Here are details and how to apply.
Here are details and how to apply.
Much of the bargain-basement blogging B2C lawyers have been doing in the chase after SEO (search engine optimization) creates the same force field. Of course, that's not bringing in much new business. And it might be driving away current clients.
Cruise Craigslist and there is a growing number of help-wanted for bloggers which pay peanuts. Some of the ads are placed by lawyers. Some by enterprises framing themselves as "legal marketers." Since they operate at bargain-basement rates the odds are high they will not contain quality tactics for the sales process. After all, commercial blogging is about getting to the close on a sale. (Ha-ha-ha, some blog posts don't even contain that call to action which leads to closing.)
Instead of setting up and maintaining blogs, B2C lawyers might find it more useful in marketing to provide seminars about their niches, self-publishing an e-book on their computers for free distribution, and joining community groups.
Goodman is yet another attractive anti-hero. Not quite up there with Tony Soprano, but interesting enough. That's not an identity we look for in legal counsel from a B2C player.
Increasingly, it's the urgent assignment accepted and done well enough that lands a new client. "We will use you again," the public relations agency in Houston, Texas told me.
Then, the account executive added, "Send a Letter of Agreement, along with a W-9 and voided check for direct deposit." That was a first: the request for a Letter of Agreement. Usually I just sign NDAs (Non-disclosure agreements) which clients provide.
Of course, I didn't ask the client what that was. A few years ago I would have called my lawyer to find that out, if he could put one together for me quickly, and, by the way, how much would that cost.
Now, I just jumped on the Internet. As a goodwill freebie Rocket Lawyer even currently provides a template. I also checked out other examples of types of Letters of Agreement.
Soon enough the deed was done. Part of me felt sorry for B2C lawyers. Another part felt empowered that I could save money attending to my own quasi legal work via the Internet. Given the agita digital causes us non-techies it was payback time. Today I had swung by Staples Easy Tech (I have a service contract) twice and was on the phone with Wi-Fi provider Cox five times.
" ... even though there may be fewer responsibilities associated with being in document review, it isn't usually the easy life. Let's not forget it is contract work, so you are constantly on the look out for the next project ..." Alex Rich, "Finding The Easy Life As A Contract Attorney," in Abovethelaw.com, September 17, 2014. Here is a copy of the article.
Being a contract worker used to be a choice. Maybe you were a new mother, wanted to stay employed in law, but knew you could opt for schedule flexibility. Thus, you did contract work. Or, you got it that temperamentally you were better suited to being a free agent. As an experiment you quit the job and tried freelancing. That panned out and you stayed.
Now, contract work is often the only way to stay in the game. Those kinds of assignments range from being a just-in-timer at a law firm or in-house legal department to document reviewer. And, like every other mode of earning our living, at least on a steady basis, contract work has its own rules of the road.
In his article, Rich points out that document reviewers who get picky, no matter how competent they are, will eventually be shut out.
In addition, I have found that in the current marketplace, you have to jump. Saying "no" to that urgent matter means being off that particular list forever. Those farming out the work don't have the time to put up with any free agent who has special requirements, e.g. no emergencies, no rush jobs.
Time off? Forget it. You fall off the radar. That means you have to start over with new contacts. Also, you get rusty. That's what happened to just-in-time politico Hillary Clinton when she allowed too much time to elapse between being really out there.
And, anything less than a total good attitude will also result in no future assignments. Perhaps outsourcers assume the negativity is contagious. And/or, they figure you should be grateful to just be working.
However, even when you are in compliance with all those rules of the road, working steadily, and being compensated well, you can't settle in. Anything and everything can change at any time. Often there is no warning. The one making assignments can die, get fired, or is be forced to provide work to the boss' brother-in-law. The outfit can lose the contract. A higher up takes a dislike to you.
Always you should be marketing. Often that lands more stimulating, better-paying assignments. Sure, answer the help-wanted. Register with temp agencies. Ask around for work.
However, the proven most effective selling approach is to send unsolicited pitch letters. That tactic was first explained in "What Color Is Your Parachute"? when initially published in the 1970s. Today, it remains unmatched in outcomes.
