Some attorneys think they are unable to transition from Biglaw to opening a solo or small firm boutique because they lack the ability to generate business. They might think, “If I can’t generate business at my current firm, with all of its vast resources, goodwill, and prestige behind me, then how could I ever hope to generate business on my own?”
This kind of negative thinking is pernicious, and based on a number of fallacies….
The eight finalists in this year’s law firm holiday card contest were very well-received by our readers. In fact, more than a thousand votes were cast, and many firms took to Twitter and intra-office message boards in an attempt to rally last minute votes.
(FYI: We continue to receive submissions for this contest, despite the fact that the entry deadline was December 17, 2012. Please check back in with us next year; we’ve had enough holiday cheer.)
Some of these cards were clever, some were beautiful, and some were funny. All of them were excellent, deserving of recognition and praise for the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into them.
But in the end, there can only be one winner. Which firm was lucky enough to take home this year’s title?
First, because it’s required, Happy New Year. I don’t really care whether you had a nice holiday or New Year’s Eve, neither do the others that ask you and feign concern.
Now let’s move on to more important topics, like working for free.
We all do it. We all have the friend, the family member, the downtrodden college buddy out of work or just broke, or the person we owe a favor or for whom we want to do a favor because we just “feel bad,” or worse — we think something will come of it.
This week, a stat came out that there are 21,880 legal careers available for 44,000 law school graduates. I read it on the internet, so it must be true. If it is, it looks like there will be plenty of lawyers doing free work out of necessity, boredom, or as a marketing tactic.
For this discussion, actually, for most of the discussions here, I have to put in the “I know, moron” disclaimer. I know, moron, that there is no way to handle these situations with a bright line policy. For example, moron, I understand that pro bono work that you do to help the needy is not something for which you should consider charging a fee. But whenever someone writes anything on the internet, there is some moron out there who says, “But but but, what about the situation where… see, you’re wrong, you’re just wrong wrong wrong.”
So I will say this, most (he said “most”) of the time, doing work for free is a mistake….
For as far back as I can remember, the arrival of a new year has been an occasion for me to reflect on my life, where it has gone, and where it appears to be going. Many times I would spend New Year’s Eve simply being grateful; more recently, it has been an occasion to try to see a little furthur [sic].
This year, for the second consecutive year, our firm was approached by an Am Law 100 firm to explore the potential of our being acquired or otherwise merging. These overtures are flattering. They also intensify my annual ritual of considering my path and the choices I have made.
I have written before about some of the differences between Biglaw and small. My perception of those differences, however, has changed quite a bit in the nearly four years since I left Biglaw to help start a boutique firm. Our firm also has changed so much from one year to the next that my calculus of the pros and cons of Biglaw also has changed….
A decade ago, I sat in the midst of hundreds of lawyers at a firmwide partners meeting. The managing partner explained that most of our revenue came from our 25 largest clients, and we should focus on expanding those representations. He then noted the conflicts problems posed by tiny clients, for whom we did essentially no work. He urged us to get the tiny clients off the books. To illustrate his point, his PowerPoint slide showed the clients to whom we had sent the smallest bills in the previous year. The firm’s smallest client had been billed a total of $3.25.
The managing partner scoffed: “Three and a quarter? Three and a quarter? Can’t we at least be as selective as the neighborhood bar? Maybe we should set a $25 minimum.”
I’ve inhabited law firms both small (for five years) and large (for twenty). Business development efforts at those firms are similar in some respects — “get famous; make contact; get lucky; repeat” — but differ in other ways. I’m thinking today about the ways that business development efforts differ depending on whether you work at a big firm or a small one….
So it’s December 21, 2012, otherwise know as the day that the world is supposed to end, at least according to the Mayan calendar. Bars were playing that R.E.M. song on repeat last night, and people (myself included, since it’s my birthday, bitches!) were drinking like there was going to be no tomorrow. But, as it turns out, it’s today, so we all got that “end of the world” hangover for nothing. It sure was fun, though, so it was definitely worth it.
Anyway, I’m more than willing to bet that all of those doomsday preppers are pretty pissed off right about now. But in reality, they probably don’t even know that everything’s still the same because they’re down in their underground bunkers snacking on Spam and sardines, drinking powdered milk, and gently stroking their precious AK-47s while murmuring Bible passages to themselves like crazy people.
And as luck would have it, one of those end of days loons might be a lawyer….
The field of contenders in our fourth annual law firm holiday card contest was quite impressive. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.
Like last year, apparently reading comprehension isn’t a skill that many lawyers possess, as a few of you declined to follow rule #3 of our contest, limiting the entries to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But because it’s the holiday season, we won’t rag on you too much. Even if you can’t follow simple instructions, you’re still great.
But some of you were greater than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….
I cannot just write a post today without expressing that the depths of my heart go out to the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters who sent their little one to school Friday and are now preparing funerals. As the father of two girls, I, well, you know. I just cannot imagine.
On to less important things.
It’s already starting. The lists of the 10 things not to do in 2013, 20 things to do in 2013, seven ways to be happier, five things Google will do to kill your practice, what the future holds for the future, how every lawyer in the world will be loving MySpace again in 2013, and on and on and on. None of these people will tell you that they have no idea what they are talking about. They only live to tell you at the end of the year that they were right about one of their many silly predictions, the making of which has brought them nothing (e.g., “More lawyers are using (insert shiny toy here) and this I predicted, praise me.”).
I have no such list — no to dos or do not dos. No predictions. My only prediction is that your life probably won’t change much. I say set mediocre goals. Do not try to accomplish anything extravagant. You’ll just be disappointed.
So I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing in 2013. You can do or not do these things, I don’t care. Really, I don’t….
A correspondent recently posed this question: I’m a litigation partner at a big firm. If I go solo, will my corporate clients continue to use me for their smaller matters?
I’ll use this column to do two things. First, I’ll offer the customary answer to all legal questions: It depends.
Second, I’ll ask my in-house readers at large corporations to let me know (either by posting in the comments or sending an e-mail to the link in the shirttail below) whether their corporations use sole practitioners.
Will big corporate clients follow an individual lawyer who jumps ship and goes solo?
It was our new receptionist’s first day at our office. I was in our kitchen, and I found a potato wrapped in a paper towel. Because it was a raw potato far in the back of one of our unused kitchen drawers, I had no idea how long it had been there. Months, maybe. So I asked Cassidy, the new employee, “Is this your potato?”
Cassidy was slouched nearly horizontal in her chair. She looked at me with an expression of vague annoyance, and reached up to remove her iPod earbuds. She mumbled a response but didn’t really answer me. So I asked again, “Cassidy, I was just curious, is this your potato?”
I repeated my question for the third time and finally she replied, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
I tried a different approach. “Let me put it this way. Have you brought a potato into the office in the six hours you have been working here?”
Progress! “Well, then I think it’s safe to say that this is your potato. Mystery solved.”
The earbuds went back in and we let Cassidy go the next day. She called our office about a week later, asking to retrieve a pair of scissors and… you guessed it, her potato….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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