Cash Mobs Put the Hype in Hyper Local Lawyering

This past summer, I twice spoke about how hyper-local lawyering can save solos from the demise-by-automation predicted by Richard Susskind in the End of Lawyers. The long arm of technology may be powerful but it lacks the dexterity to crack local markets as effectively as personal relationships. Plus, lawyers have traditionally acted as pillars of the community, so practicing as a neighborhood or community lawyer is a role that comes naturally.

But let’s face it. Even though hyperlocal law is one way for lawyers to beat the Legal Zooms and McLaw Firm franchises, it’s not exactly sexy. After all, much as we revere Abe Lincoln or even Atticus Finch, many young upstarts would rather not model a 21st Century Practice on these old white dudes – and who can blame them?

Still — for what it’s worth, hyperlocal can be cool and cutting edge as shown by 32-year old Cleveland, Ohio attorney Adam Samtoy. Samtoy is putting a little hype into hyperlocal, one business at a time, with a concept he devised called a cash mob which harnesses the power of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to get consumers to spend money at locally owned stores.

According to this recent Chicago Tribune story, Samtoy’s first Cash Mob took place in Cleveland last November and brought 40 shoppers to a book store on a shopping spree where each of them spent an average of $40 within an hour-and-a-half. The bookstore’s owner estimates that he earned eight times his normal take on that day.

Even though the concept of cash mob brings to mind its less orderly cousin, the flash mob , Samtoy does propose three rules: “You have to spend at least $20, meet three people you have never met and have fun.”

With the power of social media, cash mobs aren’t hard to organize, and they can draw needed revenue to local businesses, many of which are still struggling in a tough economy. But most importantly for lawyers, cash mobs are a way of giving back to the local communities that support their practices. And while doing well by doing good is quaint and noble rather than bold and daring, at least with a cash mob, you can enjoy a little fun and a little flash in the process.