Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Selling Solo Practice

Solo Practice "University" (SPU) queen Susan Cartier Liebel is "grumpy" that a law firm is offering $10,000 as a salary for a lawyer.

Susan asks:

Has the legal market become so bad that lawyers are actually considering taking a 'full-time associates' position which pays $192.30 a week….before taxes?

Um, Susan, I assume since you sell the dream of solo practice to young desperate lawyers you are aware that many of them can't get a job, anywhere, for any amount of money.

And here comes the sales pitch commentary on the low-paying job:

I once heard someone say that most people are not afraid of failure so much as they are afraid of success. At first blush I'm sure many of you are shaking your head and saying, 'hell no. I want to be successful. No doubt in mind. I just need the opportunity and I'm there.'

Success, opportunity, oh dear, wherever can I find this success and opportunity?

That's really what we do think. We want to be successful. We also fantasize about everything we will do with that success (which usually means having a certain amount of money to buy those things symbolizing our success – whatever that is. Maybe food?)

Success, fantasize, money, tell me more.....help me....

But most people are not trained on how to achieve success. We are trained to want and we are trained to be employees and travel a well-worn path to get 'somewhere' known and seemingly safe. And for some this is exactly what is wanted, to follow a well-worn path with guideposts and guaranteed results. It's also why in practically every industry and profession people are panicked because the well-worn paths are no longer leading to success but to no place even resembling the mythical land of promised success.

Training...wanting.....panicked....mythical land of promised success.... I can't take it anymore...tell me how to make money, to be successful, to have........

That is why I had to comment on the latest buzz which is about a legal job posting on Boston College of Law's job site for full-time law associates paying $10,000 per year.

That is why? What is why? Oh, here it is....drumroll......

We are so ingrained to believe employment by another is the answer that we don't realize (nor are we told) there are other ways!

Yes! There are other ways! Is it...is it going solo? Can you help me Susan?

Now Susan wants "to be fair" about this $10,000 job, so here's the whole story:

In addition to $10K per year, the Gilbert & O’Bryan job posting also notes: 'This is an excellent position for a new lawyer or someone returning to a legal career, and a good place to learn how to practice law with real clients. … Benefits include malpractice insurance, health insurance, employer paid clothing allowance and an MBTA pass. Former employees have gone on to prominence in other firms, government and private practice.'”

Learn how to practice law with real clients? Health insurance? Clothes? Transportation? Don't you get that all when you sign up for SPU?

Susan still doesn't like it: "I'm deeply offended by the law firm who doesn't respect fellow lawyers enough to offer a living wage."

You see, the less firms out there offering jobs, offering anything, the more desperate young lawyers become, and the more desperate they become, the more willing they are to jump on the internet and pay for advice.

SPU is a website that sells courses to lawyers that want to go out on their own. They've had "professors" teaching things like blogging for profit (Former Professor Grant Griffiths who was disbarred for taking money from a trust set up for children prior to taking his new gig at SPU), and adoption (taught by a lawyer later arrested in a baby selling scam)

Susan's also been generous enough to give a forum to a young lawyer whose ethics were under the microscope for silly things like not having an office where she practices.

Jobs at law firms are bad things to SPU, as they cause lawyers to decide between buying advice on the internet, or learning to practice with real lawyers.

Susan has good news though about going out on your own, and I'm sure she'll put this in writing for you when you sign up for SPU:

"I'll wager you'll earn more than $192.30 per week before taxes. And you'll certainly get a lot more 'experience' putting your degree to use on your terms without losing your dignity."

Yeah, I wonder how? maybe by...charging less than other lawyers? That's OK, right? It's just not OK for a law firm do to the same thing when offering a job.

"On your terms," isn't that what all young lawyers yearn for - doing what they want, how they want. Of course there's no examples anywhere on how that could be a collosal mistake, or at least when we're selling advice on the web we quietly avoid mentioning it.

Gotta protect your business.

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