Jay Shepherd

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Many large law firms forbid their lawyers from visiting social-media sites at work. Some have actual software blocks, preventing sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from loading on firm computers. Other firms tacitly discourage visiting these sites, since six minutes wasted on them are six minutes that could have been billed.

Small firms are less likely to have these policies or blocking programs, mainly because small firms are less likely to have any policies. Or IT departments.

This is partly a generational issue. On the one hand, you’ve got the Millennials, who are used to having IM chats, Pandora songs, and Facebook walls running in the background while they bash away at Lexis or Microsoft Word. On the other hand, you have more-senior (or just plain “senior”) lawyers, for whom the Interwebs are something to either be feared or restricted to off-duty hours.

Generationally, I’m somewhere in between. I’m 43, placing me at the early end of Generation X. Millennials make me feel old. When I started hiring twenty-something lawyers, I found their IM chats in the background jarring. But I quickly learned that this had no impact on their ability to get work done. They were far more able to multitask than I was, and it seemed silly to make a rule about social-media sites.

Also, a facility with social media comes in handy in a litigation practice. For example, several years ago, a client of ours fired an employee for taking unauthorized time off. The young female professional sought a leave in December to have some elective surgery — to wit, breast implants. (Note for law students: The phrase “to wit” must never be used unironically. And if you ever find yourself writing “to wit: a shod foot,” you need to leave the practice of law immediately.)

The young woman’s employer didn’t seem to a have a fundamental problem with her getting … enhanced. The problem was the timing. The holiday season was their busiest time of year, and they couldn’t afford to lose her then. But she went and did it anyway, and they fired her for the unauthorized leave.

You can imagine what happened next….

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Ed. note: This is the first installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

I’ve been working in small law firms my whole career — nearly 17 years. I’d like to tell you that I chose this path for carefully considered and noble reasons, but I can’t. In truth, I ended up on the small-firm path for one simple reason:

A blonde.

Let me explain.

Now it’s not what you think. I didn’t turn my back on a BigLaw career to pursue a flaxen-haired beauty. That would almost be romantic, and this is a serious law blog. Ish. No, the story is a bit more prosaic.

I entered Boston College Law School in the fall of 1991. At the time, I had a serious girlfriend (the aforementioned blonde) who was not going to law school. And that became a problem. You see, like most 1Ls, I got caught up in everything that was new about law school: new friends, new challenges, new vocabulary (I mean really: how many jokes should there be with “res ipsa loquitur” in the punchline?). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I paid too much attention to my new law-school world, and not enough attention to my girlfriend.

So she left me….

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As we recently mentioned, Above the Law is dramatically increasing its coverage of small law firms. Clients and lawyers are moving in the direction of smaller firms, and ATL is following suit.

In response to our posting for a new small-firm columnist, we received dozens of superb applications (and we thank everyone who applied for their interest). The pool of talent was so strong that we decided to take on not one but two new columnists — doubling our dedicated small-firm coverage, with posts on at least four out of five weekdays (in addition to our existing coverage of small law firms).

Let’s meet our new writers. One of them should be familiar to many of you, and one of them will remain shrouded in secrecy….

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