Among the many lessons Rachel Rodgers has refused to learn, embracing Jay-Z as her ethical muse, in her perky zeal to make promote herself, keeping her personal information private is the newest casualty. I keep thinking to myself as someone sends me a link to her newest cool promotion that I really don’t want to waste any more time writing about Rachel, but then she manages to come up with something new that compels scrutiny. And boy, did she do so this time.
I share these with you because I wanted to know numbers back when I was starting my virtual law office and they weren’t available. I figure you might find this helpful when deciding whether you want to launch your own.
Given that one of Rachel’s schemes is her “consulting” business, the blind leading the blind, where she promises to teach desperate lawyers who desire to work out of their kitchen how to be as fabulous as she for a fee, her motives are suspect. But that’s the least of her issues.
In polite society, a person doesn’t talk about their income. There are plenty of sound reasons behind this, ranging from humility to privacy to the fact that it’s remarkably tacky. But these considerations are old school, well behind such cutting edge early adopters like Rachel.
Exactly, three years later, my virtual law practice is wildly successful, in my humble opinion. Especially the “wild” part (we have more clients seeking us out than we can currently handle– which is a good problem to have — but a problem, nevertheless). Everyone’s definition of success is different, here are some stats from my practice so that you can get a sense of what my definition of success looks like:
We’ve served about 70 clients so far. Most of them being repeat customers bringing new matters to us regularly. And most of whom I’ve still never met in person.
We charge $1,500 for trademark registrations and incorporations begin at $1,300. Not $400.
We currently have 9 clients in our annual retainer programs.
We’ve launched 2 information products. One being Small Business Bodyguard.
We’re profitable, meaning we bring in more than we spend (including my salary as an expense).
We’re on track to bring in approximately $220,000 this year (that’s being conservative and excluding my VLO courses and consulting– which, by the way, don’t bring in anywhere near what my practice does).
Our overhead remains pretty low. Its [sic] typically less than $3,000 per month (excluding my salary)
Most importantly, I am really enjoying working with my clients and running the business. <— The most important measure for success.
Others have already noted the ethical problems raised by Rachel’s schemes like Small Business Bodyguard, so there is no need for further discussion here. That she has recurring difficulty grasping that giving legal advice while disclaiming that it isn’t legal advice doesn’t make it acceptable. Not even when you split fees with a non-lawyer partner whose qualifications stem from being CEO of House of Moxie, a creative marketing agency.
But Rachel promotes the “wild” success of her virtual law practice by asserting that “[w]e’re on track to bring in approximately $220,000 this year.” Who the “we” is remains a mystery, but the “we’re on track to bring in” piece starts alarm bells going off.
As anyone who has watched my pal Brian Cuban’s brother on Shark Tank knows, an assertion like this is an invitation for a brutal and painful public colonoscopy. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that her anticipatory amount of $220,00 has any basis in reality, it begs for questions. And so, I asked:
Sadly, my comment hasn’t made it out of moderation, no less received a reply. Perhaps Rachel will achieve gross revenues for her three years of practice in the amount of $220,000. Perhaps her penchant for puffery and lax concern for ethics (“many experienced attorneys have taken to using the word “ethics” . . . as a weapon” against young lawyers) don’t color her public proclamations about how wildly successful she is. Perhaps.
The tastelessness of this foray into self-aggrandizement and marketing may well be secondary to a young lawyer whose imaginative ventures into “new ways of serving clients,” and who feels compelled to prove to the experienced lawyers that she is indeed a success. Most successful people don’t “tell it,” but “show it.” Their success isn’t proven by a post announcing it, but by the accomplishments attendant to success. More importantly for a lawyer, success comes through their service to their clients, not their numbers.
But since Rachel has chosen to offer up her stats, and uses them to convince others to follow her route and, I suppose, hire her as their guru, she leaves no choice but to ask others to test them. After all, most others who have tried the VLO route have found it less than availing, most having abandoned it as a cool concept with no legs.
So, Rachel, now that you’ve chosen to expose your business model to scrutiny, do so without the wiggles and jiggles that leave one to think that you’re being less than forthright. While some commenters may choose not to think too hard about what you’ve written, or say anything that might hurt your feelings, you know how mean, experienced lawyers keep challenging your grandiose claims of fabulous success.
If you don’t want us to do so, then perhaps you should think twice before engaging in such tacky nonsense. It’s not that we don’t wish young lawyers well, despite your self-serving excuses for why nobody seems to admire you as much as you think they should, but that you don’t get to do something that invites scrutiny without getting it. So either put up some real numbers or, poor Rachel, your claims fail to survive the smell test.
H/T Jordan Rushie