Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can We Lawyers Just Shut Up About Twitter And Tweet?

I think I've read one too many blog posts about how to behave on twitter.

I read this one today on how to get "unfollowed."

Twitter is like a big cocktail party. There's different people, having different conversations, some more interesting than others, and some that cause people to run for the bar, or the door.

I tweet. I tweet about law, wine, Miami, current events, and whatever else comes up that may be interesting to me.

The newness of twitter has created an environment where everyone has an opinion as to how it should be used. I'm growing tired of it all.

As a lawyer, I am a member of several e-mail lists. I get e-mails that make my skin crawl, I see the same people that cannot understand how to "respond off line," I read personal stories that have no business on the list, yet I remain. I remain because overall, these lists provide good information, and allow for the back-and-forth that lawyers need to bounce information off each other.

I know that the lawyers on twitter are lawyers. I'm not really interested in a 24/7 tweetfest about law. I don't mind learning the personal side of these lawyers. Let's face it, most people think lawyers are a bunch of boring assholes that charge too much. We know (for the most part) that this is not the case.

I have no interest in what any lawyer is having for dinner, or that their kid won't sleep, or that their flight is delayed. But these "tweets" don't change or ruin my life.

I also don't care if someone disagrees with me. It amazes me that a lawyer, seemingly committed to the constitution, will "unfollow" someone because they have differing political views. I am connected with a serious right-wing conservative lawyer on twitter, and we have nice debates on our differing views. It's America, we're lawyers, it's shameful that a difference of opinion would cause us to "unfollow" each other. Are you truly a lawyer if you cannot take someone publically disagreeing with you and debating your beliefs?

I'm also tired of the preaching about what lawyers should do on twitter. It does not belong to us, or the marketers, the SEO people, or any other faction. Let's lose the arrogance and criticism of those who are just so beneath us. You want to tweet about law all day, go. Just go.

I have my own peeves on twitter. I've unfollowed one person, someone who couldn't take a joke and loudly unfollowed me. He's now realized I was kidding, so he's following me again, although with no apology for his ridiculous personal attacks.

Some people though, are trying to make twitter their own personal conversation. They spend more time trying to avoid the "noise," then they do participating in a good discussion.

Twitter is like an expressway. There's traffic. There's good drivers, and idiots. Some of the good drivers are sometimes idiots. Good drivers have accidents. Sometimes people pull their pants down and stick their ass out of the window. To some it's funny, to others, it destroys their moral well-being.

We all need to lighten up a bit.

So as lawyers, I ask that we just be tolerable. That we tweet about law, music, culture, family, dinner (but not too much) and whatever else makes us interesting.

Again, it's a cocktail party. If you don't like it, quietly grab your date and go have dinner. That's what professionals do.

Oh, and if this post offends you and you must unfollow, I'm MIAMICRIMLAW on twitter.

Have at 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


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


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is It OK To Make Money As A Lawyer?

Last night, a comment I made on twitter caused a raging debate about lawyers and money.

I said: "People who go to law school to become lawyers for the purpose of making money are no different then prostitutes."

My meaning? Prostitutes are engaged in an important function: sex. In some relationships sex is part of love, in others, it's just superficial, like prostitution.

My comment was interpreted as being critical of lawyers who make good money.

After an hour so of debate, some got it.

My point was that those that enter law only to make money, are part of the problem.

If your only purpose for going to law school. for practicing law, is to make money, then you have no sense of the higher calling that is the profession.

Being a lawyer is important.

Making money is a nice thing.

I believe one of the reasons we are so hated in society is because of the notion that we are all "rich." Truth be told, most lawyers are not rich, but "rich" is usually defined as someone who makes $1 more than the person making the accusation.

That being said, we did not take an oath to poverty. When I hear a PI lawyer obtained a $100 million verdict, or a fellow criminal lawyer got a six-figure fee for a big case, or a divorce lawyer is working on a multi-million dollar divorce, I say "way to go."

Doctors make good money, health care costs are out of control, but you dont hear people being critical of doctors salaries. It's not sexy. Unless it's a charity medical procedure, you never hear that a patient received a heart transplant and the doctor received $50,000. When we hear how much people make, the worst in us comes out.

Lawyers work hard to build practices. We go to school at least 3 years longer than most others, and the stresses of the career are not well understood. Many of us lay awake at night, having absorbed as our own the problems of our clients.

And yes, there are scumbags among us, those that give us a "bad name." There is bad in every profession. No segment of the workforce is exempt. Unfortunately when lawyers are criticized, it's often preceded by the term "money grubbing."

