I recently referred one of my larger clients to a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise. The advisor had the top legal advisors in the company review my clients' joint RLT. The attorneys were very impressed with the documents and said that "it was the most comprehensive document they had ever seen." They said that every possible contingency was thought of, and that they even wanted my business card.
So of course, my advisor friend was thrilled (he is also my client), and the clients were too.
Thank you Academy for providing us with the best documents. In other words, thanks for making me look good.
My husband, Bruce, and I have had an excellent relationship with Michele Tutoli, our estate planning attorney in San Diego, who is a Member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. She has kept us up to date with Trust law and helped us maintain our ancillary documents, as needed. We knew the Trust was sound and "would travel with us" when we moved to North Carolina, but we were concerned about the other issues that might appear. Specifically, we were interested in health care documents as well as any other nuances of estate planning law in our new home state. Michele put us completely at ease by refreshing our memory of Academy practices and referring us to an Academy attorney in Durham, where we now live.
I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how happy we are with North Carolina attorney Mark O. Costley, an Academy Member Michele recommended. He has been extremely helpful to us. He manages to be professional and quite personable at the same time. He has clearly acquainted us with the differences between North Carolina and California estate planning law. I am very happy to report that we have, very comfortably, executed our new ancillary documents. We are completely satisfied. We are, once again, in sound hands.
It never crossed our minds that we would leave San Diego when we first drafted our Trust. The nationwide reach of the Academy was nice to hear about, but we just didn't think it would have consequences for us. I am so happy to report that it did, and we are so grateful. Walking into Mr. Costley's office the first time, with the confidence and trust of Michele's referral, was a benefit that can't be measured. Thank you so much.
I was moved to share a recent story from my practice. I am sure you hear things like this all the time but I still wanted to share. As a new attorney (new to the practice of law & new to Estate Planning), I started my practice with the Academy. I often find myself relying on Education to feel comfortable in assisting clients or anytime something is or even 'feels' new. The end of last year, I had a case that was very different I emailed Education about the client's problem. Not only did I receive an answer back but Steve took time to talk me through the fact pattern and send me fact scenarios to run through with the client… not only helping me understand the law but what I needed to do to assist the client and properly draft the document.
Last week, I had a lunch & learn with the advisor that referred the client to us and she commented that without my knowledge she sent the plan and documents to her brokerage company's attorney. They told her that it was the "most thorough and complete estate work they have seen in years." Needless to say, the advisor will be sending me additional work in the future.
I am sure you hear things like this all the time but I really appreciated the time all the Academy staff takes to invest in our practice and lives and felt compelled to share this story.
I’ve been practicing as an attorney for the last twenty-one years, and I was
fortunate enough about eleven years ago to decide in a moment of great epiphany
that I no longer wanted to litigate. I was a successful litigator, I had trials,
I studied with Gerry Spence, big verdicts, but I wasn’t happy.
And I sat down with a yellow pad, I remember it like it was yesterday, and I put
down what I really wanted to do. My father’s an attorney, my grandfather’s
an attorney, and I remembered when I was a little girl that my grandfather was an
estate planning attorney. He would take me to visit people in the hospital and unfortunately
take me to some of the funeral homes, but it was the relationship that he had with
the different clients and I liked that.
So when I was sitting there with my yellow pad I went back to those days, and then
I started looking and exploring to see if there was any type of group out there
to convert a former litigator to a successful estate planning attorney.
And I think it was providence, but I found the Academy. I remember I was reading
National Lawyers Weekly and I did my due diligence, I called up the attorneys and
I felt like I was joining Amway because every single person that I talked to was
telling me how amazing this group of people was.
Then I went to my first meeting, again, doing my due diligence, and I remember just
that people went around the group telling about their experience with the Academy
and how long they had been with the group and what success they had seen.
And if that wasn’t enough, I then looked at the computer systems and all of
the different systems that they had for marketing and talking and teaching the public
and teaching me about estate planning, because I hadn’t really done estate
planning besides a few little wills outside of law school, and it’s everything
that I was promised and more.
I’ve grown my business from a one-woman, one-paralegal firm into, I think
we have nine employees now, and there’s another attorney. We have a Certified
Financial Planner on staff. And the best news of all is our office only works four
days a week in Greensboro, North Carolina and we’re doing better than we’ve
ever done before. So, thank you to the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.
You've really made a difference in my life.
“That’s the work that you’ve done [at the Academy] and I’ve got to say, guys, you are absolutely, clearly adding immense value to every single estate planning client that your estate planning attorneys actually are capable of working with. Because you’ve eliminated the chaos, eliminated the confusion and created the blessed result of everybody beginning to plan in an organized, dedicated and productive way.”
I’ve been a member of the Academy now for eleven years, and over the years
I’ve investigated numerous membership organizations that represent various
court organizations in the estate planning industry, and in fact I’m a member
of a number of those still today, including the Academy.
The one thing that I have learned through my detailed investigation of these organizations
is that none of them offer a complete turn-key program like the Academy does in
terms of providing a different way of looking at your practice from a standpoint
of being an entrepreneur focusing on working on your business so that ultimately
you have something of tangible value that you can ultimately transition out of and
Handling all aspects of the management of that business, everything from marketing
to HR issues to internal systems and procedures in terms of processing work through
your office. In terms of establishing what the organizational structure should look
like and actually putting together an organizational chart, complete with detailed
job descriptions for each individual position within the framework of the organization.
There’s just nothing like it, and then the events getting the consistent support
and additional information in terms of what we should be doing staying cutting-edge
in the various areas and staying on top of developments within your organization,
within the industry.
