Ten Rules for the New Economy

This economic downturn provides a tremendous opportunity for lawyers to look at their practices in a new (and different) way.  Here are ten “rules” for lawyers facing an uncertain economic future.  I hope you find them helpful.

1. Your best response to bad economic times is to become indispensable to your clients.  What can you provide to them that they can’t do without?  If you can’t answer that question, it is unlikely your clients can either.

2.  Never assume your current clients know all you can do for them.  Never believe your former clients remember all you did for them.  Reach out to both and remind them.  New business will follow.

3.  “Advertise more” is the advice you’ll get from the yellow pages salesperson.  “Blog and Twitter more” is the advice you’ll get from social media consultants. “Serve more” is the advice you’ll get from your clients.

4.  In a bad economy, you can be proactive, reactive or inactive.  Chose the first, knowing most of your competitors will pick the other two.

5.  Don’t lower your rates, increase your terms.  The easier you make it for people to pay you, the more likely they will.

6.  There’s a fine line between compassion and pity.  Your clients aren’t paying you to feel sorry for them, they are paying you so they’ll no longer feel sorry for themselves.  Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” tell them the six words all clients long to hear: “I’ll help you get through this.”

7.  When your worst clients use the economy as yet another excuse to not pay you, use it as an excuse not to keep them.

8.  Though you might earn less of your clients’ money, never deserve less of their trust. 

9.  Your clients never hired you because they wanted a lawyer, they hired you because they needed one.  When they leave you, it isn’t because they suddenly need you less, they just need other things more.  Don’t take it personally, you’d choose food and heat over advice, too.

10.  Remember all those rainy day, practice-improvement projects you’ve put off ‘til “someday” because you’ve never had the time to do them?  Guess what, today is someday.  Now is the time for you to make big changes in your business.  What are you waiting for?

If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series: Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal InnovationTen Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.

3 Responses to Ten Rules for the New Economy
  1. Karen Goodman
    December 18, 2008 | 1:51 pm

    Great list of tips on how every business should be run. I’m in real estate and think that anyone that works with clients, not just lawyers, could use this advice.

    I’m sending it out on Twitter to my followers so they can take the advice too.

  2. Joe
    December 19, 2008 | 5:34 am

    I agree with Karen 100%. Really top notch advice or “rules” that can apply to more than just lawyers. Thanks!

  3. Charles
    December 31, 2008 | 7:58 am

    I like the positive attitude of tip #10. They say a downturn is the best time to invest in yourself. When things turn around you will be way ahead of those who didn’t take advantage of the slow time.

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