Monday, February 16, 2009

The Lawyer Economy: It's Like An Arts Festival

Spending a few hours at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival was a good analogy to the state of the legal economy.

There were hundreds of artists, each with a booth. There were categories: jewelry, paintings, photography, sculpture, etc... Each artist was different. Some were solo artists, some were couples. Some were expensive, some were affordable. Some artists were friendly, others were hiding in the back of their booths seemingly uninterested in who was browsing.

Few people were buying.

What was selling? Necessities. The most profitable booth: the guy selling lemonade. There was also a moderate line for the Italian Ice. Kids love that.

I overheard conversations of artists saying they sold "nothing" all weekend, and many people were hiding their embarassment over a lack of funds by asking the artist "do you have a card?"

Then I noticed something interesting.

Many of these artists, in fact, most, needed to sell quite a bit of art to break even on their expenses for the booth, travel, motel. The stress was most likely overwhelming.

Then I looked across from the rows and rows of similar looking white tent booths to the grassy area across the street.

There I saw moving sculptures of animals made out of metal, moving their heads and other body parts by the power of the wind. They were colorful, different, and separate from the crowd.

The small alligator was $10,500.

"Who's buying this stuff in this economy" I thought.

Then it hit me.

This artist probably needed to sell one, maybe two pieces to make some money.

Out of over 150,000 people, someone had to buy.

He just needed one, maybe two.

Others, needed dozens just to break even.

Maybe he dropped the price a bit, maybe he put some people on payment plans, but he didn't need to do a volume business to make some money.

Sure, this guy probably wondered if anyone would make such a large purchase in this economy, but the odds were pretty good. No matter the economy, there's always people who will spend money. To find those people, you need to have something that attracts them.

He was different, and by being different he was able to charge a premium.

Even in this economy.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit



Anonymous said...

I agree in tough times you need to have a unique message or niche in whatever your profession is if you want to survive and thrive!

Dr Rick Goodman

Anonymous said...

Good analogy. A volume business means you are selling a commodity. Match the message to the market and clearly differentiate yourself and you will survive in any economic downturn.

Dave Lorenzo