Monday, December 12, 2011

A Generation Of Proud, Anonymous, Lawyers

The debate over privacy is dead. It isn't really, but apparently, in order to be "cool" on the internet, you must declare something "dead." The debate over privacy though is dead, as there is no privacy on the internet, or in smart phones, and anyone who cries about it, is a moron. Write something, text something, put anything on the internet or in to your phone, and assume someone not intended to see it, will. As lawyers love to say - GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.

But the debate over anonymity is not dead, it is growing, and it is divisive.

I think anonymity is important. It's important when reporting a crime, and can serve other important purposes - like when the statement made can put someone in jeopardy of harm - real harm.

Anonymity is also important to those that are cowards. Without anonymity, blog comments would be vast wastelands of intelligent conversation and vigorous debate by people willing to put their name to their statement/argument/lucid thought. Instead, we get comments about people's appearance, ethnic background, and made up shit that is just written to generate a response.

Anonymity is also important to liars. Without anonymity, someone couldn't comment - without the fear or retribution - on a blog post or news article with something that the writer knows to be false.

Some of it is just silly, and some of it is downright scandalous.

When it comes to lawyers and law students, anonymity is simply pathetic. We are, or are going to be, members of the bar, advocates, leaders. Instead, we are no better than the flip flop wearing, basement dwelling, unemployed and angry citizenry who spend their days protected by their fake name or "Anonymous" on the internet, saying whatever they want, and claiming that they are simply fulfilling their patriotic duty under the First Amendment.

There are two reasons I am not anonymous. I am not afraid of letting people know what I think, and I don't come from an upbringing where I was led to believe it was appropriate to lie about people, and otherwise say things publicly without putting my name to it.

Not only is there a feeling that anonymity is OK today, people believe it is a God given right and dammit if they are going to come out of hiding and speak their mind. Anyone who doesn't think much of online fear-based anonymity, is a dangerous person.

So went the debate a few days ago between myself and a law student. The debate began when this anonymous law student was (like many anonymous keyboard tappers who have found a nice home at Above the Law (ATL)) upset about the new comment policy allowing columnists to decide whether to accept comments. I think the policy is stupid, (ut oh, are they gonna fire me?), I think that people who can't take it are pathetic, but it's the new policy.

This anonymous law student was telling one of the ATL columnists who invoked the policy to "rise above it" and continue accepting comments. I thought it hypocritical that an anonymous law student was telling a (not-anonymous) lawyer to allow comments (the bulk of course which are anonymous), so I stuck my nose in it, and here's the relevant portions of how it went:

First, this anonymous law student announces that a columnist has chosen to no longer allow comments, and then says:

@LawStudentDiary hiding isn't the answer.

Brian Tannebaum - But you're anonymous.

Then after the typical nasty shit that happens when someone like me tries to talk to someone like her, @lawstudentdiary says a couple interesting things:

You either allow people to be anonymous and thus be honest, or you have real people, who have to self-censor.


If no one was allowed to be anonymous, you wouldn't have hardly any commentators.

Then of course, as twitter goes, someone else jumps in and claims that this is about something much more important:

@clarinette02 @btannebaum @lawstudentdiary May I ask you : Who were the very first drafters of the US constitution? haven't I heard they were anonymous?

Yes, and I've had Tang, just like some of our Astronauts.

And then of course, I finally got the "you stupid old man" comment:

@LawStudentDiary @ @btannebaum Haha, okay. Most of the internet is anon. Some of your fellow ATLers are too. It's how things work. I'm sorry you don't get it.

That's me, Mr. he doesn't get it.

I do though. I get it.

I just don't like it.

I don't mind that people are allowed to be anonymous. There's no requirement for people to say who they are while mindlessly typing things that make total sense to them and the world in which they live. But this entitlement (there's that word again) that society has, that law students and lawyers have, that not only can I be anonymous, but I have to be because if anyone knew what I really thought, I'd be homeless or have the shit beat out of me, is disgraceful.

Think about it - you, reading this. Lawyer, law student. Is this what you wanted? To become an advocate and then spend your days in hiding on the world wide web, in fear not just of your own stupidity and hate, but more importantly, in fear of your cogent thoughts, ideas, perspectives on life?

That's who you are when you are anonymous - no one.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and aren't a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.

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, December 7, 2011

The One Comment That Got To Me

No, not those comments. I've been the subject of negative comments in print and online for longer than any social media hack has been working from home after their failed law career. I'm not talking about the anonymous online comments. Those generate laughter and some eye rolls, but I'm lucky enough to have been the brunt of hatred ever since I opened my big mouth in college. It rolls off me like another article about how the way I practice law is dead and I must get on the train of a total virtual practice or I will die.

I'm talking about a comment I heard from a lawyer. A lawyer I've been a friend to, a lawyer I've advised, counseled, and helped do some things. This lawyer has become successful in their own right, both professionally and politically, and never fails to say thank you. I like this lawyer, and I'm glad this lawyer is doing well.

So the lawyer tells me that some lawyer asked whether my friend really believed that I helped them out of unselfish motives. There of course had to be some motive, it couldn't be just...that...I like this lawyer and was there for the advice.

I've been dealing with this for my entire career. From the first time I joined a Bar association, went on the board, ran for office, ran for another office, on another board, in another association, the lawyers whose entire practice is the walk from their car to the courthouse and back to car to go home, have always believed that lawyers like me only get involved in things, in other people's campaigns and efforts, out of an ulterior motive.

And that motive is?

To become a judge.

Of course.

This is understandable. There are plenty of lawyers who climb the ladder of bar associations and other organizations with the goal in mind of wearing the robe.

But it's never been mine. No, I'm sorry to disappoint, sorry to shock the world, but my motive has never been to make $142,000 a year, sitting on a bench everyday saying "denied," "granted," "next case," and hoping every 6 years that no one runs against me and takes my job.

Nope, I've never applied for an appointment, never filed to run, never told anyone I was interested.

Actually, about 10 years ago there was an article in the paper about a (failed) effort I was trying to start to have every local bar association pass a resolution banning judicial candidates from joining their organization. I would see the parade of otherwise socially inept judges all of a sudden becoming members of this and that association during their campaign. I wanted it stopped. The associations wouldn't touch it.

I'm 42, I love practicing law. I love a new client, I love writing motions, I love negotiating. I love the fact that my income depends on me, and isn't the same amount no matter what I do. I love that every day is different.

But the morons out there can't see that. No way, I must want to be a judge - why else would I help people, plan CLE events, advocate for changes in the law?

Why must it be that the only reason people get involved in their profession is to leave it and go do something else, like judging?

Yeah, maybe in 15, 20 years I'll change my mind, but no time soon, and it won't have anything to do with the things I've done in bar associations or charities.

I do these things because I like to do them, because I value relationships, because with the people I get to know and work with, I don't have to rely on my twitter account or other website to bring me clients.

What I have realized though, is the same people who will never imagine that there are lawyers out there that just enjoy getting involved in their profession, are the same people who think the only reason to blog is for business. These are the same people who have the robotic script: "I see you have a blog, you get business from it?"

The perception is not limited to any one thing, it's a general perception among desperate and unhappy lawyers that those who don't spend their days banging their head against the wall trying to drum up business and instead are doing other things, can only be doing them with ulterior motives.

So to you, the asshole that asked my friend that question, yes I know you read my blog, I know you read it, hate it, but secretly wonder if you could do the same thing. To you, the one who asked that question wondering if you could get the same advice and counsel from me, wondering if there was something you could hang your hat on to say "AH-HA," it's not there. You've reached a dead end.

