Avoo Maria, Part 1: Talking About The Avvo Legal Services Shutdown

Welcome to another session of the profane legal ramblings that appear on this site, which we have politely named Lawyers & Liquor.  I’m your host with the half cup of coffee and the stained suit, the Boozy Barrister, here to curse the day that I decided a scholarship offer from a law school was a good idea.

So the big news, or rather the not so fucking big news, in the legal world this week is the shutdown of Avvo’s fixed price legal services platform.  You may remember Avvo if you’re a regular reader as the high-pressure sales environment that puts on its slimy car salesman suit to harass the fuck out of any lawyer stupid enough to claim their profile on the site.  Well, imagine if the guy that was showing you your own car and then calling you twenty fucking times a day to see if you wanted it painted decided to move on from that and then offer a service where other people could drive your damn car at a certain price that they decide, not you!  That was essentially Avvo’s fixed price legal fee service, and like all bad ideas it was destined to either go down in flames or get elected President.  Luckily, in this specific situation, it was the former.

So let’s spend a little time today providing erotic elucidation (because anything that negatively impacts Chris who calls my office to get me to buy ad space certainly gives me a half-chub at the very least) on what Avvo was offering and why it was shut the fuck down faster than a nerdy kid gets shut down by the head cheerleader.  Break out the marching band and let’s move on ye of little experience as we discuss why a lawyer advertising service somehow decided that exempted it from impermissible fee sharing agreements in today’s Lawyers & Liquor.

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“Hi, I’m Goliath from Goliath & Goliath.” – A Philly Lawyer Takes on Morgan & Morgan

Let’s take a minute and talk about these huge, multi-state law firms that swoop into the local area and start slinging their advertising dollars around.  These are the candymen of the legal advertising industry, keeping radio jingle writers and shady TV commercial producers in dollars so they can run all of their ads during Rush Limbaugh or the seventeenth mid-day rerun of Judge Judy.  We all know the types of guys I’m talking about, with ads that say shit like “call us, we’ll get you your money” and some 1-800 number that takes you to a switchboard before directing your ass to a regional office in some big city. The dirty little secret of lawyering is that these places are really just mills, gigantic firms from out of state with not a single named partner who could find your podunk little shithole on a map unless their private jets were flying overhead.  

These guys are, basically, the Waffle House of the legal world, with a branch every damn place.  They’re the bane of the small law practitioner, and especially the small PI guy, who can’t compete with the advertising and the crisply pressed suits of some partner that shows up in the commercials but never in court.  After flooding the local airwaves with commercials, lining the streets with billboards, and getting the name recognition that used to go to the decent guy down the street, they’re gonna take every call from a dog bite to a fender bender  and move on.

These are the personal injury mills.

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Everything Wrong with Legal Hiring: Searching for Dick Awesome, Esq.

It seems like every now and again Keith over at Associate’s Mind, the father of LawyerSmack, and I end up focusing on the same topics for a few days in a row. This time it all comes about out of an ad for an attorney and the ridiculous requirements and pay expectations that the firm wanted met in order to hire a lawyer to assist.  I’m not going to do a lot of talking to describe the ad, because you can watch the bullshit flow over on the LawyerSmack website about the anger and frustration of the attorneys that gather around the virtual water cooler (Keith has cleaned the joint up a bit from the days when it was more of a dive bar, and even insisted that sentient whiskey glasses identify themselves in the chat by their real names and everything).  But here’s the gist of the ad’s requirements:

  1. 5-7 years of experience;
  2. 20 cases tried to a verdict, unless you’re a former prosecutor, then at least 80 cases tried to a verdict;
  3. Answers to an attorney with 30 years of experience, and;
  4. Pay is $55,000 to $90,000.

While they’re at it, they’d like to find an attorney that owns his own rainbow-shitting unicorn, lives in a castle made of gingerbread, and can melt the faces of opposing counsel by singing eldritch verses in court. I mean, if we’re going to go all out on this shit, let’s go balls to the goddamn wall crazy with it.

Because the lawyer these guys are looking for?  It doesn’t fucking exist.

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Four Hard Truths Behind Going Solo

Hey and welcome to Wednesday on Lawyers & Liquor, where the coffee flows like brown, muddy, too strong wine and the mumblings of the week have hit their zenith.  It’s all downhill from here, folks, and speaking of downhill, remember a while back when I told you about the times you should be looking to bail the hell out of your law firm?  No? Well, you can go read that little gem here.  In fact, I’d sort of suggest that you do that before we get the ball rolling here, because today we’re going to talk about the second half of the crappy “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” equation, which is “Can you afford to get out the door and go it alone?”

Sure sure, there are plenty of legal jobs out there in the world, if you particularly enjoy taking a pay cut or secretly trying to apply to other firms without the word getting back to the bosses that sign your paycheck that you’re in the market for a change.  I mean, just ask any recent graduate how many awesome jobs are beating down their doors to hire them.  I mean you could…hold on, let me take a look at my LinkedIn “Jobs For You” section…be a paralegal.  Or…a paralegal.  Oh, wait, here’s one for an insurance salesman.  Well isn’t that all just fine and fucking dandy, huh?  There are plenty of jobs out there for a lawyer looking to move around, so long as they don’t want to be a fucking lawyer.

So…maybe you should go solo then? Maybe you should snag the pictures from the walls and run  into the night, calling each of your clients individually to scream “I’m free, motherfucker! Follow me!” You can hang a shingle somewhere, be a real rainmaker. Right?

Oh you poor fucking fool.  I’m gonna give you Four Hard Truths about going solo, and you can see if you’re a smart man.

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The Rom Baro and Me: Be Good to Your Clients

You know the cool thing about my job? I get to know people. I get to know people pretty damn well. Look, when you’ve sat in my conference room crying because your vindictive ex is low-key blackmailing you with pictures of you in frilly pink panties and an oversized lollipop (not that there’s anything wrong with that shit), we have a bond. That burly biker or truck driver who, to the rest of the world is a real man’s man, can feel cool to break down in front of their lawyer because they know that I can’t say shit, and because they know that my job is to help them. It’s neat to get to know my clients on a level that they only reveal to their priest and their bartender.

This means that for a lot of my clients who are actual people,  they view me as some strange mixture between legal counsel and a damn good friend, and it isn’t uncommon for my clients to just drop by or call to see how I’m doing.  Be it the retired NYPD detective who called my house (despite not ever having been given my home number) while I was laid up to see if he could swing by and do anything,  the older couple that I helped two years ago who came by my hospital room with a huge homecooked meal for my family, or, my personal favorite, the Gypsy King and his wife who not only bring me chocolate and little treats randomly, but send a hell of a lot of business my way.

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