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Best Practice Tips: Book Writing as a Business Development Strategy for Attorneys


Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in an 18-attorney law firm in Jacksonville, Florida. Our business development committee requires all attorneys to submit annual personal business development plans. I have been thinking about writing a book. Is such a goal worth my time investment? I welcome your thoughts.

A. While writing a book is not terribly difficult, it takes time and commitment, and will consume some non-billable hours. However, as David Maister often states, “attorneys should consider their billable time as their current income and their non-billable time as their future.”  In other words, non-billable time is an investment in your long-term future. I believe that authoring a book is an excellent way of building your professional reputation and brand and it will pay dividends in the long-term. Authoring a book can create opportunities that could change your whole life.

When I wrote my book, I had 142 non-billable hours invested in the book and I had some content available from past articles that I had written over the years. Often a good starting point is to start writing articles around a particular topic/theme and later tie them together in a book. This is a good way of taking “baby steps.”

During the writing process, authoring a book may seem like anything but freedom. However, it is a trade-off. Work for the book now and it will work for you later.

Your published book can generate income for years while you are doing something else. In addition to financial rewards, other payoffs for writing a successful book include:

  • The fulfillment of a dream
  • The pride of ownership and knowing that it is yours
  • The strong sense of accomplishment when the job is done
  • Reaching hundreds or thousands of peers and potential clients and referral sources
  • Recognition from your peers
  • Enhancing your credentials and demonstrating expertise

While your law firm may be doing all the right things to build the “firm brand” I believe that each attorney must build their personal brands as well. Clients advise us that they hire lawyers – not law firms. This is not totally true as in many cases the law firm’s brand may get the firm on a prospective client’s short list – but after that it is more about the lawyers handling a client’s matters. This is why prospective clients ask for the bios of all the attorneys in the firm.

Writing a book can assist you in achieving your business development goals but it is a long-term investment and not a quick fix.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, (www.olmsteadassoc.com) is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at jolmstead@olmsteadassoc.com

Posted on Aug 16, 2017 by Sara Anderson | Comments (0)
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