Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Rachel, It's Legal Advice, Regardless Of What You Call It

Recently, I was told I was the "laughing stock among us Gen Y Lawyers," supposedly by a Gen Y lawyer, although I don't know, as the comment was anonymous.

I don't know what a "Gen Y Lawyer" is. I also don't know what a "Gen X" lawyer is. While people grew up in both generations, and there are people that define the stereotypes of each - whether lazy, entitled, dependant on their parents for living expenses, unwilling to conform to anything remotely evidencing a standard law practice, or merely angry at the prior generation - there are those in each generation that don't fit the mold.

Rachel Rodgers, whom I've written about before, whom others have written about before, is still parading around the internet claiming to be the lawyer for Gen Y entrepreneurs. She's started Rachel Rodgers TV, and has provided legal advice - yes, Rachel, legal advice, on how to fill out legal documents to stay out of legal trouble.

Let me say that again:

Telling people how to fill out legal documents in a way that presumes to prevent legal issues, is legal advice.

I don't care what generation you come from, how successful you think your online law practice is, or how much you couldn't care less about ethics rules - giving advice on legal documents to avoid legal issues, is giving legal advice.

You Gen Y'ers may hate me, may think I'm "mean" and not understanding that you are the future of law, and I better get on board, but I need you to know that giving legal advice is giving legal advice even if you keep stepping all over yourself to claim it's not legal advice.

So Rachel has done her second edition of Rachel Rodgers TV. On this episode, although she doesn't begin with a shout out to her "party people," she shows a disclaimer. Then she gives legal advice (but it's not legal advice because she says it isn't.)

Now after the following video was posted, I was made aware a couple commented on the site that it was, in fact, legal advice. Those comments have not appeared - surprise surprise. I did see this appear, although I'm not sure it appeared after these more experienced lawyers that actually know what they are talking about, posted their still un-released comments:

[Dear viewer: I think its pretty obvious that this is general information, designed to be educational and not legal advice, and then Rachel keeps stepping all over herself to back track and stammer with: The business owner asked a much more specific question, and I have generalized it here. I am sure you know that I cannot speak to your specific situation and in no way guarantee that the information provided in this video will apply to your situation or would work for your business. Furthermore, this video does not create an attorney-client relationship (I am sure you know that, too),

The above doesn't change that the following, even with the video disclaimer, is legal advice:

So for those that worship Rachel, think that she is "all that" (for you Gen Y party people), understand that when a lawyer like Rachel gives legal advice, it's legal advice. I know, I know, I'm mean, I'm a bully, I "just don't understand." Rinse and repeat.

But you're wrong. Your parents may have never told you that you're wrong, but you are.

You're wrong.

Any client that takes her advice on this video and then has a problem, is damn sure going to say they did it because this lawyer on the internet told them to.

Is it worth it?

Well, from what I understand about the stereotypical Gen Y lawyer, getting on the internet is what's important. Rachel has said that ethics should not be used as a weapon against Gen Y.

So I'll put my weapon away, again.

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, February 19, 2012

8 Years With Diabetes, 40 Days Without Insulin

Eight years ago, President's Day. Well, I wrote about it last year.

Diagnosed, medicated, let the roller coaster that is Type II Diabetes begin. More pills, less pills, insulin, more insulin, less insulin, and now, for almost 40 days, no insulin.

January 8 was the last day I injected myself with my daily dose of insulin. I embarked on a 21-day purification program that changed everything. While I've been off the program for several weeks now, my eating habits remain similar to when I was on the program - no bread, no processed foods, no late night eating, no big portions, exercise, every day, fish, chicken, vegetables.

Blood sugars are normal. Weight is down, way down.

Conventional wisdom is that Type II (as opposed to Type I where the body produces no insulin) can be controlled with diet and exercise. That's not always true. What's also not always true is that this is a progressive disease that cannot be reversed of controlled as the body changes.

