Get a hair cut, get a criminal defense lawyer. Get a latte, get a will drafted.
It all began with the coffee shop law firm, Legal Grind of Santa Monica, California. Jeffrey J. Hughes, the attorney-owner, was a recent graduate who, like many recent graduates, had few lucrative options. After dabbling in contract work and substitute teaching, he took the plunge into coffee shop ownership, reports the ABA Journal.
Initially, customers would pay for the coffee and get the advice for free. Now, it’s the other way around (for obvious reasons). Though he is a licensed attorney, much of his business comes from referral fees to other attorneys, many of which handle consultations over an espresso.
Inspired by the coffee shop story, Don Howard of New Britain, Connecticut also tied two of his loves together and opened Legal Cuts, a barber shop law firm on Main Street, reports the New Britain Herald. He had experience as a barber, cutting hair before and during law school. Plus, he felt that because barber shops often serve as a sort of social center in small towns, that clients would be more comfortable there and more likely to seek legal advice.
Both are interesting approaches to the eternal "get the client in the door" problem. And neither business is the sort that would make the client ask, "is this guy really an attorney?"
If we had to think of the perfect combination of business and law firm, we'd of course think "bar and DUI defense firm," in part because, well, lawyers tend to drink, and also because a certain blogger spent way too much time writing for a DUI blog. Plus, people are totally relaxed in bars, right? Does a retainer agreement count if the client is drunk when he or she signs?
We kid, but it really is intimidating for a client to go into a stuffy attorney's office, while some pompous guy sits behind a massive desk in a $5,000 suit, and tells you that he wants a $3,000 retainer for your relatively simple case. If you can break that barrier, make yourself approachable, and calm the nerves of the client, developing that client-attorney relationship of trust will be much easier.