Category: General Management

Security Issues on iPhone 5s

Attorneys who use the iPhone 5s should refrain from enabling Touch ID.  There have already been two patches in response to two security flaws.  But tech experts feel that the Touch ID feature is still a risk for phones carrying confidential client information.  Michael Pham of Winstead Attorneys has some insights in a post on the WinTech blog.  He suggests that employers implement strict written policies and  procedures that require employees to keep their mobile devices current with the latest  software updates concerning security, and that they notify the company the  minute a phone goes missing.  Wise advice.  I also recommend that remote swipe be enabled before any client information is synched to the phone.

It’s important for firms to take proactive steps to protect confidential client data.  Failure to take reasonable precautions could spell malpractice.

How One Keystroke Can Undo Your Deal — Confidentiality:

What does a teenager have in common with confidentiality?  Absolutely nothing.  Today’s youth live out their lives on social media without a thought of consequences from sharing every thought and action.  Following is a guest blog by Wayne, PA employment lawyer Robin Bond.  Read about how a college-age daughter’s Facebook post cost her father $80,000. These are your
employees and clients, folks.  Make sure they understand the meaning of the term “confidential.”

*************************

When a company and an employee sign off on a deal or settlement agreement, “confidentiality” about the terms of that agreement is often a key condition for payment. That means “keeping quiet” — and keeping your social media fingers, and those of your children, off the keys!

In Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Snay, Patrick Snay’s lawyers negotiated a settlement of his age discrimination and retaliation claims; however, confidentiality was a key term for payment of $80,000.  Snay told his college-age daughter that the case “was settled” and that he was “happy with the result.” Snay’s daughter did what many of her age would do: she immediately went to her Facebook page and posted the following message: “Mama and Papa Snay won their case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Snay’s daughter — a Gulliver alum – had approximately 1200 Facebook friends, and many of these were current or former Gulliver students as well - the exact population Gulliver did not want to know about the settlement. The school withheld the payment to Snay and the Court sided with the school, on the basis that the daughter’s social media posting violated her father’s duty of confidentiality under the settlement agreement.

Disaster Planning, Prevention and Recovery — Free Seminar

I am pleased to let you know that the Greater Philadelphia Professional Counsel will be presenting a seminar on Disaster Planning on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.  Registration and free breakfast begins at 7:45 – 8:30 am.  The seminar will run from 8:30 am to 10:00 am.  There is no charge for the seminar, but pre-registration is required.

It will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Washington, PA.  I will be one of the panel members.  Additional information and registration can be found at info@gppcouncil.org.

I hope to see you there!

Coaching for PA Lawyers to Improve Marketing and Other Skills

My first major step onto the coaching soapbox came in the form of an article entitled “Coaching to Improve Skills,”  which appeared in the December 3, 2007 issue of The Pennsylvania Bar News.  I wrote it because I was sick and tired of hearing attorneys say that if an attorney did not instinctively know how to market, they would never learn.  It’s just wrong.

Most attorneys are not instinctively good at marketing.  However, marketing is very much a learned skill.  Any attorney is capable of learning how to become an effective rainmaker, or at least a strong contributor to a firm’s efforts.

The fact is that Baby Boomer attorneys grew up in a rapidly expanding marketplace.   Individuals and companies were happy to find an attorney who did decent work, and had a nice “bedside” manner.  That’s about all that was required to grow one’s practice through word of mouth.  There was plenty of room for new attorneys to try one methodology or another, and make mistakes along the way to honing one’s skills in asking for legal work, and referrals to new clients.  Those who chose not to do so were able to make partner by serving the needs of other partners’ clients.  Those “worker bees” chose not to develop skills outside their comfort level, because they didn’t need to do so in order to succeed.  That doesn’t mean that they weren’t capable of doing so.  Maybe they would have needed some assistance to get there, but if motivated, they could have.

When the marketplace leveled off, development of marketing skills started to become a determinant of who would make partner, and who would not.  Firms would invest enormous resources in helping attorneys develop professional skills.  But when the same attorneys did not “naturally” develop marketing skills by a certain point in their career, they were cut loose, on the assumption that they were a lost cause.  Such a shame.  Many who were cast aside went on to develop the skills out of necessity, in order to survive on their own.  Some did better than others, but most managed to survive in the profession.