There is no "cure" for diabetes, but there is control. There is the ability to change eating and exercise habits and rely more on the natural control of food and exercise than to just assume you must take more and more medication. Lose weight, exercise more (or start) and stop eating shit. Test throughout the day.

I hope to stay off insulin. If I can't, that's OK. I'm grateful it exists, as opposed to pre-1922 when people just died due to lack of insulin. It's not only mentally beneficial that I don't have to take it, it also saves me about $1,200 a year.

I've also started spending more time in the community. It's time for me to talk to newly diagnosed diabetics at the local hospital diabetes center about what their future holds, and I've been honored with an appointment to the Board of Directors of the Miami Chapter of the American Diabetes Association where I hope to make an impact in my home town.

If you have diabetes and feel an inability to get your head around it, I'm happy to talk to you. My experience is not something you should assume will work for you, but the notion that the only way to control it is through more and more medication is worth you debating with your own body.

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, February 14, 2012

See Ya Greenfield

Scott Greenfield is done blogging at Simple Justice. You can all stop your guessing and "aw shucks, really?" He's done, It's over. Greenfield has a wicked sense of humor and wit but he would never waste his time faking his exit from the blogosphere. You're not worth it.

I know it's hard for you to understand why. You don't wake up at 4 a.m. daily and type intelligent explanatory prose on various legal happenings and the demise of our profession. You have a marketer for that, typing away about horrific accidents or terrible crimes, filled with links to your website in the hope that the phone will ring, in the hope that you'll create a fake reputation in time to pay the barista.

Blogging for profit is easy. Hire someone to do it, or write about yourself and your seemingly important work. Writing about the system and those that toil in it, trying to examine police behavior, judicial behavior, attorney strategy, takes thought.

And thought today is rare.

Greenfield pulled up every morning in his '78 Cadillac (because there was nothing wrong with it) next to the kids in the Smart Cars and those being dropped off by their parents, and spoke his mind. He was the grunting old man taking too long to order black coffee at Starbucks, holding the flip phone that can access the internet, but he doesn't know how.

He exposed the sewer that the marketers have made of the internet, and they paid him back with their cowardness by not typing one comment on his final post. They instead called each other in a celebratory mood, contemplating the future with one less "lawyer of the past" that would hurt their snake oil business.

Those fortunate to have an off-line relationship with the old man, were treated to intelligent conversation, sage advice, and and a guy who insisted on picking up the check. A gentleman. When I was installed as President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, I asked Greenfield to speak. Instead of flying in and out, he came in, with his family, a couple days early, and stayed for and attended the entire conference. Mean guy that Greenfield.

Yes, Greenfield is part of the past. He still dons a suit and goes to court, he still has clients contact him by phone instead of Skype. No, he doesn't represent "start-up" type clients, his calls come from judges, lawyers, names of note. Greenfield built a reputation before any kid with a law degree (or not) could pretend she was a "rock star" on a computer monitor. To Greenfield, Elvis Presley was a rock star, Mick Jagger. Someone that has a cool website and retweets quotes on twitter, is not someone Greenfield would consider a rock star - because of course he's a dying breed.

At a minimum, Greenfield's departure leaves a huge hole in the criminal law blogosphere. The Happysphere group, those that never say anything of note because it would make people not like them, along with their brothers and sisters that type daily about shiny toys and how LinkedIn can make your dreams come true, all see a clearer path to writing nothing.

Sometimes things end. Five years blogging, as Greenfield said in his post, is an eternity. Those of you that blog for profit, or have someone do it for you, don't see this. You either don't write on your blog, or have no trouble writing about your greatness in law.

The man has a kid on his way to college, a wife he loves, a great practice, and this is just something he doesn't have the passion for anymore. He's probably tired of many of you and your lack of desire to do anything to remind him that this is a profession and not a marketing convention, and he's not going to continue if he can't do it the way he wants to do it. He's a crotchety old man.