I just wish we could weed out those lawyers in law school.

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


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just Some Personal Thoughts On The Inauguration

I read the letter that President-elect Obama wrote to his two daughters prior to today’s Inauguration, and so it is in that light, for the benefit of my own two daughters, that I write my thoughts on what I witnessed today.

My wife suggested that we watch the Inauguration together. It is a Tuesday, a normal workday. But the day is more relevant as it is the day after a holiday, the birthday of Martin Luther King. So although I had much work to do, I asked another lawyer to cover a ministerial hearing, cancelled an appointment, and spent the day with my wife.

We drove to a local restaurant and sat at the bar. We ordered drinks, real drinks, and lunch. Throughout the restaurant were the flat-screen TV’s, the one closest to us on CBS.

As it got closer to the ceremony, the bar filled up. At one point the bartender, Arthur said: This is the most people I’ve seen here at this time ever, I already love Obama.” Clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment that Obama was already fixing the deteriorating economy.

I had this prevailing thought: “Why is this such a big deal?” I’ve seen Inaugurations. Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Bush.

Then the prayer by Rick Warren. People in the bar were praying along with him.

Then the cheer when Obama was sworn in. Then the speech.

The bar was silent. People were eating and drinking, and saying nothing.

When President Obama spoke of his father not being able to get a seat in a restaurant less than 60 years ago and now he was taking the oath of the highest office in the land – it hit me.

The significance, at least to me, was that we had elected a black man.

I immediately wondered what it must be like to be black in America, today. The feeling, the empowerment. The joy.

So yes, he’s 47. He’s cool. He plays basketball. He has two girls like me. But what almost drove me to tears was the realization that he is the first black President of the United States.

Tonight I took my kids to dinner, their mother, my wife, was out with my sister. My kids began spontaneously singing the national anthem. My 9 year old was remembering things President Obama said in his speech. She watched it in school today. My 6 year old got excited when I told her she could watch the President dancing with his wife on TV tonight.

Republican, Democrat, whatever. Today was special. Really special.

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


Monday, January 19, 2009

James Taylor's Take On MLK

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


Sunday, January 18, 2009

What The Arizona Cardinals Can Teach Lawyers And Law Students

The Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl.

The "underdog" Arizona Cardinals. The "improbable" Arizona Cardinals. The led-by-the-third-oldest-quarterback-to-go-to-the-Super-Bowl-Arizona Cardinals.

When the Cardinals were set to play the Carolina Panthers last week, an online forum had this post stating 5 reasons why the Cardinals would beat the Panthers.

I analogize it to why lawyers should never under estimate their colleagues, and why you as a lawyer, or soon to be lawyer, should never be intimidated by anyone with a law license.

The anonymous poster, named "Yukmouth 2005" gives the 5 following reasons the Cardinals would beat the Panthers:

I want you to read this from the perspective of a lawyer:

5) The Role of Underdog

"With the exception of diehard Cardinals’ fans, no one expects the Redbirds to pull off the upset in Carolina Saturday night."

"Although the Cardinals shouldn’t need motivation, being overlooked can help this young team gain that little extra focus needed to win on the road. Not to mention that with Carolina being a 9.5 point favorite, the largest spread of the weekend, the Panthers may be looking forward to the NFC Championship Game rather than taking care of business at home."

4) Every streak has to come to an end

The Cardinals are 0-5 in games east of the Mississippi this year and 2-19 over the last 6 seasons, while the Panthers are 8-0 at home this year. Not encouraging stats when you think about it, but every streak has to come to an end right?

3) Edgerrin James

"Edge has been the Britney Spears of the NFL in the last few weeks. Like Britney, he teetered on the edge of irrelevance, only to reinvent himself and thrust himself back into the spotlight. If he continues to be effective when called upon, the Cardinals offense is next to unstoppable. That balanced attack could propel the Cards to victory.

2) Week 8 of the NFL season: Panthers 27, Cardinals 23

How can a 27-23 loss be reason for optimism?

The Cardinals know that they can hang with the Panthers in Carolina because of this game. If they can minimize mistakes and follow a similar game plan to that of Week 8, they should be in strong position to win.

1) Kurt Warner

Plain and simple, Kurt Warner knows how to win in big situations. As the starting quarterback in 1994 at Northern Iowa he won the Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship. In the Arena Football League, Warner was 5-3 as a starter in the playoffs with two arena bowl appearances in his 3 seasons. As a starting quarterback in the NFL, he is 7-2 in the playoffs with two trips to the Super Bowl.