Now that we’re in a highly-competitive, contracting marketplace, there is even less room for experimentation and trial and error in client development.  Smart firms are realizing that training in this area is as necessary as any other area.  And let’s keep in mind that real learning by lawyers is acquired by “doing” and not by “studying” about it.  That means one must know what to do, how to do it, and then practice and perfect the skills.

For many attorneys, coaching can provide the difference between success and failure.  And that doesn’t apply just to development of rainmaking skills.  Coaches work directly with attorneys to help them create a personal action plan.  They help attorneys identify what is holding them back, and develop strategies to overcome the roadblocks.

I have searched for coaches I can recommend for many years.  Most that I have met over the years do not meet my expectations.  It’s not about the credentials; it’s about the person and their methodology.  I have a few I can recommend to PA Bar Members.  Some focus just in marketing.  Others in more general areas contributing to success.  However, I was recently so impressed by one in particular, I will mention her here.

We became acquainted through LinkedIn.  After some e-conversation, we met in person.  Obviously I was impressed.  So let me recommend you take a look at the credentials of Dena Lefkowitz.  If you decide to call, tell her Ellen sent you.  I don’t get any referral,  just satisfaction knowing attorneys are getting the additional skill training they need to be successful.

 

Why You Need to Connect With Your Colleagues

Attorneys who practice in a solo or small firm (15 or fewer attorneys) setting have lots of advantages.  One big disadvantage for many is a lack of feedback and support mechanisms.  That’s certainly one area where a larger firm provides benefit.  At the larger firm, one need only walk down the hallway and poke a face in to get some immediate feedback.  Whether one seeks a dispassionate perspective, some additional creative thought, sympathy about a matter gone awry, or even direct assistance on client work or a marketing initiative, help is often just down the hall.

For those operating in small or solo environments, the need for connection to ones colleagues was often met by regular lunches at the bar association, or the neighborhood restaurant.  Regrettably, lives for most attorneys have become so hectic, it’s hard to squeeze in these type of events unless one can justify the time with CLE credit or some other more tangible justification.

The solo and small firm attorneys who experience the greatest feeling of loss of collegiality are those who have at one time or another experienced life in a larger firm setting.  It takes little time for them to realize that they are more isolated, and in a real way handicapped, than they were in the larger setting.  What to do?

Well, in most states, the state bar association has a section just for solo and small firm attorneys.  That’s the case in PA.  Not only is there a Section, but there is a Listserv which enables all of the members of the section, who choose to join, to communicate with each other with a single email.  Talk about collegiality . . . responses are usually received within minutes for anything from vendor or technology information, to sample forms, cites, and creative strategies to pursue on behalf of clients.  The Listserv also provides a means for geographically diverse attorneys to get to know one another, for referral purposes.  What a relief to be able to identify attorneys who can provide expertise in a specific practice area, without worrying about them stealing your client.

As in many other states, the PA Bar Association‘s Solo & Small Firm Section has an educational conference.  It is a two day event which is packed with excellent educational opportunities, networking opportunities, and many options for family fun as well.  Talk about multi-tasking!  Earn a full year’s CLE credit, meet a whole bunch of helpful colleagues face to face, and have a family vacation as well at the awesome Bedford Springs Resort, where there is activity desirable to any family member of any age.  Probably the greatest value of these events are obtained  at the social events, or at the bar, where you get to compare notes with colleagues, and find out they are facing the same challenges, and how they’re doing it.  It will recharge your batteries.

Bedford Springs Resort

 

 

The closing date to lock in the special resort rate for the conference is almost here.  You’ve been working hard.  You probably haven’t properly rewarded yourself with some well-deserved downtime.  And no doubt you’re feeling too “alone” in your solo or small firm practice.

There’s an excellent faculty waiting to assist you with substantive practice area education, and practice management expertise.  I am honored to be the opening and closing presenter.  In between I will be offering “One-on-one with Ellen” private consulting meetings for anyone who signs up at the conference.  First come, first served.

If you’re not a PA attorney, take time now to go the web site of your county or state bar association, to determine if they have a similar event.  PA welcomes non-members of the Section or Association. Those who sign up for the Section while at the Conference typically get the first year of Section Membership free.

Additional information and registration is found here.  The conference is August 1st and 2nd.  Don’t think about it, just DO IT!  You deserve it.

Does Communication Overload Impact Civility in the Profession?

I have  theory, but I’m not sure I have any answers.    I’m hoping you do, and will take the time to express your thoughts.

