Since malaise and joblessness began to infiltrate the legal profession as early as 1889, many lawyers have considered alternative strategies to build flagging and uninspired practices. Whether it is dabbling in four or five strategic practice areas or adopting door-to-door law sales, most attorneys are looking for an exciting and competitive edge. One area showing considerable promise is Minimalist Law, a practice focus that has built upon the wild popularity of barefoot running and other minimalist exploits, such as naturalism and urban chicken farming.
But what does a Minimalist Law focus look like? And how do you start? Here are our top tips.
It’s Not Artisanal Law
Before adopting a minimalist gestalt, remember that minimalism is very different from artisanal law, which we’ve covered before. Artisanal Law, for example, depends on the adoption of techniques that most lawyers find quaintly ironic—in other words, the modern equivalent of riding a fixed wheel bike to work or drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys. Minimalist Law, on the other hand, relies on stripping your practice down to the absolute bare minimum required to practice. You actually cut out fancy artisanal practice tools such as scriveners, ascots, and wax seals. Basically, if you need more than a desk and a pencil, you are not practicing Minimalist Law.
Less is Always More
We forget who said it but with minimalism “less is more.” That’s why a fully-stocked minimalist law practice consists of a desk, a chair, and a pencil. Sometimes, a chair is optional, depending on what is available in the minimalist law marketplace. Paper, however, should be acceptable so long as it is irregularly sized and ordered specially from a letterpress outfit that takes 6-8 weeks to process your order. The paper, however, should look no different that ordinary paper.
While minimalism evokes minimal stuff, it does not connote cheap or inexpensive. In fact, it is an extremely expensive practice area. A minimalist law desk, for example, will run anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, often more. The one pictured in this post put us back $18,000. Quality pencils are at least $75 each. For office space, it’s best to consider ordering prefab buildings or modern sheds from the magazine Dwell. Preferably, any prefab office should be installed “off the grid” and will run $70,000 to $350,000 depending on how much minimalism you want to evoke. As a rule of thumb, the more minimalism the higher the cost. Thus, if price and fixed expenses are an issue for you, it’s best to consider other alternatives, such as Bauhaus or Brutalist Law.
With Minimalist Law, most practice questions are answered with either yes or no. That’s all. If you find yourself deviating from this essential practice quality, you are likely not practicing minimalism. For example, a question from a client such as “what do I need to do to protect myself from liability in my business” is—in nearly every case—answered “No.” Similarly, requests for your pricing structure are almost always answered “Yes.” If clients do not understand this, they should typically be treated as unintelligent sentient creatures who do not fit well within your practice area. Avoid such potential clients if at all possible.
We will revisit Minimalist Law again with additional advice, including what to wear to the office (typically hand-stitched outfits that double as burlap sacks and cost upwards of $1,000) and what to use for technology (a custom-made paperweight that resembles a stapler). Stay tuned.