In this episode, Stephen E. Seckler, Esq. talks about how lawyers should adopt marketing strategies that feel comfortable and how hiring a coach make a big difference in building a law practice. Steve also talks about how he coaches lawyers through career transitions. He describes the work he is now doing with senior lawyers who are trying to decide what comes next. Steve is host of his own podcast, Counsel to Counsel. He is a lawyer who has dedicated his entire career to helping attorneys find more career satisfaction.
“Find a niche that you really like and enjoy, really go deep with that niche, you want to be known for something. When you're a young lawyer, again, the focus really should be on being a great lawyer giving great client service.” - Stephen Seckler
Connect with Stephen Seckler:
Stephen Seckler, President of Seckler Legal Recruiting and Coaching
Legal Recruiting and Coaching
Stephen Sackler is a lawyer with over 25 years with marketing and career counseling experience working with other attorneys. He hosts the Counsel to Counsel Podcast where he interviews leading attorneys and consultants about the legal profession and his blog Counsel to Counsel has been twice named to the ABA Journal's Blawg 100.
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Ron Bockstahler 1:53
Our guest today is Stephen Sackler, a lawyer with over 25 years with marketing and career counseling experience working with other attorneys. Even hosts, he hosts the podcast Council, the counselor, where he interviews legal leading attorneys and consultants about the legal profession. And his blog counselor counselor has been twice named to the ABA journal journals blog 100. So the juror doctor is in Stephen, welcome to the show. Thank you very much. Happy to be here. Hey, let's get started a little bit by laying some groundwork and talk about your background and how you found your calling and helping other attorneys achieve success.
Stephen Seckler 2:52
Okay, well, it's been a long journey. I did go to law school. And when I graduated, I wasn't feeling that motivated to continue. On my journey to become a practicing lawyer. I made a stab at finding a legal job. But then I stumbled into Massachusetts continuing legal education, where I was developing continuing education programs, I was hobnobbing with the leaders of the bar in Massachusetts. And I got very interested in marketing, business development. Interested in general career development, I also saw how some of the leaders of the bar were really cultivating and building their own careers. So in 1997, about seven years after I began that I decided to launch my own consulting business. And initially, I was really focused heavily on recruiting. More recently, I have been focused much more on coaching lawyers on how to grow their practice, as you said, and how to manage their careers. And that's what I've been doing for the last 20 years or so.
Ron Bockstahler 3:52
So Steve, let's kind of start with some of the challenges new lawyers are facing and building the practice. And I kind of really want to hit maybe a little focus on the marketing of their services and building their book of business.
Stephen Seckler 4:04
Sure, well, what I always say to young lawyers is that when you're beginning your legal career, the most important thing you could do is become a great lawyer, learn your craft. Try to learn as much as you can about whatever practice area you're in. But at a certain point, and especially for lawyers who stay in private practice, having your own clients is really what's going to make you a much happier lawyer. In my observation over the last 2530 years. It's the lawyers who really have their own clients who have their own book of business that have more career flexibility, and they're basically just happier. And that's not entirely true because there are some niche practice areas that don't lend themselves as well, to business development. But for the most part, a lot of lawyers in private practice are happier when they have their own clients.
Ron Bockstahler 4:52
Now, I seen I believe you're on Steve Breton show not too long ago. Be that be that attorney I think is what his show is called. And, you know, Steve's always about building your book of business. And that's what really brings your value, either at the firm or when you go in on your own. But how do you build that book of business? You know, what's been your journey? If I met a big firm, I mean, I'm working your big time hours, I don't have time to go out and really make relationships. And what are you how are you suggesting a young attorney that's 10, a few years 10 or fewer years practicing to build their book.
Stephen Seckler 5:30
So the first thing is to find a niche that you really like and enjoy and really go deep with that niche, you want to be known for something. When you're a young lawyer, again, the focus really should be on being a great lawyer giving great client service. And the clients could be the lawyers who you report to the partners, as well as the real clients who are paying the fees. But as you get more senior, new, there are things that you can do to continue to lay the groundwork for success in business development. As a young lawyer, maybe you might help a partner prepare some course materials for a CLE program, maybe you might write some blog posts yourself, maybe you might post some things on social media. But basically, as a young lawyer, you can begin to develop this niche. And you could also begin to start to produce some content yourself. Maybe as you get a little bit more senior, you might appear on a panel or on a presentation, do a presentation, maybe it might be internal presentations. So even though there are very strong demands on young lawyers these days, to bill a lot of hours, there are little things that you could do. The other thing is as you get out of Well, as you leave law school, and you enter the working world, you still have relationships that will eventually bear fruit, these are people that you went to college with people that you went to law school with. And if you just maintain and keep up those relationships over time, those could blossom, it's not clear which ones will become business. But as a young lawyer, just making sure to get out of your office once in a while, or calling a friend, or getting on a zoom as we do now in the world of COVID. Just being aware that you can't build a practice, you won't be able to build a practice if you don't connect with the world. And you can lay the foundation and it's like investing for anything you invest for college, if you start at the moment, when you want to actually have enough money for college, it's kind of late if you start investing in the relationship building early on and just kind of pick away at it. It's like farming, you plant the seeds and they will grow.
