As has been discussed ad nauseam, it’s a tough time to be a lawyer right now. The legal industry is in a rut and the economy continues to limp along. With the flood of lawyers that have been forced to hang their shingle over the past few years, there has been increased competition for clients. This has led to some fairly cutthroat competition in the world of attorney advertising.
Many types of practice don’t advertise. Or rather, their advertising is of the tried-and-true “display expertise” variety. Write articles for your bar association magazine, speak at clients’ industry events, join boards and committees. Not so much talking about yourself, but showing that you are active and engaged in the legal industry. Let your reputation speak for itself; let others talk about you. Develop a reputation, not a brand.
But building a reputation is hard. Developing a brand is expensive. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just mooch off of someone else’s hard work or money? Such was the proposition to New York attorney (and occasional ATL writer) Eric Turkewitz this past week…
Ever wonder what that kid from the Sixth Sense would have been when he grew up? Seeing dead people could really get in the way of most careers. It turns out we have the perfect career for him: lawyer. It’s probably time for a sequel.
Because there’s a guy out there right now using his J.D. to be a psychic. I guess more technically, the subject of this story is a medium, meaning he does less predicting the future (convenient) and more communicating with the spirits of the departed. Or taking advantage of a bunch of vulnerable and bereaved people with easily understood cold reading techniques. But who am I to crash the party with science?
Billing himself as The Psychic Lawyer®, he supplements his career as “a successful attorney and certified mediator, licensed to practice law in Florida, Washington D.C., and before the United States Supreme Court” by telling people what they want to hear the spirits of their loved ones have to say.
Being a medium is one thing. But why advertise that you’re also a lawyer? Aren’t you just tanking your credibility in both fields?
I knew a defense lawyer whose online bio said that he had “spent more than a year of his life in trial.” But I also knew the facts: He had tried precisely one case in his life; it lasted more than a year; at the end of the year, the jury awarded more than the plaintiff demanded in closing argument.
Despite having spent “more than a year of his life in trial,” I’m not certain he was a proven trial lawyer.
Google the words “consummate trial lawyer” or “quintessential trial lawyer” or the like. (The actual bio may use a synonym to those superlatives; I’m concealing my victim here.) One bio will pop up from a guy who has, in fact, tried a few cases. But he lost them all. He hasn’t secured a defense verdict at a jury trial since the early 1980′s. (He did manage to reverse on appeal several of his trial-level defeats, but I’m not sure that’s too comforting to someone who’s looking to retain trial counsel.)
These examples, of course, come from the guys who are being honest: The words contained in their bios are technically true. I’m not even talking about the folks who brazenly lie.
Given the skepticism that puffery breeds, how can you write an online bio that actually persuades a reader?
There has been a ridiculous rise of people claiming to be some sort of expert or professional or guru in social media in the past few years. How many? Try this on for size.
So in the three years, the number of social media experts multiplied by 11 times. Either there has been legitimate, explosive growth in the need for social media marketers, or perhaps (just maybe) people are promoting BS and blabber. These people are hoping, desperately, that someone will buy into their BS for long enough to pay them for it.
Unfortunately, lawyers are often some of the people who buy into it. You would think lawyers would know better — logical reasoning, analytical thinking, problem solving, etc. Nope. Lawyers seem to fall prey to these people as often, if not more so, as every other business….
Yesterday, one of America’s most famous lawyers died. The repulsive apotheosis of homophobia, Fred Phelps, slithered off his mortal coil surrounded by the physical sensation of hatred and utterly alone… if his own brand of brimstone karmic retribution carries with it even a shred of truth. At any rate, old Fred was a lawyer back in his day. Back in the 70s, he was disbarred for calling a witness a “slut.” Sex is difficult and bewildering for some people.
As a youngster growing up in Kansas, I was familiar with Freddy’s wacky brand of hatred. I think I first encountered him protesting a Pat Robertson speech when I was in high school. Très dada, the 16-year-old me whispered to no one in particular. And so it was that I began to notice Fred Phelps, long before his military funeral protests and his national fame. In college at the University of Kansas, I encountered dozens of his protests. To a homophobe like Fred, Lawrence, Kansas, was Sodom itself. A den of iniquity quite pleased with itself, thank you. And so it was jarring when we all noticed Fred’s choice of attire to keep himself warm during those gross, cretinous, mid-January protests. A KU jacket.
With March Madness upon us and basketball open on another tab of the browser I’m typing on, I say unto you… Rock chalk Jayhawk, let’s talk sports…
We have a whole contest here at Above the Law in which law students sing, dance, and show off the talents they’re murdering to become lawyers. We’ve seen other lawyers who balance practicing law and making music, such as Anthony McNamer, or who leave the law to pursue music full-time, such as Weil Gotshal associate turned rapper Mekka Don (who just released his debut album).
But there are very few lawyers use their musical talents to promote their legal careers, like the attorney we’re about to discuss. He’s also footnoted his lyrics, so you can tie some of his hard, gangsta action to specific Federal Circuit cases. Which is a sentence that would have made Tupac roll over in his grave… if he were really dead. Don’t tell me a dead guy is still releasing a hit every couple of years….
Just a day after genius legal impresario and sledgehammer enthusiast Jamie Casino reportedly landed a new reality show called Casino’s Law, a new lawyer has entered the hallowed halls of epic advertising.
The quote in the title is not paraphrasing. It is absolutely a line from the three minutes and 27 seconds of awesomeness that is this ad.
* Elizabeth Wurtzel: “I am a lawyer. The first rule of law: All the promises will be broken. Attorneys could not be in business if people did not fail to do what they agreed to do all the time — and lawyers are very busy.” [Nerve.com]
* Laura Ingraham clerked for SCOTUS, so presumably she knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens — right? [Media Matters]
* Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, known for zerotolerance of prosecutorial misconduct, has written the foreword to a new book on the subject. [Facebook]
* In addition to the one we mentioned yesterday, here’s another petition for the Obama Administration that’s aimed at addressing the student debt crisis. [WhiteHouse.gov]
Ms. JD is hosting their 2nd annual cocktail benefit to raise money for the Global Education Fund. The event will be held on August 21, 2014 at 111 Minna in San Francisco. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to fund the legal educations of four dedicated law students in Uganda who count on our support to continue their studies at Makerere University during the 2014-15 academic year.
The Global Education Fund enable womens in developing countries to pursue legal educations who otherwise would not have access to further education. According to the World Bank, investment in education for girls has one of the highest rates of return to promote development. In Uganda, more than 45% of women over the age of 25 have no schooling at all, and men are more than twice as likely as women to have access to higher education. Together, we can work to end educational inequality. For more information about the program, please visit http://ms-jd.org/programs/global-education-fund/
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.