Fake Lawyers

Catch Me If You Can is a fun movie. Tom Hanks has a delightful Boston accent that really captures the “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe people talk like this” aspect of the sounds. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of teenage con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. is fun and entertaining. And there’s a Chris Walken sighting.

In the movie, Hanks’s FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty, chases after Abagnale as he forges checks, degrees, and a number of professions. One thing Hanratty can’t figure out is how Agagnale “faked” his way through the Louisiana Bar Exam and gained legal credentials. When Hanratty finally collars Abagnale (SPOILER ALERT: this movie came out in 2002), the con man revels that he didn’t “cheat” on the bar exam, he just studied “for two weeks and passed.”

For many lawyers, this was an anticlimactic end to a running joke in the movie. With all due respect to people who can’t pass the Louisiana bar, passing the Louisiana bar is not particularly hard (despite the test’s unusual length and civil-law components). I don’t know if you can do it in two weeks. But in a month? In six weeks? Even without going to law school, I’m not sure there is a bar exam in the country that is so hard that a reasonably intelligent person couldn’t pass it with intense study over a few months. Again, they’re not really teaching you what you need to do as a lawyer in law school, they’re just messing with how you think.

It turns out that the real life Frank Abagnale Jr. passed the LA Bar on his third try. But there wasn’t any deception involved, he eventually just passed the test. Once he earned the credentials, Abagnale says that pretending to be a lawyer was one of the easiest things to fake.

He’s not wrong…

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In a column entitled Start-Up of You, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times made the case for a new model of career development. According to Friedman, this job market is “not your parents’ job market,” in which you could expect to move up the corporate ladder at a single company and then retire. In this job market, things are no longer so stable. To be competitive in this new market, Friedman suggests that you treat your career as if it were your own business. This means that you should constantly experiment and adapt, search for growth opportunities, and be resilient.

This is great advice for lawyers (both Biglaw and small-firm lawyers). This advice, however, can be taken even further. As many solo practitioners will tell you (and as one in fact did), having a law degree means that you can do more than treat your career as if it were a business; you can actually have a career where you have your own business….

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You know fantasy football has taken over the American consciousness when a fake lawyer threatening fake sanctions in an ad campaign makes the news. This morning the ABA Journal ran a profile of Norman Tugwater, a fantasy sports lawyer played by Gary Busey:

“I’m getting ready to clean up with the mop of justice,” Tugwater proclaims in his YouTube video. “If you refuse to pay our athletes, we’ll come find you, and squeeze it out of you like a tube of toothpaste.”

Tugwater is actually actor Gary Busey, and his video is part of an ad campaign for VitaminWater. “I don’t think twice about coming after fantasy owners. In fact, I rarely think at all,” he writes on Twitter. He continues the taunts on Facebook, where he proclaims, “I wrote the book on fantasy sports law. I also have the only copy.”

That’s right, America is so into fantasy football that Gary Busey is getting work.

I’ve kept my head in the sand regarding fantasy football for a long time. But I can’t ignore it any longer. Let Gary Busey inspire you up below, and then join in ATL’s first reader-only fantasy football league…

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