Friday, December 24, 2010

My Review Of The iPad 3G

Yes, you read that right. Mac Fan Boys and Apple worshippers alike, come closer. Grab your Tall Caramel Mocha Latte, your grease laden iPhone, your yet-unread articles on blogging for profit, and light a candle.

Like a child asking for the car for the first time, or like an announcement that a Hollywood couple, married 7 months, is getting divorced, the question from my wife hit me like a ton of bricks: "I want an iPad for Christmas."

Clearly she hadn't read my thrashing of this device, the darling of every Starbucks dwelling lawyer, the toy that would cause over aged children to write hundreds of tweets praising it as a new God to worship.

My first thought was that this was a natural request of hers, being that she is a non-practicing lawyer.

Nonetheless, my ego aside, trashed by my disappointment she didn't know of my non-approval of the big touch screen wonder, I accepted that I would possibly be buying the new silver bullet of the flip-flop wearing lawyer crowd.

"Why," (In Nancy Kerrigan tone) "Why do you want an iPad?"

"So when we travel I can read my email." Many emails regarding my office administration go to my wife because, well, I don't need to explain all that, it's pretty self-explanatory. "And I would like not to be tied to my desktop."

I asked "what about getting me clients with it?" Her confused look made me realize she didn't know the power of this (toy) machine.

Many don't understand my hate for this device, so let me clear that up. I think the iPad is an interesting utility. Not interesting enough to order one and wait at home for it's delivery, or stand in line with all the other "we don't have to be at work - ever - so we can sleep out at the Apple store for their new release that we can't afford, and don't need, but will buy anyway," folks.

It is not the iPad I detest, it's the comical obsession.

So I went to the Apple store. I always laugh, and almost want to cry when I go there. It looks like a human rat laboratory. Dozens of people playing with machines, and then dozens of people playing with machines.

I was an anomaly there. I walked in, found the youngest, thinnest, pale faced (what's with that hair) person with an iPhone and said: "I want to buy an iPad."

"And I want 3G."

Here started the anti-sales job. See, I wanted to spend $629, and he was thinking more like $499. I hesitated to tell him I actually had a job, and the extra buck twenty nine was something I could handle.

"You know there's wireless everywhere?"

Before he could say "like at Starbucks," I said, "not in my car while I'm driving to North Carolina."


That ended that, and I was saved from telling him that my wife doesn't drink coffee, and that I only go to Starbucks for coffee. No need to get him angry at me.

So after a stop at the local rip-off wrapping place, I headed home, hat in hand, chin lowered, and now part of that group of minions to the God that is Steve Jobs.

I actually gave it to my wife during Hanukkah-me being Jewish, her being Catholic (to the offense of several of my over-affected Jewish friends).

Oh was she happy. Which is really all that matters, even if I abdicated my principals and bowed to the societal wonderment that is "slide to open."

Oh, the review.

Well, I typed half this blog post on it, then couldn't do it anymore. You Apple people are taking typo to an all new level. I can't do it. So now I'm pleasantly finishing this on my in-law's Compaq with a 13 inch monitor.

I like the ability to enlarge the screen by spreading your fingers (yes I know Apple dorks, you've been doing that for years), and I like the "turn it and it will turn with you," thing. I have some issues with the ability to view certain legal documents from certain websites, but let's not get into things that most iPad users have no need to do.

I like that seamless sending and receiving email is available without having to go to a website, although setting it up was a bit difficult. (I use Microsoft Exchange as opposed to everyone else who (idolizes) uses Google Mail (is it down again?))

I can't imagine not having 3G, being tied to home, or that coffee place, or some other Bohemian location that takes in lawyers like a homeless shelter.

I haven't downloaded much, don't expect to either. It's not mine, and I won't be taking my iPad to work, I'll stick with taking my daughter to work, on take your daughter to work day.

So please don't respond with a list of "apps" that will change my life. This was bought for a specific purpose - so my wife could check in at my office, and of course, check Fandango for the latest movies.

So drink a toast, wipe a tear, there's an iPad in the Tannebaum household. Somewhere.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saying Farewell To My Embarrassing Blogroll

This blog is about legal ethics. It's about getting in and staying in the Florida Bar. It's about respectable marketing in the profession, and the lack thereof.

When I started this blog it was because there was not a single other blog on the topic of Florida Bar practice. I wanted to create a blogroll (a list of other blogs with links for readers to click and read them) of other blogs that were relevant to legal ethics. I mainly found marketing blogs, a couple law prof blogs, and decided to add the ones that were written by respectable people who (I thought) were about more than shiny things and cheesy marketing.

Today, I looked at my blogroll (Now it's a "roll" of one, the Legal Profession Blog) to see if anyone had an interesting post for me to write about. Here's what's up on those other blogs:

Take the Acritas "100 Top Law Firms" Survey and Be Eligible to Win an iPad

Google Calendar is THE ANSWER to Lawyer Scheduling.

How to Use Twitter for Your Practice.

I don't care if you read this shit, but I'm not required to promote it. Sure, I write about shiny things and tech, and praying to the God that is Apple, but not the way these idiots do. These posts are what I call "listening to rap music because you want to appear cool to your kids." These bloggers have completed their race to the bottom, realizing that no one wants to read about ethics, they want to read about iPads (and win one!).

No one wants to read about character and fitness or respect for the profession, they want to read about tech. Tech tech tech. Hook up with Google and you're set. Get a twitter account and watch the clients pour in to your office. They've decided to wear jeans that are two sizes too small and try and get in with the Starbucks dwelling flip-flop wearing "lawyers."

You can read this crap elsewhere.

Not here.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Big Legal Brain - The Greatest Source Of Practice Management Tips For Lawyers

I know, you think that having an iPhone, iPad, iAnything, a twitter account with a bunch of hot 16 year old (fake) girls following you, and a Facebook fan page are the keys to any successful law practice.

I'm here to break your heart and tell you (again) that this is not the case.

Not convinced? Check out the folks at Big Legal Brain.

I don't know who runs this site, but it's full of substantive ideas for any of today's lawyers who are looking for the silver bullet.

The folk (or folks) at Big Legal Brain contacted me personally yesterday to ask a question. (Actually they didn't, but I read a question they posted on twitter that I could answer so to follow in today's world of complete lies in social media, I can comfortably say that they contacted me personally seeking my advice - see how that works?)

The question - Would love to hear from ethics attorneys about any issues in advertising by sandwich board.

"Wow," I thought. There's a concept I haven't heard about in a while. Not even the local deli is paying someone to walk the street with a sandwich board anymore. I asked Big Legal Brain if their question included the possibility of a megaphone. I haven't heard back yet, but I expect to receive and answer and then I will write about how awesome it is that the people at Big Legal Brain answered my question. This will be in an effort to convince other people on-line that I am someone who others respond to with answers to questions that I ask in response to their questions. I will be validated, and let everyone else know that I am validated.