But Greenfield will still be around. He'll still comment on your stupid blog, and he'll still make you look like an idiot on twitter.

There are many of you tech hacks and social media gurus that will claim Greenfield is an example of a lawyer that refused to "get on board." If he would just blog for profit he would continue.

Be careful. Be very careful.

You only wish you could afford, mentally and financially, to get on board Greenfield's train.

Greenfield was a blogger in the true sense - he wrote his thoughts, his analysis, and couldn't care less what anyone thought of it. It wasn't a marketing tool (although the marketers continued to bang their heads against his blog, claiming everyone blogs for profit.)

Yes, Greenfield will be around, he may write something here and there, but as a daily writer at Simple Justice, he's done. He had a good 5 years and now it's time to move on. He has nothing to prove to you, or himself. He is a lawyer that blogs, not the other way around. The difference to his practice now that he's not blogging every day will be zero. Really.

So I'll see you around Greenfield. You done good, and I thank you for keeping your shoe the necks of the lying, scamming, hucksters that are celebrating the end of Simple Justice today. Thanks for being important to Joel. Thanks for bringing to light corruption, terrible and great judicial decisions from far away places, noting the good journalists on the crime and civil rights beat, and being a daily reminder that there are still lawyers that don't see wearing shorts and typing at Starbucks while meeting clients as "the future of law."

Later Greenfield.

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, February 12, 2012

Now They're "Masters Of Marketing," Says A Marketer

For the self-proclaimed "lawyer marketers," tweets, books, and consulting gigs are never enough to pay the rent (or half the hotel room when he goes to conferences and asks if anyone wants to stay with him.)

The marketers tweet ideas and posts of others, write posts on "what lawyers can learn from (any non-law story)," congratulate each other on being congratulated by other marketers, and write books that only the most desperate, moronic lawyers find relevant. ("Use my real name in social media? Wow!")

So what to do?

Have another marketer package you up as a Law Firm Marketing Master.

Yes, that's right, an Australian lawyer marketer has put together a group of 10 5 of your favorite social media stars and in late February, well, the whole thing will launch. Yes, you'll be able to buy their "secrets" to growing your practice.

I don't know who the other 5 will be, but there will be 10, even though there's 5 now.

When I first saw the link to the "Law Firm Marketing Masters," I figured that some national association had knighted these twitter rock stars and epic thought leaders as "masters." But no, they are masters by virtue of....another marketer.

We are bringing the World’s best law firm marketing experts straight to you. The Law Firm Marketing Masters Series offers you real-time tools, techniques and strategies to build an extraordinary law firm. The content ranges from how to build a winning culture, right through to how to integrate a successful online marketing campaign, through the smart use of blogs and social media tools. Learn what the leading rainmakers are doing today to drive exponential growth in difficult times. The Law Firm Marketing Masters series gives you over 7 hours of audio content, as well as the book with loads of other exclusive information and offers.
This is Exceptional Real-Time Content


But leading rainmakers? These are marketers. Which one of the 10 5 are rainmakers?

We wouldn't expect anything less than exceptional from one of the "masters," Adrian Dayton.

From the site:

Adrian is an attorney, author and internationally recognized speaker and consultant to some of the largest and most respected firms in the World

You remember Adrian? He was fired after 8 months as a lawyer, wrote a book on how lawyers can type on twitter, then admitted to me that he puffed his resume to sell himself, and now has convinced several, as he calls them "large law firms" to hire him to teach them how to blog and tweet, and game Google.

None of these clients care how he got to where he is, in fact, they don't ask. I recently spoke with a lawyer marketer about how the scum of the industry get in the door of respected law firms and lawyers and was told "you have no idea - lawyers don't ask questions."

And the lawyer marketers thank God for that. There's no money in having to answer to your past, especially when so much of it is made up.

There's also Larry Bodine.

From the site:

Larry Bodine needs no introduction. Now, the Editor in Chief of, Larry is the World’s most recognized law firm marketing expert.

