In these volatile times, we are coming to assess professionals by the quality of their comebacks. Take Hillary Clinton. She's hot because she figured out how to get a good job after losing out on her run for presidency. So, we are a little disappointed that such a bright driven guy like Eliot Spitzer can't seem to put together a nice slot for himself.
His latest gamble will be his second time on TV, not a medium in which he shone the first time. TV NEWSWER tells us that Spitzer is replacing Keith Obermann on Current TV with the show "Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer."
This is in time for the political conventions and the final stretches of the presidential race. Clearly, that's a plum in terms of opportunity. Will Spitzer know what to do with it?
Now $1.5 million in debt versus annual income of half a million, David McLauchlan is not unique. He is probably a microcosm of what has been happening to once financially comfortable partners during the downsizing of the legal sector.
In AM LAW DAILY, Nate Raymond chronicles in great detail his descent into a financial mess he may never fully emerge from. That's because it will probably be years before he can earn as a solo what he had as partner at Lord Bissel & Brook. When he was setting himself up as a solo he had lost $162,000. Meanwhile his first wife seems to be hounding him for as much alimony as she can get.
If there is a generalization about senior associates and partners who get pushed out is that they are unrealistic about a) the odds of continuing to earn a living practicing law and b) the amount they can earn. In my coaching, I have observed an extraordinary degree of denial that their former professional life is over. Likely they will have to change careers. Unlikely it is that they would ever again match the $300,000 to $800,000 annual compensation.
McLauchan is among the fortunate in that he does have a real shot at making his solo practice produce some income. He will not have to go through the ordeal of career change, something especially difficult for lawyers. They worked so hard to learn the practice of law that they hold on and are reluctant to make an inventory of the knowledge base and skills and then leverage them.
There will be more and more in McLauchlan's financial pickle. The sector remains flat. Increasingly firms will bring in the management consultants on how to restructure to grow. Too much attention has been focused on cost-efficiency and even that hasn't panned out since law firm expenses are creeping up again. Therefore, seasoned associates will be cut loose faster and partners, equity and plain vanilla, will be brutally shoved out into a marketplace which can't absorb them. In the layoffs on "The Good Wife," Will Gardner confided that he was telling the ousted that they would land on their feet but he recognized that wasn't going to happen.
My recommendation: Suck it up that that career path is over, cut fixed expenses, and search for a way, any way, to make a decent living leveraging what you got.
Bloggers will now think twice before agreeing to work for free on a high-profile site for the supposed exposure. In the closely watched class action lawsuit "Tasini v. AOL" U. S. District Judge John Koeltl tossed the case.
BLOOMBERG reports that in his opinion, Koeltl wrote:
"No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to the Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs admit that they did not expect compensation."
In the blogosphere it is rare that toiling in the vineyards for free, much like those serial internships in glamour industries, gets anyone anywhere. A low wage is better than no wage. For example, Ana Marie Cox headed the "Wonkette" for the then wildly popular site GAWKER. That was when blogging was just taking off in the beginning of the 21st century. She received $10 a post and had to produce 10 posts a day about what was going on in Washington D.C. Through that she gained access to plum jobs ranging from TIME to GQ. Had she worked for free that probably wouldn't have happened.
In the class action suits against law schools for allegedly misrepresented job data, it could all come down to Buyer Beware. 1 suit has already been tossed in New York. In any future blogger or intern suits where there was an agreement to work for free in exchange for exposure, learning the business, and opportunity to network, the rulings might come down to the fundamentals of contract law.
So, it's natural that when we are coming of intellectual age we want to study it. The conventional way of doing that is enrolling in a 3-year law program, where we usually board, and wind up in 6-figure debt. Few, even if they haven't been able to make a living practicing law, regret learning how to think critically.
The idealists among us might then rejoice at the possibility that law school can happen completely online and we matriculate from the Internet hookup in our living room. Since we attend lectures, delivered by the top legal minds in the nation, on our own schedule we could hold down jobs and run our software companies. We could also pack all that in for relative peanuts. At for-profit Strayer, Jack Welch's online MBA and certificate programs are significantly less expensive than conventional programs.
