Sunday, June 26, 2011

Praising Losers, Killing Dinosaurs

The horse is dead, its carcass unidentifiable. The "older" lawyers lay scorn on the younger generation of lawyers, while the "newbies," "millennials," whatever we want to call them, tell "us" that we're "over," our business models are dead, we are about to be run over by iPads, virtual offices, and clients looking for competent counsel at the rate of 35 cents an hour. No one succeeds anymore by just doing good work and getting good client referrals as a result. No one. Nope.

Scott Greenfield is public enemy one of the new generation of lawyers. That stupid old man. So he's been-there-done-that and may know a thing about trials, clients, and business. So what? He started practicing law when cars had 4 wheels, and law was a part of the practice of law.

Scott's in need of a nice ice pack for his head lately, engaging with those who continue to convince themselves that "we" don't understand, and if we couldn't get jobs in law firms out of law school, we'd be in search of really bad advice from people who never found success in the practice of law.

It's of no matter though, I've been told repeatedly that "it doesn't matter" if the person who is giving, selling the advice, has no track record of using that same "build your dreams" advice to their benefit in the practice. If the "fake it till you make it" crowd can help young lawyers "fake it till they (flame out) make it," so the hell what?

It also doesn't matter that the reality is that people who sell advice about how to become successful, usually are doing so because they weren't able to use that same advice to find success in their own business.

Successful people give away advice on success, unsuccessful people sell it.

Scott, and me, and others, just need to shut up, go away, and stop trying to tell the younger generation of lawyers that taking advice from those selling it to make a buck, because they didn't make it in practice, is a bad idea.

If the advice is good, so what if it costs a few bucks and those few bucks are going to a liar, or perceived success?

It all comes down to the same question I ask every budding law student or young lawyer who seeks my advice: "What kind of lawyer do you want to be?" The wrong answer normally comes first in the form of "divorce lawyer, criminal lawyer, corporate lawyer." My question seeks a deeper answer - "how do you want to be viewed in the profession?"

Those that cry "you don't understand," don't understand. People like Scott, and I, we understand. There are few jobs. There is great debt. There is a desire to pay that debt. Within that desire for some is the goal of becoming a respected and zealous advocate as well.

More and more though, the goal is to make money. Google can't be wrong when it tells me the most prominent search terms that bring people here is "how to make money as a lawyer."

No one wants to hear about the young lawyer I met, got to know, invited to meet some people, who began to "mine the field" of relationships with other lawyers and now has a job with BigLaw. What does that have to do with gaining followers on social media, or spamming blogs with comments in order to gain Google juice? Are lawyers like me really telling young lawyers that the old way of doing things still works?


But I digress.

Don't mind me, or Scott. You go, praise the losers that pretend to have the keys to business success, and kill the dinosaurs.

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


A.Morgan Martin said...

It's too bad your salient points and reputation will scare off any would-be Rakofsky's from trying to argue with you here in the comments section. I would like to ask them what it is they have done, or are considering resorting to, that makes them so defensive.

Frederic R . Abramson said...

The bigger issue here is that many of these lawyers are missing out on a tremendous opportunity for mentors. For instance, recently I reached out a lawyer who wrote some article on solo university. She claimed that her business is booming due to her social media savvy. I looked up her bar registration and noticed that she was admitted for 10 months! Jesus. You and I have been on Twitter for longer that that. She also practice civil litigation and I know that it takes 3 years to eat up a retainer.

I tried to reach out to her, because I knew what she wrote was complete bullshit and I thought that she could use some help. Instead of engaging me (little did she know that I have some extra work and I'm looking for a newly admitted attorney to do some part time work), she claimed that I was misinformed about social media. She completely lost me.

Anyway, many young lawyers are naive. The real smart ones use social media to connect with experienced lawyers like you and me and learn how to really practice law.

Mike Whelan said...

I am sorry that I have never seen your blog before, because you may be my hero. I appreciate your direct (ass?) style. And I like how the aggression is mixed with a little stream of consciousness, like Seth Godin after someone ran over his foot. I'm not a Florida attorney (does being born in Jacksonville help?) but I will be following you now. Awesome.

My Law License said...

Mike, my wife was born in Jacksonville, so you count, for something.

Rick Horowitz said...

Anyone who tells you that you need to shut up is an idiot. You need to keep talking about legal ethics.

Like a lot of other things -- including jumping to conclusions -- the Internet makes it easier than ever to engage in unethical behavior. As you, Scott, and others have pointed out, this leads frequently to disaster.