Big Legal Brain is not just offering non-social media ideas on advertising, they also have the keys to law office management that you just don't see when social media people try to convince you it's all about the shiny things.

Like putting in a bar at the office.

With the right booze selections and prominent set up of your office bar, you should be able to establish a great reputation in the legal community and among your clients. We’ll post later on the top five mixed drinks to attract clients, but in the meantime, let us know the top drink that you use to keep clients in the office and firm profits increasing.

And Big Legal Brain doesn't stop there - they also offer a smattering of social media advice that cuts through the "hire me as your guru because I can make you money" messages we see hourly. Take for example Top 5 steps to create a top 5 list, and Top 3 MS-DOS Commands for your practice.

Can't decide on a document management system? Big Legal Brain knocks it out of the park with their suggestion of paperweights.

A single paperweight, for instance, on a specific stack of papers can signify one part of the document drafting workflow. Using multiple paperweights, ideally color-coded or coded by pattern, opens up potentially endless options for organizing your documents and improving your drafting workflow.

People, this is the stuff of genius. I don't know how long Big Legal Brain will be around, but I for one will be adding them to my blog roll and checking in often to see the latest in "how to make money as a lawyer" ideas.

I just fear that Big Legal Brain will send all the other snake oil salesmen in to the gutter (deeper in the gutter than they already are) when they eventually write about how snake oil is a great holiday gift for those pimple-faced clerks and young associates.

Welcome to the world of lawyer marketing Big Legal Brain. (I'll be sending you a handwritten thank you card.)

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The ROI Of Social Media For Lawyers Without iPads Or Hundreds Of Thousands Of Twitter Followers Or Other Social Media Crap

There's plenty of lawyers looking to get in to social media for the purpose of making money, and there's plenty of former lawyer marketers ready to take their check to give them the non-existent secrets to social media success.

Those in the social media secrets-for-hire world only survive by convincing lawyers that there is an ROI, or what real people who have real jobs and real conversations refer to "return on investment." Some social media thieves promise clients will line up at the door after you tweet a few things, and others will promise to transform your practice by using something with an Apple and an on-off switch.

All those in the social media-please-hire-me-as-your-social media-consultant-even-though-I've-never really practiced law and if I did, I didn't for long and never brought in any business but please don't ask me about that because it's not helpful for the lies I tell on the internet, world know that they will not convince desperate lawyers of the wonders of social media without stories of the ROI. Tell a lawyer that you know a lawyer that made money by having a Facebook page or twitter account, and that lawyer is hooked.

I have an ROI story.

I met Scott Greenfield by commenting on his blog. We started talking, a lot. Yesterday, he sent me this:

And then, oh, wait, that's it. That's the story.

Sorry, no money here, no new case, no "great convo" with some perceived celebrity, no link to something someone said complimentary of me.

Just a cheesecake.

Apparently it's the #1 New York Cheesecake according to New York Magazine.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brian Tannebaum's Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide For (Real) Lawyers

Happy Holidays everyone, even those that hate everything I write as they read it from their Starbucks offices and parent's basements.

Here I have for you my last minute guide to great gifts for (real) lawyers. None have an Apple on them, and none will allow you to practice law on the couch. I am receiving no money (yet) from any sellers of these items, and cannot vouch for their quality. I make no warranties except to say that I believe all (real) lawyers will thank you for gifting one of these items to them.

[1] Shoelaces.

If you go to an office, or court, you probably (probably) wont be wearing the (Starbucks) flip-flops. Those that dress the part of a real lawyer know all too well the pain of pulling that lace tight just to see part of it remain in your hand as you wonder how you will now get to work on time.

Lawyers generally don't have an extra pair, and will thank you for thinking of their time-sensitive mornings preparing for battle.

[2] A copy of "Never Eat Alone."

Yeah, I know it's a few years old, but this is simply the best book I've ever read on developing relationships. Be warned - there is nothing about twitter or Facebook, or how to type your brains out on-line trying to build your career. This is about real relationships, with real people.

[3] Speaking of never eating alone...

Dinner. Take a referral source, colleague, friend to dinner, after the first of the year. People like to eat, and they like to eat for free. Don't be cheap either. Again, this only applies to real lawyers who get real cases and real clients from real people. No one wants to be taken to dinner to be sold snake oil, not that the social media lawyer mavens can afford to buy dinner anyway.

[4] A staple remover.

I can never find one in my office. I like the ones that look like letter openers, not the ones that look like the mouth of an alligator.

[5] A small refrigerator.

Best gift I ever received from my staff. The big one in the kitchen is nothing more than a theft magnet. Put a case of diet coke in the communal fridge, and 2 days later it's gone. Having one in your office sends the message "you people suck and you're not touching my shit."

[6] A wireless phone headset.

Why make your lawyer friend sit at her desk while yelling at clients and other lawyers when a wireless headset allows them to release stress by parading down the hall and getting some exercise? It also provides hours of entertainment for the staff.

[7] A Helicopter Tour.

Chances are your lawyer friend doesn't get out much, especially if they practice civil law. They're stuck in an office, not venturing from Starbucks to Starbucks throughout the day nursing that one cup of coffee. Let them see where they live, from somewhere else other than their windowless office.

[8] A double pack of "To Kill A Mockingbird," and "A Time To Kill" DVD's

Nothing says "my practice is meaningless" like a few hours watching real lawyers do real work. Send your Starbucks social media lawyer or BigLaw slave into a tizzy by making them watch these great movies.

[9] A copy of "Dust In The Wind," by Kansas.

No explanation there. Lawyers will understand.

[10] Legal Pads.

What better way to continue to practice law when the lights go out then through the old reliable legal pad? Needs no battery, no charging, no apps, no updates, no customer service people. Tell your lawyer friend there is hope when the Apple store is closed that their thoughts and analysis of a case can be captured.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

US Supreme Court to New York Lawyers: You Are Awesome

Ah, one of my favorite topics - lawyer advertising.

Appears the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the issue of whether New York Lawyers can use nicknames, client testimonials, other messages or images in advertising.

In Cahill v. Alexander, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that state rules limiting content-based ads violate the First Amendment.


I agree.

Nathan Koppel over at the WSJ Law Blog states the position of lawyers (like me) who are not fans of advertising:

Attorneys should be able to rely on word of mouth, or sober informative ads, to reach clients, and not the sort of provocative, colorful ads common in other industries, the thinking among some bar officials goes.

My position on lawyer advertising is that I wish it didn't exist. I wish cell phones didn't exist sometimes as well. But with lawyer advertising, you either prohibit it, or rely on rules in existence.

Model Rule 8.4 covers it all:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

Saying you can't do this in print, you can't do this on TV, you can't do this in the mail, and you can't do this on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo (anyone really use Plaxo?) is like a dog chasing a tail.