There really are none that touch it, and for those out there that are considering
membership and are also considering other organizations, the likelihood is I’m
either a member of that organization or have investigated it. Feel free to give
me a call and discuss the details of kind of a side-by-side comparison of how the
Academy addresses things like no other organization does
I started with another member last year. I would say that his membership in the
Academy (since 1994) and his introduction to the Academy was one of the reasons
I bought his firm. I appreciate everything about it. In addition, there are some
other things I’ve done. I’ve practiced law for about 28 years actively,
and I’ve never been in an organization where the attorneys talk to each other
as freely and openly as they do here. It astonished me when I saw it the first time,
now I’ve just come to appreciate it
The Academy has proven invaluable to me. What I find most beneficial about the Academy
is that it has provided me a structure for not only the marketing of my law firm,
but for the operation of the firm.
One of the services that the Academy provides me is a Practice Building Consultant.
No greater benefit can you have than to have someone who is able to look at your
practice objectively and point out the things that you don’t see because you’re
working in the practice.
The Academy gives me the wherewithal to work on my practice as well as in it, and
I’m very grateful for that and I don’t know where else I would have
been able to get that kind of support.
The Academy provides me more than I can expect and more than I have even been able
to take advantage of with regard to how to market my firm… and really what
that means for me is that the sky is the limit, because how far and how well I’m
able to market my firm really depends on how much I am able to put into it.
And with my Practice Building Consultant making sure that I keep moving along, I’m
sure I’ll get where I want to go
I’ve been an Academy member since October of 1993. What I find most in my
Academy experience is inspiration. Inspiration as to cutting edge estate planning
techniques, inspiration to do more with respect to the same individuals and my staff,
and an inspiration to be the best that I can be. All new management techniques on
a constant basis, better ways to do what I do as an estate planning attorney
My wife and I relocated to Minnesota in 1995 with our two children, I became a member
in a downtown firm for one year.
We broke off and joined the Academy in 1996, one of the best things about the Academy
that I have seen is the introduction of financial services to our firm.
I wouldn't practice any other way than being with the American
Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. It’s a wonderful way to have a small
practice yet be part of a large national organization, so I would encourage anybody
to look into this organization and again, I’ve been a member since 1996 and
it’s been like a home away from home for my wife and I.
One of the biggest benefits I get out of the Academy is the education that is provided.
Not only do we have complete educational programs continuously throughout the year,
but in addition we have tax attorneys on staff that can answer questions on very,
very short notice.
So, you have a client coming in, you have a quick tax question you don’t have
the time to research, having tax attorneys on staff gives you the benefits of the
big law firm… it is invaluable to me.
In addition, I also like the fact that the Academy has been teaching me systems
to run the law practice. Lawyers, we’re maybe great technically with what
we have to do, but not always the greatest business people in the world.
Having systems to operate the practice so you can run a really tight ship and have
the business acumen that they provide to you and teach you how to run it the right
way also helps you make more money and support your family at the same time. So,
those are the biggest benefits I see out of the Academy.
We’ve been members of the Academy since 1994. I’d like to tell you why
the Academy’s Education Department is so important to us. My partners and
I are all CPAs and we all have advanced degrees in taxation, but the Academy people
are just beyond belief.
Whenever we go to regular Bar Association meetings and they say, “Do your
documents include this?” and “Do your documents include that?”
we always say yes, because the Academy keeps us up-to-date with all the most current
documents and knowledge about what’s going on in tax law. We’re truly
state of the art.
As a sole practitioner in 1994 I joined the Academy, and at that time I think I
was looking for guidance with how to move further into this education-based type
But the most important thing that I’ve learned and gained since becoming a
member in a smaller community is that I now have the camaraderie, the fellowship
of other membership, and the ability to seek help from others who are in the same
kind of position that I’m in, and who are always willing to help, and it’s
just been an amazing experience for me and one that I would never change.
I’ve been a proud member of the American Academy since 1993, actually, June
of 1993, and here are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share with you about
the value of the membership.
First of all, the Academy provides us a broad range of practice management tools.
Let’s start, for example, with the Education Department. It’s very important
that as an attorney, we have documents that we know are up to date and reflect the
current thinking, current status of the law so we can provide our clients with the
best possible plan.
Secondly, questions come up all the time when we have interviews with clients, and
it’s terrific to be able to have a resource such as the Education Department
of the Academy who can respond quickly and accurately to help us address those issues
in a very punctual way. Clients like that quick service, and the application of
that expertise. So, the Education Department provides a tremendous resource and
tool for us.
So, what I’d like you to consider is, visit with your Practice Building Consultant
or someone at the Academy and have them explain all the valuable tools that Academy
membership will afford you and your practice.
I’ve been a member of the Academy since 1995. When I joined the Academy, I
joined because it was a turn-key system, it was going to change my life and it was
going to help me do estate planning and provide all the services I wanted to provide
to my clients.
I was right on all counts, it was a turn-key system and it did change my life, but
the big change was all the relationships with all the people I’ve made in
this organization who are now some of my closest friends, and upon whom I can rely
for almost anything. Any questions day or night, any assistance with any clients,
they’re always there to help.
And even though they’re peers, we don’t compete because we all have
different territory, and these relationships to me, over the thirteen years I’ve
been a member, have been the most valuable resource about my Academy membership,
on top of my education, which is great.
The marketing, which is great, the documents, which are great, but the relationships,
that’s what’s really great. I hope to be a member until they carry me
out many years from now!
I’ve been a member since 2005. One of the things I love most about the Academy
is the camaraderie. Everyone is like a gigantic, happy family. Most lawyers don’t
really cooperate with each other, but with the Academy it’s a lot different.
