- After yesterday’s post, you’d think that sleezy SEO marketers would understand that we don’t want what they’re selling.
[Editor's Note: I wrote a piece about my zoning practice a little awhile back and then decided not to publish it. However, a few days ago I read this article by Rachel Rodgers in Forbes magazine. Her advice to other lawyers? Ditch the physical office and use social media to manufacture a reputation online, just like Tim Ferriss suggests in the book 4 Hour Work Week. The 4 Hour Expert method involves self creating publicity, and then using that publicity to perpetuate your self proclaimed "expertise." The idea behind the 4 Hour Expert isn't to acquire any actual expertise - just trick people into thinking you have them.
So who is Rachel Rodgers, and why is she in Forbes magazine?
To her credit, Rachel has implemented the 4 Hour Work Week model successfully. She started her own virtual law practice (called a "VLO" by cool fancy people), and declared it to be a success, thereby becoming a self-proclaimed authority on starting a VLO. How did she "become so successful?" According to this video (scroll to 19:45), Rachel initially used HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to get mentioned by a few "entrepreneur magazines", including Forbes and MSNBC, which she then used as "proof" that she is an authority. It was a great story for the press - young lawyer starts a fresh new law firm on the internet and becomes successful. However, it all sort of fell apart when put under some scrutiny.
Nevertheless, Rachel became a "4 hour expert" in starting virtual law offices by generating publicity for herself, and then using that publicity to manufacture expertise in starting VLOs. Now she sells the same "4 Hour" model to other people, which you can do with just about any area of law. But is the 4 Hour method really worth anything to a law practice in the long run...?]
Today we received an email from “Jane”, a marketer who claimed she was “doing some research on bloggers in the legal field” and said she “found [our] site while [she] was researching websites that may be looking for guest bloggers.”
Already I know that she is either 1) lying; or 2) really, really bad at research. I think we’ve made our position regarding third party marketing pretty clear before, and we’ve surely never expressed an interest in guest bloggers.
Either way, I’m already not inclined to hire her for anything. Read the rest of this entry »
[DING] Google Reminder: Hearing before Judge Robinson today at 11:30…
No, don’t worry, I won’t be schlepping to the courthouse in bad weather. That’s for fogies. Evidentiary hearings are done on Skype nowadays. Which is good, because I’m so warm in my robe. How anyone practices law in a “brick and mortar” setting is beyond me… morons.
“Good morning, Judge Robinson. I emailed you all the defendant’s exhibits before hand. Just a sec… cat! Get down from the counter! Sorry about that, Your Honor. My cat is always up on the counter, such a bad kitty. In any event, the court and opposing counsel have been emailed my exhibits. Anyway, my witness should be logging into Skype shortly. If I may make a proffer, Ms. Jones is going to testify to…”
That went well. I think I’ll go to the gym and do some food shopping. Then maybe take a nap. Work life balance is important, you know.
[DING] “Dear Jordan: we need to schedule depositions. Please give me some dates you are available. Your office or mine?”
Reply: “I don’t have an office, and I will be on a beach in France all of next month, so we’ll need to do them over Skype.”
Opposing counsel: “Sounds great.”
Reply: “You don’t need to mail me a confirmatory letter. I’m a virtual lawyer, so I don’t get mail. Emails are all I accept.”
Oh cool, an email from a new client. How did I get this client? No, I didn’t meet them out at the bar. No, I didn’t meet them through a civic association, or through an organization I’m in, nor were they referred to me.
“Networking” and having a good reputation is for old people.
I did it the new way – by manufacturing a reputation on the internet. I wrote a blog post and Tweeted about taxes. Based on my blog and Tweets, this guy decided to trust me with some of the most important legal decisions in his life. How cool is that, eh? Here I am sitting on my couch, raking in new clients AND being a lawyer.
“Ah, discovery court…”, I thought to myself, “where the dreams of baby lawyers go to die.” Discovery court is a funny animal. It is a giant courtroom packed with about a hundred other lawyers, most wearing suits from JC Penny or with holes in them. The actual hearing usually lasts about 10 seconds, and the judge usually accuses both sides of acting like children. It always smells faintly of cigarette smoke and cheap cologne, with a just hint of booze in there.
If you have any delusions that law is prestigious, spend a day in discovery court and you’ll quickly learn otherwise.
Today it was about 35 degrees out and rainy, and I had left my umbrella at the office. Fine Philadelphia weather, just warm enough that it’s not snowing, but cold enough to make the rain feel downright miserable. And, of course, the only way to get to the courthouse is to walk a few blocks in the weather.
I reached the courtroom cold and wet. I must have been in this courtroom a thousand times; it felt routine at this point. But discovery court is always the same. Show up at 8:45am, sign in, and then wait for your case to be called, hopefully quickly. Sometimes you are there for 20 minutes, sometimes you are there well into the afternoon watching petty discovery disputes. The issues are always the same, too… “I asked for documents and they didn’t give them to me” or “She noticed a deposition but didn’t ask me for convenient dates.” I could probably argue a discovery motion in my sleep – my wife tells me that often I do.
Finally, Judge Marshall was looked up from his crossword puzzles and told the bailiff to call my case. I couldn’t blame the judge for being uninterested – I wanted documents but the other side didn’t give them to me. Judge Marshall probably hears this problem fifty times a day. Hopefully I’d be home in time to grab soup from my favorite soup place. They were usually out of soup by 2pm. And today was a soup day.
Although the issues in my motion were simple, we had exchanged a lot of correspondence. The motion, with exhibits, totaled over two-thousand pages. I decided to print out the motion itself and the relevant exhibits. If the judge wanted to see more, the rest was stored on my iPad. I don’t see why he would need them, though. This also keeps my costs down, as it gets expensive to constantly be printing out documents.
Thankfully, technology had moved forward. There is no need to waste money on unnecessary printing costs in the digital age.
But as I’d soon learn, maybe the courts haven’t caught up yet…
I reported Monday morning to the Criminal Justice Center at 8am for Jury Duty. I think I was the only person remotely excited to be there.
I sat all day today in the Criminal Justice Center waiting to get called to a panel, watching scores of people groan as their names were called, trudging their way into voir dire. I waited for my name to be called.
And I waited straight through noon, when they let us out for lunch. And I waited when we got back from lunch at 1.00pm.
Finally, around 3.30pm, I heard my name and got my juror number — 65. We took the elevator up to the 11th floor and waited in the jury box. After sitting another 30 minutes, the crier came out and announced that we weren’t needed, and we should go back downstairs where they’d dismiss us.
At least I got my $9.00 check to show for it. That, and a lack of sleep, since I spent another 8 hours making up for the work I missed.
Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.
Two people found our blog today using that search term. Should I be happy or ashamed?.
In case you didn’t hear, the economy’s bad out there. And I guess when the economy is bad, people will try to make a buck anyway they can. Including trading Yelp reviews, apparently.
Enter the email I received yesterday though our firm’s online contact form. It appears to be from an internet marketing group based in Brooklyn that even has a Facebook and Google+ page. I have never heard of them, and I have no idea how they found me.
Here’s the email — I have mercifully redacted identifying information. Read the rest of this entry »