Do divorce Lawyers need to start rethinking their careers?
Everybody keeps telling me that the divorce rates are dropping. Apparently, there is an inverse relationship between the rate of recession (is there such thing as “rate of recession?”) and the divorce rate. Since 2008, in other words, while the country has been gripped by one of the worse recessions ever due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, fewer people have been filing for divorce. Logistically, that can only mean one thing: there’s less work to go around than there used to be for divorce lawyers. This is bound to make a few people in the matrimonial bar (not the big wigs, of course) more than just a little bit nervous.
It is fair to say that what is good for families may not that great for the bottom line of solo practitioners whose sole focus is divorce and family law. It can be downright devastating, actually, if your main source of income is your law practice and all your business has dried up because people can’t afford to get out of bad marriages. What to do? Well, I’m thinking trying some other areas of the law for starters. It can’t be that prudent to focus on just one area of the law anymore. A divorce lawyer today, one in solo practice certainly, needs to “diversify his or her portfolio”, so to speak, more so than was necessary ten or more years ago.
My new blog friend Terri, who writes From Bedroom to Courtroom (a cheeky law blog about NY divorce practice and practicum) indirectly brought my attention to the current issue of the ABA Journal that has a piece about solo practitioners. In the article, Legal Rebels: Riding Solo this is what the authors said about solo practitioners:
There’s no one more ordinary—or more inventive—than a solo practitioner. Half of the nation’s lawyers in private practice are solos—419,000 in all. Most provide the core services of legal work: serving families, home buyers, the injured, criminal defendants and small businesses.
And therein lies my inspiration for this post. Because right away, I got the answer to the question: What else can a divorce lawyer do if nobody’s getting divorced? Well, he or she can get rebellious! And by doing so, he or she can get into small business law (if the president signs the small business bill this is really timely), real estate, personal injury, estate planning, and even criminal law. Among other things. I mean, check out these solos profiled in the article. See the amazing things they are doing.
The idea with diversification is not to stop being a divorce or family lawyer, obviously. Simply to add other things to your list of services.
Another thing divorce lawyers need to do is to try to cut back on expenses. Do you really need an office? Is it a necessary expense? Or can you go virtual? A lot of lawyers are going virtual and in a few years, many more lawyers will be virtual, if not most lawyers. But it’s not for everyone, of course. So think it through. A good resource for virtual office management is this attorney out in North Carolina named Lee Rosen. He has a podcast on the topic; I believe you can link to his website here.
Whatever the state of your practice is at the moment, and whatever the divorce rates happen to be as we speak, if it’s one thing we can be sure of is that if people continue to get married, the services of divorce lawyers will always be in demand. Well, at least for the next few years (technology could conceivably make the work we do obsolete, so that is another reason to diversify your portfolio as well) divorce attorneys will still be needed. But things are changing. Online resources are taking a big bite out of the profession. All the more reason to diversify, don’t you think?
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