Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Young Lawyer Rages Against All This "Ethics" Crap

Back in June (which is a lifetime ago in the blawgosphere), Scott Greenfield wrote about young Rachel Rodgers.

His motivation for the post was my tweet of what Greenfield referred to as a "cheerleading post" on solo practice.

A brief history on solo practice:

Used to be that lawyers would work for someone and then go solo. Now there's no jobs so lawyers are going from law school graduation, right to the computer to create their law firm twitter account and Facebook fan page, and presto - a practice is born with an "experienced, aggressive" attorney. Today we fake it until we make it, as the marketers encourage young lawyers to do.

Back to the post.

It was a post about all the wonderful things about solo practice, and it highlighted Rachel:

The 2009 Cardozo School of Law graduate spent a year clerking for a judge and then decided to start her own firm while working a part-time job at a law firm. She was laid off after they ran out of work for her to do, but her unemployment gave her the push she needed to dedicate more time and effort to building her practice.

OK. Sounds good.

By working from her home in Phoenix, Ariz., and using her website as her storefront, she manages to keep overhead costs less than $500 a month. Her virtual office allows clients to log into her website and, like a bank’s secure online system, send information back and forth between her clients.

Nice, for those clients who don't want to meet their lawyer face to face, don't want an office to visit, don't want to see where and how their files are being managed, and completely trust the confidentiality and total complete rock solid privacy of the internet.

“There have been times when I’ve woken up in the morning and I have new clients,” she said. “They’ve found me online somehow and I’ve never had any interaction with them, but now they’re my clients. It’s pretty sweet.”

New clients, no interaction with them. OK.

Rodgers is catering to other people like herself— burgeoning first-time entrepreneurs, some of whom have been laid off due to the poor economy.

Clients who have been laid off. They are signing on to hire a lawyer over the internet for what, exactly?

And of course: She... maintains a blog, writes on other blogs and stays active on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Cue the tribute to the almighty social media:

“Twitter has helped me be on the cutting edge. I know what’s going on right when it’s happening,” she said. “Also I work in my office by myself most days, so it’s like these are my coworkers. That’s who I interact with throughout the day. It helps me not to be so lonely.”

The cutting edge of what? Weather? Plane crashes? What exactly, please tell us unknowing, old, stick in the mud lawyers, what is going on "right now" on twitter? Did Justin Bieber fart again?

And of course, when we talk solo these days, we never find Solo Practice University too far away, an online collection of lawyers (practicing and non practicing and even one who is referred to as a "practicing attorney" but isn't, but who cares?) and social media consultants ready to teach solo practice over the internet.

Rodgers credits her success to the confidence she gained from the clerkship and to Solo Practice University, a subscription-based website founded in 2009 that offers video, written and audio tutorials for prospective or current solo practitioners.

Must be why Solo Practice University went into a frenzy tweeting out Rachel's rant yesterday.

So after this post appeared, Greenfield wrote about it and took a minute to discover this solo practice wonder kid.

Now remember, this was June.

He found this about the 2009 graduate:

Rodgers has her law office in Arizona, though she's not admitted to practice law there.

She claims: Rachel has developed expertise in various areas of alternative dispute resolution including negotiation, mediation and arbitration.

Then Greenfield wondered whether she actually practices law, you know represents clients, those things that lawyers do?

He asked this because he found this on her site:

Want to Go Solo?

Are you a law student looking to start developing a strategy to go solo upon graduation?

Are you a new law graduate having trouble finding employment?

Are you a lawyer ready to go solo and wondering what area of law to practice?
Would you love to have your own practice but not sure how to obtain clients?

I am contacted every week by law students and lawyers who are struggling due to a tough job market and are wondering how they’ll pay off their loans, practice the type of law they always hoped to and have the type of lifestyle they always wanted. I have spent the last two years researching, planning and then building my own unique law practice and have been able to bring it to a place of profitability while also meeting my lifestyle needs. I believe that you can do the same.

I Can Help!

You can build the law practice of your dreams and I can help! I provide consulting sessions for lawyer-entrepreneurs wanting to set up their own innovative, tech-savvy law practices. For many lawyers (especially recent law grads), entrepreneurship is the only way that they will be able to practice law and do so in a way that fits their lifestyle and philosophy. I understand this dilemma as I am also a recent law grad. I will help you develop a strategy and actionable plan to get your solo practice off the ground.


Now that was June. It's August. Since June, I haven't heard Rachel's name. Apparently though, she's been getting very very mad about things she's read.

