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Back in the day, people used to respect attorneys.
Law was considered a noble profession, and someone who had given decades of their life fighting to defend the rights of others was considered an upstanding member of their community. Somebody to be admired.
When a member of the public came into your office, seeking your council, you could see it in their eyes. And you could hear it in the tone of their voice.
Lawyers were also highly paid in comparison with other professionals.
Clients step into your office with a smart-ass attitude. They cry about your fees and try to play you off against cheaper competitors. And then, when it’s time to get paid, you have to chase them down and they ignore your calls.
Few solo or small-firm attorneys earn even a low six-figure income.
Quite simply, most attorneys don’t enjoy the same positioning they once had. Potentials don’t feel the same respect their parents and grandparents did.
Because every potential with a legal problem knows they can pull out their smartphone, click a few buttons, and in less than 30 seconds pull up a list of at least a dozen other attorneys in town who are hungry for their business.
Or, to put it another way…
The legal profession has become a buyers’ market.
A potential with a legal problem is like a hot chick in a club full of sailors. In most cases, it’s them — the “legal consumer” — who holds the power.
They know it.
And, deep down, I think most attorneys know it. Especially the wiser and more experienced ones who remember the way this profession used to be.
Notice above, though — I said, “in most cases”.
This is because there are some solo attorneys and owners/partners of small law firms who are the exception to this trend. Yes, they operate in competitive practice areas, where there are maybe 30 or more direct competitors circling around like hungry sharks. And yes, they charge premium-level fees, and often make potentials pay for the privilege of an initial case review (even when most of their peers practically beg them to come into their office).
Yet, their trial calendars are STUFFED FULL of lucrative cases.
Why is that?
What do these attorneys and firms have that others don’t?
In a word, AUTHORITY.
For a certain type of client with a particular type of legal problem or situation, they are perceived as the authority. Not because they urinate their money up the wall plastering their face on billboards. But because they literally wrote the “five-star-reviewed-on-Amazon” book about this person’s situation.
And so, potentials treat them differently.
When you have this kind of authority working for you, to a certain extent, you become immune to the forces that are hammering legal fees to the ground.
Law school, in its shortsighted greed, will continue to trash the legal profession by pumping out thousands of juniors each year, even though there aren’t enough jobs to support their alumni who graduated ten years ago.
Big law will keep laying off paralegals and sending them onto Main Street to hang their shingle as a solo attorney. Avvo will keep inventing new ways for them to pass themselves off as your equal peers and to strip experienced attorneys of any last scraps of professional dignity they have left.
And desperate attorneys will keep slashing their fees to the bone in a foolish attempt to win business in a market that continues to get more competitive.
But when you are perceived as the authority for a certain type of person with a particular type of case, you are protected by your very own moat.
Because you will have something these other attorneys don’t have.
And the right kind of potentials will have a palpable reason to call you first, jump through hoops to retain you, and pay premium fees to have you fighting their corner. They will have a palpable reason to treat you differently.
This is what you are missing right now.
If you’re like most of the attorneys I consult with every day, who don’t yet have a published book working for them, this is what is holding you back.