I recently attended a meeting where they discussed using voluntary bar associations to build your law practice. I sat there thinking it was like telling Noah about floods. The attendees were all members of such an association and were there listening. They were the believers, and those not there were the ones who really needed to hear this.
As the law practice changes constantly, we now see law firm managers saying no to paying for any such association meetings. “How does that help the bottom line when you go to meetings with other lawyers?” is what you may hear. In the litigation part of my practice, almost all of my referrals come from other lawyers. It is all about relationships. I know them – they know me and feel comfortable sending their client to me. The end result is new business which I never would have gotten sitting comfortably in my office just billing time.
So just from the economics of the practice, you need to get out and about to develop your practice. Think through this with me – Have you ever gotten a new client from the internet, or from an email? I say to the new economy law managers, free your lawyers and get them out. If you still do not believe in associations with lawyers, make sure they are out in their communities doing something to develop personal relationships. There is a rich tradition in American jurisprudence of the lawyer citizen. For hundreds of years, lawyers in America have been involved in every aspect of their communities and their government. This has been the case through many difficult economies.
Forgive me if I say it is not always about the dollar. If you wanted a job, you could have gone to the local technical school with a lot less effort. You chose a profession instead of just a job, and I suggest you owe a non-compensated return of your time. In the process you can help your community and your profession.
You cannot do any of this from your billing cubby. You cannot do this by simply going home, rather than stopping at a community event on the way home. So I am preaching to you younger lawyers and to you lawyer managers to get out and forget a bit about the short-term billing. There are dividends for you and to your clients. You know people and they know you and it can benefit your client considerably, in addition to getting new business for you over time.
My goal here is to convince you being active and involved outside your office will make you a better lawyer and will increase your business. As one of the speakers quoted: “Dogs do not bark at parked cars.”