Note: The following Q&As are part of a North Carolina Lawyers Weekly series in which attorneys from around the state responded to questions about the recession.
Read part 1 – Click here
Read part 2 – Click here
What specific practical change in your firm’s operation have you made because of the recession? I have had to modify my expectations about my law practice and to branch out into new practice areas.
Is that change permanent, or did you make it simply to weather the worst of the bad times? My goal is to remain focused on real estate transactions, but I am now more open to handling other types of cases. I really enjoy foreclosure defense work, and given the number of pending foreclosures, I don’t see that going away anytime soon.
What specific practical advice are you giving to clients that you did not give before the recession? I’m not sure my advice is any different.
How have you personally changed, either in your outlook or in your practice, as a result of the recession? I’ve definitely modified my expectations. I understand that a six-figure income is still a long way off, but I am optimistic that the real estate market will eventually pick back up, and when it does I hope to be in a good position to finally earn enough to pay down my two-hundred-thousand-dollar-plus student loan debt.
What specific practical change in your firm’s operation have you made because of the recession? I have to be stingy about the cases I refer out, especially being a trial lawyer. If I settle a case before it goes to trial or the mediation is done with, I’m looking for the next thing to do. I have to be careful, or I might not have anything to do next week. If I don’t have anything to do, I can’t eat. When things are good, I can anticipate cases coming in for the next week, the next month and so on. With the recession, I can’t assume that.
Is that change permanent, or did you make it simply to weather the worst of the bad times? The permanent change is the desire for efficiency. I recently moved from my office fronting East Boulevard to a smaller shared space on a side street off South Boulevard. I am going to keep looking to find a cheaper phone service, a cheaper delivery service and other cheaper services that keep overhead low. I will try not to buy new furniture or equipment, and if I have to, I’ll look to find the best deals.
What specific practical advice are you giving to clients that you did not give before the recession? My advice is the same. No client likes to pay a lawyer’s fees, so I tell people there is a certain price to finality. If you’ve got to pay more now to get this case over with, but you have it done, that’s worth being able to sleep at night and not having to worry about having to pay a lawyer. That’s my advice, good times or bad.
How have you personally changed, either in your outlook or in your practice, as a result of the recession? Now I live in two week increments between pay periods. When times were good, I could live month to month, maybe even get to where I was six months out. That’s all gone. There are no more bonus checks.