American Bar Association / ABA

Keith Lee

Earlier this week, Carolyn Elefant questioned the value of joining bar associations. Particularly their value in generating business for solo and small firm practitioners. Elefant found bar associations lacking in regards to business development, and generally seemed sour on participation in bar associations for smaller firms. Though she did note a few exceptions:

“I’m not suggesting that solos and smalls steer clear of bar membership entirely; after all, bar associations provide a myriad of practice benefits including substantive information on practice trends, affordable continuing legal education (CLE), and advice on starting and running a law practice.”

While I’m inclined to agree with Elefant regarding the operation of small firms most of the time, in this instance, I have to disagree….

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Conventional wisdom says that solos and smalls should join a bar association — either the American Bar Association, a state or local bar, or a practice-specific bar (such as an association of telecommunications or criminal defense or real estate lawyers) — as a way to generate clients. Here’s but one recent article that recommends pounding the pavement at bar events to find clients.

I disagree.

I’m not suggesting that solos and smalls steer clear of bar membership entirely; after all, bar associations provide a myriad of practice benefits, including substantive information on practice trends, affordable continuing legal education (CLE), and advice on starting and running a law practice. But if lawyers think that they’ll find business through bar membership, most are sure to be disappointed….

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I pity lawyers licensed in Virginia, or at other states that require CLE credit. When they go to a conference, they have to actually go to the conference.

For the rest of us, a conference – especially the ABA’s white-collar criminal defense conference – drops much of the pretense of being an educational experience. It’s an odd thing. One would think that the point of going to a conference would be to learn about the law. Yet, sometimes that’s not the move.

I spent some wonderful years in my 20s living in New Orleans. During Mardi Gras, social obligation would require that I attend certain parties before and then after a parade, but they often started really early in the morning and ended very late at night. The entire week before Fat Tuesday became something of a Bataan Death March of merriment, which, when you’re in the middle of it, is not quite so merry after all.

(Relatedly, there’s now a service in New Orleans that will give you an IV of fluids if you happen to have been making merry too much. Gotta love entrepreneurship.)

Aside from the poor schlubs who have to go to the conference to satisfy a state bar that they’re continuing to learn about their profession, laissez les bon temps rouler.

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* It’s apparently time to pay your fair share. Obama wants to close the pesky tax loophole that’s allowed rich professionals, like lawyers, to get away with being rich professionals for so long. [Legal Times]

* On this episode of As the Weil Turns, we take a look at the firm’s tumbling gross revenue, profits per partner, revenue per lawyer, and headcount. Don’t worry, Weil’s just “repositioning.” [Am Law Daily]

* The American Bar Association released the dirt on 1L enrollment declines at law schools nationwide, and some schools got totally massacred. Pray yours wasn’t one of them. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]hey’d probably make the school year longer and bring the cost up for each year.” We sure hope these pre-law students aren’t right about the dubious cost factor behind the two-year law degree. [The Hoya]

* Who owns the copyright to the Oscar selfie? Does it belong to Ellen DeGeneres, or Bradley Cooper? If you want to get technical about it (and you do, you’re a lawyer), check out this legal round-up. [The Wire]

* The DOJ lifted its three-year hiring freeze yesterday. There are thousands of jobs out there waiting for the perfect applicant. You know what that means: apply to EVERY SINGLE JOB and see what sticks. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Sorry, Apple, but it looks like you’re going to have to keep that pricey e-books antitrust monitor after all. The Second Circuit just nixed the company’s bid to ditch Michael Bromwich of Goodwin Procter. [Reuters]

* It looks like the ABA is going to move toward allowing paid externships for law students — because being paid to work is smarter than paying to work. Oh good, we’re glad someone finally realized that. [National Law Journal]

* Cleveland-Marshall’s solo practice incubator will be up and running in March. Ten lucky grads will pay rent to their law school to learn what they should’ve when they were still paying tuition. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

* If you think you’ve got it bad as a 3L here in America, think again. Canadian 3Ls in Ontario are looking at a 79 percent increase in articling and licensing fees, bringing the grand total to almost $5,000. [CBC News]

Wendy Davis

* According to the latest Citi report, the Am Law 50 outperformed the rest of their ilk in terms of net profits and profits per equity partner. As for the rest, ha ha ha, enjoy all of your “modest” returns. [Am Law Daily]

* The ABA’s Standards Review Committee is close to a decision on its bar-exam passage standard for accreditation. It’s tough to protect students and law schools at the same time. [National Law Journal]

* Oh my! Professors at Albany Law are incredibly pissed the school would dare imply they suggested lowering academic standards to put asses in seats and stave off faculty layoffs. [New York Law Journal]

* Wendy Davis has left her position at Cantey Hanger, one of Fort Worth’s largest law firms, to dedicate herself fully to her bid to become Texas’ Next Top Governor. You stand, girl! [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

* Yuna, a Malaysian pop star with a law degree who’s worked with artists like Pharrell, doesn’t think she’ll be able to fall back on her J.D. now that she’s in America. Funny, because many Americans feel exactly the same way. [Pittsburgh City Paper]

It’s tricky to be a lawyer these days.

