As he approaches his sixth anniversary with Atticus™, we wanted to sit down and talk to practicing attorney and Practice Growth Program™ Facilitator Mark Metzger about his personal and professional journey. As someone who combines more than 27 years of experience practicing law with six years of practicing Atticus concepts and principles, he draws on his extensive experience building and maintaining a successful firm to help others do the same.
Mark, father of three and a new grandfather, was first introduced to Atticus in October 2011 when he attended a workshop led by Atticus Shareholder Steve Riley. Of that day, Mark says, “What I learned over the next day and a half changed my life and brought me to where I am today – not only practicing Atticus principles in my own firm, but teaching them, too.”
Read on to learn more about what makes him uniquely equipped to help other attorneys as they build and grow their firms.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
“Well, I’ve always had an overly-competitive personality. I went to college intent on attending medical school. Halfway through my undergraduate years, I considered the idea of earning both a Doctorate of Medicine and a Juris Doctorate. I went so far as to intern with someone in this field, but then considered several factors: the amount of time to earn both Doctorates, the limited career opportunities and the realization that I’d probably end up in hospital administration.“
At that point, fueled by his many achievements on the debate team, Mark made the decision to go to law school instead.
Tell us about your career as an attorney.
“I started practicing in 1989. The first phase of my legal career involved work at a large firm and focused primarily on litigation.” Mark was a member of a team defending a large corporate client all over the country. This work had him trying cases in the eastern seaboard and Great Lakes states. But in the background he had a growing interest in the transactional law practices.
The second phase of his career saw Mark transition his practice to a small law firm that bears his name in the Chicago area. This completed the transition to a largely transactional practice now focused on estate planning, elder law and real estate matters. “By the end of 2005, I recognized that I’d found another line of work that was more appealing to me than being in a courtroom.”
What did you get out of the first Atticus program you attended?
“I had a series of revelations about my practice. I realized that there were things that I thought I knew about building a firm that were holding me back. I bought into the conventional wisdom on what you can and can’t do — with no real evidence to support it.”
It was in this first session that he hatched the idea to build a high volume real estate practice and then to build the software to support it. That day and a half of work transformed Mark’s practice. It led to a more than five-fold revenue increase, dramatically reduced his time in the office and built his satisfaction with the practice of law to an all-time high.
What motivates you to keep improving your practice?
“It’s a game to me. I like to see if there is a way to do it better, faster and with fewer errors,” Mark said.
As someone who has always enjoyed games, he was “driven to win.” He saw an opportunity with his firm to create a new kind of game to play.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self when you were first starting out?
“Don’t think you know everything. Some of the biggest aha’s that I’ve had are when I recognized that the closely held assumptions that I had about how to build a firm were not only wrong — but limiting. Atticus was responsible for breaking up these old notions and introducing me to new concepts that would carry me much further.”
As the owner of your own firm, how do you choose what to focus on to improve your own practice?
“I look for immediate wins, of course, but something that will have broad impact. I also look for things that look like they’ll be fun to implement.” Acknowledging that he hasn’t implemented everything he wants to yet, he says his own practice serves as a laboratory for trying the new things he’s teaching. He went on to say that he considers himself to be very adaptable with a strong love of learning new things.
Tell us something that we don’t know about you.
“I’ve always been interested in transformation. I’ve been a performing magician since I was 6 years old. To this day, I’m still dabbling in magic because it’s fun to me.” In fact, when Mark is in front of a room of attorneys facilitating the Practice Growth Program, he said that he still draws on what he learned at age 12. “I have a director’s voice in my head and a constant running dialog about how the show is proceeding. Atticus is in the ‘edutainment’ business and I am constantly aware of the need to bring entertainment as well as education to my performance. It’s all about maintaining energy to keep the audience engaged.”
If you have the opportunity, go see attorney Mark Metzger in action as he brings his lively mix of entertainment, intellectual skill and practical magic to show attorneys that there is nothing mysterious about transforming their lives and their firms.