Says who?

Another marketer.

Larry recently shuttered his lawyer marketing consulting shop to become "Editor In Chief" of, whatever that means. Larry doesn't like me much, because I wondered aloud why a long-time marketer like him would want to associate with the likes of Adrian Dayton. Larry seemingly is a fan of "organic" marketing, you know, non-social media marketing? He had a voice that wasn't part of the merry mix of happy "make money by tweeting" clowns. That changed. Can't beam 'em? You know the drill. So as that changed. he of course also became a big fan of Adrian, and as I saw it happening, I started wondering when they would join ranks.

There's also who the site refers to as "Law Firm Marketing Special Guest" Ari Kaplan, who is described as "one of the World’s leading Thought Leaders."

The site doesn't say who is producing this marketing package, so I went on a little search. At the bottom right of the site there is a link to "Law Firm Marketing." Clicking the link got me here.

Then I went to "About," which led me here.

Scroll down a bit and found a link to Multi-Award Winning Lawyer and Change-Agent Dan Toombs.

And here he is. Dan Toombs founded "grow your practice" in 2010.

You can sign up now so that when the product goes on sale you will be notified. I don't know how much it will be or who the other 5 "masters" will be, but get on board, sign up now, and grow your practice with the "masters."

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

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is The Florida Supreme Court Done With Reinstating Felons To The Bar?

Here, the Board determined that no amount of rehabilitation would ever be sufficient to warrant readmitting Castro to the Bar. We agree.

Yesterday in a unanimous decision, the Florida Supreme Court told disbarred criminal defense lawyer William Castro he will never be admitted to the Bar. He can never reapply.

He wasn't told that when he was disbarred 18 years ago - he was told he was out for at least 10 years and then he could reapply. So in the last 18 years he's done about 13,000 hours of community service, adopted foster children, become a leader and mentor to people in our community, and displayed a serious commitment to rehabilitation.

It is clear that since his criminal conviction and disbarment, Castro has engaged in thousands of hours of community service, benefiting both his church and the legal community as a whole, in an effort to show his rehabilitation. While his commitment to community service is admirable, we agree with the Board’s conclusion that no demonstration of rehabilitation would ever suffice to allow Castro’s readmission to the legal profession.

That he had judges and lawyers speak for him at his reinstatement hearing doesn't tell the full story. Two of the judges that spoke for him are no nonsense former prosecutors. He also had a former Florida Supreme Court Justice, one of the most conservative while on the bench, encourage the Board of Bar Examiners to recommend readmission.

On the one hand, the conduct giving rise to this petition clearly undermines the public’s trust in the judicial system. On the other hand, as former Justice Raoul Cantero testified, William Castro’s case is ―one where [he has] seen more rehabilitation over a greater period of time than any other case.‖ Indeed, it was not just Raoul Cantero who testified on Castro’s behalf. Castro submitted letters from 190 individuals and presented many witnesses who testified in favor of his readmission to the Florida Bar, all setting forth specific examples of how he has demonstrated extraordinary conduct.

The Board declined. The reason? his prior conduct. He gave about $77,000 in kickbacks to a judge for appointing him to cases, 64 in total. A lot of cases, a lot of money. While there was no evidence he did anything less than a professional job for the clients, this type of conduct, resulting in a federal indictment and criminal conviction, strikes at the heart of our justice system. No argument there.

But they gave him a path. Out for a minimum of 10 years. He wasn't permanently disbarred (meaning no ability to reapply.) He was told there was a process - reapply and show by clear and convincing evidence that you've rehabilitated yourself and we'll consider it.

But did they?

