Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Top ten tips for new lawyer mentoring . . .

The Oregon State Bar, funded by generous and mandatory attorney dues and CLE purchases, has come up with yet another grand scheme.

It's new lawyer mentoring. 

Since newly graduated attorneys can't seem to find that big-bucks job they always assumed would be waiting for them at the end of the bar exam, many are choosing to go into practice solo as rank beginners.  But they don't quite know how to practice law because law school doesn't teach how to be a lawyer.  It teaches how to pass tests on the law, stressing retention over application.  (Except where the law school has a legal clinic intended to permit law professors to enjoy the illusion that they can practice real law.)  So, experienced attorneys, who won't or can't hire beginning lawyers, will nevertheless teach rookies the ropes, as it were.

Yeah, that's what I would want to do if I were an experienced attorney who was still practicing law.  I'd want to train up my competition for the same scarce client dollars. 

I'm not in practice now and I won't be asked to mentor anybody.  But if I was still in practice I'd want my new competition to keep the following top ten tips in mind. Yeah, that's the ticket. 

  • Always address the judge by his first name.  Clients love insiders.
  • No matter what, always pay your malpractice insurance premium unless you need to pay your bar bill instead.
  • Develop a network of people who can refer clients to you, like hair dressers and cab drivers.  Pay them a cash "gift" for every paying sucker they send you.
  • Find a bar close to your office where you can spend three or four hours every afternoon and evening, developing client contacts.  Run a tab if they let you.
  • Once you've got the retainer, don't be in too much of a hurry to close the case.  You might screw things up and lots of times things just work themselves out if you let them.
  • Get a gimmick to develop recognition.  Sure you'll look silly going to court in a batman costume, but client's love that sort of flash.
  • Go ahead and commit to the most expensive office space there is.  The money will show up to pay for it.
  • Don't be afraid to lie.  They expect it and will be disappointed if you don't.
  • Use double entry book-keeping.  One book for you; the other for IRS
  • Ethics are for suckers.
Hopes this helps

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