January 30, 2012
While the rural lawyer is expected to be something of a generalist, there is some wiggle-room in that definition – folks don’t expect a lawyer to do everything. On the other hand, the rural lawyer who refuses to work outside a particular speciality is in for some lean times. The trick is to find that balancing point between doing the stuff that interests you and doing enough of the stuff that small town clients need so that bills get paid, you get fed and your conscience lets you sleep at night.
I arrived at that balancing point by doing transactional work and ADR – there is something about the degree of conflict in litigated matters that just does not sit well with my belief system. Frankly, when I made the decision not to litigate, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t get clients – after all rural clients are a fairly conservative and traditional bunch and ADR might come across as a wee bit too much like tie-dye and love beads to them – but rural clients “get” ADR; though many were surprised to find out that it could be applied to areas other than union contract negotiations (many thanks TV news).
The thing I noticed most was that it became a lot easier to market my practice when what I did aligned with who I was. It was not just that the ol’ elevator speech sounded a bit more natural, the experience from first phone call to last meeting flowed better. Sure there are some clients that choose to go with the “full lawyer experience” and that’s OK – what’s right for me is not right for them. I do notice that the ones that do go with an ADR solution tend be surprised by the results – I often hear the phrase “our friends told us that their _____ was horrible, this isn’t all that stressful, are we doing something wrong?” It’s always nice to have to confirm that disputes can be settled with a minimum of conflict and that if they are getting the results they want, then they are doing everything right (personal validation, vindication and a paycheck all rolled into one).
My thanks go out to Bill Holbrook, the creator of “On The Fastrack“, for allowing me to use an image from his January 26th, 2012 strip and for reminding me that I’ve got that job.
January 18, 2012
The holiday lull and the unseasonable winter weather can to a rather abrupt, simultaneous halt this week – seems that it takes real winter weather (snow, high temps eking their way into the teens, a northerly breezes) to make folks start to make good on those new year’s resolutions that this will be the year “I’ll see a lawyer about…” – putting an end to my brief sabbatical.
As a solo, any downtime is a mixed blessing. It’s great to have some time to catch up on all those little inconsequential chores that get put aside (things like dusting the office, rediscovering the top of your desk, or getting a jump-start on your tax returns), but the downside is that unscheduled downtime means that the ol’ marketing machinery ain’t working at capacity. So, I spent my brief break asking myself “WWCD?” (what would Carolyn do), re-reading my brand spanking new copy of Solo by Choice (my first version was reduced to a somewhat collated stack of highlighted, ink-smeared and tea-stained pages during the start-up phase of my practice – the inevitable death of all really useful books), and re-evaluating/revising my marketing plan.
So, I come back from my sabbatical with my “quiet mentor” a little chided (it is humbling to see yourself when the text describes common mistakes) and greatly invigorated – sometimes a little affirmation that, at its core, marketing is not all that difficult and that anyone can be a better marketer goes a long way. Thanks Carolyn.
January 17, 2012
The editors of the MSBA’s Practice Blawg have released their list of the top 25 Minnesota Blawgs for 2011. Rural Lawyer is, again, honored to be included on the list. Take some time to peruse the other 24 honorees – they are all good reads.
January 1, 2012
Posted by Bruce under Holistic Law
, Practice Matters
, Rural Practice
| Tags: Client Expectations
, Estate Planning
, Family Law
, Happy Law
, Practice Management
, Rural Law
, Work Life Balance
| Comments Off
One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. – Bertrand Russell
If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years. – Bertrand Russell
The other day I was participating in a webinar (that godsend to rural lawyers everywhere) and was struck by a comment made by a member of the live audience. He prefaced his question to the speaker by mentioning that he was in the process of transitioning his practice from family law litigation to, as he put it, the “happy law” of estate planning. While I found both the question and response that followed to be unremarkable, the phrase “happy law” stuck with me.
For those unfamiliar with family law litigation, it is an emotion-laden, stress-filled morass characterized by petty bickering, pointless arguments, and infighting and political maneuvering worthy of the US Congress – and that’s just what it’s like for the lawyers. So, it is easy to see why a lawyer would describe a transition to an area of law where there are courteous and willing clients as happy law – the hours are regular, the clients want to reach the same goals, there are no more 4 AM complaint calls; in general the work/life balance thing gets better (the work-life balance also gets better if one transitions to a rural practice, but that’s a whole ‘nother post). (more…)