Every time Kurt Warner seems to be counted out, he finds a way to win. His experience and leadership are enough to give the Cardinals a good chance.

Never underestimate yourself, let others do that.

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


Saturday, January 17, 2009

For All Lawyers And Law Students Going Through A "Tough Time"

Hat tip: Tim Ferriss

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


Friday, January 16, 2009

5 Thoughts On Going Solo

[1] Decide what type of lawyer you want to be.

If you are going to do door law ("whatever walks in the door"), you will be a failure. You will be running around town doing mildly competent work for little money. Be a master of a practice area, or two at the most.

[2] Keep your mouth shut.

If you now work for a firm, don't talk to anyone there. Not even that guy. Find your advice outside the firm. Far outside the firm.

[3] Don't buy shit.

"Shit" meaning garbage. There's plenty of resources out there that appear to be important. I recommend a shared office space arrangement for low or work-for rent rates, a computer, and business cards to start. Most other stuff turns out to be "shit."

[4] Read everything you can.

There are so many resources on-line. Here's the result of a quick Google search for "lawyer going solo."

[5] Stay out of the office.

If you want to do the mass mailing thing, great. Then you can stay in your office and take calls. If you are building a referral based business, every lunch you eat at your desk costs you money. If you don't understand that, I can't help you.

Good Luck.

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


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Avvo's General Counsel Answers Some Questions

Avvo has been the subject of much conversation lately, especially on twitter.

The ABA's 2nd highest criminal blawger Scott Greenfield and I wrote some candid thoughts about Avvo in the last couple days. The result for me was that Joshua King, Avvo's Vice President of Business Development and General Counsel, elected to begin following my comments on twitter.

Uh Oh.

Not exactly. Josh turns out to be a lovely guy, and accepted my invitation to answer some questions about Avvo here on the blog.

Here you go, in its entirety and without edits:

How do you describe Avvo? Is it a “lawyer directory,” at its core?

Avvo is designed to provide consumers with more guidance than they’ve had before when handling their legal matters. While this includes general guidance (in the form of Avvo Answers and Avvo Legal Guides), the lawyer directory is the core feature.

Why would a consumer use Avvo instead of or any other lawyer directory?

Guidance and depth of content. The Avvo directory contains more lawyer profiles than any other directory. Importantly, it also provides far more guidance. Avvo profiles tell you at a glance how long an attorney has been licensed and whether an attorney has been sanctioned. It offers thousands of client reviews of lawyers, and deep content on attorney profiles – areas of practice, publications, work experience, etc.

Avvo also offers a consumer-friendly path to finding a lawyer by legal problem and geography, and integration between its general guidance products and the attorney directory. That way, a consumer looking for high-level info on how to handle a looming legal issue via Avvo Answers or a Legal Guide can click through to the profile of the attorney providing the information and start a conversation about legal representation.

Is Avvo intended for consumers, lawyers, or both?

Although Avvo is designed to make it easy for consumers to find a lawyer, it is equally amenable to attorneys looking to hire local counsel, refer a case or research opposing counsel or a potential hire. Obviously, to make it useful for consumers we also need to make it useful for attorneys as a means to market their practice. We do that by making the profiles entirely free for attorneys and firms, and we’re in the beginning stages of offering advertising opportunities to attorneys.

However, our touchstone is always the consumer. We don’t accede to attorney requests to delete profiles, sanctions records or negative client reviews that otherwise meet our guidelines.

What is the theory behind rating a lawyer based on what that lawyer enters into their own profile? Do you see opportunities for dishonesty by the lawyers?

You could lie on the Tannebaum Weiss website, right? While there is always the opportunity for dishonesty by lawyers, we think there is little risk of this:

• Most attorneys are very focused on the value of their reputation, particularly with respect to integrity and credibility (plus, your competitors will rat you out if you lie about your bona fides).
• Attorneys are subject to state bar rules that involve stiff penalties for making knowing misrepresentations.
• Finally, the Avvo system uses a mix of human review and an extensive database to ensure credibility. We’ll review any claimed organization, publication or award that isn’t in our database, and we audit – both via spot checks and reviews of scores that appear to be outliers – to stay on top of any potential problems.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the algorithm behind the Avvo Rating is highly sophisticated. It was developed with input from legal scholars, mathematicians, and hundreds of practicing lawyers. While attorneys can enter all sorts of information in their profiles, that doesn’t mean all of this information impacts the Avvo Rating. Completing a triathlon in record time might be interesting to potential clients, but it’s not going to raise your score.