You have to get clients. You have to know how to help them with their legal needs.

You have to know the law, and know how to work appropriately with other lawyers (the ones who have interests aligned with your clients, adverse to your clients, and in that funny other space where you aren’t really sure yet).

And, at some point in your career, you also have to figure out how to get someone to pay you for doing this work for your clients.

If you’re trying to build a white-collar practice, it can be daunting to figure out how to do these things. Happily, there are a few places that can help (with the knowing the law, helping clients with their legal needs, and knowing how to work with other lawyers problems – the getting clients and getting paid problems less so).

Perhaps you also have a strong pressing need to go out of town where you can have all the fun of both missing your family and increasing the chance that you’ll be attacked by bedbugs.

If so, you’re in luck! The white-collar world has not one, but two great conferences (and one of them is coming up soon).

My take on which are the must-attend conferences of the white-collar world is after the jump.

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* Opera singer who can’t sing without farting sues for $2.5 million. She should try blaming it on the phantom. [Gawker]

* Speaking of Gawker, Elie has an article up about last night’s Grammy ceremony over at our new outpost in Gawkerville, the ATL Redline. [ATL Redline]

* Amazingly, adding Elie’s perspective wasn’t the worse thing to happen to Gawker this week: Quentin Tarantino has decided to sue them for publishing copies of his latest script, The Hateful Eight. [Grantland]

* Everyone’s favorite Harvard Law transcript forger cum insider trading defendant, Matthew Martoma, just can’t catch a break — the government is trying to get a couple of key defense experts tossed. [The Expert Institute]

* Should bloggers out pseudonymous commenters? No, because… free speech? Whatever, bloggers aren’t the government. [Ramblings on Appeal]

* The ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks schools should cut costs and prepare students for legal careers. Welcome to the ATL Family! [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* It’s an old adage but it bears repeating: if you want to win a negotiation, be prepared to go to trial. [Katz Justice]

* An update on Stephen Glass, the plagiarizing fabricating (plagiarizing suggests it was at least true when the first person said it) journalist applying for admission to the California bar. Want to know what happened to his application? Click on….

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Kate Moss

* For the first time, a federal appeals court extended First Amendment protections reserved for trained journalists at traditional news entities to bloggers. Yippee, thanks Ninth Circuit! [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* If you want a Biglaw firm with a really generous 401(k) plan, look no further than Sullivan & Cromwell. It’s the most generous law firm plan in the country, with O’Melveny & Myers in second place. [BenefitsPro]

* A brain-dead patient in Texas is being used as an incubator because a state law requires hospitals to continue life support for pregnant women. Calling this the “cruelest pregnancy” is much too kind. [New York Times]

* Here are some depressing facts: not only are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than non-lawyers, but they also rank in fourth place in terms of suicides per profession. Call someone if you need help. [CNN]

* Florida A&M must be absolutely thrilled that the ABA canceled the school’s show-cause hearing. It appears that the law school will be able to keep its accreditation, for now. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* If you’re a parent considering going to law school with a young child at home, congrats, because you must be rich to be toying with an idea like that. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Playboy is suing Harper’s Bazaar for using its pictures of Kate Moss without permission. The men’s mag wants $150K per picture posted on the luxury mag’s website — that’s one lavish lapin. [Independent]

* A Supreme Court whose members are still afraid of using email will most likely have the final say on the NSA case, one of the biggest technology and privacy rulings in ages. Well, that’s comforting. [Talking Points Memo]

* Pittsburgh firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is reportedly in merger talks with Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. Boy, a merger between two firms from lackluster cities sure sounds promising. [Daily Business Review]

* Law professors are completely outraged by the ABA’s proposal to cut tenure from its law school accreditation requirements. Quick, somebody write a law review article no one will read about it! [National Law Journal]

* Struggling to find a topic for your law school personal statement? You should ask someone who knows next to nothing about you and your life for advice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Michael E. Schmidt, the lawyer killed in a police firefight, had some interesting things in his apartment, including a “green leafy substance,” a “white powdery substance,” and lots of pills. [Dallas Morning News]

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