Because I blog about starting a law firm and have done it myself in my respective practice area, not surprisingly, I’m asked for advice on getting started. Yet more often than not, every suggestion I make (and I’ve got a two book’s and a blog’s worth of it!) – whether it’s about finding alternative revenue streams to support a practice area that you love but doesn’t seem immediately profitable or identifying needs for legal services that consumers didn’t know they had or volunteering to do grunt work to build relationships in an organization or writing a law review article or even doing some good old fashioned networking, invariably, the response is an emphatic “that won’t work for me.”
Really? Do you have super-magical powers that enable you to see deep into the future to envision your failure before it happens? Do you have the brute logic skills of Big Blue to churn every possible scenario the events that might unwind if you make this move versus that one and come to the right conclusion every time? (And if you do, why are you practicing law, anyway?)
I’ll grant that sometimes, a proposed idea won’t work and can be eliminated right off the bat. For example, maybe someone recommends a pricy bootcamp to master a new practice area but it’s simply out of your budget. Or maybe the concept is plainly unethical (like passing out money to cab drivers to send clients your way like this tech start up, which could do that because it’s not a law firm).
Likewise, lawyers don’t have unlimited time and have to prioritize marketing ideas. There’s nothing wrong with ruling out those where the odds of success aren’t great (like this one or where an idea is so far out of your comfort zone that you couldn’t execute it convincingly.)
Still, if what you’re doing isn’t working (which is presumably why lawyers start scouting around for marketing advise), why not actually try something new or counter-intuitive before ruling it out by pronouncing that it won’t work? Of course, between us, the truth is that most new ideas probably won’t work. You’ll go through hundreds or thousands of betas or frogs or lumps of coal to rule out what doesn’t work. Nothing wrong with that. After all, the faster you fail, the quicker you’ll reach success.
So the next time you ask for advice, please respond any other way but by saying it won’t work. Instead, come back in three months or six months and say that it didn’t. Hopefully, you won’t need to come back at all.
For those of you who celebrate Rosh Hashanna, may your New Year be sweet and full of meaning. L’Shana Tova – I’ll see you all next week!