Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Robert Parker - "Law school deserves a great deal of credit for the success I have enjoyed in the field of wine."

Bitterlawyer.com has this great interview with the man, Robert Parker.

It's a great piece for lawyers, law students, wine drinkers, lawyers who drink wine, law students who drink wine, and just those interested in the concept of doing what you love.

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


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Law Students: Recognize These Three Words? Failed To Disclose

Taking over the number one slot, replacing "how do I get out of jury duty," the question "I failed to disclose an arrest (or 7) on my (law school application, bar application,) comes in via phone and e-mail throughout the week.

Although I enjoy speaking with Bar applicants, the frequency of this question and subsequent discussion bring me to this post, which I hope will provide the answers.


[1] If you are in law school and just realized through a conversation with a fellow student, professor, or while filling out your Bar application that you may have failed to disclose an arrest, DISCLOSE IT NOW. Otherwise known as AMEND YOUR APPLICATION. Go to the Admissions office and find out the proper procedure.

[2] DISCLOSE IT NOW. AMEND YOUR LAW SCHOOL APPLICATION No, don't think about whether you will be kicked out of law school, DISCLOSE IT NOW. AMEND YOUR APPLICATION.

[3] If the proper procedure is to "tell" a Dean, when you go to "tell" a Dean, bring with you a letter disclosing the arrest. This way when you are at your Bar hearing for failing to disclose, you won't have to try and remember when and where you "told a Dean."

[4] You are not the first person in the world or at your law school to fail to disclose an arrest. Get over it.

[5] Whether you failed to disclose because you had a sealed or expunged record and thought you didn't have to, or you were embarrassed, acknowledge the reason. Remember, at the moment you first attempt to fix your mistake, you are showing the Bar your candor and fitness to practice law.

[6] Whatever the law school requires you to do as "punishment" for failing to disclose, do it. Do not whine about it, try to get out of it, or not do it.


You have a little bit of a different problem. You now have a law degree. You wonder if they are going to take it away from you.

Probably not.

That's not legal advice or a prediction, that's just my thought based on my experience with this situation.


[2] If you do not DISCLOSE IT NOW, AMEND YOUR LAW SCHOOL APPLICATION the Bar will ask you to do after you apply to the Bar (if they haven't already)

[3] If you want to wait to see if they "find out about it," you are an idiot. One of the first things state Bars do it get copies of your law school application.

[4] You grads will notify the law school in writing. You will tell them why you failed to disclose. You also will be completely open.

[5] If it was one small arrest, you will probably receive a letter, copied to the Bar, saying something like they "don't condone your behavior," but allowing you to move on with no scars.

[6] If it is an issue of several arrests, you will receive a letter, copied to the Bar, saying that you are a piece of crap liar undeserving of Bar admission, but you can keep your degree scumbag.


Yeah, that was an interesting one for me too.

Good luck, and DISCLOSE, NOW.

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


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Worst Place To Find A Lawyer - Twitter

Twitter is the worst place to find a lawyer.

Twitter, a land of millions of people from all walks of life, boasts a large number of lawyers. Finding one when you need them is another thing. Go to twitter's search site, and it's a complete waste of time.

I don't use twitter for business, but I have tried to find lawyers for people, with little success.

I'd like someone to tell me the easiest way to find a lawyer on twitter with this example:

I get an email from someone looking for a criminal lawyer in Los Angeles. Assuming I'm not connected with one myself, how would I find them?

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


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Weekend With The Florida Board Of Bar Examiners

This past weekend the Florida Board of Bar Examiners were in session and I had the privilege to represent a few applicants. I won't discuss their individual cases, even without names, because the Board has 7 days to render decisions, and since we're on day 2, I'll just stick to some general observations.

[1] How long ago something happened is less important than what you took from it.

As much as I tell applicants not to talk about the arrest or some other event being "a long time ago," everyone does. For the most part, the Board understands a momentary lapse of judgement that occurred in your teenage years, but make sure you understand the seriousness of what happened. Even if it was "a while ago."