How would you describe the Avvo Rating?

Imagine a friend of yours runs into legal trouble here in Seattle, and you don’t personally know any attorneys who can help them. So you do some research and look into the background of some potential choices – how long have they practiced, experience in the specialty, industry leadership, where did they go to school, etc. You can do that because you’re an experienced attorney.

The vast majority of consumers aren’t experienced attorneys. They don’t know any attorneys. The Avvo Rating is, in essence, an attempt to provide consumers with the benefit of that “resume evaluation” that you or I would do when examining the background of an attorney we didn’t know. Is the rating subjective? Of course – it’s our take on which items in an attorney’s background should “count,” and how much weight should be applied to those factors. You and I would probably weigh elements in attorney backgrounds differently, based on our different experiences. However, the Avvo Rating IS objectively applied to all attorneys. There’s not the element of “who you know” found in ratings based exclusively on peer review.

Ultimately, a lot of the criticism of the Avvo Rating seems directed at the idea that the Avvo Rating is some sort of be-all, end-all evaluation of an attorney’s competence. It’s not. It’s simply our evaluation, based on the factors that we feel are important, of the likelihood that an attorney will be able to help a consumer out. We’ve put a lot of thought into the rating, and we feel it provides consumers with a terrific piece of guidance that they’ve never had access to before. However, as we point out repeatedly on the site, it’s only one element in choosing a lawyer, and no substitute for sitting down and making sure you are comfortable with an attorney’s competence, communication and approach before hiring them.

How much time is invested by Avvo into the disciplinary database? Have issues arisen where a lawyer is incorrectly listed as having discipline or vice versa and how is that handled?

This is an area that isn’t always well-understood by lawyers, so I’m happy to have the chance to describe it in more detail. While some would have us report any bad (or alleged bad) acts, we’ve chosen not to substitute our judgment for that of the state bar regulators:

• Whenever we launch a state or update that state’s information, we include information on bar sanctions.
• We don’t include complaints or most non-final discipline.
• We don’t include criminal allegations or convictions, except to the extent such result in final bar discipline.
• We only include sanctions we can confirm with the bar or court.

Now, here’s the problematic part: Bar discipline is imposed all the time, but we only do a full update of a state’s records a couple of times a year. We’d love to update more frequently, but as I’ve blogged about in some detail, obtaining attorney licensing records from the states is no mean feat. I had to petition the New Jersey Supreme Court to gain access to that state’s records, and it’s still like pulling teeth to get updates on individual lawyers (the court recently told our data team that they wanted us to only check on one attorney disciplinary record per day!) Incidentally, Florida is probably the most notable exception – they are very easy to work with, and will send us updates on disc, on request.

So, what to do? We update attorney profiles when we learn of discipline, either from the regular sources we review (e.g., monthly bar magazines), news stories or when attorneys or consumers notify us of new bar discipline. It’s not perfect, and there is going to be a lag in some cases. I encourage anybody to notify us of bar discipline that they don’t see on Avvo, and if we can confirm it, we will update it.

With respect to bar discipline being reported incorrectly, this is a rare occurrence. In some states we obtain licensing and disciplinary records from two different authorities and integrate the records; that creates the possibility for mistakes, particularly when a non-sanctioned attorney shares the same name as a sanctioned attorney. We’ll fix these issues immediately when we find them or they are brought to our attention.

Where does Avvo see itself in 5 years?

We want to be the #1 consumer source for legal guidance. We launched about 18 months ago, and we’re already the second-most-trafficked online legal directory, with over one million visits per month. And we haven’t even started marketing to consumers . . .

More specifically, there are a number of things we’re doing or would like to do to make the site more useful to both consumers and lawyers:

• Advertising Opportunities: We’re testing lawyer ads, and we’ll be launching our ad platform next month. We’ve seen a lot of interest from lawyers, and some criticism that ads will hurt our credibility. To that I say: Hold your judgment. We will simply provide attorneys a way to promote themselves at the top of the list – much as Google serves up “sponsored listings” at the top of search query results – while still providing the full sortable search results list we provide today. And of course, the Avvo Rating will not be influenced by advertising.
• More States: Avvo currently covers 22 states, plus D.C., representing about 85% of all lawyers. One problem is that the ability to access bar records from states is, if anything, inversely proportionate to a state’s size. It can actually be harder and more costly to get and integrate these records, and we continue to have protracted discussions with several of the larger states currently missing from our database. As we have more resources, we will look at undertaking the work to get these records.
• Better Integration With Bar Data: I’m still waiting for a licensing authority to give us a real-time feed of licensing and disciplinary data, or at least a regular e-mail update. That would solve a lot of the concerns about lagging disciplinary data and new admittees.

