The field of contenders in our fourth annual law firm holiday card contest was quite impressive. We received numerous nominations, and we thank everyone who participated. It took many hours to review the plethora of submissions.
Like last year, apparently reading comprehension isn’t a skill that many lawyers possess, as a few of you declined to follow rule #3 of our contest, limiting the entries to “cards that are unusually clever, funny, or cool…. cards with some attitude, with that extra je ne sais quoi.” But because it’s the holiday season, we won’t rag on you too much. Even if you can’t follow simple instructions, you’re still great.
But some of you were greater than others. Let’s look at this year’s finalists….
I cannot just write a post today without expressing that the depths of my heart go out to the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters who sent their little one to school Friday and are now preparing funerals. As the father of two girls, I, well, you know. I just cannot imagine.
On to less important things.
It’s already starting. The lists of the 10 things not to do in 2013, 20 things to do in 2013, seven ways to be happier, five things Google will do to kill your practice, what the future holds for the future, how every lawyer in the world will be loving MySpace again in 2013, and on and on and on. None of these people will tell you that they have no idea what they are talking about. They only live to tell you at the end of the year that they were right about one of their many silly predictions, the making of which has brought them nothing (e.g., “More lawyers are using (insert shiny toy here) and this I predicted, praise me.”).
I have no such list — no to dos or do not dos. No predictions. My only prediction is that your life probably won’t change much. I say set mediocre goals. Do not try to accomplish anything extravagant. You’ll just be disappointed.
So I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing in 2013. You can do or not do these things, I don’t care. Really, I don’t….
A correspondent recently posed this question: I’m a litigation partner at a big firm. If I go solo, will my corporate clients continue to use me for their smaller matters?
I’ll use this column to do two things. First, I’ll offer the customary answer to all legal questions: It depends.
Second, I’ll ask my in-house readers at large corporations to let me know (either by posting in the comments or sending an e-mail to the link in the shirttail below) whether their corporations use sole practitioners.
Will big corporate clients follow an individual lawyer who jumps ship and goes solo?
It was our new receptionist’s first day at our office. I was in our kitchen, and I found a potato wrapped in a paper towel. Because it was a raw potato far in the back of one of our unused kitchen drawers, I had no idea how long it had been there. Months, maybe. So I asked Cassidy, the new employee, “Is this your potato?”
Cassidy was slouched nearly horizontal in her chair. She looked at me with an expression of vague annoyance, and reached up to remove her iPod earbuds. She mumbled a response but didn’t really answer me. So I asked again, “Cassidy, I was just curious, is this your potato?”
I repeated my question for the third time and finally she replied, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
I tried a different approach. “Let me put it this way. Have you brought a potato into the office in the six hours you have been working here?”
Progress! “Well, then I think it’s safe to say that this is your potato. Mystery solved.”
The earbuds went back in and we let Cassidy go the next day. She called our office about a week later, asking to retrieve a pair of scissors and… you guessed it, her potato….
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The season of law firm holidayparties, for starters. And, better yet, bonuses. This year, Santa Cravath stuffed stockings with a goodly amount of cash.
But the parties and paychecks pale in comparison to what’s about to get underway: Above the Law’s fourth annual holiday card contest!
Last year, Haynes and Boone, a frequent finalist in the contest, took home top honors. Will they repeat in 2012, will a prior winner reemerge, or will a totally fresh face grab the Christmas card crown?
Read on — and read carefully, counselors — for the official contest rules….
For those of you that have clients, and in turn, those that have referred them to you, other than an expensively created fake online presence (half, no, two-thirds of my readers just clicked off) you may be wondering how to say thank you to them this holiday season.
Not to worry, as always, I am here to help. No, no, no need to thank me, it’s my pleasure. The following is based on years of receiving crappy and awesome gifts during the holidays and provided in an effort to make you look like at one time before you became a lawyer, someone taught you good manners.
First, I know you like your name or your firm’s name or logo. No one else does. I’ve thrown out more leather binders with law firm logos, coffee mugs, pens, Godforsaken calendars, and things I’m supposed to carry around on in my golf bag that have a law firm name or logo than you’ve received.