Ron Bockstahler 7:36
So you've helped a lot of attorneys adjust their careers either moving from one firm, maybe they weren't happy something wasn't working out to other firms. mean is it recommended to make a lot of moves within your career?
Stephen Seckler 7:49
Well, within reason, I mean, it depends upon the reason for making the move. Sometimes people get off on the wrong foot, that's not an uncommon reason for somebody to make a lateral move. Lawyers are can be unforgiving, especially at the larger law firms in terms of how people make a bad first impression. So sometimes making a lateral move can help you with that. A better reason. And a lot of times the reasons that I help and have helped people make lateral moves, is because the firm didn't really have the kind of clients where they weren't able to do the kind of work that they wanted to do. And then sometimes they don't like the environment in general, they don't like the way the firm is run, the use of technology, the commitment to professional development. So there are sometimes non practice reasons why people make lateral moves.
Ron Bockstahler 8:35
And it goes back to what you said earlier, find that niche that you really enjoy doing and just become the best at it. Yeah, that seems a common theme. I think that's what helps us create just happiness and what we're doing, which and let's we'll kind of hit on a little of the mental health issues in the legal industry. I know. You've recently had a guest on your show. Ida Abbott talked a little bit about, you know, designing or designing your retirement, I guess. And you know, when does that start? Well,
Stephen Seckler 9:08
it's at some firms in reverse starts. But, but in a healthy firm, I think by the time lawyers are three or you know, beyond 30 years into practice, that's something they might want to be thinking about. And something I've been focusing on more lately. Because a healthy law firm has to keep praying or any organization that's healthy, has to keep bringing up the next generation of talent. And again, it's the same thing as investment. If you kind of wait until the day before you retire, you haven't really laid the groundwork for transitioning the clients. If you stay practicing until late into your 60s into your 70s you show no sign of relinquishing control over the firm. Then the up and coming talent may decide they're not going to stick around. So there's a threat to the firm because the clients may leave and there's a threat to the talent Management because the talent may leave. So I would argue that once you're into well into your 50s, that's when it's a good time to start thinking actually, from my own experience. When our last child went off to college in 2017, my wife and I participated in a program on aging. And it was a great program. And we didn't get the memo, like everybody else in the program was like, in their late 60s and early 70s. And what was so great about not they weren't lawyers, it was just other professionals, or the one of them was a musician who had trained as a lawyer in practice for a while. And what I realized is that it really never is too soon to be thinking about, about the next stage. So a couple of summers ago, I went out and bought a Martin guitar and started playing.
Ron Bockstahler 10:47
Alright, already starting to plan that retirement.
Stephen Seckler 10:51
Yeah, I won't be retired for a long time. But
Ron Bockstahler 10:54
you know, I'd sent you that article recently. Martha McGarry, let's talk about that real quick scans. first female m&a partner says no to retirement to forced retirement at 70 and moves over to I believe, Mayor Brown, you know, what do you think of that? What kind of get some input on that?
Stephen Seckler 11:12
I think it's a really, I think it's a conundrum because people age at different rates. I mean, it was talking to sort of have a hard and fast rule. May, you may have somebody that's got a lot of vibrancy at the age of 75. And you may have somebody that's really on the decline at the age of 70. So I heard two stories from the CEO of a law firm called burns and Levinson here in Boston. It's a midsize firm. And he told me two tales, one of a lawyer who was about 70, and had planned out a nice transition transition to all his clients over a period of three years, and then spent a lot more time with his grandchildren got involved in a lot of nonprofit causes and had a happy departure from the firm. And then he told me about another partner who was in his late 70s. And it was already experiencing some cognitive decline. And partners at the firm, were noticing it, the clients were starting to notice it. And eventually he ended up leaving the firm. He didn't want to relinquish control. He just wasn't ready to leave because he didn't know what he was going to do next. And he died a year later. I mean, it was sort of tragic.
