Small Law Firms

Tom Wallerstein

Smaller firms which compete with their Biglaw brethren on cost often promote their efficiency and lower overhead. Understandably, these firms impliedly or expressly try to associate lower overhead with lower fees for their clients. Smaller firms have been so successful with this approach that overhead often seems to connote waste and inefficiency. But overhead is sometimes a necessary evil, and it behooves small firm entrepreneurs to remember the “necessary” aspect as well.

For example, forsaking a physical office in favor of a virtual shop obviously lowers a firm’s overhead and allows the firm to offer lower fees. But many people, including me, have written about the several benefits of having a physical office. I pointed to benefits such as credibility with clients and other lawyers, and helping yourself stay motivated and focused. This is an easy example of how lower overhead may impose a hidden cost on the business.

Of course, the biggest overhead expense for most law firms is payroll. Limiting the number of employees is the surest way to keep expenses under control. But is it always the right move?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Overhead and Under Control”

About a month ago, we wrote about an interesting lawsuit that Twitter filed against the allegedly “most aggressive” Twitter spammers. The social media giant took action against companies with goofy names, such as TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy.

At least one of the defendants, Skootle, the company that developed TweetAdder, is fighting back against Twitter’s allegations. The company filed a response brief on Friday and is represented by none other than one of Above the Law’s own regular columnists.

Keep reading to see Skootle’s brief and learn which ATL columnist is helming the defense…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alleged Spammers Respond to Twitter Lawsuit: We Are Not the Spammers You’re Looking For”

Spirit Airlines is a cheap airline. They advertise a “$9 fare club.” They advertise a lot. Their goal appears to be to let everyone know, to create the reputation, that they are the low cost alternative to other airlines – just like you want everyone to know you are the “aggressive” alternative to all other “aggressive” lawyers out there that will “fight” for their clients (free consultations and payment plans available of course as well.). In fact, when you Google “Spirit Airlines,” you get this:

“Spirit Airlines – cheap tickets, cheap flights, discount airfare, cheap … ”

I’ve never flown Spirit, and I don’t know if anyone has actually flown anywhere for $9, but I do know that I’ve never heard anything good about this airline. They call themselves “cheap,” while others say they’re “bad.” They do make a ton of money, which should bring a smile to the growing number of cheap and bad lawyers out there….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Creating A ‘Brand,’ While Others Create Your Reputation”

Maybe a young Brando can play DeMayo in the movie.

Earlier this week, we shared an epic departure memo from the former marketing director at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo LLP. In the memo, the woman (whom we nicknamed “Peggy Olson”) blasted her boss: “Of all the THOUSANDS of people I have met over the past 38 years, you are by far the most egotistical, self-absorbed, delusional, disrespectful and narcissistic person I have ever met.”

Well, it turns out that Michael A. DeMayo has some defenders in the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Or, at least one defender. Or maybe he’s defending himself?

Who knows. All we can tell you is that we received a fax (yes, not only do some people still use fax machines, but apparently Above the Law actually has one that we keep right next to our beepers and mercury-infused health drinks). It’s a full-throated defense of Michael DeMayo, replete with allegations that Peggy is going through a difficult situation that precipitated her departure memo meltdown.

Fun times….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Epic Departure Memo Follow-Up: A Five-Page Fax Says The Boss Is A Great Guy”

Reema Bajaj: lawyer accused of prostitution

Let’s take a break from the sad and serious story of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s downfall and turn (or return) our attention to another kind of going down. In more salacious, racy fare, we bring you updates about female legal eagles who have flown high in these pages before — and now might find themselves crashing earthward.

The first is Reema N. Bajaj, a beautiful young Illinois lawyer who has been accused — perhaps unfairly — of prostitution charges. The second is Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas, a Canadian judge whose nude photos made their way to the internets.

So what’s the latest news about Bajaj and Douglas? Here’s a hint: What does each share in common with Bill Clinton?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Allegedly Lusty Legal Ladies: Updates on Reema Bajaj and Madam Justice Lori Douglas”

Tom Wallerstein

Once upon a time there lived a fisherman named Jay Dee. Every day Jay went to Lake Beeglaw to fish. Lake Beeglaw was the biggest lake in the entire country, and it was home to the biggest fish. Just one fish from Lake Beeglaw could feed a family for weeks. Consequently, Lake Beeglaw was the most popular fishing lake in the country.

But fishing at Lake Beeglaw was hard for Jay. Because the lake was so popular, Jay had a very difficult time even finding a place to cast his line. Jay had only a small canoe, and the bigger and more established fisherman all had big commercial boats. Whereas Jay used a simple fishing reel, many of the other fishermen used nets. Jay sometimes went weeks without receiving a bite, much less catching a fish.

