Prior to the internet, definitions in Black’s Law Dictionary remained pretty constant. There were legalese terms. There were terms of art. There were terms based on good caselaw. There were concrete terms that have been used for centuries. For the most part, the writers only needed to focus on incremental changes from year-to-year.
Not now. Now, the internet created a host of new, super-awesome legal terms. I suspect Black’s now employs 10x as many definers, and half wear sneakers to work.
Because I like to help, I’ve done some work for them. The following are submitted for both love and consideration. Some are new. Others are just updates. All are important.
(Updated Dec. 28 to include Paradigm Shift)
Experience (n), a term that only old, stupid lawyers think is important.
Usage: That old David Boies has experience, but since graduating law school last summer, I have pure awesomeness on my side. I’ll kick that guy’s ass in the courtroom.
Brand (n), your reputation, particularly online. Can be manipulated with lies, deceit, and general fuckery. Sometimes characterized by large groups of equally desperate people who believe that a “brand” will result in oodles of income.
Usage: Hey, Chuck, I could be working hard for this one pathetic client, but screw him, I gotta work on my brand.
Paradigm Shift (n), a term used by marketers and attention-seeking lawyers to cloak inane babble in the appearance of learned theory. Currently, two definitions compete for legal superiority and acceptance (similar to BluRay vs. HD DVD).
1. A blustery showing of false intellect. The term does, however, stun marketing conference attendees for approximately 20-30 seconds, giving the speaker a chance to re-compose themselves. Mostly spewed by those who do not understand what (or where to find) a paradigm nor how to detect a shift in the same. All fail to realize that zeitgeist is far more apropos for non-science disciplines.
2. A sexual position requiring 2 legal pads (8.5″ x 14″), a gavel, and 3 carefully-selected legal clerks. Robe and powdered barrister wig are optional, but often encouraged. Illegal in Canada.
Legal Evangelist (n), (This is actually my term based on my opinions. Use it as freely as you want). Similar to televangelists and tent-revival hucksters. An individual who tries to sell you on their amazing and awesome knowledge of law practice, but, really, they have as much or less experience than you do. Typically, their firsthand experience in creating a law practice is limited to their “consulting” business.
Note: Legal Evangelists are often noted for preaching the legal prosperity gospel, where anybody truly dedicated to awesomeness has millions awaiting them in the practice of law.
Usage: So, this legal evangelist offered me several different package deals. They’re all so tempting, I don’t know which one to choose. I just know they’ll help me to be awesome.
(for more information about these plans, see the Philly Law Blog, image (screen capture) placed here for archive and informational purposes only)
Online Legal Marketer (n), someone who charges you for information you could find for yourself after a minute or two of Google searches.
Usage: My online legal marketer charged me how to use Twitter. Now, I can say stuff in 140 characters or less and publish it for the world by clicking this little button. What would I do without him?
Coaching (v), once a term to describe assisting someone to succeed in sports as a means of building resilience, teamwork, and mental toughness. It is now a verb used to describe the assisting of younger and/or desperate lawyers to achieve success by cutting corners, utilizing social media, and repeating meaningless mantras. Some will even purport to coach on financial success within mere months of personally declaring bankruptcy.
Usage: I was coached to feel that my law practice will always be awesome and to remember the valuable lessons learned from paying $10,000 to walk over hot coals. Good times.
Entry-Level Associate, Public Defender, Junior Prosecutor, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Attorney, Clerk, JAG (n), attorney positions far below the level of awesomeness displayed by today’s new lawyers.
Usage: I was thinking about applying for an entry-level associate position with a firm, but I’m too awesome for that.
As Featured In/On… (n), a title coveted by young lawyers seeking to show that CNN, Forbes, MSNBC, ABC, FOX News, all appreciate their awesomeness (see definition of awesome below). They are never “featured” there because of a hard-fought victory or scrappy representation. They are there because they availed themselves as a talking-head and media darling.
Usage: I was featured in the New Yorker for my piece about how a potted plant and motivational picture in your law office can increase legal productivity by 3%.
Virtual Law Office (n), name given to a business model that touts all positives and no negatives. Typically lauded as easy, turnkey, and game-changing. Usually rife with ethical problems, shady business practices, and lack of promised income.
Usage: Ed has a virtual law office in the basement of his parent’s house where he focuses on shaved gerbil social media law.
Constant Affirmation (n), without it, you’ll die.
Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In (n), once merely services for teenagers to share innocent rainbow party stories, these are now everything to a law practice. Without them, doom. With them, millions and millions and millions of dollars.
Usage: My law office is running at full-steam. I just finished bloating my profiles on Linked-In and Facebook, and I Tweeted the whole thing!
Courtroom (n), an antiquated place where old, crusty lawyers hang-out.
Usage: What is a courtroom? I haven’t left my couch in a month, and I have 50 Snapple bottles full of urine and a heaped bedpan to prove it. Mom! I’m out of Cheetos!
Exaggeration (n), necessary in describing yourself online.
See also: fabrication.
Awesome (adj), term used to describe younger lawyers (and a few older ones) who haven’t done shit, but want recognition and positive affirmation. The same term and logic is often used by televangelists. Note: Awesome lawyers are often interchangeable with game changers.
Note: All variants of awesome fall-under this definition, including (and especially) awesomeness.
Usage: That lawyer who just graduated law school is awesome, particularly on his website where he talks about awesome game-changing stuff. I had no idea I needed a lawyer who specializes in tampon disposal law, but I do!
The Exclamation Point (!), (punctuation), once only necessary when quoting an excited utterance or similar exclamatory statement in legal briefs. Now, they are TOTALLY! FUCKING! NECESSARY! in all correspondence! More exclamation points = more awesome.
See also: RANDOM USE of capitalization.
Game Changer (n), a lawyer who is unable to grasp the lawyerly concepts perfected by more established and dedicated attorneys in the profession. As a result, the young lawyer is forced to invent new (half-baked) legal markets to equalize their standing with the older, wiser folks.
Usage: Agnes is such a game changer! Did you know she is a pioneer in the area of fraternity scrotum art law?
Verdict (n), something awesome game-changers have never seen. Lawyers who have actually seen one of these from in front of a bar know that the practice of law is rewarding, dirty, hard, tiring, amazing, ugly, complex, catering-to-wisdom, and learned.