The Value of Mastermind Groups For The Solo Practitioner

Business, as in life, revolves around the relationships we cultivate. The give and take we enjoy. If we choose our relationships with great care, nurture and cultivate them, then these relationships have the ability to impact our professional and personal future and can profoundly determine the course of our professional lives.

It’s also said that if in our life we have five true friends we are wealthy beyond measure. This can be said, too, of the small group of people we allow closest to us who are not bound to us by blood. One could argue, this small group can directly impact what we ultimately become in this life.

In my opinion, this is the thrust behind the power of a mastermind group. This group (or groups) of colleagues, friends, and confidantes will force us to stretch beyond our comfort zone, force us to work harder, think larger, support us when we feel like quitting, hold us accountable in a way that inspires us to achieve our  goals.  And when we stretch beyond our comfort zone, it is said that’s when life (including a successful professional life) begins.

How do you create a mastermind group?

First, there are no specific numbers for a mastermind group. It can be one or 20 or 50. The number is irrelevant. It is the mutual connection and agenda of the group which matters. I have a mastermind. And it literally is one other person. Others I know have a mastermind group of 10 and another 15. It’s not the number that matters. It’s the quality of the individuals and the impact of their expertise or ability to motivate and inspire you.

Determine what the agenda and goals are of the collective group.

For instance, it can be a group who is interested solely in marketing their practice. It can be a group whose motivation is having a sounding board for substantive law issues. This may be more common for new lawyers who want the wisdom of many to ease the necessary but time-consuming need to research. Being able to connect with this group to discuss a law issue can be quite valuable and relieve the feeling of ‘being alone’ when going solo. As would be the ability to share memoranda of law or resources. Another group could be lifestyle concerns, technology,  or creating, running, and, maintaining virtual offices. A group could be started for any number of reasons on a given topic. The point is, connect with people motivated by the same need(s) and then set the agenda.

Eliminate inhibitors to total involvement with the group.

When there is potential for competition the perception of this possible competition could create an unwillingness to fully participate.

For example, if all members practice in the same area of law and are located in the same geographic area, an agenda that is driven based upon marketing strategies would not be good. However, an agenda based upon sharing the best strategies for completing work and referring out business to the group in cases of conflict or connecting for possible collaboration might be possible.

Don’t be afraid to choose colleagues who are more experienced than you.

While the more experienced may be able to share more about their expertise, you have other skills and talents which may be very valuable to the more experienced attorney. Let’s say the group is based upon non-geographically competitive practitioners in bankruptcy. The more experienced practitioners may offer up substantive guidance. The less experienced may be very capable when it comes to technology and social media or website design. The key is give and take and mutuality of goals within the group – helping each other to succeed.

Choose colleagues who are committed to your success as much as their own.

Most of all, choose colleagues who are as committed to your success as they are to their own, who are optimistic and like to problem-solve. Choose other lawyers who see opportunity where most see despair.  These are the lawyers you want around you.  This, by the way, does not mean you shouldn’t have people who are realistic around you.  Seeing opportunity where others see despair doesn’t mean those in your group aren’t concerned with potential landmines. The difference is they will find solutions to help you past those landmines.

Determine the best way to share information and ‘meet’.

Is it more comfortable to meet in person once a month and supplemented with private e-mails or a private ‘group’ set up on yahoo or google for questions in between? Is it just easier to teleconference once a month on Google Chat? Depending upon the geography, is it simply better to strictly use a private listserv or group forum? Again, this turns on the size of the group, the ease to coordinate, the needs of the collective, and the agenda of the group.

If you have the motivation to create your own mastermind, the logistics will just prove to be simply details to be ironed out.

Start reaching out to others you feel comfortable talking with. Map out a loose agenda which satisfies your needs. Start incorporating the needs of others until you come up with a collective agenda. And remember, what’s the worst someone can say? “No.” Then move on to the next.

If you are a currently part of a mastermind group please share your experiences.

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8 comments on “The Value of Mastermind Groups For The Solo Practitioner

  • As always, I am in complete agreement with Susan!
    I am a member of a business mastermind group and 2 collaborative and mediation mastermind groups. They each give me different, insights into how I am doing and what I may do differently or better. Attorneys don’t use this process as efficiently as business people. We need to incorporate this evaluative tool monthly if we are to step out of our comfort zone. Once we do this our practices will get greater visibility and we will get well rounded input.
    Thanks you Susan for writing about this important piece of the Solo practitioners success.

  • I think it’s a great idea! I’ve got an informal one going with a few other ex-lawyers turned entrepreneurs, and it’s tons of fun and very useful. We meet once a month or so via Google Hangouts or conference call. (if our tech is acting up). Everyone’s having different, but related, experiences, so it’s a good way to trade notes and share info.

  • This is absolutely a fabulous tool to have! I am fortunate to be involved with just such a group of solo attorneys in my area. We share information, provide a safe environment for asking “stupid questions” and bouncing ideas, and give each other referrals. There are a couple of practice areas that have a duplicated presence, and I believe Susan is correct that these attorneys do not participate as fully in the group. This is really unfortunate for them! Sometimes as attorneys, we tend to have a natural inclination toward competition. However, this is an arena where we should try to embody the more entrepreneurial abundance mindset. Generally speaking, there truly are enough clients to go around, and we are not always the right service provider for everyone.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Susan. Mastermind groups are a great way to help solos move their business + practice forward. There are 2 parts to being a solo: the legal part and the business part. After 10 years of practice, I was OK with the legal part, but starting + running a firm was a brand new endeavor. Masterminds have helped me with the business side, everything from finding a graphic designer and cheap workshop space to feedback on my new website and business model.

    Since you are including groups with only one other person, I guess I am in 4 Mastermind groups. One is for local small business owners in my area (meet monthly; 12 people max). Another is for women business owners (meet monthly; 7 women). The third is a friend of mine who is starting a business, and we are constantly bouncing marketing, website, social media, and product ideas off of each other. I’m also in a small group of attorneys (6) who meet quarterly to discuss marketing ideas.

  • Great article Susan! Since you asked for our experiences…

    I’m a huge fan of Masterminding, and have experienced huge success in my business since I joined my first Mastermind group 6 years ago. I recently wrote a book called “Mastermind Your Way To Success” that I would like to share with you and your readers. Download it free at

    Keep up the good work!

  • I am a member of several groups. Two deal strictly with legal issues and consist of groups of individuals who practice in the same geographical area in the same area of law. It is great to have a group of people who can answer each other’s questions and intelligently discuss the law.
    I am excited about a new group that I joined which focuses more on marketing and developing a practice. You are right, it helps that our practices do not overlap. Usually when we discuss marketing, someone either has a fresh way to develop our marketing strategy or has some insight on how to strengthen Internet presence. It has been a great collaborative effort. I am surprised that more people are not willing to be part of a group like this.

  • Great article. Belonging to a peer advisory group helps us make better, more strategic decisions. Alone, we can only see part of the chess board. Peer advisers help us see the whole board. Mastermind groups and goals groups are really catching on, as people realize what a risk it is to try to do everything alone.

    The number of people in a group is important. You write, “First, there are no specific numbers for a mastermind group. It can be one or 20 or 50. The number is irrelevant.”

    The best number is between four and six. There are a couple of reasons. First, you want everything said in the group to be completely confidential. You’ll be exposing your troubles, challenges and vulnerabilities, so you need to be able to trust everyone in your group. You can’t really do that with a big group or with members who come and go. The other reason is that everyone in the group should give and get in the same measure. Each person should have the opportunity to provide help and advice to others AND receive some in return.

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