Are You “Experienced”?

July 5, 2014

Not only a good album, but a good question. Attorney advertising has been around as long as I’ve been practicing law, as have the Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern attorney behavior, including advertising.

In Pennsylvania, attorney advertising is governed by Rule 7.2 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. As part of these rules, a lawyer may not use “inherently subjective terms” like “experienced” to describe their practice. This rule seems to be observed more in its breach than in lawyers’ adherence to it. Google “Experienced Pennsylvania Lawyer” (or just click that link) and you’ll see what I mean.

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A Question For Rachel Rodgers – If It’s Not Legal Advice, What Is It?

August 19, 2013

I didn’t want to write about Rachel Rodgers again. Really, I didn’t. Rachel is smart, web savvy, and pretty cute. Honestly, I feel like a big hurtful bully by continually writing about the stuff she does. If Rachel were selling real estate or things on etsy, I would probably give her props. She is a heck of a business person and makes nice websites. We are also both are fans of Tim Ferriss.

But this is law we are talking about, and Rachel is continually finding new and clever ways to straddle that grey line of “is that ethical.”

Today, Rachel’s new venture takes the cake. Absolutely takes the cake. I tried not to write about it, I really did. But I just couldn’t resist. This is truly unbelievable…

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Self promotion — but at what cost to clients?

June 1, 2013

ShamelessSelfPromotionI’ve been struggling recently with the concept of lawyers’ self-promotion via the media.

Recently, I’ve noticed attorneys in several high-profile cases end up with a camera in front of them and a reporter shoving a microphone into their face, asking them for a comment. Some of these lawyers are younger; others have been around long enough that I presume they know what they’re doing.

Until the lawyer gives a soundbite that could not possibly help their client, and seems calculated only  to get the lawyer’s name out in the evening news.

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Search Term of the Day: Legal Marketing Edition (Now, with memes!)

February 6, 2013

Every once in a while, I peruse what terms people use to find our blog. Occasionally it’s informative. Often, it’s hilarious. Sometimes it’s sad.

Well, today, someone found our blog using a search term that made me feel a way I can express best through a meme:

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Your Legal Marketing is Invalid.

December 19, 2012

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 »

Tell the Truth About Your Experience. — the Young Lawyer Chronicles.

October 21, 2012

This hangs right over my desk. I was admitted in 2010. I am not ashamed.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the last week on the legal blawgosphere about the truth.

Josh King wrote a post about truth and ethics in attorney advertising. Scott Greenfield discussed truth and numbers on Simple Justice. And the concept led to the most active Lawyerist comment thread I’ve ever seen.

I think it all started with a simple e-mail in my inbox.

But before I begin my story, let me digress: as an attorney, you’ll find that everyone wants your money. The most egregious offenders are legal marketers. They’ll e-mail and call you relentlessly, promising “X new leads” in exchange for the low low price of several hundred dollars per month for a featured profile on their attorney directory website.

So here I was, minding my own business, when I get an e-mail solicitation: Read the rest of this entry »

Should I Start a Law Practice?

June 23, 2012

These are my musings on starting your own law practice. Take them for what they’re worth…

I’m going to preface this post with a quote from a friend of mine, who will remain anonymous: “I went into solo practice after getting laid off from biglaw. I worked in biglaw for over 10 years… this was such a change. My first year in solo practice, I made about $7,000. I went from making over $150,000 a year to $7,000. I lost everything that year – my savings, my IRA, I even had to sell my car and my motorcycle… at one point, I actually went on food stamps. I felt bad, being a lawyer and getting food stamps, but I qualified for them. Things are finally starting to turn around, but man, I lost everything…”

A stark contrast from what you hear over at Solo Practice University, where all solos are happy, making lots of money, and spending their time just generally being awesome. (well, the solos who sign up and pay money, of course!)

