Most Profitable and Peaceful Year Yet.” 

Click here to get on the waitlist for my new course “Precision Planning.”


2) Work with me 1:1.

Click here to learn more about working with me 1:1.


Loving the podcast? Share the love!

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

Be a Better Lawyer, Apple Podcasts, Dina Cataldo
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Planning for Growth

Hey, hey, okay, we're gonna do things a little bit differently. If you're listening to this episode as a podcast, don't worry. You can go to the show no***@di*********.com slash 2 8 2 and I have an image of what I'm going to be discussing with you. I'm doing this podcast as a training because I think this is essential to you having your best 2024 ever to getting organized, to feeling confident about your plan to grow your practice.

And I want you to have this training. This is a lead up to the training that I'm doing in December that will help you really plan, dial in what you want to do for next year to really grow your practice. And this is gonna work even if you're listening to this episode in 2027. Listen to this episode because I want you to feel the confidence that you can have when you have a plan that works. And if you are someone who has access to YouTube or you're watching this on YouTube, that's fabulous because you're getting this as a training. This is gonna be a masterclass in learning how to organize your thoughts around planning for growth for your year. And what I wanna start with today, before I I even jump into this, is really talking about the importance of thinking about your practice and its growth and doing things differently than you've ever done them before.

So when I start working with a lawyer, they really come to me and they feel overwhelmed. They feel like they're behind, that they're never gonna get catched, catch up, <laugh>, right? Like they are always on this high alert running around trying to put out fires. And if that's you, I want you to know you're not alone because I talk to so many lawyers going through the exact same thing. But once we start working together and calming that overwhelm, and part of that is strategy and part of it is mindset. But once they start implementing what we talk about week after week, they are amazed at how much easier it is to grow their practice because they're no longer focused on all of the things sucking their energy away, sucking their time away. And they're learning how to bring it into, bring all of their energy into the most important parts of their, their practice.

So this is true whether or not you have your own practice or you're a lawyer who is building your book of business, working for a firm, it doesn't matter. You get the opportunity to bring your energy and your focus to a point where you are able to think more clearly about what is needed to grow your practice effectively. So what my clients notice is that they're working less because they have so much more focus and they have the ability to properly train their staff because they are more aware of where the hiccups are in their processes. So their staff's productivity goes up, their own productivity goes up and they are able to make the changes that they want to see. And when you have the plan that we talk about here today, it's going to help. We're actually gonna work through an example of what you need to do in order to start putting time on the calendar.

And not a lot of time the the plan that we're gonna talk about today, you're gonna be able to do this in like an hour a week. I just putting one hour on the calendar, it's not gonna take a lot of time. So what we wanna do is like today when you're focusing on this episode, I want you to be thinking about how this will work because it's not gonna take a lot of time. So what I wanna get back to and really talking about your business and planning for its growth is one of the reasons, well, one of the reasons, the reason they can grow more easily and faster is because once the lawyers I work with clear the overwhelm, they can think more clearly. They're not constantly barraged with thoughts like, I have all of this stuff to do. There's no way I can do it.

Because they understand, of course they can do what's on their calendar because they've made the plans ahead of time. And I work with them step by step on their calendar and how to make it work for them. It's not a one size fits all because everybody has a different practice, everybody has a different goal. And so I work with each client individually. I work with you individually so that we can create whatever plan you want. I have some lawyers who wanna create a four day work week. I have a lawyer who wants to be able to travel abroad for several months and still keep her practice. I have clients who wanna just work between the hours of eight and five, five days a week and we make it work for whatever it is that they want a family trips with their husband, whatever it is.

So that is very individual to the lawyer and it is different for every single lawyer. I have one lawyer who's taking care of her partner and you know, they have lots of appointments that they need to make and they have other commitments that they need. And that's part of the reason she loves her practice is that it allows her to do what she needs to do. And she wants to spend time with who she wants to spend time with and not constantly work all day. She wants to be able to leave her office whenever she wants. And so that's the practice we designed for her. So it's different for everybody. Another reason they can grow more easily and faster is that they're no longer rushed, right? So when you're not rushed, you can strategize, you can think more clearly when it comes to thinking through systems that are gonna help you and your staff get things done more effectively.

And my clients enjoy their life and actually have one. So they don't resent the work that they're doing for their clients. So when they resent the work they're doing for their clients, they're constantly fighting doing the work. So that's like that push pull and you might notice yourself putting things off. That's because you're in this mental fight. And what we wanna do is we wanna stop that fight. We wanna bring down what I'm gonna get into next, which is the stress cycle. So when we do the work together, their stress cycles are shorter, they notice the stress that they do have and then they start recognizing, oh, I have tools to help me with the stress, which I give them. And then once they're thinking more clearly, they can strategize to help them overcome whatever stress they have. So it just doesn't feer so long.

And this was something I had a problem with because I was constantly in these stress cycles. I didn't know how to get out. And when I learned the tools, then I was able to get outta the stress cycles, I was able to be more productive and I was able to build my business faster. You're not wasting time feeling frozen and overwhelm or worry. And instead you learn how to process what's happening in your body and then just move on, which is so difficult when you don't have the tools. And then they also have times to think about ways to improve their client experience and bring new clients into the fold so they can do all of these things because they've used the thought work, they've used the strategies they learn in coaching to start practicing law in a different way, in a new way. Because the old way of thinking about building business was working really hard, grinding, pushing yourself through dread.

But more and more lawyers are learning how to manage their mindset and that is going to be their competitive edge. The lawyers who know how to manage stress and overwhelm and eliminate dread get out of those stress cycles faster. And they are the ones who are going to be the most marketable in their firms and able to grow their own firms in a sustainable way, in a way that other lawyers simply can't do. And one of the tools I am giving, my one-on-one clients to help them with this, to support them along the way is my new monthly business class. And this month we're talking all about funnels and lead magnets to bring people into your practice more effectively and without you having to do lots of legwork to do it. And I'm only providing this to my one-on-one clients because I work with them individually on using their calendar, making decisions around what's gonna be most impactful in their practice right now.

And on overcoming overwhelm and incorporating all of these new practices on a daily basis. And if you're just given these practices and you don't have the mindset piece, you're gonna feel overwhelmed. You're not gonna have the tools to implement, implement what I'm offering in this class. And if you're a one-on-one client of mine who feels overwhelmed, then we have time to coach on that in the monthly class and in the one-on-one sessions that we have together each week. So then I can help you successfully implement what we're talking about. And if you want help calming your practice down and growing it with proven tools and strategies, book a strategy session with me. You can take part in this monthly session at the end of October 'cause it's happening soon. Go to dina session to book, don't stay stuck where you are right now. Commit to learning a new way of doing things so you can grow your practice the way you wanna grow it.

Create a practice where you can have a life and have the practice you want. This is something you can 100% do no matter how long you've been stuck or how many things you've tried. I know this because I have changed my clients change. And the only difference is, is that they haven't stopped trying something new and they realize something that I didn't realize for a very long time is that I could tell you how to grow your practice. I could give you a book, I could do all of those things, right? I could tell you how to ride a bike, I could tell you how to get on the bike and pedal, but what's gonna be more effective me describing to you how coaching is done or me describing to you how to ride a bike Or is it gonna be more effective, me just coaching you?

Is it gonna be more effective? Me just standing next to you while I'm showing you exactly how to ride a bike so that you can ride the bike? What's gonna be more effective? What's gonna be more efficient? What are you going to really implement and absorb better? Obviously it's going to be having me by your side helping you. So one of the things I was thinking about when I was thinking about making change, because making change can be difficult. It can be something that stops us. And I remember when the, the first iPhone came out the very first day I stood in line for one, it was important for me to adopt new technology. It really always has been. There's a coolness factor to it, but there's also a learning curve that you are willing to take on. It was a new technology. I knew it was gonna have a big impact on my life.

I couldn't have predicted how big it would've had an impact on my life and on the world. But you can see today, just me having that inkling that it was important really was the foundation, right? For me to just stand in line, get the iPhone and do the learning curve right away, right? Like really understanding like okay, there's, there's a learning curve and I'm so glad I did because it's now part of day-to-day life in my business and probably yours too. So I didn't wanna feel left behind. And the difference between first adopters of new ways of doing things and those who resist are that the new first adopters are willing to learn. They're willing to try something different, right? They don't wanna feel left behind. They are willing to just go in and not know what they're doing just because they wanna go first because they wanna have that competitive edge.

Meanwhile, other people are waiting to see when something goes mainstream because they're too scared to try something new. I don't want that to be you. I don't want you to be the person who secretly hopes that nothing changes. Because the secret to success is embracing change in going first. And you can see that with AI now. And who are the first adopters learning AI skills and who are those hoping it doesn't have that big of an impact on their practice and that it'll just go away. Don't wait to embrace change. So book a strategy session with me and we will create a plan that's doable for you. One where you can adopt, adapt as you go. And I'm gonna be with you every step of the way. So you can book at dina session. And another thing that you are gonna get when you work with me is the session I'm doing in December, all about how to plan step by step step your 2024. So with that, let's dive into the foundation that we're gonna be talking about specifically for that class. Alright? So what you see before you is your yearly goal decision tree. And I want you to compartmentalize here. I want you to see these are three separate sections and I want you to just focus on the very top session,

Right section right now. It's just the yearly goals we wanna look at. And when you're choosing yearly goals, you just wanna pick three to five. And on this particular example I'm gonna give you, I've picked three yearly goals you're gonna be working on throughout your year. You don't wanna pick too many because you don't want to be overwhelmed, right? You don't wanna add to your list of things to do. You want to pick the most impactful things to do and you're really gonna wanna think through, okay, what exactly do I think is going to have the biggest impact on my bottom line on on the money that I'm bringing in on the service to my clients on me, you know, dowsing the overwhelm and making my life easier. So ask yourself those questions and then you're just gonna pick three to five that really fit the bill.

So I've given some examples here. I'm gonna, I'm gonna run those by you. I have three here. One is create 500 new leads with an opt-in at a 5% conversion rate. Now don't worry if you don't understand that language because what we talk about in the business class are numbers and don't be afraid of numbers. We're gonna make this really good. I used to be a person who totally avoided numbers who didn't wanna think about them. And now it's the lifeblood of my business because I understand data. And when you understand data, you can grow more easily. But you've gotta call me overwhelm. You've gotta get over your fear of the numbers and you've gotta just dig in. So when I talk about creating leads, those are people who are now aware of your business that have never been aware of your business before. Maybe they're people that come in in a lot of different ways, right?

You could get a lead through a referral, you could get a lead through a speaking engagement. But specifically what I'm talking about here in this goal is to create leads with what's called an opt-in. So if you've downloaded the Busy Lawyers Guide, that's an opt-in, okay? And if you haven't downloaded it, you can go to dina lawyer and you can see what I mean. It's something where somebody opts in to your email newsletter by giving them you, giving you their name and their email address and you provide something of value to them, something that's related to your business. And that's what we're gonna be talking about in our business training in October for my one-on-one clients. And what a conversion rate is, is how many of those people have who have raised their hands as leads saying, Hey, I'm interested. Hey, I wanna give you my email address for that really cool opt-in that you made for me.

How many of them are actually coming to a consult for you? And so we just wanna make a number and the reason we just wanna pick a number and get really specific here. It could be 2%, it could be 5%, 5% is an amazing conversion rate for an opt-in. But the reason we want to pick a number is because part of the goal throughout the year is not just going to be to create the opt-in to find a way to really promote the opt-in, but it's also going to be to collect data. And when we go through the planning workshop on in 2024 for it's gonna be December 2nd of this year, but it's gonna be about planning 2024. We're gonna talk more about this in terms of how you are going to be measuring, how you are going to be collecting data for these kinds of things.

So don't worry if this is something that is a little confusing for you, we're gonna cover it in the class. And I also want you to, and then I'm gonna get into the next examples, okay? So the second example is to, a goal for your year might be to get on 12 stages to promote your opt-in and your consults. So a stage might be A C L E, it might be CLE con, it might be some other convention or some local bar associations. You're doing some sort of presentation, you want to just get on 12 stages, that's your goal. And there may be other parts to this, right? Like thinking about what you need to do in order to create that presentation and make connections. But we're not even getting there yet. We are just looking at overall what is your goal for the year?

Because we're gonna break this down step by step. I'm gonna walk you through an example and then you'll have more of an idea of what steps you need to take. And when you come to my planning my planning event on December 2nd of this year, it's a half day event. We can actually answer this for you. So you'll be able to call in, call in, it's on Zoom, I don't know what call in, what year was that? When was the last time people said that? Anyway, you'll be able to zoom in and you'll be able to raise your hand and say, Hey, I would like to be on 12 stages this year, but I don't really know the steps to do that. Can you help me break it down? And so I will help you break it down, we will break it down into small doable steps for you and then we will actually plan it.

So it's doable throughout your year. It's not as if you're totally overwhelmed trying to get on these 12 stages. So know that that is gonna be available to you. If you want help by me, you can show up, ask your questions, and I will help you break down what you want to do. Alright? So the third example I have for a yearly goal is bring a five hour estate planning process down to two hours with boilerplate staff training, et cetera. So a lot of lawyers I talk to, they haven't maybe collected this data, but if you really thought about it, whatever your practice is, think about how long it takes for you to get certain documents out and maybe you have certain areas of frustration in your practice. Think about those areas and really think about what you need to do in order to get the process as smooth as possible.

So I put the example here from a perspective of a lawyer thinking about something she's doing in her estate planning process, in her estate planning practice that maybe takes an extreme amount of time and she doesn't know why it's maybe taking five hours. She's like, she's clueless, she doesn't understand what's happening because she's so busy working in her business, she hasn't really had time to sit back and think clearly about what can I do in order to bring this process down to a manageable level and give me my time back. So we're gonna just use that example so that you can see how we break this yearly overall structured plan down into the quarters and then down into the months and then eventually into your weeks. So we're gonna start here with this example to really show you what this will look like. All right?

So quick recap. So when you're picking your yearly goals to build your business, you only wanna pick three to five for the whole year. It sounds like a small amount of goals, but I want you to know if you finish these goals, you can always add more <laugh>. You just wanna pick three to five of the most important goals so that you can implement those during the year, right? So once you have these decided, then you're going to look at your quarters and you're gonna break them down even further. So we have four quarters in a year. What do you answer this question? Okay? What do you think of your three to five yearly goals are going to be the most important? I want you to put them in an order of importance. This is essential. I selected for goal focus number one for quarter one to bring that five hour estate planning process down to two.

My reasoning is your time is your most valuable resource. You will never get your time back, right? You are. That's why my clients pay me so much money. They understand the value of time. They understand, yes, if I get my time in order, I can create anything I want in my practice. And once they do, they can. They're unstoppable. So the very first focus, if one of your yearly focuses that you want to really work on in 2024 is giving yourself back time and you look for a process or you look for a frustration in your practice right now that's taking way more time than you think it should be, I want you to pick that as your very first project, okay? 'cause If you don't have time, you don't have time for anything else on your yearly goal focus your yearly goal decision tree, right?

Like you have zero more time and you're just piling on work, that is going to make you more overwhelmed. So start with in quarter one, what is going to give you back your time once you've decided you can, and when you look at your quarter one, you're going to pick three to five goals. But here I am only putting one goal on here because I'm assuming that this is going to be a very overwhelmed attorney who has this problem and someone who doesn't have their time in order yet. And my only desire for you if this is you, is to focus on something that will give you your time back. So that's your one quarterly goal. So once you have your quarterly goal decided, or goals, if you aren't so overwhelmed, you can add more in, then you're gonna break down your quarterly into your monthly.

The same thing goes here. So if you have three quarterly goals, let's say, because those three quarterly goals are the most important in your practice, then you're going to prioritize them further. In two months, you're going to decide which one gets my attention in January, then February, then March. So there's three months and a quarter. So you just wanna break this down very simply for yourself so you understand where you wanna focus your attention month by month. Maybe you only have one goal and you're using it for all three months. That's actually the example I'm going to give you. So just know you're taking your yearly, you're breaking in, prioritizing down into the quarters, and then you're going to look at your months. What are you gonna be focusing on? So once you get into the months, let's take this example and I'm gonna show you how to focus your attention on this goal for your January, February, and March.

Okay? So we look at the goal focus for the quarter is bringing a five hour estate planning process down to a two hour process. So in January, we're really gonna be laying the foundation for getting it done. Again, I'm assuming someone who's very overwhelmed, maybe only has an hour a week to do this. And then you can just put this on your weekly calendar When we get there, right now we're just looking at an overview of what it might look like to complete this goal in one quarter. So in January you were going to research systems, kind of get some ideas for what might work for your practice. This is something I work on with my one-on-one clients actually. Like we can get this done pretty quickly and we can problem solve and troubleshoot, shoot pretty quickly. But if you don't have a coach, there's tons of examples online, you can just Google them.

You can talk to some of your friends who are lawyers and kind of get an idea of what their systems look like. You can then create a template, right? So maybe you have some, you haven't really created a boilerplate for some of your estate plans or documents or something like that. And then you are able to then create a boilerplate that really is gonna work for most of your clients. And then you'll have that on hand. I know a lot of newer attorneys haven't created those templates, but I also know a lot of attorneys who've been around a while who've just never stopped and taken the time to just create a template that they can work from and that they're not reinventing the wheel every time they're making an estate plan or doing any other kind of document. And then you might wanna talk to your staff.

You might have some staff members and you can talk to them about, Hey, what are you seeing with this process? What do you think the holdup is? Do you see a way to make this process go smoother and, and you're basically collecting data from them and you're seeing how you might be able to apply it to the work that you're doing to create a system. And then you're just writing out based on your hypothesis of what's gonna work, a step-by-step system for your tr your staff. Okay? That's it. Like that is all you need to do. You can definitely do that in one hour a week. Now when you get into February, then that might be when you put on your your calendar, Hey, I need to schedule something with my staff so I can train them on the system and then have them implement the system and then just see how it goes.

And then after a few weeks, then I'm gonna collect some data. I'm gonna be checking in weekly just to see how, how the system's running. But by the end of the month, I should have enough data to tell me whether or not I've actually gotten from the five hour process down to a two hour process. And if it hasn't worked, let's just assume it hasn't worked, right? We, we do the best that we can, but we always, always, always wanna collect data to see what can be improved. That's something that when I talk to my clients on their week, we, we do that on a weekly basis, right? We're like, what worked? What didn't work? What are we gonna do different? So the next month after you've trained the staff, you've collected some data, then in March you're gonna add an hour on your calendar for these things.

You're gonna trouble troubleshoot. See what can be fixed, right? You're maybe you'll have a staff meeting and maybe collect some more ideas. Maybe you'll tweak that step by step that you wrote up for your staff. Maybe you'll review that process again with the staff and collect more data, right? These are all just examples of what you can do to really decrease the overwhelm because now you're focusing your brain on the tiny elements of this project. Because if we just look at the big project of taking a five hour project down to a two hour project, we might get overwhelmed. We might think there's just no way I can't do it. But as soon as we get over those thoughts, as soon as we realize, oh yeah, I can do it, then we just make it a goal. We make it a discreet goal and we break it down into smaller processes, which we spread out over the time that we have allotted.

That's it. So I want you to know this is doable, this is simple, and we're gonna be walking through your specific systems, whatever it is you need that you want to put into your 2024 to make it your firm's best year yet. So now that we have your process for growth, I want to invite you to my new event happening December 2nd. It's called your firm's Best year yet banish Overwhelm in your law firm and strategize Growth in 2024. You can get on the wait list now I'm gonna be sending out more information, but you can get on the wait li**@di*********.com slash 2024. And inside this half day event, I am going to be coaching you on how to plan your year. I'm gonna help you focus your brain on the needle movers in your practice, the ones that are actually going to increase your revenue and give you back your time.

I'm gonna give you a step by step guide to really break down the how. So if you watch this training, one of the examples of the how is this decision tree, right? This yearly goal decision tree. And I'm gonna show you that and I'm gonna give you more because there's many questions you wanna ask yourself and some thought processes you wanna walk yourself through. And when you learn those skills, you can do them time after time, after time. It's amazing. Once you learn skill, you don't lose it. I'm also gonna give you coaching on our event to help you think through the thought processes you have on what's most impactful on your practice. So if you have any question, you just raise your hand and I'll help you. Like this is your opportunity to have somebody by your side helping you plan your 2024. Like most of us don't have something like this is, and that's part of the reason why it feels so hard to grow, is if you don't have that coach by your side to help you, you simply can't get it done.

Okay? And then you're also going to be getting this focused time on December 2nd to really focus on your business instead of in it. So many of the lawyers I talk to before they start coaching are so overwhelmed that they can't even think about putting an hour on their calendar to help give them 10, right? So if you can get a five hour process streamlined to two, how many hours do you get back? If you just have one project? Well, you get three hours back, multiply that by five projects a week, you're gonna get what? 15, 15 hours back. So understand these processes give you back that time and getting back 10, 15 hours from your week every single week. What do you think the impact is gonna be on you and your practice? How are you gonna feel walking in the door knowing you have everything under control?

How are you gonna feel when you actually get to spend time with your family on the weekend and not be thinking about work all the time? Right? Don't ruminate about work, don't worry about your to-do list because now you have a plan for the year and you already know what you're doing. You don't have to worry about what should I be doing to build my practice? What should I be doing to make sure that I have sustainable income? What do I need to be doing to make sure that I have people walking through the door every single day? You don't have to worry about that because you're actually creating the plan ahead of time and then you're just doing the work. You're just putting it on the calendar and doing the work. And then you're also gonna get from this planning session, the confidence that you have that plan already in place.

‘Cause It's gonna be done that morning. You just raise your hand, you have questions, I am there to help you. So I want you to join me for this program. I'm gonna send out all the details in upcoming weeks. Obviously we've got a couple months before we get started, but I want you to sign up for the wait list now 'cause I'm gonna be sending out some special trainings. I'm gonna be spec sending out some special reminders. So you gotta get on the wait list in order to get those. So go to dina 2024, get on the wait list and then let's change 2024. Wait for you. Let's make it your firm's Best year yet. All right my friend. I hope you had a great training. Remember, if you haven't watched this, you were listening to the podcast, you can always go to my we*****@di*********.com slash 2 82, get the screenshot of what I was showing you verbally, I guess if you're listening to the podcast. And you can also watch the training again on YouTube so that you have the full experience of the training. Alright, I will talk to you next week. Bye.

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