And I hope you have a good mirror.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and aren't a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.

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, November 29, 2011

Does The North Carolina Bar Advocate Blogging About Accidents To Get Cases?

One of the tried (tired) and true marketing methods used by cheesy personal injury lawyers is to blog about horrific accidents in order to get the Google attention they want and hope that the grieving family finds them on the internet and retains them so they can get their 40%.

This is a disgusting practice that's been resoundingly trashed on the internet.

But not by the marketers:

Dale Tincher of writes yesterday,

As you know, obtaining quick notice about local accidents and injuries will help your law firm in many ways. First, if you are aware of accidents early, you may have a chance of getting an inside track on a case. Additionally, if you post something on your website quickly, you may be found and have an opportunity to get a case. Posting information on your website, blog and social media will also help your rankings. Google rewards websites for frequent updates and activity.

Doesn't surprise me that as there's more and more desperate-to-make-money-lawyers out there that these pathetic tactics become more attractive. Why spend the time building a reputation when you can fake one on the internet?

But this is what interested me:

Dale is the project consultant for the North Carolina Bar Association’s endorsement of, Inc., as the only Web consulting firms endorsed by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP.)

Not a very well written sentence, but what I got from it is that the North Carolina Bar endorses this firm in some way.

I'd like to know why?

I'll be right here.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and arent a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand. 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, November 21, 2011

An Open Letter To Legal Marketing Conference Organizers: Dear Morons,

It's getting pretty pathetic out there, and you, ALM, Lexis, and the other organizations serving the legal profession have been throwing together conferences for lawyers desperate to market themselves chocked full of a happy group of idiots as speakers.

Failed lawyers, lawyers who haven't seen a client in years, non-practicing lawyers whose ethics raise more questions than an episode of Jeopardy, losers.

Why are you putting these empty, unemployed, conference grasshoppers in front of lawyers? Why aren't you spending 5 minutes on Google checking these frauds out?

Do you actually sit in the room and listen to these people? Is it really worth an hour of some lawyer's time to hear that we used to ride horses to work and now we drive cars? Does that have anything to do with representing clients with legal problems? Does it matter to a practicing lawyer that the fax machine has been replaced by the scanner? Do we not know this? Is this earth shattering, worthy of a conference fee?

I know, I know, they'll speak for free, they seem to have important followings on twitter. They'll travel on their own dime. They begged to speak. It's cheap for you.

But do you ever wonder why an unemployed lawyer peddling social media or tech tips would fly a few hundred or even thousands of miles just to take a microphone for a panel discussion for an hour?

Are these the important "futurists" of the legal profession that you are happy to have your conference attendees pay good money to hear? Are you really OK having people spend a few hundred dollars, take a day or two off work, travel to another city, and all just to hear from a bunch of people who couldn't make it as practicing lawyers?

Do you have no shame?

This garbage should stop, and stop now.

I know the economy is in the crapper. I know you know that marketing conferences are all the rage and all you need is someone to say that social media is the future and that the iPad has replaced the stone and chisel. I know.

But wouldn't it be great to have one conference where none of these fakers were invited? Wouldn't it be awesome to have a conference where you could say "all our speakers actually represent clients and have real law practices and exist on a daily basis without praying to the Gods of Apple or social media?"


Try it. Just once.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and arent a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand. 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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Tweet Heard 'Round The Social Media Marketing World

Before the unemployed marketers found a way to sell it for a living, and convince lawyers that clients were going to line up with every online "tweet" or "status update," no one thought of creating a fake persona for the purpose of lying to get business. No one thought of puffing qualifications, or, in legal terms, making shit up, in an effort to appear "experienced, aggressive," and here to fight for you 10 minutes out of law school.

When Facebook and twitter and other "social" media sites came online, the first thing people started doing, was talking to each other. When the marketers, unable to truly assist in "marketing" those that were qualified to be marketed started swarming, they made it a profession to help lawyers "create" an online image - true or not.

Lawyers are sheep. Proof? The most scammed segment of society as a result of "Nigerian" email solicitations and other "may I deposit millions of dollars in your account," jokes, are lawyers.

Want to make money? Convince a lawyer you can make them money. They will give you money. Doesn't matter whether you know how to make money. As a marketer told me recently in response to my wonderment how certain morons were given money by lawyers to give marketing advice - he said "no one asks about qualifications, no one."

So tonight, in the middle of watching the resident hucksters try and peddle their wares, I saw this from a social media marketer:

Separate Social Media From Marketing - Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald - Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review. He he.

... we need to break out social media and talk about more than marketing and technology. Instead, we need to talk about what social media enables: the ability to collaborate in new ways — which is particularly important for business leaders interested in creating more collaborative, innovative, and engaging organizations.


An executive may boast, "We have Twitter and SharePoint, and we're on Facebook." But if you were to ask the executive how social media is positively impacting business results, you may raise a significant issue. When social media is applied to marketing, it creates activity — and in marketing, activity is a good thing. But activity alone does not create business results.

Now wait just a minute?

You can't just type things on social media sites and things will happen?

...just because you've opened the door doesn't mean you've crossed the threshold into a new way of working, managing, and leading. To achieve those ends — we've described these as attributes of a "social organization" — it takes more than setting loose the technology and praying that something good will happen.

So wait, there has to be something behind your online fakery that is actually true?

We need to move beyond social media as a technology tool.

Now this article is basically saying that if the organization behind all the social media lights and sirens is not "social," then it doesn't matter.

Taken a step further, if your law firm, solo practice, reputation, credentials, don't comport with the crap you are spewing on the internet, then all you are doing is using a marketing tool to project something that doesn't exist.

And for some, that's OK.

If it's not, then maybe it's time to think about whether you should be spending more time working on who you truly are, then who you are on social media.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and arent a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand. 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, November 14, 2011

How To Make Money As A Lawyer - Forget Law School

A couple years ago my electrician showed up to my house in a BMW. A few days later he showed up in a Porsche. I asked who's Porsche it was, and he said "mine, the BMW is in the shop."

Recently, there's been some discussion about this country developing an economy of lawyers, doctors, and accountants. No one wants to be a plumber, electrician, or other trades person. It's demeaning. Mom and Dad won't be proud, and all the money to be made is in lawyering.

Yeah, right.

I will tell you this: If I graduated plumbing school 17 years ago, I'd be making as much or more than I am now. I'd have 10 trucks, ads running around the clock, and my name plastered everywhere around town - from bus benches, billboards, airplanes over stadiums, and charity events. No fancy office, no Bar regulations, no judges wanting me in court NOW, no sleepless nights wondering if Mr. Jones hot water is working.

With all the discussion about "the future of lawyers," I haven't seen one post about "the future of plumbers."

Will there be a time where people no longer stop up a toilet? Will sinks no longer need to be installed? Will giant condominiums be built in 2023 without bathrooms and kitchens?

Will we be taking a shit on our iPads?

From the ABA Journal:

Hedge fund manager Daniel Ades of Kawa Capital Management tells the Wall Street Journal that students should seek an education that pays the highest salaries relative to the cost of education. According to that analysis, technical colleges are the best. "We're in a skills based economy and what we need is more computer programmers, more [nurses]," he tells the newspaper. "It's less glamorous but it's what we need."

The article is geared towards the discussion of loans, and why it's more cost effective to pay for a trade school education in terms of making money in a career than it is to pay for law school.

So there's the answer, forget law school. If money is the goal, go to trade school. it costs less, you don't need to wear a suit, you can use all your shiny toys for business, and you don't have to worry about social media for lawyers.