The evidence established that Castro logged over 13,000 hours of community service during the past eighteen years—equivalent to an impressive 700 hours of service per year. He has volunteered for the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program, where he has been described as a wonderful asset. The Senior Staff Attorney of the criminal court’s GAL program recounted several different cases on which Castro served. She believed that Castro’s efforts in one GAL case saved a child’s life and further described him as a relentless advocate and meticulous. Castro is also a licensed foster-care parent, and he and his wife later adopted each of the three children they had fostered. The judge who approved the adoptions described how she grew to admire and respect Willie and had no doubt that he would be a very positive member of the Bar.‖ Castro has led CLE seminars in which he has taken accountability for what he has done. One witness who previously worked with Castro in organizing a seminar involving ethics and the law stated that during the time she has known him, Castro made her want to be a better lawyer. Another witness testified as to his service to the community, and especially to children, describing him as a person that is just doing everything that he can to be able to give to people, to give of himself, of his time, of his talent, and to really make a difference in people’s lives. Further, Castro has organized programs for migrant children, and one witness testified that these migrant children wouldn’t have anything or much if it wasn’t for the efforts that Willie Castro had done. By all accounts, Castro has lived an exemplary life since his criminal charges, felony convictions, and prison sentence. Based on what I perceive to be overwhelming evidence of his rehabilitation, I would state that Castro has demonstrated all seven elements of rehabilitation required by Rule 3-13 of the Bar Admission Rules for admission when the applicant has previously engaged in disqualifying conduct

The conduct was what caused the 10 year disbarment. While it's relevant to why he was disbarred, if that is the reason he can't get back in, why give him an opportunity? Why let this man believe for all these years that there was a possibility?

I understand, that was then, the Court is now. Things change, minds change, Bar standards tighten, but if nothing this man did for the last 18 years matters to the Board or the Supreme Court, then the concept of redemption doesn't exist.

The issue for reinstatement is both what is disqualifying (disbarment) and whether there is sufficient evidence of rehabilitation. Castro beat the world on the second part - he had to - his conduct was criminal, and not just garden variety criminal, but the type that is at the heart of our profession.

But everyone knew that when they kicked him out, and they didn't tell him then - that no matter what he did - he was never getting in.

A few years ago there was a commission set up to review the Bar Admission process in Florida. Two issues that were recommend were 1. that no felons be eligible for admission, and 2. that all disbarments be permanent.

They didn't pass. On the felon issue, the Board of Bar Examiners wanted to retain their power to determine admission of convicted felons on a case by case basis. Remember that a felony is murder, rape, robbery, and in Florida, also a 3rd DUI, driving on a habitual drivers license suspension, and stealing anything over $300, to name a few. The point being that Florida has expanded its list of felonious conduct to things that may not necessarily be considered disqualifying for admission to the Bar. The Board didn't want a hard-and-fast rule.

But now we have the Castro decision, one that will cause other disbarred lawyers to wonder if their 5 year or 10 year disbarment is really that. One that will cause us to wonder whether the concept of rehabilitation for Bar admission is irrelevant for any convicted felon. One that causes me to ask whether it's more humane to tell a lawyer he has no future with the bar, at the time of his disbarment.

I just wonder if Castro wishes he would have been permanently disbarred.

He was, actually.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Marketer's Creed: Just Say Everything Applies To Lawyers

I just don't know where to start. This marketing to lawyers crowd has become a total joke, trying to be subtle about their goal to sell, sell, sell to lawyers with their overdone analogies to lawyers of every new shiny Apple device, new software, Steve Jobs death, a story having nothing to do with lawyers, any pop culture issue, any popular story, a celebrity in rehab, ANYTHING that they can pretend has some comparison to lawyers.

The economy is driving so many lawyers to abandon their goal of become better advocates in favor of become better marketers that anyone out there who will try to analogize any aspect of life to lawyers is seen as a genius.

Morons. All of them.

Every damn day some tech hack, failed lawyer, marketing moron, salesperson to desperate lawyers everywhere tweets, posts on Facebook, or yes, even blogs about how we lawyers and law students are to believe that there is nothing in life that doesn't apply to lawyers.

What applies most to lawyers? Whatever they are selling.

