Boutique Law Firms

We’ve received a number of email messages from readers today conveying some very sad news. In the words of one correspondent, “Texas lost one of its finest lawyers, as well as a great man and father, last night.”

On Tuesday night, prominent Texas lawyer Gregory Coleman — name partner at appellate boutique YetterColeman, former Solicitor General of Texas, and former partner at Weil Gotshal — was killed in a plane crash. Said a second source: “I think most folks in Texas would regard him as one of the best, if not the best, appellate lawyer in the state.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Greg Coleman, Leading Appellate Litigator and Former Texas Solicitor General, RIP”

Welcome to the second installment of Under the Shingle, an occasional round-up of news and musings from the world of small firms and solo practitioners. In other words, you get a break from me — mostly.

I’ve added a bit of play-by-play to explain and connect these links, which cover such topics as the intersection of solo firms and SCOTUS, solos going big, and the big bad ABA trying to put their laws on your solo body.

Solo to SCOTUS:
A 33-year-old solo on why he left his Biglaw office in favor of working out of a spare bedroom and having his mother as his paralegal: “I wanted to create my own reality.” Well, now his reality includes SCOTUS experience after being granted cert at the last second. Before any of you aspiring solos out there get too excited, know this: his reality also includes borrowing cash from his little brother and eating a lot of PB&Js.

More links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Under the Shingle: 11.15.2010″

In the good old days, an aspiring lawyer could just read the law under the tutelage of an existing member of the bar. Then, around the beginning of the twentieth century, the ABA and AALS teamed up to begin requiring that wannabe lawyers graduate from law school as a barrier to entry. This was, I presume, mostly a barrier to entry, which I also presume actually worked at some point.

Fast-forward about ninety years to 1992, when the ABA finally figured out that they’d created a mess, formed a task force, and issued a long-winded report, to which law schools responded by creating more “real world” credit options for students. Well, it’s almost 2011, and the process still isn’t working.

Newly minted lawyers are, for the most part, still woefully unprepared to actually practice law. Enter the recession, and now we have thousands of graduates a year, some of whom are attempting to simultaneously solve their unemployment issues and bridge the chasm between legal theory and legal practice by opening their own practices right out of law school.

As an aside, I was amused that one of the ABA articles I found mentioned Harvard’s efforts at reform as including the requirement that first-year students “take courses in legislation, international law, and problem solving in addition to more traditional classes.” Gee, thanks Harvard.

Well, say what you will about their ranking, but at least the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law is taking the problem seriously….

UPDATE: CUNY is also taking things seriously, i.e., incubating its graduates, and has been doing so since 2007 (thanks to one of my readers for the tip).
double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bridging the Gap: UMKC Law Opens a Solo and Small Firm Incubator”

To borrow a line from Sharon Nichols, I judge you when you have a poor website.

Like it or not, we live in a superficial world where your website is judged on a daily basis — and not just by me. Friends, colleagues, potential employees and most importantly potentially paying clients are all looking at you — watching, judging.

Of course, there’s the old adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but do you know why that’s an old adage? Because we all judge books by their cover, and by “book” I mean “your law firm.” But fear not, you of the static, monochromatic firm website that still lists now-departed associates. Your salvation lies in the hands of your beloved managing editor, David Lat — at least partially….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “50,000 Reasons to Consider Revamping Your Small Firm Website”

A recent study by economists at UC Berkeley gives employers a nice argument for keeping salaries a secret. Well, luckily for you, I’m not your employer. Therefore I have no qualms about sharing with you Part 2 of the results from our small-firm salary survey.

In your emails following Part 1, many of you asked that I take the practice experience element of the survey and show how it correlates to salary. Good point. I actually had that in mind from the start, but ended up pushing it into my Part 2 draft when I decided to split up the post.

But you don’t care; you just want the numbers. So, with the final caveat that I’m sure I’ll never be able to fully satiate your salary hunger, here’s the latest snack…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Small Firm Salary Survey: The Results (Part 2)”

Over 650 of you responded to last week’s salary survey. In poring over the results, I learned several lessons:

(1) Don’t make salary questions fill-in-the-blank. It creates a host of problems, including the inadvertent omitting/adding of zeroes, and makes data compilation and analysis unnecessarily difficult.

