13 truths about lawyers….for lawyers

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Let’s not pussy-foot around.

Here are a list of truths about lawyers:

1. They work long hours;

2. They had to study hard to get qualified;

3. They are not universally satisfied with their career as it is or the trajectory for it;

4. Litigators have had to weather so many storms – the CPR, fixed costs, case tracking, removal of legal aid and have more to come potentially with the Online Court Service for low value claims and the Civil Liability Bill;

5. They have no actionable marketing plan…..by this I mean one that will work;

6. Marketing and sales are dirty words which have no relevance to the work they do;

7. Billable hours are all that matter;

8. Partnership is a goal;

9. Their work is not recognised;

10. All clients are a negligence claim waiting to happen;

11. Their clients can get hold of them just 5 days a week;

12. Networking events never realise as much as they or others want, demand or seek;

13. Almost every tiny thing they do is risk assessed or subject to constraint, control and scrutiny.

How many nail heads did this list hit with you, dear lawyer?

The list is a collection of things I know. Mostly from my own experience as a Legal Executive then Solicitor at the coal face of litigation but also from what I see today.

The thing is that the profession is indeed “professional”. By this I mean a valued and respected contributor to the society we live in. It manages itself in a well regulated way. Most clients are happy with the service they get.

But, most complain about the costs of using you (even if they don’t make that known they certainly think it). Some moan. Some sue. Most just use you for the thing they need and move on.

Move on. Yes. Many clients will not use you again.

An increasing number will turn to the internet for help. The knowledge available and the resources for people to do the routine administrative side of things for themselves is expanding. It will continue to do so.

The problem is you.

It isn’t personal.

But ask yourself this: what are you for?……what is your purpose?

You see the newspaper industry thought it was immune. So did the travel industry.

You think you are.

Here is the news….you are not.

You are going to have to do something new. Something different. Something to effect a change.

How will you find work. Good, interesting, rewarding, ground-breaking, life-altering work?

If you want something new then you will have to stop doing the old stuff first.

Here is a list of old stuff lawyers do:

1. Wear suits (not intended to be gender specific – “formal attire” if you prefer);

2. Speak to clients when it suits the lawyer best;

3. Barricade themselves into their ivory towers;

4. Contend that the client knows less than they do;

5. Charge too much for what they actually do;

6. Confuse;

7. Use the wrong language;

8. Have the same list of “legal services” as every other firm in the street;

9. Have corporate blue colouring on their website or other “hey look I am a law firm” cliches;

10. Talk;

11. Do not listen;

12. The same marketing they have done for years;

13. Place ads;

14. Run seminars or events;

15. Print business cards for their personnel;

16. Employ a receptionist to screen calls and new business;

17. Send out questionnaires after they complete work;

18. Sponsor a club or raise money for charity.

19. Spend good money on ad campaigns nobody cares about.

I could go on.

I don’t mean to be disparaging but invite you to look in the mirror.

How many nail heads did this list hit with you, dear lawyer?

It is very confusing in the World today. The pace of technology, media in all its forms, the demands for expenditure on placement, ads and corporate functions and events.

You need a plan. Not the vague one you have in your mind nor the detailed line-by- line analytically exhausting one that the marketing personnel prepared for you.

No. I mean an actual plan that looks at (another list coming right up):

1. The change you want to make;

2. What the beliefs are of those you seek to speak to;

3. People.

It is demanding. It is extraordinarily difficult. It isn’t what you know about is it?

Above all, the plan…the work you absolutely must do….. will not do itself. It cannot be done by outsourcing to a marketing team. It has to be done by you.

Sure, enlist help – you must do this – but this is your career, your livelihood, your business.

Beyond all of that, it is your future as a lawyer.

The alternative – you have no future as a lawyer. Your professional world as you understand it will continue to crumble. No demand for you will = No reward.

Step up.

Do it now.

Not later.

Do it now.

Not tomorrow.

Do it now.

Not next year.

Do it now.

It’s about discovering the great and rare work you do. Getting the word out about your value and building something that the clients you want to help actually care about.

The legal service you offer is not a “thing”, a gadget that people decide they must have.

It is a scarce and special life-changer that the World needs.

Not the whole World but the people for whom your story and the work you do, gives a fairy tale ending.

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