Actually, more like a friendship sort of developed, a real happy family.
Robert and Sandy are two of the nicest, most cutting-edge, visionary people that
you could care to meet. They’re really pioneers in everything I have seen
in the estate planning practice, all the ideas that they have, I just wish we could
implement all of them, it would be great, but it takes some time. But if you listen
to what they say and do and you implement it, you’ll do very well practicing
law. It will make it a lot easier and a lot more fun.
I’ve been a member since 1994. The Academy has been great for me, I have a
background in estate planning so the education part has been good, but that wasn’t
as important to me as the marketing side of the business.
So, I came out of law school ready to go, I worked for a big firm and decided I
wanted to get out on my own but I wanted to specialize in estate planning, it’s
very, very hard to get clients, especially in a small town.
The Academy was able to give me the marketing tools to build an exclusive estate
planning practice, and of course the Academy does have territories, but the other
members in the Academy are very good at sharing their ideas with each other because
they don’t compete directly with each other. So, I’ve been able to put
together a very, very successful estate planning practice with thousands and thousands
Here I am fourteen years later still doing seminars and have two lawyers working
for me and started a financial planning company on the side and it’s been
very lucrative, so I would recommend anybody to get a chance to join the Academy.
I’ve been a member for about a year and a half, in fact, fairly new to estate
planning and being an attorney. I’m really appreciative of having the Academy
and assistance, particularly the Education Department. I found it a wonderful resource.
Matter of fact, we had recently retained a complex estate planning case, and I don’t
think I’d have the confidence to take that on without the support of the Education
Department, I’m really thankful for it.
The Academy marketing materials are proven winners.
Two things that have always come back to me that mean a lot about the Academy
and to our clients is number one, if we don’t serve people, if we don’t
serve clients to the best of our ability our job satisfaction is basically non-existent.
At least, with me.
But also, we have to be happy with what we do. I mean, if I don’t get up in
the morning and have some energy to go to the office, I’m here to tell you,
I’m not going to do a very good job for most of my clients. The Academy has
allowed me many avenues of improving quality of my work for clients, follow-through
for the clients, staff training and top quality education.
Above all of the rest, the members of the Academy like each other, they support
each other, and they challenge each other. When was the last time you went to a
Bar Association meeting and the attorneys couldn’t stop talking about how
much success and enjoyment they were having from their practice. It happens to me
every year, two times a year, when I go to an Academy summit meeting.
I’ve been a member for eleven years, and while there are a lot of great things
that I like about the Academy, probably one of the best things is the Education
Department. I think that attorneys that head up the Education Department are just
incredibly smart, and the value that they provide my practice far exceeds the fee
that I pay to be a member.
In addition to that, oftentimes I have found that the advice that the Education
Department gives me is just incredibly helpful in retaining the client that has
a unique fact pattern that you’re trying to solve in order to retain the client.
So, if there is anything to consider, and there’s a lot to consider, I would
recommend the Education Department.
I’ve been an attorney with the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
for five years. I appreciate the Academy because it has given me the systems, procedures,
the tools to have a better law practice. Moneywise, satisfaction-wise, I feel like
I do a good job for people, it gives me confidence, it has allowed me to feel like
I’m really reaching out and helping some people with the work I do.
I am a fairly new attorney, it doesn’t look like I am but I went back later
in life to law school and I graduated in 2004. I got my approval to the Bar in December
of 2004, and in January of 2005 I joined the American Academy of Estate Planning
The reason I jumped at the opportunity to join was because I was a new attorney,
I didn’t have a whole lot of experience as far as the technical aspects of
creating wills and trusts, and so the Academy has provided me with some outstanding
opportunities to learn the process of estate planning.
Really, they provided the kind of support that I needed. First, they provided the
documents, which I could trust. I think our documents are, bar none, as good as
any in the industry that I’ve seen.
Also, they provided an Education Department. The Education Department answered my
questions on a timely basis relative to the issues that came up on various different
estate planning, trusts and wills or trust administrations or even probates that
I had to deal with early in my career.
Also, they have the Practice Building Consultants that are available. The Practice
Building Consultants help a new attorney to develop the types of relationships that
you need in order to get referrals, to have people come and consider you for doing
their clients’ estate plans. So, really the Academy was a tremendous resource.
It also has educational material on hiring people, on what types of training people
need to have. It has advanced educational issues, not only the beginning of the
wills and trusts but also educational issues regarding charitable giving, islets,
that type of thing. I really do appreciate the opportunity to talk for the Academy
because I feel that they are a wonderful resource for a new attorney.
We’re from Oklahoma City and Kansas City, and we also have an office in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. I want to speak as a wife of an American Academy member who’s worked
in the practice over the years. I was a Doubting Tom like so many of the wives,
and now I’m their greatest fan.
I can’t say enough about the friendships, the relationships, the networking,
the education, the marketing tools, the support in every area that you need. If
you have a question or a problem, there is always someone there that will help you,
and help you get it answered. I recommend the Academy to anyone that’s thinking
about it, and I certainly would say to any wives that would like to visit, I’d
be happy to tell them about my experience.
I’ve been with the Academy since 1995 when I joined my current partner, who’d
been a member for two years prior to that. So, that puts me twelve or thirteen years
into the organization.
I’d always done estate planning work, but on a much lower scale, and by myself
which is an isolated feeling. By joining the Academy I got the advantage of, although
I still was a one person office in Kansas City, and I enjoyed that one person office,
I liked the independence, but now I had a new set of partners, a hundred of them
basically all across the country.