8.4(c). I'm a big fan.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Do You Want More Clients, Or More Referrals?

There are plenty of people running around the internet claiming to know how to get you more clients (for a fee) and referrals (for a fee). There are plenty of lawyers, pen and check, or credit card in hand, ready to pay.

The same lawyers searching the internet for their financial future are also looking for someone who will teach them the secrets of social media.

Sad news: There are no secrets. There are no secrets to getting more clients, referrals, or writing 140 character messages. There are only people who claim there to be secrets in order to convince you that (for a fee) you can know something your competition doesn't.

Marketers will tell you that "just doing a good job" is not enough." I agree. Others need to know you did a good job. In order to get more clients and referrals, you need to make yourself known.

There's a few ways to do this. First though, you have to decide what type of lawyer you want to be.

There are two types of lawyers (there's actually about 8 types of lawyers but for this discussion, there's two) - there are lawyers who want clients, and lawyers who want referrals.

If you want more clients, here's my suggestion:

[1] Direct mail.

[2] Google ad-words.

[3] Billboards.

You'll get a ton of calls, and a ton of cases. Most will be clients looking for a low fee, but that's OK. You can do a bunch of cases cheap and hopefully have a practice that can handle the number of clients. Calls will come in droves, clients will be happy with a nice payment plan over several months, and the real tools you need are a credit card machine and a good calendar program for your computer.

If you want more referrals, you'll first have to understand that what you are seeking is that another person, lawyer or otherwise, will put their credibility on the line and tell someone else that you should be hired.

Here's how you do that, in no particular order:

[1] Do not take advice from anyone who has no experience getting referrals, and only experience getting clients.

[2] Get off the computer, except to write something about your practice.

This can be as simple as a short article about the different types of procedures in your practice area, or a complex page-turner about a recent decision affecting your type of clients. Where do you write this? Start a blog - but only if you're committed to posting at least once a week.

[3] Talk to your current clients about other things besides the case - ask them about their lives.

When you develop a relationship with a client where they feel they can discuss "anything" with you, they will. Some clients will refer you cases during their representation, others you will need to ask when the case is over (assuming you weren't fired). If you are not willing to ask a client to refer you clients, you have a problem.

[4] Meet non-lawyers, go to non-lawyer events, have non-lawyer conversations.

If you think you need to sell your practice to get referrals, you'll be the one at the cocktail party standing alone in the corner on the phone. Clients aren't hiring your practice, they are hiring you.

[5] Never assume a meeting with someone was a waste of time because 10 minutes later there was no referral.

My rule is that within 6 months of meeting someone who may be in a position to refer me a client, I get a call. Sometimes it's a year. It just happens that way.

[6] Pay attention to what is going on in the community.

Pay attention to people you know, even if you just know them by name or reputation. If someone you know won a case, or received some other type of accolade - say congratulations. No need for a formal typewritten letter - an e-mail will do. Do not include in the email an invitation to lunch, unless you know the person well and it would be natural for you to hang out with them. There are people who scour media and send letters to lawyers who win awards - most of them are financial advisors looking for clients.

[7] Spend your advertising and marketing money on things that allow you to be in the presence of others.

Small ads in the local paper are fine, but your $1500 is better spent on a foursome at a golf tournament than on a 4-color ad in a "lawyer's" magazine. Those seeking "clients" would never consider taking time from the office to work "on" their practice instead of "in" their practice.

[8] Always make time to talk to people seeking advice - especially those that are in a position to refer you a client.

I take a lot of calls, and receive a lot of emails seeking opinions and advice. I return them when I have time, but usually pretty quickly because "thanks for calling me back so quickly," makes you the lawyer who deserves an important client.

[9] The best and worst part of having a referral based practice is that you never know who will refer you a client. That is why [8] is vital.

[10] Always, always, always show appreciation - even (especially) if it doesn't work out.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a lawyer who told me my referral didn't work out, but "thank you." I do this as well. I want to follow up, and let my referral source know why the case didn't work out. Many lawyers don't like to do this because it appears negative. I think it's essential. You can also take the opportunity when a referral doesn't work out to take the referring individual to lunch and talk more about your practice. No one expects anything when a referral doesn't work out, especially a free lunch. This year a few lawyers referred me multiple clients - none hired me. Those lawyers all received holiday gifts. The phrase "it's the thought that counts," is actually true.

[11] Be patient.

Again, if you just want clients, you shouldn't have read this far in the post - type away on ad-words and start stamping mailers. None of your clients will care about anything else but that you charge a "reasonable fee" (read:cheaper than the guy down the street). Good referrals take time. It requires you to have a reputation - not necessarily as a great lawyer, but as a good lawyer. The definition of a good lawyer is not just based on legal skills - it comprises many things.

Becoming a good lawyer happens one client at a time. If you want to have a volume practice of small cases, that's fine - you will get there through advertising -especially internet advertising. But if you want a smaller practice with better cases and higher fees, you'll have to stop seeing the computer as the key to your future. Unfortunately, that suggestion pisses off a lot of people here that are making a living telling you otherwise.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why In Elizabeth's Death, John Matters

The collective heart of the country breaks over the death of Elizabeth Edwards.

Cancer is a reality, and it's death toll is growing. It is sad that this relatively young woman died of breast cancer.

But our heart is not broken because a woman died of breast cancer.

Our deep sadness is that Elizabeth Edwards, wife of an very famous asshole, died after several years of very public betrayl.

If not for John Edwards, we wouldn't know Elizabeth.

So I read with interest the many online comments yesterday "screaming" that we didn't want to hear from "her husband,' that it was wrong to mention him in stories about her death.

It's what matters here, like it or not.

Some personal notes:

In 2007 I received a call from someone in the Edwards campaign asking if I would come listen to him speak. I wasn't interested, but I went. I liked what he said, met with him after, and eventually held a fundraiser for his campaign.

During that time I received a call from someone who worked on his last campaign (where he ran as VP on the ticket with Senator John Kerry) asking me to support some African-American state senator from Illinois. I said this country was not ready to elect a black president and that I was suppporting Edwards. He told me Edwards was a terrible human being, but would not elaborate. I don't know if he knew about the affair when he said that to me.

I never met Elizabeth, but her name was everywhere - her involvement in the campaign, intense.

To this day I am embarrassed over the support I gave him, the money I raised for him, and all my friends that got involved in his campaign because of me. I don't like when I find out someone is a liar, or not who they seem to be.

John Edwards is in his own living hell right now, and I have no sympathy for him, none. He will always be Elizabeth Edwards husband, the one who fathered a child with a campaign staffer and hid it from his cancer stricken wife.

But let's not believe for a minute that we are sad because a woman died of cancer, or even a famous woman. We are in pain because of the horrible suffering this woman enudred at the hands of her soulless husband, publicly, and with dignity. We are sad, and mad, two different emotions, and we should discuss both.