So she basically went on a hysterical rant that the happysphere of online lawyers blew kisses to, while others questioned what she was talking about, and told everyone who is not a young lawyer looking for the magic bullet to shut up about ethics and go to hell, meanies:

Let me start off with a warning that as I write this column I am angry. I’ve decided enough is enough and am now willing to address this issue, and the attorneys who do what I am about to describe, head on.

Then she asks a bunch of questions:

Why would young lawyers be against being ethical? Because we have an online presence? Because we, dare I say it, actually market our practices to potential clients? Because we have the nerve to start law practices after completing law school and passing our state bar? Or because we practice law in a non-traditional way?

I can answer that.

No Rachel, because lawyers like me have caught many "fake it til you make it" young lawyers lying about their experience in order to get both clients to hire them and lawyers to use them as consultants. That's unethical.

It's not unethical to claim that 2 years after graduating law school a lawyer can help other lawyers build the practice of their dreams. It's merely ridiculous bullshit that only the naive and desperate would believe. But it's not unethical.

Rachel is also mad (but is afraid to say at who) because:

I have been accused by ‘more experienced’ colleagues’ of being an unethical attorney simply because I practice law online or because I practice law in a state where I do not live...

No dear, you were accused of PRACTICING LAW IN A STATE WHERE YOU ARE NOT ADMITTED. HAVING AN OFFICE SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER OF THE BAR OR NOT HAVING AN OFFICE IN A STATE WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE AN OFFICE.

That's unethical, if it's true. I'm sure it's not. I'm sure she'll be here in a few minutes to explain, as will her happy following of fans.

Rachel's rant includes some prolific statements, like:

Well, too bad! Too bad that you do not understand.

Then there's:

What further toasts my muffins about the so-called unimpeachable ethics of some highly critical, experienced attorneys is that they themselves could certainly take notes from younger attorneys about professional ethics.

Rachel's rant against old rigid lawyers who fear the iPad and too much coffee at Starbucks while researching the newest social media site, then reveals the point:



In conclusion, my point is this: Experienced attorneys stop trying to scare young lawyers half to death with your scary ethics anecdotes about lawyers who were disbarred or suspended due to unethical behavior.

Scary ethics anecdotes.

Like stories of young lawyers who took on cases for which they had no business taking and got disbarred? Like stories of young lawyers who didn't know how to maintain a trust account and got disbarred? Like stories of young lawyers who were suspended for lying about their credentials?

Boo.

Rachel, listen, like you (say), I get calls "every week" from young lawyers with ethics questions. I answer them. I never "scare" them in to not opening their own practice. Never.

Social media has created a new level of "truth," in general, and in the practice of law. Old lawyers are not to blame, young lawyers are not to blame. Generalities never work.

But the truth, Rachel, is that the current state of the legal economy has caused young lawyers who can't get jobs to blow their brains out on the internet, practice in non-traditional ways, and lie, yes, lie to get clients. People do weird things when money is on the table.

And when a young lawyer calls me after committing an ethics violation because they "didn't know" they couldn't do what their marketer or online work at home lawyer consultant told them, I always wish they would of called me before they screwed up.

So I could scare them.



Non-anonymous comments welcome. 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

18 comments:

shg said...

Reluctant as I am to express an opinion, I nonetheless feel compelled to comment further about how Susan Cartier Liebel came to Rodgers' defense when commenters pointed out, nicely I might add, that she was being, among other things like whiny, disingenuous.

Young lawyers may be arrogant and entitled, taken with their own brilliance and self-importance, but they are usually reluctant to expose themselves to public ridicule without a support system behind them. Their self-esteem is still fragile, and they need a grown-up to tell them their shoes match their bag.

Susan plays the enabling grown-up, spinning as hard as she can to deflect attention away from the silly and whiny things young lawyers say. In doing so, however, Susan not only burns her own credibility, perhaps thinking that lawyers aren't realizing that she's blowing smoke, but furthers these dangerous young narcissists down the road to perdition.

As it's in Susan's personal pecuniary interest to push every lawyer she can get her hands on to sign up with Solo Marketing University, it's understandable that she would put herself on the line to cover for her paying users. After all, it's not like she can afford to lose a sale. But Susan is also a lawyer, and still has the burden of upholding our ethical precepts.

Enabling young lawyers to be deceptive, or merely just less than honest, even if they are too inexperienced and narcissistic to realize what they are doing, is a problem in itself and really shouldn't be tolerated. I expect more of Susan. She disappoints me.
Susan's time would be better spent by elevating the understanding of young lawyers rather than enabling their worst misconceptions.