And you throw in the Education Department in case you get in a pinch on an educational,
it gives you the confidence when you sit down with your clients you know you’re
going to be able to do a great job for them, and you can focus on their situation
and not worry about all the other issues of running a law practice.
We can talk about lots of different issues, but I think that gives you a flavor
for what has been so good for me for my twelve years with the Academy and what I
hope to be another twelve years.
My wife and I are from Indianapolis, Indiana. We’ve been married almost forty
years, in the last fifteen there’s been some sanity added because I’ve
been a member of the American Academy, and it’s allowed me to get home and
enjoy my practice much more and make more friends, other Academy members. It’s
a lot of fun!
The benefits to me since I joined the Academy could not possibly have been anticipated by me. First, my documents are probably the best in the area, as I am repeatedly told by those who see them and deal with them. Second, I have been able to streamline my operation and make it more efficient. Third, I have increased my income substantially. Fourth, and perhaps the most important, I have done all of this and been able to cut back to working three days a week and taking only three appointments a day for at least the past 10 years. I wish the Academy had come along when I was 40 years old.
I’ve been an Academy member since 1994. Over that time period my practice
has grown as a result of the Academy membership. The Esprit de Corps within the
Academy is fantastic, I now always have a fellow member that I can bounce ideas
off of. They are a wonderful organization.
I’ve been a member of the Academy since actually the very beginning. In March
of 1993 there was the very first event and my partner and I attended that event
and we’ve been a member since the very beginning and I can say that the Academy
has really been the best thing that we have ever done for our business and for our
The Academy just gives you an incredible amount of tools that are necessary to being
able to develop your practice, not only from a marketing standpoint, education standpoint,
practice development, being able to have higher income with less anxiety, it’s
really the best thing we ever did and I highly recommend anyone to join the Academy.
We come to Academy events twice a year and share information, we’re not competitors
with each other, we’re in different markets and so you’ve got open camaraderie
and sharing of information, it’s like something you can’t get anywhere
else in any type of typical Bar Association or your own community. That in and of
itself is just a tremendous asset of our membership.
I’ve been with the Academy, our firm has been with the Academy since 1993.
I’ve been practicing since 1974, I would tell you that we would not be the
success that we were and are and will continue to be if we did not have the Academy’s
The Education Department, the summits, the website support, the programs, the software,
the initiatives, the ability to reach out to other members on the listserv for assistance,
all of those are just such key factors in the success of our organization.
We have grown every year since we’ve been with the Academy, we continue to
grow, we are absolute strong believers in the effectiveness of the Academy and we
hope that others will follow our lead and take advantage of the opportunities presented
I’ve been a member of the Academy since 2002. I joined when I was at a large
firm and then I separated and the Academy has been fantastic for me. I love the
estate planning practice and all of the resources.
It has taken my practice to a whole new level, which gives me more time to get to
really know my clients and do the best that I can for them, and then on top of that
the fellowship in the Academy is far beyond anything I could have imagined.
I’ve got an amazing group of what I would call partners who are at the Academy,
the fellow members who are excited for you and you’re wanting to help them
and be excited for them, and so being in the Academy has completely changed my life
and my family’s life.
I’ve been an Academy member for twelve years, and what’s most important
to me about the Academy is that they have helped me to achieve results and goals
that I would not have achieved in such a short period of time.
So, when I think about the Academy, the systems, the Education Department, the whole
Academy experience has really helped me to just be the preeminent estate planning
lawyer on Long Island.
I’ve been a member of the Academy since May of 1995. Before then most of my
practice was in commercial and business and construction litigation.
I had done a lot of estate planning but never like the Academy, the Academy taught
me not only to be a great estate planner but to be a business person, to know how
to run a business, to train a staff and lead a staff, and it’s been really
transformative in my professional practice and in my life and certainly in my finances.
I’m deeply appreciative, and I recommend that anybody who’s interested
in getting out of a rut with their practice consider joining the Academy.
I’ve been a member of the Academy, what they call I guess a “founding
member” since June of 1993. The Academy never ceases to amaze me at the depth
of new ideas, new techniques, new strategies that they come up with, always enabling
us to improve ourselves, giving us the chance to do so and the support that’s
I don’t think there’s any other organization in the country that offers
the collegiality, the depth of resources, the diversity and the support that Academy
Our firm has been a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
for thirteen years.
I entered the Academy with a lot of experience in estate planning, but one of the
great benefits is the Education Department. It has several attorneys who are very
competent in some areas of estate planning that I don’t practice in all the
time, and they are available to answer the special questions that come up from time
They also keep the Academy documents in excellent shape and are continually upgrading
those to meet the new needs of our clients. So, the Education Department is a major
component of the Academy that supplements and enhances my practice quite a bit.
I’ve been a member about a year now. For me, if I had to say one thing about
Academy membership it’s just been the way the staff and all the other attorneys
have just been able to be a resource. I started my practice with the Academy, so
that’s been absolutely invaluable.
I’m really thankful to be a part of the Academy and have so much help from
the Academy whenever I need to bounce off ideas or I’m feeling insecure about
ideas. There’re are so many people to talk to and so many things to reference.
It’s really helpful.
I’ve been a member since June of ‘93. Two things, I think, summarizes
what I like most about the Academy. One is the seemingly endless stream of ideas,
innovations, programs, inspirations from the Academy, the ability to get rejuvenated
and reinvigorated and reenergized by coming to an event. And two, the friendships
and camaraderie and collegiality of members.
You really realize that when you miss an event. I missed the fall event. Unfortunately,
my father passed away two days before the event. To those of you who I did not get
a chance to thank you for your good wishes and cards and emails, they were very
much appreciated, and the Academy as well, their response and support.