Let me know if you do it. I'll hire you to fix my toilet, and bitch about how much it costs as you drive away in your Porsche.

Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and aren't a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Would You Want Your Kids To Be Lawyers?

This weekend, in two separate conversations (not twitter conversations, actual face to face with food and drink conversations), two different lawyers told me without solicitation, that they would not want their kids to be lawyers.

One is a 30-year lawyer-turned-coach who still practices part-time, and the other is one of the most successful personal injury lawyers around, 17 years in to practice.

The coach said that debt and the job prospects were paramount in his thinking, while the successful PI lawyer said it was due to the lack of professionalism he has to deal with on a daily basis.

So from two different types of lawyers, the feeling seems to be that lawyers, and the money, suck.

I would encourage my kids to become lawyers, but only if they truly wanted to practice law, to be "real" lawyers, to be professionals dedicated to representing clients. These could be indigent clients facing jail, corporate clients looking to screw the general public, or people looking to get divorced. Regardless of the source of the passion, as long as they were going it to it for the right reasons - to represent clients as advocated and counselors, I'm all for it.

I sense the Starbucks crowd, the e-lawyering crowd, and those who believe their law schools are the devil for forcing them to go to law school based on the promise of wealth and fame, are not going to encourage their kids to go to law school. I also trust those who didn't find law as easy and fun as they thought will also hope their kids do something else.

But I'm interested in the discussion.

So if you're going to offer your thoughts (and I'll allow the anonymous cowards in on this one as I'm about to change that policy) please at least tell me how long you've been in practice and what it is you do.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If Joseph Rakofsky Had A Mentor, And Other Wild Ideas

Scott Greenfield described it with clarity this morning:

In the beginning, this was a matter of a young lawyer who did what so many others would have done, reached beyond himself for the dollar at the expense of a murder defendant, Dontrell Deaner. At this point, most have forgotten that this was about saving the Dontrell Deaners, the defendants entitled to competent counsel because their lives depended on it. Instead, they got puffery.

But it now appears that Joseph Rakofsky isn't like the other young lawyers who want to be something they're not. Most of them would have learned something from the universal condemnation. Most would have grasped their horrible mistake quickly. A few would have taken longer, but eventually come to the harsh realization that they blew any chance at redemption.

This one, however, has enjoyed no epiphany. This one will fight to the death. He will add, and redo, and redouble, and fight. This isn't tenacity, an excellent trait in a lawyer. This isn't mere stupidity. This is pathologic obsession.

Mark Bennett had some comments on young Joseph's predicted assault on the only lawyer who would add his name to 2011's version of the Titanic:

By filing suit for his pal Rakofsky, Borzouye—whether he knew it or not—put his professional reputation and his bank account on the line along with his precious time. It wasn’t much of a favor to Rakofsky—a greater mitzvah would have been to dissuade Rakofsky from filing suit at all (I don’t know if he tried, but see “First,” above)—but it is not entirely out-of-line for a lawyer, when a friend is intent on destroying himself in court, to come along for the ride to try to minimize the damage.

Oh Joseph, I've seen this too often. I haven't seen it from lawyers in their infancy, but from lawyers well in to their careers who have decided that the world is against them, that attacking anyone with a heartbeat and voice will lead to some type of victory, somewhere.

It never ends well.

The lawyers I speak of are disbarred. The ones who felt attacked, and went on the attack, never knowing when to stop attacking, and continuing after the last interested person turned away - the last interested person besides a Bar prosecutor.

I think of Charlie Sheen.

Charlie had a problem, he took that problem and attacked anyone who spoke of the problem. He went on the attack, and made himself the story.

He lost his job, his kids, some friends, the respect of those who once respected him, and then all of a sudden, it all stopped.

Then it got quiet. Then we heard the sincere apologies, the evidence that he had moved on and was looking for a life away from the past.

It worked.

So how did it happen?

I have to think someone put their hand on Charlie's shoulder and said "stop."


"You're not 'winning,' you're losing, badly."

While the story of Sheen's demise fades, the talk of his new life becomes the lesson for many. "Hey, look at Charlie Sheen," will be the phrase spoken to those who think they can't get out of their own way.

Which brings me back to Joseph Rakofsky.

Young Joseph could have been a popular speaker on the young lawyer circuit. I said from the beginning of his failed life as a plaintiff that had he taken his experience and turned it in to a teaching lesson - many of the young (marketing) lawyers may have learned something. Had young Joseph stood up and said "don't do what I did, don't take on a case unprepared, don't over-market yourself, don't be who you are not for the sake of building a practice," he would have been a strong voice in the "I speak from experience" camp.

Instead, he amended his complaint.

And so I wonder where is Joseph Rakofsky's mentor? Does he have one? Has he had some who he's now cast away? Are you one of them thinking "I tried to talk to him, but he knew better?"

Joseph Rakofsky claims he can't sleep, he's lost business, his life is the result of "internet mobbing."

But the last time I heard Joseph Rakofsky's name before yesterday, before he said "I'm back," was, well, I don't remember.

Maybe Joseph Rakofsky has a mentor. Maybe young Joseph is a bad mentee. Maybe his short time as a lawyer has taught him that becoming the poster boy for circus-type litigation is a road to success.

Young Joseph is on his way to nowhere. He doesn't know that, he'll never agree with that, but then again, I wonder if anyone is telling him that.

Nothing he is doing will accomplish anything positive in his life, or career.

But I'm not the one to tell him that.

Maybe someone else knows better.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Saw The Future Of Law, And It's Not What Any Of You Morons Are Talking About On The Internet

I spent the day at my law school alma mater yesterday speaking to students about, well, about a lot of things. They asked questions, I asked questions, They talked about their future, and I spoke of my past.

I've also been sitting back, watching the failed lawyers try and convince the greater legal community via blogs, articles and quotes at happy conferences that the future of law is what they deem it to be. The drum beats louder every day. It's no longer that e-lawyering is part of the future, we are now being told if we are not part of the sit-at-home-and-sell-legal-services- world, we will not be a part of this perceived future. Google + is a total complete failure, but to those who have nothing to talk about, it's the future. Lawyers are shutting down their practice because they have determined they have the secrets to running law firms, and rather than practice law, they are going to sell you their secrets to success.



There is no "future of law."


Not a single student asked about building a practice by keyboard and monitor from mommy's basement. Not a single student spoke about twitter, dropbox, or anything with .com at the end.

They spoke about offices, firms, clients, courtrooms, "meaningful" practices," and passion.

They don't know you "future of law" people are full of crap yet, because they haven't met you, you and your self-fulfilling prophecies that because you are un-interested in going to an office and having face to face communication with clients, everyone else one day will be as well.

It's OK if you have decided that your future of law is going to be in pajamas, or going from Starbucks to Starbucks, or trying to tell successful lawyers that (for a fee) you have all the answers. Most of us know better. Most of us know that it's merely your reality, your inability to practice law like lawyers - in the presence of clients, in a suit, in a courtroom or conference room. You are merely tired, or broke, or getting to the point of being broke, and trying to convince the world that lawyers who practice "normal" law are going to die off soon.

Your future of law is law by tech and teaching "secrets" that are about as secret as your failure. That's great, for you.

But it's not the future.

Because as I know, and as I heard yesterday, your future is just that.


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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A New Blogger The Marketers And Starbucks Lawyers Missed

According to those worshipped on the internet these days, lawyers only blog for profit, and working in an office is a sure fire road to nowhere. We are in a marketing sewer and all lawyers are to follow the lawyer in front of them down to the pile of shit called the internet, typiing away for the sole purpose of business, and working from their dining room table when Starbucks kicks them out.