Ron Bockstahler 12:21
Yeah, that I can tell you within, you know, my firm and model office suites, I've it kind of thinking about that. And, you know, listening to your show with Ida, I went and looked back, and we've had seven law attorneys that have passed away while still, you know, working in our spaces. And two of my specifically recall talking to about when they retire, and they said when I die. And well, I yeah, I don't
Stephen Seckler 12:48
I don't think that's the wrong answer for everybody. But I think that, you know, there are some people that really get meaning it's all about meaning. It's like, it's the existential question of where do you how do you derive meaning and I think for some people, like I had a friend whose father was a lawyer, and he went into the office until he was in his late 80s. He just loved being a lawyer. I mean, he wasn't going in full time. And you know, by the time he was in his late 80s, he certainly wasn't doing a ton of client work. But you can't really say, you know, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was a Supreme Court justice until well into her 80s. Now, for political reasons. Some may say that that was a colossal mistake if you happen to lean the way I do. But she was vibrant. She was sharp, she was producing great work, and she loved her work. So I don't think the there's a right answer for anybody. I think a large firm though, like, like Skadden or any of the bigger institutions, I mean, I know accounting firms actually have mandatory retirement at a much younger age. They're like, 62, I think I heard. And the reasoning there is that, again, it's the succession planning issue. It's how are the clients going to have confidence that they're going to continue to be served? How are the up and coming talent going to perceive that there's going to be room for them. But I mean, I don't think a healthy model is to say you have to leave I think a healthier model is I think it's good when Proctor has a model where you have to give up your equity, maybe at the age of 67. I'm not sure what the ages. But it doesn't mean you have to leave, you can work out an arrangement where you can continue to do work. But you know, and that, and some lawyers do want to continue to do work. But some lawyers just haven't been able to figure out what they want to do next door. It's just terrifying to think about what's going to happen after the day they're not coming into the office. And so I'm doing a lot of work in that realm. And I'm really enjoying it.
Ron Bockstahler 14:42
And I want to get to you have a new program called the next stage but before we get to that I kind of want to reel is back just a little bit. You know, a lot of our listeners are going to be on the younger side. 30s 40s 50s and 60s, I guess it's still we're talking about young and you're careful, careful. Let's talk a little bit more about some of the challenges are facing and you know, What is there? Is there a specific trait that really makes attorney really good at originating work going out and getting new business? Or is it is it a trade or something that they can learn?
Stephen Seckler 15:18
So I used to think that any lawyer could become a good Rainmaker. And I don't mean like a $10 million Rainmaker, but I used to think that any lawyer could develop a practice. And now I think that most lawyers can develop a practice. There are some lawyers that literally will always be best suited to being in the back office, working on the deals by looking at the documents and not really interacting as much with the clients. So and that's fine. For some people, tax seems to be an area where that that seems to happen. But a lot of lawyers, a lot of the people that are in your offices could definitely improve their marketing skills. And I think the biggest problem that a lot of lawyers have is that they save marketing for a rainy day. They are busy, they're doing work, everything seems good. And then they wait until they don't have enough work. And then they start marketing. And successful marketing is really like the tortoise and the hare story, the tortoise is the one that's going to win the race, because, you know, you don't know when someone is going to have a need for your services. And I have a friend who's in my network in our networking group revisers, Michael Katz, and he talks about when he does presentations to people on marketing, he'll say how many of you are going to buy a refrigerator in the next 15 minutes. And like, nobody's going to buy a refrigerator the next 15 minutes, how many of you are going to buy a refrigerator the next 15 years. And of course, a lot of people are going to buy a refrigerator in the next 15 years. And that is the essence of the problem with selling professional services you don't know when somebody you meet is going to have a need for your services, or hear of somebody who has a need for your services. Therefore, showing up on a regular basis, making it a habit is really important. And it's really hard for lawyers, particularly at the larger law firms where the hours are grueling to set aside time to do that. But if you could make just a little bit of time to sort of systematically, drop a note forward an article, post something on LinkedIn and show up once in a while at a bar association meeting, connect with an old law school classmate, connect with a college classmate who's now in a corporate environment, those things over time will pay off because at some point in the future, somebody may have a need for your services. And somebody may know if somebody was a need for your services, or they may never have a need for your services. But you may hear of a need that they have.
Ron Bockstahler 17:52
It's a great point. Now it add to that is be genuine. And you know, find a networking group or associations you can belong to that you really have an interest in. Not just you're not just going because you want to get work. It I think people can tell.
