Once upon a time, there was a lawyer who needed an elevator pitch.
This was so even though there was no elevator in the building where she worked, nor in the house where she lived with her spouse and two children. Nor was there one at the elementary school her kids attended, the gym she belonged to, or the park where she loved spending time.
And though there was a small elevator at the courthouse, pretty much everyone she encountered on it already knew who she was and what she did. There was no need to pitch them anything.
But then she went to a legal marketing workshop, and the heavens parted.
“What’s your elevator pitch?” she was asked by the instructor. “Without one, you’re toast.”
She realized that what she typically told people – “I’m a lawyer,” or if she was feeling especially talkative, “I’m a family lawyer” – was sadly inadequate.
And so began her quest for The Perfect Elevator Pitch.
This was harder than she had anticipated. The workshop taught her that the best pitches were short and sweet. She’d been given a 3” x 5” index card to write hers on.
And though she struggled and struggled, she couldn’t quite seem to come up with the right words.
“I solve matrimonial problems” sounded like a mantra from Mensa, and “I guide people through the worst times of their lives” seemed a tad grandiose. As did “I help people navigate the treacherous and turbulent waters of marital discord.”
She went through index card after index card. And it wasn’t until she found herself writing “I am a divorce Ninja” that she realized she needed help.
“Why not just tell people what you do,” said her best friend, who was also a lawyer, albeit one who lacked an elevator pitch of her own.
Having no better ideas, she took her friend’s advice and wrote on her card: “I help people through difficult divorces.” Though she wasn’t really happy with this. For one thing, she did much more than just divorces. She also did legal separations, adoptions, custody agreements, child support, name changes, equitable distribution cases. Lots of stuff. And not every divorce was difficult. Some were amicable.
But at least she finally had an elevator pitch. So she checked that item off her Marketing To-Do list, tossed the index card in her cluttered desk drawer, and resumed her busy life.
A Calling, Not Just a Job
Some time later, she volunteered for the Playground Improvement Committee at her children’s school. Her law background came in handy as the group dealt with contract bids and insurance issues. They asked her to chair the committee, a role she enjoyed and excelled at.
At the gym, she struck up a conversation with an older gentlemen on the treadmill beside hers. He had been in a car accident and needed legal advice. She referred him to an excellent PI attorney who worked in her building. Happily, she later learned everything turned out well.
At the lake, she was chatting with a neighbor whose son was considering law school. She offered to meet the young man for coffee and conversation. She surprised herself at how comfortable and confident she was in the role of mentor. When he was accepted at UNC, he expressed his gratitude by sending her family a lovely gift basket from A Southern Season.
Meanwhile, at home she mediated conflicts large and small, advocated passionately for her offspring, and negotiated the twists and turns of domestic life.
Riding the Elevator of Life
Then one day, cleaning out her desk, she found The Perfect Elevator Pitch written months earlier. She’d forgotten all about it. It had become wedged in the drawer slide, and as she pulled it out, the card tore in half.
The piece she held in her hand said: “I help people.”
For a moment, she just stood there looking at this truncated version of The Perfect Elevator Pitch. Then she took a piece of tape and stuck it on her wall, where she could see it every day.
Jay Reeves has practiced law and done some other things over the years. He prefers escalators over elevators. Stairs are even better. Want help coming up with your own elevator pitch? Or maybe you need a speaker for your next bar meeting, firm retreat or CLE on writing a success story for your law life? Contact email@example.com or 919-619-2441.