In a period of just under two years, I lost five close family members and an in-law.
I just want to take about 20 seconds to share a thought on this legacy wealth concept
and the DVD program. I attended funerals for six people, five other than my father,
and listening to obituaries about people that I’d known all my life, except
for one who I knew for 20 years through marriage. It struck me that I was finding
out things about these people that I never knew, that I never found out about during
What an unfortunate thing it is to wait until somebody is dead to find out those
things. So, I don’t know how it can be incorporated into what we’re
doing, but it’s certainly part of the concept and the legacy you leave is
about much more than money. Just a thought to add in. Thank you.
I’ve been a member of the Academy since fall of 1993. I was with a firm for
quite a few years and last summer opened my own office. I’ve really enjoyed
the Academy over all of these years. It’s been great support.
All things considered, the members, I love the Listserv and the things that I learn,
and help that I get not only from the members, of course, but specifically from
our education department. Those guys are brilliant.
So very glad to be a member of the Academy.
There’re other things besides that’s helped me, but the Academy’s
part of the equation. Actually, I think I’ve gotten my office in the best
position its ever been in—in all the years I’ve been doing what I’ve
been doing. It’s not running me, I’m running it in such a way that I’m
able to do things that I didn’t used to be able to do. So, I think that’s
the key for me.
I’ve been a member since 2005. I’m in solo practice and I could not
do what I do if it weren’t for all of you. I really appreciate the way the
Academy keeps innovating and helping us recreate our practice.
I’ve been a member since ‘95. I love the education department and all
the support and creative solutions they come up with for problems. But I think what
has really impressed me the most over the last several years is the combination
of the financial services with the estate planning practice.
I’ve been a member since 1996. Why is the Academy important to me, or what
do I most like about it? I really thought about it. The first thing that came to
mind, for me, was the living trust seminar. That, to me, was the most important
thing when I first joined because that was the way I was able to get clients.
But then, we started to get clients and I realized we had to do documents. So then,
the document assembly program became extremely important. And then, of course, there
were all these legal questions.
This is nothing compared to what we’re used to seeing. I have been a member
for six years. I used to be a partner, I was the first partner at the oldest law
firm in South Dakota, first female partner I should say.
I was with the Academy then and I decided to stretch my wings. It has been fantastic.
My life has been blessed by a great measure and the practice has too, but it could
not have happened without the Academy, the education department, the whole package.
So, it has been fantastic.
It’s not been easy. It’s been a lot of work, but I love what I do. I call my own hours now,
to a degree. It couldn’t have happened without the Academy.
I’ve been a member since September 2005. What I appreciate about the Academy
is my practice building consultant.
I’m sure a lot of times with her it must seem like pushing a boulder uphill,
but she keeps a good attitude and keeps trying to make sure that I build my practice
in the proper way.
I also appreciate the education department because it certainly gives you a good
feeling of well being to know that when you’re dealing with these complex
issues of estate planning that you have those guys to call on. They always have
I’ve been a member for ten years. As far as the most valuable part of the
Academy for us, it’s, I would say, the marketing systems and the software
production programs and the staff of the Academy from top to bottom, starting with
Robert and Sandy through the education department through the website people through
the practice building consultants. Everybody, top to bottom. Outstanding crew. Just
a pleasure to work with them all the time.
I’ve been a member since 2001. The thought that comes to mind most frequently
when I think of the Academy is the entrepreneurial spirit that runs from top to
bottom for the entire organization. Whether you use all of the tools in the toolbox
or some of them, it’s a wonderful toolbox to draw from. We’re very proud
to be members.
One of the reasons I enjoy the Academy is people like our Practice Building Consultant,
who keeps it fresh and keeps me on track with my marketing. I also appreciate the
summits because after a long time you can kind of get into a rut and when you leave
you always feel inspired, is how you feel.
I’ve been a member since 1993.
Over the years, I appreciate all the support I receive not only from the Academy
staff but also the members of the Academy and the systems they’ve developed
and the educational marketing programs have been excellent. For that, I’m
extremely thankful and hope to remain a member forever.
I’ve been a member for one year.
Having been a litigator for 20 years and doing estate planning for all of one year,
I can say that if I had to limit it to one thing it had to be everything. The only
other thing that I would point out, from my perspective, was just the approachability
and generosity of everybody who is a member every time I have a question or call
on somebody. They’re always there for me. So, I thank you all for that.
We are not in the law business. We are in the people service business, and the Academy
has brought that home to us for many years. The more times we have relationship
with our client where that relationship is an awesome engaging experience, our clients
win, we win, and it’s just a great way to be able to get up in the morning
and want to go to work.
So, I appreciate this Academy. Everything you’ve heard, you potential new
members, nobody here is blowing smoke. Our experience in our firm, if you’re
concerned about being kind of rural and that way, talk to my brother and myself,
my associate and friend and partner in financial practice. Talk to [other Members].
You cannot go wrong talking to anybody about what the Academy system and quality
can do for your life and your clients.. You’ll be able to do a great job.
I’ve been a member since May of 1995. I’ve been practicing law since
1973 and before I joined the Academy I mostly a sole practitioner. When I think
about it, it’s been really transformative for my practice and therefore for
my life to go from being a “me” to being a “we.” I’ve
got a partner who’s about as ideal a relationship as I could ever imagine
I couldn’t have done that with my thinking, my mindset, before I joined the
Academy. I didn’t have the opportunities open to me without having Robert
and Sandy give me this “turn-key” organization. I could not have imagined
when I joined the Academy at the age of, what was it, about 49 years old that I
was going to keep practicing law, doing what I was doing for very long.