[2] If you're going to sweat in the waiting room, breathe heavy, and be on the verge of freaking out while waiting for your hearing, please, either hire a lawyer or bring someone with you.

I know after spending 3 years in school and coming to the point where 3 people are going to decide whether you become a lawyer, hiring a lawyer to help you is something you may be too stupid to do (I know, you've spend 5 or six figures on your education and a few more thousand dollars will end your life), but if so, at least bring your mom or dad, or good friend. Being on the verge of a heart attack in the waiting room is no way to beg for your law license.

[3] The Board is asking questions to gauge your attitude and truthfulness.

Yes, 99% of the questions they ask, they know the answers. Try to outguess them, and you lose. That little issue related to your arrest you think they dont know about, they do.

[4] If you have a lot of traffic tickets, be prepared to talk about them, even if you have more serious issues and the Board did not indicate their intention to ask you about your traffic record.

Just take that for what it's worth. Apparently more than one or two traffic tickets in your past is an issue of concern as far as your ability to practice law. Check in soon for a reason. Right now I just can't think of one.

[5] Pull the tie up to the collar and wear collar stays.

Look like a lawyer, not someone trying to look like they want to be a lawyer.

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


Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Death Of Big Law, Guess I'm Late To The Obituary

I've been pondering a "Death of Big Law" post for the last few weeks, but it appears I'm late to the game. Hellerdrone did my work for me, and it's great. I post it in it's entirety here (my favorite parts in bold):

"[Note: I write this obituary for large global law firms with no sense of joy or schadenfreude. Since genealogy is my passion in life, and I know the power of information that can be contained in a well-written death notice, I thought I'd take my turn at trying to summarize what I've witnessed over the past few months]

Thursday, February 12, 2009 aka “Black Thursday” or “The Pre-Valentine’s Day Massacre” — The concept of Biglaw - large, global, multi-office, multi-practice law firms, passed away on Thursday, February 12, 2009 in many locations with close to 1,100 legal profession layoffs.

Born in 1879 when Coudert Brothers - founded in New York in 1853 - opened its Paris office, the concept of a group of attorneys operating efficiently for the benefit of clients (and employees) and not just for their owners while providing quality legal services lasted approximately 130 years.

In the mid- to late-20th century, the idea that “economies of scale” and “efficiencies” (and whatever buzzword you care to apply) could be gained by congregating large groups of attorneys - ranging in age from recent twentysomething law school graduates to those who actually may have written the Code of Hammurabi - across multiple worldwide offices had its heyday.

But while riding in that fast car of larger offices, more attorneys, more locations, the warning signs of trying to go too far, too fast went unheeded. As others shouted about the “death of the billable hour” or that “disbursements are simply your overhead costs,” Biglaw proponents continued in their ego and monument building undeterred. Like a sexy, carefree and drunken girl in her date’s convertible just before reality (aka “that telephone pole” or “that other car”) came out of nowhere.

Also along for the ride were too many chiefs and directors who while tasked with efficiently administering day-to-day operations, simply became “yes men” and “yes women” telling partners what they wanted to hear; large marketing departments who failed to see that before you could market a law firm like a corporation, the law firm had to be run like a corporation; self-congratulating partners who stymied sound decision-making in lieu of simply going with something they felt was best; IT departments which suffered through the disasters of choices made based on the latest toy or gadget or program a partner had seen at a trade show or at a colleague’s firm; and too many outsourced employees whose jobs in records, document production, information rsources and other support departments disappeared long, long ago.

Friends, supporters, and detractors recall those crazy days with huge lavish parties around the holidays, the partner and all-attorney retreats with their oh-so-funny skits and other team-building exercises. Those days when per partner profits kept increasing year after year. Those days when it seemed it would never end. But it did.