My theory starts with a base assumption that most people in the legal environment are suffering from information-overload anxiety.  Some refer to the new forms of communication known as social media as a “sea change” in communications.  I don’t think it’s a change; meaning that these forms of communication have not replaced traditional forms of communication.  Rather, it’s more like a Tsunami.  New forms of communication have been added in addition to traditional forms.

Yes, for the most part, email attachments have replaced faxes.  And in that one respect, we’re dealing with change.  But we now must process additional forms of communication.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, eNewsletters, Tweets, Blog posts, Alerts, Listservs, Discussion Groups, and text messaging.  This on top of traditional business-related email, voicemail, and for some, video mail.

If I’m out of the office just one day, I come back to a backlog of 350 – 450 emails, mostly excluding spam.  That means on the day I’m back in the office I will have to go through 700 – 900 emails to stay current.  On top of all the other work waiting for me.  Yeah, right!

Even though I teach lawyers and law firm staff how to use Rules and Folders to allow the cream to rise to the top of the inbox, and follow those suggestions myself, it’s just not enough anymore.  What’s that old saying?  The faster I go the farther behind I get!

Over the span of several decades serving the legal industry, I have observed a myriad of changes.  Some have been for the good, some not.  A matured marketplace presents profitability and competitive challenges.  The pendulum has swung from flat fee to hourly billing, and back toward flat fee in many practice areas.

From my perspective, one of the most undesirable consequences of industry changes has been a considerable decrease in the civility which had been an outstanding characteristic of this profession.

Have you noticed it?  Simple courtesy seems all but lost.  One-upmanship prevails.  Competitors act more like enemies than colleagues.

I am writing an article for an upcoming issue of  The Pennsylvania Lawyer.  It’s the annual technology issue.  However, even though I am a “techie” from the perspective of most, and am always promoting working smarter instead of harder through effective use of technology, I firmly believe that the entire legal industry is being crushed under the daily onslaught of communications.  I believe each and every lawyer is trying to keep their head above water in this area.  And I conclude that this constant barrage is making a lot of you cranky . . . really, really cranky.

Tell me what you think. Are you suffering from information overload? Are your colleagues? What techniques have worked, and which have failed, to help you stay on top? Does the pressure get to you? Are you crankier than you used to be?  Or are you just cranky for a whole set of other reasons?

Please share!

Children Responsible for Parental Debt

I never heard of the “filial responsibility” laws.  Until I read about a PA resident who must pay for Mom’s $93,000 Nursing Home bill.  Now that I’ve read about it, I’m sure glad my sister has the “deep pocket” in our family.

I thought my first post when I returned from TechShow would be about one of the many wonderful lessons learned.  I was in fact going to post diligently from there.  But the Chicago Hilton has about the worst Wi-Fi access I’ve encountered.  It was tough just getting a cell phone signal.  It was fairly humorous to see so many lawyers with cell phones to their ears and bodies literally plastered to the windows like some sort of human antennae.  At night, when I got back to the room after the myriad of social events, I was just too tired to think, let alone write.

Now that I’m back I’m anxious to share, but an article in the Anderson Elder Law Newsletter entitled “Son Liable for Mom’s $93,000 Nursing Home Bill Under ‘Filial Responsibility’ Law” really caught my attention.  How could that be?  Well, it be!  And I am so shocked by this, I feel compelled to share it right now.  The article explains:

Some 29 states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves. These “filial responsibility” laws have rarely been enforced, but six years ago when federal rules made it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage, some elder law attorneys predicted that nursing homes would start using the laws as a way to get care paid for.

And it was precisely the application of this law which caused the son to be forced to take financial responsibility.  Unbelievably, the law does not require it to consider other sources of income or to wait until a parent’s Medicaid claim is resolved.  Even more pernicious is that the law permits the nursing home to choose which family members to pursue for the money owed.  In this particular case, they ignored a spouse and other siblings, and went after the apparent ”deep pocket.”

Linda Anderson notes that after Pennsylvania re-enacted its filial support law in the mid-2000s, Williamsport attorney Jeffrey A. Marshall forecast that the new Medicaid law would trigger a wave of lawsuits involving adult children.  Obviously, he was correct, and this is just the beginning of what may become a tidal wave of lawsuits.  In Marshall’s blog post about this court decision he writes:

Children are often surprised to learn that they can be held responsible for their parent’s unpaid medical and care related expenses. It just doesn’t seem fair. But, whether fair or not, the Pittas case shows that the child’s support obligation to the parent is the law in Pennsylvania.  Children: be warned. If your parent needs long term care and may someday be unable to pay for it, you should find out about your potential financial liability and what to do about it.