Now, I’m looking forward to getting a 25-year name tag on here because I will
be able to do what I’m doing and having a ball doing it well into my 70s,
I think, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
All of you have said so many good things. I’m going to tell you one small
thing that I really like is Counsel Pro, the little launch feature you use when
you go to the paperless files, if any of you have paperless files. I find that to
be really just bringing joy to my life every time that I do that.
On the larger scale, as I was sitting here I realized that this year I’ll
actually work under ten months and that’s a result of me continuously, aggressively
taking time off when my kids are off from school. So, if they’re off for a
week in April, I’m off for a week in April. I haven’t gotten the guts
up to take off the whole summer yet.
But, the Academy has allowed such efficiencies to occur in my office that the practice
really is, I’m going to say…I forgot to mention. I’ve been a
member for more than ten years. I’m probably ten years ahead of where I really
should be. Looking toward the future, I’m anxious to do the Peak Performers
I really can’t even imagine where I’m going to be next year or ten years
from now, but I know it’ll be a result of some of the really dynamic, innovative,
inspirational ideas that I get from coming to these meetings and from our leaders
there, both Robert and Sandy.
I’ve been a member since 2003. Pretty much that first session of the Summit
got me to become a member because I really enjoyed what everyone had to say, so
it’s kind of neat to be here five years later. Last year I started my own
law firm. Really without the Academy the transition would not have been as seamless
as it was. I love everything about it. I love the education. I love the documents
and everything that it has to offer.
When asked the question, “What are my favorite things about the Academy?”
the first thing that came to mind was the document production and the education.
I don’t know what I’d do without Education.
But as it went around the room I thought more about it, and the thing that I didn’t
put my finger on right away was just how confident I’ve been as an estate
planning attorney. Five years ago, I was doing litigation for a big firm in downtown
Los Angeles, knew I wanted to leave there and do estate planning, went on my own,
joined the Academy right away.
After a few months of learning the materials, I started doing seminars, started
getting clients, started producing great documents for the clients. In that time,
we’ve grown from just one person to now we have nine employees at our two
office locations. We do have another area of practice. Nonetheless, I know that
as our firm has grown and as it will continue to grow with the Academy behind me,
we’re going to be able to have the system and tools to structure it correctly.
I’ve been a member since 1993. We have offices in Kansas City, Oklahoma City,
and Tulsa. You’ve heard the great comments about the collegiality and the
associations we have. It reminds me a little bit of Shatner and Spader in what must
the best two minutes of television today on Boston Legal. We have those kind of
relationships. Sometimes we chide one another, sometimes we love one another. So,
that’s something that you can’t replace. I certainly don’t have
that any place else in my life.
I appreciate the leadership of the Academy, the founders and the staff people. I
think I can sum it up by saying this, my membership here has been the antidote to
complacency. It’s made all the difference in the world.
I’ve been a member since fall of ’95. I was a litigator. I used to walk
around and I always wondered how people established an estate planning practice
because that appealed to me. Getting away from the whole thing with litigation where
judges control your schedule and clients are never happy with the result.
The Academy showed me how to build an estate planning practice. And then, of course,
now you get the clients coming in, how do you deal with the legal aspects? Because
when I started in ‘95, I knew theoretically what a trust was, but I didn’t
know how to draft trust. I didn’t know how to settle an estate.
And of course, the education department helped me through that. It was just this
April, I guess it was March 25th, a desperate call to education. I had the most
complex estate tax return I’d ever done. It was all this stuff was coming
to fruition. I had charitable remainder trusts I had done for these people. I had
a second-to-die life insurance policy, and how do I get all this on the 706?
So, you know, it showed me how to build a practice. It showed me how to do the technique
aspects and it’s great organization and I second all the other comments that
And finally, when I came to the event, you know how we all get a little bit burned
out and you kind of say, “There’s so much to do and so little time.”
I find myself already getting renewed by hearing the other Academy members as we
go around the room, and hearing their comments, and reflecting on things they’ve
done at other Academy events that have helped me along in my practice.
So, it’s a great organization.
I think there’re a few things I really like about the Academy. Number one,
the education department and all the materials that they provide to us. Also, one
of the biggest things I’m most excited about is this funeral trust and the
DVD. When I presented that to the clients, they’re very excited about that.
I’ve been a member since February of 1995. It’s hard to focus on one
thing that the Academy has done for me, but I would have to say it’s provided
me the feeling and reality of being a success in this area of practice. But also,
the personal satisfaction of having a success that doesn’t drive you crazy.
I’ve been a member since March 1994. I think the most important thing to me,
I think, is just all the cutting edge ideas. Right from the start, from Robert and
Sandy with the seminar ideas, the constantly new ideas in the marketing area. Education
has cutting edge ideas. Even the IT, the tech support has always helped us, always
going from a beta-tester with the DOS system through Counsel Pro, has been just
a tremendous development.
I think we’re at the cutting edge. I think, to me, that’s the key. I
don’t think any lawyer anywhere, any estate planning attorney anywhere is
as cutting edge as we are for any of those prospective new members.
The second thing is kind of a level of comfort. Everyone’s talking about the
camaraderie and that sort of thing. Obviously, we can bounce things off other members.
But being a sole practitioner, I tell my clients because I’m a member of the
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, even though I’m a sole practitioner,
I feel like I’m a member of a law firm with, I know probably between members
and associates, 250 estate planning attorneys. And there’s probably no law
firm in the country with 250 estate planning attorneys.
So, that’s real important when you need to bounce things off other members
or education for a second opinion. It helps you sleep at night to know that we’re
on the right track.