Biglaw leaves behind thousands of loyal former employees who will be lucky to find similar positions in today’s economy and can look forward to long stints of unemployment or underemployment; empty but elegantly decorated temples to those crazy days when the wiser decision might have been to scale back or to make do; and partners who’d rather hack off entire groups of employees than see their profits descend more than 3% when compared to the year prior.

Biglaw is survived by those who got out of the field long ago; those who managed to build networks and skill sets that could transcend the legal practice and survive in any economic time; those who never took the sweet but soon bitter pill.

In lieu of condolences, well-wishers are simply reminded: to take care of yourself and to examine the important things in life - today, not tomorrow; to try and help your former colleagues as best you can; to offer advice but also offer an ear; to remold yourself and pursue what you really want to do in life, not what you have to do to survive; and to not let this history be repeated, if possible."

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


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Former BigLaws Have Pinnacle Level Knowledge, Maybe

This "Solo is the new Soho" post is making it's way around the blawgosphere. Lawyers are passing it on as a "must read." I wonder if some of them read the article, or just the title. It's always nice to jump on a trend.

I guess some of those passing it on arehappy to be passive in watching the former BigLaw PR machine get to work, to the detriment of solos everywhere.

The post is written by Bob Ambrogi, a man I well respect as an author and blogger.

His "Soho" theme is described as:

"If solo practice was a neighborhood, trendy restaurants would be opening next to long-established pizza parlors and coffee shops. A small art gallery would be setting up shop next to the old corner bar. Apartment buildings would be turning into co-ops and young urban professionals would be snapping them up. As big firms slice jobs, solo is suddenly hip, it seems.

Bob goes on to say what we all knew would happen:

"The National Law Journal reports this week that starting their own firm is becoming layoff option number one for many lawyers who see pink slips coming their way."

Then I'm stopped dead in my tracks:

Technology consultant Ross Kodner has come up with a name for this new breed of large-firm refugees who start their own firms -- the BigSolo. "These folks aren't ordinary solo practitioners in the way we've come to think of the category ... BigSolos have pinnacle level substantive knowledge in their single chosen practice area," Kodner says.

What? Is this the beginning of the former BigLaw PR machine? "Hire us as solos, we're better than what's out there."

I'm all about survival, but this continuation of lawyers eating their own does nothing for our reputation in the world.

Anyone who thinks there is an advantage to hiring a former BigLaw-turned-solo-out-of-desperation, who has never even made their own coffee, put paper in the copy machine, set their own deposition, interviewed a new client, negotiated a fee, written a letter, is, well, probably a typical gullible potential client all caught up in the wonder of it all. "Ooooh, you used to work in one of those big firms?" "I want you!."

After a few hours of outrage over this asinine comment, comments to the post confirming my perception of what was said, Ross Kodner explains he was taken out of context.

And he was, kind of.

Ross explains:

".....the quote doesn't accurately present my view and definition of BigSolos, as is evidenced by some of the comments to your post. The full "SmallLaw" column from Technolawyer.com is at http://blog.technolawyer.com/2009/02/smalllaw-bigsolo.html. At a minimum, it's critical to finish the thought you posted - where I said that while a BigSolo might have "pinnacle" level substantive knowledge, most have little or no knowledge of running a law practice as a business. And to address one of the commenters, I did NOT mean to imply that ALL BigSolos have "pinnacle level knowledge." The ones I've worked with do seem to be at that level, however."

Ross, I'm still confused.

What is "pinnacle level knowledge?" How does one get that at BigLaw and not in solo practice, or is that not what you are saying either?

Are you saying that a 10 year solo practicing in a specific niche is not at the level of the 10 year former BigLaw who practiced in a specific area?

I understand your full comment was not printed in Bob's post and the important point that former BigLaws have no idea how to run a practice was left out. However, I am still wondering about this "pinnacle level knowledge."

The way I see it, this is just the beginning of the former BigLaw PR machine that is directed at trying to convince an unknowing public that now that the former BigLaws have arrived in our world, we are blessed.

Finally blessed with lawyers with "pinnacle level knowledge."

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