In the history of the legal profession, many lawyers distinguished themselves. Some good. Some bad. Some were good because they did something great for the poor and downtrodden. Some were good because they reached the peak of the profession–whatever that was at the time. Some are considered good because they are a pillar in a small community.
Likewise, the bad reasons are just as numerous, if not more so.
Today, I’d like to focus on those individuals who’ve stained the legal profession and doomed all of us to a more severe and painful circle of hell. They are those who deserve a slow trip down the chute of my woodchipper.
Note: For those of you who are especially litigious and/or sensitive, the wood chipper is strictly a metaphor for my disdain. I am not advocating violence or murder, no matter how much one may deserve it. You should never feed any living animals into a wood chipper, not even lawyers.
Having said that, let’s move first to:
The first personal injury attorney who touted “We don’t get paid until you get paid!”
What was this asshole thinking? Didn’t he staff the memo through a few of his buddies in the community? Was he being truthful? Yes. Did he consider the second and third-order effects of this publicized statement? Absolutely not.
The average citizen doesn’t realize that the vast population of lawyers is divided into distinct communities. You have the corporate folks with established and habitual clientele. There’s the criminal law guys with the constantly shifting (and hopefully prepaid) clients. The PI guys are similar to criminal law folks with the exception of the whole contingency fee thing. The government guys do whatever arrives in their inbox. And so on. We are all very, very different.
Potential clients see us as one big group who all know and do the same stuff. Now, because of these guys and their late-night commercials on SciFi, all potentials think we are all willing to work on contingency.
Nothing makes a criminal defense attorney want to cry as much as a potential client inquiring about contingency fee options. It screams of “This shit ain’t worth paying-for unless I win, and then I can find a whole bunch of ways to not pay a cent.”
So, thanks for nothing Mr. Contingency Fee Blabbermouth. You’ve got dibs on being first in line for my woodchipper.
Lawyers who woof about their pro bono work.
We all do pro bono work. Each of us accepts certain cases that tug at our heartstrings or are referred through friends (like mine that come from buddies at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs). For those of you feeling a need to advertise it, get over yourselves. Because of this, everyone now thinks that we are sitting-around waiting to give-away legal services to anyone and everyone. If I only had a nickel for every email from someone looking for charity, sent “from their iPad,” I’d be a rich man.
Because of the look-at-how-wonderfully-and-frequently-charitable-I-am lawyers, I’m afraid to even mention Sonny Bono on my office website, as I’ve been desperate to do for years. Why? It results in oodles of insipid emails and calls with “just a few questions.” Damned search engines and their web crawlers.
Thanks to these idiots, most savvy lawyers understand the value of negative keywords, including cheap, free, bono, and value.
Lawyers who advertise their success in legal beauty pageants and popularity polls.
Hey, look at me, everyone! I’m XZ Preeminent and rated a 100% on SUCCO!
What the hell does all that mean? I guarantee that clients don’t know. It’s akin to the 2007 New England Patriots bragging that they were #1 on the ESPN PowerRankings for most of the season. It is no guarantee of a Lombardi Trophy.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet based on my extremely skewed and under-medicated opinions:
AV Preeminent: Officially, this is an amazing honor for having been voted super awesome by peers in the Martindale legal directory. Unofficially, even those who are AV Preeminent have no clue what the hell it means. As for me, I presume it means “After Vasectomy,” and I applaud these individuals for removing themselves from the gene pool.
SuperLawyers: Officially, these very, very special and super guys and gals are recognized by their peers for being……..SUPER-DE-DUPER! Unofficially, they got together with the other members of their firm/drinking buddies and voted for each other. As for me, I think they’re super special. Very, very super special.
10.0 on Avvo: Officially, this means that they score perfectly in areas of ethics, industry recognition, and experience. Unofficially, you can get to a 10.0 within days of passing the bar and having no knowledge of the location of the courthouse bathroom. You just need to carefully and creatively complete your online bio/profile. As for me, I love Avvo a whole bunch.
Those who advertise their legal beauty by listing these on a resume/bio should be fed-into the chipper head-first, while wearing a sparkly sash that says Mr./Ms. Awesome Lawyer.
Those who also use the cheesy website banners/badges provided by each of these for-profit entities should be fed-into the chipper feet first.
Note: I am not a SuperLawyer, I’m a mere 7.7 on Avvo, and I’m not AV Preeminent, EG Highly Eminent, ZL Moderately Eminent, JN Marginally Eminent, or BJ Pathetically Eminent. So, maybe I’m just jealous about the whole not-being-as-superbly-awesome-as-them thing. You believe whatever you want, groovy and spiffy reader.
The guy who first flew the banner of free consultations.
I don’t know how long ago this happened or who did it, but we all now suffer. Yep, this desperate jerkoff is ripe and ready for a good chippin’. Know what free consultations yield? People looking for free consultations, and nothing more. Some potential clients are bold enough to say “Hi, I’m calling for a free consultation.” Some are coy and “just have a few questions.” Others outright lie and say they are thinking of hiring a lawyer, but must talk to their spouse about it when notified that representation costs just a bit more than $10.99. If it weren’t for you, Mr. Free-Hour-Of-My-Time, they wouldn’t be so emboldened.
I’m reminded of a story that I’ve told before where one of my staff attorneys walked into my office with a horrified look on her face.
“One of my clients just walked in and handed me this legal pad, and they want me to follow the strategy that’s listed on it.”
“Well, is it a good strategy?” I asked.
“Yep, it’s really good. He got it from [a very well respected local lawyer],” she replied.
I responded after flipping through the pages, “This is a lot of info, it must’ve taken hours.”
“It did,” she replied, “The client told me he spent an hour and a half getting a ‘free consultation’ from [lawyer].”
She continued, “He seemed pretty proud about what he did.”
“I’m sure he is,” I concluded.