Lawyer Joe Scura must have been out the day the unemployed former nothing lawyers were busy scamming other lawyers young and old in to thinking that working alone from home and blogging for clients was the only way to riches and fame.

His website and blog violate about every marketing rule that exists.

Fasten your seatbelt marketing scum - here's Joe out of the box on his website:

Joe Scura opened his first law office in 2009

2009! You idiot! Rule number 1 - never, NEVER say how long you've been out unless it's more than 5 years.

What the marketers would have told Joe was to start with:

Joe Scura is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will fight for your rights for a reasonable fee.

The Virtual Office crew (who of late have insisted this is the future of law) drops out of Joe's world at the second sentence, where he says:

This office is devoted to providing exceptional representation to real people faced with real legal problems

Then there's his first blog post:

Two Years In Solo Practice

There you go again Joe, being all honest and transparent and just violating every rule of sleezy marketers.

A better title would have been: My Advice To Young Lawyers After Years In Private Practice (2 is plural after all.)

Joe continunes with the first reason he writes this post:

I would like potential clients to know who I am and where I’m coming from.

Oh man Joe, you want them to know the truth about you? Really?

Here's more bad news: Joe went to law school not to make money, but: with the goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney

And while I want you to go to Joe's blog and give him the many hits he obviously doesn't care about, here's a clip of what to expect (so the "how to make money fast like today as a lawyer" crowd doesn't waste their time.)

If I could stress one point here, it would be “just work”. You could spend hours in your office tweaking your website, tweeting, answering questions on AVVO, (all of which I’ve done btw) but if you want to be a young solo the most productive thing you can do to build your practice is develop skills as an attorney and do good work

Welcome aboard Joe, and congratulations on your first "Like," from me.

h/t: Mark Bennett

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Federal Judge Smacks Florida Bar On Advertising Rules

This stuff makes me happy, because I think the Florida Bar has become more of a consumer protection agency, than an association of lawyers. It also makes me happy because I have argued that the advertising rules should be as follows: "Read rule 4-8.4," (no false, misleading, deceptive behavior.)

But the Florida Bar continues to micro manage lawyer advertising, protecting Aunt Sadie from some errant letter about a legal matter.

So now Jacksonville federal judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled some of the advertising rules unconstitutional.

Lawyer William Harrell wanted to use the slogan "Don't Settle for Less Than You Deserve," but that's a no no.

Judge Howard held the rules to be "vague."

They're not vague, they're ridiculous.

Public Citizen brought the lawsuit, and in critizing the advertising rules, made the point as to why they exist: "The rules have made it extremely difficult for lawyers in Florida to effectively reach injured consumers in need of representation," said Greg Beck.

That's right, the goal is to keep us away, because consumers don't want to hear from us.

But the Bar has to have evidence, and facts, and they didn't:

The Bar does not articulate any basis for believing that “Don’t settle for less
than you deserve” could potentially mislead the public or erode the public’s confidence in the legal profession. See Mason, 208 F.3d at 958 (“The Bar has the burden in this case of producing concrete evidence that Mason’s use of the words ‘AV Rated, the Highest Rating’ threatened to mislead the public.”). Moreover, the Bar presents no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that the phrase has misled the public or tarnished the reputation of the legal profession in the public’s eyes. Mason, 208 F.3d at 957. Instead, the Bar generally cites to data which purportedly shows that television advertising “lowers the public’s respect for the fairness and integrity of the legal system and adversely affects the system.”

The Florida Bar has since amended the advertising rules, but they're still ridiculous, cumbersome, and subject to all kinds of interpretation that leaves lawyers wondering whether it's worth advertising at all.

(Editor's Note: I hate most lawyer advertising but defend a lawyer's right to advertise - I"m kind of a hyporite that way.)

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Are There Any (Other) Impressive, Creative Law Students Out There?

Because Im bad for business, I've only been invited to a few, well, two, social media/tech conferences to talk about the sewer that lawyers have made of the the internet.

My other speaking engagements are limited to boring conferences, like talking to real lawyers who have real practices and actually believe that ethics play a part in marketing and law, and law students who are looking to not go afoul of the Bar Rules.

So last week I was invited to address an early morning Professional Responsibility class at a local law school. They chuckled, they asked questions, some stayed after to ask more questions, but most played on their laptops (some followed me on twitter as I was saying the most important things they've ever heard- so I thought), and for the most part, they got up and left and went to their next class or took a nap or something.

One student sent me an email. She wanted to say thanks but was admittedly too busy to stay after for that purpose. Apparently staying after class to commiserate with some old relic from the 90's was less important than her own studies, which I appreciated.

In her email, she told me about a recent presentation she gave to a local Bar Association (the 4th largest in the country) on ethics in advertising and the newly proposed Florida Bar Rules.

No, I'm not kidding. Apparently the law school has some clinical internship program where law students can do these types of things. Apparently, she was interested in this topic.

I asked her to send me the presentation. It was pretty impressive. Actually, it was first-rate kind of stuff. We'll talk more about it when I take her to lunch in a couple weeks. (Yes, there was a small lesson in that paragraph.)

So this got me thinking, besides all the law students we read about in the blawgosphere who are suing their law school for forcing them to attend based on promises of jobs, or whining about why lawyers don't see how incredibly epic and awesome they are, what the other ones doing?

That's my question.

Is this law student I met an anomoly? Are there others out there that ignore the economy, the crowd of crybabies, and the social media hacks that promise them wealth and fame by keyboard and instead have engaged in interesting projects that may result in a lawyer out there actually taking interest?

Take a minute from begging people to "Like" your Facebook Fan Page and let me know.

I'm interested. Really.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hijacking Of "Cyberbullying" By Marketers, Tech Hacks, And Social Media Gurus

Cyberbullying is a real problem. Children have committed suicide as a result. Cyberstalking is another problem. I've received calls from women being stalked by men (both known and unknown), wondering what to do.

These real problems though, with real definitions, have been embarrassingly used by the marketing, tech hack, and social media guru folks on the internet in order to stave off any criticism, discussion, debate, or questions about their backgrounds and various bullshit they peddle.

Any marketer, tech hack, or social media guru who has complained about being "cyberbullied" or "cyberstalked" should bow their heads. You are worthless theives of terms that have real meaning to defenseless people. You have used these terms to round up your groupies in to believing you and offering help.

So listen up, real good:

"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.

So you 30 and 40 something marketers, tech hacks, and social media gurus, shut up. You want to write something critical of someone else, great. Defend it. You want to sit there and passively aggressively call your critics "psychopaths," or "weirdos" because they don't hug you and otherwise kiss your ass on your blog, expect a response.

Criticism of the bullshit you write (or even the bullshit I write) is not akin to being "tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted."

There is a group of lawyers, me included, on the internet, that have no problem calling bullshit when we see it. If you believe that is "cyberbullying," then show me your identification that proves you are under 18, and I'll show you mine.

So stop threatening us, stop thinking we are scared of you and your screenshots and your free lawyer friends. That means you - the marketing scam artist, the iPhone "evangelist," and you, you lying social media guru - you and your online "friends." We have been sued, stalked, and as they say, "been there done that." Your threats, discussions about what you are going to do are in and of themselves, as you call, cyberstalking and harrassment. But we can handle it without crying like babies to our online ass kissers.

So shut up. Move on, and stop thinking for a minute that you have any relevance in the world of professionals. Your entire life is online, ours is not.