(2) Do include open-ended “anything else” questions; people write all sorts of amusing things given the chance.

(3) Don’t misspell “where” on question number seven.

So, let’s get to the $64,000 question: How much money are small firm lawyers making?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Small Firm Salary Survey: The Results (Part 1)”

Biglaw salaries are no secret. You can find numbers all over the internet, including places like oh, I don’t know, Above the Law (not just the home page, but also the Career Center).

But what about information for everyone else? You already know what I made during my time at a small firm, but that doesn’t really help unless you’re looking for a job at my old firm (surprise, they’re not hiring).

Those looking to smaller firm options need information — law students especially. The OCI music has stopped, and there are plenty of people left standing. The good news is that there are other places to sit down. The bad news is that nobody can tell whether sitting in those seats will earn them enough to keep their creditors at bay.

With that and a general interest in the dissemination of information in mind, please take this short survey, so I can begin compiling some hard numbers on small firm salaries. As always, survey responses are kept completely confidential. I’ll sort, analyze and package the results in some kind of eye-pleasing manner.

Please click HERE to take the SURVEY. And please pass the survey along to any of your friends at small firms; the more responses I get, the more accurate and reliable the findings will be.

If you’d like to offer any other salary-related information or clever commentary, or have tips or story suggestions, please email me at Little Richard at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of small law firms

John Bisnar and Brian Chase, of Bisnar Chase


We first mentioned this lawsuit, which was filed back in August, last month (second item). But so many of you have emailed us this AOL news story that we’ve decided to provide more detailed coverage.

It’s a lawyer versus lawyer lawsuit, usually the ugliest kind of litigation. But the allegations made here are perhaps more bizarre than ugly.

If you can handle claims of naked men engaging in hand-to-weiner contact, while sitting on tree stumps and passing around a wooden dildo — I think glass is more classy, but to each his own — then keep reading….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Pass the Wooden Dildo, Please”

Managing expectations is a very important skill — when it comes to personal relationships, movie enjoyment, and, of course, dealing with your co-workers and clients.

You need to know how to set boundaries. After you’ve pulled two all-nighters in a row, for example, it’s okay to tell the partner you work for that you just can’t do a third. If you give an inch, your colleague or client will take the proverbial mile.

But has one South Carolina law firm taken boundary-setting too far? Check out the Client Expectations section of the Pincus Family Law website (via Jim Calloway, via ABA Journal):

We do not work on the weekends and do not provide emergency numbers for the weekends. There are times we may look at and answer your email over the weekend, but this is generally the exception and not to be relied upon by you that we are accessible on weekends.

And they don’t do windows, either.

Do not think we are perfect. We make mistakes. We are competent attorneys and paralegals, but we make mistakes. We will correct a mistake if we find it or if you point it out. Please do not yell at us, accuse us of not doing our job, or insult us over a mistake.

And please do not sue us for malpractice. We warned you at the outset that “[w]e make mistakes.”

And that’s not all….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm to Clients: We Don’t Work Weekends”

Glenn C. Lewis: he's a billable-hour machine.

A few days ago, the Washington Post reported on the legal misadventures of prominent D.C. attorney Glenn Lewis (no relation to the Canadian R&B singer, as far as we know). According to the Post, “Glenn C. Lewis is an acknowledged titan of the D.C. area divorce bar, a former president of the Virginia Bar Association who boasts that he is the most expensive lawyer in the region: $850 an hour. He has an impressive office in the District and an array of high-profile clients.”

One would expect a lawyer of Lewis’s stature and success to have impeccable judgment. But it appears that recently he made a serious misjudgment. He decided to sue a former client for an extra $500,000 in fees and interest, after having already received some $378,000 from that client.

Unfortunately for Glenn Lewis, that client was a lawyer — and decided to strike back. By the end of the whole episode, Lewis ending up owing his former client money — an amount in the six figures….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Suing a Client for Nonpayment of Fees — and Ending Up Owing the Client Money”

Page 24 of 331...202122232425262728...33