How to create the pitch letter? Trial and error. If you are receiving no response, then you know the pitch is off. Try other approaches. Err on the side of brevity. Introduce your edge right in the subject line and first paragraph. At the end, offer something such as a complimentary consultation or working for half a day without compensation.
Also, consider other targets. Maybe law firms are no longer the ones contracting out the lion's share of work. Maybe there's a shift to service providers specializing in niches such as document review.
Way back in the late 1980s, management expert Charles Handy predicted the portfolio economy. There would be a handful of full-timers in organizations, a little larger number of part-timers, and the rest would be free agents, coming and going as the work demanded. Handy was certainly on the money.
Later he connected the dots. He recognized this: The extreme complexity of consumer contracts, disclaimers, and labeling was hurting the company's brand, driving away customers/clients, and even leading to lawsuits. The rest is history: Siegel became a successful and well-paid Simplification Expert.
He tells that tale in his book, co-authored with Irene Etskorn "Simple: Conquering the crisis of complexity." Here you can order it from Amazon.com.
Because he could knew how to communicate with lawyers and understood what was of real legal importance in all materials, he could persuade the powers that be on change. Sometimes the outcome could be a multi-page contract's being boiled down to a few conversational bullet points about how default occurs. That was that. Consumers loved it.
In this era of transparency, which builds trust, such simplification or distilling the essence and stating that in plain English is growing in demand. Many displaced and unhappy lawyers can position and package themselves as "Simplification Experts." Their work will extends way beyond contracts.
For example, what about all those complex help-wanted notices process-oriented companies such as insurance put out there. Turned off is talent. "Hey, that's not the place I want to work." Some of those ads could be simplifieds as:
"Job demands you have compliance background but are entrepreneurial enough to disrupt the cost-inefficient model in-place. Since you will be game-changer, must have high Emotional Intelligence."
It's all about getting started, isn't it. Lawyers can launch their careers as Simplification Experts knocking on retail doors, offering free services. "Your promotional materials say too much, connecting with too few. I will simplify all that. You will get more business. No charge."
Soon enough you have a track record, portfolio of samples, contacts, and references. Then you start pitching to larger organizations with the big budgets. Through trial and error you develop the simple pitch which breaks through human fear of change and appeals to hunger for success.
It took me about 14 weeks to simplify my unsolicited pitch letter (a la "What Color Is Your Parachute?) to public relations agencies, trade associations, and rising stars. Simplification did the trick. To take that approach I had to unbundle myself from decades of sales best practices on how to present the commercial self.
Lawyers, since they understand the infrastructure of ethics/compliance responsibilities, might rebrand themselves for those jobs in corporate. They would be going through a side door for a good position which uses their skills and mindset. They likely won't find that kind of job in the in-house legal department.
According to the survey by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and NYSE Governance Services, the trend is to unbundle compliance from legal. Only 8% of those interviewed still house compliance in in-house legal. The stand-alone position of Chief Ethics or Compliance Officer probably is reporting in to the Chief Executive Officer or Board of Directors, not the legal department. Here is Ben Dipietro's reporting on that development in The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
This is happening at a time when in-house legal is doing more and more legal work that used to farmed out to law firms. That is being called "in-sourcing."
"Fair or not, lawyering from home raises eyebrows." - Joe Patrice, in article "What Does Lawyering From Home Say About You? Either You're A Genius or Unemployable," in Abovethelaw.com, September 16, 2014. Here you can read the article.
Lawyering is serious business. At stake can be trillions of dollars, terms and conditions about how you and your business partner will operate the startup, custody of children, the monthly nut you will be paying to the spouse until he/she gets a job, and your freedom. So, Patrice is right on the, well, money when he recommends that lawyers not interface with prospects, clients, and third parties from home.
Even the most professional-looking home office, with a wood conference table, fails to send the appropriate messages about success (i.e. track record), influence, power, and intuitive grasp about myriad gameplans. So, just forget that, for anything which involves meeting and greeting the outside world.
Shrewd operators, usually from the get-go, know to lease or barter for office space on a just-in-time basis. That last time I was covering this I found out that the New York City Bar provides conference rooms to members for an hour or so. It probably helps one's brand to conduct business from there.