Online just got the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the influential THE WALL STREET JOURNAL for leveling the playing field in higher education. Yeah, the Harvard mystique could become an anachronism. Good-bye T-14. U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT will go out of busienss. All that will count is how the striver leverages that training and knowledge.
How many of the nation's law schools will switch to a for-profit model and become public companies which are traded? Incidentally the shrewd head of News Corp Rupert Murdoch favors that model. I look at this overall issue for the financial information company Motley Fool. Here you can read and envision the future.
Of course the media are reporting that yet another partner has exited Dewey & LeBoeuf. This time, details AMERICAN LAWYER, it's antitrust lawyer Eamon O'Kelly who went to Arent Fox. But this is no surprise since things often have to get worse before they begin getting better.
What has changed in the law firm's favor is that intensity of the coverage had peaked. Dewey & LeBoeuf restructured its model from a sole chairman to a multi-person Office of the Chairman. The media tend to cool it after a change is made. They adopt a wait and see attitude. Things could be on an uptick at the law firm and that will be heavily covered in the media, legal and business.
He was once an employee at Goldman Sachs. Not a household name but making a very good living. Then he decided to quit because of what he perceived as unethical behavior. He detailed all that in an opinion-editorial in THE NEW YORK TIMES. Many shook their heads and said that Smith had just committed career suicide.
That might have been true before careers were turned upside down. Instead of self-destructing, Smith has received a $1.5 million advance from Grand Central, a Hatchette imprint, for a a tell-all book, reports Brett Smiley in NEW YORK Magazine.
What might we learn from this windfall? At the top of the list is to take risks. Smith likely got insight into that from being on Wall Street. Lawyers have to ask themselves if they are playing the game too cautiously? Secondly, it doesn't really matter what the media and people are saying. What matters is outcomes. Being badmouthed might have become irrelevant. And, third, re-package experience into something that sells. Lawyers are very bad at doing that. Otherwise they wouldn't be unemployed so long after losing their slots in law firms.
After Clayton Osborn's emotional breakdown, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that the question is floating around if a test could have picked up his vulnerability. Likely the airlines will now have to find such as supposed test and foist it on every employee twice year. It would be wonderful if that does prove to be effective in lowering the risk that passenger safety would be endangered by erratic behavior.
Unfortunately, the wiring in the human brain still presents too many unknowns. In my family why did some members wind up on disability for psychiatric reasons and some get and hold onto responsibility-filled high-paying jobs? Why did some die of alcoholism and others were able to drink socially? Why did some wind up self-destructively in prison and others be totally self-protective? For decades I have been researching this. There are many theories, no answers.
The disturbing reality is that there will always be the Osbons who lose it. If it makes the society feel more secure creating regulations anyway, then that probably has to be.
Whatever is underground has its charm. The old-line bookie who floated around the neighborhood with a stub of a pencil and scrap of paper was part of the local color. It's his furtive activities that we feel such nostalgia for when we grow up and do our wagering online.
In THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sam Borden describes how this has not only migrated to the Internet. It's also now big business. Generation Y will likely never understand the ethos of the old neighborhood with its cast of characters. The bookie brought hope. The yenta furnished the gossip as well as getting grandma into an old age home. The drunk allowed all the other sinners to feel superior. And the isolated divorced woman showed all the long-suffering married women why they better stay put.
How do phenomena like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie happen? We will probably never be able to completely figure that out. But we know that those who have it can write their ticket, that is as long as the pull force remains.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could have written his ticket to be the GOP presidential candidate. He told Oprah on OWN, reports POLITICO, that he didn't go for it because he doesn't see himself as "ready." That readiness might happen in time for the 2016 campaign.
Christie might be playing it very smart. In 2016 he won't be running against an incumbent. With a few exceptions such as Jimmy Carter and George Bush I, incumbents get to serve a second term. After all, the infrastructure is in-place. Essentially a second term is theirs to lose.
Meanwhile Christie is honing his ability at being a power broker. He is broadening and deepening his network. He is also developing an image for himself of self-awareness, that is, he identifies himself as "not ready." In some circles, he appears wise.