A Brave New World In The Cloud

October 9, 2013

This morning I woke up and had a LinkedIn request. LinkedIn is stupid, but I have it for some reason. I’ve never figured out what to do with it, nor received any benefit from it, but that’s beside the point. After I accepted the request, it then suggested “people I may know.”

I start browsing through the list, and something startled me. It was suggesting current clients of mine, prospective clients, and opposing counsel. Many of whom I’ve never met in person, and have only emailed a few times. We’re not Facebook friends, we’re not on Google Circles, and we don’t follow each other on Twitter. No, these are people I have simply emailed privately back and forth with. Other than our private emails, there is no trace that I had ever encountered many of these suggested contacts. Several were not even in my geographic area, we had no shared connections, and my only connection to them is either being a client of mine or counsel in another case. Our only traceable connections were emails back and forth.

To put it mildly, the discovery was unsettling. How the hell does LinkedIn know who I’m emailing with? Isn’t that information private?

Then I got to thinking….

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Pennsylvania To Introduce Anti-SLAPP Laws

September 14, 2013

I have good news – Senator Larry Farnese has introduced a bill to protect civic associations and other individuals discussing issues of public importance, who are then named in a frivolous lawsuit (“strategic lawsuit against public participation” or “SLAPP”).

Anti-SLAPP laws are vitally important here in Philadelphia, as public participation is written into the Philadelphia Code. Under the law, anyone seeking a zoning variance or Special Assembly Occupancy License must first meet with the local civic association.

However, a chilling trend is emerging. When an applicant doesn’t like what the community has to say, they will file a frivolous lawsuit against the neighbors, bloggers, and the civic association. Defending these lawsuits are expensive for anyone on the wrong end of one, even if they are completely frivolous. SLAPP suits have gotten so out of control that the Old City Civic Association disbanded because it could not procure insurance for its directors and officers due to defending frivolous SLAPP suits. Under current Pennsylvania law, the victim of a SLAPP suit has little recourse against a vexatious plaintiff. Anti-SLAPP laws will punish those who choose to file frivolous lawsuits to curb free speech and public participation.

If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, I urge you to sign this petition and let the legislature know this is an important issue.

When You Are What Google Says You Are

September 4, 2013
On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

Last week I learned that my friend Charlie Thomas was throwing in the towel after 11 years of practice. Charlie was my co-counsel in the Bellwether Trial, and I can say from first hand experience that he is a good lawyer (not just “We chat on Twitter, so I say nice things about him.”) Charlie also has a great sense of humor, and often offers “free legal advice” that include tidbits like “Don’t steal stuff” or “Don’t show up to court high when you’re being brought up on drug charges.” His sardonic anecdotes of criminal law practice always make me laugh.

So why would a good, experienced trial lawyer like Charlie get out of practice? No clients, apparently. Despite what you may have read on Solo Practice University, solo practice is hard. Real hard. Not everyone makes it. There are only so many paying clients, and lawyers to serve them.

But why would someone as good as Charlie not have any clients? He explained:

Most of that reflection was focused on fixing the marketing problem. All my eggs were in a single basket — and not one that I owned myself. When Google changed their algorithm and sent me off the first page and down to page four, my phone stopped ringing.

This is one of the reason bloggers like Greenfield and Tannebaum advise against a “Google-based” reputation, and instead suggest lawyers focus on developing  competence, strong relationships with real people, and a reputation for excellence among your peers.

Despite what you may have heard on the internet, the future of law isn’t manufacturing a Google based reputation, and it never will be. Because if your reputation is based on Google, you are what Google says you are. And if Google says you’re on page four, apparently you’re nobody. Even if you’re a good, experienced trial lawyer.

Another Amazing Attorney Ad…

August 22, 2013

Um… wow.

No, this is not a Saturday Night Live skit. This is for real.

Straight cash, homie…

Sharks and Dinosaurs

August 20, 2013

“Look at that old fart in the corner sleeping. What is the matter with him?,” John said to me, laughing.

John had just started his own solo practice about two months ago after getting laid off at an insurance defense firm. John is about my age. Why did I sit down next to him? It’s gonna be a long afternoon I thought to myself…

I looked over to my left. There was old Pete Keating, slumped over in a chair dozing off. Pete must be in his 80s by now. Although he didn’t look like much, Pete was a legend among the criminal defense bar.

Today I was covering a routine status conference for Leo. Show up, get a continuance, and then go home. Although I don’t practice criminal defense, that seemed like something I could handle.

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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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Of Murse And Men: Saddleback Large Leather Classic Briefcase v. Medium Thin Briefcase

August 19, 2013

We’ve had a few good months at the firm, so the partners decided to get new briefcases. As a result, Leo is going to do a comprehensive post on Lawyerist next week about briefcases.

Until then, here are some musings about my briefcases…

Last year you might remember that I got a large Saddleback classic coffee brown briefcase. I originally got a medium but returned it for a large after a buddy of mine said it looks like a murse.

Apparently I am not the only one who had this issue (no, I did not make this video):

Given that I am about 5’5, the medium sounded like the best fit from the FAQ. However, my 13 inch Macbook Pro barely fit in the medium bag, let alone legal sized red wells. The medium went back and I exchanged it for a large. The large looks much more proportional in my opinion, even on a short guy like me.

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