I just returned from speaking at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals 11th annual networking forum in Washington D.C. The theme of the conference was Creating the Collaborative Connection – Commitment, Competence and Community.
The conference brought together lawyers, mental health professionals and financial advisers who want to help clients settle cases outside of court and minimize the financial and emotional destruction of divorce and civil disputes.
Throughout the conference, the importance of establishing a commitment, creating community and achieving excellence through competence was emphasized as the foundation for building a successful collaborative law practice . I would like to add two additional characteristics to the formula for accelerating the growth of collaborative law. These include communication and client value.
The following is a summary of the five characteristics that work for practitioners who have succeeded in building a collaborative law practice.
- Successful practitioners know what they want, believe in their vision and are committed to achieving their vision. Another way to describe this characteristic is through commitment, which is defined as “The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action.” The first step in building a strong practice is having a clear idea of what you want, internalizing the value for achieving this goal and committing to the “action” to realize your goal.
- Successful practitioners have a relentless pursuit for competence. What every successful practitioner has in common is they consistently work towards mastering the underlying skills necessary for delivering exceptional client value. With increased skill comes confidence, allowing practitioners to internalize the value of their service and communicate this value to clients and referral sources.
- Successful practitioners contribute to building their community. Participation in your professional community is essential to growing a strong collaborative law practice. One of the critical requirements for consistent referrals is establishing a foundation of trust among professionals. The number one way to build trust is to spend time making a contribution to your community and showing an interest in others.
- Successful practitioners effectively communicate what they do, who they do it for and the value of their service. In the Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes a “sticky message” as one of the rules for creating a tipping point. Stickiness is a message that makes an impact, is easily understood and is repeatable. Successful practitioners consistently communicate a clear message about their practice so everyone knows what they do, the value they provide and who can benefit from their service.
- Successful practitioners have a “client- centric” practice. Creating and maintaining a client-centered practice is essential for growing a successful practice. A client- centered approach requires the practitioner to deliver superior service and value to clients. This means knowing the needs, interests and goals of your clients and delivering exceptional results. The fastest way to grow a practice is through word of mouth marketing. This will happen if clients have a positive experience with your service.
The five “C’s” for successfully growing a collaborative law practice include:
- Client-centric focus
Review the above characteristics and conduct a self assessment of your strengths and weakness. What areas are you strong and which areas can you improve? Create a plan today for making these characteristics an integral part of your practice. By mastering these characteristics, you will be taking essential steps toward growing your collaborative law practice and creating “the practice” you want, a practice that brings value to your clients and fulfillment to your work.