Ed. note: This is a new column from a person who didn’t just go from Biglaw to a smaller office, he went from big bad New York City to someplace where they care about the Big Ten network. It’s a different client roster and a different life.
As promised, the topic of this column is the difference in client service when you move to a smaller regional firm. First things first: I see from the comments on my last article that many of you are curious about the clients I represent here in Real America. Apparently it is very hard for some of you to believe that the types of clients that you have on the coasts also exist here in the Midwest. Believe it or not, we have banks! We have real estate investment trusts! We have life-science companies! We have parts manufacturers for any number of industries! We have mortgage servicers! We have large retailers with labor and HR issues!
And because these things exist, they need help from attorneys like us….
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on the growing new crop of online matchmaking services designed to help small and mid-sized business clients connect with qualified and affordably priced lawyers. The sites profiled include UpCounsel, which allows clients to bid projects, handles payments, and collects feedback (sort of like Elance for legal services); Priori Legal, which provides clients a list of pre-vetted attorneys with 5+ years of experience and negotiates discount rates; and IP SmartUp, which also charges discount rates for patent services.
From what I can tell, in the short term, these sites make money through various ethically permissible transaction fees (read: no referral fees, though some of the models tread dangerously close). My guess is that in the long run, these sites’ greater value will derive from big data gleaned from transactions that may shed insight on the factors that inform lawyer hiring (and in turn may hold value for lawyer marketing operations).
No doubt, from a small business perspective, these sites are golden. With their clean modern look and easy navigation, these platforms give prospective small business clients a far better user experience than any bar referral or local chamber of commerce site I’ve ever seen. Plus, many of the lawyers registered for the sites so far boast stellar credentials. And the price is right — the WSJ piece shares the experience of one happy user who procured legal services at a price of between $100 and $600 per project (though the average cost of a transaction on UpCounsel is around $1000, the story notes).
Over the holiday weekend, there’s been a lot of activity surrounding the racist law firm advertisement we wrote about on Wednesday. First, the firm’s Facebook page declared that the firm was the victim of hacking and that they absolutely did not sanction the ad for their firm posted on YouTube.
Then the head of the production company who posted the ad — and who employs the stereotypical character in multiple ads — wrote a missive swearing that it was hired by the firm and that they provided the script. The production company is also butthurt that Above the Law labeled the ad racist, even though the YouTube post openly trolls viewers to lighten up about its content. I wonder why they’d expect people to be up in arms over their content. Certainly not because they expect people to think it’s racist.
Now the law firm has sent us a direct statement, and this whole tale is super crazy…
It’s often noted that the United States is governed by the world’s oldest written constitution that is still in use. This is usually stated as praise, though most other products of the eighteenth century, like horse-borne travel and leech-based medical treatment, have been replaced by improved models.
– Jeffrey Toobin, writing in the New Yorker about whether the current dysfunction of the federal government might be due, at least in part, to the Constitution.
(Additional notable quotes from his interesting article, after the jump.)
Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? Did you at least catch the 60 Minutes promos during various awesome football games this weekend?
On last night’s program, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos declared that Amazon intends to send drones to your house to deliver packages. I’m pretty sure this is the only strategy that would be ultimately effective in Afghanistan. Instead of using drones to bomb people, if we were sending HD televisions, water, and vacuum cleaners, you’d see that region become much more amenable to America. At the very least, sending people things from the ATL holiday gift guide (sponsored) is better than sending them warheads.
But the thought of Amazon drones dropping consumerism on us from the sky should be pretty terrifying to Americans. How would that even work? I live in an apartment building… the humans often don’t know where to leave my packages. Watching Bezos, all I could think of was angry robots shooting copies of the Washington Post at me through my window while I read news on the internet.
Luckily, the Amazon plan is currently illegal. And it’s likely to stay completely unworkable…
They told me, if I could sit on the stage so nobody climbed over me, I could drink beer till the show was over.
