5 Books Every Small Firm Attorney Should Read

History, where I’m from (Andrea Martinez wanted to hear this part), story of the firm, why I read so many books

These are the five books that have helped me the most.

I’ll talk about each for about 10 minutes, then have some Q&A. If you would like a copy of any book, come up after and take one.

Note on order: I had hard time deciding what order to talk about these books. I decide to start with money first, because if you don’t have your personal money and your law firm money right, nothing else matters. Nothing can make up for poor money management.

Book #1: “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey (personal finances)

My journey with debt

Baby steps:

Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball (list all debts, pay off smallest balance to largest balance)

Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings (full emergency fund)

Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

Baby Step 5 – College funding for children

Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early

Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!

Book #2: “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz (law firm finances)

Like Dave Ramsey for your law firm. Very simple way to see exactly how much you have in your law firm. No accounting knowledge, or accounting math required.


  1. Income (Checking); 2. Owner’s Pay (Checking); 3. Operating Expenses (Checking).

2 SETUP TWO NEW ACCOUNTS AT A DIFFERENT BANK. We’ll call this bank, Bank 2. The purpose for these accounts is to remove the temptation of “borrowing” from these accounts. 1. Profit (Savings); 2. Taxes (Savings).

3 DETERMINE THE TAPs (Target Allocation Percentages) for your business using the Instant Assessment. But, start with percentages that your business can reasonably do for each account the remainder of the quarter. The percentages you determine are called your Allocation Percentages.

  1. Book #3: “Endless Referrals” by Bob Burg (referrals)

Referrals have been the best source of clients for attorneys since Cicero. No matter what changes there are with marketing, Google, Facebook, whatever, referrals will always be there and will always generate: (1) your best clients, and (2) your highest paying clients.

Bob talks a lot about how you network in order to receive referrals.

For people to refer to you and do business with you if they must know, like, and trust you.

To me, people knowing you is the most important of the three. If people don’t know you (i.e., if you live in obscurity), they’ll never like you or trust you. In other words, obscurity is your biggest problem. Get known.

For people to like and trust you, here are three tips: (1) be genuinely interested in people, (2) give of yourself, and (2) educate people.

#1 thing I took from this book: be a super-connector.

Super-connectors are people in an industry who know everyone in the industry, the are helpers and givers, and they connect people as much as possible.

Super-connectors tend to the be the best paid people in their industries (because business passes through them, which means it also passes to them), and they like their jobs because they have genuinely good and rich relationships with their peers.

  1. Book #4: “The Closer’s Survival Guide” by Grant Cardone (sales)

Attorneys are not good at sales and closing.

Now, let’s start here: sales and closing are two different things.

Sales is the process of getting someone to know, like, and trust you and your service. This is the part of the buying process in which we talk about our client’s problem, then posit a solution to that problem, and explain why we’re the best person to solve the client’s problem.

Attorneys are not good at sales. We’re too much inside our own heads. We talk too much. We explain too much about the law. (Hint: clients don’t care what we’re going to do, they just want to feel like we understand what they want to accomplish, and they want to feel comfortable that we’ll take care of them.)

Closing is a different thing entirely. Closing is the part of the process in which we get a potential client to pay us. Value is exchanged during the close, not before.

If attorneys are not good at sales, we’re lousy at the close.

While sales is all about emotion (people purchase because of emotion, not logic), the close is all about logic. Once someone makes the emotional decision to buy, they need to be led by logic to pay.

“The Closer’s Survival Guide” is all about the logic of the close.

For example, it teaches:

  1. How to distinguish complaints from objections (treat everything as an objection until validated as a complaint).
  2. That The first rule of closing is always agree (“I agree it costs too much . . .)
  3. How to communicate value (write it all down, people believe what they see and not what they hear)
  4. How to handle all the objections and stalls you can think of (“I need to think about it” “I don’t have the money” “I have to talk to my parents” “I’m meeting with another attorney” “Another attorney said they would take me case for half the price of what you’re quoting me”)

I’ve read this book 22 times. Best book about business I’ve ever read.

  1. Book #5: “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker (physical/psychological health)

Lawyers seem to consider it a badge of honor to lose out on sleep because they’re working on a case. It’s not a badge of honor. Losing out on sleep is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.

Matthew Walker is perhaps the premiere sleep researcher in the world, and “Why We Sleep” is a distillation of a copious amount of sleep research. Turns out sleep is amazingly powerful in all sorts of ways to the human body and mind.

Adequate sleep (8-9 hours per day for adults, more for children and teens) fights physical disease and mental illness, increases cardiovascular health, is a major cause of brain growth and development in infants and children, makes possible the formation of short-term and long-term memories, aides in creativity, facilitates new language learning, regulates negative emotions and behaviors, increases fertility in men and women, regulates testicle size (29% smaller testicles in men who don’t get adequate sleep) and sperm morphology, decreases first-trimester miscarriages, increases libido in men and women, regulates the gut biome and increases nutritional uptake from food, decreases sugar cravings and overall caloric intake, maximizes physical exertion during exercise, facilitates muscle growth, keeps blood sugar constant, ensures body temperature stays within normal limits, decreases suicidal ideations, increases employee job satisfaction, leads to less lying and loafing at work, leads to better scholastic attainment, decreases mortality rates, decreases obesity, and probably increases IQ in children. And much more.

Bottom line: if you don’t get adequate sleep, you will live in a state of mental and physical illness, and you’ll die early.

Get adequate sleep, please.

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