So what is the son supposed to do, now that he has lost his appeal?  Is he to sue his father and siblings for their “fair share” of the debt?  Declare bankruptcy?  I’m just thinking out loud on this, while I shake my head in disbelief.  Our lives are already so stressful . . . raising children in a two-income household, trying to care for aging parents, trying to save for retirement in an ever-increasing financially hostile future environment, and to have some quality of life and semblance of balance in the current moment.  Is this the straw which breaks the back of American families?

I am so grateful I “strongly encouraged” my mom to purchase optional Long Term Care Insurance through her employer’s Cafeteria Plan some 30 years ago, so that it’s there if she needs it.   We found out from personal experience about 2 years ago how quickly the bills can mount after my mother suffered a fall at home.  The nursing home costs, followed by rehab at home, and then extended personal care until she was recovered enough to be completely on her own again, added up to a huge amount of money which her Medicare and additional excess policy didn’t cover.   They paid plenty, don’t get me wrong.  But there was a lot of uncovered additional expense, especially the personal in-home care, which cost a fortune.  At least the Long Term Care contributed toward some of that once the elimination period was passed.  (Although I admit I had to really duke it out with them to get her benefit paid, despite her making premium payments like clockwork for 30 years.  But hey, don’t even get me started on the topic of insurance companies!  :-(  )

If you have living parents, this is not something you can afford to ignore.  Make sure they have adequate insurance coverage, and talk to an Elder Care attorney just to see what risks you face, and how you might avoid them.  The investment to protect yourself now is a pittance compared to the potential exposure later.

 

Cyberattacks on U.S. Banks – Are You Safe?

McAfee warned of this months ago, and their predictions are coming true.  U.S. Banks are under attack.  As are some cloud providers, for that matter.  The attacks are more massive and organized than ever before.  An article in CNet News on December 13, 2012 revealed that a report released by McAfee Labs predicted an impending attack on U.S. financial institutions — dubbed Project Blitzkrieg — was a “credible threat.”

Project Blitzkrieg is believed to be headed by an individual known as vorVzakone, according to McAfee. In September, vorVzakone announced a massive fraud campaign to be launched against 30 U.S. banks in spring 2013. VorVzakone also put out a call to arms for fellow hackers to join his cause. The attacks are said to be done with a highly developed Trojan that could infect victims’ computers, plant software, and allow cybercriminals to steal information and money.

Rather than being a sweeping attack, McAfee said the campaign will selectively target accounts at investment banks, consumer banks, and credit unions. Going after selected groups makes it easier for vorVzakone to stay under the radar and not be detected by network defenses, according to McAfee.

The attack was to expected to hit hard in Spring, 2013.  But it looks like plans have moved up a bit.  And are not being executed as predicted.  A January 10, 2013 article in the Philadelphia Business Journal carried the title “PNC, Wells Fargo Cyberattacks Work of Iran, U.S. Believes. “  The real story is based on a January 8, 2013 article in the New York Times entitled “Bank Hacking Was the Work of Iranians, Officials Say“:

But there was something disturbingly different about the wave of online attacks on American banks in recent weeks. Security researchers say that instead of exploiting individual computers, the attackers engineered networks of computers in data centers, transforming the online equivalent of a few yapping Chihuahuas into a pack of fire-breathing Godzillas.

The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States.

Since September, intruders have caused major disruptions to the online banking sites of Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC, Capital One, Fifth Third Bank, BB&T and HSBC.

A hacker group calling itself Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters has claimed in online posts that it was responsible for the attacks. . . . But American intelligence officials say the group is actually a cover for Iran. They claim Iran is waging the attacks in retaliation for Western economic sanctions and for a series of cyberattacks on its own systems.

Iranian officials emphatically deny any connection with the attacks.  However, the attackers allegedly stated last week that they had no intention of halting their campaign. “Officials of American banks must expect our massive attacks,” they wrote. “From now on, none of the U.S. banks will be safe.”

I don’t know what I believe about who or what is behind these attacks.  I do believe that the threat, no matter the source, is very real.  Thus far there has been no theft; simply a consistent disabling of the bank’s abilities to service online customers.  However, I have no doubt that this is camouflage designed to distract security professionals from the eventual real consequences of these attacks, which has the potential to create havoc with assets of individuals and businesses. 

