Looking back, I should have launched The Calkins Law Firm many years earlier than I did.
Almost from the first day I started working in “old model” law firms, I could see the writing on the wall.
I saw the tremendous overheads, the waste, and the inefficiency of old-model law firms in delivering legal services and advice to middle market businesses.
I wasn’t the only one seeing these things. Looking back, I recall numerous instances where the clients saw the writing on the wall, too.
I remember reading a book first published in 1983 titled The Official Lawyer’s Handbook, that described the many outmoded ways of the old-style law firms and how an attorney working at such a firm might best take advantage of all of those poor practices to get himself or herself to the top. (I recall well reading the book and thinking it would be much funnier if it wasn’t so accurate in its description of the old-style law firms and their outmoded ways!)
Being resistant to change (and aren’t we all to some extent?), and hoping I could gradually introduce “new ideas” into the old-style law firms, I labored on at several old-style law firms.
However, one after the other, I watched several of those old-style law firms fail. In the crucible of the last decade, these law firms failed largely, if not entirely, because of their unfailing commitment to their outmoded ways.
Ultimately, three law firms I practiced with failed. While I had nothing to do with management in any of these three firms, as these firms struggled and floundered one after another, the impact on my own practice was at best unsettling and disruptive. While I don’t believe my clients’ interests were in any way compromised by the struggles of my former law firms, I am sure that some of my clients, referral sources and friends wondered what was going on. Some clients unfortunately found their way to other law firms during this time.
Folks, I literally waited until the lights were turned off at three successive law firms before I read the writing on the wall and launched my own new model law firm.
I should have acted on my observations about the old-style law firms and their outmoded ways and made the leap and launched my own firm a decade–if not two decades–earlier.
So I encourage my readers not to make the same mistake that I made.
Once you see the writing clearly on the wall, don’t wait for the lights to be turned off and the doors closed behind you. Make whatever changes you need to make in your career and in your life to pave the way for a brighter future. It might mean starting a business, or finding another path.
Yes, it seems risky – but isn’t it even more risky to cling to outmoded ways than to move in a new direction?