After Hurricane Andrew which ravaged South Florida law offices 10+ years ago, you’d think anyone who was in practice back then would have learned thier lesson. Of course you’d think that after seeing the tragic events of 9/11 the same message would have sunk-in. But one of the little secrets that few in the legal industry in South Florida are talking about, was the sorry state of hurricane preparedness amongst law firms down here when Hurricane Katrina blew through town on its way to N.O.
A LITTLE SECRET
A few dozen large firms with offices in downtown Miami lost windows from Katrina. We’re talking about like 50% of the glass on the southern side of the buildings in some cases. And Brickell Avenue was literally littered with documents from all the law firms, insurance companies & private banks that congregate in the downtown Brickell corridor.
But you don’t have to be in a big fancy glass office building to get into trouble when a hurricane hits town. And you can end up in alot of trouble even if your office is not affected at all. Witness: Hurricane-related-bankruptcies.
That’s right, you can take every precaution. Back-up all your computer files to an offsite location. Lock all your filing cabinets. Update your telephone & emergency contact list with every staff member and all their out of state family in case that’s where they go when the city loses power. You can do everything right & still get screwed because your largest client didn’t take precautions & took a cash flow hit that prevents them from paying your bill, or they go out of business altogether!
SO WHAT’S A LAWYER TO DO?
First of all, you should be marketing all year round in case you have to do without any cash flow for a month or two following a hurricane, or whatever other natural disaster afflicts your market. By marketing all year round you not only spread your risk amongst a wider base of clients, but you also hit your financial goals earlier in the year and can withstand a disaster-induced cash crunch if (when) it comes.
Second, you can take the message of disaster preparedness to your clients. When you subscribe to my philosophy of law firm marketing you get very comfortable with the idea that your role is as a trusted advisor, not just a technician. Top Rainmakers look out for our clients and referral sources holistically. We’re not just concerned about what we can bill them for. Besides being a decent person, it’s also good business. Believe me, I’ve never had a client of mine who was offended when I scheduled an appointment to discuss disaster preparedness with them. I’ve never even heard of any of my Rainmaking clients, whose own legal clients were offended by those kinds of appointments.