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Nothing But the Ruth
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Nothing But the Ruth!

First, Think Local

By Ruth Carter

I love it when law firms sponsor community events and little league teams, and when their associates and partners serve on the board of directors for charities. It’s wonderful when law firms are dedicated to supporting their local community. But I wonder how many law firms—even those with offices in multiple states—know how much they can do as an organization to give back to the local community on a daily basis.

Buy Locally for Your Firm

When I opened my law firm, I joined Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that supports locally owned businesses in the state. They educate people on the benefits of having a strong local economy. Through my involvement, I learned that when you spend $100 at a local business, $73 stays in the local economy. If you spend $100 at a non-locally owned business, only $43 remains in the community. Also, for every two jobs that a national retailer brings to a community, three jobs are lost due to local businesses closing down. These statistics really opened my eyes to the benefit of supporting local businesses.

There are plenty of ways to support the community. Look at your business and ask:

  • Who’s our accountant?
  • Who’s our bookkeeper?
  • Who do we hire when we need a business consultant?
  • Where do we get our office supplies?
  • Who provides our phone service?
  • Who provides our IT support?
  • Who designs and creates our marketing materials?
  • When we need co-counsel, who do we hire?
  • When we have potential business we can’t take, where do we refer them?
  • Where do we put people up overnight?
  • Where do we buy gifts?
  • Where do we go for coffee or lunch?
  • Where do we have our annual Christmas party?

For all the services you don’t do in-house, examine how often you choose a local provider. If you don’t use a local company, ask why not. When you need to buy a product or service, look for a local business first. There is likely an online directory of local businesses in your state. They may be less expensive than a national store, and if not, they may offer price matching.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

If you are a locally owned law firm, consider joining your state’s equivalent of Local First Arizona (just Google “Local First”), or start your own if there isn’t one. It’s a great place to build your reputation within the community, save money and get referrals.

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. Her virtual practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is a 2011 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law. Known for her daring antics and outgoing personality, she is co-founder of Improv Arizona, and also blogs weekly at UndeniableRuth.com. In her Attorney at Work column “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her new virtual practice.

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Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet, and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” In “Nothing But the Ruth,” they write about the lessons they’re learning while building their practice. Ruth blogs at UndeniableRuth.com and tweets @rbcarter.

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