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Associates: The Path To Partnership Is Paved With Hull’s Rules of Client Service

Survey form with a tick placed in Outstanding checkboxLet me start by saying that I know that not everyone who graduates from law school aspires to be a partner in a big law firm. Or a small law firm. Or any law firm. I’m not suggesting it should be everyone’s or anyone’s goal. Many who make it a goal, and achieve it, come to believe it is overrated. I strongly feel from what I hear and read that partnership has become far less important to many than it was when I graduated (1993), and I doubt it was as important to lawyers of my generation compared with earlier generations. I recognize, then, that this post may not be equally interesting to everyone.

Now that I’ve cleared my throat and caused most readers to change the channel, what I want to say is that, if you do aspire to partnership there are far worse words to live by than J. Daniel Hull’s self-described “World Famous Bad-Ass, Annoying and Infuriatingly Correct 12 Rules of Customer Service.”

I can guess what you’re thinking. Hull’s damn Rules are meant to inform the ways attorneys provide service to their clients, not how associates should treat partners. If we adhere strictly to labels, that is true. But I want to argue that being a junior lawyer who works for, takes direction (and compensation) from and attempts to please senior lawyers is very similar to the experience of any lawyer who works for, takes direction (and compensation) from and attempts to please their customers, i.e., clients. Even if one never aspires to be a partner, then, being a good associate can still be terrific training for how to be a good customer service-oriented lawyer. And, Hull’s rules are a damn good start.

Let’s look at them.

1.Represent only clients you like.

I previously said in another post that, at first blush, this rule seems to suggest we all have the luxury to cherry pick clients. Clearly, most of us don’t have this luxury. Similarly, associates rarely have complete control over who assigns them work. On the other hand, just as lawyers can work over the long-term to shape their practices away from clients they don’t like, talented associates can try to shape their position within a firm. While it might never be possible to completely avoid working for a complete asshole, it should be possible to position yourself to work more often with senior lawyers you respect and like. If there’s more than one complete asshole, then you probably don’t want to be a partner at that firm.

2.The client is the main event.

If you get to work and interact directly with a client, that client is the main event. If not, then the partner who assigned you the work is the main event. If you wouldn’t think of filing or giving a client a document that contains typos or is otherwise sloppy (you wouldn’t, would you?), don’t think you’re going to gain traction with any partner who receives a crappy, typo-ridden document. “Gaining traction” is fancy law firm speak for “having a future.” If nothing else, have your assistant proof read everything before you give it to anybody.

3.Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

4.Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

Here I suggest you to strive to deliver work that changes the way many partners think about many associates. I witnessed first hand during my career the erosion of how many partners regard associates. I trace it to the point in time when a handful of very lucrative Silicon Valley law firms decided to give the historically high paying New York law firms a run for their money in terms of associate compensation. This seemed to coincide roughly with the point at which late Gen X and early Gen Y law students started graduating. The buzzwords I heard a lot around that time (and I wasn’t yet a partner) was some variation of “undeserved sense of entitlement.”

The good news for associates is that many partners are now so underwhelmed with the commitment of more recent law school graduates that it’s actually not that hard to stand out. In my crude, empirically unsound and untested estimation, a Gen Y associate who puts in the same effort as earlier generations of associates could be a rock star at some law firms. On the other hand, I recognize that many Gen Y lawyers have a different sense of priorities than earlier generations, which I suspect is why partnership is not the brass ring it once was.

5.Over-communicate:  bombard, copy and confirm.

Like most clients, most partners like to be kept informed. If you find yourself working with someone who has limited tolerance for minutiae (and they’re out there) be sensitive to that and adjust accordingly.

6.When you work, you are marketing.

This is true whenever you do anything professionally, whether it’s for a client or a partner.

7.Know the client.

Know the partner. Take an interest in her practice and her clients. Think: how can I make her job/life/career easier. Take ownership of cases, deals or assignments and try to think how you can contribute more to the big picture. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, but be careful not to do things unilaterally that might run contrary to the lead lawyer’s strategy. When in doubt, ask.

8.Think like the client–help control costs.