If you're a cloud computing evangelist, you talk about how everyone is talking about cloud computing for lawyers. If you sell twitter for a living, you talk about how 145% of all lawyers are hired through twitter. Sell blogs? Talk about how the latest news story having nothing to do with law means that all lawyers should blog.

And all in the name of selling a dream to lawyers.

Why doesn't everything apply to doctors, or pilots or teachers? Why is it that the entire marketing world seems to be converging on lawyers? Why is it that every aspect of life seems to the marketer to have some benefit to how lawyers can make money? There we are, lawyers at the forefront of taking every internet platform, every new shiny toy, every new piece of shit that is introduced into the market, and talking about how lawyers can use it to make money.

And we wonder why they hate us?

When will we see how the act of taking a shit applies to lawyers? Or driving down a road, or buying a hot dog?

I hear the iPad 3 is coming out in March. Know how it will affect lawyers or the practice of law?

It won't.

But someone, someone desperate for attention, actually many people desperate for not only attention, buy lawyer attention and lawyer dollars will tell you it does.

And we all sit back and comment on how "interesting," and "epic" the thoughts are.

They're not.

I'm tired of it.

Aren't you?

Probably not.

I can tell you though, this post, applies to lawyers.

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

Saturday, February 4, 2012

So This New Jennifer Smith from the WSJ Asks To Meet

One of the rules of the tech hacks, social media gurus, and other weaklings that fall victim to my being "mean" on the internet, is that you don't engage me. Never, ever, ever, respond to anything I say to or about you. It's bad for business. When you're trying to create a (false) image on the internet, rule #1 is to ignore me.

So not too long ago some Jennifer Smith person started at the Wall Street Journal. Proving my point that the notion "we all know about who Adrian Dayton really is and you don't need to keep reminding us," Jennifer wrote a piece quoting Adrian as if anything he says matters to anyone. I of course told her, on twitter, that she was ugly, dressed funny, and wore combat boots.

So defying the rules of social media, when Jennifer found out we would be in New Orleans at the same time (her at the ABA, me, well, not at the ABA) she emailed me and asked to meet.

I know, you're thinking "why?"

Don't worry your little head about it.

So I took a stroll to her ABA hotel, figuring we'd sit at the bar while ABA types asked "what are you doing here" (not to her, to me). She wanted to get out of there. She had enough of 3 piece suits and 29 year old BigLaw associates and terms like "Tier 1," "bonus" and "partner."

Yeah, she wanted to go to a noisy bar with a defense lawyer from Florida that went to a school of which she never heard.

And she wanted to talk about the future of law.

Now don't get excited, it wasn't your future - you know, shorts, Starbucks, iPads, virtual clients with virtual problems, no more law offices, no more suits, no more advocacy. The term "Starbucks lawyer" did roll off her tongue as if it has been part of the dialect for years, causing me to call the waitress over for another round.

This Columbia Journalism grad and former Newsday reporter has a fascination with the profession, where it's been, and where it's going. She knows all about Dropbox if that makes you feel better. Doesn't interest her so much as does the issues of the difference between buying a document and hiring a lawyer. What's interesting about Jennifer, besides that she's a much better conversation then that Ashby Jones, is that she's interested. Lawyers know that many reporters are phoning it in, writing without passion or perspective about that which they observe. Lawyers know, they-re the reporters standing outside of court asking us "what just happened in there?"

Jennifer seems to know "what just happened," and she's interested to know what's now going to happen. It's not everyday a young reporter asks me "you have any good questions I should ask David Boies and Ted Olson tomorrow when I interview them?"

So if the phone rings or you see an email or errant tweet from Ms. Smith, respond. Intelligent conversation is hard to come by these days.

I walked Jennifer back to ABA central, scanned the lobby of suits and considered stepping in to the bar to see if any interesting conversation was going on.

"You should get out of here," she said.

Yeah. She knows me already.

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