Avvo participates in social media. For example, you are active on twitter. What has the benefit been from Avvo’s perspective?

I was a Twitter naysayer initially – figured it was all a bunch of navel gazing: “just got back from the grocery store;” “making dinner;” “bored – maybe TV tonite?” – that sort of thing. But I’ve become a convert. For a business, it’s a terrific way to keep on top of what people are saying about you – good, bad or indifferent. We can listen to concerns and address issues in real time. It also helps build community for lawyers using Avvo or thinking about using it. I’ve also found it tremendously helpful in alerting me to news and analysis I would not have easily found otherwise.

And the thing is, I’ve found that I like a certain amount of the navel-gazing stuff – it adds an element of personality and fun. Just don’t send out five messages in a row detailing your shopping list . . .

Thanks Josh, appreciate the information.

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


Lawyers And Newspaper Reporters, Part II

I'd like to think in my own sadistic "everything-is-karma" head that the reason newspapers are disintegrating is because of their treatment of lawyers. I know it's because of ad revenue decline, but my theory gives me some solace.

Previously I wrote "Why Criminal Defense Lawyers Hate The Media."

I started out saying that as a young lawyer I was advised not to talk to the media. I ignored that advice. I figured if the other side was going to try to get an advantage through the media, there was no problem with me letting the community know that my client was "not guilty," and that we "intend to fight the case." I may also be able to correct some mis-information, and possibly get some "inside scoop" from the newly-friended reporter.

The first in a list of pieces of advice in that post:

1. Don't waste my time.

I'm happy to spend 5 minutes on the phone with you because you are not a lawyer and don't understand certain aspects of a criminal case.

I'm not happy to spend 20 minutes on the phone about my case, explaining the facts and other things you don't understand, only to read a story about the case that repeatedly quotes the prosecutor and makes it appear like the client has no lawyer, and we never spoke.

This morning I stopped wondering whether reporters will ever learn.

Last week I received a call from a reporter. He was doing a story on a controversial judicial race two counties away. He wanted to know if I knew anything about the race and the subsequent Bar discipline of the young criminal defense lawyer who shockingly beat the 24 year incumbent criminal judge.

A fascinating case for this lawyer.

"Why yes I do." "I know the parties, and have read every story on the race."

I asked "Why did you call me?"

"My editor gave me your name and asked that I call you."

So I spent about 20 minutes with this reporter. Had a great conversation. I disagreed with the premise of his story that there was a conspiracy and he seemed genuinely interested in my contrasting opinion. He recorded the conversation with my consent, as the paper has an online version where they now post podcasts of interviews.

Nothing I said is in the paper today. A few seconds of the recorded interview is tucked into the end of the story online.

Podcasting is the only thing the paper does that is different, the stale method of wasting lawyers time, is alive and well.

Having written a previous post on this issue, I've obviously been here before. I used to call the reporter and say "what gives?"

Now, I just wait for the next call from the same reporter and politely decline to talk to them. Go waste someone else's time. In the end, you'll probably be writing more about who didn't return your call then who you spoke to, because you've abused the lawyer's time.

There's also another reason I no longer call the reporter.

Excuse #1 of why a reporter speaks to a lawyer for a half hour and then prints a story with no evidence a conversation ever took place is "my editor took you out."

The problem is that I've spoken to editors when this happens, and have been told "I didn't take you out."

Ping pong.

I wrote about this as well:

2. "My editor cut you out" and "I had a space issue," have run their course.

Do all of you in the media know that we hear these excuses daily? We would more believe the dog ate your homework. And why do you not tell your editor that the defense lawyer was very helpful in the story and you would at least like the story to be fair to both sides (THERE'S a concept!).

These are the same reporters that will call on deadline, not be able to reach the lawyer because they may be surprisingly in court, in an important client meeting, at the hospital with a family member, or heavens forbid, just too damn busy to talk to a reporter whose editor is going to cut them out of the story.

Then they'll freely print "Brian Tannebaum, the defendant's lawyer, did not return calls before deadline. i.e. "that rude lawyer."

Another problem is that when lawyers complain about this they are seen as "publicity hounds," or not willing to give of their time without recognition.