What do you need to do? 

  1. Be mindful of the insurance limits which apply to all of your combined accounts.  (Excluding IOLTA.  See “Unlimited FDIC Insurance on IOLTA Accounts Due to Expire” for further details about this issue.) 
  2. Make sure that you are not dependent on online banking for essential transactions.  Even if you do your deposits and bill paying remotely, have good old-fashioned deposit slips and checks handy. 
  3. Be sure you print out your monthly statements if you do electronic review.  You may need to access your information quickly at a time when your financial institution is trying to clean up a mess.  Those with an audit trail of their own will always fare better.
  4. Be careful about where you conduct your business.  Never log onto your secure encrypted accounts from a public computer, or over a public WiFi connection.
  5. If you don’t have a password on your smartphone, netbook and/or tablet, put one on immediately.  Yes, I know it’s a pain that after 3 – 10 minutes of idle time you have to put in a password to resume work.  On the other hand, no one can pick up your device when you’re not looking, and find your autologin information for your bank!
  6. Be especially wary of any so-called email communications from your banking institutions asking you to logon and reset your password, enter your SSN, or other sensitive information, and especially if they provide you with a link to do so.  Verify the legitimacy of the request by calling the institution on the phone before clicking on the link.  Nowadays sophisticated fraudsters create web sites that are so close to the real thing it can fool most people into entering sensitive information.

These are just a few quick thoughts to get this issue on your personal radar screen.  I encourage you to add your thoughts in terms of what we need to do to protect our firms, ourselves, and our clients.

Gaze Into the Crystal Ball at 2013

I would love your perspective on what you think are going to be the top issues law firms and individual lawyers will be wrestling with in 2013.  I’m researching for an article which will appear in The Pennsylvania Lawyer.  I would do it from my own perspective alone, but then again, I predicted the Beatles would never catch on, and since then I have been reluctant to trust my instincts alone to predict the future.  :-)

Of course there will be obvious issues: profitability, marketing, increased competition for clients and even jobs.  And then I am hoping some of you will tackle the more subtle issues, such as what seems the decline of civility, reduction in face-to-face communications, and so forth.

I will gladly provide attribution if you indicate I can quote you, and I choose to do so.   So gaze into your crystal ball and predict what you see coming in 2013, and more importantly, share what keeps you up at night regarding 2013 and beyond.

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand.  Buyer’s vs Seller’s market.  These fundamental economic concepts are learned early. Where’s the legal industry now?  Where is it headed?  We know that we headed into a Buyer’s market long before the economic downturn.  As we entered the new century, we encountered increasing numbers of client RFPs which boldly laid out the new terms of engagement.  We endured beauty contests.  We submitted to electronic billing and auditing.  We modified billing systems to produce what clients wanted.  We timidly stepped into the uncertain waters of alternative billing.  Adapt or starve.  That simple.

There is no doubt that there is a current imbalance between supply and demand.  We’ve been reading articles about the big lie that law schools have told to prospective students about the percentages of graduates obtaining jobs which require a legal degree.  Scandalous scoundrels.  A few singled out under the bright light of scrutiny to pay for this misstep. 

Let’s take a look at the statistics presented in a Washington Post article entitled “Will law school students have jobs after they graduate?”

In 2011, more than 44,000 students graduated from the 200-odd U.S. law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Nine months after graduation, only a bit more than half had found full-time jobs as lawyers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 73,600 new lawyer jobs from 2010 to 2020. But just three years into that decade, about 132,757 new lawyers have hit the job market.

While not every new JD seeks employment as a lawyer, it is safe to say that planning to work as an attorney is not rare among law students. But perhaps it should be. Data from the National Association of Legal Career Professionals indicate that since 2010, about 75,000 new law grads have found full-time jobs as lawyers.

So, in theory, all of the BLS-forecasted job openings through 2020 have already been filled, and 59,157 new lawyers are still looking for “real” law jobs.

Yes, of course some of the JD graduates this year and in the years to come will find high-paying, partner-track jobs at big firms and elsewhere. But the scale of the imbalance over a decade gives some indication of just how tough it is — and will be — as armies of newly minted JDs rise every year. By 2020, about 300,000 additional grads will join those 59,157 in a hunt for jobs that, statistically, are not to be found.

