If you’ve done more than five minutes of research on marketing, you’ve probably heard that to succeed, you need to “build a funnel.” Marketing funnels are all the rage right now. The idea is that you use your content, digital advertising, points of contact, and other marketing efforts to suck leads into the broad end of the metaphorical funnel and guide them to the bottom where they become consultations or clients. But this method has one huge problem — and my team has solved it.

The issue is that marketing funnels end. When you use the funnel method, your goal is to gather leads and turn them into consultations. But once they’ve booked with you … then what? The funnel method says, “You’re on your own, sucker!” It’s up to you to figure out how to close, nurture, retain, and upsell those clients going forward. The funnel is no longer useful.

In our view, this traditional method is incomplete. Most marketing companies don’t see this — or if they do, they just don’t care. That’s because they’re focused on the top of the funnel. These big companies are just interested in helping you generate leads and turning them into clients. Once they’ve hit that metric, they’re out! This might sound nice (they’re doing their job, right?), but what it means is that the long-term success of your business doesn’t matter to them.

But it matters to us. We care how many clients the firms we work with bring in, AND we care how many they keep. Looking at the marketing funnel, we knew there must be a better, more holistic marketing solution. So, we sat down and came up with a revolutionary strategy that helps law firms not only win clients but also retain them, nurture them, and keep them engaged.

We call it The Content Loop™. For our clients, we build loops, not funnels.

So, what is The Content Loop™? The idea behind our proven process is pretty simple: The loop closes the end of the funnel so clients no longer “fall out” after you schedule them for the first time. Basically, we took the end of the funnel and stretched it around to connect with the top. We create a loop for you by putting out content consistently, including blogs, videos, social media posts, e-newsletters, and website updates.

This flow of content creates ongoing touchpoints with your network — the leads, referrals, referral sources, clients, colleagues, strategic relationships, family, and friends moving inside the loop. When you keep up the flow, it keeps your brand top of mind and builds up your reputation over time so no lead, referral, or opportunity is missed. We diversify this content and blast it out on all of the common channels so your marketing efforts reach everyone in your network: avid readers, video junkies, and social media surfers. Over time, you’ll inevitably become a familiar, trusted brand.

When you build loops instead of funnels (or let us build them for you), it’s impossible for your network to forget who you are and what you do. This method is proven to lower churn and strengthen relationships. We’ve tailored it specifically for law firms and perfected it over time. At this point, I’m confident it’s the best system on the market for lawyers.

Helping our clients retain THEIR clients is integral to what we do. Your success is our success. This is so vital to Spotlight Branding’s ethos that we created a proprietary process to make it happen and gave it a pun-tastic name. (The Content Loop™ keeps your clients “in the loop” — get it?) If you’re still building funnels or if you haven’t let us leverage your loop’s full potential, you’re stuck in the past. It’s time to call us up and ask, “Hey — how about you build me a loop?”

Would you make an emotional love confession to your toothbrush? Would you tell your favorite joke to a glass of water? If you answered “no” twice, take a minute to think about why those answers were so easy, and yet you don’t bat an eye about marketing to robots.

When we say robots, we’re referring to search engine algorithms — the invisible hand controlling everyone’s Google searches. Every year, more lawyers create content focused on catching that technology’s attention. But in the long run, this isn’t a smart way to market. That’s why the second law of content marketing is…

focus on people, not search engines.”

Last month, we shared the first law of content marketing with you (“content is king”) and explained that people are consuming more and more content each year. The first law shows why creating content consistently is so important. The second law reveals that how you create content matters just as much. There are two reasons you should tailor your content to people, not robots.

1. Staying in touch is guaranteed — winning the SEO game isn’t. 

The SEO landscape is so competitive that you can gamble away thousands of dollars and hours without any return. But when you focus on people and share your content with them on social media or through email, you’re guaranteed to accomplish your goal of staying in touch and keeping your firm top of mind.

2. Content is what makes your firm relatable.

Using content, you can put yourself in your clients’ shoes, answer their questions, and tell them what they want to hear. You can make your firm relatable and build your credibility. This is what makes content such a valuable marketing tool. But when you shift your focus away from creating helpful, meaningful posts in favor of stuffing them with keywords, you lose that advantage.

Ultimately, your toothbrush, a glass of water, and search engines have a key thing in common: None of them is your target audience. They aren’t the ones who will ultimately decide to accept your love, laugh at your joke, or do business with your firm. So, instead of wasting your money and time targeting robots, speak to the people you really care about: your clients, leads, and referral partners.

