Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seeking Out Failure

Every once in a while I check in with some of my favorite resident snake oil salesmen. you know, the ones who promise desperate lawyers clients, and in turn, much money, if you just listen to (and pay) them for their "secrets?" I want to make sure their secret is still safe with the internet - that lawyers still haven't put them out of business by outing them as frauds.

I'm never disappointed.

So this morning, I clicked over to Mr. "let me show you how to start a law firm in 90 days" to see what he was up to (sorry, no link love here).

There he is, traveling the country, sponsored by a couple prominent companies (that also sell to lawyers), "teaching" lawyers how to do it right. How to make money as a lawyer, how to build the practice of your dreams.

What still doesn't matter to lawyers, is that he has no practice, never did, never will.

I mean, who cares that the dentist who is going to pull your tooth has never pulled a tooth? Who cares that the plumber that is going to fix your leak, has plenty of leaks in his own home which he can't fix.

My friend here is a lawyer who gets paid to tell you how to run your practice. He runs no practice. He ran a practice - into the ground. He's so good at telling you how to run your office, that his license was recently suspended. When confronted, he had more excuses than you could imagine. That you go and listen to him makes me wonder who is really the fraud in the relationship.

Mistakes are great. I've made tons. I've learned from them and in turn, used them as pillars for success. Our hero here, never did. He failed, and is now selling his failure. He's selling it to you - you, the lawyer seeking it out.

The best advice I've ever received is from those who have done what I want to do, and done it better. Why is it that you want to pay to hear from people who's only claim to fame is failure?

Is the free candy that good?

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Anonymous said...

Recent grads are desperate, Brian. The job market remains abysmal, and there are a lot of good lawyers out there who haven't had luck getting hired.

I'm not talking about the dregs of the profession who needed five times to pass the bar or those who went to law school because they didn't know what else to do with their lives. Cum laude graduates of top 50 law schools with journal and trial experience are struggling too-I'm one of them.

Some of them are scared enough to grab on to whatever they can, and don't do the research to see if it's snakeoil or not. And sure, that's dumb, but I understand and sympathize with them.

Brian Tannebaum said...

I'm sorry, I don't understand, and I don't sympathize. I talk to law students all the time, I am aware of the job market, but it doesn't excuse throwing your time and money at people who have no clue what success looks like.

Law school grads are lawyers, they should be smart enough to know that buying a successful lawyer a cup of coffee or lunch is more valuable than paying a few hundred bucks for a snake oil seminar.

David Fuller said...

Why be so cryptic? I've got a handful of guesses about which snake oil salesman is taking a "leave of absence" from the practice of law.

jason said...

I have to disagree, the old days of doing a good job and hoping for the best are.gone. today, big firms have marketing staff. What's wrong with small law doing the same?

Do I care this guy sucked at arguing a divorce case or never had a jury trial? Not one bit, just tell me how to make money and market my practice, a class I seem to have missed in law school. I'll go to trial school for the rest.

Brian Tannebaum said...


I get the sense you're a young lawyer looking to make money. So here's some free advice which you won't like - you're wrong.

Doing a good job and getting clients from it, still works.

Marketing is a great thing, if done ethically, and at the level in which you want to have your practice.

And you do care who sells you marketing advice. I trust you don't want to pay a guy who's claim to fame is that he never made a dime as a lawyer. Would you want a plumber who never installed a toilet to sell you advice on how to install a toilet?

I hope not.

Brian Tannebaum said...

By the way Jason, how can you not be doing great? You have Tom Hagen working for you. He did a great job for the Corleone family

Anonymous said...

To respond to Brian, I'm not a young lawyer, been doing this 12 years. And I do appreciate the comments and article Brian, but I have to say it's a brave new world.

My old law partner used to say that same line, "just do a good job and the business will come" well I like to think I do a great job, but the problem is we have more lawyers than ever before.

If you take a look at the numbers of lawyers we have, the shear volume of new law firms it's incredible. What's worse is the terrible lawyers who just suck.

Here's my thought. I've seen great lawyers starve, I've seen terrible lawyers drive Mercedes and I firmly believe that if you are a good lawyer AND you market you will succeed. I agree about the snakeoil salesmen, but marketing is here to stay.

P.S. isn't that awesome...Tom Hagen is my associate! and he's never seen the Godfather!