[00:00:00] hi, I'm here some barns. so we're going to get started and what we'll do is we'll do the presentation and then, and then after I'll take as many questions as people have. rather about, this presentation or anything to do with your career. And what I'm talking about, today is actually very important right now, because it's about, consistently being able to reinvent yourself and your career.
[00:00:22] And when you look around at, many of the most successful attorneys, they've consistently been able to reinvent themselves and, find. and be resilient really, in terms of, the things that they do, in the market how they position themselves and their careers.
[00:00:38] this will, this presentation today is going to go into quite a bit of detail about, things that can happen to you in your career that you need to be aware of. what you can do to make sure that. that you're prepared don't necessarily, fall victim to those things.
[00:00:52] And there really are a lot of things. I see, from where I said, when people come into, our replacement farm, I see people [00:01:00] on a daily basis where their careers just come to a halt and it's things you wouldn't expect. it's been in the wrong practice area at the wrong time.
[00:01:07]being in the wrong geographic market and a lot of cases, it's just luck. And, so I'm going to go into all those things today, and it's actually very interesting. and and if you're aware of these things that can really, help you because you'll be prepared for things you can't control.
[00:01:20] And it's, the scariest thing, by the way, when you work for someone else, you don't have kind of that sense of control over your career in your life, or you're dependent upon others, and, the economy and all sorts of things to, for your success. and that can be very scary.
[00:01:36] And, it used to be, a hundred years ago, almost the majority of people in the United States, weren't working for other people, they were working on their own and they had more sense of control over their careers. And now, this lack of control, is a very scary thing for people.
[00:01:51] And, it's scary when, the economy is bad, it's scary, in a lot of cases. So I'm going to tell you the things data look out for [00:02:00] that I think are the most important things to be aware of and where things can go wrong. And then I'll also try to propose some solutions.
[00:02:06] And then, certainly, one I'm done today, as many questions as you have, No, please, ask them. a lot of attorneys, believe that, if they, go to a good law school, they can get a good job or to get a high paying job, or, and if they work hard, they're going to have a very happy and successful careers.
[00:02:24] And, the thing that I see, in my career is that, for most attorneys, you're actually, it's actually easier, much easier to fail than it is to have a successful career. I would say that, if you took, a hundred attorneys and put them in a room, I would say that more than 50 of them, or law school graduates, would say that they were not.
[00:02:45]in their careers where they believe they would be. And, there's a false sense of confidence that people have. And a lot of that is because they rely on others they believe that the economy is going to stay the same, that their law firms are going to stay the same and that all these things are going to not change.
[00:02:59]and they do, [00:03:00] there's a lot of work that is required to become an attorney and even to stay in attorney. you can sell early in your career, or, you can actually, fail later in your career. early in your career would be, each choose to attend a law school.
[00:03:13]where it's very, it's close to impossible to get opportunities, coming out of that law school. That could be when you fail, you could fail when, No, you don't do well in law school. you can sail, if you do a very bad job as a summer associate and get bad reviews, all the time people fail, in their first year in a law firm and then, others fail, when they're five, 10 or 20 years out, I see situations all the time.
[00:03:38]even just yesterday, I was talking to a very talented graduate of, a top law school that, lost his job then tried to find a new one. And he was, blackballed by firms in the city because he didn't hate upsets and very, Important people.
[00:03:51] And he still believed that he could get a job in, in a major law firm. And it just, based on, what happened with him and so forth. that it's [00:04:00] going to be very difficult. failure can happen. It is just all points in time. the problem with failure a lot of times is there's just obvious factors that you don't have control over.
[00:04:08] And that's what makes working for other people and law firms and so forth. So scary is that. because of these unknown factors that it can really make, your chances of failure are much higher than success. And it happens to so many people. it's, this is, this is a depressing talk, but at the same time, what I'm trying to stress to you is, if you're aware of where the dangers are and you can do much better, in the long run.
[00:04:33]I met so many talented attorneys, and I actually meet them daily and I encounter them daily. they have so many problems. then things happen often through no fault of their own because they can't necessarily process or understand what's going on in the best way.
[00:04:49] And then they're not resilient after something bad. I've seen a lot of attorneys, in the first attorney firm I worked in, which is a very prestigious firm. there were, I don't know, a couple attorneys I [00:05:00] saw about a prisoner and I've seen, lots of people died prematurely.
[00:05:03]I've seen tons of people just give up, and, or quit law entirely. for the most part, when people, even more senior people, they believe that. negative things that happen to others don't happen to them. And this kind of false competence is not necessarily a good idea.
