Sometimes real lawyers agree to slum it with the likes of me.
“The practice of law is about relationships“.
-Me (And Brian Tannebaum, and probably plenty of other people much smarter than I am).
About two and a half years ago, Jordan wrote a post called “Should I Start a Law Practice?” It remains one of our most-viewed articles on this blog. Because it’s the end of the year, rather than being creative and thinking of a new and exciting topic, I decided, now concluding my fourth year of practice, and having started as a true solo fresh out of law school, to revisit the topic Jordan discussed back in 2012. I’d intended to write this follow-up to his post way back then, but simply never got around to it.
My perspective is different that Jordan’s—partly because I graduated in 2010, when the market had tanked—and partly because I did not work at a firm before I hung my shingle.
Here’s my point: You should start a practice if you want to, and if you understand that the practice of law is all about relationships—with your colleagues, with your mentors, and with your clients.
You have rights. These books say so. They are precious. Don’t sign them away.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
These wise words attributed to founder Benjamin Franklin are too often lost on many today who figure “Well, I’m not doing anything wrong, so why shouldn’t I just agree to let police do whatever they want?”
And I thought on Franklin’s words today, after I learned about this little program here in Philadelphia called S.A.V.E. — a too-cute acronym for Stolen Auto Verification Effort. Let me explain this program to you. No, better yet, I’ll let the police explain it to you:
All Districts in the city still do the S.A.V.E. (Stolen Auto Verification Effort) program….
The SAVE program is a decal you put on your automobile that basically states that you don’t normally drive your vehicle late at night (between 12am and 6am). By putting this decal on your vehicle you are stating that you would like that vehicle to be pulled over if it is seen operating during those hours to ensure that the vehicle isn’t stolen.
The fact of the matter is, though, that at some point in your legal career, someone will hate you. And their hate will run so deep that they have to tell others just how much you’re a terrible shark/shyster/scumbag/bottomfeeder.
Now, back in the days before the series of tubes, it took a while for these whisper-down-the-lane rumors to be spread about town. But now, in the age of the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. And even internet dogs can type mean things.
There recently appeared in this blog’s comments a scathing rebuke of our firm by a person whose real name, IP address, email address, and Facebook account, I will mercifully redact. Note: I have never represented this person, nor have I ever met them, as far as I know.
While looking up a local bar’s phone number, I noticed an identical negative review on the Google Places page for my firm. There was a different (::cough:: fictitious ::cough) name used, but the similarities are striking:
In all fairness, his dog wanted custody over his bitch’s puppies, and I don’t do family law.
Webber Calvan? Really? That’s not even a good fake name. “Maxx Hornball,” now, that would have been funny.
But thanks to the wonders of the internet and my powerful investigative skills, I’ve determined that attempted-blog-commenter a.k.a non-client reviewer “Webber Calvan” is the friend of an opposing party in a case where I’m counsel. Swell.
Note: This is the second time I’ve had non-parties to litigation personally attack me or my firm’s online reputation. I presume that it will continue to happen from time to time.
When I first read the comment on my blog — which was never actually posted to it because we moderate all comments — I simply laughed it off. Then I saw it was posted on my former Google Places page, and I thought a bit more about whether to respond. What better platform than Twitter to take a quick poll?
Popehat offered sage advice: “The negative review is self-evidently stupid. Hellfire likely to generate Streisand Effect. Prudence, not grace.”
So here’s my prudent response: That old saying “you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs” — the legal equivalent of that is “you can’t do a good job as a lawyer without pissing some people off.”
Young lawyers, you will find that you make enemies as you continue in your legal careers. One day it might be a judge. Another day, it might be the prosecutor. Some days, you might irritate some person who thinks it’s a bright idea to try to write negative reviews about you on the internet.
You’re probably not friends with me on Facebook. (In fact, I hope you can’t see much about me, because I’ve tried to lock that down as much as the privacy standards allow).
The other night, around 23.30 (that’s 11.30pm for you normal people who don’t use military time), I was up reading through hundred of pages of correspondence, agreements, and laws. And I was exhausted because I had been up since 7.30 that morning doing the same thing. Even though my wife was asleep, and I wanted to be in bed too. But I felt good being awake. So I typed this silly post on Facebook. And really, this sums up exactly how I feel about being a lawyer.
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