Those are pretty grim numbers.  And they’re mostly believable.  An ABA Journal Law News Now article entitled “Law School by the Numbers: 300K Additional Law Grads by 2020; 73K New Jobs Forecast for Decade” reported on the Washington Post article.  They noted that

Mark Medice, national program director for a Thomson Reuters unit that tracks jobs and pay at large law firms. . . believes a new legal education model may be needed that emphasizes specific skills such as discovery, regulatory matters and litigation support. The cost would be relatively cheap and the focus would be on jobs that are available.

Yikes!  What a terrible idea.  Well, not terrible from the perspective that one would likely get a job.  But it would be a greatly downgraded job.  And a cubby-hole career-wise.  This would likely hasten the further commoditizing of legal services.  Commoditizing = devaluation from my perspective.

What I don’t know is whether the statistics take into account the massive number of baby boomers who are set to retire over the coming two decades.  I have to just “assume” that is the case.  But even if not, that mathematical correction would not be enough to swing the pendulum back into a Seller’s market.  So what are tomorrow’s grads to do?

  1. Put every single molecule of energy into graduating at the highest possible ranking.  Although it is not a determinant of career success in the long run, most law firms see class ranking as an factor in candidate desirability.  Remember, you have to actually have a job as a lawyer to demonstrate how skilled a lawyer you can be.
  2. Pick your focus carefully, and early.  Too many graduates have no idea what type of law they want to practice.  They accept jobs which often cubby-hole them.  Too often they become trapped  in practice areas which may forever doom them to higher hours and lower wages.  Serendipity is not an acceptable career strategy, in my book.
  3. Prepare to hang out your own shingle.  Don’t be dissuaded by condescending or pessimistic professors, partners at large firms where you intern, or overly concerned judges where you may be fortunate enough to clerk, that going out on your own without spending time in someone else’s firm first is a formula for malpractice.  Just be sure that you connect with other more experienced solo and small firm attorneys through your bar association.  The Pennsylvania Bar Association has both a Young Lawyer’s Division, and the Solo & Small Firm Section.  Belonging and participating in both should be an essential part of your career.
  4. Nurture the business side of your practice.  The legal industry is unique in that it is both a profession and  a business.  You can’t have one without the other.  So avail yourself of the law practice management resources available through the Pennsylvania Bar Association (or whatever your state bar is), as well as the resources of the American Bar Association
  5. If you’re determined to work for another firm you can greatly increase your success in finding a job by focusing on smaller firms in smaller towns.  Find the law firms online, and send your resume to every firm.  Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.  Contact the executive director at the local bar and find out if they have a job bank, a way to circulate your resume or advertise your availability, or know of any openings.  Remember that small-town firms usually provide more opportunities for direct client contact, rainmaking, and variety of assignments.  The pay is lower, but after a few years you can — notice I didn’t say will — have the skills necessary to locate a more desirable situation, or open your own practice in the location you desire.  And there’s a distinct possibility you may learn you actually like small-town practice and life.
  6. Learn to market.  For a small percentage of lucky individuals, it is natural.  For the vast majority it is learned.  Just as you learn to become a skilled lawyer by practicing your trade, you learn to become a successful rainmaker by practicing your marketing skills.  It gets easier, and you get better, over time.  Networking.   Teaching. Publishing.  Leadership.  Community Service.  All of these are still successful methods.  Except now you can — and should — leverage yourself with social media tools as well. 
  7. Find your value proposition.  Somehow you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the mass of other attorneys trying to attract attention in a crowded marketplace.  How will your voice be heard?  If it is somehow different, it will be.  Focus on responsiveness, creative pricing strategies — note I didn’t say cheap, which is different — which are based on leveraging your intellectual property to the max and running a highly efficient operation, and helping the client focus on value provided instead of hours x cost. 

Today’s grads think it’s tough?  The road ahead for future grads will be tougher.  Don’t wallow in self-pity.  Don’t be passive or weak in your efforts to get your career going.  Most people are, even while thinking they’re not.  Finding a job is a full-time job.   Get active about creating your future. 

If law school is ahead of you, put thought into where you want to be when you graduate.  Take courses, even undergraduate courses, appropriately.  And for goodness sake, don’t go to law school just because it seems like a good idea.  I see too many graduates who land a job only to learn, after all that time and effort and expense, that they really don’t like being a lawyer at all.  Don’t choose law school because you don’t have a better plan.  Choose law school because you’re passionate about becoming a member of the profession, with an open eye toward all that entails in a world of supply and demand.

 

WordPress Themes