This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office NYC attorney, Vivian Sobers talks about how per diem work is worth more than the one-time fee.
I know you are thinking: “Vivian, what the hell are you talking about?”
For lawyers, appearance work is opportunity.
You may think appearance work is beneath you. You may think it is something that you outgrow, like your early 20’s behavior.
I am not saying that I have outgrown appearance work. More aptly, I am not saying I think appearance work is beneath me. (It obviously isn’t, because I keep saying “Yes” for $150.00 a pop.) But what I am saying is that at a certain point, appearance work is not about money.
When you just start a practice, you take anything that knocks on your door and may result in positive cash flow, regardless of the value. For me, I took every appearance offered.
As an aside: It’s interesting what money does to lawyers. The promise of money is more intoxicating than consuming a bottle of good cognac.
Per diem work makes lawyers more money than the appearance fee.
For me, appearance work is a “loss leader.” It’s filet mignon for $5.99 pound. Of course my time is worth much more than what appearance work pays. As a general statement, as a lawyer, your time is obviously going be worth more than $150.00 an hour an appearance may pay. But, sometimes you make exceptions.
Here is the thing, appearance work is worth more than the value of the appearance. This next sentence should be read out loud. Appearance and per diem work OPENS DOORS.
Do you know how many cases and new clients I have received just by appearing in a county that no one wanted to travel to?
Let me tell you, I have literally made what many New Yorker’s pay in rent on a yearly basis, networking and making valuable business contacts while on an appearance. I make the money you should be making, just by showing up to court and doing something that is considered “desperate.”
In my experience, the value of my time is exponentially increased when making an appearance. I get to practice what I love: the law.
One example of how I got a referral from per diem work:
For example, I received a call the other day from a woman who required representation for judgement enforcement. I asked where she got my name. (You should all be asking this information and keeping track of where your leads are generating from. How else are you supposed to know who to send a muffin basket?)
The referring lawyer was someone I met during an appearance. During some downtime in the middle of conferencing, we were able to get to chatting and inevitably, cards were exchanged.
You know…the usual.
Two months later, my $150.00 appearance turned into a $2500.00 case. Many of you reading this may not have been econ majors in college. But, let me tell you. That is a HUGE ROI.
Per diem work is all about networking. You may think it’s beneath you. But, let me tell you: per diem work effectively allows me get paid for something I would be doing anyway – networking.
So no matter how you’re getting paid, there is always value in “practicing” the law.
You just lost a $60,000 referral, and didn’t even know it!
Download The Attorney’s Guide to Referral Etiquette to learn best practices for handling referrals to make sure you are not inadvertently cutting yourself out of a lucrative referral relationship…
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.