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?