You want to know what the future of law entails for you? Probably not much. You do the same crap everyone else does. You’re some run-of-the-mill commercial litigator, or you write the same wills as every other estate planning lawyer, or you’re an “aggressive” and “caring” and “passionate” criminal-defense lawyer that will “fight for your rights.”
It’s all garbage. You don’t matter. You compete on price and spend your day wondering what works better — pay-per-click, or your Facebook Fan Page. You’ll pay the bills and get a nice case every so often, but you’re just another lawyer wondering why the world hasn’t lined up to hire you.
The future of law is specialization. I’m not just talking about “niche” practices, I’m talking about specialization within your practice. I’m talking about being a resource in your practice area, or knowing more about a specific issue than the others. And yes, I have examples, calm down, I’ll lay this out for you in simple, easy terms that you can understand. Maybe you can even put some of this to work in the middle of contemplating your miserable life as a lawyer….
No, contrary to what you learned in law school or before you escaped from Biglaw, it doesn’t have to be a law review article. Write something — an article on a specific issue relevant to your practice. You’re an estate planning lawyer? Here’s your article: “Estate Planning for the Young Family — Issues to Consider After Your First Child Is Born.” Post it, wherever you can. Send it to your friends, send it (really?) to your competition. I’m thinking one of your competitors does big-time estate planning and isn’t interested in a young family who can only spend a couple grand on some documents.
Take that article and talk about it
Lawyers love to hear themselves speak. For some reason, people love to hear lawyers speak — and not just lawyers. Let’s continue on the estate planning for young families article. You know where young families go? Temple, church, schools. Offer to give a talk on the article, copies to be provided to the attendees. And don’t forget about the local bar associations — there’s nothing like walking into a room of lawyers from various practice areas.
Reference the article in your e-mail signature block with a link
I need to explain this?
Expand the article
The topic of estate planning for young families will evolve. There will be tax code changes, issues regarding the definition of “family” and “spouse,” and case law that affects the practice. You must stay on top of this. If your one-page article becomes a 15-page e-book, great. You will become the go-to lawyer on this issue. You will be consulted on issues regarding estate planning for young families. You will be hired because you have put yourself out there on this issue. Do you actually know more about this issue than other lawyers? Maybe. But whether you like it or not, when clients are making a decision on hiring a lawyer, often perception wins out. Does a lawyer that wrote a book on his practice area know more than one that hasn’t? Doesn’t matter. The book author has the reputation that “she wrote the book.”
What I am suggesting works in any practice area. No one cares what type of law you practice. They only care if you appear to know more about their problem than the others that do what you do. Find something within your practice area that clients want or need to know, and become that lawyer that provides the information.
You don’t even need to pay a marketer to help you.
Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.