There of course is a lesson here. When you're famous, everything is elevated. Everything matters. People have affairs every day, people die of cancer.

But Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards doesn't die every day.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Sense Of Violated Entitlement

My last post got some play on Above the Law and the ABA Journal. I didn't write anything ingenious, I just said the 1L doing the math should drop out.

The title of this post came directly from an article on cheating in college. It's long, but worth a read. It talks about "this" generation of students. The same generation that I talk about and am told that I'm full of shit.

Back to the entitled law students. Whenever the discussion about the new age of law school not being a ticket to a six-figure salary starts, the debate flames. On one side is those that feel cheated, pushed, forced in to law school by the promise of leaving and opening the door to the same vision Dorothy had upon arrival in Munchkin Land. On the other, the "butch up and shut up" crowd who feel many of these whiners should of never entered law school.

The comments on the ABA site were interesting. I read about 90, and got a good sense of the crowd.

Most importantly, I realized I am considered very old. I am part of that generation that "doesn't get it."

I do, get "it," but I won't try to defend myself on that issue. When infants don't get their way, there's no way to stop them from crying except to feed them and cuddle them until they go to sleep.

The overwhelming theme of the comments was that the notion of going to law school for any other reason but to make money, is total bullshit. So it's worthless for me to say that when I went to law school I had no idea what lawyers made. As I got closer to graduation I knew that government lawyers made about $25-$30 grand, and BigLaw associates made about $50,000. I went to law school to be a criminal defense lawyer. What I read from the comments is that a great deal of law students today have no concern about what they do, they just want the cash. No wonder so many lawyers are unhappy. As the 1L said in the article - he spent more time researching law schools than he did the practice of law.

I wanted to practice criminal law, either at the prosecutor's or public defender's office, and BigLaw wasn't an option for two reasons - one, I clerked for a big firm and hated it, and two, my grades wouldn't even get me an interview. If I had no idea what I wanted to do, I'd be in a very different position. I would have "taken" any job I could get and either found my way to criminal law, or be doing something else today.

I realize after reading all the comments that graduating law school 16 years ago is a lifetime. I've said for years that even in my class, so many went to law school because of L.A. Law - yes, the show. Many thought a law degree meant nice suits, nice offices, and days of fun fun fun in the office.

What people don't understand is that I speak from personal knowledge. It's no secret I represent law students as part of my practice. I talk to them. I ask them why they went to law school. I ask them what they want to do. Many of the answers are "I don't know, and "get a job."

I think that many law students did go to law school due to the perception it was a ticket to a six-figure salary - and for some years it was just that. It's sad to hear people comment that they see no other reason why anyone would go to law school.

I think that many grads don't care if they practice commercial litigation, associate research in the library all day law, or please God don't make the partner angry law, and I think if the goal is to pay off loans, this is not the profession to enter. If you're smart enough to get into law school, you should be smart enough to be able to learn how to do other things. You can make money doing anything - selling appliances, selling insurance, running a franchise, or hundreds of other things. There's too many damn lawyers, and not enough people entering needed professions and careers. Where will all the foreclosure defense lawyers (an area I hear lawyers entering out of law school) go in 5 years?

So I'm sorry it's come to this - law students and lawyers telling me that law school is nothing more than a high level trade school (not having any historical knowledge that many years ago most law school graduates did not go in to private practice or even the practice of law). If you went to law school because you were lied to about a guaranteed check, drop out. If you don't believe you will ever get a job in law, consider finishing and doing something else that may make you (more) money. Most of us lawyers wind up at some point representing clients who make 10 times what we make, and never finished college, or even high school. They also do things that we look at and say "you make money that way?"

I want you to make money, I don't want you to be jobless after graduation. But if you solely went to law school for the salary that would (apparently) make you happy,
you will never be happy as a lawyer.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advice To A 1L On Dropping Out: Don't Forget Your iPhone Charger

Above the Law continues to take on the heady topic of whether someone who went to law school expecting a big fat check upon graduation should consider the economics of it all and drop out.

Thus far we know that 66% of ATL's readers thought a 2L should stay in school, while 34% are just happy to be able to use profanity anonymously in the comment section while eating many Doritos on mom's couch.

Now ATL has switched it up - thrown in a curve - "changed the game" as game changers and asked: what if the student is a 1L?

The question is not based on the student reconsidering whether to become a trial lawyer, or whether to seek a career representing the poor, or setting up a nice general practice - the question is about money.

What if the student is just in his first semester of 1L year and can get out before incurring even another semester’s worth of debt?

The post's author goes further into framing this choice as one where money is the sole consideration, referring to the decision as a challenging value proposition.

So the 1L is thinking about dropping out.

Here's the summary of his thought process:

$150k of Debt + Fewer Jobs + More Attorneys = Law school is probably going to end up being a bad investment.

He says he's willing to put myself through it if there’s a good chance it will pay off in the end, but that there's been a dramatic change on the return on investment calculation.

He's willing to stay if he's only going to be in debt $50k, but now that he's invested $21k, he can't see investing another $21k for a second semester.

He's rightly concerned about getting a job, noting the truth that all law students angrily deny - that more students than ever have been applying to law school over the last few years to avoid the bad economy.

He's also not that interested in the life of a lawyer, as he sees that life: from what I understand, private practice is an exercise in the permanent sacrifice of work-life balance. Late nights at the office every week or two is very different from working 12 hours every day. It’s very unlikely I’ll be able to make good money in private practice and have a healthy work-life balance. I don’t want to work 60-70 hours a week until I’m 40.

I love the last sentence of that paragraph. Somehow flip-flops and a backpack come to mind.

In one of the most prolific quotes I've seen from a person who should have never applied to law school, he says: I researched law school a lot more than I researched being an attorney.

When I write over and over again that part of the problem in law school today, and with lawyers, is that many of those who entered this profession, did so for the wrong reasons - they did it for the cash, I hear the screams of law students and young lawyers yelling "that's not true!". When it got too expensive, and the payback was not guaranteed, it became less attractive. There are dozens of law students in every law school who see the education as a ticket to a six figure salary. These students couldn't care less if they were selling toilet paper or driving taxi cabs - whatever makes money, that's where they want to be.

But that's not what the law profession is about. It's about clients (sorry Dan). It's about ethics. It's about being an officer of the court, and it's about advocating. It's not about paying off debt. It's not about a return on an investment.

I read this post and all I could think was that this law student sounds much more like a stockbroker. His entire analysis is whether it's worth it to spend the money for an education that may not find him the darling of the Bar in terms of high fees and a life of luxury. There's nothing about the profession, except a bunch of whining about working hard.

So pack it up, make sure you have that favorite Starbucks travel mug, and don't forget your iPhone charger - it's probably the best investment you've made.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Finest Expose (Ever) Of The (Fraud That Is The) Social Media Guru

This morning I awoke to the greatest article I've ever read on the fraud that is the social media guru. I hope you all will read it and understand why this "industry" is an industry of nothing. It is an industry of liars and failures in other careers now selling air.

I've been writing about this for a long time, wondering if anyone else saw what I saw. Some did, but many are just so enamored with the possibility of making money that they don't care that the industry is a complete fraud.

Milo Yannopolous has, and here's some spectacular observations from his article:

He begins: On the outskirts of a regional city in Britain - Bristol, perhaps - two hundred people gather to discuss "radical engagement strategies". They are oddballs: a mixture of chippy girls with unruly fringes and sweaty, overweight blokes with bits of burger stuck in their beards.

These are the social media gurus, a rag-tag crew of blood-sucking hucksters who are infesting companies of all sizes, on both sides of the Atlantic, blagging their way into consultancy roles and siphoning off valuable recession-era marketing spend to feed their comic book addictions. They claim to be able to improve your relationships with your customers by "executing 360 degree reignition programs". But who are these people? Where did they come from? And how on earth have they managed to hoodwink so many big companies so quickly and so comprehensively?

So the gurus are hired, and promptly set about cutting and pasting "social media strategy guidelines" into Powerpoint presentations and swanning around the office instructing secretaries about "social media for social good" and how Twitter's going to change the world, all the while leeching off the productive bit of the organisation.

He says that beneath the social media guru cover are layers of life coaches, yoga teachers, acupuncturists and feng shui consultants. That's the level of business insight and mission-critical expertise we're talking about here.

He nails it on why these frauds are able to exist: One of the conditions that has allowed the faux-academic colloquy of the social media industry to grow so fast is a lack of checks and balances online, especially within social networks. Highly questionable practices go either unremarked upon or purposefully ignored by the Twitter bubble. When someone gets caught with their trousers down, you're more likely to see messages of support than opprobrium. Plus, the industry is well mobilised, and dishes out a number of ludicrous awards to itself.

Milo sees the groupie nature of these scam artists, referring to it as poisonous cult of the social media guru.

He then makes the point: Social media consulting amounts to little more than mastering the art of the bleeding obvious and no company, no matter what its size, should even consider hiring external social media consultants. Internally, the most you need is a couple of interns with laptops.

All is not lost though, Milo predicts the end of the social media guru. I hope he's right. Fortunately, there are signs that the window of opportunity for all this silliness is closing. Firms are cottoning on to people who misrepresent and overstate their achievements and add no value to businesses while showing off to other "like minds" about how many Twitter followers they have.

In descrribing social media conferences, Milo says the red thread running through these events is, "I can't believe we're still getting away with this."

As said in Jerry Maguire: "Finally! - Someone said it."

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why BigLaw Should Blog (Hint: There's A Marketer Behind It)

I just continue to laugh.

As the marketers overtake social media with their promises to double lawyers income and once a week webinars about how twitter and LinkedIn are the keys to being a good and busy lawyer, I just chuckle - to the point of tears.

Are you all writing these checks? Are you seriously thinking these marketers who make these promises, who have failed as lawyers and are now here to take your money to tell you how not to fail, are the answer?

Yes. You do.

The latest round of phony discussions surround the notion that BigLaw is woefully behind in - - - - blogging!

BigLaw needs to blog more, says a former 8 month lawyer who - - - - sells marketing services to BigLaw. Look at that. He sells what he encourages lawyers to buy. Nice objective journalism - good going National Law Journal, did you run out of practicing lawyers to serve as columnists?

Who knows better about blogging for lawyers then a guy who says he thinks "traffic is relevant," and gets these kind of numbers (visits) to his blog?

His qualification to market to BigLaw? He wants to market to BigLaw. BigLaw of course has the most money to spend on marketing, so why not start a discussion on how what you do for a living is something that is necessary?

BigLaw's perils are many. They paid too many people too much money, and many BigLaw firms became real estate heavy. When the economy crashed, people ran out of money and BigLaw suffered.

Blogging will not solve their problems. People who hire BigLaw, don't spend time reading blogs.

So the question was raised yesterday whether "we know if this is really hurting them in lost market share."

The answer?


Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Word From The Social Media Marketers: Dont Say That!

I had to look at my calendar today to confirm that it was Veterans Day and not April Fools Day. Otherwise, I would have thought LexBlog owner Kevin O'Keefe was completely joking.

His headline:

Lawyers are ill served by those preaching the pitfalls and perils of social media.

(And the social media marketers cheer - "Thanks Kevin, we need the support!")

Thank you Kevin. Thank you for confirming what I've been saying for a long time - the social media marketers can't deal with the naysayers. The marketers all tow the line, they all support each other, and their goal is not only to convince lawyers that social media is "it," but that those that disagree are wrong and hurting their attempts to get dollars from desperate lawyers.

Kevin says the following:

There are forces of lawyers, conferences, publications, and associations who are scaring lawyers from using social media. Perhaps not on purpose, but by emphasizing the risks of a lawyer using social media over the rewards they're having that effect.

He laments the red flashing lights in the form the of risks in using social media.

He considers "scare tactics" to be discussions of:

•Inadvertent Attorney-Client Relationships
•Conflicts of Interest
•Communications and Advertising
•Unauthorized Practice of Law
•Improper Contact and Misconduct
•Duty of Candor

i.e. - Ethics.

While he calls these legitimate questions and concerns, he then says what can only be described as the punch line to the joke:

And no one, especially me, is saying the Internet is an 'ethics free zone' for lawyers.

Excuse me Kevin, but are you fucking kidding me?

Ethics is the enemy of good online marketing. There's unethical behavior all over the internet. We may like to think it's a small minority, but that's just not the case.

Kevin's point about what he's reading on the internet, the "scare tactics," and the warnings, is that for example: If I'm young solo practitioner doing family law, I'm thinking twice about starting a family law blog.

Kevin believes that though lawyers may hear of the sensational, it's the sensational that makes for good news - and that the sensational is the exception not the rule.

No Kevin, it's becoming the norm. As more and more lawyers run to the internet to create a client base, more and more of them are outright lying about their experience and skills.

What I like about Kevin's post is that he is completely honest - he just wants the negative discussion to stop. For social media marketers and sales people, the bottom line is what's important. It's a sales industry, and no one sells when people poo-poo the product, even a little.

He says he's not asking for it to stop though:

As an editor, conference coordinators, author, or speaker, you're highly influential. Please temper your discussion on the risks of social media. Sure talk risks. But the rewards to lawyers using social media are so great. Mention them.

But then he does:

No more 'pitfalls and perils' articles and presentations. Let's talk about what's really going on. Let's recognize the risks while emphasizing the rewards.

Emphasizing the rewards? You mean selling social media to lawyers.

Kevin says if we do that we'll improve the lives of lawyers.

