My friend Steve tells a story about the loss of his uncle at age 58, when Steve was 18 years old. While Steve’s parents were aghast at the tragedy of losing their relative at such an early age, Steve remembers thinking, “what are they talking about, the guy was 58 years old. He had a good run.”
I was reminded of this story the other day when Guy LaFleur died at age 70, which gets a 67 ½ year old such as myself thinking about his mortality. I remarked to my wife that he had died so young. My much younger wife thought that I was joking.
Younger folks do not always look at things in the same manner that older folks do, nor do they look at older folks the way that they look at folks closer in age to themselves.
Put yourself in the shoes of a young entrepreneur (perhaps a tech start-up) looking for a business lawyer. He asks about incorporating a company and is told that the firm has not yet started using digital minute books. He asks about uncertificated shares and is told that the firm still uses paper share certificates. Documents are sent by pdf to be signed, scanned, and emailed back to the firm. Video call? The lawyer really does not do that or if they do, could the client please initiate the call because the lawyer is not so sure about how to do that.
Trust me, the entrepreneur does not relate to the lawyer and is looking for someone else. Probably someone younger.
In my last few years of practice, many of my clients were exiting their businesses. Some were turning them over to their children. Others were taking the cash and starting a new venture with their children. Still others were seeing to it that the cash ended up with their children who would sooner or later use it to start a business. There were even a few who had children who were starting their own businesses without their family’s help. At the same time, many of my referral sources were retiring and handing their client portfolios over to younger people. This was my network. The source of my income. It was going bye bye.
It so happens that I was on the way out myself, so I was okay with my practice slowing down. But for those of you who want to attract clients who are younger than yourself, you must be seen as being technologically savvy, and that includes implementing tech to prepare documents faster and more efficiently, exchange documents securely, automate the exchange of signatures and keep things happening when lawyers or clients are in remote locations.
Young folks may hire lawyers who look a lot older than they do, but they sure as hell are not going to hire lawyers who act like they are. And like it or not, we are now at the point where Millennials and Gen Z outnumber Baby Boomers. Get used to it.
For the perspective of a legal tech company on some of these issues, see Appara’s article [here]