Stephen Seckler 18:11
I agree. I mean, you and I are improvisers. And what I love about pro visors, I've been a member for two years. And I'm like not drinking the Kool Aid. I'm like guzzling it. And I say that jokingly. But I mean, what I love about it is people are just so eager to help each other. It's really almost not like the real world. I mean, I just got a referral of a lawyer who's thinking about the some of these existential issues. The person who, who referred me as a marketing consultant, so she's not a lawyer, but she met this person who seemed like she had a need. And she referred this woman to me, she said, You should call Steve. And she didn't, actually this woman followed up with me and said, Did so and so contact you said No, I haven't heard from her. But I really, really appreciate the referrals. Who said I'm going to call her again. And so she called her again. And she said, you know, you really talked to Steve. And we spoke and we're going to work together. It's, it's a, it's a great network. So finding a networking group where people are genuine and authentic, like providers, and we're not unique, but it really helps to be around people that are like minded.
Ron Bockstahler 19:17
Yeah, that makes me think of you as a coach. Is it? Is it hard for other attorneys to admit they need a coach?
Stephen Seckler 19:27
It's it's really hard for attorneys to think that they need a coach. I mean, lawyers are sort of trained to think they can go it alone. They're gonna figure it all out. I'm smart. And the best expression of this that I heard was another coach. He doesn't really work with lawyers. Somebody also improvisers Sergio symbol. And he didn't attribute the quote anywhere, but the quote is basically, you can't read the label from inside the jar. And the notion there is that we none of us are self reflective. I mean, the best coaches that I know improvisers all have coaches I mean, that's how, how meta it is. So why does a lawyer think that they went to law school? And they learned how to research, you know, case law? Why do they think they should know anything at all about marketing. I mean, a lot of a lot of the coaching, though, is motivational. It's getting people to act, and holding them accountable. So I'm not saying that what we do as coaches is rocket science all the time. Sometimes I provide content that people hadn't thought of, I give them ideas. A lot of it is just holding them accountable and saying, Hey, you know, you said you were gonna do 10 push ups. So what's getting in your way?
Ron Bockstahler 20:39
That's, that's a great point, you spend hundreds of 1000s of dollars going and get this amazing education. And then you start spending on yourself to continue the self improvement. And it really takes a push, I think, to get not just attorneys, but all of us to just go out there and go ahead and do need someone to help me.
Stephen Seckler 20:58
Well, again, it has to do with like, thinking with an investment mentality, I'm investing in something. And lawyers are not always so good at that, you know, you get a client, you do the work, you build it out, and you get back. The fees are paid, you know, in marketing, you have to do lots of different things, and many of them won't have any return. So when, you know, I never promised anybody that I'm going to increase their business by any particular amount. So it may seem a little bit nebulous for what value am I actually getting. But you know, Michael Jordan had a coach outside of Phil Jackson. I don't know, I'm not really a basketball fan. But
Ron Bockstahler 21:45
let's, let's, if we, you know, it's interesting, looking at the return, you get on Marketing, and today, you drive down the highway, and you see a ton of billboards. And it's, I mean, I bet 60% of them are from law firms, or attorneys. At least that's my perception. What was it like, if you go back before 1976, I think when the Bates versus the State Bar of Arizona case, when attorneys actually couldn't market.
Stephen Seckler 22:12
I think that was a world in which lawyers did good work. And the work came to them. And then if you were a young lawyer, you got to the law firm, you learned how to be a lawyer, and eventually those became your clients. That's not the world we live in anymore.
Ron Bockstahler 22:29
Today, you gotta go. I've never actually called an attorney. From a marketing piece, I've always called someone I know, and said, Who do you know that can do this type of work?
Stephen Seckler 22:41
Well, I mean, the kinds of lawyers that put the billboards out are trying to market to individuals, and the kinds of individuals they're trying to market to, they may not have a big professional network. I mean, lots of people get injured, some of them have big professional networks. If I were injured, if a family member of mine were injured, I wouldn't absolutely reach out to a lawyer I knew liked and trusted. I mean, I happen to know a lot of personal injury lawyers already. But you know, if it was an area of specialization that I didn't know, I would get a referral. But a lot of people don't have those networks. So those billboards, I think, still work. Social media is probably even more effective now, though, because when somebody has a need, it's pretty common for people to Google it. But I don't think the you know, the general counsel if you need to attacks, you know, if he needs an Ursa specialist. I don't think the general counsel of GE, is typing in Ursa and googling it, you know, right?
Ron Bockstahler 23:35
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, let's talk about you know, moving on from that, let's talk about other career issues that you are seeing attorneys are experiencing just in the attorneys you're working with, because I know you're working with quite a few.