I get very excited about coming here. It’s a great experience. It’s unbelievable.
The one thing I say about the group, I look at everybody here as my blood brother
and my blood sister. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
I joined the Academy, and haven’t looked back.
I’ve been a member of the Academy for 13 years. I almost did not become a
member of the Academy. I saw an advertisement in Trust and Estate magazine in early
1995, and I forgot the content of it but it promised a bright financial future.
So, I called the Academy. They sent me a brochure. I read the brochure and it was
kind of microscopic print. I’m looking all the way through the brochure for
the cost. I’m reading and reading. I think on the last page at the bottom
it said what the admission fee was and what the monthly dues were.
So I said, “Are these people out of their mind?”
So I threw the brochure away. But a great marketing technique you had got me in
the end, you had a cassette tape in there. At that time, I was loathe to throw away
a cassette tape because I didn’t know what was on it. So, I was commuting
home that evening, so I plugged the cassette tape in. It was one of the boot camps.
I guess the last boot camp before that.
Well, it took me,.. I don’t know, 40 minutes to get home. I was absolutely
sold on the Academy by the time I got home. So, I was talking to my wife about it
and I said, “I think I’m going to join this organization.”
My wife is very frugal. She said, “What’s the cost?” So I told
her the admission fee and the monthly dues. She said, “Are you out of your
I said, “No. I really feel good about this.” So I said, “Look,
how much can they teach me. I’ll only have to pay these dues maybe a year,
and then I’ll learn everything they have to teach me, and then I’ll
So, she kind of grudgingly gave her blessing, kind of on the understanding I’ll
probably drop out after a year and end the financial drain.
Well, needless to say, I’m still here. I’m really proud to say that
the Academy has provided infinitely more value for me and my family and my firm
every single year than the meager dues that I have to pay. In addition to the financial
side, the membership in the Academy has enriched the quality of my life, not only
on the financial side but maybe more importantly on the personal side.
I won’t repeat what everybody else has said. Every part of the Academy is
a gold mine. The most recent gold mine in my personal life is my affiliation with
1st Global. So, I became licensed as a financial planner and that has deepened
my relationship with my clients. I go home at night feeling that I have really performed
an outstanding service for everybody.
For those of you who are thinking about joining the Academy please don’t hesitate.
I know positively you will never regret it.
I’ve been a member since 2003, with a former member’s firm four years
before that. The thing I appreciate most is the education department, being able
to email and get the answer instead of a list of watch out for this, watch out for
that. So, the education department’s real helpful. And even on documents,
as nuanced as the Unintentionally Defective Grantor Trust, they’re very helpful
Been a member for about four years. As far as what I appreciate the most, there
really isn’t any piece I could do without. I appreciated his comments there
about how membership and the law practice has kind of helped me balance my life
between earning the money and being with the family and all the other things we’re
It’s really given me the tools, somebody who just started the law practice
right out of law school, to earn a good living for my family and also spend a lot
of time with them, although you have me beat. Anyway, I really appreciate every
piece of the Academy.
I’ve been a member since February of 1999. I walked into an Academy event,
February of 1999, I had 80 lawyers in a room. They were all glad to see me. That’s
never happened before. It doesn’t happen in any other organization. Well,
it happens here.
Where would I be if I wasn’t an Academy member? I’d be working 100 hours
a week and I would die at my desk. Now, I still complain about the time, but we
sat down last week and realized that since 2003, I’ve been out of the office
nine and a half weeks or more a year. You can’t do that practicing law. You
can do that in this kind of business.
And the other thing is that by going to a four-day work week, for me, and the staff
going to a four-day work week half the month, I really don’t work that much.
I’ve been an attorney for going on 22 years. I’ve been a member of the
Academy for five and a half years.
The highlights, for me, recently have been the new Legacy Wealth Planning Seminar.
I’ve now done two sweeps and people love it. It is a great seminar. The toothpaste
tube is flawless. On Saturday morning, I had people asking me questions relating
to giving people a tube of toothpaste as opposed to giving them toothpaste. It was
I like the concept of Legacy Planning – helping people with more than just
the financial assets.
Membership in the Academy has totally transformed my practice and my life. Formerly
a general practitioner for 22 years, I never knew what was going to come in the
door next, nor whether I would have the resources to handle it. I now have a strategic
plan such that I have been able to create a practice that adds value in tangible
ways to the lives of everyone it touches.
Robert Armstrong and Sanford Fisch are visionaries who are always looking to the future.
The education support is timely, practical, and prompt! My practice building consultant
really cares about my success and is always willing to help.
The database is the key to my practice. With a simple point and click, I can
manage the marketing of my practice. I can also see instantaneously every time we
have contacted a prospect or client and everything we've either done for them, or
said to them or been told by them. I can't imagine practicing without it.
The Academy has been the difference between my law practice being a success and
not being a success. It has allowed me to support my family.
Having the Academy's Education Department at my beck-and-call allows me to devote
more time to developing my practice and bringing in more business instead of constantly
reading case law and journals. Even the best publications are a month to 6 weeks
behind on the law by the time I get them. With the Academy, I get the new and relevant
case and tax law changes literally as they are happening! That feature alone is
worth my membership fee. And even my most complex questions are usually answered
within a few hours - my clients are always shocked at how fast I can resolve their
issues. Now that's real customer service.
As a new member I can tell you that I have gotten my money's worth so far. I've
directed questions to education and have gotten practical answers quickly. The tapes
and other materials are outstanding. I think you are going to save me five years
I have always felt that Academy membership is my secret weapon for success in estate
planning! I would not want to attempt to practice in this field without being a
I have been a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys for six
years. The Academy is the single most important professional tool I have found in
my sixteen years of practice. The Academy provides me with top-notch educational training,
turn-key business systems, marketing expertise, financial acumen and colleagues,
now friends, who readily share information and support without worrying about competition.