I'm sorry, but I will not stop talking about the pitfalls of social media, regardless of the fact that the marketers have all blocked me, cried to each other in private about "those mean lawyers" on the internet that are spoiling it for everyone, and determined the best way to deal with their own lack of ethics is to hope no one is reading.

Lawyers should be concerned about the pitfalls - isn't that what practicing lawyers do - evaluate the pitfalls of a proposed strategy and determine whether to move forward? I'm sorry, I forgot, most of the marketers haven't practiced law at all, or for a very long time.

So it's just about writing the checks to the marketers. These are sales people trying to make a living off lawyers - think they give a crap about your ethics or your Bar complaint?

I think social media, blogs, Facebook, and all that other crap (sorry for calling it crap, marketers) are great tools if used properly and ethically.

That's not what's happening here, and we all, we all know it.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Message From The Marketers: The Truth Hurts, Us.

The debate is raging online. The ABA is talking about the possibility of regulating online content - blogs, Facebook, twitter, websites, and the marketers are not having any of it.

Many of the lawyers aren't all that interested either.

Ethics is the enemy of good marketing, cry the marketers.

The marketers call it "regulation." As I've said before here, I'm all for good regulation, and I agree that it could get out of control. It's a tough spot to be in - to be a lawyer that wants a little more regulation of the wild-west that has become the internet, but worries it could become oppressive.

Marketing is a simple concept. You know that picture on the menu at the fast food restaurant of the hamburger you're about to order? It's plump, juicy, the tomato is perfectly cut, the lettuce looks like the ruffle on a hand made dress?

Then you open the wrapper.

Take for example the one guy who couldn't be happier that I've taken a break from twitter - Adrian Dayton (sorry Adrian, no link love here, I do know how much you love it.)

Adrian graduated law school, worked for a firm for 8 months (after 6 there was no work to be had), and while there he read some documents regarding a $450 million dollar closing. Then he fell in love with twitter. He now says he's a change agent for BigLaw - he consults with "large law firms" on using twitter and other social media.

Here's part of his bio:

Adrian Dayton is an attorney with a passion for growing law practices through the power of social media. As an expert in the field....

Expert in the field? What field? Who named him (other than him) an expert?

It doesn't matter. There are no rules.

I'm an expert in starting my car in the morning. I'm also an expert in opening my mail.

And his take on reading documents in an office for that $450 million dollar deal?

Before founding his current business, Adrian spent almost a year working as a corporate attorney with Jaeckle Fleishmann and Mugel where he and his team closed a merger worth approximately $450 million dollars.

His team! He! Adrian closed a $450 million dollar deal.

Hey folks, run with it. There's no rules, no ethics necessary.

I've asked Adrian to discuss all of this, but, well, what's the point. The goal here is to convince others, (i.e. Marketing) to hire him. As long as no one asks the important questions, or does the 5 minute investigation, no one will ever know the absolute truth.

What if regulations caused Adrian to have to say this:

Adrian Dayton worked for less than a year at a law firm and was then laid off. While there, his firm did a $450 merger for which Adrian read some documents. After leaving, he found twitter and decided to begin a career teaching others how to use the free online site. He even wrote a book about twitter. While this is the total sum of his experience, he is a social media consultant to large law firms, and calls himself an expert.

I don't do death penalty work. Thirteen years ago I did some research on a death penalty case and went to interview the client, post-conviction. The appellate lawyer I did the research for, won the appeal and then tried the case to an acquittal.

"Brian Tannebaum is an experienced death penalty lawyer, having successfully represented the defendant in a double murder, post-conviction, where the case was reversed and then tried to an acquittal."

Like that, marketers? It's awesome, huh?

It's also bullshit.

That's why you like it.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Message From The Florida Supreme Court to Lawyers And Law Students

Those that represent lawyers and law students in Florida have been seeing it for a while - The Florida Supreme Court has changed, significantly. But it wasn't until a couple weeks ago, when the Court rejected the recommendation of a judge that Hank Adorno be reprimanded for what another appellate judge called a "scheme to defraud," that the rest of the legal community woke up.

The Court has become ultra conservative, and lawyers have been told that "misconduct will not be tolerated." I don't know that misconduct was ever "tolerated." Misconduct has always been dealt with by the filing of a complaint, review by the Bar, possible review by a grievance committee of lawyers and non-lawyers, then proceeding with the filing of a complaint (or not), and review by a judge. This judicial review allows for the presentation of evidence, or acceptance or rejection of an agreement between the Bar and the lawyer. In all cases where a complaint is filed, the Florida Supreme Court has the final say.

The rejection by the Court of consent judgments between the Bar and lawyers, or the recommendation of judges, is nothing new. It's just becoming more of the norm. It's now the "shot heard around the world" as the Court rejected the recommended reprimand of a BigLaw partner, and is now considering a 3-year suspension or disbarment.

That the Court is getting tougher on lawyers is not the point of this post. The goings on in the Bar are what's of interest to me.

We self-regulate in Florida. All discipline is handled by the Bar, which spends about half their budget - 10 million dollars - handling complaints. In recent years there has been a threat to end self-regulation, to send discipline to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Bar shudders, lawyers shudder, lawyers who practice in this area are shuddering less. We see the threats working - causing the Bar to cower to the legislature in a cry of "look, we're tough on them!" The end result is that the Bar is not seeking discipline based on what it thinks is appropriate, but on what it believes the Court wants. This isn't self-regulation, this is cow-towing.

The question I get is "should we recommend discipline we know the Court won't accept?"

Yes, you should. You, Florida Bar, should recommend what you deem appropriate, and let the Court ask for an explanation. The lesson of the Adorno case is that when lawyers are accused of rule violations, the Bar will now appeal recommendations of judges in order to preserve self-regulation, not because they disagree with the discipline.

Underlying all of this is the public. The Bar is not here as a "lawyers union." The Bar exists to discipline, administer CLE, and as one of Florida's newest consumer protection agencies. The public hates lawyers, the Bar has stopped promoting lawyers, and is now in the business of letting the public know that they are there for you. Evidence? More and more inane, non-sensical client rants containing no rule violations are being sent to lawyers for a response. The reason? To let the public know that the Bar is "on it."

And the law students? Recently the Florida Board of Bar Examiners met with law school deans, prosecutors and public defenders. (In Florida, a law student needs to pass the character & fitness investigation to intern as a prosecutor or PD - a stupid rule). The Board, setting more and more students for hearings for things they were "dropped off at home by the cops" for when they went to law school, expressed concern about "what kind" of law students the schools were admitting.

Get it? 90,000 lawyers in Florida, 2,000 graduates a year, a tougher Court looking closer at who's being admitted - something's gotta give.

Truth be told, and I've said it many times here - more and more law students have no concept of becoming lawyers, and never should have gone to law school in the first place. But there has never been a study, nor any statistics presented that prove a correlation between a law student with "issues" pertaining to character & fitness, and their career as a lawyer. I wonder how many law students who have passed character & fitness free and clear, have gone on to have ethical issues as a lawyer.

