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Are You a “New Normal” Lawyer?

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

That change the legal profession has both ballyhooed and rebuffed for so long? It’s here. Economic tides, big shifts in consumer demands, wide-scale technological evolutions and a host of related factors are causing broad changes in market dynamics — and dragging the practice of law along. There’s no more “wait and see.” No more crossing fingers and hoping the wave doesn’t hit until your retirement’s fully funded or you pay off those loans: It — the “new normal” — is happening.

So what is this new normal, you ask? It’s a lot of things, but if you want a general boiling down, try this from the Urban Dictionary: “The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state. … The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.”

So are you, and your practice, ready to deal with the situation? Maybe it’s about time to ask yourself, “Am I a ‘new normal’ lawyer?” Well, are you?

Signs You Might Be a “New Normal” Lawyer

  • You think in terms of your work’s value to your client rather than your client’s value to you.
  • You’ve refined the way you work so you can produce high-quality work as quickly as possible (and no longer wish things could go on a little longer so you could make your hours — and postpone the inevitable need to do some marketing).
  • You charge for your work in a way that allows clients to know up front what it’s going to cost, instead of quoting an hourly rate and starting the meter ticking.
  • You choose to use technology that improves your clients’ experience, not just your own.
  • You take full advantage of the capabilities of all the people in your firm — lawyers, paralegals, clerks, assistants, IT, marketers — to provide value to your clients.
  • You no longer think in terms of fee-collectors and non-lawyers.
  • You see the Internet as one more way to deliver value to your clients.
  • You are always alert to new efficiencies and ways to meet unmet market needs.
  • You take pride in being an enterprising lawyer rather than one who waits to see what others do first.
  • When you hear of “threats” to the profession, you wonder, “How could I do that better?” — instead of “How can we crush them?”

New Math, New Money: Free Download

If you nodded “yes” to most of those statements, you’re well on your way to being a “new normal” lawyer. And if you had a few too many “no’s” in your responses? Never fear. Wherever you’re at in your practice, there are opportunities to regear — in where, and how, you focus your work, the client-friendliness of your fee arrangements, the way you define and produce “value,” your service delivery methods and more.

Once you read “New Math, New Money, you’ll know what we mean.

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Categories: Innovation, News and Trends
Originally published February 11, 2014
Last updated May 22, 2019
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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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