Once you’ve got the basics of bankruptcy practice settled, you’ve got to figure out a way to bring in clients. After all, a skillset without a client base is simply an academic endeavor.
It was largely a reaction to the bankruptcy newcomers I saw in hearings who clearly hadn’t a clue about the practice of bankruptcy law.
Whether it was the job market or the economy, the practice overflowed with beginning bankruptcy lawyers.
At the time, it was relatively simply to find people who needed help in bankruptcy court. The economy was cratering, wealth was evaporating like a shallow pool of water in a drought, and record numbers of people needed relief.
But things are different today.
A Shift In Tectonic Plates
Filings are down nationwide. Even in places where bankruptcy was a growth practice area in 2011, the numbers are falling. No longer can you adopt a business-building tactic involving, “if you build it, they will come.”
Your needs, dear reader, have shifted. Marketing your skills and managing a practice are as important as knowing what to do with a client when they show up.
Sadly, there are few reliable voices out there to help.
Someone Who’s Been In Your Shoes
As incredible as it sounds, I feel your pain. I went directly from law school to “solo” practice with a law school classmate. We built a practice from absolutely nothing. I’ve gone through the peaks and valleys of building a practice, and over the past 30+ years I’ve picked up a number of techniques to insulate me from the vagaries of the marketplace.
There are real challenges in running a bankruptcy practice. You hope not to have repeat clients, many of whom have no money to pay you.
The engine that moved my client load from adequate to overwhelming was the web. I started writing for the public in 1998 with Bankruptcy in Brief. Self taught, I started with four pages that repeated the things I said to clients every day. I kept writing and the public kept reading.
People called from across the country, sold on the idea that only I would do as their bankruptcy lawyer.
Even better, reporters from local and national publications called and then quoted me in their work.
So, I’m taking some time from my practice to team up with Jay Fleischman, who is this month starting a new bankruptcy practice 3000 miles from his existing practice, for a two day presentation on marketing, technology, and management of a bankruptcy practice. Even with two days, we’re finding more things we want to share in the way of skills, tools, and attitudes than two days can accommodate.
Join Us In Dallas, Won’t You?
The Bankruptcy Practice Workshop will be held in Dallas on October 6 – 7, 2012. The workshop will consist of two full days of marketing, office management and technology specifically for consumer bankruptcy lawyers.
We have only so many available seats, and registrations have been brisk thus far in spite of the fact that many lawyers haven’t been around for the past few weeks.
If you’re so inclined, please join us. We’d be glad to have you, and promise to do our best to teach you what you need to know in order to survive the long, cold winter ahead (and beyond).