While initially deciding to join was scary and expensive, the rewards have far exceeded
Being a member of the Academy is like being a member of a large law firm. When I
have a question about any topic that I don't know the answer to, I can always get
the answer from the Academy. As a sole practitioner that is very important to me.
Working on a marketing plan with our Practice Building Consultant is a great tool
and benefit. Getting another set of ears and eyes for the best strategy and hearing
what others are doing successfully around the country.
With the Academy Education Department to back me up, I can handle cases which I might
not have current, fresh information to handle, and not enough time to research by
myself. More importantly, when I have a hunch that I need help, or guidance, I contact
the Academy. It may only take a little nudge to get me on the right path, but then,
I have a greater level of assurance I am on the right path.
The Academy documents truly are the result of the combined efforts of the Academy
staff and its members resulting in a quality product which I could have never on
my own created.
Because of the education the academy has provided, I have developed expertise to
the point that many financial professionals in my area now call me for advice on
many estate related questions, as well as refer their clients to me.
The number one benefit to membership in the Academy is the completeness of the support
systems in place: the education department, the practice consultant, the technical
support, and the marketing support - it's all in one place.
The response time from Education is unbeatable, as is the completeness of their
knowledge and willingness to help.
Marketing materials---I have received such positive feedback from the public and
referral sources from the seminars, it makes my development very easy.
Words cannot express the magnitude of the impact the initial consultation training
has had on my law practice, and more significantly, on my life. Your retention rate
absolutely will go up as you apply the initial consultation principles. In addition,
you'll be more relaxed in your consultations, and you'll feel good about the important
work you do. The principles you learn will have application in all aspects of your
life. Finally, you'll have a lot of fun, and get to know one really remarkable person
in the process.
Because lawyers are not trained on conducting initial consultations they believe
they must do all the talking and “educate” the prospect into becoming
a client. Unfortunately, what is talked about and what the prospect wants to hear
are often not the same. The predictable result is “Let us think it over,”
at best, or “No.” Both mean the same thing. After the Initial Consultation
training – multiple times – we learned the value of an interview system.
Among other benefits, this system taught us how to:
- Establish rapport with our prospect,
- Lead the prospect through the elements of the process,
- Create expectations for a favorable outcome,
- Successfully deal with the money issue,
- Artfully handle objections so they never destroy your sale,
- Discover what’s really motivating the client,
- Ask the “right” questions that cause the client to say “Let’s
get started” and,
- Increase the odds of a successful outcome for us and the new client.
If someone arrives at a consultation after attending one of your seminars they have
already said “yes” to you at least five times. It’s yours to lose.
Do you believe your service is valuable to your prospects? Do you believe that nearly
everyone you meet will benefit from your services? Do you really? What would it
mean to learn about a process that – if you consistently apply it - will help
you convert two additional prospects each month who need your help? The economic
return is apparent. What’s more important is improving your performance so
others more clearly see the benefit of letting you help them.
My attendance at the Initial Consultation training sessions were positive, professional
and personal life-changing experiences. The Training has changed, for the better,
the way I approach every interpersonal transaction. It has enabled a quantum leap
in my effectiveness in communicating with my clients. In my practice, it has given
me the tools to awaken in potential clients who are in need of my services the eagerness
to move forward in implementing their estate planning. In showing me the "Power
of the Questions," it has enabled me to elicit the true feelings within my
clients which cause them to act or not act. As a result, my efficiency has been
Focus, focus, focus. The initial consultation training ingrains in the lawyer how
to keep the (prospective) clients focused on the “gut” reasons why they
are in your office. The initial consultation system teaches you how to keep the
clients focused on their belief that your preparation of an estate plan for them
is both necessary, valuable and worth every dollar you are charging.
I'm reminded again of how blessed we are to be members of the Academy. The spirit of sharing and helping from members is just amazing. Sometimes, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. Thanks again to Robert and Sandy. Your vision and forward thinking continues to benefit all of us.
I've said it publicly many times: I can't imagine practicing law without being a member of the American Academy. Thanks to all of you!
It is really funny in a way, I always thought of myself as an attorney with a good nose for business. I had studied almost every one of the books on the market for improving the business and myself and implemented the best I could. I have been building my little business in the right direction for the past 5 years, with ups and downs. It was this summer that I decided to end the litigation portion of my practice and focus exclusively on estate planning. I found the Academy about a month later.
When I joined I had a small perceived regret – that I might lose the feeling that I was creating something out of thin air. To build a business from scratch with nothing but vision, passion and self education is something I really enjoyed. I felt that I would somehow be cheating myself if I merely implemented the great ideas, systems, programs, etc. that you have created over the past 20+ years. I thought in some small way that I would be taking the easy way out.
Boy was I wrong. Yes, it is easier in that I am focused and clear on my goals, but I have worked harder (and smarter) in the past 4 months than I ever have in my life. Once you know where you are going, there is a decision that you must make. Do I want to go get it or take my toys and go home?
So when you go for it there is no more B.S., no kidding yourself and no need for distractions. You have a vision and there is nothing left to do but fulfill it. I have learned quickly that even with all of the fantastic tools, systems, lessons, education and everything else that the Academy has to offer, there is no short cut, no cheating—it’s real work.
In the end, I have not lost the feeling that I am creating something out of thin air. That feeling is still intact and thriving because my firm is still my unique expression of what I believe my marketplace truly needs.