Yesterday, we posted about a non-lawyer, Bert J. Van der Werff, who was offering answers to legal questions for five dollars.
With a rapidity that would make the American Bar Association proud, commenters seized upon this hapless student’s ethical violation, and put the fear of God into him. Van der Werff reports that he received numerous emails from Above the Law readers, explaining that him that he was putting his entire career at risk.
It doesn’t matter if you hold yourself out as a lawyer. Providing legal advice for money constitutes the unauthorized practice of law, assuming you aren’t a licensed attorney at the time. By the way, I’ll answer any and all questions, legal or otherwise, for $1B each.
Today, Craigslist brings us the latest example of a (soon-to-be) lawyer trying to make it work in this difficult economy. Here’s the ad:
I am an experienced law student willing to answer your legal questions. The fee is $5 per question. To take advantage of this offer email your question to [Redacted]. You will then get a response with your answer. Must pay through PAYPAL ACCOUNT. ALL EMAILs must include the following information:
NAME ADDRESS TELEPHONE NUMBER CITY/STATE YOUR QUESTION
Now, it’s been a while since I took the MPRE, and I was all kinds of hung-over when I passed it. But isn’t there some kind of — I don’t know, rule — about giving legal advice when you are not a lawyer?
Seriously though, he doesn’t “hold himself out to be a lawyer,” so maybe that helps?
Either way, Bert J. van der Werff is just a guy trying to make some money during rough times. We speak with the student after the jump.
We’ve seen a lot of interesting law firm websites in our time, but the MySpace page for the “Law Office of Mark Meisinger” is in a class of its own [hat tip to The Young Texas Lawyer]. The Law Office is “single,” and interested in “Networking, Dating, Serious Relationships, Friends.” Appropriately, the current mood for the Dallas-based Law Office is “adventurous:”
According to the “About Me” section, “representing those who mess with Texas” means taking on clients charged with DWIs, drug possession, probation violations, and traffic offenses. Other important bits about “The Law Office of Mark Meisinger:” it used to be a juvenile delinquent, it was a member of Phi Delta Theta, it has worked “with all kinds of different government agencies, and it “interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District Of Nebraska and prosecuted several federal cases.”
When we first came across it, we doubted that the MySpace page would effectively attract prospective clients, but Meisinger is quoted in a post on Criminal Defense Lawyer saying that it does:
“The people I’m going after [as clients] are on MySpace,” says Meisinger, who graduated from Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Neb., in 2004, and office shares at Gioffreddi & Associates in Dallas. “A whole bunch of people who party, who drink, whatever, those are the people on there who want to be my [MySpace] friend… I have gotten cases off there [MySpace]; there’s no doubt. One month, I got four DWIs off of there. It’s way more than the phone book’s doing for me.”
So… the screw-ups on MySpace are the clientele he’s targeting. Nice. He also friends hotties, judging from the posts on his wall:
Chicago firm Freeborn and Peters has upped the stakes in the crazy, fun website competition. Their career site promises associates the opportunity to “thrive in an open, supportive, collegial culture.” A series of recruitment videos have firm attorneys and partners in starring roles and are a testament to the firm’s unorthodox culture. Check them out here– they are long, but worth it.
Our favorite video is “Attorney Lunch,” featuring attorneys snoozing, taking shots of coffee, and whistling while they march, as well as an evil partner who misdirects said attorneys to an e-discovery seminar instead of a “weekly gathering of attorneys with free food and drink.” We are left wondering though why Freeborn attorneys have such paralegalish days: making photocopies and re-stacking boxes of document production.
Another video, “Bags,” ends with the exhortation: “Work Hard. Play Hard.”
Our tipster came across the videos while job hunting, and captured our reaction well:
I’m still not entirely sure what I think of them as a recruiting tool. On the one hand, they’re completely hilarious, especially for a law firm, and I thought it made the firm look like a fun place to work. On the other hand, I could see how a lot of people would think the videos portrayed the associates as unprofessional (doodling and bored while on the phone with someone, looking unprepared while taking a deposition, etc.). So I think it completely depends on how you think they struck the balance between good humor and professionalism. I’m sort of amazed that the firm put the videos up on its website at all, but ultimately I think it was a good thing they buried the videos on the associate recruiting page where potential clients most likely wouldn’t look!