[00:05:21] So you need to be aware of where the, and this is what I'm talking about today, but where the roadblocks are and where, there's bad mistakes you can make. you need to be aware and ready for them because, you're, if you're not, and it's a problem and.
[00:05:34]in general, the world is a meritocracy. the people that work the hardest and do the best exceed, loss schools and colleges and law firms do attempt, to run something that is a bit of a meritocracy. they want to, give people jobs that are the most talented and have the most motivation and.
[00:05:53]and looked the best in the paper they add the most enthusiastic, at the same time, there's just a lot of things that you don't have control over. [00:06:00] that can really harm you in the long run in your legal career. And, I'm going to discuss, those things right now.
[00:06:06]So the first thing you can't control, and we'll never be able to control is the economic equation that goes on inside of law firms. everyone needs to really have a decent understanding of economics. So it works in a law firm because what they're essentially doing is they're hiring the people that they believe are going to do the highest quality labor, meaning that people are.
[00:06:28]are able to process information the best and right, the bouncer, the most detail oriented and transactions or prosecution or whatever they're doing, and they want to hire them at the lowest possible price, to produce, services and, in any law firm that knows what it's doing, they always want to, have some downward pressure on the wages.
[00:06:48] They don't want your billing rate to keep going up with clients. Aren't going to pay it. there always is going to be a preference for junior associates and things where they can charge lower rates and that can, you can work at it. and the more people there are like [00:07:00] you in most markets, the less that they can pay then there's all sorts of tricks they use, use contract attorneys and things to drive, rates down.
[00:07:08] But, essentially, they're hiring machines an attorney, that's what you are, is your machine. And they want you to do the most work. They can want you to work the most hours, the lowest possible price. And they make you work the most hours. They may build nice offices and cafeterias and things, and, but they, but that's what their goal is.
[00:07:27]they're trying to make profit they're good machines obviously, and they're bad machines. if you went to really good schools and. you did well and you worked at, good firms you're smart and you have a good personality, all that will, factor into your value in the market.
[00:07:41] And, like most of us, if you had the choice between buying a new car and a used car, most people want to buy newer machines, because, they'll typically work harder and costs less. And, there will be, fewer problems with those machines and. and they like the machines that don't need a lot of service, meaning that they don't break down or they don't complain.
[00:07:59] the more [00:08:00] money you want to make, the less, the better machine you should be. So people that, don't need a lot of training so forth. it's essentially, you have to understand this very simple economic model and I hate to equate. humans to machines, but that's what they are.
[00:08:12]as an associate or, a more senior associate, you're a machine. And then as you get older, as an attorney, you're expected to bring in business. And, if you don't bring in business, you won't have a lot of employment security law firms like machines that are bringing in business, and.
[00:08:26]the same thing happens with partners. They pay partners as little as they possibly can, in order for money to flow, to, to the top or whatever. obviously partners make more than, most machines, what should being an associate, or a, But, as long as you bring in a lot more revenue, that a law firm pays you, and you have the kind of qualifications into the type of work that the firm has.
[00:08:46]a brand PR for doing then, then you're, then, you'll do well. And, law firms will continue to raise partner's billing rates. and that creates a lot of pressure for partners and they continue when you pass on that. [00:09:00] and that creates a lot of anxiety. So this whole economic equation that's going on inside of law firms, you just can't control.
[00:09:06]they continually, expect people to work harder, that people are continually getting more senior and being less and less useful. they continually need people to bring in business. And then once you do bring in business that continually are going to try to, raise your billing rates and they just get more and more competitive.
[00:09:22] And. and if we don't, produce a lot of profit for a law firm, meaning as a partner, you're not bringing in a lot more business and you're getting paid. and if you're associate, you're not working a lot of hours and getting a lot of work, you're always going to be in danger of losing your job and, most attorneys that aren't billing a lot of hours, we'll just start looking for a job.
[00:09:43] And, what's going on in all law firms. It's just this economic equation that's happening in the background where. Regardless of the law firm you're at, the law firm is always like calling the herd. It's always, pushing people out and bringing hungrier people in or people with more business and partners, and that can [00:10:00] build higher billing rates or, associates that aren't working as hard and it's just, it's happening, all the time around you.
[00:10:06] And that's just something you can't control. And typically the bigger and better run law firms. And they get that way because. they have very good systems in place for doing that. So the more competitive a law firm you're working for, the more likely that's going on in the background and it's probably going on, fairly aggressively.
[00:10:24]and as an attorney, when you're constantly getting older, every one of us was getting older there's always going to be more enthusiastic and hungrier people, coming up behind you and that there's people, that are always going to be willing to, produce more do more for less money.
