Boutique Law Firms

Tom Wallerstein

I’ve heard that a hungry dog hunts best. I don’t know if that’s actually true because my pugs were always hungry, and yet they could not have caught a three-legged turtle. But the saying makes sense, and I do know that staying hungry — but not desperate — is an important concept for law firms.

One way a young firm should stay hungry is to always search for new business. There are good reasons that I constantly harp on the importance of business development. Even if you are fortunate enough to be busy, you never know when your current workload may dry up. This is particularly true in litigation because any case can always settle or otherwise resolve unexpectedly. No matter how busy you are, you should constantly seek out new work and new clients.

But seeking out new work comes at a potential cost to your current cases and clients. You can’t be so desperate to grow that you spend so much time on business development that you ignore your current clients or let your current caseload suffer. Some lawyers take a churn and burn approach, trying to maximize their short-term return from every engagement, with no concern for the longer-term client relationship. To form a practice that’s built to last, you need to work hard to maintain those relationships, and that means you can’t neglect your current clients while constantly fishing for newer ones….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Stay Hungry, Not Desperate”

If you want to show off guns to your summer associates, just take them to a firing range.

Our latest summer associate story — involving a gun, too much wine, the managing partner’s boyfriend, and the summer associate who slapped him — is turning into the Biglaw version of Rashomon. We’ve heard so many different versions of the tale, from so many different perspectives.

Was the managing partner’s boyfriend a lowly transit cop or an NYPD detective? Did he brandish his firearm, or did it “come out in a joking manner”? How inappropriately did the summer associate in question act? How drunk was everyone at this wine tasting event?

If you’ve had enough of this tale, you can stop reading here. But if you’re willing to hear one more account of the proceedings, keep reading….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Summer Associate Story Update: In Defense of the Fitzpatrick Cella Fella”

Hands off the managing partner, please.

This morning we told you about an incident in which the boyfriend of a managing partner allegedly pulled a gun on a summer associate. The claim was that the summer associate had touched the managing partner’s arm. A managing partner of a major law firm is a pretty important person, but applying a “do not touch” rule to her, as if she were the Queen of England, might be taking things a bit far.

We stated in our post that there had to be another side to this story — and we were right. In the alternative version, the gun in question was not actually pointed at the summer associate. And the summer associate was not exactly a saint — which might be the real reason he got no-offered by the firm.

Let’s find out what he allegedly did, as well as the identity of the law firm in question….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Boutique Blind Item Revealed: More On The Infamous Firearms Incident — And An Allegedly Naughty Summer Associate….”

This could be the last thing you see before you get no offered.

Haven’t we all been there? You’re a summer associate at a law firm event. You see the managing partner. You down your drink and work up the courage to introduce yourself to her, determined to make a good impression. You’re trying to get her attention, and maybe you brush up against her arm. And the next thing you know, her boyfriend is pointing a gun in your face.

Oh wait, that never happens to anybody. At least, it’s not supposed to. But according to one source, it did happen to a summer associate at an IP boutique around town.

And, you’re not going to believe this, but the kid apparently did not get an offer from the firm…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “IP Boutique Blind Item: When The Managing Partner’s Boyfriend Allegedly Pulls A Gun On You”

Tom Wallerstein

For attorneys starting their own firms, one of the more difficult things to learn is how much time to spend on a prospective client. Attorneys take various approaches. Some attorneys say, reasonably enough, I don’t work for free, and will do little more than quote their rates. Attorneys who employ mass marketing will offer a “free consultation,” but that generally amounts to little more than a way to encourage unsophisticated clients to call them as opposed to someone else.

If your business model depends on high volume of a particular type of case, it probably doesn’t make sense to devote too much effort to soliciting any one particular client. But if you are pursuing fewer, higher-stakes or more complex matters, then you very well could struggle with how to strike the proper balance….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Kissing Frogs”

Some have compared the world of large law firms to a gilded cage. The lawyers who toil for Biglaw may earn big bucks, but in exchange for the pay, they spend thousands of hours stuck in the office, shackled to their desks, deriving all their sustenance from Seamless.

