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» Clients, Marketing » Dumb Luck

Dumb Luck

Jordan Rushie, one of the Fishtown Lawyers who writes the Philly Law Blog, put up a post yesterday about bringing in clients. These were his thoughts about craigslist:

Do you really think we would put up a free Craigslist ad? That’s for losers, and it will never ever happen. Period. Why? Because it’s undignified, that’s why. And yes, you are a total loser if you’re putting up free classified ads for legal services on Craigslist. I don’t care if it resulted in a client or two.

Rather than hijack his post with a rambling comment, I figured I’d share my experience posting on craigslist. Let me tell you a story.

The year was 2007. I had no money, so I was working one weekend and thought I would put up a post on craigslist. Within minutes of publishing my little ad, I got a call. The guy needed help with a case set for Monday and wanted a free consultation right away. I agreed and met with him after hours. He was an hour late. I let him do a payment plan with very little money down. I put myself in the worst situation imaginable for a criminal defense attorney, but bizarrely, the guy turned out to be a great client. He was so happy with the representation that he showed up one afternoon a few weeks later and gave me a hug along with a check for the balance due months before he actually had to pay it.

Let me tell you another story that’s very closely related.

The year was 2006. I had even less money than I did in 2007, and I was really sad because my brother was playing second trombone in the Mozart Requiem with the Seattle Symphony and I couldn’t afford to fly out and see him play the famous Tuba Mirum solo. I went for a depressing motorcycle ride that I had to cut short due to a lack of gas money. I had five dollars in my pocket and made the decision to stick it in a video poker machine at a casino on my way home. It was all I had, and it wasn’t even enough to pay my way into a respectable game with other human beings. Anyway, I stuck my five in the machine, pressed “max credits” for a hand of deuces wild, and watched my balance drop to zero. Nothing. I hit “draw” and sat there dumbfounded as four beautiful deuces popped up on the screen. I won enough money to put myself on a flight that afternoon to Seattle and treat my brother to microbrew and oysters after the concert.

Strangely, every other year or so, the mood strikes and I saddle on up to a video poker machine. I’ve never put another ad on craigslist. It’s mostly because I’d rather not be the kind of lawyer who posts between an old guy seeking a topless female roommate and a stewardess hoping to fornicate with a golden shepherd in front of her husband, but it’s also because I know the odds of a good outcome are terrible and I stand to lose a lot more than five dollars. Plus, gambling in a casino makes for a much better story than gambling with clients.

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2 Responses to "Dumb Luck"

  1. Interesting post. I admit that when I first started practicing law, I was told to troll Craigslist and respond to potential clients. I did this, and it resulted in two good clients for me.

    That out of the way, I will respond to a story with a story. I was friends with a young, hotshot criminal defense lawyer. Pretty good at what he does, and he was building his practice from the ground up. At one point, he landed a huge, high profile case involving a wealthy defendant. I’m told it was a referral.

    At some point, this lawyer invested in buying a traffic ticket docket search. So if you received a traffic ticket in the county where he practiced, you would get a letter from him immediately offering to help you with it. We discussed this, and he was like “Oh, it’s easy money! Just get like 15 of them and you’ve made $3000 in a day!”

    As luck would have it, his big client got a traffic ticket. The client got a form letter in the mail from his own lawyer. The big client was extremely pissed off that he had hired a “desperate loser” who would stoop to sending form letters to defend traffic tickets.

    The big client fired his lawyer and went with someone “more reputable.”

    After hearing that story, I decided I would rather not be the guy who defends traffic tickets for a living.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      We thought we were really cutting edge when we used free internet listings starting out, and we probably told a lot of other people to do it. Few things change perspective as effectively as time.

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