If you're desperate for cash, then you've come to the right place. I've been racking my brain for the quickest way to make you some money.
I've considered lots of options like advertising, speaking to groups, and selling plasma. These are all good approaches, but they're not fast enough when you need cash immediately (although I guess you can do the plasma thing immediately).
I've cast aside these approaches because they won't generate money right this minute.
If you need cash now, then we're going to have to try something different.
However, be forewarned that bringing in cash in a hurry will mean that you're going to work hard, spend lots of time, and be only marginally profitable on this work. Don't expect a long-term solution.
We're looking for a quick cash infusion that will keep you going for another week: we're not talking about a practice-building philosophy here.
So what can you do? What's going to bring in the money, if not today, then certainly by the end of next week?
Here's the plan, and I promise that it's going to work.
1. Make a list of the five most successful family law practitioners in your community. Hopefully you already know a few of them, but that's not essential. Get their phone numbers, preferably their direct dial numbers.
2. Go after them personally. You want to get them on the phone or talk to them in person. Depending on the way things work in your jurisdiction, that might involve tracking them down at the courthouse, or it might mean getting them on the phone.
3. Trap them one at a time so they have to talk to you: it's easier than you might imagine. More experienced lawyers are more willing than you imagine to talk to you. We love giving advice: it makes us feel good, and you'll probably have a hard time shutting us up once you get a hold of us.
4. Introduce yourself and explain that you have a family law practice in the area. Be very up-front and explain that you're trying to make some money—not a lot of money—and that you need to make some progress on that objective quickly. Ask them to send you their castoffs: ask for conflicts, crazies, and the cases they don't want. Tell them you're willing to take the non-family law matters and help find an attorney if you're not able to handle the matter. In our office, for instance, we've got lots of castoffs: we don't want to be the second lawyer, we don't want post-judgment cases, we don't want child support, and we don't want anything outside of the typical newly separated spouse's case. You'll find that experienced lawyers get very picky. I have a friend who will only do property distribution cases and nothing else.
Recognize that these lawyers need somewhere to send these prospective clients if they want to get them off the phone. The intake person in their firm can't just say no and hang up. This person has to point the caller to a resource in order to handle the call without causing ill will. These attorneys need you as a resource. Make it clear that you're willing to sort through the cases they think of as trash in order to make a living. Don't get caught up in preserving your dignity. Let them know you need help. It's okay to need help.
5. Ask the attorney who does the intake in their offices. Once you know who is handling the calls, make an effort to meet the intake person and give him or her your contact info. Get an email address for the intake person and send an email with your contact info the next day. This person is the key to getting those cases sent to you. This is the person who will really appreciate having you as a resource. Again, ask for help: don't act like you don't need it. Turn off the arrogance and turn on the charm: people like helping people who need help.
6. Recognize when the cases show up on your phone. Treat the clients respectfully. Remember that they might call the referring attorney and comment on your assistance. Accept that these aren't going to be great cases. They are castoffs; don't expect this to be challenging.
7. Learn quickly how to figure out which callers you can help and which you can't. Make sure you have some resources so you can direct some callers elsewhere when there's nothing you can do. Remember, especially when you're on the phone with a wacky person for 55 minutes, that this isn't the long-term solution: it's a quick cash solution.
8. Help some of these folks and make sure you get paid in advance.
9. Thank the lawyers who helped you out. You can't thank them too much. Send them a note every time you get a call. Send them a small gift when you can.
This approach won't secure your future, but it will pay the rent. You'll get to know some great lawyers, and they'll end up cheering you on. They'll be encouraging when they see you at the courthouse and at bar association events. You'll keep the doors open for another week, and you'll have the opportunity to do more of the long-term practice building that you need in order to survive for decades.