Think like the partner who is attempting to think like the client. Part of this is understanding and appreciating where you fit in. Ideally, you bring value to the client since it theoretically costs less for you to spend your time doing a task. This should also have a three-fold benefit to the partner and the law firm. On the one hand, it should free up the partner to spend less time doing more routine tasks and more time thinking strategically and doing more sophisticated tasks requiring experience, training and judgment for which clients are willing to pay higher fees. It should also free up the partner to spend more time marketing and bringing in new business which helps the firm grow. Finally, if leveraged properly, associates are profitable. While partners should not shrink from the responsibility of training, and cutting associate time from the bill is often appropriate, the more the above runs like a well-oiled machine the better for everyone involved.

9.Be there for clients–24/7.

I was going to say, “That’s why the firm bought you that iPhone 5,” but that’s not really what I mean. Perhaps it’s better to say that many clients expect their most trusted advisors to be there when they’re needed, without regard to day of the week or hour of the day. Associates that make it clear they will do what they can to recognize and meet this expectation will tend to be viewed as more valuable than associates who do not. I will admit that, as an associate, I jealously guarded my time away from work. As I started developing my own clients, however, I came to realize that, in doing this, I was just putting off the inevitable, since clients really do expect their trusted advisors to be available 24/7. It’s just part of the job which, as we know, is not for everybody.

10.Be accurate, thorough and timely–but not perfect.

It’s okay to make mistakes. But own mistakes when you make them. Resist the temptation to conceal mistakes or shift blame to others. Clients see right through this and so do partners.

11.Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

Being graded on citizenship doesn’t stop when you leave grade school. Whether it’s made explicit or not, one thing partners consider when making advancement decisions is how well you fit in. Whether the office has 3 or 130 people, the ability to work well with others is important. If you’re rude to other lawyers, disrespectful or downright mean to staff, it can hinder your advancement. Many firms, including my own, pride themselves on having “very few sharp elbows.” Regardless how talented you may be, if you have “sharp elbows,” or an outsized sense of your own importance, or you’re just a jerk, it can make it hard for you to gain traction.

12.Have fun.

If you’re not having fun as an associate, it’s unlikely the practice of law is going to become fun if/when you become a partner, and your responsibilities extend far beyond doing great work and billing lots of hours, to include marketing and management responsibilities. If you’re not having any fun, maybe it’s time to think about doing something else.

So, if partnership is what you’re after, try applying Dan Hull’s “annoying and infuriatingly correct” Rules  to the service you provide.


Legal Education: Less Is Not Necessarily More

9897_1The Wall Street Journal ran an article yesterday discussing the ongoing debate whether the traditional course of study for a law degree, which is a prerequisite in most states for admission to practice, should be reduced from three years to just two. Even President Obama, who is both the product of a traditional three-year Juris Doctor program and a former legal educator, weighed in somewhat in favor of a change. The biggest factor spurring this debate seems to be the skyrocketing costs of law school.

I approach this question with the following background. I graduated from a high second-tier law school in 1993. I paid my own way through law school, amassing about $80,000 in loans. I had accepted an offer at an insurance defense firm where I had been clerking for 2 years; my starting salary was $52,000. It took me about 11 (painful) years to pay off my student loans. I give this background to make clear that I don’t come at this issue from the perspective of the academic elite, nor did I finish school without a job.

My experience working for various small firms, mid-sized litigation firms, and now at an AmLaw 150 firm tells me that reducing the amount of training, whether it is Socratic classroom lectures or on-the-job clinical training, will not serve anyone’s interests. Beyond reducing the cost/debt of law school, it will not benefit newly-minted lawyers, who would spring from the costly but generally encouraging womb of  law school with even less to offer than at present. It will not benefit most law firms that (unlike my own) do not or cannot afford to invest in providing their lawyers with systematic, ongoing training on how to write, argue, advocate at trial or negotiate. Most importantly, it will not benefit clients who find themselves saddled with a new lawyer that was not sufficiently trained before being ejected from the nest.

The rising cost of law school, and resulting debt for students who may or may not be able to secure a job that exploits their training and compensates them accordingly is a real problem. It’s a terrible problem. But I do not believe that the solution lies in grinding future lawyers harder during their first two years, then turning them loose to commit malpractice at the expense of unsuspecting clients any sooner.

