Advice

A few weeks into my new contract job, things got extremely busy. A few of the partners assigned additional work to me, and I see 12-hour days coming in the near future. And when I am done there, I have to go back home to work on my own client files. Unread letters and email are piling up on my desk, and it is getting harder to respond to phone calls quickly. I needed to do something to reduce the workload. And I sure as heck am not going to tell the partners that I’m too busy with my own work.

Over the weekend, as I was reviewing my notes and preparing billing statements to my clients, I decided that some of them had to go. Some were not paying their bills as agreed on the attorney-client contract and giving me all kinds of excuses. Others were slow in giving me information and documents that I needed. And others had malignant personalities that I couldn’t stand. Like most unestablished solo practitioners and small firms, I previously had no choice but to be flexible and exercise temperance in these situations. But now I am in a position to fire them.

After the jump, I will tell a story about a client I recently fired, the reasons why, and how I ended the relationship. I was worried because of the things he could possibly do to me: a bar complaint, a malpractice lawsuit, or a negative online review. But I felt particularly bad about this because he was one of my very first clients and one of my strongest cheerleaders….

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Last Friday, I was in my office when I noticed that my Dropbox tray icon said that I had 2,000 files left to sync. I thought that was weird because I didn’t remember adding thousands of files.

But, since I’ve never had any problems in the past with Dropbox, I didn’t think much of it… until later that evening, when I received the following email from Dropbox:

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In last week’s column, I discussed the importance of effective deposition defense, with a focus on the client-facing aspects of the process. Now it is time to focus on the true star of the show, the witness.

Yes, some witnesses will be important, perhaps even a senior executive at a client. Or a technical expert, on whose testimony your case rides. And other witnesses will be more tangential, like the IT guy you need to defend with respect to e-discovery issues.

Yes, I understand that every witness is critical, especially when it comes to e-discovery. Human nature, however, is to treat “important people,” like executives and experts, with an extra level of care. As a lawyer, the key is to treat every witness you are preparing for deposition with respecr — while remembering your role as an advocate, tasked with winning your client’s case. Effective defense of depositions goes a long way towards achieving favorable litigation results.

Here are some tips:

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Everything about 22 Reasons Why Going to Law School Is the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make is sublime. The article touches the face of God by slapping Him and then giving Him the finger. Imagine a defense of law school so bereft of substance that it actually exposes the cynical lie driving the law school-industrial complex. Truly a work of beauty.

Presumably trying to newsjack the success of How To Get Away With Murder (inaccurate though it may be), the venerable Huffington Post unleashed these 22 Reasons Why Going to Law School Is the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make upon the world. If we were trying, I’m pretty sure we can come up with 165K+ why it’s a bad one.

The story is written by Madison Rutherford, a senior in Journalism at San Francisco State. What does she know about the value of a law degree? Not much actually. And she’s graciously offered to show us how little she knows about law school in reader-friendly listicle format!

Join us then, as we review all 22 terrible reasons to go to law school….

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Here’s the rule: Make it perfect; then send it to me.

(Yeah, yeah: That’s a slight overstatement, and there might be occasional exceptions to the rule. But let’s explain the rule first, for the benefit of the slow students. We’ll teach the exceptions to the advanced students next semester.)

The old guy — the curmudgeon who’s heading up the team — has been playing this game for decades. He’s been marking up crappy drafts since before you were born. He’s been receiving bad drafts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday (“so that you can have the weekend to look at it”) since God was young. That crotchety old coot really, really, really is not interested in seeing more bad work. (Put yourself in his shoes for a minute: Why would he possibly want to see your appalling first draft?)

Make it perfect; then give it to him. Why should he bother looking at anything other than your best work?

That’s the rule. Here’s a corollary . . .

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Keith Lee

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the need to push back against work. To make time for your life outside of the daily grind. That it’s important to be more than your job, both for your job and yourself.

But you do need to work. And when it is time to work, you need to work well. No complications, no distractions, no interruptions. To solely focus on the task at hand and nothing else.

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Ed Sohn

“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey

You thought law school would be a good investment.  “Even if I don’t become a lawyer,” you proudly announced, “I will have many, many options.  A J.D., after all, is so valuable.”  When staring down a crushing mountain of student loans, you signed on the dotted line.  “Who can put a price on the doors a J.D. will open up for me?” If you knew this guy back then, you might have thought twice, but you didn’t.

Today, four, six, or ten years later, you spend late nights staring at your J.D. in its pristine frame, tears of rage streaming down your face.  “Where are MY DOORS??” you scream at it, sobbing into your sea of briefs or closing sets or brown liquor. Instead of doors, why are there enormous walls and sets of handcuffs (and not the good kind)? Why is it that you hate every job opening you might qualify for? I mean, you got your J.D., and you’re a grown-up lawyer who brilliantly catches typos.

I’m eight years out of law school and many of my classmates – including some of the gunnerest of gunners – are now in industries like legal technology, legal practice products, deal consulting, and law firm professional development. A director at a global fashion house in Latin America. A professional poker player. And my favorite: founding a service for renting gentlemen.

So how do you get from here to there?  How does a lawyer really stop being a practicing lawyer?

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Over the last few months, people have emailed me questions about my job search and for general advice. Unfortunately, I have not been able to answer all of them for various reasons. But now that my job search is on hold, I wanted to get back to everyone and possibly take this column into a new direction.

After the jump, I will answer some frequently asked questions about my future plans, and my difficulties in finding former solo practitioners willing to share their stories and impart their wisdom. I will also describe my plan to profile law firms that have hired underdog candidates with good results.

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Ricky Martin

Ed. note: Please welcome Susan Cartier Liebel of Solo Practice University, who will be writing for Above the Law about issues relevant to solo and small-firm practitioners.

I am a Gleek. I admit it. And never was I more Gleeky than the week Ricky Martin made his guest appearance on the show singing in Spanglish “I’m Sexy and I Know It” back in 2012.

But, that’s not really what this post is about. What it is about is what Ricky Martin’s character, the new Spanish teacher, said to his night students wanting to learn Spanish: “By 2030 more Americans will be speaking Spanish as their first language than English.”

I was a little surprised, too! That’s less than 18 years away from when the show aired in 2012. The stars then took turns singing songs in English and Spanish, the not-so-subtle message being we all need to hone our Spanish language skills….

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I had been planning to write an article on whether law firms should upgrade to Windows 8. That is, until last week, when Microsoft previewed their next operating system, Windows 10.

Not only did they announce it, they opened it up for a free preview version download. So I downloaded it, tested it, and took screenshots for you so I can walk through the pros and cons of upgrading to a new operating system.

The Windows 10 preview makes you go through a series of warnings where you acknowledge that you are going to be using an unstable, incomplete, buggy operating system. They do not recommend it for your main computer, just if you have an old laptop lying around.

So, Here’s Windows 10:

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