Can You Afford To Help Your Competitors?

Bankruptcy lawyers as competitorsWhy should I help my competitors?

That was the query of a highly experienced bankruptcy lawyer I met at the Northern California Bankruptcy Forum last week.

I heard the same push back on one of Jay Fleischman‘s listserves from a participant who didn’t want to share with others in his professional community an upcoming education opportunity.

“I don’t want my competition to improve”.

I can think of a number of reasons I want the lawyers around me to raise the standard of bankruptcy practice.

  • Cross fertilization:  my skills are sharpened watching and opposing good lawyers
  • The public is better served by a skillful bar
  • Good lawyers don’t willy nilly make bad law
  • The higher the quality of the practice the less likely we get petty and unnecessary rules, regulations and oversight from outside

I’m confident that I can compete with those I’m helping.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of shaggy359.


  1. I wrote a post titled “5 Reasons Why I Educate My Competition” a bit of time ago because I feel strongly about the need for each of us to help our colleagues do as good of a job as they can.  The people who rely on us for legal assistance deserve quality representation, plain and simple.

    The lawyer down the block who competes with you isn’t going to go out of business because he or she is bad at what they do – they’ll continue doing subpar work for unsuspected clients.  By the time a court gets around to sanctioning them it will be too late to make much of a difference, and in the interim you run the very real risk of bad law being made as the incompetent stumbles into trouble and can’t get out of it.

    In addition, it’s egotistical to think that a client will hire YOU if they don’t hire the incompetent lawyer.  There are lots of lawyers who practice bankruptcy law in your courthouse – some are good, some not so much.  The consumer may hire you or someone else.

    Don’t think you’re big enough to squeeze out every other lawyer in town.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Period.

  2. Cousin Jimmy says

    I agree with Jay.  Our competition is not our fellow BK lawyers, its the debt settlement companies, the mortgage modification companies, and the other outright frauds that plague our industry.  If we do a good enough policing ourselves, the powers that be can focus their energies on them, and they should.  

  3. Toni Freeburg says

    The more competent the bar is overall should result in an ability to earn more fees. You won’t have as many $500 cases when the competition is more valuable too. Plus, it is painful to watch so many train wrecks.

  4. of course you should.  How else will you be knows as the baddest BK atty on the block if you don’t demonstrate it to other attys?

  5. John Neblett says

    When I first started practicing bankruptcy law 15 years ago, there was a HUGE negative perception of bankruptcy lawyers.  Thanks to the efforts of organizations like NACBA, and people like Jay, Max, Cathy, and a thousand others, that perception has changed.  That helps all of us.  As far as competing for clients, if I’m not good enough to compete, I don’t deserve to be here.  That’s what makes better representation for most number of people and that’s the bottom line.

    John Neblett

  6. From Bert Blackwell by email:
     1.  If you  have experience
    lawyers then both sides know how the judge will decide things and matters can be
    settled without having  to prepare evidence and argue issues.  It
    makes it so both sides can handle more cases and spend less time on each

       2. It saves on appeals.  Sometimes
    inexperienced lawyers will argue ridiculous positions and the judge will agree
    with it and then you are faced with an expensive appeal to educate the judge and
    your fellow attorney.


         3.  How many clients you get is more a result
    of good marketing rather than good results in bankruptcy court.  Most
    clients are not sophisticated enough to tell a good lawyer from a fair lawyer
    unless there is a complete disaster which rarely happens.


         4.  Good lawyering actually helps the
    bankruptcy business.  If clients are getting good results in bankruptcy
    court the word gets around and this good impression helps all practitioners get
    more business.


         5.  We should all work together because most
    of us in our area are sole practitioners and we frequently need the input of our
    fellow lawyers just to make sure we are not completely off base or that we have
    failed to think of something pertinent to the case.  Bert Blackwell McCook,
    New 69001—-