Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last Kagan Standing

Forget the sitcoms, South Park, Comedy Central - the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing is televised comedy at it's best, if you understand it. I can't turn it off.

Spoiler - she gets confirmed. Congratulations Justice Kagan.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are important, or so they are supposed to be. What they are, in reality, is an opportunity for those that support the nominee to say so, and those that don't, to do the same. Speeches for and against the nominee are disguised as questions for which we are led to believe an answer is actually important.

You may hear from a supporter: "Isn't it true that you are the absolute best human being on the planet?"

And you may hear from the opposition: "How many times have you stolen candy from a baby, 10 or 300?"

In Kagan's hearings, we learn that the Republicans really didn't like the first black guy on the Court, because he caused (problems) change to occur in America. From Wikipedia:

Marshall served on the Court for the next twenty-four years, compiling a liberal record that included strong support for Constitutional protection of individual rights, especially the rights of criminal suspects against the government. His most frequent ally on the Court (indeed, the pair rarely voted at odds) was Justice William Brennan, who consistently joined him in supporting abortion rights and opposing the death penalty

Or as spoken about by the Republicans on the committee:

People are angry, upset, embarrassed, and yes, many agree - but the theatre of it all cannot be missed. There is no chance Kagan will not be confirmed. Yesterday when asked where she was on Christmas, she said "Like all good Jews I was probably in a Chinese Restaurant."

Laughter erupted.

When she was asked about her support for televising Supreme Court proceedings, she said it would cause her to have to get her hair done more often.

More laugnter.

There's some funny stuff there.

Most of it comes in moments where no one is laughing.

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

Monday, June 28, 2010

Any Connection Between Bad Lawyers And Questionable Applicants?

I can't find any statistics.

There's plenty of statistics on Bar Examination passage. We all know though that the Bar Exam is a complete waste of paper.

As I watch the Bar admission and Bar grievance process, I have begun to wonder whether there is any correlation between a lawyer who commits an ethical violation, and a lawyer who has character and fitness issues at admission.

I never ask my clients in Bar grievance cases whether they had issues getting admitted to the Bar. Maybe I should. Maybe I should start my own small survey.

I think about this because I think the Bar admission process has gotten out of hand. Questions about speeding tickets, long ago misdemeanor offenses, "stuff-everyone-does-as-a-kid," and meaningless discrepancies are appearing more and more. Why is this? Are Bar applicants lying more than they used to, or is it that there's too many applicants, and therefore these silly things are more important?

I don't know.

But I do think it's important to know whether there is a correlation. Is a questionable, or "questioned" applicant more likely to be unethical? Does anyone know?

I want to know.

Anyone have any stats for me?

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leaving The Law

No, not me. I actually got into this profession for the right reasons.

And although it's hard for many to admit, many of today's law students and lawyers, didn't.

I call it the L.A. Law syndrome. It started right before I started law school. The T.V. show L.A. Law showed us that law offices were nice places, in tall buildings, with nice furniture, and beautiful people. L.A. Law caused a whole generation to go to law school. The work was tedious for those sent to BigLaw, but the golden handcuffs were tight. Where else could a 25 year old make $100,000 the first year out of school? It wasn't about the "profession," or "representing clients," or building a practice. It was about the paycheck.

And like the last line in "Goodfellas," "now it's all over."

So to no one's surprise is this article in the ABA Journal about a legal career consultant who claims 25% of her clients want to leave the law.

As a result, the ABA Journal posted a poll, which is running 50/50 now on those that want to leave the law.

The article is nothing to write about, but the comments are:

Elena (whose name probably isn't Elena, nor is the comment probably real, writes:

I would like to leave the law, but not the paycheck. So the only way I can leave the paycheck is to find a guy who will support me. I am having difficulty finding a guy willing to pay for me and my lifestyle. So I must continue to work, even though it is not as interesting as shopping and eating out in restaurants.

Dream boat, probably a close friend of fake Elena, says:

I would like to find a nice gal to support and pamper, too bad you are a lawyer. The thought of freely spending time with a lawyer makes me nauseous. Otherwise it would totally work.

Robert takes the first easy shot at BigLaw associates:

There’s more to “law” than working in a big firm where one has to expect to be told what to do, and that some of what one is told to do is .... distasteful; after all, you have to figure that if the work employees do could be considered “fun,” the Bosses would do it themselves, right?
You also have to figure than most employee-employer relationships will tend to degrade to “employer pays employee just enough so they won’t quit, employer does just enough work to not get fired.” That’s not enough for everyone, but it’s all a “career counselor” usually has to offer.

Then here comes the "wait, it didn't happen like I thought it would, otherwise commenting as "Looking for the right fit:"

I would like to find the right fit in the law, but I graduated right when the crash struck and so it has been a while since school. I’ve done some contract work here and there, but I’d really like to use my legal degree to help start-up businesses get off the ground.
How do I transition into this? I’d like to stay in the law but have a more interesting and stable life!

A police officer who took the bee line back to being a police officer because the money is better there in this economy, blames the ABA for creating and selling law school as a ticket to cash:

From JD to PD:

I just graduated, pass the bar, and will return to my previous field of law enforcement. I will get all of my loans paid off with 10 years of public service. Plus, get a great pension, start at 50k per year, and get a months vacation.
It is sad the ABA keeps accrediting more schools who publish misleading salary stats. Who thought you could make more money as a nurse having an AA degree than a lawyer.

And no comment section would be complete without the "get off your ass" cry that offends so many new graduates:

Hey JDtoPD
I think it’s great you found a government job with good benefits. Good for you. To all those who are bitter about JDtoPD’s good deal, instead of complaining, get up and do something about it. Instead of denouncing the public sector’s reasonable pay/benefit packages, why not demand that the private sector provide the same. Yes, I know the biglaw lawyers chained to their blackberries 24/7 are well compensated, but most lawyer-employees in the private sector have a much worse deal, and calculated hourly probably do make less than a nurse. These lawyers need to demand more of their stingy employers or quit and open their own law offices and compete with their stingy former employers.
That said, JDtoPD, don’t get too caught up in the nurse-with-an-AA comparison. You with your law degree have a much greater upside. Ten or 20 years from now you could go into the private sector, hang your shingle, and command many times per hour what a nurse makes.

Just bringing this up infuriates today's law school graduate and young lawyer. Those that know they went to law school for the cash, and aren't making it, or aren't making much of their career as a lawyer, don't like to discuss this. The others will admit with righteous indignation that "yeah, I went to law school for the $160,000 salary first year out. Who I feel sorry for are the few who actually thought about becoming a lawyer before entering law school. Those numbers are few, and diminishing.

Ever wonder why ethics are more and more of a problem? because more and more law students see law school as career school, not professional school. They see law as a business, not a profession. It is a means to a nice living, not a high calling.

I've written before about the lack of shame a lawyer should have in deciding to get out. The question always is "and do what?"

My answer? "Something else."

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Protecting Lawyers From Adrian Dayton's Social Media "Help"

Like Paul Revere, professional twitter teacher Adrian Dayton (sorry Adrian, no link love for you) spent much of his twitter day yesterday telling everyone over and over again he had written a post on his blog.

He asked the deep question "Do you believe in social media?" (Can I get an "amen.")

Adrian doesn't just use social media, he's attempting a career at it. He was laid off from his law job after less than a year, claims to have received another one almost immediately, but turned it down to build a career in teaching lawyers how to tweet.

Hey, everyone has to feed their family.

Adrian has said before that "life is too short for billable hours," or something like that. He basically claims to have dumped BigLaw for his new career involving messages of 140 characters.

As Vito Corlenone said "makes no difference to me what another man does for a living."

What's funny though is that reading Adrian's messages now makes it clear he is looking for BigLaw to hire him, to teach them social media. He doesn't want to work there, as a lawyer.

Adrian doesn't like me. He doesn't like me because I caught him being a little less than candid about his background. (Note: Adrian did finally tell the New York Bar he no longer works at the firm that laid him off.)

See, on social media, lawyers looking to make money from the teaching of social media mavens don't care about whether the self-named mavens are being honest about who they are, they're just looking to tweet and blog for profit. Tell me how to make money as a lawyer with my computer keyboard, forget honesty.

So now he ignores any question I ask him, and pretends I don't exist. I don't do good things for his precious twitterstream as he's trying to make a go at getting in-house counsel and BigLaw to pay him to teach them social media.

Now getting to his latest post, he makes this comment:

Lawyers from Scott Greenfield’s camp are protecting other lawyers from social media help, because they didn’t need it. They pulled themselves up by their boot straps to learn social media and blogging, so why shouldn’t you? It’s so easy a caveman could do it. You get the idea.

I am one of those lawyers who Adrian and his other social media mavens consider to be in Scott Greenfield's "Camp." They talk around us most of the time, referring to us with tags and descriptions, but avoiding mentioning our names because they fear a real debate. They need to puff their resumes to get lawyers to take them seriously, because the reality is that the experience as a lawyer is thin or non-existant. They claim their experience as a lawyer is why lawyers should pay them for social media help, and hope no one asks about their practice. Never have I heard that one of these faux experts spoke at a conference where someone raised their hand and asked "tell me about your law practice." It's the question they pray is forgotten.