I have written here and here that law schools should increase the amount of real-world experience students receive before they graduate. If this can be done in a way that reduces the expense of the third year of school, then it would be a win-win. Even after I secured my first paying job as a law clerk, I still did some pro bono work in a law clerk capacity, both because it made me feel good and I gained experience I could include on my resume. Providing there is adequate supervision, many third year students could earn credits performing similar activities, which should both reduce their education tab and boost access to justice for the underserved.

BigLaw firms like my own have increasingly become involved in pro bono initiatives in which they “partner” with client legal staffs to tackle larger pro bono opportunities. This is clearly a win-win for the law firm, which gets to show off its lawyers’ skills, and for the beneficiaries of the pro bono projects, who enjoy enthusiastic, top drawer legal talent. Perhaps such “partnering” could be expanded to include third year law students, creating a win-win-win, as students get to interface with law firm leaders while showing off their enthusiasm and talent. Just a thought.

I applaud educators and others in the profession for trying to improve the situation for folks who want to practice law, a goal which should be pursued with boundless verve. On the other hand, snipping off that third year with no better substitute would be a regrettable choice.


Six Month Travel Sabbatical? Here’s How We Made It Happen

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

One of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself was to plan and take a sabbatical from my law practice to travel throughout Asia. From October, 2006 through March, 2007, my wife and I traveled through Japan, China, Thailand, Nepal, India, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia (Bali), Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia (Tahiti and Moorea).

Before, during and since the trip, people (colleagues, family, strangers) expressed a variety of responses to the notion of taking a break 15 years into our law practices to do extended travel. While most were positive (some bordering on a kind of awe), I knew there were a few people who saw the time off and the trip as an extravagant self-indulgence. After all, isn’t that the kind of travel (especially rough, the way we did it) best done right after college, before you get going in your career, start developing clients, etc.?

I thought that way, too, when my wife first proposed it before we got married. But she had dreamt of doing extended travel for years before we met and, since I loved to travel, it wasn’t too long before I was fully on board with the program. But while I am grateful and proud of us for taking the sabbatical and doing the trip, I will say it took a lot of meticulous planning to transform the dream into reality. I thought I would share some of the details, in case others are interested in planning a 6 month or longer travel sabbatical.

1.  Start planning early. We started our serious planning for the time off and trip at least 5 years before our departure. Credit for this planning goes 100% to my wife, Heather. While I was committed in principle to the dream of taking a chunk of time off to travel, I found it hard to think practically about how to make it happen. But I’m really glad we had 5 years to plan, because that time made it possible both to save money and give ample notice to our employers.

2.  Telling the boss. This was in many ways the most important part of the planning process and the aspect that can seem like the biggest challenge (at least it did for me). In my case, I had layers of “bosses” (aka partners) to whom I needed to plausibly sell my dream. Here’s the rub: most of us desire to be so indispensable that our firm cannot thrive without us, which is why we command large salaries, big offices, etc.; at the same time, we may want to have the freedom to pursue a dream like a travel sabbatical. Some (many?) would say that’s not possible, and there’s probably some truth to that. The very definition of indispensable means it would be devastating to my practice to go away for 6 months, largely incommunicado.  In my case, at that time, I was not indispensable. I was still largely a “service partner” and it was possible to hire a senior associate to take over my a good part of my caseload (I’m happy to report she has since been elevated to partner).

But I don’t want to oversimplify this part of the equation. I was (and am) very fortunate to work for a law firm and with a group of lawyers sophisticated enough to embrace the notion of a partner leaving for half a year to go explore the other side of the planet. I fully recognize that many (if not most) law firms and managing partners either cannot or will not permit someone to take such a leave, absent some kind of emergency.

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

In any event, I approached my mentor and senior firm management with the proposal to take a 6 month unpaid leave about a year and a half before I intended to leave. I will admit that I was concerned that, if the request was not well-received, it could impact my advancement and compensation even if I never went, but that was a risk I was willing to take. While nobody received the proposal negatively, it did take the better part of a year before I finally received written “permission” to take the leave.