Stephen Seckler 23:48
So I really enjoy helping lawyers sort of think through career transitions. So a common theme is lawyers want to go in house. And helping them think that through. Those are some of the people that I work with on a coaching basis. And these are particularly people like if you're a fifth year corporate associate, at a large law firm, you're going to get called by recruiters, you're going to be able to go in house, you're going to be able to be reactive. But for the rest of the world wanting to go into a corporate environment, that may be a harder transition. So the skills that I work with my clients on in career transitions are kind of similar to the marketing skills, it's about networking, going out and getting information, building your network, leveraging the contacts that you have. I was recently working with a ninth year associate who didn't make partner so that involved a little bit of propping her up she hadn't she was at a big law firm and thought everything was going well and you know, as does happen at a lot of these firms. She was kind of Sideswipe I've been taken aback, we went through a whole process. And eventually, I actually ended up introducing into the firm where she's now working, which is a regional firm in another part of the country. And she's not only excited about no longer working at a large law firm, where the hours are really grueling. But she's also excited about starting to grow her practice. And so we worked on her networking skills and her communication. And through that, she was able to see that she actually has some skill in relationship building that will help her to build a practice as she enters this new firm, with, by the way, lower bill rates, I have other clients who decide that they want to start their own practice. I've helped lawyers through those transitions. And a lot of the clients I work with, it's really helping them be develop a marketing mentality, develop marketing habits. And that's where people see the word lawyers see the greatest value in coaching because they could see like a real ROI. Whereas career stuff is a little bit more nebulous.
Ron Bockstahler 26:04
It just shows Is it true that if you can get someone to do something for 21 days, they can create a habit never worked for me? It didn't work for me that I just curious, if you find something that maybe I don't know about?
Stephen Seckler 26:18
I don't know about the 21 days, it takes a long time to get people to change their their behavior. It really does. I mean, I don't know. I'm just thinking about myself, although I did realize that I needed to get rid of the COVID. Wait, I gave the Colt the COVID 15. And sometime around the beginning of May, that's when I really took the bull by the horns. And now, and I basically went to work, work out every single morning. Except for the day after I totaled my car, I thought I should take the day off after that. But long story, short story didn't matter. It was fine. I was fine. But now I woke up like for example today. And I didn't work out because at a very early meeting. And I felt like I my day didn't start off. Right, you know, I did meditate, which I do also when I wake up, so I you know, but I think it takes longer than 30 days actually to develop marketing habits, because it's very contrary to the way lawyers think they need to spend their time you know, it's hard to fight the billable hour, the billable hour, is immediate, in some ways immediate gratification, you're going to do the work, you're going to build it out. And for the most part, you're going to collect that money. It's a lot easier as humans for us to see. And be motivated to do things where we get immediate rewards. Marketing is something that you have to do over a long period of time. So working with a coach can help build that muscle, like the reward you might get is like, you know, Steve Sackler will say, like, that was a great meeting you just had good job. Attaboy. And I, you know, I say that jokingly, but I mean, you know, trust me, it really helps like, you know, I'm losing, I've lost my weight. And, you know, I'm telling I'm reporting to my wife, I get off the scale, and I text her right away. And she's like, that's great, you know, and I feel that much more motivated to keep working out every day and to cut down on the carbohydrates and eat more protein and, and not eat mindlessly.
Ron Bockstahler 28:21
So those are things you get from a coach is that positive reinforcement. But, you know, you when you mentioned the attorney that nine years didn't make partner, I made me think do you ever talk about the shortage, maybe a shortness in your abilities? And how do you improve? You know, avoiding what your skill sets are?
Stephen Seckler 28:41
I'm sorry, you mean? Like, if you're working on something where it's not really in your it's not really one of your strengths, but you're kind of doing it anyway?