Change is uncomfortable, and most often, it will happen with or without your participation. Will you embrace it, or will you resist it? Could it be an opportunity for growth? Consider for a moment—What if it is an opportunity for growth and you pass on it? Seth Godin has an interesting perspective…

“The windmills aren’t the problem, it’s the tilting.

In Cervantes’ day, ’tilting’ was a word for jousting. You tilted your lance at an enemy and attacked.

Don Quijote was noted for believing that the windmills in the distance were giants, and he spent his days on attack.

Change can look like a windmill.

When we say, ‘the transition to a new place is making me uncomfortable,’ we’ve expressed something truthful. But when we attack a windmill, we’ve wasted our time and missed an opportunity to focus on what matters instead.

When my dad taught at the University of Buffalo, the heart of his MBA classes was teaching about the ‘change agent.’ This is the external force that puts change into motion. The change agent, once identified, gives us an understanding of our options and the need to respond, not to react.

Every normal is a new normal, until it is replaced by another one. —Seth Godin

Find the courage to view change as an opportunity. Sometimes we spend much too much time resisting change instead of taking action! This week I ask you to stop the resistance. You will never have complete assurance something will work. Make a commitment and get to work! 

Open a new tab right now and open up your firm’s social media accounts. Don’t just pull up one — open everything you have, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Now, look at your most recent post. How old is it? Let us guess: It’s older than you’d like to admit.

Hundreds of law firms neglect their social media accounts, and every single one of them is stabbing their own company in the back. You might not feel the wound yet, but trust us, it’s there. Your firm is bleeding potential clients.

The first thing people wonder when they pull up a neglected social media account is, “Is this place even open?” In a worst-case scenario, they do a bit of scrolling, decide you’ve probably closed your doors, and move on. In a best-case scenario, they figure out you’re open but still don’t call because the neglect makes your firm appear disorganized and inattentive.

So, how can you bring your social media accounts back to life and turn this weakness into an asset? Creating a schedule and posting consistently is the easiest way! We suggest that our clients post every single day. (If that seems overwhelming, you can contact our team for help!).

  1. This does mean that sometimes your posts will get repetitive, but repetition isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an asset! Posting about the same blog five days in a row (in different ways, of course) or sharing the same podcast each week guarantees three things:
  2. More people will see your posts. Social media is controlled by algorithms, so your followers won’t see everything you put out. It may take three posts to reach everyone.
  3. Your firm will look open again. Posting every day makes you appear engaged and relevant, which is exactly what potential clients want.

Your message will build over time. The more consistent and repetitive your posts are, the more effectively you can drill your specializations into your followers’ heads. This will reinforce your position as an expert in your field.

Ultimately, consistency guarantees that your followers will remember you and know what to remember you FOR. It’s the best way to stop the bleeding and get your marketing back on track.

From the Archives

Your marketing strategy is the key to growing your law firm. If your marketing strategy is stale (or non-existent) you’re not going to fuel the growth you’re hoping for. On the other hand, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in new clients, generate more referrals, and even help you justify higher rates. In this report, I suggest some possible “new additions” to help you take your law firm marketing to the next level.

How can you attract the clients and the work that you legitimately enjoy – and free yourself from the economic pressure to take any matter that shows up at your door?

Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning. Don’t try to implement all of these at once – I recommend focusing on just one or two initiatives at a time. Which ideas resonate with you and make sense for your firm?

1) Launch a podcast. Podcasting has exploded as a media source – iTunes reports over one billion subscriptions, and hundreds of millions of plays per month. Launching a podcast geared towards your target market is an effective strategy that you can use to educate potential clients, keep them engaged, and build your credibility at the same time. The key is to come up with a theme and a direction that provides genuinely valuable information to your market. As a business attorney, you could focus your podcast on legal pitfalls that entrepreneurs should be aware of. A family attorney could focus on preparing for and navigating the divorce process, including how to protect and care for the children involved. The possibilities are endless. What are the most common questions and misunderstandings that your clients have? Chances are, addressing those issues would make a great podcast.

2) Host events. Creating and hosting in-person events for potential clients and referral sources can generate momentum and enthusiasm for your practice. We’ve seen clients take this strategy in many different directions – from hosting monthly informational sessions for individuals contemplating divorce, to holding quarterly VIP parties for top referral sources, to organizing seminars featuring expert speakers on topics of interest to business owners. Get creative and find an angle to host in-person events and build a community around your law firm.