The videos are funny, but Freeborn, a 120-attorney firm specializing in bankruptcy, real estate, and regulatory law, is definitely taking a risk with them. What do you think? Do they work?
Well, another experimental law firm website has crossed our desk, er, computer screen. It belongs to James Hugh Potts II’s Atlanta-based firm: JHPII.com. The firm “helps people with catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.” It is interactive, and involves a desk, post-it notes, a napkin with a coffee stain, ancient Tibetan proverbs, pro se-esque bios in “About Us”, and childhood photos of the attorneys with their bios.
We echo the sentiments of our tipster:
If you want a laugh. I think it’s real.
Screenshot below. Check out the interactive version here. What do you think?
It’s like a touchy-feely hybrid of Myst and The Office. We kind of love it.
You’d think Skadden attorneys would have better things to bill Citigroup for than running around after small-time advertisers. But, then again, there are an awful lot of Skadden attorneys.
Citi-Mobile is an advertising company that utilizes trucks as mobile billboards. Citigroup is a large commercial bank that is trying to ride out the current economic downturn. Skadden wants you to know the difference:
The much bigger Citi, which Skadden rather optimistically describes in court docs as “one of the largest and most renowned” banks in the world, is a little bit concerned that the public will think the financial giant decided to buy a bunch of trucks, paint them crazy colors, and make money by marketing roast beef subs and cameras to innocent pedestrians. So they’re asking a court to prohibit Citi-Mobile (and its parent company Citi-Advertising) from using the hallowed “Citi” name.
For those playing along at home, that means Citi wants no part of a mildly annoying advertising campaign, yet they are willing to pay $20M/year for 20 years to lord their name over the New York Mets? How long before Skadden sues Mets owner Fred Wilpon for non-performance based on the theory that Citi contracted to name a “baseball field,” instead of a cute park where little boys go to choke themselves to death?
Wachtell may be the most prestigious firm out there (according to Vault), but it has the industry’s worst Web site, as rated by Jonathan Thrope of the American Lawyer. We’re not completely sure we trust his judgment though, since he was “sucked in” by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice’s animated dog. We waited for it to do something cool, but it just stretched and yawned.
According to Thrope, law firms are getting more serious about online marketing and using Web sites to create a distinctive brand. In general, law firm sites strike us as fairly dry. And boring. There are a few exceptions, like the Van Winkle Law Firm’s split personality bio page. North Carolina-based Van Winkle adds a personal touch to its site with dual bios (and photos) for many of its attorneys: one with professional highlights, and another focused on hobbies and life outside of work.
Other firms experiment with offbeat advertising, but seem to be using it to recruit attorneys, not clients. Like Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle’s creation of a Facebook page, and Stoel Rives’ free-style running promo on YouTube.
Of the assortment of staid sites in the AmLaw 100, five made Thrope’s cut for the worst. Check them out after the jump.
Are you tired of big firm life — doc review, due diligence, 9 p.m. dinners at your desk? Do you still hope that you can enjoy practicing law in a law firm setting? This week’s Job of the Week may be the answer for you.
As always, the Job of the Week is brought to you by Lateral Link. As we’ve mentioned before, Lateral Link is still growing, having just added a Columbia Law School alum to its Philadelphia team and an NYU Law School alum to its New York team. For more information about Lateral Link’s team of personal search consultants, or to learn about joining the team, click here. Position: Corporate Associate Location: New York Description: This firm is one of the more selective New York boutiques, with approximately 50 attorneys, most of whom have lateraled in from top-20 law firms. The attorneys focus on sophisticated litigation, corporate, and bankruptcy work, and their major clients include Clear Channel, Amazon.com, Columbia University, and Lazard Freres. The firm pays New York market salary and offers its associates immediate, hands-on responsibility, as well as a reputation for very reasonable hours and a truly collegial working environment. The quality and depth of their legal team distinguishes them from other firms of their size and allows them to compete effectively against the larger top-tier firms. This position qualifies for the Lateral Link $10,000 guaranteed signing bonus.
For more information about this position or to apply, please see Position 9673 on Lateral Link. Current members can also contact their personal search consultant directly to discuss this position. Membership in Lateral Link is free and you can apply at www.laterallink.com.
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.