Mike Whelan said...

As always, there has to be a middle place here. I'm a recent grad who must and is excited to go solo. There are too many good resources out there for me to feel like I won't have the ethics knowledge I need to practice well - but I also see no reason to lie to people.

There are clients out there who are happy to pay for a new lawyer if they see that lawyer busting their hump for them. They aren't big corporate clients and they won't spend millions of dollars for your brilliance, but 1) you can't handle their work, and 2) do you really think that client won't look up your real, as opposed to online, credentials? The clients you need to fool are exactly the ones you can't fool.

I'm not saying Rachel is out to fool entrepreneurs - she targets young people who just want a chance and who understand that she's in the same position, and I assume she is open with them about that - but the advice out there is designed to manufacture expertise. It's not just among lawyers. There are plenty of "personal branding" books that encourage you to feign expertise because who would really know anyway. One guy said you don't have to be smarter than everybody to be an expert, just smarter than the guy you're charging.

That is true for changing sparkplugs or writing a self-help book, but lawyering has so many constraints on faking til you're making. Other lawyers are smarter than you and have a duty to report. Judges scrutinize your every move. Insurance companies will charge you out the nose for doing work you shouldn't be doing. You can't just wing it, and that's a good thing.

But if experienced lawyers are saying you can't practice law as a solo right out of school because that is inherently unethical, they should be smacked. Not that you've said that, but you know it has been said. Knowing my limits will help me ask the right questions, and given the way most firms are run, with so little mentorship and training, it may well be that I will be more ethical as a solo, constantly asking those questions.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Mike,

There's always a "middle place." Problem is, most people on the internet can't see that. Generalities are all they see. So when people like me talk about the unethical young lawyers out there marketing themselves to death, and lying, of course I'm talking about every single young lawyer. Defending the contrary gets old.

You're right about this concept of manufacturing expertise, and it's true - "you don't have to be smarter than everybody to be an expert, just smarter than the guy you're charging." This is how many of these "consultants" get by. They pray no one finds out they really no nothing and just have "passion."

Practicing law as a solo right out of school is not unethical, unless you ignore ethics, which in the race to make money, often happens.

Jordan said...

I preface this with I am a third year lawyer. I know just enough to know one thing, that I'm still very inexperienced.

When I first saw the heading going around, I got excited. I thought Rachel had written an article concerning the practice of law that might be useful to other baby lawyers -- which is to not let older lawyers intimidate you by threatening frivolous ethics charges during litigation. How do you do that? In my opinion, by knowing the rules inside and out. Prepping the heck out of your witness, and stressing how important it is they tell the truth, even if it's hurtful to their case. And if the truth is hurtful, you'll try and settle the case, polish the testimony (offer it in the least damaging way you can, ethically), etc. -- but it's important above all things that they tell the truth. As the lawyer, you need to tell your client that you must know the truth or else you can't help them as effectively. Also knowing the discovery rules inside and out -- how to object, what the rules and decisions are governing discovery, etc. Basically, prepare, prepare, prepare, both yourself and your witness, and offer testimony in a way that zealously advocates your client's interests but is also truthful. Once you've done these things, don't let anyone try to intimidate you because you've done all the right things. I would have benefited from something like that two years ago, as I was bullied by older counsel who could tell how green I was. Which is fine -- this is an adversarial process (another fine point often lost on young lawyers). Lawyers make friends on the weekend. Opposing counsel has no obligation to be "nice" to you, to raise your self esteem, or to not take advantage of the fact you're green. You can counter that by being a better, more prepared lawyer. That's what I was expecting her article to be about, and some advice I would have given myself a few years ago.

But no, as I read it, Rachel's message seems to be, don't let older lawyers "scare you" into following the ethical rules. It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. I mean, you're only risking your law license and public humiliation. Older lawyers (like the ones who comprise most state disciplinary boards!) are just trying to scare you, and they're dinosaurs anyway. Which is pretty much the worst advice I've ever read -- absolutely no substance, and advice that is, in my opinion, contrary to ethically and effectively practicing law. Effective lawyers prepare and know the rules inside and out -- they don't just "do stuff". Further, young lawyers benefit from following the advice from those who have made mistakes (or seen others make mistakes), which you can now avoid without the "happiness" of a disciplinary inquiry.

