Small-firm lawyer Bill Alverson doesn’t show up on the first page of Google if you search for “lawyer in Andalusia, Alabama,” where Alverson’s firm is based. Which might be a problem for a lawyer relying on Google to generate clients. After all, Andalusia has a population of only 9,078, so if you can’t make it onto the first page of Google there, can you make it anywhere?
But Alverson needn’t worry because his law practice isn’t an all-encompassing jealous mistress. Instead, Alverson has another kind of mistress on the side of his day job at his small father/son firm, Alverson & Alverson — dozens of them, really. As noted in this past weekend’s New York Times magazine (and today’s Quote of the Day), aspiring beauty queens retain Alverson to coach them to victory at state and national pageants.
Turns out, working with statutes and the statuesque have more in common than one might think….
As Alverson describes in the article:
[C]ourtroom experience translates well to the pageant world. “Being in front of a jury or a judge is the biggest pageant there is,” he says. “Think of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ or ‘12 Angry Men.’ It’s about empowering the people who are going to make a decision to connect the dots. I set up the dots.”
Likewise, Alverson discovered that the same skills that he uses to put on a case correspond with those needed by contestants to make their case to the judges:
“In both settings, you’re an actor,” he said. “You’re playing the best version of yourself.” In court, he uses witnesses to construct his arguments. But in a pageant, he explained, “you are your other witnesses. Each interview question is an opportunity to present a different witness — one to show your personality, another for humanity, another to be your justification — but it all has to be consistent. That’s where a lot of girls fall, because there are disconnects in their answers.”
But Alverson’s pageant services aren’t just a hobby; they make good business sense. By repurposing his legal skills to prep pageant contestants for competitions, Alverson has can insulate his law practice from increasing competition. The pageant fees also diversify Alverson’s revenue stream. Alverson handles court-appointed criminal and guardian ad-litem work that according to this source pays around $70 an hour. So Alverson’s $125/hour beauty pageant work, while low by big-city standards, represents a step up in pay from some of his legal matters.
So what do you think? Would you rate Alverson’s side talent as a winner? Or are these kinds of hybrid business models really just a consolation prize for losing out as lawyer? Personally, I give Alverson’s business high marks, but you be the judge. Comment section is open.
The Pageant King Of Alabama [New York Times Magazine]
Carolyn Elefant has been blogging about solo and small firm practice at MyShingle.com since 2002 and operated her firm, the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant PLLC, even longer than that. She’s also authored a bunch of books on topics like starting a law practice, social media, and 21st century lawyer representation agreements (affiliate links). If you’re really that interested in learning more about Carolyn, just Google her. The Internet never lies, right? You can contact Carolyn by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @carolynelefant.