[00:10:39] And that's something else you have to be aware. as you get older, your, your value goes down. If you don't have business, that's troubling, and, none of this is, something you can control. and the idea is that, there's just going to be this pressure on you constantly.
[00:10:54] There's going to be pressure on you though, to build a lot of hours when you're young, there's pressure on you to bring in business from your [00:11:00] older. even, the most successful and the oldest partners in law firms are always trying to build as many hours as they can. people leave this environment, because of the economic equation.
[00:11:10] People aren't leaving law firms all the time, just because, they want to do different types of work. Most of the time, most of the time they're leaving because of this economic equation, it's just hanging over them. that's in the background all the time. It's they know they're getting, their value is based on how much business or how many hours are billing.
[00:11:28] So that's a lot of pressure and. the more sophisticated markets you get into meaning large cities and so forth, and the larger, the more sophisticated the firm, the stronger that economic equation is going to be. if that economic equation. Was not operating aggressively. It would be impossible for them to pay first year associates and so forth as much as they do pay.
[00:11:49]it's just, it's going on and that's why there's a high salaries. And it's very stressful. it's the people that are in the firm, are the ones that are, creating, that pressure. And it's just how the [00:12:00] business model works. even as you get older, partners on this call, I'm sure can testify to this.
[00:12:04] But I work with, a lot of partners and there's just a lot of fights about money all the time. law firms will pay their partners as little as they possibly can just as they will, expect their associates to work as hard as they can. most partners that leave, do not like, dealing with all this stress and this economic, impatient, and many leave.
[00:12:22]I've talked to people all the time. They leave with millions of dollars in business on the table and they just leave because they want to go to a position where this isn't operating in the background. So that's what you get into, if you work inside of a law firm, you're always going to have the second equation behind you.
[00:12:37]you can escape it, even when you go to boutique firms and places that say that they're, really nice pleasant places to work. In most cases, that's still operating in the background and, most boutique firms would be happy to grow and become big in many do. if they, could control this.
[00:12:54] And really what you're seeing in most law firms is this. it's just continually going on in the background [00:13:00] and something you need to be aware of realize that it's there and you can't control it. And. The reason, it's scary is that it will push you out and you will have problems.
[00:13:09]if you're not, doing the best job that you can and building the most hours and so forth, it always is going to be there. And it's always been the reason that people leave law firms. it's always been the reason that people aren't happy in law firms and, it's just what it is.
[00:13:23] And, you need to accept it and realize how it works that's it. okay. So another thing you'll ever be able to control unfortunately, is, your natural talent some have a natural talent, and the practice of law and others don't. And I don't say that in a negative way.
[00:13:40]if you don't have natural talent doesn't mean you can't be very successful. But, some people are just extremely talented, at the practice of law, I can remember two or three times in MC where, talking to, some attorneys that were just, a couple of attorneys who were absolutely extraordinary.
[00:13:55]they could see, so much more, than I could see in the way their mind worked. I knew that, I [00:14:00] didn't think my mind might ever work that way. And I've only encountered that a couple of times, but there's some very smart people out there. And, the other thing, natural talent, is some extent, people that do well in the outsets.
[00:14:10]I hate to say it, and get good grades. they have the ability a lot of times too. very, to really cut through issues and see things not get distracted and pick up concepts in a very quick way. And, that's not going to say that, there's not an exceptional attorneys that don't do great in the Alsace or get great grades, but, and you can use your talent in other ways, but that's a sign of town and, some attorneys have another stone and.
[00:14:33]you can be limited though, to some extent by your town, your ability to pick up certain ideas and make certain arguments and, is a, is an issue. And it's, and that's going to control, how far you go and, I shouldn't try to scare you away. if you're, even if you're in your first couple of years of practice, it takes a while to know.
[00:14:51]what type of talent you have, and you need to go into a practice area and work with people where that talent is going to be recognized and where you can do well. people do [00:15:00] have issues, w with talent sometimes, and you can get, if you're not talented, it's determined, what happens to you?
[00:15:07] And that's not, a great thing sometimes. attorneys are very smart. I know, my dentist, for example, his wife is a, attorney that went to, university of Chicago law school. And very smart, obviously. I know you have to do really well to get in there she sells real estate has been doing it for a long time and makes far more money than most attorneys in Marsh law firms, because she's taking her town and putting it in another.
[00:15:31]another type of area it's actually working out first. you need to, put your talent, to use, you can do it in law firms. You can do it all sorts of places, but you need to, you need to realize the kind of talent that you have and where we're especially used.
