I recently got an email from a lawyer friend of mine in another state who has been struggling in her small town during this recession, or, “repression” as I call it. She talked about the rules she had been taught in the past in coaching and in business books and articles. She talked about the difficulty of applying those principles in this economy. My advice to her: throw out the rules and the advice of others at this point and follow you own instincts. This economy has been very up and down and hit or miss.

I have talked to lawyers all over the USA and Canada and experiences are all very different. There is no consistency to the stories. One person has never had better business, another has seen some ups and downs but seems to be doing well and another is getting killed. Geography, talent, size of town, reputation don’t seem to figure in to any equation. The best advice I have heard is to try and make your costs “variable.” In other words, limit “fixed” overhead. A fixed overhead item is an employee. A variable overhead is a contract lawyer or an outsourced service.

No matter whether you are doing well or not, there is no doubt that you are better off getting lean and staying there for the foreseeable future. The whole mentality of society has changed from an “if you build it they will come” risk mentality to a “we better be careful” mentality. In such an environment, throw out the rules and follow your own lead.
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