By Josh F. Brown, Law Office of Josh F. Brown
When I turned 16, my parents insisted that I get an after-school job to fill my time and gain some “real world” experience. Heeding their advice (or command), I drove over to the local Subway at 86th and Ditch (it’s still there), walked in and applied to be a “sandwich artist.”
After being hired, I remember going in on my first day and learning all about the “process” of making a sandwich. Subway’s sandwich-making process included learning the precise number of pickles that go on a six-inch, how many tomatoes to spread across a foot-long and how to appropriately space them on the bread, the precise way in which to fold the turkey and lay it across a sandwich, how to cut what felt like a thousand onions in the back without crying the entire time or slicing my finger off, and on and on and on. These are just some of the many “specifics” I remember to this day about working at Subway back in 1992. All the while (as a 16-year-old punk with no appreciation for what I was learning and experiencing at the time) not realizing those experiences would serve as a critical memory that helped me in deciding on the area of law in which I would later focus my practice and career: franchising.
Flash-forward 17 years when I was a third-year attorney sitting in my office thinking about what direction I wanted to take my legal career. At the time, I was working for another firm but had the fortune of randomly picking up a couple of small business clients. I knew I wanted to have a niche, but I did not know what the niche would be. It was at this precise moment that I thought back over my relatively short life and began thinking about the Subway job I had in high school and other business experiences I had over the years. It was these memories and these experiences that served as the catalyst of me making the decision to dive into franchise law — to make franchise law my niche. Now, 12 years into my legal career with a franchise-focused law practice, I often think about my past and the impact it has had on my life years down the road. Experiences shape who we become, what profession we pursue and how we pursue it.
Just as I could have never predicted that my experience as a 16-year-old Subway sandwich artist would help guide me to become a franchise lawyer, I similarly did not realize the amount of work that would go in to becoming proficient in a focused area of law and building a sustainable practice. At the time, there was no online local resource to help define, build and grow a legal practice. All I could do was try to learn about my chosen area and hope that I knew more about franchising than the people I was speaking to about it. Slowly, but surely, over time, I did. But learning about a practice area is not enough to create and build a successful practice. You must understand the business side as well. Thinking back on that time, it would have been a lot easier if I had tools and resources like the IndyBar’s Practice Builder and Business Builder at my disposal.
Don’t know about these incredible resources? Let me tell you a bit about them.
iba-practice-builder-logo-bw.gifPractice Builder is a series of online tools geared toward helping lawyers better develop their legal practices. Through a variety of toolkits, webinars, videos, print materials and a collection of podcasts, Practice Builder helps you break down the business side of practicing law so you can focus more on the practice of law and less on the day-to-day management of your firm. Additionally, it offers an interview series with seasoned attorneys who provide best practices on how to build and grow a firm the right way. Though geared toward solo and small firm lawyers, I find the resources included in this program to be extremely valuable for any lawyer in any practice looking to improve his or her skills. In addition to solo and small firm lawyers, practitioners at every firm are best-suited to think of their practice areas as their own business to grow and develop.
iba-business-builder-logo-bw.gifBusiness Builder is a related IndyBar resource specifically geared toward helping you get and keep more clients. Through its exclusive suite of referral and networking programs, Business Builder is designed to help you market your practice and bring new business through your door. This subscription-based service is one that you can easily take part in and immediately implement within your practice. But wait…there’s more! (I could not resist throwing in my favorite infomercial line.) The Business Builder toolkit includes the following:
Phone referrals from trained IndyBar staff that are pre-screened and sent directly to your office;
Online referrals and SEO optimization done for you (what lawyer doesn’t love that!) to help launch your name and practice area right to the top of Google; and
A specific network builder to connect lawyers with other lawyers to grow your referral list.
All of these tools and services that are delivered and provided through Practice Builder and Business Builder are provided at a very reasonable monthly subscription rate and can be separated so you get the tools and information you need for your specific practice. And you don’t even have to leave your office or your chair to begin working through these resources to help you grow and better your practice! This unique set of resources provided by the IndyBar was created to help you become successful in an ever-changing legal landscape.
If you are a lawyer looking to develop, build and grow a legal practice (regardless of whether you are doing it on your own or in a small, medium or big law firm,) I encourage you to take a moment to think about where you have been, where you are going and how you plan to get there. I also encourage you to take a few minutes to digest and think about the following questions:
What tools are you using to help your practice grow?
How are you managing the business side of law?
How are you connecting within your community?
How are you managing client expectations and workload?
Are you identifying the needs of your clients in the right way so that they see you as a value-added solutions provider?
What are you doing to build a practice that is self-sustaining and/or highly valued at your firm?
IndyBar’s Practice Builder and Business Builder products were created with these questions in mind to help you along the way. The prospect of growing a legal practice is intense and pressure-packed. Yet all around us in our information technology-based society are resources that can help alleviate some of that stress, which can in turn lead to more productive and satisfying careers and lives. All you have to do is log on and take part.
To learn more about Practice Builder and Business Builder, go to indybar.org/subscriptions.