[00:15:43] And, the best attorneys, will have the ability to understand complex ideas. They have the ability to out-think and outmaneuver other attorneys, And other things that they do, they can be resilient, but, the ability to process information and understand concepts and things are important.
[00:15:59] And if you don't [00:16:00] have those abilities, as you get more senior, you realize you don't, you're, you could, in some cases get eaten alive by, competitors. and I've seen that. it's a good litigator, goes up against a bat litigator. almost always the good litigator wins and.
[00:16:13] if it's, if it's a complex matter and, so it's just something to think about, with your talent and where do you, where do you use it? the idea to think about where your use your talent means. you have to go and do a practice area, work with people where your talent is going to be the most useful.
[00:16:28] And anyone that, passing the bar exam and goes to law school is capable of making an exceptional living, meaning a very good living, being an intern, doing great things, but you have to put your skills to use in a place where, you have the town. So some cases, people are interested in certain things and, if you're very interested in a certain part of a certain part of a practice area, you may do, very well there and have a scale that other people don't like.
[00:16:53] I saw someone yesterday. it's just very interested in, matters affecting, the Catholic church [00:17:00] and, has been our entire career. yeah. doing that. And that's very interesting. this person, has advanced than very well because of their passion there, and that's not something everybody's willing to get into.
[00:17:12] And that talent can be put to use in a good place. No, you don't have to put your talent to use in an environment where you think you should be and, the problem with not having natural talent being good at practicing law is that, it's like someone, with no athletic ability trying to play a sport, you're just not going to do as well.
[00:17:31] And it's going to create problems. there is a place for attorneys and skill levels at all skill levels and different law firms. But, if you don't have a lot of natural talent and you're never, going to really, get that far, you have to have, the ability to help people and represent them and help companies.
[00:17:47] if you're, if you don't have that's just something, that's going to hurt you and. and you need to be able to, understand, how to do well. And, people get jobs that don't have natural talent. and, but the ones that [00:18:00] don't typically are, the most dispensable, you're going to be most likely to lose your job.
[00:18:05] You're going to have the hardest time maintain a longterm career and. You're really going to be fighting an uphill battle. and that's not fun. it's not fun. if I was trying to go out and play professional basketball, I don't think I would enjoy work each day.
[00:18:19]and I think that constant disappointment where it's going to be next to impossible for me to compete with people at that level is going to be hard. especially since, I'm not a big fan of playing basketball, without enthusiasm for what you're doing.
[00:18:31]that's a problem. my advice to anybody, by the way, if you, feel like, that, you're in a practice area and you don't like, sometimes it's just a question of being in the law practice. sometimes people, there's people that tend to like to read and write, that are verbal and there's people that are, very good at math and science.
[00:18:48] And that sort of thing. And being in the right practice area, is important. someone that's very verbal typically would not enjoy corporate or, but I've seen lots of very talented verbal people do that, you want to be in a practice area where, [00:19:00] you have a lot of enthusiasm for what you're doing and you find an interesting, the attorney I was telling you about the board presents the Catholic, are all these Catholic interests.
[00:19:07]obviously it was very interested in that and. and and had gone to seminary and done all these other things. And so that's, if you're interested in that sort of thing, then that's a good thing. putting your talents and your spares is smart, but, you have to be enthusiastic about what you're doing.
[00:19:21]Okay. So if you aren't using fantastic, then you can do well. because other people are not taking the time to concentrate on what you're doing, and then the longer you do something. the more things that you see, you can help people with. Okay. So the next thing is you'll never be able to control as your human mistakes, and your running abilities.
[00:19:40] this is actually a fairly interesting one, and, it's, troubling, so one attorney that I know. as in jail and getting ready to be sentenced to federal prison for several years. And I met her when she was actually looking for a job. she'd been in, auto accident, and, was injured and then was prescribed some pain pills.
[00:19:59] [00:20:00] she, was a fairly conservative person, actually had never, drank alcohol or even use drugs. And. I graduated another university, private law school graduate and graduated from there and worked in a series of top firms. but when she started taking these pain pills, there's, sometimes people just, are vulnerable.
[00:20:16] People can be vulnerable to, different types of addictions and this particular, pill. I guess whatever the, opioids she was taking, she became addicted to at, and, lost her job. and started buying pills, after the doctor stopped prescribing them on the dark web somehow got involved committing, financial crimes, when she, was on her own after all this.
[00:20:38] And that's a sad story. and obviously her career is over and, just going to spend time in federal prison, but this kind of thing, it happens to people all the time. you're vulnerable to everybody's vulnerable to making mistakes.
