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Law Firm Foundations: 5 Books Jump Start Your Business

Daily thoughts on law firm success.

Law Firm Foundations: 5 Books Jump Start Your Business

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Have you looked out there lately for good resources on starting and marketing a law firm? If you have, I bet you’ve been pretty disappointed.

What I’ve been most disappointed in is that it seems as though everyone talking about law firm marketing is focusing only on what other law firms are doing. In my mind that translates to outdated, ineffective methodology.

And I know, because I’ve spent time looking everywhere for help with my firm, and I’ve picked up a little knowledge along the way. Today I want to share that with you.

Everyone Deserves a Chance to Succeed

When I started my law firm almost 5 years ago I didn’t have much help. There were resources out there but they weren’t comprehensive. And most discussed concepts at the strategy level when I was looking for strategy and tactics (think about just learning why something should be done without learning how to do it).

I wanted more.

Law Firm Foundation: 5 Books to Get You There

One thing I know is this: if you were like me and like most lawyers out there, you’ve had no business training at all. I was a psychology major and then a J.D. I didn’t have any business education at all.

So I had to learn it all myself. And now I want to help you.

Don’t just read this post, by the way, listen to the podcast. I outline the five books you should read, and the order you should read them, if you want to have a good foundation for starting your law firm.

These books aren’t legal books. They aren’t geared toward law firms. They exist to do one thing – help people start and run successful businesses. Thankfully your law firm fits in there.

Links to the 5 Books.

As promised, here are links to the five books I talk about and the order you should read them in.

1. Built to Sell – John Warrilow

2. The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber

3. Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuck

4. The New Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz

5. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind – T. Harv Eker

You read these 5 books in that order I guarantee you’ll have the best year you’ve ever had, even if you don’t open a law firm!

Want to Take Your Law Firm to the Next Level?

When I started my law firm I didn’t have any help. I didn’t have any direction. There were resources out there but they weren’t organized and they didn’t give me the down and dirty, how-to resources that I needed.

Well, that exists now. And, in addition to that I’m building a place where successful law firm owners can meet to talk shop and get ahead.

It’s called Law Firm Confidential. If you are interested in checking it out and learning more, click here.

Christopher Small is the owner of Emerald City Law Group, Inc., a Seattle personal injury and criminal defense law firm, and at heart, an entrepreneur.


Hello and welcome to another episode of the Law Firm Marketing Mastery Podcast, a show dedicated to helping you make your law firm work for you. I’m Christopher Small, and I’m really excited about today’s podcast. It’s something I talk about all the time but have never discussed in detail here on the podcast.

Today’s topic is creating a foundation for law firm success.

When I opened my law firm I didn’t have any experience with starting and running a successful law firm other than what I’d seen my bosses do. My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I had the same traditional law school education that most of you probably had.

Needless to say I had a lot to learn.

And I decided to do something about it. Instead of just waiting around for the phone to ring I started diving into books about marketing, sales, management, mindset, and leadership. Most of these books weren’t geared toward law firms at all – they were general business books – which is exactly what I needed.

When I first opened my law firm I rented office space from a very successful criminal defense and personal injury practice in Seattle. One of the cool things about this firm was the owner had a huge bookshelf full of these business books. I started to read them voraciously.

Funny little side story here. I was at happy hour with one of this firms old paralegals last week and we were talking about the year I spent in their offices. She told me I was the only person, other than the owner, that ever showed any interest in those books! And look how it’s paid off!

If you are opening your firm, have opened it and aren’t experiencing the success you want, or are thinking about opening a law firm, you’ve got to have a foundation built on business and marketing to be successful. You can do this in one of two ways. You could go back to school and get your MBA or you could just listen to this podcast and have enough knowledge built up to hit the ground running in a week.

Okay, so what exactly are we doing here today? I’m going to give you the five books you should read, in order, to get the foundation you need to open and run a successful law firm. I’m also going to explain a little bit about what each book is, why it’s where it is in order, and why I put it on my list over other books.

I also want to tell you what we aren’t doing today. We are not talking about blogging or SEO or direct marketing or whether or not you should have an LLC or any of the other minutiae that is paralyzing you from getting started. Today is all about the 10,000 foot view. We’re talking about fundamentals. We are talking about ensuring that your perspective of what a business is and does is focused in the right direction.

Before I get into the books I want to talk a little bit about why I think this is so important. It all boils down to this for me: your chances of success rise exponentially if you have this foundation laid under your law firm. The information I’m going to give you today is stuff no one else talks about. These books are your golden ticket, your road map to success. All you’ve got to do is read them and then implement their practices.

Okay, let’s get into it.

The first book in our series of five is called Built to Sell by John Warrilow. Oh, and by the way, don’t worry about writing all of these down. I’ll have links in the show notes at
Okay, Built to Sell by John Warrilow. This book isn’t your typical business book, though there are more books of this design coming out these days. The book is written in parable form, so it’s really easy to ready and really easy to understand. This book you could literally get through in one day.

Built to Sell is the story of Alex. Alex owns a struggling graphic design and advertising business. This book is Alex’s metamorphosis from graphic designer who owns a graphic design business to CEO of a graphics design business.

This book is first on my list because Alex’s situation is one I see time and time again from law firm owners. They focus too much on the work they are doing, in this case legal work, and neglect their actual business. This results in lost earning for you, dissatisfied customers, and a failing business.

