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<xTITLE>Five Characteristics of Successful Family Law Practitioners </xTITLE>

Five Characteristics of Successful Family Law Practitioners

by Elizabeth Ferris
September 2008 Elizabeth Ferris
Why are some practitioners successfully building their family law practice while other practitioners struggle to attract desirable clients and are frequently concerned about, “where the next case will come from?” I have been coaching and working with family lawyers, mediators and collaborative practitioners across North America and Europe for the past 8 years and have observed the characteristics of highly successful practitioners . Here are the five characteristics that I’ve found that work for practitioners who have succeeded in building a family law practice.

#1 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.

"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans."
-Peter F. Drucker

#2 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.

“Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.”
-Twyla Tharp

#3 Successful practitioners contribute to building their community

Participation in your professional community is essential to growing a strong family 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.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
-Sir Winston Churchill

#4 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.

#5 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 only way to grow a business is through remarkable service.”
-Seth Godin, Purple Cow

In summary, the five “C’s” for growing a successful family law practice include:

  • Commitment
  • Competence
  • Community
  • Communication
  • Client-centric focus

Review the above characteristics and conduct a self-assessment of your strengths and weakness. In 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 matrimonial law practice and creating “the practice” you want, a practice that brings value to your clients and fulfillment to your work.

© 2005 Elizabeth Ferris, All rights reserved. You are free to use material in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear.


Elizabeth Ferris has served organizations as a marketing consultant for more than 20 years. She started Ferris Consulting in April, 2000. The company was created to help organizations and individuals achieve accelerated growth.

Liz specializes in assisting attorneys, mental health professionals and financial specialists to grow their practice through result-oriented marketing and practice development strategies. She has developed strategic marketing plans for collaborative practice groups, financial groups and law firms across North America including, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Ontario, Southern Arizona, Minnesota, New York, Colorado Springs, Atlanta and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals

Liz and her team of marketing specialists created the first international collaborative practice logo, tagline, brochure and direct mail campaign. This campaign resulted in printing over 350,000 brochures and direct mail pieces promoting collaborative practice throughout North America.

Liz previously held senior management positions in business development. At IRG, a wholly owned subsidiary or Cobalt corporation (Blue Cross Blue Shield United of Wisconsin), Liz was vice president of business development and responsible for increasing revenues from $6 million to $40 million over a seven year period.

Liz is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is on the board of directors of the Grand Avenue Club, an organization that helps people with mental illness lead productive lives.

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