Law firms shutting doors on both coasts, lawyers looking for work on both coasts, marketing staff reductions on both coasts of the U.S. and in the U.K , have been the conversation on this blog and on the Legal Marketing Association Listserv. There is even an “emergency” Webinar on the topic being hosted by the LMA.
A day ago I reluctantly, and with low expectations, dined at the restaurant of a hotel in Dayton Ohio where I was staying on business. Greeted by a cheerful hostess, seated at the white-clothed table with a lush vase of fresh flowers, I glanced at the attractive evening view over autumn hued flatlands. A fall menu was featured. The waiter approached and made a recommendation. I ordered the celery soup with fennel to start and pheasant with a wine reduction sauce. The entrée came with potatoes William, asparagus, and a field greens salad. The waiter recommended “Little Black Dress” pinot noir promising it would lift the flavors of meal. If I weren’t delighted he would make another recommendation. Warm bread with a crisp dark crust accompanied my first glass of wine. The ambiance was calming and even romantic; just me and my book. And then the soup arrived. Hot, but not too hot, and incredibly over the top delicious with fresh fennel. I sent the chef my compliments. The attentive waiter allowed just the right amount of time before serving the salad. It was remarkably crisp, chilled, very fresh and tasty. Okay. I’m thinking; it’s just a salad. I really wanted to ask for the celery soup recipe. A few more pages of reading after the salad was finished and the second glass of wine arrived. Did I mention that it was really nice wine for food? Then came the pheasant. The plate was beautiful. The bird topped with an orchid. I know, pretty predictable, but all the same it was a visual treat. The real dream was the asparagus. Not over cooked, not undercooked, just perfect. The wine glace on the pheasant, with a few fresh mushrooms, was light and proportionate; not over seasoned. The pheasant was moist and warm. Now the potatoes, well, people who know me know that I am a potato connoisseur. I judge a restaurant by the French fries they serve, so this William stuff was out of my ordinary scope. It did NOT disappoint. A mound of mashed with a crispy crust – almost like a croquette. I could hardly contain myself. Give the chef my compliments –again. I almost ate the whole meal. Okay, I’m not a restaurant reviewer and I’m getting to my point. When the bill arrived I thought they surely forgot to add the wine to it. Nope. 2 glasses of wine, soup, salad, and all the rest for $40.00! I was blown away. In Miami, $40.00 will get you a basic chicken entrée. In New York it will buy you a glass of wine. I had to tip generously just to feel good about myself. I felt I had robbed this chef of his priceless meal.
Back in my room I thought…that was an amazing meal; in Dayton Ohio. Funny – I didn’t have to pay New York prices to get an extraordinary meal. And that, my friends is what clients will learn once they taste the service, the menus, and the pricing of a mid-west law firm. Take heart non-AmLaw firms in the heartland. There is opportunity to shine when you may least expect it.