March 01, 2007

Should A Woman Fake Being Single To Get A Job?

It's articles like "When You Land The Job Interview, Should The Ring Come Off?" in the Wall Street Journal On Line that makes me turn to stone.  The author talks about the double standards faced by women when applying for the associate position;  the face of marriage and parenthood wears better on men then women in the legal job interviewing process because of inherent prejudices.

What piqued my interest was the comments elicited from an anonymous legal head hunter for large firms who gives an insider's view of employer prejudices and proves it still runs rampant and appears to be anti-woman, marriage and child-rearing.

Why is this on my blog?  Could there ever be a better reason to go solo?

February 15, 2007

The Joy of Teaching (Part II)

This is why I love teaching and consulting people on how to open their own law practice right out of law school:  (E-mail dated February 13, 2007 - Reprinted with permission.)
"I'm so sorry but I'm not going to make it to class tonight.  Believe me, if there's any class I don't want to miss it's this one.  (I am so not just saying this.)  I'm a 3L, in my last semester, and the only courses that make sense for me to be taking this semester are my externship and your class because they are both geared towards my very near future.  It seems like such a waste of time to take the other courses that I have at this point given the looming Bar exam and the need to prepare myself for gainful employment.
May I take a moment here to gush on about things?  I never dreamed of setting up my own business but already after only a month or so of this class, I know that I am going to do anything possible to find a niche aviation law practice for myself.  I do not want to work as an "associate" anywhere and do the big partner's (or senior associate's) crap work (partly because I'm over 40 and I feel as though I don't really have that much time to put in all those required years of crap work only to find out I don't make "partner" anyway!  Those snobs!)  Just by listening to your lectures and reading the textbook, plus all of the other materials out there on the internet to help people like me (including yours), I actually feel confident that this is all possible.
You cannot imagine how thankful I am that I took your class - I had no idea that it would be about setting up my own practice.  I thought it would be about managing a law office and nothing more!  You have given me hope.  You may have given me a whole new life.  No joke!  I'm sure I will tell you again and again, before and after the course is over, how grateful I am that I took it."
My response:
"And thank you for this wonderful e-mail.  It's not gushing, it's heartfelt and very much appreciated.  This class is a labor or love and hopefully inspirational in a profession where the thought of hanging a shingle out of law school has the same shock/insanity factor as someone running naked through a court room.
So, thank you."

February 02, 2007

To My Readers "Thank You." This is my 100th Post

I've only been blogging now for three months and I can't believe this is my 100th post.  I thought it deserved special recognition because what keeps me inspired is the incredible amount of readership (evidenced by page views, comments and e-mails) I am enjoying.  Apparently, what I have to bring to the blogosphere, my message, thoughts and ideas, is resonating with many of you, solo practitioners, law students, big law defectors and others.

It is extraordinarily rewarding and I feel honored you consistently seek out my "voice"  in this ever-more crowded medium.

To all those who have listed me on their blog roll, thank you for the recognition.  There are many celebrity bloggers who have been speaking in cyberspace much longer than I, yet you have made me welcome...understanding there is room for all and much to learn from everyone.

And to everyone who has helped me with all the technical aspects with this blog....you know who you are and...."oh, it's time for the next award winner?  But...I have to thank my husband and my mother, and my son....WAIT!"

(Ok, I'll move away from the podium....)

Seriously...thanks.

January 01, 2007

The Daffodil Principle

I opened this beautiful e-mail from my Mother on New Year's day morning and I needed to share it with everyone. It expresses through prose the sentiments behind this week's "Tip Of the Week - The Key To Happiness"

Start the New Year with the Daffodil Principle.

The Daffodil Principle - a Story With a Moral

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday", I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren. "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch." My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother.""Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her. "But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this." I said sternly, "Please turn around." "It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, " Daffodil Garden." We got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and  butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn. "Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs." it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!" My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said. She was right.

It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

Use the Daffodil Principle.

Stop waiting.....
Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now.

So work like you don't need the money.

December 11, 2006

"Solo" Is Not A Four Letter Word

Ok.  It is a four letter word, but you know what I mean.

I've been looking in the archives of  some celebrity bloggers and there seems to be a recurring theme, defense of the term "solo" and trying to come up with some creative new terminology for the solo practitioner like "lawyer-preneur." (I use the term "Lawyer as Entrepreneur" in teaching and on this blog to convey to the reader that as a solo practitioner you are also a business person and need to adjust your thinking so you can be effective in running your own business.)

No terminology is going to change anyone else's attitude if you yourself maintain the attitude that somehow 'Going Solo' or being a 'Solo Practitioner' is practicing as a lesser in the profession.

And to some degree, it's not your fault if you feel this way. 

"Solo" is not a negative word by any stretch of the imagination.  It means "independence," full faith in one's own abilities. In music, a "soloist" is one who has a highlighted performance apart from the orchestra or band and is selected for their particular expertise on that instrument.

"Flying Solo" is a term used to describe a new pilot's inaugural flight without any safety net.  He knows at this point he must rely on his skills and training to get him home safely or the result is sure death to himself and/or others.  She also experiences the exhilaration of leaving behind the constraints of gravity that keeps her earthbound, a sense of adventure and awe, yet not undisciplined or disrespectful of the consequences if she slips up. And once they've experienced leaving the ground, they never want to be land-bound, again.

That is the true spirit of the "solo."

But the brainwashing begins in college.  When I was in college, the big rush was on to join fraternities and sororities. It really irked me, the (perception of) homogeneity.  When I was challenged by someone as to why I wanted to remain "an independent" I responded, "because I don't choose to be a dependent." 

That's what being a solo is all about. Independence. It's been given a bad rap in law school because the school doesn't profit from entrepreneurship.  Nor do they believe a lawyer should or could actually strive to become a solo practitioner instead of an associate at a Big Law firm. Law students should not be forced to share the same dream of becoming a Big Law associate right out of law school.

Law School is where the labeling  needs to stop and the support needs to begin. 

It's time to stop defending being solo, changing the terminology in order to sell it to the public or our colleagues.  The best way to express what it means to be a "Solo" is to exude the exhilaration, excitement, adventure, confidence and pride that comes from "flying solo."

And if you ever want to see an example of a negative sterotype turned into something positive, look at the other famous negative four letter word, "geek."  Well today, when I think of the King of Geeks, "Bill Gates,"  geekdom just doesn't look so bad, does it?

November 28, 2006

This Blog's Reason For Being

The purpose of this blog is very simple: to encourage you to start your own law practice, whether right out of law school or twenty years after Big Law. 

Opening your own law practice today is not technically hard or expensive. However, it is psychologically daunting because we have been brainwashed from the minute we enter law school to believe we shouldn't and/or can't possibly do it.  And if we voice a desire to strike out on our own our closest circle acts like frogs hovering over the pit. The naysayers, however well intended, are projecting their personal fears upon you.  You need to deflect the negativity and believe in your desires and goals.

I have encouraged countless students to "hang a shingle" and they have been very successful whether right out a law school or shortly thereafter. And for those who've chosen to defect from Big Law, I have helped them escape under the barbed wire with nary a scratch. Then there are those who've already braved the frontier but aren't quite cultivating the land properly.  I've helped these Pilgrims bring in a much greater harvest.

The core reason for this blog is to excite you about becoming an entrepreneur.  And my personal promise to you is to fill this blog post after post with timely, practical, inspiring and thoughtful information from a fresh perspective.  If there are topics you would like discussed, let me know.  This is an interactive site, only effective if law students and lawyers like yourself help to create productive dialog and commentary that benefits every visitor to this site.

I look forward to sharing with you.