[00:20:50] I know another attorney that, you know, got drunk one night argument with his girlfriend ended up getting accused of attempted murder. And this is an attorney from Sherman and Sterling. it's just. [00:21:00] and it was a mistake and he got off, but just things like that happen and people make mistakes, you just need to be, very careful, and you don't know, what's going to happen to you.
[00:21:09]life events can happen. I saw, one attorney, tele for, walk into the office of, a young partner and tell them, he didn't think a certain assignment was necessary for him to do. And. and because of that, he was, fired and blackballed in the legal community, three months into his legal career.
[00:21:25]which is just insane. couldn't find another job. And he was a graduate of a very good law school. I knew another attorney, that took paternity leave. He was very successful kind of on, on a partnership track. And he decided he was going to take a three attorney leave at a firm where people didn't do that.
[00:21:40] And, when he returned, the firm never gave him another Simon he ended up having to go on. And these are just, I don't know none of these arms States really. someone that gets addicted to pain pills, that's not necessarily their mistake. it's a human vulnerability or, telling someone you don't think it assignments necessary, but I, he was a little bit, vocal about it.
[00:21:59]when you don't [00:22:00] really know how often this work is, It's not a, it's a mistake, but it's, none of these are bad things. I noticed, I know another attorney that I was fired for getting to, attach the signature paper to a what's called a verification from the client to our response to discovery, and that person, a very senior attorney, lost their job and wants to be able to become a partner.
[00:22:21] And that was a Harvard law graduate. and, just a simple mistake, another attorney I knew, had been working several all-nighters and, for months and slept in late for a deal. And he was supposed to be there with a client and have signed and he got fired and blackball.
[00:22:36]I knew a, a partner with a huge book of business. $10 million plus, and he'd had an affair with a paralegal. and it happened years ago, but the parallel somehow came to light. not too long ago, he lost his job and then being blackballed. I knew, another attorney that was a head of a practice group at a major am law, 100 law firm, had too much to drink, and insolvent another attorney at the firm and the same [00:23:00] thing, I knew another attorney, I can list these things forever and I'll tell them to you. No, the couple of little warnings, but another attorney that, you know, posted a negative comment about his firm and an online discussion bread, and, had no idea that his firm, whisper had screen recording software on his computer and he got fired and that was at a major firm.
[00:23:19]so they were recording everything he did in his computer. I knew another firm in person. they had a rip in his jeans, there were showing his underwear and it was at a big firm in a relatively small market or a midsize market. And, that was conservative and he lost his job because it was Sean, his underwear, So these kinds of things, are, they affect partners, they affect associates. They affect, there's just all these little things that can happen to you, in your career are scary and that's. one of the reasons why, again, working for other people is it's scary and it's difficult.
[00:23:49] as machines, the most valuable ones of course, are the ones that don't have problems or cause problems. And when you work in a law firm, all sorts of things can happen. and you just, you may [00:24:00] make mistakes in your personal and professional life and, those things can, really sidetrack your career and you just, you never know.
[00:24:08]it's just things get out of control that's hard. I've seen so many examples of people that just, things happen and they really couldn't have predicted them. And it's. Yeah, it's sad. it's just, it's, you have to, really be in control one of the things I always talk about that I think is important and this isn't really related to case presentation, but I just want to bring it up is, these human mistakes and vulnerabilities happen.
[00:24:30] I think a lot of times where people just don't take care of themselves, they're not, they're not balanced. They don't, they don't exercise or they don't. they don't have outside activities. They don't, they put too much into their jobs. And so anytime you have balance, like a lot of times these things don't happen and a lot of times, sometimes they do.
[00:24:48]you just, but, anytime something's out of kilter, inner stairs out of bounds. drugs are out of balance, careless mistakes, a lot of balance, things just happen that shouldn't, so you just need to be careful that's a problem.
[00:24:59][00:25:00] when you work for other people, we all want to be vulnerable and that's, why are things so hard about being an attorney in a law firm is there's a lot of times you can't do as much. And certainly law firms are understanding to some extent, but in other respects, they're not, they want to have, the best machines there that function the best.
[00:25:16] And if there's something wrong with you, or some big problem, Then they'll just find another one law firms are, it's very easy for them to find replacements. Okay. So this is another big one. and this is something. That I think is a, one of the most important, and I assume some people are asking questions and raising their hand and stuff.
[00:25:36] I will, if you state your questions and even if you can type them out right now, I will answer them, when this presentation is done. Cause I know there are, these are all going to be good questions. and I'm happy to answer them. but this one is, you'll never be able to control our sessions in the legal market.
