Here are four key rules (along with some pithy explanations) that kept me focused during my difficult start up phase. These four key rules eventually helped me build a profitable and mostly enjoyable small law practice. May they help you too!
NO WORK is better than WORK FOR NO MONEY
Don’t let your time get sucked up working for dreadful, complaining clients, for whom you will get bad results because they have horrible cases, for which you will never be paid, and who will tell everyone they know on Twitter what a lousy lawyer you are.
It’s better to sit back and listen to the crickets than take those abysmal cases. That way, you’ll be ready when a great client with an awesome case arrives. You will be poised to dive right in, and this client will consider you amazing because his (or her) last lawyer took over two years to handle their last case.
Get Rid of Bad Cases Early, Get Rid of Bad Cases Often
When your case load is running low, you may be tempted to take on cases that are speculative in nature. I get it. You’re hoping to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. After all, your colleague told you about his case, when his client fell off the treadmill because it wouldn’t turn off, and how he settled it for six figures, even though his client was drunk.
However, as soon as you realize that your sow’s ear is going stay that way, get rid of it, ASAP. That way it’s not your fault when the sow’s ear loses his case. Plus, it will save you a bad review and a bar complaint.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Get rid of all of your mean, nasty, and greedy clients, even if they have good cases. Heaven forbid you get these people wonderful results for their lawsuits, because then they will refer you all their mean, nasty, and greedy friends and family to be your clients too. Soon, your entire practice will be drowning in mean, nasty, and greedy clients, who will be constantly calling you, wanting to know how much money they are going to get and when are they going to get it. So-and-so got BIG DOLLARS and they are expecting the same, pronto!
Of course, the opposite is also true. If you only keep considerate and reasonable clients, then they will refer you all of their considerate and reasonable friends and family. Soon your practice will be filled with considerate and reasonable clients, with whom who you will enjoy working, and who will leave you amazing reviews on your social media pages and send you Christmas Cards too.
Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down
Yes, I used the word “bastards” because sometimes you just need to honest about your hatred for opposing counsel. Sugar coating it will not make you feel better, nor make responding to his endless and completely irrelevant motions any easier. You know the opposing counsel I’m talking about, the one who sends you a new motion every freakin day! Motions to Dismiss, Motions for Summary Judgment, Motions to Compel, Motions for Sanctions, and Motions in Limine.
Remember, the judge doesn’t appreciate opposing counsel either and may even sanction him for discovery abuses. 😉
Finally, good luck with building your profitable and mostly enjoyable small law practice!
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