Before it was okay for us in communications services to hang out our shingle on the condo door, we researched local enterprises which provided the whatevers which simulated a real office. In Westport, Connecticut, I had my mailing address and booked a conference room a few times a month. I toyed with the idea of bartering my marketing communications skills for either a regular or just-in-time office. From colleagues, I found out that frequently both parties wind up sensing they are getting the short end of the stick. Yes, just like happens in official partnerships, relationships can become and stay bitter.
The cost of a mailbox in the right location and for access to a conference room is tax-deductible. Patrice is right. Lawyers cannot do face time with prospects, clients, and third parties from home. At least not yet. Maybe never, given what's at risk in the details of client matters.
In the Journal of Legal Education, soon enough those in the loop at law schools will read an article by Brian Clarke. Here you can take a look. Jacob Gershman calls our attention to it in The Wall Street Journal. Here you can read Gershman's analysis (sub. req.)
Clarke is an associate professor of law at the Charlotte School of Law. Himself a victim of severe clinical depression, he recommends that law students be fully informed about their vulnerability to mental illness while practicing law. Clarke cites the triggers, ranging from the adversarial nature of law to the pressure of racking up enough billable hours to hold onto a job.
It can be useful to make explicit to students how the realities of practicing law can become the platform for mental illness. They could be unaware of the correlation. Also they could be in denial that they could be among those who wind up suffering with depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.
But, I have a hunch it would be unwise to encourage the legal community, especially law students who need to find work, to come out of the closet about mental illness. Like so many aspects of the self we still find necessary to keep hidden, a struggle with mental illness should probably be best kept under wraps. That's a private matter between the medical doctor and the patient.
For one thing, a state bar association could balk at a diagnosis of bipolar. Maybe the law student who passes the bar can get by with a treatment for clinical depression on the record. But, as Tufts psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi points out in his book "A First-Rate Madness," society might give clinical depression a free pass. However, it's a whole other matter with bipolar disease.
Secondly, what law firm, what prospect for services and what current client would choose to work with a professional known to have had a bout of mental illness? Like alcoholism, mental illness doesn't get cured. It only can be arrested. Relapse is possible. Also those with it may have more than the average problems with staying centered amid stress. Employers and clients might see that as a risk factor they don't want to deal with.
And, third, professionals have a right to their secrets. Those who surrender that right can do so. The rest probably figure it's smart to keep all illnesses in the closet. Sure, heads of public corporations have to disclose maladies. Most other professionals don't even have to go near that whole can of worms.
Law students should be aware of how stress can develop into mental illness. They should be encouraged to seek out help, on a confidential basis. The data about their treatment usually does not need to be widely shared.
Clarke chooses to be open. Since I am self-employed and in a creative field (Johns Hopkins psychologist Kay Jamison says we're sitting ducks for mental illness) I too can be open. Essentially, though, that should be the road less traveled.
Because most folks in a dispute don't really understand what mediation is, its brand equity tends to be lousy. The two or more sides feel safer each getting their own lawyers and adopting the traditional adversarial approach.
That could change quickly. U.S. Representative Mark Sanford and his former wife Jenny Sanford have opted to use it in Family Court. Here is the coverage by AP which has been picked up by Politico.
Parents in similar pickles about child custody issues might decide: If the warring Sanfords can cave to mediation, why not try it? After all the conventional way is expensive. Also, with cutbacks for court budgets, it might take a while to get on the docket for a traditional court case.
A one-time giant in lobbying and law, Thomas Boggs died at age 73 of a heart attack. He had founded powerhouse Patton Boggs, which recently merged with Squire Sanders. Here is the coverage reprinted in The National Law Journal.
Since his heyday both lobbying and the business of law have changed.
For instance, lobbying is now done more by individuals and boutique firms which specialize in a niche such as defense or technology. Squire Patton Boggs has been working to attract brandname individual lobbyists.
After the Crash of 2007 in the legal sector, the practice of law shifted from a profession to a zero-sum business. Patton Boggs couldn't make it on its own. The jury is still out if the merger will boost PPP. A current leader at Squire Patton Boggs Ed Newberry provided an insightful interview to Forbes on the overall state of the business of law. Essentially, his message is: Change or die. Here you can read that interview.