Monday, January 4, 2010

Changes...Shaking Things Up...Thoughts of 09 and 10

Here I go again, trying to rise out of the ashes. Such is the feeling this late evening after what seems like a furious pummeling received in 2009.

What does not kill me, makes me stronger.
Yeah, right. Of course, it has seeped into my head that the death throes may come much later than the death stroke.

I say all this as a preface to explain some changes and give some thoughts for the coming year.

What has not changed here is that this blog belongs to my other interest of my law practice: business.

Since sometime in May of this year, I saw my business practice shrivel to nothing. It was like a tap was shut off. I know from other lawyers in other states that they have seen an increase in business start ups due to layoffs of bankers and those of similar sorts.

I remain convinced that Indiana is business friendly but not entrepeneur friendly. This blog focueses on small businesses. I honestly believe that our politicians still think in terms of General Motors (the old one, not the new one).

Capital remains scarce for start ups in Indiana. I think Marion County and, perhaps, Tippecanoe County (thank you, Purdue). If anyone wants to disagree that is what there are is a comment section below. I do not think anyone will disagree that capital will be hard to come by well into this year.

Another change: you will find this blog's focus no longer includes my business litigation practice. I will write on litigation topics on my Indiana Business Litigation and Collections Law Blog. I still do not have all the bells and whistles set up for that blog that I have hear (like no newsletter, so far).

Another change: there will be fewer posts. Sorry but I am getting older and also must follow what is drawing business to me. I am looking for fewer but more quality. I have material that needs written on that will coming out here over the next month or two as I get to it. See, I do not get paid to write this blog but it does serve as part of my marketing.

What I would like to see the next year is less litigation and more consulting work. I am not sure why but some potential clients and would have been clients were a little taken aback that they were not my only clients. With taking on business litigation cases on a contingency basis, they did not understand that other clients were subsidizing their work. I got tired of that.

Looking ahead, I think there will be more regulation in terms of scrutiny and businesses had better get used to that. We can have all kinds of philosophical/political/ideological debates on the subject on the subject but I see them being akin to the late night philosophical debates about the meaning of life that one has in college - pretty useless. Things have gotten out of whack and we will need to deal with what Congress and the Indiana General Assembly cranks out.

With more regulation or more effective regulation, businesses must start practicing preventive law. Get you a lawyer and an accountant and keep them in the loop. It is really that simple. Oh, you cannot afford a lawyer or an accountant? Then how long do you think you can afford to run your business? Do you say I do not need insurance for the business? There are many lawyers who offer the same services I do to small businesses: discounted fees, a small monthly retainer and others.

If your view is that I do not need a lawyer until I get into trouble, then you are profligate fool. I know I should be speaking nicely - after all I am trying to get your business. Let me say it gets annoying to have repeatedly given this advice and be ignored: it costs more to get a client out of trouble than it does to keep them out of trouble. I more than a little tired of people coming into the office and being told what it may cost to fix the problem in court and being angry at the cost. No, I should just hold my tongue and cash the checks for fixing but that does not seem quite right to me. So get it in your head: being in business means you need to have a lawyer and you have to budget for it.

Both sides of the attorney-client relationship need to work together and will need to get inventive. Money is tight. You might not realize that I also run a business. I do. I know what it is like to wake in the middle of the night and wonder how I am going to keep the doors open. Without wads of cash on either side of the relationship, we need to figure out what you need and how we can provide it with a profit to both sides of the relationship. That means both sides need to talk to one another and explain what is needed from and by both sides and how it can be delivered to both sides.

That is what I see for the next year: a lot of changes, a lot of grumbling about those changes, and destruction for those who do not change.

What I hope for the coming year is working with businesses so that they can weather the changes.

Now let me go back to writing about this blog.

What I am publishing here is information. Think of this as a lighthouse for those wanting to start an Indiana business or who have an Indiana business. Lighthouses exist to show where the dangers. If you want actual help, then you need to hire me. I cannot answer specific legal questions here. Use the blog to educate yourself on a subject but understand that I have not, probably cannot, write on everything I know. I do not think I have enough time left in this life to put everything into writing. Education is one of my purposes here - but understand that what you learn here is a starting point.

Now for my regular readers, thank you for sticking around. I think some of you still have subscriptions to the e-mail newsletter.

Let me be clear about the subjects I will writing on. Those of you interested in the purely consumer stuff will have a rough going, I am afraid. The market dictates where my practice is going and in these times I must concentrate on other things. (It is not that I no longer doing non-business civil litigation but I must apportion my time for writing to other subjects).

Some prosaic changes for those using the e-mail newsletter: 1) changed and improved (I think) my links - there are now feeds from other blogs dealing with similar topics) and 2) I have weeded out and melded those websites with feeds and 3) improved the links to business sites that are not law related. Again, the idea is getting information to my readers.

Now, let's get to work.