Sometimes, the best innovations are the simplest — just a matter of looking at a familiar situation differently.
A dominant topic of discussion in legal practice has been the late hours many lawyers are forced to put in and the damage it does to personal life, “work-life balance,” etc. So along comes Boston lawyer James Perullo, who looks at this situation and turns it on its head: he only works late. His law practice operates from 6:00 to 10:00 pm Mondays to Fridays, and employs lawyers who, like him, have other jobs during the day (he does contract IT work).
The key to the practice, of course, is that clients have day jobs too, and they don’t like having to duck out of work to attend to a personal legal situation. So “After Hours Law,” as James has branded the firm, is immediately attractive to them.
What’s interesting, though, is that working late or unusual hours is not rare at all for lawyers, as the comments at Carolyn Elefant’s blog post on this topic make clear: Susan and Stephanie both provide examples. But the simple genius of what James has done, as he suggests in his own comment to Carolyn’s post, is to make it the focal point of his firm’s branding and marketing. The fact that the lawyers work late is the hook.
See, the rich irony is that while lawyers complain about being stuck at work past 5:00, clients picture lawyers as only working until 5:00 and being unavailable otherwise. After Hours Law glimpsed this disconnect and is exploiting it (to great effect — articles in Law News Now and Small Firm Business, posts by Carolyn and now me). It’s one of the neatest examples of innovation in legal marketing I’ve seen in a while.
What’s the next evolution of after-hours practice? Well, legal work is already being offshored to India, the Philippines, Finland and Israel, to name just four countries scattered around the global time zone map. Can the first 24-hour law firm be far away?