Grow up, stop whining, and stop hurting the children of the world by trying to convince people that you are a child as well.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finally, Good Advice To Young Lawyers: Shut Up

It's not even fun anymore to predict what will happen on the internet when a discussion ensues about how young solo practitioners can make money, immediately.

So the queen of advocacy for solos, Carolyn Elefant, decided to open the floor to anyone with a perceived lucid thought in their head.

As Scott Greenfield noted, "naturally, a marketer showed up like a guppy drawn to chum..."

It's the mantra: Practice in trouble? Cash flow not what you expected with that shiny new iPad and virtual law practice? Start plunging your brains out on marketing.

A quick word about marketing.

Every so often the lawyers get into a dust up with the marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks on the internet. We live different lives. Lawyers practice law. Many marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks used to practice law and now don't, but have all the answers on how to make zillions as a lawyer. They'd rather just work at their dining room table and take their daily trip to Starbucks to tweet about the price increase on Netflix, which affects their nightly obligation to stay home because they have no money to go out.

The marketers will try to argue that lawyers are "marketers" as well. This is true. Everyone in business is marketing. The definition of marketing is to take your product or service to market. The difference is that practicing lawyers don't take money from desperate lawyers in return for marketing advice. We may engage in marketing, but our job is to practice law. I know, it's hard to comprehend that the only argument you marketers have is really no argument at all.

Back to the advice.

Here's some (anonymous of course) advice that came in the comments to Carolyn's post:

Waiting for people to refer you things is not a marketing plan. The three big marketing methods are direct mail solicitations, yellow pages and internet.

Learn these words: Search Engine Organization (SEO). SEO is the science of getting page 1 on Google. Become a master of SEO. Besides hiring an internet consultant, you should learn everything that you can yourself from books.

A good service will ghostwrite blogs for you that have good keyword content.

Don't get involved in commenting on other lawyer blogs (especially a crew of criminal defense lawyer blogs who are friendly with this site) They are well followed and readers will follow your comments from their sites to yours, but these guys get into the habit of picking fights with other lawyers on the internet.

(i.e., stay away from me)

From this point forward, 50% of your gross will go to internet and mail advertising. In a good economy, it drops to 25%. Cut non-advertising expenses. You can use a virtual phone network, get rid of the secretary, etc; but you can't skimp on advertising.

Criminal: Lots of people get arrested and need a lawyer. Do misdemeanor and DUI. Stay away from felonies in the beginning. Criminal cases are all flat fee paid up front (or at least half up front). Unlike civil litigation the opposing counsel (the prosecutor) isn't out to crucify you for your inexperience. They'll offer you 20-30% more jail that to an experience criminal defense lawyer who is part of the club; but they won't crucify you.

Marketing driven specialization in routine practice areas criminal/bankruptcy/divorce etc) will let you make a good living.

Too bad this loser was too scared to put his name to his awful advice.

But then there was Joe. Joe put his name to his advice, which caused Greenfield to call him out on his lack of experience.

Joe said maybe he should just "shut up," to which Greenfield said:

That's right. New lawyers don't want to hear this, and don't like it one little bit, but this is exactly the right advice. If you have nothing helpful to say, say nothing. If you have yet to achieve a thriving practice, then you have no advice for anyone else who is having difficulty achieving the same thriving practice.

I realize that the idea of shutting up offends you, and being told to shut up stings. I realize that it flies in the face of what your parents and professors told you, that you should express yourself constantly. But this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer.

After a few months, even a year in practice, I knew nothing. At least I told myself that. I spent a lot of time doing three things, practicing, listening, and learning. Giving advice was something I did to clients and those few lawyers in the PD's office that asked, but not to other lawyers who had been doing this longer than me. I took advice from them.

But that's not acceptable today. There is a notion out there that lawyers like me, like Greenfield, are "scared" of what's happening, that we're scared that our clients will go to younger lawyers armed with shiny toys and a recorded voice at the virtual (basement) office in mommy and daddy's house. That we're scared our clients will prefer someone who lives 2,000 miles away who was "recently quoted" on some website for 3 minutes.

You want to listen to (or pay) a lawyer who's been practicing for less time than it takes to have a child? You think these people have the answers? You think the way things "used to be done" are over?

Lawyers are like anyone else, even worse: tell them you can put money in their pocket, and they will listen. They will type, they will swipe the maxed out credit card for the marketing plan, and they willbe attracted to those that claim to have the secrets to the pot of gold.

Scott was right: "...this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer."

Wait... Oh, nevermind, I've been doing this longer than 9 months.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Cute" Judicial Orders Are Our Problem, Not Theirs

I don't know when they started, the orders from judges requiring warring lawyers to play rock paper scissors, or as of late, attend a weekend class on civility called a "kindergarten party."

Yesterday, lawyers got their revenge and celebrated the leaking of an email to Judge Sam Sparks taking him to task for his recent behavior.

So now lawyers everywhere are saying "see, those orders are bad, wrong, unfair, and bad.

It's always nice when someone like Chief Judge Jones comes in and saves us from ourselves, changing the focus back to the judiciary and away from us.

So I guess now we're vindicated. Now we don't have to worry that when we act like childred that we're going to get called out on it.

I think these orders are an important part of the practice, because it puts on the table (with humor and not sanctions) the level to which some lawyers will sink to represent a client.

I've read many comments from lawyers saying that judges should just sanction these lawyers and stop being funny about it. Two comments on that - much of this childish behavior is just that - childish - but not unethical. The other thing is that I think they are funny and if we can't laugh at ourselves, then looks like judges will just laugh at us.

The Florida Supreme Court is so fed up with our ability to be civil, that they've amended the oath of attorney. This amendment has caused Florida lawyers to ask "am I grandfathered in?"

Some of them are kidding.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Are We Being Taught To Avoid Anything Unhappy?

In today's world where everything is about marketing (not necessarily telling the truth) there is a theory among the hucksters that all negative comments, criticism, and probing questions, should be avoided at all costs. They feel comfortable taking this tact, and referring to anyone who isn't in the "happy" box, as a "troll."

I'm therefore, a troll. I ask questions, I point out lies, puffery, and other marketing tactics that are nothing more than an attempt to make money the dishonest way.

I'm a problem. I literally, just won't just let things lie.

Well, here's another truth, avoiding the truth, avoiding answering questions that may knock a few points off your perceived "personal brand," just makes things worse.

Recently I was looking to book a hotel. I went to Trip Advisor. I love this site. I read the reviews. There's a couple things I look for. One, the number of positive reviews. I really don't care what they say after the first few, but the number is important.

Then I look at the negative reviews. I read more of those. I notice that mostly, the negative reviews come from people who ask for special accommodations. "We had a party of 35 and didn't all get to stay on the same floor like you said maybe, possibly, could happen." "We got in at 2 a.m. and there weren't 9 people at the desk to help up." Most negative reviews appear to be from people who will never be happy. Some, though, are relevant - the ones about noise, cleanliness, food quality, to name a few.

Finally, I look to see if anyone at the hotel responds to the reviews. If they do, they move up a notch with me.

But last week I noticed something interesting. I saw one hotel where the responses were only to the positive reviews. "Oh, thank you so much, we're so glad you love our wonderful hotel......." Every negative review was left without a response.

I won't stay there regardless of the positive reviews. I know a marketing huckster advised this hotel to only respond to positive comments, and ignore the "trolls."

So this troll won't be staying there.

This behavior is growing on the internet. Lies and deceit don't work well with questions and criticism, so it's ignored.

The next time you're online, watch how people ignore anything that makes them unhappy. Ask questions, and watch who responds, and who cowers.

