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Law Practice Magazine

The Big Ideas Issue

Mastermind Groups

Gregory Howard Siskind


  • Mastermind groups help lawyers by providing a platform for peer support, collaborative problem-solving and professional growth.
  • These groups foster business and marketing skills through regular meetings, diverse perspectives and a network of experienced professionals.
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Ten years ago, a friend who has become a successful serial entrepreneur approached me about joining a business mastermind group. I hadn’t heard about mastermind groups, and I learned that, in short, these are business groups where people help each other work on their businesses and network with one another. Despite several years as the founding shareholder in my law practice, I was still insecure about my skills as a business professional. That’s not surprising for lawyers, given that we receive virtually no business training in law school and often operate in settings where entrepreneurialism is discouraged.

So, I joined EO, a global organization of about 17,000+ company founders, and it was one of the best business decisions I’ve made in my career. Mastermind groups like EO can help lawyers with their marketing and overall business management.

To define a little more closely, a mastermind group is a collective of peers who meet regularly to tackle challenges, share knowledge and provide mutual support. Some of these groups are composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds and industries and some, like several catering to lawyers, focus on one industry. They’re all, however, committed to personal and professional growth. The structure of a mastermind group usually includes regular meetings, either in-person or virtually, where members can discuss their goals, share ideas, brainstorm solutions to problems and hold each other accountable. The point is to leverage the collective intelligence and experience of the members to achieve greater success than can be achieved individually.

As for who offers these types of experiences, there are large global mastermind organizations aimed broadly at business professionals like EO, Young Presidents’ Organization, Vistage and BNl.

There are also legal-specific groups that offer mastermind group experiences like Lawyerist, as well as some bar organizations. In my field of immigration law, there are a few mastermind groups including the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL), which my co-founding partner Lynn Susser currently chairs. There is an argument to be made that joining a general business mastermind group can benefit lawyers by seeing how people outside the profession make business decisions. On the other hand, lawyer-focused groups can concentrate more on the challenges facing people in our profession. At our firm, because we have different lawyers in different groups, we get the benefits of both.

Mastermind groups typically operate on principles of confidentiality and trust, ensuring a safe environment for open and honest discussions. Meetings are structured to encourage participation from all members, often featuring hot seat sessions where one member's issues are the primary focus. Peer support is a cornerstone of these groups, with members offering advice, resources and encouragement to help each other overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

While groups like EO are quite large, they divide into small groups called forums of 5 to 10 individuals. Some mastermind groups in other organizations are larger, but rarely more than 20 people. I’ve heard people talk about their forums and groups as functioning like an outside board of directors so it makes sense that the groups should not be too large.

The Benefits

One of the primary advantages of joining a mastermind group is the enhancement of problem-solving and decision-making capabilities through collaborative thinking. In a mastermind group, a member will typically give a presentation about a business challenge. Just preparing the presentation can help because it forces the presenter to crystallize the challenge he or she is facing. Group members can offer different viewpoints and share experiences, drawing from their unique backgrounds and specialties. This collective intelligence often leads to solutions that an individual might not have considered on their own. Forums often start with more surface level problems early on, but over time, as trust builds, more serious issues can be explored.

Mastermind groups are invaluable for lawyers seeking to expand their professional network and build meaningful relationships within and outside their industry. These groups provide a platform for lawyers to connect with peers, mentors and professionals from diverse fields, facilitating the exchange of ideas and fostering collaborative relationships. Most of these groups have a social and educational component where the larger organization gathers, and many utilize listservs and social media platforms to communicate. In EO’s Tennessee chapter, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of its 300-plus members over the years and, as the only immigration lawyer in the group, I’m regularly contacted. EO globally also has a lawyers’ subgroup that meets regularly, separate from members’ individual forums, and its members refer matters almost every day to each other. ABIL member immigration firms often send matters to the other firms when they need a particular expertise.

Additionally, a lot of the presentations and discussions in mastermind forums surround marketing so lawyers who participate can learn a lot about what works and doesn’t work. It’s particularly interesting to me what people outside the law world think and in many respects a forum of mostly nonlawyer participants can be a very helpful sounding board in evaluating whether your marketing ideas are appealing or not.

More broadly, joining a mastermind group can significantly enhance your entrepreneurial skills by providing you with a collaborative environment that fosters growth and innovation. These groups bring together like-minded individuals who share their experiences, challenges and successes, offering diverse perspectives and valuable insights. As an entrepreneur, you'll benefit from the group’s collective wisdom, gaining new ideas and strategies that can help you overcome obstacles and seize opportunities. They also promote accountability by encouraging you to set ambitious goals and regularly report on your progress and regularly checking back on that progress.

Additionally, the supportive network within a mastermind group can offer emotional and professional support, reducing the isolation often felt by entrepreneurs. By participating in a mastermind group, you'll enhance your decision-making, problem-solving and leadership skills, ultimately making you a more effective and successful entrepreneur.

Mastermind groups, however, are not right for everyone. First, some lawyers simply don’t have enough time to commit to a group. Second, some lawyers don’t want to get too deep into discussing their practices because of a fear of breaching confidentiality. In my experience, however, there is no need to discuss client matters to get value. Some mastermind groups are quite expensive to join. A lawyer should expect to pay several thousand dollars a year. In my view, this cost has always seemed reasonable compared to the value I’ve received in return, but for some, it might not be worth it. Some lawyers might conclude that they already have a strong network that delivers similar benefits to a mastermind group. Some mastermind groups don’t have members that are the right “fit” for what an attorney might be seeking. And some introverts may feel uncomfortable with the style of a mastermind group. I’m an introvert, however, and, if anything, it’s helped me get more comfortable with social environments.

Finally, note as well that some groups have strict criteria for who can join (such as being a business founder, playing a top managerial role or having a minimum level of revenue).