I am constantly amazed at the way in which my life as a divorce lawyer has changed over the past 15 years or so with the advancement of technology and transportation. When I began my career, mobile phones were for the rich and famous, now we cannot cope without them. Most of us lawyers relied upon books for the law as computers were regarded as quick typewriters. Now everything is online at the touch of a few buttons.
How things have changed? I will not go into each and every advance that has been made but just touch on matters which are going to impact upon my life in the next week or so.
Next week I travel to Hong Kong for just under a week to meet existing contacts who refer clients in need of my advice and assistance following the breakdown of their relationship. I also hope to make new contacts whilst there.
Why did this get me thinking about the changes over the last 15 years? Well, 15 years ago my client base was primarily in the Bath and surrounding area. My reputation built upon word of mouth, articles and advertorial in local newspapers and the Company’s long-established reputation for quality client service. Gradually my client base widened with clients wanting advice from all over the UK and more recently to its current global basis. Why? The internet of course.
Clients have stopped picking up Yellow pages and Thomson directories to start their search for names they may have recognised in the local area and instead found Google. Search terms which they thought appropriate were typed in and if I matched those terms my name would appear and the then the client contacted me. When choosing from the good old fashioned phone directory most clients searched locally as they had no profile or additional information to choose from but now, with Google, clients are searching the world directory.
My second change is obviously communication. 15 years ago the mobile phone was a luxury that many could not afford and indeed due to the area coverage was not an efficient tool for many people. The cost was prohibitive. I would have had to rely upon a landline to enable a telephone call to speak to my wife and daughters whilst I was away, now I can call, text or email from a tiny handset. The communication is instant and with skype and other such services I can even see what they are up to and vice versa.
Lastly transportation, I am travelling to Hong Kong, 12 hours on a plane for business meetings. 15 years ago I would not have contemplated travelling 3 hours outside of the Bath area for a meeting with prospective contacts who may send me clients, the cost for one would have been prohibitive. But now some of my professional introducers are all over the world along with my clients, it is only right that if I want to continue receiving work from them that I travel to see them and thank them in person every so often.
So next week I am in Hong Kong. I have never been there and do not know what to expect. I am selling a product that many people find uncomfortable and no one wants to discuss but with a third of all marriages failing it is a service that many need. This is not what I expected would be in my job description all those years ago but I have to say that it is certainly a lot more exciting than a trip to one of the local courts or nearby solicitors firms which 15 years ago was about as good as it got!