One day, Jay decided to leave Lake Beeglaw and find another, less crowded lake…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Go Fish”

It is rather fitting that the day America gets one step closer to finding out who will become The Voice, we get one step closer to understanding the male/female dynamic at small law firms. Well, at least we get to see the results of what over 200 small-firm attorneys have to say about what happens at their firms. Last week, I asked you to take a survey, now I’ve got some results.

Some of the results I would have predicted, but some results were surprising.

As most of you may have noticed from the tone of the survey, I assumed (based on personal experience that turns out to be the exception, not the rule) that there were very few small-firm female partners, the ones who were partners worked full-time and had delegated child-rearing to someone else. To my surprise, the survey suggests that the majority of small firms have female partners (63.6%). And, the women are adequately represented (22% of those surveyed work at firms where females make up 25% of the partners).

Let’s unpack some more numbers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: The Results Show”

Here at Above the Law, we love a good departure memo. Usually, the best ones are written by disgruntled lawyers (whether partners or associates).

But today we’ve got an amazing departure memo, currently making the rounds by email in certain legal circles. This farewell message was reportedly written by the (former) marketing director for the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo LLP, located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s great. The former marketer knows where all the bodies are buried (bodies = hilarious email threads). And she’s in marketing, so she’s good with words.

Really, anytime you can make your boss look like the Material Lawyer when he’s trying to get tickets to a Madonna concert, you’ve found a way to express yourself on your way out the door…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer Who Lusted After Madonna Tickets Gets Slammed In Employee’s Epic Departure Memo”

Friday night, I attended the first ever Innocence Project of Florida dinner. I was invited by a close, personal Twitter follower board member, and upon acceptance, asked by someone in one of my Google+ circles the Incoming Chair of the Innocence of Project of Florida to turn over a fairly large amount of cash to be a co-sponsor. Apparently, while Holland & Knight was receiving an award for their thousands of hours helping to free the wrongfully convicted, money for the dinner wasn’t pouring in from the establishment. Maybe next year.

As lawyer-type dinners go, it was a little different — poor lawyers representing alleged violent criminals mixed with Biglaw lawyers who spent the last decade doing the same, as well as three dozen judges, the elected state attorney, the appointed United States Attorney, and a slew of law students. Also in the crowd were a half-dozen exonerees. The exonerees included James Bain, who served more time than any other exoneree — 35 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He went to jail when I was four years old, and got out as I was planning a trip for my 40th birthday.

The night had its share of speeches and awards. One of the awards went to lawyer Marty McClain, whose client, Juan Melendez, was there among the suits wearing a t-shirt. Juan spent 17 years, eight months, and one day on death row before being exonerated. Marty’s other client, Frank Lee Smith, couldn’t make it because he died of cancer on death row before being exonerated. At his table was Marty’s high school buddy, actor Tony Shalhoub, who looked like a stalking fan taking pictures on his phone when his lawyer-friend was honored for being poor and a hero. While people were asking Shalhoub for pictures and autographs, he was busy being enamored with Marty….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Finding Meaning”

Tom Wallerstein

I was shocked to discover that “[a]ccording to the Lawyer Statistical Report, only 14% of attorneys are employed in large law firms of more than 100 lawyers. The large majority of attorneys (63%) and law firm employees work in small offices of ten attorneys or less.”

I have no idea if those numbers are accurate. But the reason I was shocked is because the report should have said, “ten attorneys or fewer.” “Fewer” is proper when referring to countable items other than time, money or distance. “Less” is proper when referring to things that generally are not counted.

OK, maybe “shocked” is too strong a word, but I do cringe every time I’m in the grocery store confronting the grammatically incorrect express lane of “10 items or less” instead of the proper “ten items or fewer.” Conversely, I always enjoy reading ATL’s “Grammer Pole of the Weak” column that explores some technical grammar debate. I usually have an opinion no matter how arcane the question.

I can trace my own fascination with words to the first time I read George Orwell’s novel 1984 [affiliate link]. Before it became an Apple commercial, the book was a moving exploration of the vast power of language and the relationship between words and ideas. The hero of the novel was employed to edit books and newspapers and remove words that had been banned. The political and social role of “Newspeak,” the state-imposed language, was a central theme.

My fascination with words continued in college where I studied speech. With oration, at its best, your words could glow with the gold of sunshine. At its worst, your tongue is twisted with words half spoken. But I majored in philosophy, and especially the philosophy of language. Law, with its supposed emphasis on logic, language and speech, seemed a natural fit for me.

After all, as lawyers, words are our stock and trade. What is an argument but a collection of ideas, expressed in words, intended to persuade?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Grammar Police”

Page 45 of 801...414243444546474849...80