Here's my question? Who called who?

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


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where Will All The Lawyers And Law Students Go?

Like the crawl on the bottom of the cable new channels, the news of laid off lawyers and law students not finding jobs continues to scroll. Each day, several times a day, we read about this BigLaw firm ditching associates, partners, this medium size law firm merging with that medium size law firm, law students everywhere wondering if they will even get an interview.

Why hire a law student for $100,000 when there's plenty of laid off lawyers looking for something close to that amount?

One thing I haven't read: Where's everyone going?

One day you're a lawyer at BigLaw, feeding the machine, polising the golden handcuffs, the next day, you're at home, reading about the demise of your colleagues on the internet.

So where is everyone? Working at Best Buy? Living off savings? Hanging out shingles? Merely freaking out?

I'd like to know. Seems like there's plenty of people to answer this question.

If you're a laid off lawyer or dream filled law student, consider voting in the appropriate poll over there on the right.

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


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

AVVO Had Credibility At Some Point?

Lots of discussion lately about AVVO, the newest lawyer rating website.

Leading Lawyer Marketing Blogger Larry Bodine has this post of a collection of other bloggers mention of AVVO, including one from my dear friend Scott Greenfield, who laments about AVVO beginning to sell ads on their site.

Larry, my friend, in this humble lawyer's opinion, AVVO never had credibility.

My basis for saying this?

When I first looked at AVVO my rating was 6.2. I had done nothing with my profile. I have no idea from where this rating came.

I began to enter details of my practice and highlights of my career. It went to 7 point something, to 8.3 to finally, 10.0.

I am rated 10.0 on AVVO because I entered a bunch of crap that happened in my career in the last 15 years. Offices I've held, awards I've received. All true, but none of it verified.

That's not a rating system, that's nothing more than a technological version of that carnival game where you slam a huge mallet on a scale and the numbers go up and up and up.

I have on my website that I have this rating, as certain clients may care. I can tell you though that if anyone ever mentioned it to me in the hiring process, I'd be quick to tell them I think it's a bunch of crap.

It's a game. I think it took me 4 minutes to go from 6.2 to 10.0

That's about all on AVVO.

I was just wondering why anyone in the legal community ever thought this site was credible.

It's just not, in my 10.0 opinion.

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


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

8 Ways A Law Student Gets Their Cover Letter And Resume In My Garbage

[1] Spell my name or the name of my firm wrong.

[2] Immediately advise that you are irrelevant to my practice. I do criminal defense and Bar work. I don't care that your experience is working in a personal injury firm.

[3] Send a letter from another state and don't specify why you're moving to Miami or when.

[4] Say nothing that indicates you've even taken the time to look at my firms website.

[5] Say nothing about what type of lawyer you want to be. More specifically, you make it clear you're looking for a "job," any job.

[6] You say nothing interesting. You've been on this planet at least 20 years. You must have something interesting to say.

[7] You address the letter to "managing partner." Ever heard of Google?

[8] You lack creativity. I know you're a law student with a grade point average. Begin with something else.

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


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Law Students: Good News! You Don't Need A Lawyer, For Anything

One of the best parts of my practice is representing law students trying to gain admission to the Florida Bar. I love making that call: "you're a lawyer." I love walking out of a hearing knowing that things went well, even when my client disagrees.

I hate this question: "Do I need a lawyer for this?"

"For this?"

"For this."

You mean the one moment you will have to convince those that hold your future whether you are worthy of admission to their club?

Truth be told, this is the most frequently asked question.

Not, "what's the hearing like?" "How do I prepare?" "What might happen?"

The most frequently asked question, translated, is "I know I spent 3 arduous years, tens of thousands of dollars and have put my life into my future, but can I get away with doing this on my own, saving some money?

The answer is "Yes!"

You don't need a lawyer "for this."

In fact, let me help you as you enter the legal profession, telling your clients that a client who represents themselves has a fool for a lawyer.

You don't need a lawyer, for anything.

Traffic ticket? Why hire a ticket lawyer who lives in traffic court when you can crack open a book and handle it yourself?

Will? You can get a will online. No need for a lawyer to give you advice on tax consequences or protecting your kids.

Buying a house? What could go wrong?

Minor arrest? Hey, you're a lawyer, you can tell the judge you didn't do it.

Injured? Work it out with your insurance company. Save the 40% you have to pay a lawyer.

So, no, you don't need a lawyer "for this."

You just need to stop asking me, and start asking yourself.

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