Holidays are not a time to blatantly market your firm, they’re a time to say, “Thank you, you did something important for me.” The marketing aspect comes from making an impression without thinking that your logo in the hands of your referral source or client is something special. I know you got all excited when you opened up the box of firm logo trinkets (“Oh, awesome, this is my name on something.”), but please, throw them away….
Elections have consequences, and right now I’m waiting for Republicans to start paying the piper. I’m looking at you, Ted Nugent. You declared, nay promised, that if Obama was reelected, you’d either be dead or in jail within a year. Well, tick tock buddy, we’re all waiting.
In fact, there were many Republicans who promised to do all sorts of horrible things should Barack Obama win. And apparently some of them are following through. Nothing makes a political statement about the vibrancy of our democracy than petulantly firing people when democracy doesn’t go your way.
And heck, we don’t even know how many people will be “not hired” because, “Grrr… we have to pay for our employees’ health care because we were too partisan or stupid to support a single-payer system that would have shifted the burden of health insurance away from private employers.”
At least, we won’t know unless they tell us. Which, incredibly, one solo practitioner apparently did, in a rejection letter to somebody who applied in response to her Craigslist ad. It’s easily the best post-election rejection letter we’ve seen….
Brian Tannebaum, my fellow small-firm columnist, recently described as silly the notion that “success in the law doesn’t come from good legal work.” I agree with Tannebaum that success requires far more than “being able to obtain a volume of calls from a fake presence, a creation of a ‘brand,’ and trying very, very hard to get our hand to the top of the baseball bat of the internet.” But I also think that success doesn’t come just from doing good legal work. In my experience, the most talented lawyers often are not the most successful, at least by traditional definitions. Nor are the most successful lawyers the best lawyers.
For Biglaw associates, success is usually defined as making partner. Anonymous Partner recently wrote that when you make partner in Biglaw, you “occupy a new professional status, and the nature of making partner is such that no matter how badly you screw up the rest of your life, you have accomplished something very rare. It is a life milestone, on par with getting married or winning the lottery in terms of its immediate alteration of your identity.”
And who makes partner in law firms? The best writers? The best oral advocates? The most thorough? The hardest working? The most efficient? Not necessarily any of the above.
Partnership decisions vary from firm to firm, and I am not so cynical to suggest that merit plays no role. Obviously, “merit” always plays a role. It’s just that what is meritorious is in the eye of the decision-maker, and that differs from what many associates might think is most important….
There is a notion (held mostly by the unemployed and unhappy people in the comments section) that I may be the only person writing about the possibility that the internet and those that “sell” the internet to lawyers, as well as this notion of “branding” and spending your day reading self-fulfilling predictions on “the future of law” from the losers of our profession is, well, maybe not the be-all and end-all in the practice of law.
Sometimes I think maybe I’m wrong (no I don’t). Maybe the goal of all lawyers should be to be first on Google, maybe these LinkedIn endorsements will result in something, anything. Maybe I do need to pay some 28-year-old former fired lawyer to teach me how to use the internet. Maybe I’m not using Facebook in a way that will get high-net-worth clients calling my office every day. Maybe instead of building a practice by doing well for clients, I need to be a brand like Coca-Cola or Amazon.com.
There’s a reason all these future-of-law people have an effect on lawyers: lawyers want to make money. Lawyers want to believe. We want to continue to hope that what we convinced ourselves of is true — that a law degree is a ticket to wealth and fame. If it’s not happening for us, we will seek out those that say we’re doing it wrong, and for a fee, they can make everything peachy….
“I’m delighted to announce that our firm, Dewey Cheatem & Howe, has just reached a settlement of a longstanding class action on behalf of our beloved client Evilem Pire Insurance Corp. (‘EPIC’). Due to our tireless efforts reviewing documents and engaging in discovery motion practice, EPIC was able to settle the case for only $1 trillion dollars, a mere fraction of the many quadrillions sought by the plaintiffs . . . .”
If you are a lawyer in a firm, then you probably have seen a similar email more than once in your career. The victory email is a tradition at many firms, even when the result can only barely qualify as a victory. Because I think it behooves lawyers to always consider the purpose of any communication, we might wonder why victory emails are so prevalent….
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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