I think young lawyers who commit ethical violations didn't mean to -- they did it because they didn't know better. However, often ethical mishaps can be avoided by reading the RPC, commentary, and disciplinary opinions inside and out -- before hand. Calling other lawyers first, and even your ethics hotline. You know, preparation, like you should do in practice. However, I guess practical, substantive advice for young lawyers isn't happy. Preparation and reading ethical cannons detracts from marketing, and it's not fun and at times can be downright scary.

In any event, in my opinion this is the type of thing Solo Practice University should be stressing: the effective, competent, and ethical practice of law. Surviving in the adversarial process, and stressing that law is NOT about raising a young lawyer's self esteem -- it's about beating the guy or gal at the opposite table. Not how to use Twitter, Facebook, and social media. The practice of law is about extreme preparation, sound judgment, and knowledge. Articles stressing this kind of stuff, rather than social media, or complaining about following ethical rules, would be much more useful.

Lisa Solomon said...

"No dear, you were accused of PRACTICING LAW IN A STATE WHERE YOU ARE NOT ADMITTED. HAVING AN OFFICE SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER OF THE BAR OR NOT HAVING AN OFFICE IN A STATE WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE AN OFFICE."

"That's unethical, if it's true."

Really, Brian? Please cite the rules that prohibit "having an office in a state where you are not admitted [Arizona] or not having an office in a state where you are supposed to have an office [New Jersey or New York]. I'll get you started with the New Jersey rule:

Except as provided below, no person shall practice law in this State unless that person is an attorney holding a plenary license to practice in this State, has complied with the Rule 1:26 skills and methods course requirement in effect on the date of the attorney's admission, is in good standing, and, except as provided in paragraph (d) of this Rule, maintains a bona fide office for the practice of law. For the purpose of this section, a bona fide office is a place where clients are met, files are kept, the telephone is answered, mail is received and the attorney or a responsible person acting on the attorney's behalf can be reached in person and by telephone during normal business hours to answer questions posed by the courts, clients or adversaries and to ensure that competent advice from the attorney can be obtained within a reasonable period of time. For the purpose of this section, a bona fide office may be located in this or any other state, territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia (hereinafter "a United States jurisdiction"). An attorney who practices law in this state and fails to maintain a bona fide office shall be deemed to be in violation of RPC 5.5(a). An attorney who is not domiciled in this State and does not have a bona fide office in this State, but who meets all the qualifications for the practice of law set forth herein must designate the Clerk of the Supreme Court as agent upon whom service of process may be made for all actions, including disciplinary actions, that may arise out of the practice of law and activities related thereto, in the event that service cannot otherwise be effectuated pursuant to the appropriate Rules of Court. The designation of the Clerk as agent shall be made on a form approved by the Supreme Court.

(You can find the rule at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/r1-21.htm.) You're an ethics guru: I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding the New York and Arizona rules on point.

Ah yes, I can hear your response now: I'm a Florida ethics expert, not a New York or Arizona ethics expert, so I shouldn't even be researching actual rules, lest my blog post be construed as practicing law in those states (or New Jersey) without a license - or some similar garbage. You do understand that your accusations are libel per se, don't you? (See more about libel per se in the next comment - your comment form limits comment length). Don't you think that you have an ethical obligation to do your research before making those kinds of accusations?

As for Greenfield's accusation that Rachel is practicing law in a state where she is not admitted, please explain the basis for that accusation (or, since it's his accusation, perhaps he should).

Lisa Solomon said...

[Continued from previous comment]

Restatement (Second) of Torts, s. 569, Comment e:

"Libelous and slanderous imputations affecting another's business, trade, profession or office. Under the rule stated in § 573, it is slanderous to publish spoken words that attribute to the other conduct or characteristics incompatible with the proper conduct of his lawful trade or profession or with the proper discharge of his duties as a public officer. Any charge of this kind which if spoken is actionable per se as slander is sufficient to support an action under the rule stated in this Section if the publication is in libelous form. There is, however, a residuum of charges that are actionable as libels under the rule stated in this Section although they would be insufficient to support an action for slander under the rule stated in § 573. Thus, to constitute a libel it is enough that the defamatory utterance imputes any misconduct whatever in the conduct of the other's calling. The charge of a single act of misconduct may be sufficient to support an action for libel, although such a charge does not necessarily imply that want of skill, learning or competence that the public reasonably demands of those who carry on a trade, business or profession and thus would not be actionable per se as slander. (See § 573, Comment d). So too, it may be libelous to impute to the other misconduct in the conduct of his trade, business or profession, or in the discharge of his duties as a public officer, although he is at the time no longer engaged in the pursuit of the trade, business or profession or has ceased to be the incumbent of the office. (Compare § 573, Comment c)."