3.  Save. Save. Save. Even if you travel pretty rough, as we did, it’s still expensive. My wife bought my one major airline ticket which got us to and from Asia and across some major geographic gaps for about $4,000 as my 40th birthday present (Thanks!). I still saved and ultimately spent about $20,000 on the trip. When I use the term “rough” here, it bears clarification. We did not stay in youth hostels–mostly because we’re old and I didn’t want to be that creepy 40 year-old guy hanging around, leering at somebody’s young Swedish girlfriend while my wife contemplated divorce (or found herself leering at the Swedish girl’s boyfriend). So, when I say rough, we tried to find acceptable lodging just above the hostel level, which meant we always had a private, lockable room, and sometimes our own bathroom. Insects and cold showers were not that unusual. We also treated ourselves occasionally to finer lodgings, like over Christmas, when we rubbed shoulders with India’s upper class at a plush resort in Goa.

Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

4. What to do with your primary residence. This can be a pain in the ass, but it wasn’t for us. Our next door neighbor, a Cal Tech professor, made it possible for us to lease our house, completely furnished, to two Harvard history professors who were on research sabbatical. Not only did the rent cover our mortgage, but they took better care of our house than we usually did. And we became friends! We also had a vacation condo in Santa Barbara and had to find a renter there, too. Again, we found a visiting French scholar doing post-doctorate research at UC Santa Barbara. All I can say is, if you can find academics to rent your house, they make great tenants.

5. The value of good advice. We have never been “guided tour” people, who call a travel agent and let them plan everything. We did that once, in Egypt, and it made a lot of sense. But for our sabbatical, we did 95% of the planning, arrangements, etc. ourselves. This is harder in some regions than others. Traveling solo in China can be very difficult. Fortunately, for some destinations, particularly India, we benefited from some really solid, trustworthy advice and help both inside and outside the host country.

6. Other details. There were a thousand and one other things to plan and do before we left. These included: arranging for care for our 2 cats, finding the right luggage to “lug” around for 6 months, buying a small quantity of clothes we didn’t mind washing and wearing over and over, in a variety of different climates (Cambodia was sweltering, while the hills in northern Vietnam got really chilly), getting visas for destinations that required them and getting necessary vaccinations. I also decided to blog about the trip, so I bought a computer and set that up.

There is a lot to think about if you contemplate taking a travel sabbatical. And it’s not for everyone. I recognize that the rough lodging alone might seem worse than work for many, and I’ll confess I try to travel more comfortably now. But I’m enormously proud that we planned and did the trip and grateful to my wife, our families and employers for making it possible. I came across a quote from Mark Twain that my wife used to describe how she felt about taking the time away and traveling to distant lands. It fits nicely here:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”


Another Reason to be Concerned About Reduced Hiring of New Lawyers

I was talking the other day with a young lawyer about, guess what,  the challenges facing new graduates.  This lawyer had just started a new job and I was telling him how fortunate he will be to get some first class mentoring during his early years of practice.  The conversation got me thinking about what the downstream impact could be of the drastically reduced hiring of brand new lawyers.  I’m talking now about lawyers who in another time and a different economy would get a job with a law firm or government entity for at least the first couple years of practice.  It seems like the news reminds us daily how this has changed and the market for newly minted lawyers is dismal.  Others remind us that this is not just a consequence of the recession, but a more permanent trend resulting from a change in our clients’ collective attitude about paying–even reduced rates–for neophyte lawyers to learn their trade. 

I don’t begrudge this change in client thinking–how could I? But I do think this shift in philosophy, which is changing hiring practices, not just for AmLaw100 firms and their triple digit first year “classes,” but also small partnerships that still occasionally hired a first or second year lawyer, will impact our profession in ways for which we are not prepared. 

This is because the training and experience we receive in the first years are pretty important in our development as a lawyer.  Law schools do a decent job of helping us learn to think lawyers, read cases and adopt an IRAC-centric* style of analysis and writing.  But, with the exception of a few “skills” classes or the optional clinic, law school does not prepare students to immediately enter the marketplace, take on clients and effectively practice law.  I know there are respected bloggers who would take issue with this assertion.  And I’ll admit that there is plenty of hardware, software and other “products” on the market which make it logistically much easier to open and run a law office right out of school with a cell phone and a laptop. 

I’m not talking about the ability or experience conducting legal research.  Most law school graduates can open the right book or access Lexis and figure out the elements of a cause of action or defense.  What’s missing, I believe, is a measure of judgment that is crucially important to a law practice, but generally takes at least a couple of years of supervised training and experience to gain.  I’m referring to judgment about when to take a case and when to say no.  Judgment about how long to keep working a case you know is a loser, just to avoid the difficult conversation you know you need to have with that client who took a chance on you.  Judgment about how to shape and deal with clients’ expectations.  Judgment about how to manage a client who is persistently untruthful about the facts.  Importantly, judgment about when a question or case calls for the kind of special knowledge or training that just cannot be gleaned from reading cases or a practice guide. 

It could be argued that very experienced lawyers–lawyers who should know better–demonstrate terrible judgment all the time!  This is true and, while unfortunate, helps ensure that legal malpractice will thrive as a practice area.  But the fact that experienced lawyers make lots of mistakes in judgment does not mean that brand new lawyers who enter the marketplace armed only with a law degree and maybe some moot court experience–without at least a year or two of supervised training at a firm, a government agency or even with a more experienced solo–won’t make more mistakes, more often.   

What will be the impact to our practice and profession from this training vacuum? It could be significant.  For starters, inexperienced new lawyers who are hungry enough will likely take anything–literally anything–that comes in the door.  Our shrinking, already overstressed courts will become a repository for even more meritless cases.  I’m not talking as a defense lawyer–but as a litigator interested in reducing, or at least controlling, the growing judicial log jam.  Putting my defense lawyer hat on for a moment, when manufacturers and employers are forced to defend, not borderline, but absolutely spurious cases, it negatively impacts the economy through higher prices and reduced hiring.  

The real victims, though, could be clients.  Clients who are misled, overencouraged, underwarned or led down the wrong path.  Clients who, had they visited a different lawyer, would have been told early on they have no case or needed to consult with an eminent domain (or tax, or probate) specialist.  Or at least told that the odds of winning don’t look too good.

Enough.  I tend to dislike writers who do nothing but diagnose a problem.  A proposal for a solution, even something half-baked, is the least a writer should do. 

Here, I put the responsiblity for filling this void of practical training back onto law schools and bar associations.  As I’ve said before, law schools should, in exchange for the privilege of collecting tuition, strive to do a better job of enabling their graduates to join the legal marketplace upon graduation.  If paid, new lawyer apprenticeships are no longer the norm in the legal marketplace, law schools need to pick up the slack.  If economics dictate that tuition needs to increase to make this additional training possible, so be it. 

Local, county, state and national bar associations should also help fill the void.  There is no shortage of continuing legal education programs, at least in those states which require it.  But as these tend to be lecture format, they are not interactive and probably ineffective as a training tool for brand new lawyers.  I’m thinking more along the lines of the type of clinics, internships and externships that are typically only available to law school students.   Perhaps these programs could be coordinated with pro bono opportunities.  I’m just thinking out loud . . .

 I’ve always felt fortunate that, although I didn’t earn an AmLaw100 salary right out of school, I did have an opportunity to work with and learn from some really great lawyers.  It’s interesting, but also scary, to think about some of the mistakes I could have made if I had not received that early training.  Not just sloppy lawyering or calendaring mistakes, but errors in judgment.  I think it’s something everyone in the profession needs to consider, as the path from law school into the legal marketplace changes.

*IRAC = Issue, Rule, Analysis & Conclusion (but you know that already).


Should the California State Bar Add a Skills Requirement?

The California State Bar has apparently formed a task force to explore whether to “develop a regulatory requirement for a pre-admission practical skills training program” for new lawyers.  Is this a good idea? 

I think requiring a prospective new attorney to complete some kind of practical skills training is a really good idea.  With some caveats. 
First, the requirement  shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all.  In the perfect world, every prospective lawyer would get some exposure to various practices before he/she focuses, by choice or necessity, on a single area.  Many of us litigators will wonder until we retire what it would have been like to practice as a transactional lawyer (and vice versa).  That said, it would take a major overhaul of  the American style of legal education to expose everyone to a little bit of everything.  A more palatable approach would be to give prospective admittees a range of reasonable options for fulfilling the requirement. 

The second caveat would be to avoid attaching a mandated proficiency level to the skills requirement.  In California, at least, passing the bar examination is hard enough.  Of the 4,382 people who took the California bar exam this past February, only 42 % passed and only 53% of those taking it for the first time passed.  Those kind of statistics can be really discouraging to someone who invested  3 or 4 years of their life and roughly $100,000 toward a professional career.  We don’t need to make the admission process more intellectually challenging.