The Board though, is making law students go through more and more hoops for things in their past. Law students who are lucky enough to have a job can kiss those jobs goodbye when the Board rules they need to sit out 6 months to think about what they did 8 years ago.

It's getting harder to get in to the Bar, and stay in the Bar. In concept, this doesn't sound too bad. We don't need anymore unethical lawyers. We do though, need to make sure decisions are appropriate, and not just crowd pleasing.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, November 1, 2010

To The Whining Online Marketers: You Started This

The headline made me chuckle: ABA Ethics Study of Client Development Tools Alarms Marketers.

Anything that alarms marketers must mean that something having to do with honesty and integrity is getting too close for comfort.

The lead to the story confirms the reason for the whining: The American Bar Association is examining the ethics of online client development tools such as blogs and Facebook, the sentence ends and some marketers are none too happy about it.

Well, we can't have unhappy marketers now, can we?

So the ABA's Commission on Ethics 20/20 wants to know if it should pursue further research and regulation of that area over the next two years.

Oh boy. The ABA wants to clean up the sewer that is online legal marketing. What has the world come to when the American Bar Association, the former pillar of the legal community that is now to social media and social media marketers like a screaming teenager is to a Taylor Swift concert, wants to take a look at the online swill?

Larry Bodine, who I remember not being a real big fan of twitter, said the ABA should be concentrating its ethics effort on lawyers who steal from their clients, not lawyers who use Twitter.

No Larry, I think the ABA should be concentrating on lawyers who use twitter to steal from clients, by lying to them about their qualifications, by setting up profiles that stretch the truth, by paying online marketers who are only interested in "creating" the impression that the lawyer is more than they really are.

Larry thinks that the internet is a major way clients find attorneys these days, and regulations that would prompt lawyers to shy away from that arena would only hurt the public. He wants other marketers and bloggers to vocally oppose further ABA involvement in online client development.

I oppose further ABA involvement under one condition: lawyers and marketers stop lying. Lawyers and marketers stop creating images of lawyers that are hurting the public by creating impressions of the lawyer that are deceptive, false, and misleading. The ABA isn't concerned that lawyers are advertising online - they are concerned that lawyers are lying online.

Larry is 100% correct - Lawyers are very ginger when it comes to marketing online, and this is just going to frighten the daylights out of them if it becomes an ethics rule.

Ethics rules are not the enemy of good marketing.

Or are they? Is that the message? If we have to tell the truth or be subject to discipline we'll all go out of business? Lawyers? And marketers?

Maybe it's time for lawyers to start being less "ginger" in their online marketing.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Friday, October 29, 2010

Listening to Steven Farese, Real Lawyer

As I write this, I'm sitting in the back of the room, waiting my turn to speak to some criminal and civil lawyers at a criminal law CLE in Jackson Mississippi.

I'm listening to 41 year-old lawyer Steve Farese. He's doing the ethics hour. He spoke a little bit about communication and disclosing adverse case law to the court. But for the last 20 minutes or so he's been talking about being a good lawyer. He's been talking about going beyond the rules, going beyond what's required. He's now getting loud as he speaks about how he's tired of what people think about lawyers, specifically about criminal lawyers. He's not impressed with lawyers who talk tough at the initial consultation, or put on a "magic show" in court. He keeps saying "that's not what it's about."

He says it's about "doing a good job."

I write this as I think about all the bullshit artists on-line who, for a fee, will double your income, and all the failed and former lawyers who can tell you how to do "it" right.

Steve Farese is nothing more than a real criminal defense lawyer. He's not fancy. I don't know if he has a marketing plan or if he's on the first page of Google.

I know that he keeps talking about "what it's about, and says what it comes down to is "what your responsibility is." He wants to know if when your client walks out of your office he "knows what the hell you just said to him?"

He's worth a plane ticket to Mississippi if you find he's on the schedule.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blogging The Florida Board Of Bar Examiners Hearings: It All Matters, Unfortunately

A frequent question from law students facing a hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners is "does (this) matter?"


It all matters.

The way you look, the way you act, the demeanor you present.

There are things that matter that shouldn't, but I don't get to make those decisions.

I believe anything stupid you did during your first year in college shouldn't matter. but it does.

I believe anyone on the board who did the same stupid thing you did in college, shouldn't be able to ask you about that stupid thing you did in college, but they can.

I think more matters now because 2,000 students a year are graduating from Florida law schools, and the "Bar" is being set higher.

I sit in these hearings month after month and while sometimes I feel the Board "gets" it, more and more I believe the hearings are aimless. Traffic tickets? Really? Underaged drinking where the student got a citation, never went to court, and forget about it? C'mon.

The issue is whether the applicant has the character and fitness to be a Member of the Florida Bar, not whether they are perfect, and not whether they can do well under the gun of a 30 year lawyer who knows how to cross examine a witness.

Things happen in people's lives that they are not proud of. The issue is whether they can own up to it and understand its impact.

Not everything someone did in their life that violates some moral compass or infraction that is almost a rite of passage in college is grounds to call into question their ability to practice law ethically.

Ok, I feel better.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twitter: Still The Worst Place To Find A (Real) Lawyer

My friend and fellow blogger Scott Greenfield revealed the conspiracy - that a few of us lawyers decided to take a break from the silliness of twitter.

Twitter, at its core, is a means of communication. To some, it is their career. To some, it is their life. Those obsessed with the fallacy that twitter is the key to building a successful career in any field are angered anytime anyone (like me) states anything to the contrary. It's not that they disagree, it's that the mere voicing of any disagreement with the notion that twitter or social media is the end-all-be-all, may actually cause people to agree. Those that have failed at substantive careers and opened up offices in Starbucks or their kitchen tables don't want word to spread that it's all a cruel, meaningless, irrelevant, joke.

When I first starting using twitter, I soon stopped. I didn't understand it. I was urged to try again, and given, for free, the best social media advice around - "just get on there and start talking to people."

So I did.

Then I got it. Twitter is a conversation, nothing more.

Twitter is also a great medium for former and failed and disbarred, and convicted lawyers to parade themselves as relevant to those desperate lawyers looking for the silver bullet of success. There are as many "Top 10" lists as there are hours in a day. There as those who had their fill of law, whether it was 10 years or 10 minutes, that are there to tell you how to do everything. There are plenty of desperate, broke, Starbucks dwelling lawyers, who are all too ready to believe that a lawyer who practiced "associate" law for 6 months has all the secrets to building business.

Few ask questions, many kiss the ass of those that have no specialized knowledge of the medium other than that they are "passionate" about it. The circle of those that think each other "awesome," or "change agents" or "gurus," or "rock stars," is a circle of the most irrelevant humans on the planet.

