Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's not solid gold every day...

Sorry for the temporary lapse in coverage.  You've got me filling in for today.  Hardly the quality stuff you're used to, but whatever.

I wanted to revisit something from an earlier post about attending networking meetings.  Here's my experience:

A few years ago, I was encouraged to go to local business meetings, breakfasts, lunch groups, etc. And they all - yes, all! - had the following composition:

- Attorneys
- Real estate agents
- Insurance salespeople
- Mortgage brokers
- Random chick selling gift baskets

Nothing else.  They were pathetic gatherings where people whose businesses relied upon sales handed out business cards to each other.  Look at who your fellow bottom feeders are.

You would be very wise to note that attorneys like me were at those groups - our business relies upon sales too.  There were often multiple attorneys, multiple bankers, multiple insurance hawkers, all trying desperately to get new business, looking for "leads", all handing out the same old cards, scrambling for scraps and clutching at straws.

If you're not a salesperson, you will not be a successful lawyer. If you're uncomfortable shaking hands and schmoozing and networking and spending half your life working the room in sleazy gatherings, you will not be a good lawyer. Law is not about law. Nothing that makes you a successful lawyer is learned in law school.  You would be better off spending three years slutting around on a used car lot, because that's how you learn how to snare people into deals they don't need for prices they can't afford.

You could be the smartest person who ever lived, with a brilliant legal mind and superlative writing skills. But unless you can dance the salesperson dance better than a disgusting car salesman, you're going to be the poorest lawyer who ever lived.

Sales.  That's today's law. But not even classy sales. In my opinion, it's below used car sales.  At least with a used car, you have some value for what you've bought, and you can always sell the beater to regain some of your losses.  With legal services, the client has nothing of value at the end.

Kind of sounds like law school, no?  The dupes are left holding the bag with no tangible asset that can be resold?  Just like a JD?

Always Be Closing.

(And for the best Glengarry Glen Ross reference ever, see this classic post from Prof. Campos.  That guy could write!)

Now I'll tapdance back off the stage, cane in hands, tipping the top hat.  Back to the professionals tomorrow...

15 comments:

  1. Yeah. People actually need used cars and you get money down before they get the keys. There's the threat of repo if they don't make the monthlies. And few used car salesmen have to pay for the lot and the taxes on the lot and the insurance on the lot. The sales price of the jalopy isn't a function of customer satisfaction. And did I mention that they customer pays something before getting the keys.
    A JD is nothing like this. It's not a viable business proposition. If you wanna do charity enter the priesthood.

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  2. I'm not sure anyone has written about the good old "free seminar" scam to try to lure in clients....

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  3. When Campos stopped blogging, that was the definitive closer on my LS ambitions. I was well-positioned to go to LS but that dose of reality was given to me even before I started to play the LS game. The LS industrial complex most likely threatened his pension or something.

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  4. My brother's friend practices ghetto law in FL and gets by to some degree. He used to massively buy advertising on credit, then he took his firm into bankruptcy when he couldn't repay. But by then he had a reputation, built up also by word of mouth. He now has an office at one of those office-share things where like 50 solos rent desk and share secretaries but to the untrained eye it looks like a "law firm". He has an interesting assortment of clients. Hearing him talk about them is an excellent ethnographic account of bizarre characters at the bottom of society.

    The way he treats staff is incredible. He puts up an ad on craigslist for a lawyer for his "small firm" (really just him). A deluge of hundreds of CVs come back. He hires a couple. They get salaried at like $30,000 or less. Then when there's a slow month, he freaks out and goes office by office firing everyone on the spot. A few weeks or months later, he puts up another Craigslist ad, and the cycle repeats.

    He stopped paying his student loans of around +150,000k, and claims you dont need to pay them back. He laughs them off and says "what can they do to you?"

    Ask him why so many lawyers are unemployed and he says they're too stupid to run a business. He encourages me to go to law school (I haven't been) saying you can always make a living. How? "You can always find a bankruptcy somewhere, and you can survive on 1-2 per month".

    Recently I asked how he's doing and he said "great, I just got some new agreements made up that future clients will have to sign. They allow me to put liens on them for nonpayment, and even repossess their furniture."