The sooner you can adopt the mindset Alex finds at the end of the book the sooner you’ll have the law firm you’ve dreamed of having, including throngs of happy clients and lots of money in your pocket.

The second book in our series is called the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. As much as Built to Sell is a story this book is a manual to start and run a successful law firm.

This book is right after Built to Sell because once you see how your business is supposed to run you need a blue print for how to run it. E-Myth Revisted does that.

And, by the way, E-Myth doesn’t stand for electronic, it stands for entrepreneur. The point of the book is that when you open your business, you have to get out of the technician mindset and get into the business owner mindset.

The technician mindset is focused on client work, on being a lawyer. The business owner mindset is focused on building a conglomeration of people, processes, and services that provide client satisfaction to many at once instead of one at a time.

The E-Myth Revisted follows a woman who loves baking pies and decides she wants to open a pie shop. Her business is struggling and she doesn’t know why, since she makes the best pies in town. It isn’t until she realizes she has to focus on other things besides just making great pies that her business takes off.

Again, this book is critical to shifting your mindset from lawyer to business owner. You’ll still have plenty of time to be a lawyer, but if you don’t design your law firm with these foundational principles you’re going to miserable in no time.

The third book of the five is called Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuck. This book is all about getting shit done.

Gary Vaynerchuck is the creator of wine library TV. He now owns a multi-million dollar creative advertising agency. He’s built several businesses from the ground up into super successes.

I chose this book at this point in your journey because after reading the first two books you are going to be all fired up to get started, you’re going to have visions of great success, and I want you to be prepared for the amount of work you’re going to have to put in to be successful.

Starting and running a successful law firm is not easy, particularly at the beginning. But, what you lack in money you can make up for in time. The only way you are going to make it is if you pour everything you’ve got into your business. Gary Vaynerchuck’s book will do that for you.

The fourth book on my list is The New Pscho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. This book takes a big turn from the previous three. This book isn’t about how to run a successful law firm. It isn’t about working hard. This book is all about mindset. It’s about understanding that locked inside your head is the key to whatever success you want, and also understanding to get that key you’re going to have to break down some walls.

This book is all about understanding how your thoughts can affect your life in subtle ways, and how altering those thoughts, just a little bit, can create dramatic change in your life. It’s about understanding that there are hidden rules we’ve created for ourselves that are grounded in fantasy, and that our self-image and self-talk can hurt us or help is, depending on what we decide to do with it.

Here’s one example from the book. There was a salesman who was in an area that was consistently making $40,000 a year. The salesman was in an area that was in the middle as far as leads go, and he was doing a good job, so they decided to send him to a poorer part of town where sales would be more difficult. Surprisingly to his bosses, the salesman continued to earn $40,000, setting numerous records for that specific territory.

Because he’d done so well the company sent the man to a wealthier neighborhood, thinking he’d do even better, making everyone more money. But, to their surprise, the man continued to make $40,000, even with all the advantages of a great territory for leads.

When confronted with this, it was determined that the salesman saw himself as a $40,000 salesman. He didn’t think he deserved more or less than that, so subconsciously he sabotaged himself when he needed to and excelled when he needed to to stay in an area he was mentally comfortable with.

I know that sounds crazy, but we’ve all got these ideas floating around in our head, and the sooner we can recognize them, understand they are hurting our ability to succeed, and change them, the sooner we can achieve great success.

The fifth and final book of my foundational series is Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. This is a classic book, again, focused on mindset and eliminating destructing thoughts and actions.

This is the perfect book to end with because it lays out the importance of both making and ACTING on your ideas and dreams to achieve success.

I will only say one thing about this last book. As you read it you may think to yourself, “this book is stupid. These ideas won’t work.” But I’m imploring you to really give the ideas in this book a shot. I can tell you, while not a millionaire myself, that I know several, and they all live according to these ideas.

If you want to break through your current station in life, if you want to realize your dreams, if you want to start and run a successful law firm, you need to have these mindsets ingrained inside you.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast, and I implore to get these books, read them in that order, and let me know how your life and your business has changed as a result. If I could start all over I’d start with these books, and I guarantee you I’d probably be 5 steps ahead in terms of the success of my firm.

Before I let you go I want to let you know about a new thing I’m putting together. It’s something that’s been in the works for a long time, and I’m finally taking the plunge and doing it.

When I started out I didn’t know anything about starting and running a law firm. I didn’t know anything about marketing and sales. I didn’t know anything about setting up a website and search engine optimization and sales calls and networking. I didn’t know anything about anything.

And there was no one there to help me with it. So I had to kind of throw a bunch of different stuff together, try a lot and fail a lot, and come up with a plan that worked.

Now I want to share my system with you. There are a lot of people out there claiming to help people start and run a successful law firm, but in my mind they are all missing two critical elements. First, they are missing the down and dirty how-to educational elements. And second, they are missing the opportunity to discuss what’s going on with a community of like-minded individuals who are just as excited about reaching success as they are.

So I’ve decided to create a place where those things can happen. It’s called Law Firm Confidential. And I’m launching it April 1, 2014. There are going to be videos and checklists and descriptions of how to do everything I’ve done to create a successful law firm, including all of the scripts, forms, and everything else I use in my firm on a daily basis.

If you are interested in learning more, go to and submit your name and email address. Over the coming weeks I’ll be releasing more details, including how you can become a part of this awesome group.

Hope you enjoyed this podcast. Once again I’m Christopher Small with law firm marketing mastery. See you later!

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