Now that we've that cleared up, Brian, I'll move on to address Jordan's comment. Did you read the same post I did? Here's what Rachel said:

"And too bad that you are quick to judge and react apparently before you have read the ethics rules and requirements in the states where I am barred. I have. And I have applied them to my practice."

and

"Instead, why not give tips on how to look up and apply ethics rules and/or make young lawyers aware of the top ethical pitfalls that lawyers face? And young lawyers, my message is do not be afraid. Do not let the word “ethics” prevent you from establishing a law practice, even one that is cutting edge. Instead, do your research and apply the rules to your practice. And when in doubt, call your state’s ethics hotline."

Horrors! She's read her states' ethics rules! And encourages other new lawyers to do the same! And, if they're not sure whether a course of action is ethical, to contact the state bar ethics hotline! What a bad, bad lawyer Rachel is.

Brian, you're right to condemn young lawyers (or any lawyers) who lie to get clients. But lying to get clients isn't equivalent to "practicing in nontraditional ways," despite your attempt to equate them by throwing them together in the same sentence.

You're also right when you call out specific lawyers and marketers who lie to get clients. But, based on the information you've cited (which I assume is the strongest "evidence" you have, as I've never known you to hold anything back), Rachel isn't one of them.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Ah here comes the mother hen Lisa. What toook you so long? Let me guess, you were working on 35 important documents for a big-time important lawyer that hired you to be their contract lawyer?

Where would the Starbucks lawyers be without their biggest supporter Lisa Solomon always there to cheerlead for them? Have you ever come to the aid of a real, respected, practicing lawyer, or is it just the darlings of the virtual and "work from the dining room" crowd that deserve your support? Quick, I think someone is calling out Niki again for not practicing law, hurry!

First sweetheart, I don't call myself an expert or guru, haven't you learned that yet? That's what your crowd does, hourly.

I don't self-promote every opportunity I get, like you did when you raced to leave a comment on Rachel's Rant. You never miss an opportunity to tout the greatness of the contract lawyer. So constantly defensive you are of your permanent position.

Second, before you get giddy and think you can go one on one with me regarding ethics and the law, you may want to learn to read, and read my prior posts on the New Jersey Rule. It helps.

So listen up, real good. I'll say it again.

Having an office in a state where you are not admitted or not having an office in a state where you are supposed to have an office, is unethical, if it's true.

Why Lisa? Gather 'round. I'll speak in small words for you and give you an "A" for effort.

When you are admitted to the Bar, ESPECIALLY THE NEW JERSEY BAR, you are required to have an address and a BONA FIDE OFFICE, as you cited. Yes, Rachel can have her BONA FIDE OFFICE in Arizona.

Poor Rachel is required to have a bona fide office. O-F-F-I-C-E, you know, the word your crowd despises?

An office, my dear, is where clients are met, files are kept, the telephone is answered, mail is received and the attorney or a responsible person acting on the attorney's behalf can be reached in person and by telephone during normal business hours to answer questions posed by the courts, clients or adversaries and to ensure that competent advice from the attorney can be obtained within a reasonable period of time
Cut, copy and paste that into your lawsuit.

Here's the address where Rachel says her (virtual) office is:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/10030-W-Indian-School-Rd-APT-237-Phoenix-AZ-85037/68533188_zpid/

Are you beginning to understand? Probably not. You've taken on Brian Tannebaum and you're oh so happy. Cheers are coming from Starbucks everywhere.

You think I've libeled poor Rachel? File your lawsuit. I'll accept service missy. It's working out real well for Joseph Rakofsky, a lawyer I trust whom you have the most immense respect.

Hopefully there's a UPS store around for you to mail your lawsuit it to a real lawyer who knows how to file a case.

In the meantime, I'll be checking in on Rachel's office. Hopefully she's not too busy meeting with clients there or answering the phone during normal business hours.

Noah Clements said...

So I had to look up the Arizona Rules (but you may have to ask an Arizona lawyer whether they address this particular situation :-)

ER 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law

(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:
nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;(1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; . . . .

(c) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:
nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;(1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter.

I am a DC lawyer who recently went solo. I live in Maryland, and I was just admitted to the Maryland Bar (yaay), but I while I would have preferred to just practice out of my house while waiting to be admitted (you know, only practicing DC and immigration law), Maryland has an ethics opinion specifically prohibiting such an arrangement, so I have a DC office where I meet clients, etc. I do not know if Arizona has an ethics opinion on this, but its rule is certainly clearer than Maryland's, so maybe they don't need one.