You see Adrian, I'm not protecting lawyers from social media help, I'm just telling them the truth about you, and the others who troll the internet claiming to be the lawyer lawyers should hire. You still to this day claim that in a short period of time at your firm you worked on a 450 million dollar merger. Do you think anyone believes you were of any significance in that deal being a lawyer for a few months? Or do you just hope BigLaw sees that and thinks you are one of them so they will hire you to teach them the retweet?

I think if lawyers need social media help, they should get it. If lawyers need help learning to put on shoes, I want them to get that help as well - but not from a lawyer who claims to be an expert in shoe-putting-on, and has no feet.

Can you not understand the difference?

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Questions I Am Tired Of Answering About Florida Bar Admission

I don't mind taking calls to answer questions. I get to ask some as well. I like to know what law school the caller attends, where they live, what type of law they want to practice, etc....

But I answer the same questions, a lot. So I'm writing this post and calling it "Questions I am tired of answering about Florida Bar Admission."

Here goes:

[1] Is there anything you can do to speed along my character and fitness investigation? I've been waiting a long time and haven't heard anything.

[2] Will filing bankruptcy prevent me from getting into the Bar?

[3] If I wasn't actually arrested for something, but was stopped or spoken to by a cop, should I just leave it off my application?

[4] Can I submit a letter of recommendation from someone that I haven't told everything about why I'm having a hearing?

[5] Does the fact that my (insert family member) knows (insert politician or prominent lawyer) make a difference?

The answer to all these questions is "no."

Thank you and goodbye.

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

Monday, June 7, 2010

Would You Hire Me Based On My Blog?

I haven't been here for a couple weeks. Well, I've been here, just not here. I've been reading, commenting on other blogs, reading other comments on other blogs about me, getting a little depressed about the oil disaster, and then I came to this conclusion:

People think they can tell a lot about a lawyer from a blog.

For example, I read this about me on another blog:

I'm pretty sure Tannenbaum, someone this click of CDL bloggers all seem to like very much, is not someone I'd ever recommend and that opinion is also based entirely on his writing, which tends to be shallow and reeks of self-promotion

The commenter was at least honest - he would not recommend me as a lawyer for a client solely based on my blog posts. It's a risk I take. I'm sure there are more out there that think I'm a complete jerk, based only on my blog posts.

This commenter believes I am what I blog. He's partially right. Those that know me say they "can hear me" through my writing. There's a pretty common thread in all my writing. I don't like whiners, or people who got into law because they thought it entitled them to money. I don't have time for social media "experts" who just couldn't hack it in law or anything else and lie about their backgrounds. I don't like those consultants out there that have no success to speak of, and are only in business to take advantage of broke young lawyers, and I despise stupidity.

But there's a lot more to know - stuff I don't discuss for whatever reason. If I was truly a self-promoter here, I would have a different style of writing, or hire someone to write for me. I would be much better off blogging about Bar Rules all the time as far as Google is concerned. Instead, I just say what comes to my mind. I know that's a foreign concept for the marketing lawyers

But this is my outlet. Have I been hired because of this blog? Partially. I do real work for real clients who, even though they may find out about me here, still have to contact me. Some may do so and think I'm not the right lawyer for them. Some may call and be surprised that I don't jump down their throat. Then again, some lawyers blog and appear real nice and sweet, but aren't.

One thing I'll never get over is how every blogger I meet is either taller or shorter than I thought.

But I digress.

Only those I've actually spoken to, privately e-mailed with, or better, met in person, can truly say they know me - and that goes for everyone else out there. Sure, if you're a serial liar, or resume puffer on your website, I don't need to go further. But just because you write a blog, one shouldn't make the leap that this is who you really are.

Until you've spoken to someone, seen them with their kids, heard their philosophies on issues other than what they blog about, or spoken to others about them, a judgment based on a blog is worthless. It's worse than judging a book by its cover, it's like judging a library based on one book.

My friend who commented above just doesn't like me. He doesn't like me "based entirely" on my writing, and because of my writing, he's not recommending me to any clients. I can imagine the conversation:

I need a lawyer in Miami. I was given Brian Tannebaum's name.

Oh, don't hire him. Have you read his blog? He admitted to making a mistake in a case.

"But this recommendation was from a former client who seemed pretty happy.

I don't care what he did for a client, I read his blog.

Yeah, silly. But hey, decisions are made for lots of different reasons.

Making a decision to hire a lawyer is one that is much more important than a collection of blog posts, at least to lawyers who value that decision.

Whether you are hiring a lawyer because of a blog, or not, you're making a huge mistake.

I know, I've made them.

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