My name is Jim. I’m a lawyer who actually practices law. I own and operate a divorce and family law practice in Cary, North Carolina. With this first post, I want to take a minute and tell you a little bit about my journey as a lawyer and why I have launched this site. My end goal is to build a blog and website that can help other lawyers to find useful and helpful information that can help them to build a law practice that will serve them, not the other way around. I sincerely hope that you can learn from all the mistakes I have made since I first started my law practice in 2005.
I graduated from The Ohio State Moritz College of Law in 2003 and followed my wife (then girlfriend) to Florida. After passing the bar, I worked for a short stint at a plaintiff’s class action firm in Tampa, and then joined the public defender’s office Sanford, Florida. It was there that I was able to hone my trial skills and got comfortable spending my days in the courtroom.
In October of 2005, I finally realized a lifelong dream and opened the doors to my first law office. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I promptly took out a yellow pages ad, spent a couple grand on a website that was nothing more than a glorified business card, and waited for the phone to ring.
When it became apparent to me that I would probably go bankrupt if I didn’t do something else to drum up some business, I started reading everything I could about marketing and business development. People like Seth Godin, Dan Kennedy, Bob Burg, and others became household names in my small law practice world.
That first couple of months I lost money. But 6 months into 2006 I was earning more in a couple months than I had made in a year’s worth of work at the PD’s office. (Not that I would change that experience, learning how to put together a case and developing an understanding of evidence and hearsay has served me well in my legal career.)
2006 was a good year financially and 2007 was even better. I continued to learn how to market my firm, develop business systems, and think like a business owner, not a lawyer (except for when I needed to be a lawyer, of course). 2008 would have been an even better year, but my now wife and I decided that we wanted to start a family and Orlando, Florida was not where we wanted to do that.
In 2009 I took a year off from practicing law to get my family moved to North Carolina. After taking and passing the North Carolina Bar Exam, I reopened my family law practice in Cary in April 2010. I was confident that things would pick right back up from where I left them in 2008.
I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
North Carolina was a different market and the internet game had changed, even in two short years. Web 2.0 was in full effect with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linked In, and others. The Yellow pages were/are dead. If you are reading this thinking that I am going to tell you to invest in a Yellow Pages ad, you might as well stop reading right now… Getting a site indexed and listed highly in Google is important, but more difficult than ever.
Not only that, but the culture and people in North Carolina were different than in Florida. I had to get used to all of this if I wanted to have a successful law firm. Here’s a quick video of a radio interview that Gary Davis, author of “Networking in the South” that gives a sense of what I am talking about.
So it has taken me a couple years to, 1) get up to speed on the differences between family law in Florida and North Carolina, and 2) begin to develop a network in my community. As Gary Davis would say, “things take a little bit longer here.”
Oh, almost forgot – we have had two kids since I launched law firm 2.0, North Carolina edition. So I have grown my law practice here, but it has taken me a little longer than it originally took me in Florida. But now I am at a point where I would like to share what I have learned from starting not one, but two law practices in two different states.
Later this week I will share with you some of the goals I have for this blog and the format it will take going forward.
If you have any comments or would like to share your personal story, please feel free to comment below. I look forward to building a community of like-minded folks who share my passion for building a sustainable law practice that serves me, not the other way around.
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