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I’m SOOOOO Busy. No You’re FREAKING Not (New Solo Week – Day One)

This is Day One of New Solo Week here at Divorce Discourse. I’m focusing on attorneys that have, over the course of the past year, started a family law practice. Some are straight out of school, some have left larger firms and some have left other jobs. I’ve been thinking about you and I’m talking to you this week. I’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. And away we go….

I’m talking to this lawyer the other day. She’s been in solo practice for five months. She’s “SOOOOO busy” – that’s what she tells me.

“SOOOOOO busy” gets my attention so I actually decide to start listening. I really tune in to the conversation at that point and am baffled as to how someone who just started her practice can possibly be that busy. It takes time to build a practice and she hasn’t had time. Has she figured out some magical technique for practice development that I somehow missed?

As I listen carefully and probe a bit, it becomes clear that she’s staying really busy helping people with no money do something that really doesn’t require a lawyer. She’s barely getting paid and she’s getting calls like crazy from other penniless people wanting help with this same pseudo-legal problem. She’s taking them all on and doing their work for practically nothing.

So really she’s “SOOOOO busy” doing nothing much that matters to her bottom line. In fact, she’s “SOOOOO busy” doing something that’s actually distracting her from her primary business objective – building a healthy, profitable practice.

Sadly, she’s not alone. I constantly have the conversation that goes like this -

“Lee, I’d really like to talk to you about marketing, I want to grow my practice.” “Sure, lets talk about things like referral source meetings, article writing, social media, I’ve got some great ideas for you.” “No, no, no, I can’t do that stuff – I’m already SOOOOO busy. I just don’t have the time to do that stuff.”

Please, please, please STFU with the “SOOOOO busy.” If you’re not doing profitable work then just stop doing the stuff you’re doing that isn’t making you money. You need to use your time doing profitable work. If you have left over time then use it for marketing. Don’t get caught up in doing busy work that isn’t worth doing.

If you’re happy with your current income then, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not happy, then you’ve got to stop doing whatever it is that’s making you so busy that you don’t have time for more profitable work. Then go out and generate the business. Use that new business to replace your less profitable work and maintain some free time to keep marketing and keep elevating the overall level of your practice. Never let yourself get in a position that prevents you from marketing. You’ve got to keep marketing, marketing, marketing.

Am I right? Wrong? What do you think?

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  • Jim Hart

    Lee – You are dead on. I get the same responses when I talk to other attorneys about marketing. I have an unnamed friend and everytime I talk to him about marketing, he wants to point out how he redesigned his website again. No new content, no SEO, just a blanket redesign (changing from a Blue theme to a green theme, that sort of thing). It drives me nuts.

    I also find it strange how attorneys in Raleigh are so reluctant to increase their fees. When I lived in Orlando, the cost of living was much lower than Raleigh, but attorneys charged a lot more. I’ve talked to a number of attorneys who would like to raise their rates, but are afraid the client’s won’t pay it. This also drives me nuts because not a single client ever questioned my hourly rate in Florida, which was much higher than most board certified attorneys charge here.

    So to summarize – I completely agree with you.

  • Steve McDonough

    This is so funny, yet true, and somewhat sad. I am looking forward to reading your posts this week (as always).



  • Teresa Waldrop

    My sentiments exactly re: STFU … I hear the “so busy” line all the time, and not just from new lawyers, from more tenured lawyers who are reluctant to embrace social media or simply try something new.

    • Lee Rosen

      Teresa, Steve and Jim,

      Thanks for chiming in. I really appreciate you being here and joining the conversation.


  • David

    You are so right. I am so busted. Now, what are we going to do about that?
    Re-framing my compassionate ways.
    KCBA Pro Bono Atty of the year award isn’t something I regret, or plan to turn my back on; it’s probably time to do work for folks who want to (and can) pay.

    • Lee Rosen

      Good luck David. Let me know how it goes.


Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.