From some quick online research, I believe Mark Twain is credited with the above quote, and it is frequently misquoted as "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Although "death," is certainly an exaggeration in my case, you have probably been wondering where I have been these last few months. It has been way too long since my last post, so some explanation is in order. It also provides me with a good opportunity to provide some retrospective commentary on this blog, which turns "5" in May of the year. So . . . bear with me while I provide some context for "where I've been."
In the spring of 2009, I knew I would likely be transitioning to a different law firm -- or opening my own -- in the near future. Around that time, I had a robust practice that had kept me busy. However, the vast majority of my work was in a support role. Truthfully, I had been practicing for ten years, but I had no real clients I could call my own. Make no mistake, I worked very hard for the clients I serviced, but I was not "their lawyer" on speed dial. If you were counting billable hours, I worked very hard. However, I did not publish, speak, or really do any client development of my own. I was a service lawyer (and I like to think I was a pretty good one).
This blog was my first real attempt to try and change things. I wanted to develop my own practice, and I had a desire to "get my name out there." By using blogger.com, the site was free. Therefore, my small marketing budget was a non-factor. The blog also had the potential to reach as far as Google's search optimization "spiders" would allow, so there was good potential for exposure. The only real "cost" was my time. Now . . . I am not sure how much you remember about 2009, but the legal industry took a real downturn; one thing I had was "time." I began to pour some of my efforts into carving out my place on the internet and establishing myself as someone with knowledge of South Carolina products liability law.
There were some immediate benefits to this blog. By posting substantive content, I learned more and more about South Carolina products liability law (as opposed to pieces of products liability law around the county in the national practice I supported at the time). People began to call me and ask questions about what I thought about some new products case, or tort reform. It was also pretty gratifying to go on the site every day and see how many people visited, or the key words that brought them to the site. Although a little disconcerting, I began to see key words like "Brian Comer South Carolina products liability law" that someone used to get to the site. I thought, "Awesome! . . . It is only a matter of time before potential clients start calling!"
Well . . . yes and no. I changed firms in the summer of 2009 and came to Collins & Lacy. I remained very focused on building a practice. I blogged frequently, and I published and spoke almost as frequently. With a greater marketing budget, I became heavily involved in the Defense Research Institute, the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys' Association, and Primerus. I blogged. I spoke. I published. (Did I say I blogged?).
It took awhile. I had a nice long list of publications and presentations, but it did not immediately yield fruit in terms of client development. What it did do, however, was show that I had put some serious time into knowing and following this particular area of practice in South Carolina. I continued to assist colleagues at my new firm with their work, and I remained focused on developing my own practice.
I seriously underestimated how long it would take. However, about a year ago, I began to see my efforts at developing a practice "pop." Here is the irony though: it did not start with products liability. I also devote a fair amount of my practice to FINRA arbitration, which involves defending financial advisors and broker-dealers from claims by investors. I really enjoy it. I began to get calls about these types of claims, and I began to have some clients that called me to defend them. I began to get much busier, which is evidenced by my decrease in blogging in 2013. As 2013 ended and 2014 began, things "popped" again. This time it was in products liability, FINRA arbitration, and general professional liability litigation. Great clients (and I am grateful for every one of them), and great cases.
All of the above is a long-winded way of saying . . . I have gotten very busy. And, that is a very good thing. It is the culmination of what started this blog to begin with: trying to develop my own practice, instead of serving in a support role.
I recall that early in my legal career, a very well-known attorney told me that the key to building my own practice was to "write something, and then people will call you about it." I do not completely agree with that statement. Although there may be a science to practice development and legal marketing, I cannot say I have figured it out. All I know is that I wrote and presented quite a bit (not just "something"), and I focused on doing good work for the clients I serviced and who called me. It paid off. It just took longer than I realized when I set out to do it.
For anyone at any stage of their legal career who may be reading this and who may be trying to figure out how to develop their practice, I encourage you to keep at it! I am not sure there is any set formula. The above is what (eventually) worked for me, but I am sure there are alternate routes. I think any route likely involves some measure of publishing, presenting, and becoming involved in organizations . . . all in an effort to "get your name out there."
So . . . where to go from here? More of the same, I hope. I genuinely enjoy blogging, and my apologies that this site has not been as active as it was prior to 2013. However, even though I really enjoy blogging, the blog was never an "end" in and of itself. It was a means to trying to develop a practice, and it has served that end. I hope to continue to update it as my time allows, and I now need to assess how to make time to do that. I will continue to try and update it as often as I can, and I greatly appreciate all the visitors who drop by. I have had some nice people tell me that it has provided a great resource for them, and I greatly appreciate those compliments.
Stay tuned! I hope to continue to bring you thoughtful commentary on South Carolina products liability law, and I will make every effort to do it with as much consistency as I can.