– Gimme Shelter
Hells Angels are the Kleenex of biker gangs. Sure, there are the Mongols, the Outlaws, the Warlocks, the Diablos, the Cool Ranch Doritos. But all of those gangs take up relatively little space in the collective imagination. And one of those gangs isn’t even a gang. It’s a corn chip!
Anyway, the Angels’ ubiquity in popular culture means that when anyone anywhere thinks of roving gangs of motorcycle-riding degenerates, they think of the Angels. Hunter Thompson, Altamont, Sonny Barger and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test placed the gang at the forefront of that fashion trend known as the 60s. And as Atticus Finch quipped, “Even bellbottoms need a lawyer.”
So it was that the New York Times banged out an extra-long feature on the gang and their litigious ways over the long weekend.
That last sentence was the closest I could get the words “gang” and “bang” together. Let’s see if I have better luck later in this post….
At big law firms, a few folks engage in “training,” but very few bother with “coaching.”
That is: A partner may spend a few minutes training you how to write a brief or take a deposition. But, if you prove ineducable, the partner will promptly cut his (or her) losses: He won’t ask for your help anymore; he’ll pluck you out of his life. You won’t be fired; you’ll simply be forced to solicit work from other partners. You’ll never be “coached” about what you did wrong, except (maybe) at the end of the year, when some guy you never worked with evaluates you by reading aloud a comment that “one partner said you don’t write very good briefs.”
Corporations are different. Coaching is the name of the game: You can’t think? We’ll coach you!
* Should Justice Lori Douglas, she of the infamous porn pictures, step down from the bench? Well, she has 324,100 reasons to stay. [Toronto Star]
* And what about Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg — should they leave while the Democrats still control the White House and the Senate? [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* A legal challenge to gun control stumbles — on standing grounds. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Moral of the story: if you want to threaten opposing counsel, don’t do it over voicemail — unless you want to get censured. [ABA Journal]
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
* Dewey want more details about the lucrative contracts given to Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Most definitely! [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* An interesting peek inside the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The S.D.N.Y.’s boss is a big fan of the Boss. [New York Times]
* Now that the merger between US Airways and American Airlines has been approved, US Airways CEO Doug Parker offers a behind-the-scenes look at his company’s response to the government’s antitrust lawsuit. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
Justice Ginsburg: a full-service wedding provider.
Ed. note: We’ll return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, December 2. We hope to see you at our holiday happy hour on Thursday, December 5 — for details and to RSVP (to this free event with an open bar), click here.
Well, I’ll tell you what it purports to be. It purports to be an advertisement for a personal injury law firm. Therefore, you’d expect it to have a bunch of testimonials from downtrodden people whose suffering is slightly eased by the BIG CASH AWARD that the law firm helped them secure. Then we’d see a pair of attorneys sitting on a desk in front of a bunch of law reporters swearing that they “will fight for you” with all the inflection and passion that Stephen Hawking would give that line read. It’s a pretty simple formula. The ads are always terrible, but they’re safe. And if you’re going to take a risk, try to make an awesome ad like this one.
Or you could just hurl racist imagery at us with the production values of a public access program….
Ed. note: Happy Thanksgiving! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Monday, December 2. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.
* O.J. Simpson is going to be staying in prison longer. The search for the real killers suffers another setback. [Fox News]
* Sriracha-gate continues. A federal judge has ordered a partial shutdown of the plant. [Slate]
* Lawyers are destroying American society. Because the Romans also had a glut of law school grads when the Republic fell. Or something. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
* A federal government lawyer who mastered the stock market and lived a frugal life has given some $56 million to the University of Washington School of Law. Go ahead and hold your breath for that Washington tuition decrease. [Seattle Times]
* UNC professors are questioning the motives of a public records request targeting the new director of the law school poverty center. Which isn’t naked intimidation at all. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* A couple weeks ago Professors Alan Dershowitz and Sanford Levinson debated Professor Eugene Volokh and David Kopel. The former argued that the Second Amendment has outlived its usefulness. Based on minds changed, they won. The debate video is embedded past the jump… [Intelligence2 Debates]
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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