I must share with you at the outset that when Alabama plays Clemson, I will be cheering for Clemson. As a Virginia Tech grad, I want to cheer for the ACC team.

I also confess I wasn’t a huge Nick Saban fan. It’s a long story, but it stems from when he was the head coach at LSU and they came to Blacksburg Labor Day weekend, 2002. I wouldn’t mention it had Virginia Tech lost the game. The game summary is here.

But, after watching a 60 Minutes segment, I understand why he is an outstanding coach.

I was looking for something and found this quote attributed to him:

It’s not human nature to be great. It’s human nature to survive, to be average and do what you have to do to get by. That is normal. When you have something good happen, it’s the special people that can stay focused and keep paying attention to detail, working to get better and not being satisfied with what they have accomplished.

In this last week of 2017, if you haven’t already started planning what you want to accomplish in 2018, this would be a really good time to start. Think about getting better, and don’t be satisfied with what you have accomplished.

If you have been a regular reader for a long time you won’t find anything new here. I’ve said it all before. But, perhaps you will find the reminder valuable.

When I was billing 2000 hours I did not have time to study or understand why some lawyers are successful and have a great family life and why others are not. I also did my client development activities instinctively and some things worked very effectively while other things did not work quite as well.

Now, that I’ve spent the last 12 years coaching and working with lawyers, I have a much better idea of the attributes of the most successful lawyers who also have a family life and I understand better why certain client development efforts work.

While each of you have unique talents, weaknesses, ambitions and practices, and there is no magic pill or formula, there are principles that I urge you to think about and try. If you are a long-time reader, each point below should be familiar to you.


I believe it starts with your attitude.  When you talk to yourself do you say: “Yes, but…” or “Sure, how…” do you say: “My problem is…” or “my opportunity is…” do you say: “I don’t have time to…” or do you say: “I will make time to…”


Next, you must have clarity on what you want in your career and in your life. Your time and energy are your most important assets.

If you do not have clarity, you will likely waste precious time. For me to have clarity, I think on paper with written goals and a plan for using my time.

Client Needs

Next, you need to focus on what your clients need. They do not want to be sold on how good you are or how good your firm is, and they do not care about what you do. They hire you to solve their problems, help them achieve opportunities or deal with internal or external changes.

To be relevant, what you do has to address those issues or it doesn’t matter. The best way to figure out what potential clients need, is to identify your target market and make sure you understand their industry.

Become the “go to lawyer’

You need to build your profile, so clients find you when they need a lawyer in your field. To borrow my favorite Seth Godin quote:

Being the best in the world is seriously overrated.

Over time think about what you can be the “go to lawyer.”  It should be something clients need and you are passionate about.

Building your profile gives you the opportunity to build relationships with clients and potential clients. Client development is all about relationship building.

Build your team

When you become more successful you need to build a team. Young lawyers who will later work with you will be thinking “what is in this for me to work with…?”

MAKE time for your family

Finally, you need to plan your personal/family time at the very least as well as you plan our work time. You need to be in the moment, not answering emails or texts on your iPhone X.  I learned from Dr. Stephen Covey that when you are with your kids, do things with them rather than for them.