As I’m transitioning out of my personal law business into the next stage of my business life, I’ve been in strong resistance to anything that has to do with the old business.
While I’m down to being there only 2 days or so a month, I find myself getting very tense as I approach those two days.
I want to spend my time writing, coaching, creating and parenting my kids – doing the things that allow me to feel the vast freedom of who I am.
While it’s true that my law business has elements of writing, coaching and creating, which satisfied me for a few years, I’ve moved on to the next stage of that evolution and yet the law business still needs me, for now.
But yesterday, despite all my dread leading up to it, turned out to be one of those days that actually provided fuel for me to stay on my path of changing the way lawyers think and changing the way the public thinks about lawyers. It’s a day that will help me through what Seth Godin calls “The Dip”, as I build the new business.
First, I was in Court (in front of Commissioner Reva Goetz who has been overseeing the Britney Spears conservatorship and just ordered $400,000 be paid to the various lawyers involved in Britney’s case).
I was there on a case that is a stark reminder of exactly why every parent needs to read my book and why you should take the simple legal actions to protect your kids’ well-being and care.
The long and the short of it is that three years ago 4 kids were sent to live with their aunt after their mom and dad died and three years later we are still in Court racking up legal bills trying to make sure that the aunt didn’t squander the teeny bit of money mom and dad left behind for the kids. Ugly. Never needed to happen this way.
Then, I came back from Court and went to do a home visit with one of the warmest, kindest families I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. Five kids, mom and dad. I went to their home because dad is dying and he wants to know that everything has been taken care of for his kids before he goes.
They’ve spent the past couple of years working with another lawyer on dad’s complex estate plan and about 6 months ago realized that lawyer was not doing what he promised.
This lawyer was the traditional type lawyer billing them flat fee at first and then later by the hour – at $400/hour. The family made several decisions within the past year without consulting this lawyer because they didn’t want to pay the hourly rates he charged. So, they took actions without really knowing why and found that many of the things this lawyer had recommended they do were never followed up on because there was no one making sure everything got done. Typical.
Now we are scrambling to get everything in place the right way so Dad can have the peace of mind he needs to let go in peace. Another reminder of why the traditional lawyer’s business model must change. Hourly fees must go.
Last, I met with a client I haven’t seen for three years. Three years ago, my law firm was just like the rest – I prepared legal documents and talked about relationship, but didn’t have any real way to provide that relationship. Today we do.
This client came in for the three year review of her plan, which we provide as part of our service to all of our clients because sticking form documents on a shelf and never looking at them again means your plan is going to fail when your family needs it.
It turns out that in the three years since I last saw this client, lots of things have happened in her life that she really should have talked with me about ahead of time because I could have saved her a lot of grief, taxes and potentially liability by making sure she set things up in the right way.
She invested in property with someone else without an agreement and is now at risk of losing a lot of money, she made a loan to a business partner that is not well documented and could end up not good, she started a real estate development company that doesn’t own the assets it’s supposed to own and her husband sold his business, which could have been structured for maximum estate tax and asset protection, but wasn’t.
After meeting with me yesterday, she’ll be joining our Business Plan membership program and will consult us before doing any of those things ever again, but as she said – she just didn’t know. She thought we just prepared Trusts. My bad for not getting my message across and out there earlier. But, reconfirmation that the radical change in the business model is so needed and valuable.
So, while I was dreading the day and it took time away from what I really want to be focusing my time and energy, it was an important and necessary reminder of why lawyers must change the way they think and why I must change the way you think about your relationship with your lawyer.