The most concerning thing for me about Rachel Rodgers' website is that nowhere on her services page does she limit her ability to give legal opinions, create contracts, etc, to NJ, NY, or CA (her of-counsel's bar). The services she offers are generally creatures of state law.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Oh c'mon Noah, what are you trying to do, make Mama Solomon's head explode?

I would like to talk to you about representing me in her lawsuit though. I fear she may hire Adrian Dayton or Susan Cartier Liebel, so I'll need a big gun.

I'm sure we'll be back here later once Mama Solomon puts together another 2 part comment basically telling me I'm being mean and that I'm a bully and that she is awesome and I just don't realize it.

Ken said...

You could hook Lisa up with Rakofsky. Assuming they don't already know each other.

S. said...

I too am a 3rd year attorney... youth doesn't excuse flagrant disregard for even the simplest review of a state's Bar website or even the first sentence of one... http://www.azbar.org/workingwithlawyers/topics/howtofindandhirealawyer

Additionally, she has an address with the New York Bar for an office in New York... so which state's law is applying when she works on all these business organization "documents?"

S. said...

Actually, on second glance, I really hope the Peppers (from her testimonial) aren't in Arizona:
http://www.azbar.org/ethics/unauthorizedpracticeoflaw

From that link: Unauthorized Practice of Law:

"Practice of law means providing legal advice or services to another by: Negotiating legal rights or responsibilities for a specific person or entity."

Rob Switzer said...

Great blog post by AZ crimindal defense lawyer Matt Brown here: http://brownandlittlelaw.com/2011/08/11/unauthorized-practice/

"I am absolutely astonished that Ms. Rodgers would publish an article arguing young lawyers shouldn’t fear ethics rules when in that very article she admits to things that suggest her own law practice is prohibited by the ethics rules of the state in which she’s chosen to practice. "

Rocky Sharwell said...

i like where she urges young lawyers to join the ethics committee in their state. Which one?

Lisa Solomon said...

Anyone who cares about facts and legally-supported analysis, rather than bald accusations, should read Rachel's response to this post (and others) at http://is.gd/9yeUAI.

As to Noah's comment that he's concerned about the fact that Rachel's services page doesn't limit "her ability to give legal opinions, create contracts, etc, to NJ, NY, or CA," what's the problem? She clearly states the jurisdictions in which she and her of counsel are admitted, and there is no evidence that she has ever undertaken to represent a client in a matter not governed by the law of one of those states.

Brian Tannebaum said...

Lisa,

You should read her post before cheerleading for her. There's some glaring holes there, but I trust you're ok ignoring them

Jordan said...

Lisa: Her article contains bad advice. Every baby lawyer (like myself) should be afraid of ethics, because baby lawyers often won't see every pitfall, since that comes with, you know... experience.

Rachel had an opportunity to write a compelling article. Perhaps one that explained, because recognizes she is inexperienced, "cutting edge" practice are often grey ethically, and ethics are a SCARY issue for baby lawyers, these are the specific steps she took to create an ethical practice in NY, NJ, and AZ... or perhaps how she limits her practice to be compliant. That would have been a good article.

What did she do instead? Told baby lawyers not to be "afraid" of ethics when it comes to ethical grey areas... an area baby lawyers should be MOST afraid in. Which goes into the bigger issue -- the happisphere is content writing about how your lack of twitter will kill your practice, and how to dress up inexperience -- not how to practice ethically and competently. (who needs to know THAT?)

Tell you what, here is my unsolicited advice, free of charge, any any other young lawyer...

Ethics are scary. The practice of law is a huge responsibility. Practice with a bit of fear in you. Respect your ethical obligations, and be fearful enough to ensure you comply with them. Listen to your elders when it comes to these issues, as they've seen enough of their colleagues disbarred, and read enough disciplinary opinions to spot red flags much better than you. Above all, wisdom comes with experience, so try and stick to the shallow end at first.

williamthecoroner said...

I'm not a lawyer, I'm a physician. I know many medical professionals who have an office with their practice in their...erm...domicile. Usually, it's a shrink, but not necessarily. The patients usually have a separate entrance, with a reception room and office space--where the records are kept. The Doc's living quarters are upstairs of the surgery.

What is it about the law that the office space has to be separate from the living space? Please inform this non-lawyer.

Now, for the docs that I mentioned, the consulting space is in the home, but it's not in the freaking dining room. Except for one dentist, which made for odd parties.