As you might imagine, I get a lot of calls and emails that go like this:

“Hey Jordan, I hate working for this law firm. I’m thinking about starting a solo practice. What are your thoughts?”, or “Hey man, I just graduated law school and I can’t find a job. What are your thoughts on opening up a solo practice? Is it realistic for me? How much will it cost? I don’t have anything in the bank right now except $70, but that’s already spent…”

I wish the answer was “Hanging a shingle is a license to print money! Everything is so awesome. When I’m not counting my money, I’m out driving my new BMW and spending my summers down the Jersey Shore! Every lawyer should be a solo! You don’t need money, a plan, experience, a network, or anything to get started – just a desire to be awesome. Hell, a new client just made me a trophy for badassery!

Too bad I’m not here to pat you on the head, rub your belly, and give you a balloon. More importantly, I’m not here to sell you anything. Honestly, I don’t really care whether you start your own practice one way or another.

So, as a young guy with a law firm, I will try and answer those questions and explain… but like all things in lawyer life, “it depends.”

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Any Lawyer Will Do

June 19, 2012

“Yeah, uh, sure. We do marimate, err, maritime law. Boats and stuff, right? Those things are pretty cool.”

Normally when a potential client comes in with a case we don’t handle, or we don’t have time for, we refer them to competent counsel.The last thing we want to do is take on a matter and not do a good job with it. That is why we’re selective about who we represent.

This concept is even built into the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct:

Obviously, a lawyer is permitted and encouraged to refer cases to other lawyers where that lawyer does not have the skill or expertise to properly represent a client.

Comment 15 to Pa.R.P.C. 7.2

Shouldn’t pro bono litigants be afforded the same courtesy and professional judgment?

Apparently not. The Delaware Supreme Court reprimanded an attorney for turning down mandatory pro bono work he felt he was not qualified to handle.

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Joseph Rakofsky: The Dreams of Youth are the Regrets of Maturity

May 4, 2012

Where is your God now?

Dontrell Deaner rose to notoriety after being represented by Joseph Rakofsky, who was infamously dismissed from the representation for being too awesome.

According to my fellow Temple Law alum Jamison Koehler, Dontrell Deaner was sentenced to 10 years prison today. Dontrell Deaner pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Apparently Deaner could have pled guilty earlier, but “he was represented by two lawyers who clearly were not up to the task:  It is hard to consider the merits of a plea offer when you are not getting the right advice.”

According to Jamie, the judge did not have kind words…

If both lawyers were somewhat circumspect, Judge Jackson did not pull any punches. Apparently not cowed by Rakofsky’s earlier accusations of defamation, Jackson noted that, while he didn’t know what the outcome would have been had better advice been given at the outset, Deaner had been represented at trial by two lawyers with “no ability to assess the quality of the evidence” against Deaner.  The Judge said that he hadn’t been aware that the trial was Rakofsky’s first ever until Rakofsky mentioned it during his opening statement.

The primary lawyer in the case [Joseph Rakofsky?] the Judge said, the one who had been retained, was clearly not interested in considering a plea for Mr. Deaner; he wanted to be able to say he had tried a murder case. Both lawyers, he said, were “clueless” and “motivated by self-interest.”

Keep in mind that it was Joseph Rakofsky who said “We are trusted with people’s lives. There is no greater responsibility.” So did this hubris, self interest, and cluelessness hurt Mr. Deaner’s interests?

In the end, splitting the difference, the Judge imposed 120 months of incarceration – or 10 years – to be followed by 5 years of supervised probation. That sentence is twice the term offered by the government in its initial plea offer. This was the offer that Deaner, receiving advice from different counsel, had rejected.

Since being dismissed from the case, Joseph Rakofsky has sued everyone who criticized his behavior in a ridiculous SLAPP suit. (Don’t sue me, bro… just kidding. Rakofsky knows where to find me.)

What a way to go and commit career suicide.

[Video credits: This is my brother Xander Rushie's band, Paradise Movement. Yes, my brother is cooler than me and became a musician instead of a lawyer. He is the tall guy singing.]

Winging It

April 10, 2012

It was a boring Wednesday afternoon at about 3:45pm. I was playing on Twitter, reading the sports news, and happy to have a little downtime. My phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID and saw it was James’s partner, Chris, my former boss at Wolf Rebman. I picked up the phone and to see what was going on.

Chris sounded worried.

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