It's not even fun anymore to predict what will happen on the internet when a discussion ensues about how young solo practitioners can make money, immediately.
So the queen of advocacy for solos, Carolyn Elefant, decided to open the floor to anyone with a perceived lucid thought in their head.
As Scott Greenfield noted, "naturally, a marketer showed up like a guppy drawn to chum..."
It's the mantra: Practice in trouble? Cash flow not what you expected with that shiny new iPad and virtual law practice? Start plunging your brains out on marketing.
A quick word about marketing.
Every so often the lawyers get into a dust up with the marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks on the internet. We live different lives. Lawyers practice law. Many marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks used to practice law and now don't, but have all the answers on how to make zillions as a lawyer. They'd rather just work at their dining room table and take their daily trip to Starbucks to tweet about the price increase on Netflix, which affects their nightly obligation to stay home because they have no money to go out.
The marketers will try to argue that lawyers are "marketers" as well. This is true. Everyone in business is marketing. The definition of marketing is to take your product or service to market. The difference is that practicing lawyers don't take money from desperate lawyers in return for marketing advice. We may engage in marketing, but our job is to practice law. I know, it's hard to comprehend that the only argument you marketers have is really no argument at all.
Back to the advice.
Here's some (anonymous of course) advice that came in the comments to Carolyn's post:
Waiting for people to refer you things is not a marketing plan. The three big marketing methods are direct mail solicitations, yellow pages and internet.
Learn these words: Search Engine Organization (SEO). SEO is the science of getting page 1 on Google. Become a master of SEO. Besides hiring an internet consultant, you should learn everything that you can yourself from books.
A good service will ghostwrite blogs for you that have good keyword content.
Don't get involved in commenting on other lawyer blogs (especially a crew of criminal defense lawyer blogs who are friendly with this site) They are well followed and readers will follow your comments from their sites to yours, but these guys get into the habit of picking fights with other lawyers on the internet.
(i.e., stay away from me)
From this point forward, 50% of your gross will go to internet and mail advertising. In a good economy, it drops to 25%. Cut non-advertising expenses. You can use a virtual phone network, get rid of the secretary, etc; but you can't skimp on advertising.
Criminal: Lots of people get arrested and need a lawyer. Do misdemeanor and DUI. Stay away from felonies in the beginning. Criminal cases are all flat fee paid up front (or at least half up front). Unlike civil litigation the opposing counsel (the prosecutor) isn't out to crucify you for your inexperience. They'll offer you 20-30% more jail that to an experience criminal defense lawyer who is part of the club; but they won't crucify you.
Marketing driven specialization in routine practice areas criminal/bankruptcy/divorce etc) will let you make a good living.
Too bad this loser was too scared to put his name to his awful advice.
But then there was Joe. Joe put his name to his advice, which caused Greenfield to call him out on his lack of experience.
Joe said maybe he should just "shut up," to which Greenfield said:
That's right. New lawyers don't want to hear this, and don't like it one little bit, but this is exactly the right advice. If you have nothing helpful to say, say nothing. If you have yet to achieve a thriving practice, then you have no advice for anyone else who is having difficulty achieving the same thriving practice.
I realize that the idea of shutting up offends you, and being told to shut up stings. I realize that it flies in the face of what your parents and professors told you, that you should express yourself constantly. But this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer.
After a few months, even a year in practice, I knew nothing. At least I told myself that. I spent a lot of time doing three things, practicing, listening, and learning. Giving advice was something I did to clients and those few lawyers in the PD's office that asked, but not to other lawyers who had been doing this longer than me. I took advice from them.
But that's not acceptable today. There is a notion out there that lawyers like me, like Greenfield, are "scared" of what's happening, that we're scared that our clients will go to younger lawyers armed with shiny toys and a recorded voice at the virtual (basement) office in mommy and daddy's house. That we're scared our clients will prefer someone who lives 2,000 miles away who was "recently quoted" on some website for 3 minutes.
You want to listen to (or pay) a lawyer who's been practicing for less time than it takes to have a child? You think these people have the answers? You think the way things "used to be done" are over?
Lawyers are like anyone else, even worse: tell them you can put money in their pocket, and they will listen. They will type, they will swipe the maxed out credit card for the marketing plan, and they willbe attracted to those that claim to have the secrets to the pot of gold.
Scott was right: "...this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer."
Wait... Oh, nevermind, I've been doing this longer than 9 months.
Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.