Ron Bockstahler 28:48
I guess it's kind of like card school? Do you have to come and say, you aren't a great networker, and let's talk about why you're not a great networker and what you can do to improve? Or is it all just all positive? Okay, well, I'm here to support you and make you build, you
Stephen Seckler 29:05
know, I mean, I have plenty of clients that I, you know, I have to work really hard with to sort of get them to act. And some of them will never do it. You know, they just, they'll try and they won't, I won't say that's most of them. But some people are just not wired that way. I mean, look, if you don't like playing golf, and I only throw golf out, because it's sort of like a quintessential business development tool. It doesn't work for me. But if you don't like golf, you're not going to play. You're not going to enjoy yourself that's going to come across, you're going to make excuses not to do it. So. So you have to find out find things to do that you like that are consistent with business development, with marketing with generating work, and if you fundamentally don't like people, and I don't mean like you're misanthrope, but you just you know you don't really like learning about where somebody is kids go to school, or I mean I enjoyed learning little details about people I'm very I'm a natural schmoozer, you know, but I mean you don't have to. I'm not a natural glad hander. But you know, if you if you really don't like doing that at all, then it's going to be hard to be successful. But I have a client who didn't see himself as a successful Rainmaker. I'll use the word Rainmaker, but I don't mean it to mean millions. And he went through this process with me, he'd been practicing for 20 years, and we had some somewhat of a book of business, but it wasn't, certainly wasn't enough to go to another ham law 50 firm. And he did end up getting a job with another amla 50 firm again, I made the introduction, I didn't do it as a recruiter. But he went through this whole process. And now he's like, Well, actually, I do like going to baseball games, I like going to, you know, I enjoy being a basketball game sporting events. I like having coffee with people. So we're focusing on those things that he likes doing. People always say like, wow, I don't want to go to networking functions. I don't like that, well, you don't have to go to networking functions. I mean, in some ways, actually, networking functions can be a big waste of time. There's a there's an event in Massachusetts, there's an organization called combined Jewish philanthropies. And it's a hugely successful fundraising organization. It doesn't fund just Jewish causes. But you know, there's a lot of social service agencies that get their money from CJP. And every year, they have a big accountants, and lawyers, dinner, they didn't have one this past year, obviously. And I always go, and I don't go back. And you know, the organizational make a big hype about it, I think it's frankly, if you don't know too many people, and you go to something like that, it's not necessarily a great use of your time, I don't go there because I expect to get have meaningful interactions or, or really get to know new people. Although sometimes I do meet new people, I go there, because I know I'm going to run into a lot of Jewish and non Jewish lawyers and accountants. And then I'll make appointments to have coffee with them and follow up. So I'll go to a meeting that has 1000 people. And I'll end up setting up three appointments after that. But I do it because I know I'm going to run into people. If somebody doesn't know anybody in that environment, that's going to be you know, you're not going to be motivated to do it. So I work with people to sort of figure out what are the things that they're going to enjoy that are going to give them the opportunities to make the connections that might lead to direct work or referrals?
Ron Bockstahler 32:25
So you kind of just took it right? Where I was thinking I want to go? And maybe I wasn't asking my question in the best way. But you got what I was looking for anyway, was, you know, I talked to a lot of attorneys and including myself to say, I hate networking. And okay, there's other things you can do you maybe you hate the concept, but there's things you do like, like, you know, just like going to a baseball game, that figure out the things you do enjoy doing and do those things. And you can still build your book of business through those type of activities, not necessarily the ones you don't like to do.
Stephen Seckler 32:58
Exactly. I mean, if you like nonprofit work, community work, you know, you want to choose those activities where you're going to meet the kinds of people you want to meet. So like my my one of my I have a lot of stupid dad jokes that I use when I coach but one of my repeat jokes is, you know, if you want to marry somebody Jewish, don't hang out a Catholic singles dances. I've been married happily for 27 years, every month at the moment plus, but anyway. So so you have to choose those, you know, if you have your choice between two activities, or two people that you're gonna have coffee with. And one of them is a social worker. And the other one is the CFO of a bank, and you want to do more work with banks, then go have coffee with the bank doesn't mean bank CFO, it doesn't mean you shouldn't have coffee with your friend, the social worker, but you know, we only have a limited amount of time. So if you're going to make time to do business, development, marketing, do the things that are things that you enjoy, as you're saying, and things that will potentially lead you to the community that you want to get to be known. Absolutely, I
Ron Bockstahler 34:12
can tell you a real funny story is. So Steve fretts has been a client of mine for many, many, many years. And I went to him this is a friend one day and I said my partner had retired and my partner was the I call them the ultimate sales guy talked to everyone just loved doing that and allowed me to kind of sit in the background. And I sat Steve's asked and I said I got a problem. I hate networking. I hate more hate talking to people I hate all these things. He's like, Ron, you really don't have to go any Why don't you just open up your Rolodex. And you can kind of show your age and talk about a Rolodex and just start calling people you already know. And, you know, I'd looked at him I said because I never thought of that. So that was as simple as you know, here's a resource you already have. You don't got to go do a mixer of 100 people and you know, stand at the corner and talk to one person Don't go to that mixer. Just make phone calls with people you know. And you another thing I did, you know not liking these things as the Simon Wiesenthal Center is a big organization, you know, worldwide but in Chicago, Allison slovan peers, one of my good friends, and she's the director. So she would invite me to these events and I say house, I really just don't want to go first, I'm not Jewish. No, you'll go, you'll have your good time. And I started going, and then I started buying a table. And then I started bringing people. And all of a sudden, you know, I built so many good solid relationships from doing something that I enjoyed. Now, they have the woman women of valor luncheon, except for this year, almost every year. And you go to things like that where you can, it's, it's your passion, something you're passionate about. Next thing, you know, you're building great relationships, and you don't even realize you're networking, if you will.
