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Set of Rules for Newbie Attorneys

published July 17, 2006

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<<The law is just like show business. To get ahead, one must pander shamelessly to their audience. That may not be the exact message attorney Mark Bese of Leadership for Lawyers is trying to get across, but he does offer an analysis of how to cater to a jury. Generation X, those grungy 20-something slackers, are now in their 30s. They've grown up, and they want concise data presented with a focus on traditional values. The blog also mentions that Gen Xers, the former extreme sports enthusiasts, will generally side with people who take risks, even ethical ones. The Generation Y crew, who I guess are the kids of Gen Xers (shouldn't they be too young to be on juries?) are too techno-savvy to care about anything they can't put on their i-Pods. They crave hi-tech data. They also are more trusting of their government. That makes sense, they grew up under the omnipresent glower of the Bush administration, so they trust their government more. Carolyn Elefant of Inside Legal Opinions wonders where the Baby Boomers fit in all this. Boomers are turning 60 and retiring at a rapid rate, freeing up more of them for jury duty. So how do they fit into the puzzle? Bese doesn't get that far. It is interesting to note that as the kids get more savvy, so too do the attorneys who seek to steer their opinions.

Over the past few months, our friend at Disassociate has been putting together a set of rules for newbie attorneys. The rules don't just apply to first-years though. Anybody having trouble fitting in at a firm would be wise to heed Disassociate's rules. These rules will also be useful to the overworked attorney who needs to lighten his or her workload without getting fired for it. For your edification, we've consolidated Disassociate's rules and re-produced them here.

Rule No. 1: If anyone at the firm asks how you're doing, simply reply "busy, really busy." Then wipe your brow, yawn and walk away quickly (as if in a terrible hurry).

Rule No. 2: On Fridays, don't dress casually. A suit makes you look like a serious player and the chances of getting caught for leaving early are much slimmer.

Rule No. 3: Always keep your door closed and work with your light off. That way, no one will know when you are working from home for the day (or week).

Rule No. 4: Don't smile too much on Fridays; it screams, "I can handle more work." Instead, look frustrated, loosen your tie and mess your hair. 9 out of 10 weekend assignments will go to your neighbor, Smiley.

Rule No. 5: Travel time is not billable, but if you have to sit with someone from the office, that awkward conversation counts as 'work'.

Rule No. 6: Hazing the summer associates is fun.

Rule No. 7: Carry a briefcase, the one with the loud snapping locks, but keep it empty. Open it as often as possible when people are around and close it quickly. Mumble sentences with the words "hearing," "judge" and "motion" as you snap it shut. Leave early.

Rule No. 8: He who puts up the most degrees on his wall and deal toys in his office is the least interesting.

Rule No. 9: Pay very close attention when a colleague is giving you an assignment. Look into his eyes and nod your head furiously. Then just start laughing uncontrollably - if you can force tears, even better. No more assignments from that guy!

Rule No. 10: Mimic the mannerisms and demeanor of other lawyers at your firm. Doing so makes it much harder for people to tell that you have no idea what you are doing.

In a recent blog entry from Human Law, Justin Patten wonders if blogs could be utilized by law firms not just as a marketing tool or a way of adding extra content to their website but as a way of making their operations more transparent to the public and keeping up with the latest business trends. Patten mentions Microsoft's decision to publicly test their version of Apple's i-Pod on a weblog, as well as the success of author Chris Anderson, who published his novel chapter by chapter on his blog and solicited feedback from readers on the Internet. Many notable law firms are already using blogs to increase public awareness and to reach out to clients. Patten suggests taking it one step further.

"For example, could you see lawyers using blogs to help them create new terms and conditions and billing policies? The lawyers would put them online and then the blogosphere could assess and scrutinize them."

Were this to happen, firms might get even more competitive with their blogs, which brings us to our next controversy that has been brewing on the blogosphere. It started with PayPerPost, a marketing website catering to bloggers. They promise to generate traffic to your blog and develop a cross-referral network for your site, all for a small fee. PayPerPost will pay other bloggers to write about your blog and link to you. Web surfers will never know the links to your blog were really subtle ads. It's not much different than FoxNews when you think about it. But many law bloggers have cried foul and said that paying to build a network of visitors to your blog is cheating. Matthew Ingram of The Devil and Daniel Blogger says that PayPerPost isn't the end of blogging as we know it, but it's a dumb idea that could damage a blogger's credibility. Techmeme takes it a step further and says that PayPerPost is polluting the blogosphere and is out to buy the soul of hapless bloggers. Rob Hyndman is more laid back about it. Hyndman doesn't buy into the righteous indignation over PayPerPost. He admits that the idea sounds kind of crappy, but he says it's not much different from the rest of the media, which was bought and sold a long time ago by advertisers.

So next time you're surfing the blogosphere, beware. The opinions you're reading might be advertisements in disguise. In conclusion, new Coke Zero has all the great taste of Classic Coke with half the calories. Mmmmm... refreshing!

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