It’s ok if you don’t know how to make alot of money as a lawyer. After all, what did they teach any of us in law school about how to market a law practice or how to manage a law firm? (Rhetorical question)
I mean, what advice would YOU give to a client or a friend who was a great chef, for example. And they come to you to incorporate and help them review a new lease for a restaurant space. You’d inquire what else besides knowing how to cook and maybe having worked in the kitchens of a few restaurants qualifies them to successfully open & operate a restaurant. RIGHT?
“Oh well, you see I’ve been the chef in a few great restaurants. And I’m an award-winning chef. So I just figure I’ll sink my life-savings into this new restaurant business and put my reputation and my family’s safety & comfort on the line. Because after all, what else is there to opening & operating a successful restaurant besides knowing how to cook?”
At this point you’d be going 100 miles-an-hour trying to talk them OUT of opening the restaurant wouldn’t you? Never mind that it would mean less in legal fees for you now and in the future (I’m taking into account the immediate incorporation and the future bankruptcy and divorce work likely to follow). You’d try to talk them out of it because that would be The Right Thing To Do.
“But in addition to being a great chef, I’ve also gotten some advice from some other not-so-successful lawyers I met online in some free blogs & I read one single book on the subject of how to open & operate a successful restaurant. Does that satisfy you Mr./Ms. Nosy-Pants?’
Of course not you moron! That’s what you & everyone else around that person would all be thinking. But being a diplomatic lawyer you would instead patiently explain that a restaurant is a business. And running any business, even a restaurant, requires more than just being able to cook the food. The business will have to be marketed, managed, the financials reviewed & understood each week, policies and procedures for customers and staff to follow, an intelligent analysis done to choose the best location for the target market and a target market strategically chosen. And then each & every month all of the above will have to be managed, monitored, reviewed and analyzed for opportunities to improve the business operations because the business operations have a direct effect on the customer’s experience, which has a direct effect on customer volume, which has a direct effect on profitability, which has a direct effect on whether the chef is sitting in the kitchen whipping up the best food in town for an appreciative staff who are slowly sucking that chef and his/her family dry, or an appreciative dining room full of paying customers who are rather quickly making that chef and his/her family quite comfortable and even rich depending on how well the restaurant is managed.
Of course, that’s what you’d hope you have the patience and the courage to say. And knowing that you already have a pipeline full of work and marketing systems of your own to keep your pipeline full and keep your law practice operating efficiently with predictable cash-flow, and operating procedures to ensure the work all gets done without killing you and driving a wedge between you and the rest of your life. . . all of that would contribute to the courage and the credibility you would have to give that prospective client the best advice & counsel you can, right?
Cut to the chase. . . what did you learn in law school about how to open, market or manage a law firm business? Nothing?
How many books, articles, CLE courses and conversations with other lawyers do you depend upon every year to stay at the top of your game as a practitioner? More than just one or two?
How well is your law firm serving your financial, personal and professional goals & ambitions?
If your answer to the last question had anything to do with the economy, let me assure you right now, it’s not the economy. There are thousands of lawyers in every practice area (not just bankruptcy & foreclosure defense) who are enjoying the end of their best year ever. And looking forward to another best year ever in 2010. My only last question to you is whether YOU will be one of them?
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There’s no reason to delay the life you want to live.
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