    Talk about legal professionals for the 21st century. His law school should put him on a glossy brochure.

    -Jim

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    1. This post should be required reading for all OLs and 1Ls.

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    2. The guy is a scum-sucking moron. He fires staff every few months and is in default for his student loans. Using him as an example for not going to law school is like using Bernie Madoff as an example for not going into finance.

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  5. So much of law school, and later, the profession, is sold as academic-adventurer-turned-knight-errant. To young (and some older) people who had an academic bent to their nature, it seems very appealing. Who doesn't want to do "interesting," "meaningful" work while drawing a handsome paycheck?

    The reality is that only law professors get to be the academic adventurers, at law student expense. As for knight-errantry...please. Unless you want to call stacks and stacks of law review articles "defending liberty" and "pursuing justice."

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  6. - Attorneys
    - Real estate agents
    - Insurance salespeople
    - Mortgage brokers
    - Random chick selling gift baskets

    You forgot stock brokers. As a small business owner, I actually enjoyed going to these gatherings. However, I already had my needs in these areas covered and was mainly there to pick up chicks.

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  7. This post is so true. If a lawyer intends to have a career in private practice, the "networking" basically means pretending to be interested in people so they will send you business. If you are not very good at faking that sort of thing, or you are an introvert, you will either fail or will be miserable. I wish I had understood this before going to law school but that was in the 90s and there were a lot more choices then.

    The other choice for a career path as an attorney is a government job. If you don't have at ton of student loans this is actually a pretty good outcome--much better job security, decent hours, salaries that these days are competitive with what most lawyers make in private practice, and much better benefits. The problem is that governments everywhere are broke and have cut hiring to the bone--each job opening gets hundreds of applications and those are tough odds to beat.

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    1. Yes. This post is right on the money. I graduated LS in '08 and now the lawyers that went to law firms are all hustling after me. I work at a medical devices company and they all want me to send patent work their way. It's pretty pathetic, the husting you have to do in private practice. I would never survive hustling for dollas. You have to do all sorts of unpleasant things like attend these "networking events," where hordes of desperate toileteers press their business cards upon you. You have to keep in contact with people you despised in law school. And an Always Be Selling attitude is something that introverts truely hate.
      Better to get a job as a cop, bartender, waiter, or the like and learn how to deal with people.

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    2. 2:06, I lolled at "dollas" and "toileteers", the latter being a term that really should be revitalized here!

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    3. As a Toileteer First Class, I feel it is my duty to help keep the term alive. I don't recall who originally came up with it. I saw it for sure as early as '08 in JDunderground and Third Tier Reality keeps it going. We have to keep building the Toileteer brand, to keep weakening the value of the names of these repellent law schools.

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    4. Congratulations on turning the JD into a job actually making something tangible, 2:06. I'm with you on the ABS world - let the extroverts knock themselves out because it takes a "natural" to hack that.

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  8. Let me start out by saying that I am slightly impressed. You figured out that anything called a "networking event" is probably a bunch of losers simply looking for business, just happy to get a free lunch, and that it is a total waste of your time (except, of course, for the lunch).

    That said, your understanding of what it means to "network" is at best lacking, and comes off like a child whose mommy said it's time to stop playing video games and go outside. So unfair! Just let me beat this level!

    There are plenty of activities, which are not called "networking events", where you can showcase your talents to people, including potential clients and employers. You can join a bar association committee, a civic association, start a blog, volunteer for a non-profit, maybe write a law review article and do something that either contributes to the profession or society as a whole.

    And when you do that and impress people, they might think you're worth hiring. Imagine that.

    As for the (stupid) point of your article, whose legal needs did you expect to address when you signed up for law school? The cat?

    When you were in school, did you ever read Fluffy the Cat v. Board of Education...?

    I hate to break this to you, but the profession of law revolves around fixing people's legal problems. That is what lawyers do - fix real problems, for real people. I know you like sitting inside, playing Nintendo, and hanging out with Fluffy, but the cat doesn't have legal needs, and neither does M. Bison.

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