There's a ton of posts on the internet about responding to negativity. Whatever they say, there is no substitute for taking criticism and questions head on.

It's what real lawyers do.

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

Monday, September 5, 2011

Now Will Everyone Stop Believing The Hype Of Social Media Rock Stars?

I never heard of Trey Pennington. Apparently, the social media crowd loved him. He killed himself over the weekend. He suffered from depression.

To those that don't understand depression, it is (no pun intended) a deadly disease. I served on a non-profit board with a wonderful lawyer, loved by many, and just a great guy. He always offered to help on whatever project we were proposing, and was always glad to see you.

He hung himself one day.

Depression is not being sad, sitting at home complaining, or otherwise feeling sorry for yourself. It is a real, chemical imbalance, that can easily be hidden behind a smile and offer to help you create your dreams with a marketing plan.

There is this vicious debate raging on the internet now between those who say Mr. Pennington had "all these 'friends' on social media," so why couldn't he turn to someone for help? This is the argument being made by people who say the whole social media thing is a joke and that no one has many "real" connections - people they can actually call a "friend," against those that claim social media is the end all be all in life. The social media group - those who loved him, knew him, and say depression is a silent killer that only shows itself when it's too late - they want everyone to stop making this an argument about social media "friends."

The argument is pointless in this situation, and misses the mark.

While it's cute to argue that "hey, what about all those 'friends' on twitter, couldn't you turn to one of them," that's better left for revelations of financial desperation and other social problems. Depression transcends relationships, online or offline.

The real point of this story is something the social media rock stars will not discuss - the notion that someone's created brand on the internet is never the whole story.

Many social media rock stars have no jobs, no income, huge debt, and nothing more than a web presence and a following on twitter. You would never know that, because that's all hidden, no one asks hard questions (especially when faced with the promise of wealth and fame by someone who has neither), and it's a negative discussion which is prohibited by the happysphere on the internet who only respond to congratulations, thank yous and "you're so awesome" type compliments.

The lesson from Trey Pennington is simple - stop assuming that because someone created a web presence and says things that are attractive to you and seemingly can make your life better, that any of it is true.

It's usually not. None of it.

I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Trey Pennington, and hope that at least one of you reading this will realize that your shock is only due to your inability to face reality.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Want To Compete With BigLaw? Intimidate With An Ipad

Jay Shepherd, who closed his practice to open a company to teach civil lawyers how to bill like criminal defense lawyers have been billing since time immemorial, exposes the deep, dark secrets (just go with it) of how small firms and solos can compete with BigLaw:

Toys and tech.

I know, I know, can't anyone advocate that better lawyering is what makes us, um, better lawyers?


No, no, and no.

Toys....and tech. Get with the program.

Here we go, grab the Starbucks:

[1] Jay asks why are you using Windows XP, an operating system launched ten years ago last week. Seriously? You’re using an operating system from the Clinton Administration?

Yes, I use XP. It works fine. Does everything I want.

[2] ...small-firm lawyers have a better chance of carrying the latest iPhone or Android device, while their Biglaw counterparts are still lugging around their 2002-ish BlackBerries.

I have a 2010 blackberry. It emails, texts, accesses the net, you know, has the ability to communicate with people and websites. Works fine. Does the job.

[3] Social media. Because you can't talk about lawyers without talking about social media.

[4] Intimidate witnesses with an iPad and impress clients at the same time.

When the iPad came out last year, I made a point of using it in depositions. I uploaded all of the written-discovery documents into my GoodReader app. Then, instead of referring the deponent to the typical stack of photocopied documents, I’d flick and pinch on the iPad screen to pull up the bookmarked documents, then ask him, “Is this your signature?” while I highlighted it on the glass. Yes, I was showing off, and it wasn’t necessarily any more effective than the stack of photocopies. But it was potentially intimidating to the witness, and more importantly, it showed our client (one of the world’s largest banks) that we were on the cutting edge. And that gave them comfort.

So there you have it. Change your operating system, get rid of the blackberry, get an iPad and use it to impress.

Congratulations, you can now compete with BigLaw.

Now if I can just remember one client in the last 17 years that gave a crap about any of this...

But I don't want to get in to what really makes clients want to be your client or how to compete, lawyer to lawyer, with BigLaw. It's boring, and doesn't involve shiny intimidating toys.

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Can We Talk About Our Profession, Just For A Minute, Please?

If you spend any time on the internet these days, you are led to believe that if lawyers don't start buying better iPad-type devices and finding a better, cheaper, faster way to sell documents, they will go broke.

Yes, "the legal profession is changing," but hasn't it been changing since day one?

Lawyers used to be created by people "reading" the law. Then they invented law schools. Law schools had full time professors. Then they started having practicing lawyers teach a class or two. Law used to be read in books housed in libraries, now it's read on computer screens and accessed from websites. BigLaw hasn't been around forever - most (many deceased) partners in old big law firms began their careers with storefront offices. Now most lawyers start solo, and stay solo.

But one thing has not changed - people still need lawyers.

Most of the posts on the net today are whine-fests, collections of thoughts from crying babies telling the "dinosaurs" to get with the program or die.

Then there is Jordan Furlong. Although he's wrong, he does know how to write without sounding like a basement-dwelling unemployed child.

I'd read his recent trilogy if I were you. Not because I agree with it, but because it's (wrong and) well written.

Jordan starts his trilogy with noting the "drawing cards" for Google Ventures in their acquisition of Rocket Lawyer, an online platform for getting legal documents to clients:

...ease, accessibility, affordability, user-driven, user experience. They have nothing to do with the intelligence of the lawyer or the quality of the legal offering and everything to do with the manner in which clients find and access legal services. As I’ve said before, convenience is the new battleground, a fight for which law firms still haven’t even shown up.

So we begin with the notion that there are clients out there looking for 7-11. It's not about the quality, it's about the ability to run in and out quickly and get a "sandwich." May not be a great sandwich, but it's a sandwich, and it's easy and affordable.

Jordan says that companies like Rocket Lawyer have created a client-facing document assembly system that provides channels to licensed lawyers who can review the completed documents and answer more complex questions. He says that Law firms have had the capacity to create these services for years, but they’ve been unwilling or unable to risk changing the nature of their business.

Jordan concludes the beginning of his trilogy with the goal of companies like Rocket and Legal Zoom:

So they have converted the legal advice process and legal document assembly system into marketing and business development opportunities for lawyers. And they have one simple goal in mind: to replace the law firm as the primary platform by which clients find and engage with lawyers.

OK, so the goal is to replace lawyers with sites that sell legal documents.

Got it.

A point that Jordan makes is that if lawyers don't find a way to compete, they will lose, and lose big:

The real story is that firms are buying these new products and services, not selling them. They’re taking marching orders about their use, not issuing them. They’re accepting the new realities of the marketplace, not inventing them. Law firms are now drifting to the periphery of the marketplace, trading places with technology-driven outsiders whose own importance increases daily. Law firms, whether they realize it or not, are settling into a new role: sources of valued specialists called upon to perform certain tasks within a larger legal system that they did not create and that they do not control.

Law is partly a business. The rule of business is that there is always someone out there trying to do it faster and cheaper than you. Those claiming to do it "better, faster, and cheaper," usually find clients who don't care that much about "better" until they realize "faster" and "cheaper" wasn't what they really wanted.

Jordan's take on the role of document selling in the legal profession is a good read, but it misses an important point: Law is also a profession. Down the street from your local 7-11 is a regular everyday grocery store, with the produce manager that knows what type of tomatoes you like to buy, and down the street from there is the gourmet market that special orders the smoked meat you like to eat on Sundays.

