Saturday, April 28, 2001

One Card - Six Mistakes

One Card - Six Mistakes

The first thing I did after passing the Bar exam was print up a bunch of business cards. It was quick, easy, and the occasion of my first half-dozen mistakes in the practice of law. In case you haven’t gotten to these errors yet, let me lay them out for you in the hope that it may save you grief.

1.       Printing up business cards was the first thing I did after I finished celebrating passing the bar. I had only the vaguest idea about what I needed to set up a law practice (insurance? a business plan?  the location of the courthouse?) but I knew that I needed business cards. Printing up cards was easy, so I did it first. In other words, I started soliciting clients before I was equipped to provide service - sort of like a lot of dot-coms.

2.       The cost of printing 200 cards was too much. However, 500 cards came at a decent unit price, and  for only a little more money I could get 1000. Wow! A Thousand Business Cards! I could give away 3 a day for a year. And if only 1 in 10 cards resulted in a client - wow! - that would be 100 clients in my first year! At $1000 per client gross … I’m up to $100,000 my first year! How’s that for a business plan!

Of course, I moved shortly thereafter. I still use those old cards for gaming, and to illustrate De Novo articles.  Now-a-days you can print nice cards in your laser printer - just the quantity you want and no waste.

3.       I put my home address on the card, because I was saving money by working at home. Was I ever surprised when a grateful client stopped by unannounced with cookies! Ever since, it’s been strictly P. O. Box and a shared space for meetings.

4.       Likewise put my home phone number on the card. I never did get my son to answer “Law Offices”. Now-a-days I would just get a cell phone.

5.       I was one of the first lawyers to put an email address on my card (this was a few years ago…). Of course it was my private email address, so I would have had a big problem keeping everything straight if anyone had ever used it for business. As it happened, those who never used email ignored it and those who did use email sniffed at the AOL address.

6.       What time and care I put into the logo! With a graphics program I superimposed the scales of justice onto a keyboard and tinkered with the pixels until it printed just right. This sure was a lot more interesting than coming up with a business plan! Like an early dot-com, I did not get many any clients, but I had a great card!

7.       Let’s not go into the whole ethics of advertising thing.  I just hope the Office of Disciplinary Counsel doesn’t read De Novo.

I trust you have have been smarter than I and avoided these mistakes. If not, remember you can print new cards on a good laser printer, and the old ones make great flashcards for your kids.