Stephen Seckler 35:54
Well, it's interesting that you bring up Steve frets, and because I've been getting to know him well, and I'm learning a tremendous amount from them. And Steve will take what I just said about not spending time at the Catholic singles dances, to the next extreme and and say that, if you're having networking meetings, try to structure them, so that you can come to them thinking about how you can help each other so that you're not just having random acts of lunch and coffee. And he's really good at that, you know, just because we all have ways that we can help each other. And it doesn't mean that, you know, there's any specific thing that I'm going to get out of it. But if I could help somebody else, then you know, you never know, you never know when you're gonna meet your wife or your, your wife, sister.
Ron Bockstahler 36:38
Well, and that's what I call being genuine, right, you're going because you got a genuine reason not because you're looking for something. And I think that makes a big difference. So we're kind of run out of time. So I really want you to talk about the next stage for seniors that you've got going on in your program your you've launched.
Stephen Seckler 36:54
So the next stage is really something that I've gotten very excited about over the last year and a half. So as you know, I sent you an article I wrote, my parents died at the beginning of the pandemic. And they live long lives, they were quite elderly. So very sad, not tragic. And they did die of COVID. But what it really made me start to think about is what do I really want from my career. And then I started to realize this, a lot of lawyers, particularly in their 60s, not always could be younger, who really haven't thought that through, then who could really benefit from working with somebody to come up with a plan a strategy and to start experiment thing. It's not like practicing law, the process that I take people through the next stage is really about having an open mind taking action. I base my work on something called designing your life, which is a book by Bill Burnett, and Dave Evans, who are out in Stanford, and they applied design thinking to career management, actually, either avid who you've mentioned, just wrote a great book, which is more focused on retirement, their book is more focused just on careers in general. But there's a bunch of principles that they that they raised, that I think are really great for career exploration, and they're very, very different than the practice of law. Lawyers sort of have a goal in mind, and they work towards it until they close the deal till they produce the will. Until they, you know, move the case along and and take the depositions and then whatever, the it's very, very goal oriented, the process that I take people through is not you don't know where you're going. And that's okay. And what I love about working with people that are sort of later in their career, because I'm also at the stage myself is if you've made it financially well enough, I mean, not all of us could be wiped out by by long term care. But, you know, forgetting that a lot of lawyers are in this country are ageing, and you know, they've made it and it's more like, they just haven't figured out what to do next. So they keep doing the same thing. But they have options. And I love working with people to sort of draw out of them. What is it that really makes them motivated, and part of it could just be doing more pro bono work or being involved on committees, mentoring younger associates, or it could be something like spending a little more time with their grandchildren, and cutting back on the practice. So there's all kinds of options, and it's an exciting time. And there are a lot of lawyers that are in the situation. There's a lot of aging baby boomers. And then the final piece of it that really excites me about doing this kind of work is that it feels like there's a need there. And the need is that, as I've alluded to already, you know, a lot of law firms need to think about these issues from a from an organizational standpoint because the health of the organization will rely on how well law firms continue to Bring up the next generation of talent and and make sure that the clients that they have feel like they're going to continue to be served. Because I mean, you know, we never know how, you know what, how long we're all going to be here on this earth. And I'm not saying that every 70 year old isn't in danger of imminent death. But you know, realistically, if a law firm hasn't done anything, or a lawyer hasn't done anything to sort of lay the groundwork for transitioning clients, and they're 70, you know, they could drop dead from a heart attack the next day. Or they could start to go into some cognitive decline. So thinking these things through on the, on a systemic level is really important for the law firm. And I think what gets in the way of it is that a lot of lawyers are afraid of, of what's going to happen when they aren't going into the office every single day. So I really enjoy helping lawyers to figure that out and address that issue.
Ron Bockstahler 40:54
Yeah, we don't have time to go into it today. But I think having your back would be great to talk about the mental health. You know, we know there's a lot of addiction and some not so good things that working so hard, and the stress that can come from being a lawyer kind of falls into place into play, it's been addressed a little bit more now. But definitely something I think having a coach would help.
Stephen Seckler 41:16
There's a lot of work going on in this in this realm, I'm actually going to be doing a webinar, I don't have a date yet, or any information specifically, but people can reach out to me, I'm going to be doing a webinar in the fall on keeping your law firm, healthy, and I'm going to be speaking. And then a woman who runs basically a wellness program where she does, basically wellness coaching and crisis intervention in institutions like, you know, corporations, but also law firms. So there are all kinds of issues that that are getting more attention now. And you know, succession planning what people do with their careers as part of it, just dealing with what you just said, substance abuse is another piece of it. And, you know, it's not all about just working, I mean, even fully cared about was making money, you got to make the machines run properly. And that means paying attention to these issues.