There is room for every type of lawyer, and there always will be. Jordan marginalizes the profession when he says: We need to understand what technology is doing to legal services and either adopt that technology, adapt to the client expectations it’s creating, or leave.

I am not "we," and I didn't become a lawyer to sell documents online. Yes, I know, my practice area will never adapt to that type of service. But yours doesn't have to either. My clients want to come to an office and have a private conversation. They want to be greeted by Evelyn, and they want to feel that there is a place where their legal needs are being serviced other than a computer or coffee shop.

There is still a place for lawyers to decide what type of lawyers they want to be, not which type of convenience store they want to operate.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dissecting The Sales Job Of The Lawyer Turned Marketer

Why is a lawyer selling marketing advice?

Is it because they made a fortune in the practice of law and now want to cash in on the "secrets" to making money as a lawyer?

Or is it because they practiced as an associate for 8 months and then found a way to convince other lawyers there were secrets that could turn lawyers in to rainmakers?

Better question - are you asking these "lawyer-marketers" the hard questions about their credibility to sell this advice? Are you asking them for 10 references? Are you asking them to tell you about their practice? No, you're just interested in hearing how you can make money. That's all

I've said before that lawyers who want to hire marketers or buy marketing advice, tips, secrets, should only pay real marketing professionals - not lawyers.


Because most lawyers selling marketing advice have no track record of success as lawyers, (or won't talk about it - same thing), have run out of things to say, and never really had anything relevant to say except to puff their resume.

Remember the real estate infomercials? We actually thought the host was some wealthy real estate investor who make billions and now for $19.99 was selling us all his tips. It was crushing to learn he was making money only by selling books and videos at $19.99 a pop. We were so sad when we learned.

Not even respected publications are immune to the draw of the lawyer turned marketer.

An example: The National Law Journal, previously a paper filled only with news about the legal profession, lawyers, law, and court cases, has hired social media guru Adrian Dayton to write for them.

What they seem to ignore, is that he's really just writing for himself.

See, the audience of both the NLJ and young Adrian, is BigLaw. Adrian wants to teach BigLaw how to type on a computer using twitter and other social media sites. He claims to be able to help establish "high value relationships." To the desperate lawyer out there, that means "make money." Adrian never made much money as a lawyer, but let's move on.

Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Just tell me how to make the money. I don't care who you are, or if you ever made any money, I only care that you claim you can tell me to make the money. I want your tips. I want your "secrets." I want money.

Recently, Adrian wrote "Are You Beer-Worthy?" Here, he claims this is a piece about lawyers who don't like to network.

Cue the first sales move:

Perhaps this is why introverts are drawn to the idea of social networking and business development through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Then, we add a little international cred:

When I traveled to Australia and New Zealand in February to speak to a variety of organizations about social media, I often started my speaking engagements with an anecdote involving a can of Coca-Cola. After sharing this story a couple of times, and not getting much of a response, I realized that perhaps Coke wasn't the same icon in Australia that it was in the United States. So I asked a group of lawyers: What is the comparable soft drink in Australia?

Coke, Beer, are you ready for the marketing tip?

"Beer" came the reply from a lawyer who looked nothing like Crocodile Dundee.

Then we move to the "throw-away" tip as the lawyers turned marketers continue to try and find relevant things to say:

We tend to do business with people we know, like and trust — in that order. Beer-worthiness speaks to the question, "Is this someone you would like to have a beer with?" Is this someone you would enjoy talking to, strategizing with and taking a break with when you aren't in the heat of litigation? That's the type of person clients like to hire.

Yes lawyers, I know, you've never heard this. Yes, we tend to do business with those we know, like, and trust. I know, fascinating, isn't it? You've heard this what, 75,000 times?

Then, as we're trying to make sense of this "secret" of marketing, here comes another sales pitch, after a very, very important disclosure:

In full disclosure, I'm not a beer drinker, but in training and coaching lawyers all over the country about social media I have come to the conclusion that they can help break the ice, help start a conversation. But it ends there. Unless lawyers are willing to pick up the phone, make an appointment, grab a cup of coffee or hit the bar, they won't find traction in their social networking efforts.

Training and coaching all over the country, and in Australia and New Zealand.

Do you see "HIRE ME BIGLAW" between the lines?

Now of course Adrian is making the point that social media is not the end-all-be-all in networking, but not without a few words from our sponsor, if you know what I mean.

I have an idea for the NLJ to propose to Adrian for his next (sales job) piece in their austere publication.

How about, "How social media made me a rainmaker as a lawyer, my long track record of obtaining legal clients through on-line marketing?"

I'll be waiting to read it.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

See Ya Around, Gary

Having nothing to do with law or ethics, yesterday Gary Vaynerchuk "retired" from his online video wine show. For 1000 episodes, almost daily during the work week for 5 years, he hosted Wine Library TV. The concept was simple, he said hello, tasted a few wines, maybe had a guest (some famous, others famous in the wine world, and others merely fans of the show), asked a question, and signed off. It was wildly popular and was a big window to his family's wine shop.

He then re-branded the show earlier this year, calling it "Daily Grape." Now, 89 episodes later, he's done.

There was no champagne, no party, just a simple tasting of one wine, and a highly personal good-bye

Others, many due to Gary's success, have made miserably pathetic attempts at video blogging. I watched one last as many episodes as it had viewers. I think the number was 3. Gary was successful because he had something to say, and he was as real off-line as he was on-line. He received many accolades. Some he mentioned humbly, others he kept quiet about. I recently saw him listed on one of those "most powerful" lists, and immediately realized he hadn't mentioned it anywhere. How many of you social media hounds would ever do that?

I've written about Gary before. He is a rarity in today's internet world - a real guy with a real business and nothing to lie about to puff his resume. Gary's success was due to his personality, his transparency, and his accessibility to his fans. He is one of the few people on social media who is a true success in business, unlike the so-called "social media gurus" who he rightly says "98% are clowns."

Gary had a real business, he didn't create a persona on social media with nothing behind it and then claim he was a success because he had 800,000 twitter followers, or had maxed out on the amount of Facebook friends allowed.

Most people do it in reverse and claim success. While Gary built a business and fan base - a root cause of his social media success, most think it's the opposite - gain followers and friends (with no substantive business behind you) and then claim that you can give business advice because many people are following your retweeting of others blog posts and are your writing of "how to walk and chew gum" posts to the congratulations of your social media circle jerk.

Most people on social media today have never obtained success in anything but typing.

I respect that his decision came after long reflection. To realize that something that has defined you for so long is no longer something you are passionate about, is a difficult moment. Although ironically I found less time to watch, I was disappointed Gary ended his video show. I told him as much, and although I understand the lack of passion to continue it on an almost daily basis, I hope he'll consider a more-than-occasional appearance.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who's Who At Biltmore Who's Who?

One of the recurring themes of social media and the internet is "how stupid are people?" Every week there's a new scam and a new group of idiots crying "I had no idea" after their money is transferred from their bank account or credit card, or months after they hired that consultant to change their life for the better.

I have little sympathy.

There are two reasons people get scammed - one, they don't want to know the "road to wealth" or "you have been selected" scam is a scam, and two, they don't take the time to do the difficult work of checking the company or faux consultant out. Today's world is a world of desperation for wealth and recognition, and dammit, if someone is going to sell me a plaque that tells everyone I am somebody, I'm writing the check.