3) Sharpen your referral strategy. Referrals are a primary source of new business for most law firms, and clients who are referred to you are typically among the most pleasant and profitable to work with. Are you doing everything can to maximize these referrals? Start by identifying your top referral sources and invest time and energy into deepening those relationships. Identify other individuals who are strategically positioned to send a high volume of work your way and create relationships with them as well. The potential payoff makes it worth your personal investment in this relatively short list of individuals. But, don’t neglect your current clients, your past clients, and your larger network. Ensure that you’re creating top-of-mind awareness and continually educating them on what a good referral looks like. Consider creating referral incentives or even holding regular referral competitions to keep your entire network engaged.

4) Targeted sponsorships. Sponsorships can be a big waste of money if you take the wrong approach. Do NOT jump on every opportunity that comes your way. I’ve seen firms spend large sums of money sponsoring organizations, events, or publications that have little-to-no relevance to their target market. On the other hand, if you can identify groups, events, websites, or magazines that your clients are engaged with, sponsorship can make a great deal of sense. The best approach is generally to identify a small number of organizations or publications to sponsor and to engage with them as deeply as possible. Sponsor their events and ask for speaking opportunities or other visibility. Sponsor newsletters and ask if you can also contribute content. Do your best to create repeated touch-points for members or subscribers – repetition and consistency is key.

5) Offer an audit or check-in to past and current clients. Oftentimes there is more work to be done for your past and even current clients. They just don’t know they need it yet, or they don’t know that you can provide the solution. Solve both problems by creating an “audit” or evaluation for your clients. This could be a worksheet they complete on their own, or it may be a sit-down with you or (even better) someone on your team. The goal is simple: ask them questions about their business, their estate plan, their family life, whatever it may be, and help them to see that they need your help in these areas. Be prepared to explain how you can help them address these challenges or take advantage of the opportunities that you have uncovered together. This simple strategy could result in a massive influx of new work.

6)  Publish a book. There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. While it might sound overwhelming, chances are that you have a good amount of content that you have created over the years which could be re-purposed into a book. If you have a marketing person on your team, assign them to organize this content into an outline. Then, create new content as needed to fill holes and create cohesion. There are a variety of companies out there that can help you layout and publish your book, and some of them can even help you with the content as well.

Once you’ve had your book printed, the marketing opportunities are endless. Give it away at consultations. Offer it as a gift to past clients. Use it as a door prize at events. It’s a powerful tool that will enhance your credibility and build your brand as an authority in your practice area in a very big way.

7) Network smarter. Networking is a valuable strategy for drumming up referrals and new business, particularly when you’re in the “more-time-than-money” phase of your firm. But it’s important to manage your investment well. Don’t simply attend every event in your area. Instead, identify a small handful of targeted organizations that have great potential and get heavily involved. Don’t just attend, get involved in leadership. Speak at events. You’ll get a much better return from deep involvement in a few carefully selected organizations than you will from surface-level involvement in a large number of groups.

8) Speak. Speaking positions you as an expert and an authority. It’s a great way to attract new clients. Look for opportunities to speak in front of your target market – whether that’s a networking group, a trade association, a seminar or conference, or whatever the case may be. Look for opportunities to educate your audience while building your expertise at the same time. This can include presentations on changing laws and regulations that impact your industry, tips, and strategies for your market, best practices for avoiding legal disputes, and more. Just be sure that you’re targeting speaking opportunities that make strategic sense for you – opportunities to reach potential clients in a way that enhances your expertise and your position in the marketplace.

9) Launch a joint venture. Who can you partner with and what can you create to reach a new audience? I know a business lawyer that partnered with a banker and a graphic designer to create a “one-stop start-up shop” for entrepreneurs – helping them to address the legal, financial, and marketing needs of their new business all in one place. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here – who can you join forces with to provide a uniquely valuable product or service for your clients? The advantages to this approach are significant – it represents an opportunity to earn additional income from your existing clients, but more importantly, it also gives you access to the clients and customers of your partners in this venture. If you’re creative, you may also tap into a whole “new market” by creating a product or service that didn’t exist previously. Many of these people will expand the relationship over time, engaging you beyond the scope of the initial joint venture.

10) Train your staff to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for new business. Finally, get the team involved. Your staff likely knows people that could use your services or will encounter them in their daily life – and they’ve seen firsthand how your firm creates value for your clients. Teach them how to recognize potential clients, how to engage them, and how to connect them with you (or whoever handles the intake process for your firm.) This doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it frankly shouldn’t be hard for your team to execute. They just need to understand who’s a good fit and be able to briefly articulate the value that your firm provides to those clients. You never know who your team knows, so tap into their network as well as your own. You can consider offering some sort of incentive for your team members, if appropriate. Make it a team effort!

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully, you’ve gleaned a few ideas that could work for your firm. But it’s important to be realistic about this – don’t bite off more than you can chew. I suggest that you identify one (or two at most) new initiatives to start with. Invest the time to get them up and running and carefully track your results. When you find something that works well, make it a part of your ongoing marketing system and then move on to the next new idea.

 

I bet you read the headline and said—” yah, yah, yah, it sounds like a late-night infomercial.” Well, it’s not an infomercial, it is true you can have a better mood, energy, memory, and focus! Watch Wendy Suzuki’s TED Talk and I’m sure you will find it inspiring. When she describes how she was living her life—it will probably sound familiar. Listen and see if you find some answers.

Your business is nothing without its list. The files upon files of customer data that you have stashed away can give you more insight and direction than most metrics, yet many business leaders know very little about their list — much less how to utilize it.

A great list has a few components. It’s usually more than just an Excel spreadsheet with names, addresses, email addresses, preferences, and phone numbers. But if you don’t even have that, then you need to do some serious updating before you go any further!

Start by scrubbing your list.

Remove any names that are no longer prudent. Then, call the remaining people on the list and verify contact information or ask for additional details. Make this an impossible offer to turn down by providing a reward or something of value to those who opt to share more details with you. As more people offer their information, you have multiple tools to market directly to them. (This will come in handy later.)

Now that you have a brand new, scrubbed, beautiful list, it’s time to break it down. Your list has to be segmented into multiple components to provide a scope of your business’s well-being and pinpoint target areas. Start with three “buckets”:

  • Prospects
  • Customers
  • Bad Leads

From there, you can break the list down even further to include:

  • Canceled customers
  • Hot leads
  • Customers with high spending
  • New sales

As you categorize your list into various buckets, a plan will emerge. Your team can develop campaigns to upsell clients who may need more of the services you can offer while pinpointing those who could be resold on your company. This segmented data is then a powerful tool to help you specifically target your lists rather than casting a wide net and only catching a few leads.

One of the easiest ways to target each group is through relationship marketing. Increase your content production, and keep hitting your customers with your message, using your list’s information to guide you. Start with an email blast, and then pepper in a few postcards. Next, host a Facebook Live event with that very same information and invite a specialty group of people from your list (i.e., your hot leads or loyal customers). Each time you curate a message specifically for a segmented population, you create a message that will land right where they need it the most. But don’t let off the gas. Most readers only remember about 10% of what they consume, so keep communicating!

With a targeted list, you should have no problem finding a new tactic, a new device, or a new platform to get your message out to the people who need to hear it most. It all starts with perfecting — and updating! — your list.

It’s now well into February. Have you lost your enthusiasm for your goals and vision for 2021? Here’s a little inspiration from Shondra Rhimes who is one of the most successful television producers, screenwriters, and authors.

Do you feel luck is not on your side? Think about this!

I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” —Shondra Rhimes

Sondra Rhimes did a TED Talk about the courage to say yes to opportunities—we can all learn the power of YES!

I know YOU are smart, YOU are talented, and YOU can take advantage of the opportunities that come your way! Now focus and work really, really hard. YOU are a badass! 2021 will be your best year ever!

You’ve probably heard of the four laws of thermodynamics, and maybe even the four laws of love thanks to the famous Jimmy Evans book. But what about the four laws of content marketing? Does that sound familiar?

If not, you’re in luck! Over the next four months in this newsletter, we’ll be going over each of the four laws and how you can use them to improve the marketing efforts for your law firm.

This month, we’re starting with Law #1: Content is king.

This is the first law because it describes content at its most basic level. The truth is, everyone, engages with your content, whether they’re a referral, a lead, a colleague, or someone you passed your business card to at a networking event. Think of it this way: If your marketing was a spider web, your content would be the sticky center where all the threads join together.

Understanding this is key to leveraging your content successfully to improve your overall marketing efforts. Once you realize that everyone is going to engage with your content in some way, shape, or form (whether it’s by visiting your website, scrolling through your social media pages, or listening to your podcast), you can see the power it has to influence their decisions and start using that power for good. The right content marketing strategy will help you bring in leads, referrals, and ultimately, more revenue.

If you want to leverage the power of your content, it needs to do three things: position you as the expert in your field, educate your audience, and keep your firm top of mind. There are infinite ways to accomplish these goals, but they’re only necessary because Law #1 holds true. Content is king!

At this point, you might be wondering, “Where does SEO fit into this equation? Isn’t that part of the reason why content is king?” Well, you might be surprised by our answers to those questions, which we’ll reveal next month.

Mark and I have been on many programs together over the years. He tells it like he sees it and is always entertaining. This book is no exception. The tagline to Be Happy By Choice is—Happiness guaranteed or your misery back! Now, tell me, who could resist that guarantee? Here are some excerpts from the book.

“Perhaps you’re wondering, What’s with all this happiness crap? Does it really matter if I’m happy? I just want to make a lot of money and be successful, and then I’ll be happy naturally.

A skeptic is “a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.” Synonyms include “cynic,” “doubter,” “questioner,” and “scoffer.” Any of those nouns could be replaced with “Mark.” 

This mindset is a blessing and a curse. It makes things difficult to accept, which helps me thrive as a trial lawyer. By rejecting things that don’t help my client or myself, I am empowered to search further and deeper to uncover the truth—which isn’t always what prosecutors are trying to feed me. I have a gift for creating reasonable doubt even when the evidence against my client seems convincing. These skills are essential when defending a criminal case.

But this attitude doesn’t always serve us well in our personal lives. By questioning and doubting everything, we prevent ourselves from growing. Instead of embracing beneficial principles and beliefs, we reject what we read or hear. Only by thinking matters through and choosing to be open to new thoughts and ideas will you be able to make major shifts.”

Mark goes on to illustrate the benefits of happy employees.

“Statistics from a Harvard Business Review study revealed the value of happiness in the workplace. Happy employees: 

  • Produce 37% greater sales
  • Are 31% more productive
  • Suffer 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
  • Are 300% more creative

For personal and professional reasons, happiness makes a scientifically measurable difference. Happiness makes good common sense and good business sense. The happier my employees are, the more productive they are, which benefits everyone—and the same goes for me.

Pursuing happiness for practical reasons or because it feels better than the alternative is simply a sensible thing to do.

As you consider the principles in this book, engage your critical, skeptical mind—but not to the point where you dismiss useful ideas and practices out-of-hand. The suggested strategies for finding happiness work, whether you believe in them or not. Give the exercises a try. If you’re like me, your inner skeptic may wind up wondering how and why they work when you were so sure they wouldn’t. That’s a good problem to have.”

Here’s how he looks at the definition of Happiness.

“Defining happiness isn’t easy. If you were to ask a hundred people what happiness means, you would get a hundred different definitions.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “happiness” as “the quality or state of being happy.”

Huh? What’s the definition of “happy?”

There’s an answer for that, too. “Happy” means, “delighted, pleased, or glad.”
Other dictionary definitions include, “Good fortune, pleasure, contentment, and joy.”

United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart must have felt equal frustration when trying to define “obscenity.” In the 1964 landmark case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, while explaining why certain material was constitutionally protected and not obscene, Stewart wrote, “I know it when I see it.”

That’s as close as you’ll get to defining “happiness”: You know it when you see it. You also know it when you feel it.

Let’s define “happiness” as “the result of choosing thoughts that serve you well.” That’s probably not the definition you were expecting, but it took many years to come to that understanding. When we choose thoughts that serve us well, we feel happy, free, serene, and joyful. When we embrace thoughts that don’t serve us well, we become unhappy, and even miserable or depressed.

You have the choice to either adopt or reject the thoughts your brain sends your way. That choice has a pronounced impact on your physical and emotional well-being. In light of the colossal importance of selecting thoughts wisely, and given how difficult it can be to choose our thoughts instead of allowing them to choose themselves, I offer a formula. The rest of this book is dedicated to that formula.”

Here’s one of his tips with an unforgettable story. 

“…take a deep breath. Now do it again. Breathe through your nose, fill your lungs with air, and then exhale through your mouth. Studies have shown that deep breathing improves your mental and physical health. Deep breathing can reduce stress and buy you time to think of what to do next. Taking a breath when you feel any emotion that doesn’t serve you well will make the difference between a healthy response and an out-of-control reaction.

The Time I Failed to Breathe

My client was facing a life sentence for burglary with assault and armed robbery. She had been a prostitute most of her life and based on her extensive criminal record, she was labeled a “habitual violent offender” by the prosecutors. These charges stemmed from an incident in which she and a friend had allegedly entered her client’s house and held a machete to his throat while her accomplice took his wallet. She could have gotten a life sentence for this.

I was excited and a little nervous about going to trial because we would be before the infamous Judge Ellen “Maximum” Morphonios. Having been featured in stories by 60 Minutes and People Magazine, Judge Morphonios was known for dishing out thousand-year sentences. She was also known for bizarre behavior. After sentencing a rapist to a life sentence, she reportedly stood up, lifted her robe to reveal her shapely legs, and remarked, “That’s the last time in your life that you’re going to see a pair of legs like this.”

It was evident that the judge had taken a liking to the victim, who was in his late 90s.

Testifying through a Spanish interpreter, the victim revealed that he had been paying for sexual services from my client, three times a week for several years. They had engaged, he said, in both oral and regular sex. Judge Morphonios appeared astonished and envious.

Her eyes popping in disbelief, she interrupted the prosecutor’s questioning and, in her booming southern accent, asked the victim, “Sir, what do you eat for breakfast?”

“Cuban toast,” he answered.

“Well, then I got to get me some Cuban toast,” she said.

The victim testified that his last encounter with my client had been very different. After he had opened the door to his home, the defendant and her female friend had forcibly pushed their way inside, he claimed. According to him, my client had grabbed the victim’s machete and held it to his neck while the co-defendant removed the victim’s wallet, which contained only a few dollars.

During the victim’s testimony, the veteran prosecutor ran into a problem. When she asked the elderly victim how he had felt with a machete at his throat, he gave only a one-word response. In Spanish, it sounded like “ee-mah-hee-neh,” which was translated as, “imagine.” Realizing that this response would be insufficient to establish on the record that he had been in a state of fear, she persisted. “Sir, were you scared when the defendant held the machete at your throat?” With passion, the victim repeated his original response: “Ee-mah-hee-neh.”

Despite my strenuous objections to staying focused on one question for so long, the judge continued to allow the prosecutor to try leading the witness into saying he was scared. Finally, the impatient judge intervened; she not only put up with the prosecutor’s insistence, she contributed to it!

“Let me give this a try,” she told the prosecutor. I was caught in a game of “tag-team prosecution.” The judge turned to the victim and said, “Sir, you must have been petrified when she put the machete to your throat.”

I vehemently objected to putting words in the victim’s mouth. I was outraged. The judge had forgotten her oath of impartiality and had joined forces with the prosecutor to help her case. The only person in the room whom the jurors trusted had assumed the role of prosecutor. What a gut punch! Of all the things I had foreseen happening in this case, I had never envisioned this.

The judge refused to stop. “Sir, when she put that machete to your throat, you must have had the fear of God in you.”

All she could elicit was an increasingly vehement “Ee-mah- hee-neh.”

I was livid.

The judge kept overruling my numerous objections concerning her improper conduct. Feeling out of control, I felt a tightness in my chest. I needed to breathe but didn’t. I was losing it. What the judge was doing was incredibly improper, something I had never seen a judge do before. Emotional, I chose to react in the moment. I forgot about the many spiritual tools I had at my disposal. What I needed to help me deal with this judge gone wild was a big deep breath. Had I simply taken that deep breath, I would have realized that the judge’s behavior was so out of line that the appellate court would surely reverse any ruling against my client. I let my thoughts and emotions blind me.

The judge gave up on the witness and turned to the jury: “I’m making a finding that any reasonable person, upon having a machete at their throat, would be afraid.” This was the most egregious breach of judicial conduct I have ever witnessed. I lost it.

Because I had failed to take a deep breath, the scene tumbled downhill. We went back and forth. I told her that such partiality from a judge was unacceptable. She told me to back down.

The way she responded to my over-the-top objections showed the jurors that the judge was against me. As a trial lawyer, that’s the last thing you want to see happen. Letting my emotions run rampant, likely hindered my ability to win the case.

Fortunately, the Third District Court of Appeal threw out my client’s conviction and remanded the case for retrial. “The judge’s comments unduly prejudiced the jury against the defendant,” the appellate court said. As time dragged on, the case against my client grew weaker; the victim became older, sicker, and less mentally coherent. As a result, the prosecutor offered my client a plea bargain of six years in prison with full credit for time already served. A short time later, she was out courtesy of the eccentric judge.

When stressful moments happen, take a deep breath. Tell yourself, “This will all work out.” Go a step further and envision an outcome that is even better than you could rationally hope for. It all starts with one deep breath.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We are as happy as we make up our minds to be.” What was true over 130 years ago still rings true.
I recommend that you order a copy of this inspiring and entertaining approach to Be Happy By Choice! Make 2021 the year YOU choose happiness.