How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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"Author's Note: Yes, this post may seem depressing. Nonetheless, I do enjoy many things about my job on a daily basis."

Such as?

I'm curious as to what those are, because those very things tend to go away, in my opinion.



Mainly, I enjoy the free soft drinks. I also enjoy the free office supplies and the ocassional promotional product with the firm logo on it.



I agree. The free soft drinks are indeed a real plus.

Stan's boss

Actually, I am not really Stan's boss, but I feel like I could be. I did the whole "slave" thing for a while, left for the pulic sector for a few years and then opened my own firm which now has grown to a firm of 3 attorneys in a period of 5 years.

Yes, there are many "ritzy" firms like Stan's, but for every "ritzy" firm is a down home firm truly committed to family and allowing you to get your work done at home. I don't even know what our firm's attorneys bill per month -- I deliberately have refused to purchase software which would tell me.

I just want the projects I send their way done. They can be done at midnight in their bedroom or at 2pm in their office. I provide them with wireless laptops as well as cell phones with internet connectivity so they can work whereever they want. They have children and they can be home when there is a sick child.

Yes, they make -- as a base salary -- about half that of the "ritzy" firms, but with what they get from bringing their own business in (they get 50% where "ritzy firms" give the associate very little for bringing in new business) they can easily earn a lot more.

Also, they get to be home with their families. I treat their families to CLE's in fun places and their families eat dinner with mine and go fishing with mine. I am not hiring a robot, I am hiring an extension of my image. I want our clients to know that we are committed to a balanced family life. By the way -- they are looking at making partner a lot sooner than Stan will be. And, I NEVER say a brief is due tomorrow unless I just found out about it. My bad work ethic is not my associate's problem -- it is mine. If I dropped a deadline, I do my best to fix it. No reason to drag the whole firm into the mess.

So, don't be discouraged by Stan's statements -- there is hope for the weary -- but it can come at a cost in the short term in terms of initial salary. But, when I was working until midnight 3-4 times per week my husband put his foot down and said he didn't care what the cost in our income was -- I needed to hire help. The first time I was actually home for dinner for our son and the look on his face to see me home made the cost of hiring an associate well worth it. The same can be said about taking a cut in pay. It can be well worth it.


Interesting to read the comments of Stan's boss.

I wonder to what extent the model which Stan's Boss provides here was actually the model used before the pestulance of the Pyramidal firm model? At one time, firms were smaller as a rule, and more collegial. They probably had to be.


Stan's Boss: Thanks for the very interesting comment. Voices like yours need to be heard more often.

Stan's boss

I can tell you that even in the town I am in -- most attorneys who share my mentality lack the ability to run a profitable business. For me, the success has been refusing to take clients on "credit" unless I was OK never being paid by that client. My trust fund is fully funded for the work I do.

As I tell my clients -- I never want to go to work worrying about whether you have paid me -- I want to go to Court worried only about how to work in your best interests.

I also do not give free consultations -- which cuts down immensely on the "I can't afford that" mentality. If they can't afford $100.00 to see me for an hour -- they can't afford to hire me.

Our conference room and attorney offices have pictures of our children. I want our clients to know we have families too, so we understand what is at stake when we are fighting for their families. I hardly ever have a client balk when I say I took a day off to take my son to the local amusement park. Most clients are shocked, and I come back to the office recharged and ready for the next crisis of the moment. How many "ritzy" firms would encourage that mentality? In my metropolitan area -- I don't know of any.

Free soft drinks -- that would be a plus, but we provide a refrigerator and have many stores nearby where 12 packs are only 2.50 and they can stock up to their heart's content. Also, we do treat the associates and support staff to lunch about twice a month. I can tell you when everyone's birthday, anniversary, and important event is. My office is my second family and I never want to dread seeing the people I work with everyday. I seem them more than my own family sometimes. I have to enjoy coming to the office as much as possible or I would go nuts.

Stan, you should consider getting to know your support staff well. They can make your life much easier than you ever imagines and they often have the inside scopp on the office politics. Make a regular habit of taking your assistants out to lunch (nothing too fancy -- you want them to feel comfortable in their surroundings) and get to know them. They might know from your partner's assistant when a big brief is due and give you a heads up about it. Even better, you could mention to your partner that you see on his calendar that a major brief is due and ask him if he wants you to get started on it ahead of time.

Just a few ideas that would impress me.

Stan's boss' new associate?

Hey, Stan's Boss, you hiring? Seriously, this is fiction, right?

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