Damn It Greenfield, They Just Want Clients

Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice has turned his attention to young lawyers (really, any lawyer) who fail to include graduation/admission dates on their websites and other online resumes.

The one thing that stands out above all others are lawyers who omit dates from their websites and blogs. This is wrong, and whenever I see “Harvard Law School” without a date, it tells me that this lawyer is concealing a simple, basic fact.  Concealment is hardly transparency.

The Lawyerist followed-up with this post.

In many respects, the comments are more interesting than the posts themselves. Frankly, I agree. After all, what good, ethical reason exists to explain the purposeful omission of such basic, obvious information?

That’s all fine and good, but, as a male, I tend to be more visual. This depiction of Greenfield and a young, unsuspecting lawyer is much more illustrative, I believe.


12 thoughts on “Damn It Greenfield, They Just Want Clients

  1. Hmm…interesting. I had to go look at my site to see if I included the years I got my degrees. For the record, I don’t but I openly share that info with anyone who asks. I think when I wrote my bio, I started by looking at the bios of lawyers I liked to see what I should include. I think I left the years out because they did.

  2. As a couple of baby lawyers, we thought it was pretty important to include the years we graduated (2010 and 2008) on the website. Because that might, you know, be important to some people.

    If they don’t hire us based on lack of experience, fine.

  3. Surely he is similarly offended by the lack of a win/loss ratio provided on websites or other online resumes, at least as it applies to those lawyers with a less impressive win/loss ratio than his own. While I likely will not include my date of graduation or bar passage until I have ten or so years experience, I am also not likely to claim that I am generally “experienced” without qualifying the statement.

    • Win/loss? What is a win? What is a loss? Acquittal? Sure. What about a really good deal? What about half of the charges as acquittals? The possibilities are varied, and not clearly one or the other.

      Wins and losses are subjective in this business. Date of graduation and admission to bar are not.

      I see your strategy. Put the date once you’re over the 10 year point. Until then, let them think that you might already be there. Give them the dates only if they ask a very direct question.

      Am I right? Does that sound fair to potential clients in desperate need of help?

      • And, by the way, your odds of winning (however it’s defined) have a lot to do with the type of cases you take on. I’ve heard a judge explain that he would have granted the speedy-trial motion to dismiss if the case had been a DUI, but he wasn’t going to do it for an aggravated murder.

  4. I understand the perception that someone that does not actively advertise something that would be detrimental to them would otherwise actively deceive a potential client. I do not deny that there are certainly people that would do that. There are bad apples in every bunch but the presumption that someone is cheating clients because they did not actively disclose the date they passed the bar is a bit much.

    I think there is a difference between not putting a date on a website and an affirmative act or omission intended to deceive or mislead. I’ve got a couple years left before I even have to worry about that choice and by that point I will have more than two years of day to day experience working in a law office that practices the niche I will be practicing in. I’ll also probably still be working for an attorney with about 50 years of experience in his field so it’s less of a worry for me, and we don’t so much deal with clients in desperate need of help.

    • You’re thinking about this date thing. So, when you omit it, it will be a conscious omission. Here’s my question: Why omit it?

      See the Rushie comment above.

      Either way, cool story. Will it make you feel better if I tell you that you’re awesome?

  5. By that point I’ll probably have forgotten it. I wouldn’t have thought about it had the issue not been raised.

  6. I work for a firm with 6 attorneys and about 6 other professionals that do similar work.

    On my web bio I have all my graduation dates, but none of my admission dates. In my case, the admission years are the same or earlier than the graduation dates, so no concealment, just absence. Seems to be the same across the board for our other folks — grad dates, but not admission dates. Perhaps the ommission is a uniformity of style thing implemented by the web consultant who designed the site. Really never thought about it. However, I can say that I’ve never taken a client who found me via the website. It is all old fashion word of mouth. Makes me wonder why we have the website.

  7. Should have said, “most” of the admission dates are the same or earlier. When I moved to a new state, I waived into their bar, and that admission date is a few years after my law school graduation date.

    I only practice federal law, so adding the second state admission was just something I did so that I could pay extra bar association fees and insulate myself against unlicensed practice if my barber asked me a question during a haircut (and I was dimwitted enough attempt an answer).

    • All spot-on. Upon looking at my bio, I realize that I don’t have a bar admission date posted. Of course, as you very well know, that was within 5 months of graduation. I suppose I didn’t see where it would make much of a difference, those 5 months. I may amend it, but it won’t change anything materially.

      The vast majority of my clients come from referrals. However, many of them will check the website as a means of getting some background on me. In that respect, it is somewhat useful. If you’re like me, the website is nothing more than an online brochure.

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