My Shingle

Waiting 14 Years for the Call

by Carolyn Elefant on September 17, 2006 · 4 comments

in Encouragement, Marketing & Making Money

Print Friendly

Most of us know that it can take several months for a marketing connection to pan out.  This is a post about one that was 14 years in the making.  I write this story not to discourage those of you who need your leads to pop now, but rather to make the point that solo practice is one long connected journey and you never know whether or when the seeds you scatter today will finally bear fruit.  Read on for details….

Before I started my law firm in 1993, I worked for an energy regulatory
boutique with a national practice located in Washington D.C.   I was a junior attorney
when the firm let me go after three years, so not surprisingly, only
one small client followed me to my new practice.  Despite the
circumstances surrounding my departure from my firm, I restrained
myself (not an easy task) from burning bridges, though I also cut off
contact with my former colleagues.  Within a year, I achieved modest
success and enormous satisfaction at the new firm that I’d built and I
felt ready to reestablish contact with my firm (mostly because I was
desperate for help in preparing for my first federal appellate argument
and had no where else to turn).  The firm took pity on me and lent a
hand which lead to a cordial relationship of occasional lunches,
referrals and requests for advice.
Last week, one of the partners called me to find out if I was available for a case.  Turned out that a client that I’d worked for back in 1991-92 and had stayed with my former firm needed new counsel because of a conflict.  And the client asked my former firm for me!

As I wrote at the outset, my story isn’t intended to depress.  After all, if I’d waited 14 years for all of my marketing leads to turn to clients, I wouldn’t be here right now… And it’s not really intended as a lesson in persistence, because I’ve not had contact with my former client in 14 years, and my interaction with my former firm have been erratic at best.  Rather, getting a call from a client after 14 years reminds me of the unpredictable quality of solo practice and the importance of always making the best impression possible.  Eventually, no matter what you do or how far you go, your past will catch up with you.  Do you want it to drag you down – or bring you opportunities to move you forward?

  • http://www.bartoslawfirm.com Ramona Bartos

    I have had a number of clients come to me because they knew me growing up, sometimes over 25 years ago. Carolyn, you are so right, you never know when or from where a client will come. Never underestimate the power of daily interactions, no matter how innocent or “non-marketing-oriented”.
    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.bartoslawfirm.com Ramona Bartos

    I have had a number of clients come to me because they knew me growing up, sometimes over 25 years ago. Carolyn, you are so right, you never know when or from where a client will come. Never underestimate the power of daily interactions, no matter how innocent or “non-marketing-oriented”.
    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    Carolyn,
    I was so relieved by the final few sentences of this story! My heart is literally pounding I was getting so upset when at first, I had this sinking feeling that the moral was going to be that you just have to be persistent.
    I’ve seen too many “networking” groups like that where no-one gets any business out of it but everyone just keep going year after year because once a hundred years ago, Joe got a new client so I have to just keep “paying my dues” or some other such nonsense.
    But you pulled it out at the end & came out with a GREAT lesson about always doing the right thing & thinking about the impression one makes when coming AND going!
    Thanks!!!
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    Carolyn,
    I was so relieved by the final few sentences of this story! My heart is literally pounding I was getting so upset when at first, I had this sinking feeling that the moral was going to be that you just have to be persistent.
    I’ve seen too many “networking” groups like that where no-one gets any business out of it but everyone just keep going year after year because once a hundred years ago, Joe got a new client so I have to just keep “paying my dues” or some other such nonsense.
    But you pulled it out at the end & came out with a GREAT lesson about always doing the right thing & thinking about the impression one makes when coming AND going!
    Thanks!!!
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com

Previous post:

Next post: