Client Development

If You’re So Smart, Why Ain’t You Rich?

My father used to ask, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” 

There are probably a million things that are wrong with that question, but his basic point is worth considering. He was asking why it is that some people believe that they know better concerning just about everything, but they do not generate any results from their supposed brilliance.

The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Things I Used to Think Were True

I said and thought a lot of stuff while I was practicing law. I believed every single bit of it. Over time I figured out that some of it was kind of dumb. Here are some of those gems:

Legal Fees

Let’s play Jeopardy: I’ll take ‘Expert in Ottawa’ for $300

When I practised law in Mississauga, Ont., our fees were cheap compared to the Toronto firms, and kind of expensive compared to firms in places like Guelph, Belleville and Kingston. I occasionally wondered whether my clients might prefer to deal with firms in smaller cities at lower rates. Then I would reassure myself that doing so would be terribly inconvenient for them and that they would rather pay more to deal with me.

Now I am not so sure.

Legal Fees

Evolution of the Billing Committee (Sounds Dull, But it Isn’t)

The Practice of Law

Who You Gonna Call?

My father told me about a dad who told his son to jump from a roof top, and that he would catch him. The son jumped. The dad stepped aside and let him fall. When the injured boy demanded an explanation, the dad replied, “I have just taught you a valuable lesson. Never trust anyone, not even your own father.”

As you may imagine, I had trust issues growing up, which is a bad thing. As it turns out, having a few trust issues may be helpful in the business world.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Be Sure You See the Candy First!

From time to time I hear stories about Big Law offering Big Money to attract first year lawyers to sign away their souls in Toronto, or U.S. firms opening the vaults and waving around signing bonuses to lure Canadian legal newbies south of the border.

While throwing money at junior folks can be a good thing, I think that a warning is in order. Since no one else appears to be issuing one, yet again it falls to me to cut through the bullshit, state the obvious, and protect the new generation of lawyers.

I will draw my inspiration from the love of my life, who, nurturing parent that she is, used to warn her young children about “Stranger Danger.”  More specifically, she would say: “Don’t be stupid about it. Be sure that you see the candy BEFORE you get in the van.”

I will leave it to you intelligent young folks to search for meaning in my warning and being lawyers, Govern Yourselves Accordingly.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Resigning as a Shareholder

I had only been a lawyer for a few months when I had my first shareholders dispute to deal with.

My boss told me to take the position with opposing counsel that his client’s resignation from “all positions with the corporation” included his resignation as a minority shareholder.  I told him that his argument was ridiculous. One cannot resign as a shareholder.

Firm Culture

Culture Murders, Decimates and Destroys Strategy

You may be familiar with the expression, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast,” a quote from Peter Drucker. As the title of this post implies, I not only agree with that sentiment, but I believe that it is drastically understated.

Work/Life Balance

Sh*t My Partners Told Me

In some law firms there is the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ faction (and by “Home” I mean to a firm where lawyers work reasonable hours and people care about each other and their physical and mental health).   

For this faction, it is all about improving earnings and damn the lifestyle.

There is often another faction comprised of lawyers who want to make a decent living but who also want to have a happy life. In a firm where the ‘Go Big or Go Home” group are calling the shots, nobody cares what these lifestyle losers think, so I am also going to ignore them in this post.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

There’s No Accounting for Distaste

When I started practicing law, I joined a firm which had one exceptionally large client and very many small clients.

The large client needed help with interesting transactions, sophisticated corporate reorganizations, financings with lots of zeros, and creative corporate structures. Large files with large billings.

The smaller clients brought simpler work such as incorporations, small business purchases, and simple shareholders agreements. Small files with small billings.