I would argue that we do, however, owe both new practitioners and the consuming public an obligation to help ensure someone who holds a license to practice law has some basic practical skills.  By the time I graduated law school and passed the bar examination in 1993, I had already “clerked” for two litigation firms.  I had been exposed to depositions and court (as an observer), I had written, copied, blue-backed (remember those?), served and filed pleadings and motions.  In short, I had a decent idea what courtroom lawyers did for a living.  Although the early 1990s are typically remembered as a “challenging” job market for students and new admittees, most of my classmates who desired experience during the summers and their second and third years of law school found it. 

From what I read and hear, the present legal job market makes the “challenging” early 1990s look almost like a “boom” period.  At a time when new admittees who graduated at the top of their class from a top-tier school are struggling to find a position as an associate anywhere, it makes me believe the opportunities to gain practical experience before passing the bar examination are more limited.  This will need to be addressed or our profession (and reputation) will (further)erode. 

The major criticism of a skills requirement is that it will increase the cost of legal education.  I fail to see the link between ensuring that bar applicants have some skills to go along with their theoretical training and higher law school cost.  It may be necessary to adjust the nature of what is taught, meaning more clinical programs.  Or, the solution could  be training through volunteer or pro bono programs which, in addition to fulfilling the skills requirement, provides the disadvantaged with greater access to needed legal services.

Without the training I received during my two years as a “law clerk,” I still would have received training at the first firm who hired me as a lawyer.  The problem now, as I see it, is that many are graduating law school, passing the bar and entering the marketplace without a job, forcing a great number of those who intend to enter private practice to open a solo practice without any skills training.  These newly minted professionals will learn, eventually, by a process of trial and error, but woe to those who hire them!


What You Want To Know About Your Opposing Counsel, Part I

One of the first things I look at when I get involved in any new case is who is my opposing counsel.  Though I’ve never practiced in a small town, the legal community in Southern California is smaller than you’d think when it comes to lawyers who concentrate their practice on a particular area, such as employment discrimination or product liability lawsuits.  If the lawyer is someone I’ve come up against before, I generally have a pretty good idea what to expect.  But if the name or the firm is unfamiliar, I like to do some research, to find out who I’m up against.  Here’s what I look for, why, and where I look to find it:

1. Firm or solo practitioner.  Is he or she a part of a partnership or a solo?  This is usually evident from the caption of the complaint or letterhead if we’re in the presuit stage.  Why do I care? If it’s a mega-firm, I expect the opponent is well-funded (by their nature, big law firms tend to be expensive, though not always) and I’m likely to encounter a “team” of lawyers on the other side.  This doesn’t make the case easier or harder to win–it’s just a factor.  If it’s a smaller partnership or solo, and the case is one taken on contingency (where the lawyer fronts time and expenses) the ability of my opponent to properly fund the case, through trial if necessary, may become a factor.  Sometimes I will see an anomaly.  If, for example, a partner from a high-powered BigLaw firm has taken a small case on contingency (a rarity), it suggests he or she may have some personal stake in the outcome.  Perhaps the party is a family member or close personal friend.  In either event, the lawyer may not be as objective about the case as if it was an arm’s-length representation.

2.  Bar number.  How seasoned is my opponent?  Assuming they were not previously admitted elsewhere (a dangerous assumption), I can make an estimate based on Bar number.  Whether I’m facing a new lawyer or a veteran does not, by itself, make the case harder or easier to win.  But I know from experience that a sole practitioner fresh out of law school will tend to exercise different judgment than someone who has been practicing for a few years or longer.

3.  Website.  I access the opponent’s web site.  I still sometimes encounter lawyers working by candlelight who have not invested in a website.  When this is the case I picture (perhaps unfairly) a caveman (caveperson) lawyer on the other side.  The problem is that some cavepersons really do know how to build and try a case (and connect surprisingly well with jurors–some of whom are also cavepersons), so it’s not any automatic comfort.  Assuming there is a website, this provides a wealth of information.  For example, do they focus their practice or dabble in every area under the sun.  Do they have a professional picture, or are they wearing a flowered Hawaiian shirt?

In Part II of this post, I will explore additional sources of information and what kind of information I consider useful and why.


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