Then there is the notion that the use of social media must, must, have goals. Bullshit. Those that preach this are doing so because they can sell you those goals. Those who preach secrets of social media are shameless losers merely looking for that desperate consumer who will maybe write a check for some "guru" advice.

No lawyer will ever build a practice on twitter. Have I received referrals and cases "from" twitter? Sure. But it's not because I dimed out the latest fake lawyer claiming to be the Wizard of Oz, or because I mentioned the word "law" or "lawyer" or whatever. I received and receive referrals and cases from twitter because people take a closer look, because I actually have an office, and a practice, and clients, and cases.

The cart never comes before the horse - except on twitter. My rule is that anyone on twitter trying to get you to pay them for social media advice, is someone from whom to stay far away. There is a collection of these scam artists, these tweeters of everything shiny and techno and social media like, who claim to know something. They know nothing. They like social media, that's all.

Sure I'll be back on twitter. I enjoy the conversation. I've met some great people. I have developed relationships with lawyers and other people not because they are on twitter, but because who they really are.

My time off from twitter has given me a new perspective on the conversation going on there with those former(and even current)-lawyers-turned-social-media-idiots. Some of the conversation is nothing more than re-tweeting articles about social media, and re-tweeting articles about new shiny things and their sure domination over the world. Twitter still, is the worst place to find real lawyers, because the real lawyers are not interested in conversations about cell phones and their apps. Technology is a tool for lawyers, not the core of their existence.

The further I am from these shallow "lawyers," the more I am embarrassed by their existence in my profession. The more I wonder why anyone listens to them, except for the fact that they believe snake oil is the solution to their woes. Meaningless conversation is always important to get through a day. To some of these folks, it's the entirety of their conversation. To some, their day is based on meaningless conversation, attempts to get hired by lawyers, and making sure everyone knows that people love them. These "lawyers" will never accomplish anything important, except to have someone else tell them how awesome they are.

The lying continues, the demeaning of our profession continues, and the hope of desperate lawyers looking to retire off of twitter, continues. It's all very sad.

I look forward to jumping back in to the mix, and continuing to point out all the garbage that calls themselves "lawyers." To me, it's fun. To others, it's sadly, all they have.

Please RT.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, October 14, 2010

But Wait, There's More - The Millennial Law Student's Hook

My last post touched a nerve or two - writing about entitled law students who blame their law school for their woes. It's tough for a law student to admit that attending law school was solely for the cash at the end of the tunnel, and it's harder to admit that attendance was based on a sales pitch.

Hence, this comment:

What the scamblogs criticize the law schools for is falsifying employment data to fraudulently show that if you graduate from law school you are more likely than not to get a secure job for reasonable pay. If the Career Services Office publishes figures showing that 95% of their graduates were employed after graduation in order to convince people to pay tuition to go to their school, when they know that number is false, that is fraud. Why are you defending fraud?

If the Career Services Office publishes figures showing that 95% of their graduates were employed after graduation in order to convince people to pay tuition to go to their school, when they know that number is false, that is fraud.

Quite possibly, yes. It is fraud. But you, the law school applicant, are a fraud as well. You, the future lawyer that considers this statistic in determining whether to attend not only a certain law school, but law school at all.

The comment here, answers the question in the affirmative - that yes, there is a line of law school applicants that are hooked by the notion of almost guaranteed job offers upon displaying your degree. Today's law student (no, not all of them) wants to blame the law school for "roping" them in to 3 years of busting their ass. Three years of hard work with a false guarantee of a job.

What should really occur is a question on the law school application that says:

"Are you stupid enough to invest 3 years of your life in this school based on our sales pitch that you'll get a job? If 'yes,' please stop filling out this application and discard."

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Oprah Effect: It's Not Your Fault, It's The Law School

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports on one of my favorite topics - the entitled law student. (cue the angry commenters).

The article grabs me at hello: There's nothing like a scorned law school graduate with mounting debt and a niche in cyberspace to stir up a great debate about the merits of a legal education.

Like I said - "entitled."

Instead of law school grads looking at themselves and admitting that the only reason they went to law school was for the cash rainbow at the end, and not to actually be lawyers, they have decided that, surprise surprise, the law schools are to blame.

BAD Law schools - BAD.

My goal is to inform potential law school students and applicants of the ugly realities of attending law school," the author of the blog Third Tier Reality states. That includes few promising job prospects upon graduation unless a student attends one of the top eight law schools in the country, the author says.

Another blogger, The Jobless Juris Doctor, is more specific about his gamble and loss on attending law school for the guaranteed prize at the end:

Graduated from law school in 2009. Keep my diploma in the bathroom in case I run out of toilet paper.

The Tribune article analyzes this collection of blogs as a forum to send a message that law school is a "scam," and that law schools manipulate job placement and starting-salary figures to entice students to campus.

Apparently, the message is being heard:

Reading these blogs has made all of our expectations a little more realistic, said Danny O'Day, a second-year University of Connecticut law student from Westport.

And I've found the one law student who isn't entitled, although I know, I know, there's a ton out there.

O'Day said he and his classmates have no expectation of graduating into a legal industry job that pays six figures and allows for quick repayment of students loans.

Although the article says there are "dozens" of these blogs, written by whiners who wont admit that they only sought to be Members of the Bar and Officers of the Court, was because they heard 6-figures were as guaranteed as a cap and gown at graduation:

...they clearly aren't having much impact on law school enrollment. The number of law school applicants for the incoming 2010 class increased 3 percent nationally over last year, according to the Law School Admissions Council.

And the conspiracy theory gets more focused:

There are legions of underemployed document reviewers slaving away in unventilated basements so that morally bankrupt individuals [at law schools] can continue pulling down half a mil a year by scamming unsuspecting college graduates," the blogger states.

Yeah, now it all makes sense....

And here's my favorite part of the article:

Thirty people [working as legal temps] are absolutely miserable, but nobody has the courage to stand up and say anything," one blogger stated, noting that the air conditioner in the room was set uncomfortably low. "The market is so rotten, so-called professional attorneys are afraid of rocking the boat and being frozen out of low-rate $20 an hour temp gigs.

....nobody has the courage to stand up and say anything.

You should have stood up at the beginning of the law school process, when you held that application in your hand, and said something - like "why am I doing this?"

This guy has the right attitude:

I don't think in this economy that there's a reasonable expectation of anything," said Bryce Petruccelli, a 27-year-old first-year student at UConn. The world doesn't owe me a living, and I realize that," Petruccelli said. "You've got to do what you have to to get by, and I'm not afraid of doing that.

For a long time here I've been talking about this growing group of law school students and grads that have no concept of being a lawyer. They are there for the job at the end. They are there because they heard they could "make money as a lawyer." Lawyering is secondary. Representing clients, going to court, drafting pleadings is not in the mindset - it's all about the cash - and the entitlement.

So blame who you want. If you were stupid enough to go to law school because of the "lure," you're too stupid to be in this profession.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark