Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. -- Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Out here on the frozen prairie, things slow down around the winter solstice – people seem to have better things to do than bring their problems to an attorney (those are saved for the new year). On the plus side, this brief respite provides time for reflection and planning, though the unseasonably hospitable weather is making the task a bit more difficult – it is far easier to haul out and review business and marketing plans when there are heaps of snow and frigid temperatures lurking outside the climate controlled confines of the office.
While taking stock of where you’ve been is useful – how else can you figure out what worked and what didn’t – the real point of the exercise is not figure out where you want to go from here and how you are going to get there. There is something about long nights and few interruptions to make thinking about marketing quite attractive. And thinking is the first step toward cheap effective marketing.
Wishing you happy holidays and a profitable 2012
‘Twas a week when the muse had walked out the door when to my wondering Google search should appear not a human interest story on Fred Cozad (my apologies Mr. Moore). It seems that Mr. Cozad of Martin, South Dakota is, at age 85, beginning to contemplate retirement – an event worthy of mention in a local paper perhaps, but not something one would be reading about in the Republic of Columbus, Indiana (a fair piece from South Dakota) or hearing about on Minnesota Public Radio. What is of note is that Mr. Cozad is the last lawyer standing in Martin and when he closes shop, the 1000 or so people living there are looking at a 150 mile commute for legal representation.
The recurring theme for this blog is that the rural lawyer is a vanishing species – a bad thing if you happen to live in a small town and need a lawyer, a good thing if you’re an attorney looking for a job. Now, being the only attorney for the next 150 miles can be a good thing – selling your services is going to be a wee bit easier. (more…)
There are certain presumptions that spring to mind when one hears the phrase “small town lawyer”; the stereotype seems to be a lawyer (himself a strange amalgamation of Matlock, Atticus Finch, Lincoln, and Oliver Wendell Holmes) who has set up shop in some bucolic backwoods town and divides his time between tending to client matters and whittling. The trouble is that an exact definition of the breed is hard to come by; well the “lawyer” part is fairly simple, it’s that “small town” part that gives one fits. Even the US Census Bureau has problems with defining what a small town is, preferring to use classifications like “micropolitean” (a rural area that contains at least one urban area with a population of at least 10,000) or “place” (a territory, population, or housing unit not classified as urban or designated as an extended city). It’s always nice to know that one’s place in the world is defined more by what one is not that what one is.
Even my definition of the small town lawyer – the lawyer practicing beyond suburbia’s sprawl – is fairly generic, and when you consider Michael Sylvester’s argument, perhaps a bit short sighted. Mr. Sylvester practices in Shenzhen, China a bustling metropolis of 10+ million (not exactly the first place that springs to mind when one thinks “small town”) providing services to the Shenzhen expatriate community – a small (500,000?) city within the larger community. Now out here on the prairie, when a half-million people congregate in one spot we tend to consider that either a metropolis or a really fine turnout for the church potluck (everybody bring a dish to pass), but in a country of 1.3 billion, in a town of 10 million, 500,000 must seem like a tiny drop in a very large bucket.