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Why predict the future when you can make it?

December 24, 2009

It’s the end of the year so blogs from lawyers, law firm management professionals, and legal marketing consultants are full of the obligatory predictions for 2010.

Adrian Lurssen of JD Supra has a nice summary of the predictions coming from legal professionals. Some of the predictions are inspiring, some less so.

But what I’m struck by in reading predictions for 2010 is that they are often predicting things that are out of predicting professional’s control. Why not make the future instead of predicting the future?

No one is going to care if your predictions were right or wrong at at the end of the year. Except maybe you. And you’ll like a self serving clown if you come back a year from now and say look at this blog post from December, 2009 in which I predicted something that’s now true.

There’s never been a better time for the ‘Average Joes’ of the world, like you and me, to make the future. It used to be that some people predicted what would happen, and that only Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Steve Jobs could make the future.

No longer. If you’re a small company in the legal space, there’s never been a better time to develop new products and solutions to compete with the dualopoly of Thomson West FindLaw and LexisNexis (including LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell).

The cost of developing products with software that’s low cost or open source allows you to bring products to product to maket at a fraction of the cost of what it would have been only 10 years ago.

Rather than raising a large sum of money to get started, find some hard working friends with a passion. You can run laps around the big boys who employ the risk adverse and the less innovative and who try to squeeze the last dollar out the American lawyer by selling products that under deliver.

For you lawyers, there’s never been a better time to compete with the good old boy lawyers. Whether the good old boys are large law firms or older lawyers who’ve established a long standing name in your town.

The best lawyers get their work by word of mouth, always have and always have. I practiced for 20 years and spent a ton on advertising. Yellow pages, TV, radio, newspapers, you name it. But my best clients came by word of mouth based on my skill, passion, and reputation.

Today, at a fraction of the cost of advertising, you can make a name for yourself online. By networking through the Internet via social media (blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn) you can develop a local or national reputation as an authority in a couple years. Now that requires that you be a good lawyer offering a lot to start with. But many of you sitting on your cans trying to figure out how to get work are good lawyers.

So make a little future in 2010. Don’t predict it. If you’re a company with a solution or product offering value to lawyers that competes with the dualopoly, go kick their ass. They are there for the taking.

If you’re lawyer wishing you could be like one of the lawyers with a big name who doesn’t have to worry about where the next client is coming from, go become one of them. Except better.

Your competition is lawyers who have it made. Those lawyers aren’t driven to learn how to network through the Internet like you are. I’ll take a PHD any day. Someone who’s poor, hungry, and driven.

Good luck in 2010. But remember luck is the residue of design and hard work.