[00:25:48] And this is a big one. so every eight to 10 years. there's always been, a major recession in the legal market, as long as I've been doing this. there was one in 2000, through [00:26:00] 2002, that was from the.com meltdown happened. and then there was, nine 11, which shut a lot of stuff down.
[00:26:07]then. there was another one from, late 2007, maybe 2008, 2010 from some prime lending and credit crisis and so forth. And then, of course there was another one where was, 2020, and what happens that always leading up to those is there's a lot of, enthusiasm in the market and, people are, businesses are expanding and then they borrow a lot of money to.
[00:26:29] To fund the expansion and then there's, and then the credit, and then, they expand too much and then, businesses start failing and there's recessions or credit Priuses. And it's just, it's the same thing over and over again. It's just eight, every, eight to 10 years and it's been happening for a long time.
[00:26:45] And it's actually the same thing. It's interesting with, social, every 50 years or so, in the United States, there's been a social revolution. 2020 you've had, lots of protests and things. And, that has an effect. And then 50 years ago there was the same [00:27:00] thing, in the 1970s and 1970, and then 50 years before that and the 1920s, the same thing.
[00:27:05]these things happen, there's patterns, too. recessions there's patterns of social movements and there's patterns to that. But recessions are really the one, that, for your purposes are the most important. So when recessions occur, it's absolutely devastating. it's not a good thing.
[00:27:19]and every time I've seen it's been just absolutely awful. what happens is. new attorneys coming out of law school, a very difficult time finding jobs. it becomes very difficult, especially for young attorneys to hold on to jobs. law firms typically will start off doing a stock layoffs, meaning we'll start letting people go for, performance reasons, which is insane because a lot of times they're letting you know, very young attorneys go that, where you can't possibly evaluate their performance because they don't even know what they're doing yet.
[00:27:47]people will basically, the firms will conclude that they have too many machines to support and get rid of people and in order to save money and to drive profit to the top. So they need to keep paying partners a certain amount of money. [00:28:00] and they have pressure to do that.
[00:28:01] And then, and then people that are expendable tend to be, attorneys without business that are more senior. and then certainly attorneys with new training, which are younger ones. it becomes much harder to get jobs. and then people typically, believe law firms during, lots of people will leave law firms, that will be scarred by, bad reviews.
[00:28:21] Probably in many cases are not justified. they will look for other careers, and, they'll go to work for the government. and they'll just, have a very difficult time I seen this time and time again, and, I would say, 2020 was probably the worst year, that I've ever seen in terms of, people coming out of Wasco, without jobs.
[00:28:41]and job offers being, let go. and unfortunately, at that time, the people that really understood, when, the problems are gonna stop. the thing that is just horrible, is that, when a recession happens, during, when someone's starting their legal career and they're not yet established.
[00:28:58]I mean he never [00:29:00] recover. they will go to work sometimes in smaller firms or other practice areas. people that might've been very good corporate attorneys, corporate work becomes very hard to find. and they ended up doing litigation where they may not be good fits or have the natural talent.
[00:29:14]many times they go to work in smaller markets and smaller law firms where it becomes impossible for them to ever work in a large law firms. Again, many lose competence and are not resilient. able to, recover, first, second, third, fourth year associates.
[00:29:29]many times, that are in certain practice areas will lose their jobs. people make the mistake. what happens in, major markets during these recessions is, places like New York and so forth, people believe, and they have a sense of entitlement that they went to a good law school and so forth, and they should continue working there.
[00:29:46] I had a good firm, jobs become very hard to get in the major markets where everyone wants to work. many people do not. Leads those markets when they should go to smaller markets where there are opportunities and, that hurts them. the only thing I can tell you, I will answer [00:30:00] your questions about this, if in a recession, the most important thing is sustain employment.
[00:30:04] It doesn't matter, really, where you work, that you have to stand point because the longer you're on employed, the more likely you are to find something else to do your legal skills will. Deteriorate, and you will look like you are not being aggressive enough, representing yourself, finding a job.
[00:30:20]but that's the thing is you can't control these recessions, but I will tell you that every eight to 10 years they happen. when they happen, you have to be in a position where, you want to be someplace that you believe is going to stay in busy. you want to be working with people you believe are going to support you and have your back, and.
[00:30:35]and when recessions happen, the thing is most people do not think they're going to happen. there's a false sense of confidence that people have in the legal market, believing that the economy is always going to be good. that's how they get burned. And, I see so many people get burned like in recession.
[00:30:50] I see them get burned in the property market as she didn't get burned on the stock market. I see them. Because everybody just goes into these things, not believing, wanting to believe that it's not going to happen. [00:31:00] And, for attorneys, it's, I see it all the time firsthand because of where I sit, talking to people, looking for jobs.
