Back in the day, I would have an Associate join a client meeting with instructions to speak up if they thought I was getting something wrong. Of course, they would only do so occasionally because I was not wrong all that often. When they did, if their point was not so great, I would respectfully acknowledge it and move on, but if it was valuable, I would say so and say to the client something like, “that’s why I had her sit in.”
I spoke to a young lawyer the other day who hails from another country. I will call her Natalie. Natalie explained to me that where she comes from, the culture is such that self-promotion is frowned upon. In her country, people do not think much of braggarts and blowhards. They respect people who are humble.
To Thine Own Self Be True
“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”Hamlet – William Shakespeare.
I drove into the Big City the other day and had brunch with an old friend who I will call Sandy, because that is her name.
Now that I have been retired for a few years, I sometimes wonder whether my experience as to how law firms work remains valid. Also, since I spent my days with medium-sized firms and not in Big Law, I occasionally worry that my view of what goes on in Big Law is not correct.
But then I speak to lawyers working in Big Law and they invariably confirm that Big Law is exactly what I always thought it was (which is just Medium Law on steroids, with worse side effects), and nothing has changed, and likely never will.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”Yogi Berra.
I was speaking to an unhappy lawyer the other day, which is typically the only type of lawyer that calls me.
This particular fellow has been practicing law quite a long time and makes decent money. His unhappiness stems from his insecurity, that so many of us share, about whether the clients will continue to come, and the fact that his work is too easy. He needs to develop his reputation so that he is in demand. He must also attract some more complicated stuff to sink his teeth into so that he is intellectually challenged and feels that he is doing something valuable for his clients.
Keep it Stupid, Simple
Back in 1996 my sister became a doctor. No, not the type that the cabin crew calls for desperately at 35,000 feet when some overworked lawyer has a heart attack. One of the other kinds. In my sister’s case, she holds a Doctorate in Psychology, which is often quite useful given the level of crazy in my family.
For her doctoral thesis, my sister designed an experiment which examined, among other things, the effect of gender on the diagnostic process. She sent a questionnaire to medical doctors and psychologists describing the symptoms of a patient and asking them to suggest a diagnosis. The description of the symptoms received by each clinician was the same, except for one tiny discrepancy. In some cases the patient was described as a woman with certain symptoms typically associated with premenstrual syndrome and which she reported experiencing over several days before the commencement of menstruation. In the others, the patient was described as a man who experienced the same symptoms every four or five weeks.
In the early 1980’s, just about the time that I was looking for my first permanent job in the legal profession, someone had called a recession and everyone had shown up. The pickings were slim for first year lawyers. Luckily for me, there was Don, a lawyer with over 25 years’ experience in the profession, who was being let go by the firm that hired me.
Long ago I used to work with a great lawyer named Ed. Ed was calm, at least compared to me. When I was freaking out about my files and my workload and certain that I was going to get myself sued for something or other, Ed just did his work, calmly and professionally, no matter how much pressure he was under. We used to call Ed the Iceman because we were sure that he had ice water in his veins. I envied Ed. I never did find out if his insides were any different from his outsides.
Act Your Wage
Veronica is my Gen Z stepdaughter. She knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff and is not shy to educate me on just about everything.
Most recently Veronica taught me the expression ‘Act Your Wage’ and then explained to me what it means.
Musings on Trust Funds and Ethics
If you are not in that part of the legal business which involves representing Banks on lending matters, you may not know that Banks love trust deposits. They pay a ridiculously low amount of interest on them, and while the firm’s mixed trust account (the “General Trust Account”) requires some managing, it does not take much effort to service the individual interest-bearing investment accounts for specific clients (the “Individual Accounts”). It is good business to have.
On the other hand, law firms like bank lending work. Less now than back in the days when it was more profitable, but still.