So in about four hours I’m likely going into a meeting where I’ll lose one of the firm’s oldest clients.
The client is a corporation, and we do most of their litigation work. The firm has been their civil litigation pit bull for the past 15 years, but like every corporation it goes through changes. The old President and CEO of this family-owned business is on his way out the door, and the new generation is shifting the style in which they do business. For the first time, they’re bringing in younger blood with fresher ideas, and the problem is the incoming class is less friendly towards lawyers in general. As such, despite collecting over $2,000,000 for this client in the last couple years, we’re on the chopping block and the writing is on the wall.
It isn’t anything we did, and it isn’t anything they did, it’s just the sentiment of the client that many of the old relationships should be severed to “shake things up.” You know what, it is something they did, because they hired an executive who uses words like “incentivize” and “reassessing the creditor-debtor paradigm.” Fuck that. I’m much more straight forward: “Pay my client or I’ll sue you into the next century. Your children will speak in hushed tones of how you lost the family fortune.” But que sera sera, eh?
However, that leaves me with a $4,000 per month hole in my billables that needs to be filled, and that means it’s time to start originating new clients to make up the gap. However, the firm advertising budget is “what fucking advertising budget?” This does not bode well for bringing in future originations.
Let’s take a minute and talk about assessing your cases, okay?
I know everyone out there wants to get the most money they can, especially in these days of an over-saturated legal market and attorneys on every corner. Practicing law can sometimes feel like hopping into one of those booths at the county fair where you spend a minute trying to grab as many dollars as you can.
Note: open your shirt and let the dollars blow up it. It works best.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a letter come into my office from some guy who took on a case with only the barest facts, and, in taking my measured time in responding, sent back a letter that contained a number of enclosures which completely shot their theory of the case to shit.
Portia Porter, Esq. is a terrible writer. Her book, Can You Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer? is likewise terrible. It is a long, ponderous read of little value. In attempts to be amusing, Ms. Porter comes off less like an experienced attorney and more like the kid on the playground trying to make people like her. Both her talent as an author, and her expertise as a legal advocate, is called into question by this meandering, inaccurate, and frankly quite silly book.
Besides, I have it on good authority that she’s actually a supporter of several racially divisive groups, enjoys eating kittens with her morning coffee, and secretly supports terrorist armies in her spare time. All in all, buying her book will almost certainly help fund the downfall of humanity and the destruction of our very nation.
…Ok, are the prospective clients gone? Good, Good.
Guys, we gotta do something about this Porter lady, because that motherfucker is giving away the whole fucking game.
So Christmas is over. This is a bad thing for people that deal with me.
Around the holidays I become a nicer person. I genuinely love the holidays and have long-believed they’re a time when we’re just a teensy bit better to the people around us. For me, that means I get friendlier with opposing counsel and clients as we come up to Christmas. I smile more, I’m more likely to grant an extension of time to respond to something, I don’t harp on the bill being unpaid as much as I normally do. All in all, I’m Kris-fucking-Kringle of the local legal community as we build up into the holiday season.
But Christmas is over now, and I’m back in the office, and I’m in a foul mood because there are no more Christmas cookies or carols. It’s a rainy, wet, cold Tuesday morning in my corner of the world, and my heart has shrunk three sizes back to its normal, withered, blackened state.
It’s time for people who have become acquainted with my only since December 1st on to realize how much of an unforgiving prick I am.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I just poo-poo’d the whole idea of this being a tragedy of some sort, because the vast amount of attorneys in the world aren’t in BigLaw and therefore have no expectation of receiving a bonus that’s pegged in any way to the Cravath Scale. The Cravath Scale, by the way, is the salary and bonus scale paid by Cravath Swaine & Moore, LLP, a two hundred year old white shoe firm that is considered the industry standard for BigLaw compensation. Let me point out that looking at the listing of law schools that Cravath attorneys hail from, very few of them are “for profit” law schools that exist outside outside of the top ranked schools in the country, and there are a number of foreign law schools on there.
The short read on this is for the vast majority of attorneys out there this holiday season, what Cravath does or doesn’t do won’t apply to you. You are not BigLaw. Your firm is not bringing in Cravath level money. You do not work the same number of hours at the same billable rate and in the same markets as Cravath associates. The Cravath Scale will have no effect on you, and is not a good benchmark for what you should expect bonus wise.
Hell, there’s a chance you shouldn’t expect a bonus at all, you lout.