Good Business Advice from a Bad Guy
February 20, 2013
Owner of, Attorney for Executive Legal Professionals
Salvatore Maroni: If it’s so simple, why haven’t you done it already?
The Joker: If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
Joker, The Dark Knight1
Good Business Advice from a Bad Guy
If you are good at what you do, odds are someone will pay you for doing it. Still, there is some wisdom, though not often well understood,* in giving some things away with the ultimate goal of earning a profit. A word to the wise who are otherwise seeking something for ‘free,’ though: if you’re not buying it, and you’re not selling it, you’re the product being sold.
There are many reasons why legal services are usually as expensive as they are. One reason is the cost of breaking through barriers to entry into the legal services market (in other words, the cost of becoming a lawyer, in the first place). “Law school can cost $50,000 a year, and starting salaries for lawyers may not be much more than that, depending on the type of law you practice when you graduate.”2 Another is the business model to which most attorneys and law firms conform.
In my opinion, if legal services providers (i.e., solo practitioners and law firms) want to lower their prices without taking a pay cut, the ideal way for them to do so is to cut their costs. Obviously, student loan debt is not going to go away any time soon. In fact, Americans have more student loan debt than credit card debt, which is really saying something in a nation with a Personal Saving Rate of only 3.9%!3,4 Abandoning the traditional law firm / law practice model in favor of a more efficient, more effective, leaner business model is an attractive way to cut costs without losing profits or decreasing the quality of counsel or representation legal client’s should reasonably expect.
Accepting the above line of reasoning begs the question, however, if law firms abandon the traditional law practice model, what model should they adopt? The quick answer for this article is: I’m not telling (yet)! …because I have taken to heart the Joker’s good advice. If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
I am creating a new information product for attorneys, specifically business attorneys (but the principles I aim to teach are applicable to any kind of legal practice, and therefore valuable to all attorneys). This information product will instruct attorneys how to transition from the traditional law firm model to a new, leaner business model without losing profits, or how to launch a new law firm operated according to an efficient, effective, lean business model. I honestly believe this has the potential to free many attorneys, especially young attorneys, from the shackles of the traditional law firm model, while maintaining or improving the quality of counsel and representation clients receive.
“Practice what you preach,” is the common retort to the hypocritical critic. I, therefore, am currently proving the concept of this new model, and the results are, so far, very exciting! If you are interested in learning more about this, please follow me on Twitter (@noelbagwell and @ExecutiveLP) and visit my website: www.ExecutiveLP.com. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ExecutiveLP, LinkedIn (shortlink): http://goo.gl/ziSXs, and Google+ (shortlink): http://goo.gl/tIDfC.
*This is changing.
1. Nolan, C. (Director). (2008). The Dark Knight [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Motion picture]. United States: Warner Home Video.
2. Ann Levine (2012). Why Going to Law School is Worth the Sacrifice. [ONLINE] Available at: http://lawschoolexpert.com/law-school-decision/why-going-to-law-school-is-worth-the-sacrifice-2/. [Last Accessed 20 February 2013].
3. Paul O’Donnell (2013). Student Debt Climbs as Credit Risk Gets Steeper. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100420887. [Last Accessed 20 February 2013].
4. ycharts.com (2013). US PERSONAL SAVING RATE. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ycharts.com/indicators/personal_saving_rate. [Last Accessed 20 February 2013].
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