There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that rings true even today: “Those who know when they have enough are rich.” I am not Chinese, but I know frugality when I see it.
Years ago, I worked in Los Angeles for a publishing company owned by a Chinese family. They also published the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Taiwain and employed hundreds of people on two continents.
Yet the owner never showed off his wealth. He could have driven a brand new luxury car to work, but he drove a modest older model. He could have occupied an elegant corner office, but chose to work above the dirty press room.
There’s a lesson here for running a cost-efficient law office: save money and make more money.
OK, “a penny saved, a penny earned” is not a Chinese proverb. But the Chinese are well known for their frugality. The typical Chinese family saves about half of its earnings.
Lawyers, particularly Americans who live on debt, could try a little frugality with their feng shui. Is it necessary to buy an office building — and incur a mortgage — when you can rent one? Is another car payment — even as an office expense — justified when reliable transportation will do? Do you really need an iWatch, an iPhone, and an iPad?
Cutting expenses is an honored method for running a cost-efficient law practice. That may include cutting back expenses, office space and sometimes personnel.
While penny-pinching is not the same as penny-saving, it’s easier to count your pennies than to take back something that you bought with them.
Some people couldn’t make money if you gave them a counterfeit machine and ink. You generally can’t say the same about the Chinese. In any case, China practically owns the United States. Better said, the U.S. owes China more than a trillion dollars. So how did this happen, and what has that got to do with the price of tea and legal services?
It’s because China makes things inexpensively and sells them to everybody. Even the things that are supposed to be made in America are made in China. American lawyers can make more money if they do likewise.
Legal services don’t have to be expensive to be profitable, so long as people buy them. We’re talking networking and advertising to get customers in the door.
Also consider offering unbundled legal services to better suit your clients’ needs.
Then honor them with respect, grasshopper.