[00:31:06]you need to, really know what's happening and be ready for them. And when they are, you take action and I'm happy to answer more questions about that later, if anyone has any questions, but that's okay. The next thing you can't control is advancement or demotion. those are difficult, because advancement or promotion are often very random, inside of law firms.
[00:31:27]and, you really do not know how to control them. And, one of the things, reasons that I put together this lesson is because, it's just, there's so much, it's so random and that's, this the sense of insecurity that, attorneys have this.
[00:31:42] As it's difficult. it's just a very difficult thing and it's okay. what do you do about it? how do when you have to really navigate, and I think the, these roadblocks and things that happen to people are every professional course, but, I think they're actually much harder for, for attorneys to deal with.
[00:31:58] But, for most young [00:32:00] attorneys advancement a law firm, may mean. becoming a partner, years ago, when you joined a law firm out of law school, that was where you've spent your career. it's not like that anymore. for other attorneys that may be, that are partners and may be earning more money, getting better cases, becoming an equity partner, sort of income partner, And becoming a council, which is actually at some big firms is a very it's Martin who probably more difficult to become a partner, most firms and, our staff fraternity, associate attorney, other attorneys are just very, nervous about losing their titles or, an equity partner can be at risk of losing their title and, so there's all sorts of, things that.
[00:32:37] That can be quite random. and the problem is it's very difficult to predict what happens to you. you just don't know. I see partners that are, equity partners getting demoted all the time and they never expected that to happen to them. I see, people becoming partners inside of law firms that, frankly never expect that to happen to them.
[00:32:53]and, You just don't know. getting an advanced partner, may be, cause you build the most hours or maybe for other reasons. [00:33:00] And in most cases, having a connection, with someone who has political weight, is very important. but not always. And, they could sometimes, or.
[00:33:09]they may be based on social imbalances, so they may not have enough limited partners for people from certain backgrounds. they may do things along those ways and reasons. And you can't, and the opposite may occur. maybe there was a glass ceiling for people of certain back. you just, you can't predict this stuff and that's difficult.
[00:33:26]you just can't predict. a law firm, holding to you. I remember one, and she's actually a very well known attorney now, but, I was working with her early in her career and she was, working at a major law firm and, she was up for partner and she thought she was going to make partner.
[00:33:40] They told her everything was good. she, her performance was very good. And then they didn't make her partner. And not only that, they asked her to leave this happened in the space of three days. It was a complete. it's scary, you think you're at the top, you think you're doing really well.
[00:33:54] And then all of a sudden, someone asked me to leave. when you took that day, you thought you were going to make partner. and they just thought you would be [00:34:00] sour grapes, or I don't know, but, it's just, you can't predict things that happen. it's difficult because it's random and this particular case, the woman thought too, No top law school had, spent, 10 years at the same firm.
[00:34:12] And, you're gonna know, other things that can happen, that I've seen a lot and you can't control. Sometimes law firms will merge. I was at a firm that ended up merging and, there were people that were going to become, partners, before the merger, but after the merger, there were people came in that had a lot more business than the existing attorneys there.
[00:34:30] And all of a sudden these people that have been there, one of them that I knew very well, it was asked to leave. and, so you just don't know, there's just so much that controls, whether or not you succeed or whether or not you advance, and politics and so forth, going on.
[00:34:44]behind the scenes. So you really, you can control all this stuff by having business and connected to the right people. But at the same time, there's a lot of luck that's involved and you really, many times can't control that. So another thing you can't control, is assessing your law [00:35:00] firm and, no one can control the law firms success.
[00:35:03]Law firms can make, colossal, business decisions. very poor business decisions, that, the end up, making them go out of business. some of them sometimes will, enter into agreements. We'll try to hire like more part. This is why a lot of firms have gone out of business.
[00:35:18] They, and most of the well-known firms, they enter into agreements to pay partners too much money. Regardless of how much business the partners bring in. that ends up making them go out of business. That happens actually quite a bit. they may lease too much office space that they don't need.
[00:35:32]sometimes, they may have, giant malpractice verdicts against them, and go out of business. I've seen that happen a couple of times. sometimes they'll open a lot of branch offices, and. and won't be able to keep the attorneys they're happy or attract enough people. they can take on too much that they can, they can have a compensation mechanism that upsets, You know, a lot of partners and doesn't make them think it's fair.
[00:35:55] So a lot of them will leave or they'll leave for other reasons. so just things happens [00:36:00] and happened to firms you really, attorneys, can't control it. I've known many attorneys in giant law firms, great brands and, they thought they would be, the firms would be very successful and then the firms are not a business.
