Friday, January 23, 2009

Jeena Belil Wants To Talk To Those Freaking Out At BigLaw



Attorney Jeena Belil is one of my favorite people I've never met. We converse on twitter and have very similar philosophies on the practice of law.

Jeena has penned this post, that anyone thinking of going solo must read.

She begins:

"You may be working in a law firm right now and silently freaking out over what is to become of your job, but you may not have to. Now may be the perfect time to go solo. I did, and I’ll never go back. It can be done."

Read it.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

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17 comments:

shg said...

And what do you tell the inspired Biglaw associate who follows in Jeena's foosteps and . . . fails.

Some B-school guy started Fed-Ex and became wealthy. If I do so tomorrow, will I become wealthy too? Be cautious of success stories. For each, there is a spectacular failure. Often more.

Brian Tannebaum said...

So what's your point? That there are certain lawyers that shouldn't be pushed to leave the comfort of BigLaw? If so, I completely agree. This applies as well in criminal law. There are plenty of outstanding public defenders and prosecutorsa that would never (and admittedly so) do well in private practice.

As much as I chide BigLaw for not creating great self-sufficient lawyers, there is that need for the researchers, and "office" lawyers who have no interest in taking a case from start to finish, or ever meeting a client.

shg said...

My point is that this push for solo needs balance, and posts like Jeena's, and blogs like Susan's, are all cheerleading with no balance. It's great that Jeena is happy with her choice, but that doesn't make it the right choice for everyone, and that doesn't mean everyone who makes the choice is going to find success.

This is one of those subjects where there are two sides to the story, and both sides need to be told.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Is it really their responsibility to warn or counsel the socially inept or otherwise not-ready-for-solo-time lawyers on their sites? Their M.O is touting the benefits of going solo. The lawyers considering going solo all have their fears, do people with law degrees and bar licenses really need to hear "don't try this at home?"

shg said...

Of course they do. That's the difference between selling and advicing. If you're putting this into the category of selling a product, and are of the view that it's all puffery and caveat emptor, then there would be expectation of either balance or honesty. But it's being projected as an honest approach to going solo, not as commercial puffery.

When touting how easy something is, how wonderful it is, how great it works out and why all the problems associated with it don't happen, a responsible and honest approach is to provide a balance. Compare Carolyn Elefant, particularly in her book Solo By Choice, where she explains the good and bad. She doesn't mask the problems or deny real issues. She recognizes them and addresses them. That's honest and helpful advice.

So is Jeena's post about promoting a product or providing honest and helpful advice? If the former, then it should be clear that it's hype. If the latter, it should be balanced.

And if people with law degrees and bar licenses need to hear any of this at all (including it being repeated here), then they need to hear it presented honestly. Do you have a problem with honesty and balance?

Brian Tannebaum said...

Scott, I think if you are going to speak of honesty and balance with any credibility in relation to Jeena's post, you should first read it.

Jeena does three things: She tells those considering solo not to be so fearful, she advises what she did to lead to her success as a solo, and she suggests other resources including Carolyn's great book.

Not sure how that is "hype" or salesmanship.

What else should she have done?

shg said...

I did read it, and am also familiar with its role at Susan's blog of being part of an inspirational story with the purpose of pushing solo practice as the panacea, trivializing its problems and extolling its virtues.

I have long admired Susan's efforts in this area, but have similarly long been concerned that it be part of a balanced presentation rather than an orchestrated sales presentation masquerading as blog post. Jeena is one of the latest tools in the presentation, and the one which you have chosen to post about. This is why the discussion arises here, where my original comment is included to temper the cheerleading.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Wait a minute, you have no issue with the post but an issue with where it is written?

You talk abou "its role at Susan's blog of being part of an inspirational story with the purpose of pushing solo practice as the panacea, trivializing its problems and extolling its virtues."

So you believe the context in which it is written is to create an impression that solo practice is utopia? OK, but read the post and pretend it wasn't in a place in which you believe is a one-sided presentation on a type of practice in which you believe anyone talking about it is required to present both sides. (I thought we always objected to people who required both sides be heard?)

Jeena's post is nothing more than a list of how she started her practice. And again, she links to the very resource you tout as "balanced."

So I guess using your complaint, you believe Jeena has a house that is way too nice for the neighborhood.

shg said...

If you go back to my original comment, which isn't an attack on Jeena at all, you'll see how you've taken it down the wrong path to arrive at the wrong conclusion because of your initial mistaken assumption.

But that's okay. We love you anyway.

Brian Tannebaum said...

your first coment was that we should all be careful when reading success stories because there are failures as well.

So what?

Today's weather is clear skies. Should I not proceed with plans outdoors because tomorrow it may rain?

Should there be a "Failures of Solo Practice" site?" If so, would you post there that they shouldn't be so negative because there are many success stories?

I assume you'll retort that I just don't understand your point. But the problem is that I think I do.

shg said...

One should never assume, following Felix's advice.

Whether you understand my point or not, I can't say. Your reaction of "so what," on the other hand, suggests that you would prefer not to risk any potential sprain of unused muscles in the effort. With concern for your health and well-being, I will try to assist.

There are voices pumping and pumping and pumping solo practice as the panacea. And indeed, solo practice is often the poor stepchild of the law, seen as a poor substitute for the glory and wealth that comes with employment in Biglaw.

The opposite, however, is not solo failure, but solo realities. This is what is meant by balance. With so much hyping of solo practice in the blawgosphere, together with its concommittant minization of the less attractive realities of solo practice, and the denial of distinct problems, we are left with only solo practice cheerleading. This is neither helpful nor honest for those pondering the choice.

Since you've elected to highlight Jeena's post on Susan's blog, you've thrust yourself into the mix of solo cheerleading, which is why I commented to bring a word of balance to the reader.

I'm sure this is your understanding as well, but thought it might be helpful to spell it out in greater detail so that there would be no confusion. I do this only because of the great admiration I have for you and the influence you wield in the blawgosphere.

Brian Tannebaum said...

So your concern is that her post was placed on a solo cheerleading blog? Standing alone it is merely her list of what she did, with links to more "balanced" resources.

shg said...

Did I mention that you are fine, upstanding American and a credit to the greater Miami area? And, might I add, you look quite dashing in your gravatar photograph. Your wife is a very fortunate woman indeed.

Susan Cartier Liebel said...

I've got pom poms to shake and I've been shakin' 'em my entire life:

http://susancartierliebel.typepad.com/build_a_solo_practice/2008/02/tip-of-the-we-3.html

Josh King said...

I'd add that balance isn't really needed. Anybody in biglaw considering going solo will already have done some serious hand-wringing over the risks and tradeoffs, real or imagined.

Jonathan said...

It's a common statistics problem. People do not report faiures and so stats are inaccurate, inomplete and misleading. Of course successful solos have blogs.

If it was that easy to be a successful solo everyone would be doing it.

Jonathan said...

It's a common statistics problem. People do not report faiures and so stats are inaccurate, inomplete and misleading. Of course successful solos have blogs.

If it was that easy to be a successful solo everyone would be doing it.