Ron Bockstahler 42:09
Well, you got to be happy with what you're doing. And if we're happy we can make the world a better place. Right. It's a good starting point. Steve, I want to thank you for joining us today. It's been great talking to me, there's so many things we could talk about. But I think that I think we'll just get I thought we're just getting started. Now we'll have to have another show, I think people need to know that. You know, having a coach someone they can work with is super important. You spent so much money to get to law school, don't stop having someone help you out someone in your corner. And you know, call and get a coach, a counselor, the counselor, you can find Steve that counselor, Counselor calm
Stephen Seckler 42:49
is actually a counsel to counsel calm,
Ron Bockstahler 42:52
yeah. He's got a great podcast, I've listened of many of his shows need to tune in to understand what's going on, just give him a call, because I think he can help help you, no matter what stage of your career you're at, he can help you just, you know, either positive reinforcement or say, hey, look, here's what you can do to make it better. But you know, take that extra step and find a way to enjoy what you're doing. You gotta leave the final comments to you.
Stephen Seckler 43:17
Yeah, no, I agree. It's, you know, life is too short, you know, start doing what you want to do, if you can, I mean, it is a bit of a luxury, but if you could afford the opportunity to, you know, to change the life and try to build the life that you want. There's no reason not to do it.
Ron Bockstahler 43:37
You know, I can say that my career, you know, I've worked with 1000s of attorneys, with my company. And I've seen so many just quit practicing law, brilliant attorneys, but they were just frustrated. And it really had nothing to do with, with law itself. It had to do with the business side or had to do with, you know, other things that that could have been controlled if they were if they had a coach if they had the right people. And so I just stressed you, instead of getting frustrated, just reach out for some help. And, you know, call Steve, he'll help you out.
Stephen Seckler 44:08
Well, thanks, Ron, I really appreciate it. And it's been really great meeting you and learning about your services. And I'm excited about your services, because now I have a place to send all these people that are starting their law practices, who want resources like paralegals that they don't necessarily want to hire, but they need on a fractional basis. I think that's a fantastic resource.
Ron Bockstahler 44:29
And we appreciate that, you know, it took me a long time, just like a lawyer trying to figure out what their career is going to be. But it took me a long time to figure out what, what I wanted to do, and you know, what my company would look like. So I started my company 20 years ago, but it wasn't till 2012 that I really started, you know, working only were exclusive with law firms. And then I realized what I really want to do is I want to make legal services available to everyone in the world at affordable price, but to do that You gotta, you gotta find a way for the attorneys to, you know, be able to do it. And that's what kind of led to what we're doing today. But you know, there's, there's a way to do it. And I'm talking to the attorneys that are working in corporate America that are making, you know, millions and hundreds of millions dollars that we all hear about. Because that's not the majority. 76% of attorneys are with the firm of five or fewer partners, or they're on their own. But it's really hard to be able to afford to give low cost, legal practice and still survive. And I think that's where we're and then we're seeing some sandbox start starting, you know, what we got in Utah, we got in Arizona, California is talking about it. British, Ontario and BC just announced their new programs, that they're trying to adjust the way laws practice. But our vision, or at least my vision was to say, Okay, how do we make it, practicing law a fun thing to do, and you can do it and be successful and still help others. And that's where we came up with it. So, so working with people such as yourself, it just new expands that, that vision? Let's, let's make attorneys help happy, and they'll help other people?
Stephen Seckler 46:08
Well, I think I think the model that you have is great, because, you know, I think ultimately people that I think a lot of people that do end up in practice by themselves, if they've had the luck and fortune of being trained up by a bigger firm, and they've gotten the training, they end up happier when they're in control of their own destiny, and having a front, you know, fractional resources that they can buy from someone like you, or an office that you know, they don't have to spend a fortune on. You know that really, and just buy what they need. That really does make it a lot more affordable. And the old model of you have to hire somebody to do everything. I mean, technology. There's so many ways to run a practice so much more efficiently now.
Ron Bockstahler 46:49
Times have changed. We know that people say in law, things don't change fast, but COVID has really accelerated and a lot of things in law change. So I don't see things naturally going back to the way they were so. Yep. Well, thanks for joining us. Thanks for listening, everyone. You've been listening to the 1958 lawyer. We appreciate it and we look forward to talking to you again real soon.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai