ep22. Law Firm Marketing: Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP – Rituals to Grow Your Practice

January 7, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Katy-MickelsonKaty Mickelson is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney and Partner at Beermann LLP, one of the largest divorce and family law firms in Illinois. Katy has been practicing law for 15 years and has been named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine and a “Super Lawyer” for 2021.

She has also been recognized as one of the “Most Notable Women Attorneys” in 2018 by Crain’s New York’s Business, has been nominated by her peers as a “Leading Lawyer” since 2015 and one of Best Lawyers’ “Women of Influence” in 2017.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Who is Katy Mickelson?
  • How Katy started her career and grew to become an Equity Partner at Beermann LLP
  • Why a successful lawyer should also be a good marketer
  • Katy talks about the past mistakes that led to her success—so far
  • The rituals you should develop as a new attorney starting your practice
  • Katy’s best book recommendation for attorneys going into private practice

In this episode…

Marketing your law firm is a must if you want to grow your private practice. However, if you don’t have the right clients coming in through the door, your firm will struggle to grow. Why? According to Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, you’re only as good as your next client—and the reputation you leave with past clients.

So, how do you attract clients who are an excellent fit for you and your firm? Katy says it’s simple: this is where your rituals to grow your practice comes to play.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin, you’ll hear from Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, as she talks about the rituals you should develop to grow your law practice. She shares why marketing is a must for lawyers, why the way you choose your clients defines your success, how to attract the right type of clients, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

 

Episode Transcript

Intro

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing we help law firms generate more clients in cases using search marketing. And speaking of successful lawyers, today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, one of the largest divorce and family law firms in Illinois. Katy has been practicing law for the past 15 years and has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine and a Super Lawyer for 2021. She has also been recognized by Crain’s Media’s Most Notable Women Attorneys for 2018 had to get that out there and a leading lawyer from 2015 to present. Katy, welcome to the show.

Katy Mickelson

Thank you for having me.

Matthew Laurin

Take me back to the beginning. Katy, when you when you started working for for Beermann, what was it like?

Katy Mickelson

Well, so I, I would say that I started somewhat of the old fashioned way. So I started as a law clerk. I was in law school. It was around my between my second and my third year, pounding the pavement looking for law clerking positions, and I happened upon Beermann through mutual connection through my through a family member, and essentially went there and interviewed for a clerking position, right from law school. And so what I was offered was an opportunity to start there in the summer and be able to work with Family Law Attorneys, and we at that time, Beermann was more of a have multi disciplines within the firm. So insurance, defense business litigation.

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha, gotcha. So in the attorneys I talk to your story is sort of parallel. And then there are other stories where maybe they’ve worked for a law firm for a little bit, and then they go off on their own. Is that kind of how it went for you like, did you well, clerk at Beermann and then have an opportunity to become an equity partner? Yeah, so

Katy Mickelson

it’s, I think I referenced this because what was interesting is there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of lateral movement these days, a lot of people don’t stay in a law firm per se, for a long period of time. So when I started as a law clerk, I was hired as a contract attorney, then associate, then became a senior associate, then became a junior partner, income partner, and eventually made my way up to being an equity partner. So it was a 15 year process of sweat equity, going, you know, doing putting in my hours, and kind of rising from being a law clerk all the way to being an owner. So it’s pretty unique for my firm. I’m the only owner that started out as a law clerk. So it was certainly something that I wouldn’t say that a lot of attorneys normally go through that process, at least anymore.

Matthew Laurin

Okay, that’s very cool. It’s neat that you’ve been able to stay there for so long and then grow within that, within that organization, were you ever involved in the process of bringing new business into the firm are did ever started any point?

Katy Mickelson

It really started from the beginning. From my perspective, you know, you’re you’re good at what you do based upon your qualities as an attorney, but you never know when your next case is going to come in or when it’s going to stop. So for me, business development has always been the forefront of what I’ve done. So it’s been hammered into me since the beginning that I need to bring in cases that I need to be a good business developer. And that also stems from me having worked in a prior career, because I was aware of the business world I’m aware of, you know, client development and client relationships, and how important that is to gaining trust and then having future business with those clients. So that gave me a unique gift gave me unique insight and how to how to be not only a successful lawyer, but a successful business person.

Matthew Laurin

I saw that in your bio about your career change, and you were in PR before I

Katy Mickelson

was so prior to being a lawyer, I had somewhat of a a different a different pathway. So when I graduated college from the University of Michigan, I wanted to work in public relations marketing. My degree was in sociology, and I thought it would be fun. I decided I wouldn’t go into an agency. So for a period of seven years, I worked at a variety of agencies in Chicago, doing consumer, mostly consumer products, public relations, ended up in a very large worldwide agency model. A few years and was a group manager for that agency doing a whole lot of fun. I mean, media tours, product development, a lot of fun events and a lot of writing. And so that was my seven year career prior to leaving and going full time to law school.

Matthew Laurin

And I’m assuming that help you with like the business and marketing aspect of running a law firm, to kind of help prepare you for what that would be like.

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, and it’s part of it is, is running a law firm part of it is managing those who work for me and kind of really being able to read who works for me what their needs are, how do you encourage, you know, faithful employees really try to make the environment as pleasant as possible. Because ultimately, you’re only as good as the people that work with you. And it’s really, really important to create an environment where they want to come to work, and they want to work for you, you want to create that loyalty. So it all it all I think has has worked out with each other.

Matthew Laurin

That’s awesome. Um, can you tell me about a past failure or mistake that you had that led to your future success? So many,

Katy Mickelson

for attorneys who say that they don’t make mistakes, you should never you should never believe them or hire them. But um, you know, I think one of the hardest things about being a you know about about bringing in your own business and running your own cases is identifying when a client is not the right fit. And it’s, you know, you’re what’s very important in when you want to practice successfully is having clients that subscribe to the same philosophy that have, you know, that are confident in your skills, and are aligned in the strategy. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to agree with everything that you say, and it doesn’t mean necessarily agree with everything they say. But I had one particular experience with a client where my gut was telling me that this wasn’t the right fit. But I decided to stay in, I decided to stay in. And, you know, it was difficult because the client that this is the hard part, the client was paying me a lot of money. And you know, you don’t necessarily want to walk away from a client that pays you a lot of money. But one of my favorite expressions is that that client was taking up 80% of my brain space, not in a good way. And, you know, it’s what what really, it has taught me is, and I eventually withdrew from the case, and I think I woke up the next morning, just feeling a weight off my shoulders. And what it really has taught me is that we’re valuable, our work is valuable. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that every client is a fit, and is going to feel that same way.

Matthew Laurin

That’s so cool. I’ve never really had advice like that from a guest on the show. Because when you’re starting out, you’re starving. Right? And you will take any client. I mean, I’ve felt the same way in our agency, just taking anyone on. But yeah, like, if it’s someone that just sucks all your time, or sucks all your energy, or, like it says, not a good bit. And is it really worth having them on there? Even if they are paying you a lot of money? That’s great advice.

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s only so much that you want to sell yourself for for

Matthew Laurin

free quote. Next question here, rituals for success. So what’s one practical thing that young attorneys just starting out should be doing every day or every week to kind of contribute towards their growth as a professional or the growth of their law

Katy Mickelson

firm, build relationships. So the the best thing that you can do is, you know, being a lawyer is not just about writing a good brief or arguing in court, until you have the trust of the individuals who are potentially going to hire you or refer you. You’re not going to go anywhere. I mean, you could be the most intelligent attorney in the world, but you’re only as good as your next client, and then the reputation that you leave with past clients. So what’s really important from my perspective, is constantly building that credibility in that relationship with the people that can be your mouthpieces. And if you don’t have that credibility, if you don’t have that support, and that’s based upon really sound, good relationships with people be built on trust and integrity, I don’t think that you’re going anywhere. So making it a priority to really have meaningful connections with people. That doesn’t mean joining a networking group and canvassing the room and trying to get business cards handed out. It really means creating meaningful, long standing, trusting relationships and that can be done as easily as just sending an email and then having a cup of coffee or doing anything that requires that discussion and connection with other people.

Matthew Laurin

I noticed in your bio, that you’re, you’re involved in a lot of women’s associations and other associations related to the legal industry. Is that was that your conduit to build relationships and network?

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, so I mean, there’s, there’s a couple different reasons why I do that one, it makes me feel more well rounded, right. So I, I don’t, well, I, I love what I do. And I find it really important to be a good lawyer and a credible lawyer, I think it’s the the, to make me a more well rounded person, I certainly want to be able to be involved in organizations that I’m really passionate about. But the second thing really is, is that, you know, I am involved in organizations, but I only do things where I’m all in. So I don’t join an organization just to be a member and add it to my resume or any, you know, add it to my experience, I’ll be a leader, I’ll organize and be, you know, make it so that I have, you know, the, the attention of those who are leading so whether it be the chair of a group, or leading a group of a business development group that’s really, really important to me, both as a professional and on a personal level,

Matthew Laurin

what is one book, you’d recommend every attorney going into private practice read for themselves.

Katy Mickelson

So I eat one of my new year’s resolutions, which we as individuals and human beings do New Year’s resolutions, but it is to read more, but what I’ve been doing is I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, and I hadn’t really necessarily been doing business books, but I do you know, people enjoy them. And certainly, and I was referred to me to do to read a book or listen to a book by Chris Voss. He’s a former FBI, hostage negotiator. And he took all it’s called Never Split the Difference. And he took all of his skills that he learned in the psychology of meat of negotiation, and has applied it to business. And what you know, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of know what I know and know what I don’t know. And one of the things I’ve always tried to strive to be better at his negotiation because it’s one of the scariest things you never know, if you’re coming in too high, too low. You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. So it’s what what’s been great about this book is it’s really taught you to look at the strategy behind it and to be able to come into any situation and be able to negotiate during Family Law. negotiation is fraught with emotion. So to have another skill, to be able to do it and really look at it from a business perspective, I think puts you leaps and bounds beyond other family law attorneys and other practitioners in general.

Matthew Laurin

A great book, I have not read it. I’ve heard about it. I know some of my mentors have read it and suggested I think I just made a note of it here. I think I’ll check that one out. But I like I said that it’s it gives you like an advantage, another perspective, which is pretty cool. Like not only in running your firm within. In working with your clients, it’s nice that you’re able to have a more well rounded perspective, like you mentioned with your other other activities as well. You’ve been listening to Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, Katy, where can people go to learn more about the law firm?

Katy Mickelson

I can be reached through a number of ways through my website and my email address, which is khMickelson. That’s m IC k e l s o n at Beermannlaw.com. I can also be reached directly at 312-621-4382. And I’m always happy to answer questions and help out people and assist them in this in this highly contested area of law.

Matthew Laurin

Thanks, Katy. Thanks for being on the show.

Katy Mickelson

Thank you.

Conclusion

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