Stop Oversharing: Clients Aren’t Your Bros

Alright, so let’s face the hard truth that in an over-saturated legal market there are plenty of lawyers out there who are willing to take on any case.  Let’s go even further and say that there are lawyers out there who are breaking the cardinal rules set at our monthly ritualistic sacrifice of an alleged tortfeasor (afterwards we have cocktails and network) by charging well under the basement-fees for our regions.  Let’s  just accept, in general, that to some extent a lawyer who has succeeded in getting a client on the hook by getting them in the door still needs to reel that client in and get them to sign the engagement letter.

Have you bought a car recently?  I sold those suckers for a bit, so I know a little bit about how it works.  When you bought the car did you notice the salesman had a picture of a kid on his desk?  Not necessarily his kid, but a kid, and you sure as hell assumed it was his kid, right?  How about the Bible sitting on the corner of the desk?  Everytime you had a story or comment about something that happened to you or a concern, the salesman had a story related to it about how he knows exactly what you mean because he’d been through the same thing, or knew someone who had.  You know that shit was all meant to make you feel close to him so he could stick your ass in the seat of a new-to-you, perfectly-functional-except-for-the-A/C 1997 Toyota Camry with low, low mileage of only 165,000 miles (they just don’t make engines that last that long anymore, I tell you what).  It’s a scheme, a way to ingratiate yourself to the buyer to make them feel a bond with you.

Lawyers are guilty of the same thing.

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I Charge for Consults: My Hatred for the Free Consultation

The other day in a super-secret lawyer chat room, I announced that I engage in a very specific perversion among lawyers.  I admitted to charging for consultations.

In the words of one attorney in the chat, charging for consultations draws clients in just as well as “having a man with a machine gun outside my door taking shots at prospective clients.”  Fair play on him for painting a vivid mental picture.  Now let me explain why I think he’s wrong.

But first, a story:

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Walking the Line: Keeping My Soul.

Certainly, when I was a boy, people liked to believe that lawyers were kind of pillars of goodness of the likes of Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

-Scott Turow

Today I found out a client died over the weekend.  I was at his house about two weeks ago to do a will signing.  He had just gotten out of the hospital, but seemed pretty healthy.  This morning, as soon as the office opened, the phone rang.  It was his wife, telling me he died.

Because I’m not a monster, I immediately expressed my condolences.  Once we got off the phone, I checked the fire safe, making sure his will was in it.  Seeing it there, and seeing it was the original he gave us for safekeeping, I breathed a sigh of relief.

If we had the will, chances were the widow would use us for the estate.  But that meant I’d probably have to go to the funeral Wednesday, which…well, to be frank, I got other shit to do.

I’m a monster.

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Don’t Take The Case: Problem Client Identification

I got to thinking yesterday about problem clients.

Maybe it was just on my mind, maybe it was the client who sent a four page diatribe about the status of their cases with me, maybe it was the fact that we were out of coffee that morning and I couldn’t find my cigarettes.  Whatever the case may be, I found myself mid-morning with my head in my hands as I furiously chewed on pen caps and muttered things about fleeing to Mexico and joining a less stressful and more profitable profession.

Like running drugs for a cartel.

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The Ethics of Parrotghazi: Be a Fucking Lawyer.

The next time I get the idea to toss my hat into the ring on a Twitter war like Parrotghazi, someone make sure to smack me firmly, yet somehow gently, in the crotch. Since the post went live yesterday, I’ve found myself quoted on People.com, retweeted God knows how many times, and somehow intimately involved in the sordid tale of how two lawyers have embroiled themselves in a war over custody of a tweet.

I’m glad people are enjoying reading about this, and excited they’re reading about it here, but Jesus Christ I now know more about parrots than I ever wanted to know. So let’s go in a different direction. Let’s look at the worst case scenario in Parrotghazi, and the legal stuff that has been brought into play in it.

I’m going to warn you before we start, I’ve already started drinking tonight.  But really, I want to be clear that everything that follows is completely speculative, and I’m only using Parrotghazi and Mr. Adler as an example of how a lawyer using social media can go horribly awry.  I’m not accusing Mr. Adler of a damn thing, it’s just the “what ifs” here allow for a fun exploration of ethics and social media for lawyers.  Mr. Adler has asserted he stands behind the originality of the tweet and the representation of this case, and he’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt on that.

If Mr. Adler wants to get his side out here, I’ll gladly post his version of events, unedited, to this blog.  Trust me, in this situation nothing would make me happier than to do a full retraction.  I don’t like talking about other lawyers.

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