So whose gilded cage is the most golden, the most elegant, the most comfortable? Welcome to Above the Law’s first-ever Lawyerly Lairs contest: a quest to discover the best law firm offices in America.

What do mean by “best”? Who is eligible to enter? How can entries be submitted?

Read on for the official contest rules and nomination guidelines….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Lawyerly Lairs Contest: The Best Law Firm Offices in America – Nominations, Please”

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are well accustomed to the concept of diversity. San Franciscans embrace it. They live among and celebrate people of every race, ethnicity and nationality. They embrace every sexual orientation. And they welcome political persuasions spanning the gamut from socialist to liberal. Ah, life’s infinite diversity.

I’ve mentioned before that when I snorkeled in the Cayman Islands, I was amazed at the vast number of different species of fish. When I go to a favorite deli or café, I’m reluctant to order “the usual,” however much I might enjoy it, because I’ve always believed that variety is good. The concepts of variety and diversity present themselves to us every day.

Diversity is also an important concept for law firms, especially smaller law firms and boutiques. And this is true of “diversity” in a variety of contexts, some of which are not so obvious….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Diversity!”

Tom Wallerstein

I recently had a client ask me about asset protection strategies. Having read The Firm (affiliate link) before I ever went to law school, and mindful of the classic Tom Cruise movie of the same name, of course I did what any diligent attorney devoted to client-service would do: I headed off to the Cayman Islands to investigate.

Due to an unfortunate series of strange boating accidents which I am not at liberty to discuss, my trip ended up lasting a bit longer than I expected. My email and telephone conversations also became compromised, hence my extended ATL hiatus.

Alas, the good guys prevailed, I am back safe and sound, and I’m happy to write about some of my reflections from beautiful Cayman (pronounced, as I learned from the locals, “Cay-Man,” with two distinct, equally prominent syllables, almost rhyming with “Cave-Man;” not “Cay-min” rhyming with “layman”)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Reflections from Cayman”

Lawyers tend to overindulge in the finer things in life — things like designer clothes, fast cars, and luxurious lawyerly lairs. Unfortunately, lawyers also tend to overindulge in alcohol. In fact, according to the ABA, about 13 percent of lawyers qualify as alcoholics. Keeping that in mind, practicing law may be fine preparation for a new career in the wine bar business.

Meet Elizabeth Banker. This former in-house lawyer for Yahoo! and current counsel at ZwillGen is putting her legal career aside to follow something she’s been passionate about since her college days: wine. (Despite sharing a surname, apparently she’s not a fan of Banker’s Club vodka.)

Back in the day, Banker drank gallon-sized jugs of Chablis. Since then, her “tastes have evolved,” and now she’s more of a high-class sommelier. Let’s learn more about Banker’s new business, and find out when opening day will be….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “D.C. Attorney Gives Up Law for Her True Passion: Booze”

Tom Wallerstein

Some of you may already know that I don’t believe in dead weeks, so you can imagine the fits I’m having this year when the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday. You know I’m out of sorts when a holiday that is supposed to be a single day off is turned into a five-day weekend in the middle of summer. Honestly, I was happy to give my associates and staff some much-deserved time off. But I’m pounding out this post anyway, and only after putting some finishing touches on a motion for summary judgment.

And I found time for reflective celebration. The Fourth of July has become a day when the powerful United States revels in its glory, and its citizens delight in colorful pyrotechnics that emulate the more beautiful aspect of warfare. Personally, I’ve always favored the disenfranchised, the underdog. And Independence Day is their day, too. The Fourth of July commemorates the victory of revolutionary insurgents who didn’t obey the traditional rules, and who triumphed over their more powerful adversaries. Good stuff.

Some people see the growing resurgence of regional, midsize and small firms as a revolution. Some people see alternative billing arrangements as a revolution. I tend to think that both those trends are somewhat overstated. I see them less as “revolutions” than as subtle “evolutions,” with important but limited long-term effect.

Still, Fourth of July week is a particularly appropriate time for this column.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Independence Day”

Page 17 of 291...131415161718192021...29