Initially, the honorees receive a card saying they have been nominated for inclusion in Biltmore’s prestigious registry of successful business and professional people. Others get an unsolicited phone call. Once a sales rep gets the “nominee” on the phone, out comes the persuasive, scripted pitch listing Biltmore’s benefits: a personalized plaque, help with producing a professional profile, a listing in Biltmore’s hardcover book and on the company’s website, and having Biltmore issue a news release “to all major search engines, including Google” lauding the honoree’s accomplishments. Also: two round trip airline tickets to one of 40 locations.

Then, the money: A lifetime membership in the social network costs in the neighborhood of $800, according to various complaints. Less costly platinum and gold memberships are also offered, as is a trial membership, which can be upgraded later, for approximately $200

Sounds good, even if the person selling the plaque is a known scam artist.

Meet who's behind door number 1 at Biltmore Who's Who:

The social media company — headed by former commodities broker Stephen Margol, who was banned for life from trading under a settlement with federal regulators — did not respond to numerous phone calls and a visit by The Miami Herald.

[Margol] induced customers to invest with Risk Capital by making false and misleading material representations and omissions during sales solicitation phone calls,” the settlement said. Their investors ended up losing most, if not all, of their money — $16 million between 2001 and 2003. Margol created Biltmore in the summer of 2005 — a year before his commodities ban became official.

But wait, there's more:

Florida’s Division of Consumer Services, the Better Business Bureau and various websites, including, have heard from a long string of customers about pushy sales tactics and allegedly unauthorized credit card charges beyond the initial charge.

And as all liars on social media try to mask the truth:

The vast body of negative reviews prompted Biltmore to engage in some online damage control, both on message boards and on Twitter, where the company has written “Not a scam” in its description field. But even that wasn’t quite what it seemed.

The avatar on the company’s Twitter account — a smiling young woman in a yellow polo — is a model whose image is lifted off the All American Clothing Co. website.

People always ask me, as if I picked the winning lotto numbers: "how do you find out all these things?" (I didn't discover the Biltmore Who's Who scam, as I don't take calls from companies like that because I'm not desperately looking for recognition from anyone who will sell it to me.)

Yep. That's where we are. Create the scam, scam the internet, and then scam the internet some more when the truth comes out.

Sound familiar?

By the way, the super-secret way I find out some of these things?


I use this: Link

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cruising The Internet

Unlike the Happysphere of the internet, where otherwise useless people congratulate each other on being at conferences and being passionate about shiny new toys, I'm not one to want to hear how much people like me and think I'm wonderful.

I'd rather know (shudder now) if someone doesn't like me. It makes things easier. I'd rather know because it helps me maintain my practice of not being phony and doing silly things like asking them to lunch or let's say in the case of lawyers... referring them cases or otherwise recommending them while they quietly and cowardly tell others they really don't like me.

Yesterday I tweeted “Do some of you lawyers wake up and say 'I'm going to write the stupidest thing that comes to mind today?'"

After writing that. I felt bad that I wasn’t specific as to what I was talking about.

I was talking about this post, by fellow Miami lawyer Jim Walker.

A brief history.

About a year ago I was invited to Kevin O’Keefe’s “Beer for Bloggers” Miami stop. I arrived at a local watering hole and found Kevin surrounded by his adoring fans (and paid blogging customers), as he loudly announced “oh, my biggest nemesis!”

I sat down, introduced myself to the table, several attendees keeping their heads down (later I would learn they were some of the hacks I write about on the internet) and by chance, (some of the minions were from out of town) I sat next to Miami lawyer Jim Walker.

Jim is a “cruise ship” lawyer, a niche practice of suing cruise lines for among other things, passenger injuries. It’s a great practice for a Miami lawyer, as Carnival and Royal Carribean and a couple other cruise lines are based here.

I never met Jim, nor ever heard of him (I thought), so I treated it as an opportunity to meet a Miami lawyer. You know, "hey, you know so and so, etc..."

Of course my first thought was to act like a normal human being and say hello and then move on to the typical small talk that reveals mutual friends and colleagues, similar interests, and the usual“maybe we can have lunch” conversation.

Instead, Jim began with:

“You’re Scott Greenfield’s friend.”

He didn’t say it like: “Hey! You’re Scott Greenfield’s friend!”

It was in the same tone as “you’re a piece of shit, aren’t you?”

So in a rare moment of willingness to admit I actually know Greenfield and yes, consider him a friend, Jim revealed his handle on twitter was @cruiselaw.

As I was vaguely remembering a back and forth with Greenfield and @cruiselaw, Jim told me the whole sordid story, as if he wanted me to take notes and analyze the situation.

I eventually deflected the conversation back to more irrelevant things like whether he liked the ice cream store down the street from his office that I use to go to as a kid.

It must have been difficult for Jim to think for a moment that I was a normal person, father, husband, involved in the Bar and the Miami community, and possibly a future referral source.

We parted with a handshake, traded cards, emailed a couple times, and I sent his name to a potential client who I assumed never called to retain him.

That’s my relationship with Jim.

So I thought.

Jim got mad the other day and penned this Howard Dean-type (see below) blog post railing against the ABA Journal Blawg 100.

Most of his facts were wrong, but I’ll correct a few.

I think the ABA Journal Blawg 100 contest is a joke. Except for the first year where I thought the winners were worthy, I always have. Since then, even some of the winners will tell you their victory is a joke. It is, no question, a popularity contest.

I was nominated once. By who, I don’t know. I was nominated in the same category as Professor Jonathan Turley, who, 5 minutes after the nominees were announced, was ahead of me by something like 45 million votes. I could never win, so I started making fun of the contest by saying it was “bad for the children” if Turley won, and other funny comments. It was nice to be nominated.

Jim’s rant included a (wrong) assessment what’s been going on recently on twitter.

But this is a fixed race. Its not a popularity contest. You can click on the Twitter account of @Molly_McDonough, the online editor at the ABA Journal, and see her chatting in the last few days, oh-so-cleverly, with her favorite Twitter friends: @mirriam71, ScottGreenfield, @thenambypamby, @btannebaum, and @taxgirl.

That's me - @btannebaum.

Jim doesn’t know that recently, the social media hacks on twitter have been begging for nominations. In response, people like me, and others, have joked with ABA Journal online editor Molly McDonough. We’ve made a big joke out of it.

A joke, Jim. A joke.

You see, the lawyers mentioned by Jim don't use blogging as a marketing tool. We blog to blog. Jim is big in online marketing. He writes about cruise line problems, tweets with hashtags to attract attention, wants you to like him on Facebook, and all that other crap I, and many other lawyers find pointless and silly.

But it’s fine, it's not uncommon that lawyers who buy blogging platforms buy in to the whole marketing aspect of social media and the internet. That I find it cheap and unworthy of a experienced, competent lawyer who claims to be "nationally recognized" is only my opinion.

Jim’s post is down now. I asked him why he took it down and he said:

@btannebaum put online at 3:30 AM to see how photos loaded then took it down, planned to post Setp. 13 when contest closed, cat's out of bag

I just have one question, if you intended to post this in about a month, and we all got the email last week, why would you begin the post with:

"This week I received an email from the ABA Journal reminding me that the "Blawg 100" contest was fast approaching"

The answer is, well, you know the answer.

Maybe he realized he was wrong, sounded a bit childish, or realized his colleague down the street was named on his hit list?

For many reasons, I normally don’t write about lawyers in my own backyard. For one, it’s not collegial. But I'll make an exception here because I do appreciate knowing what Jim thinks of me, and I do agree with another thing he said:

"I suppose I should not be so bitter"

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