[00:36:11]I've seen many times attorneys, move their families to where the law firms were and, law firms went out of business. I knew one, one of my, people that I knew very well joined a law firm. And then, it became a big law firms called dryer Stireman then that went out of business.
[00:36:25]when the owner of the firm that found out that he was, selling fake securities to keep his law firm going. all these things happened and he's in prison now. you just can't control it. you don't, you just can't control the success of your law firm any time you just don't know.
[00:36:38]you can join the right law firm. and I joined two law firms in my career. One was a large New York law firm that went out of business for pain partners, too much money. without guarantees and then the other, when I joined it was fairly small and took off and became extremely successful.
[00:36:53] So these are just things, you can't control. It's a lot of luck. I worked at another law firm, actually in New York. I worked at a firm called Dewey Ballantine [00:37:00] that went out of business. And then I, almost worked a law firm called freedom priests that, at the time and when I was in law school, it was, I think it was like the third or second oldest from in New York city are actually made them the oldest.
[00:37:11] And, it went out of business then agenda from court, Quinn Emanuel, and then it became a thousand attorney firm. And then, so you just, you can't control the success of any of these law firms, so if you look at that, it's interesting, two thirds, the law firms that, I could have settled down there, like reading priest or, doing Ballantine, fail.
[00:37:30] And I, if I, Spent my careers with them. I would have been like an eighth or ninth year associate by the time we went out of business I would have been in a lot of trouble. and then the other one, if I had stayed there, I probably wouldn't have been probably in good shape, but, you just can't control the stuff and it's scary.
[00:37:44]when you're working in a locker room, you don't know, what's going to happen to it. the attorneys from most of these law firms, but a business ended up doing fine, but. Not all of them did a lot of different types of careers. So the next thing you can't control is your luck.
[00:37:58] lot of your success is going to be [00:38:00] due to luck. getting a job and the right firm is often doing a chance. out of those three firms, I told you, two of them were unlucky. sometimes people can get that really good client and, that can be locked.
[00:38:09] I knew one woman, in, Chicago that. brought in, Sears, and sh if she hadn't done that, it's actually serious. May not be the best fine anymore. but, but, that can be luck. and that became a multimillion-dollar pioneer firm. getting the right mentor, can be a lot, if you, have a good mentor that mentor can help steer you, and create all sorts of opportunity for you.
[00:38:31]and even being on this webinar, it's, you're learning, and you're getting information, that changes the direction of your career. that could be, very good, something. that, helps make you lucky or not. So let me just see here.
[00:38:45]let's see. Sorry. I'm just missing something. Okay. yeah, so several years ago I was always telling you, I was looking for a, was working with an attorney who was looking for a job and she was a senior associate. And, in a few weeks into research, she, went to a networking event for African-American [00:39:00] attorneys and, met the general counsel of a very large firm.
[00:39:03] And. He invited her, to submit a proposal they needed someone. so outside counsel was African-American and she brought in over $10 million in business a year to reform just from that and became an equity partner. And this is just, that's complete luck. how do and you're at the right place at the right time.
[00:39:21] something really positive, like that happens to you and that. it's really a cool thing and that's luck. you just can't control, this type of luck sometimes with the right mentor, the right mentor can make a huge difference in many law firms. you definitely need some people that are putting their name on the line and so forth to make you partner.
[00:39:37] that can be luck. I'm at a very successful attorney, working, At, one of the largest law firms in the country, on a flight not too long ago. And, out of law school, he started working for this older partner, that had this very large book of business that partner retired and gave it to him.
[00:39:54] that was, very interesting, because, if that partner, if he had been hired, when that partner was [00:40:00] earlier in his career, As an associate, he would have probably never gotten the book of business and I left the firm, but he got that big book of business and, that made them very successful and you can be, sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time.
[00:40:14] And, you just, you just don't know. that can be very helpful as well. in terms of what you do. So a lot of it is just a lot of luck you really, you just can't control it a lot at times. Okay. And then another important thing, and I'm almost done with it. We just have a couple more, is, what happens, with your practice area?
[00:40:33] And this is actually a very big one, because attorneys will choose their practice area, sometimes earlier in their career, sometimes later in their career. with the expectation that's a good practice area to be in and good things will happen. And that's not necessarily always the case.
[00:40:47]because you don't have control, all the time over what's going to happen. when your practice shares. So when I started replacing business, the hottest practice area was patent prosecution by far. law firms were extremely hungry, to [00:41:00] get in this practice area and were. just hiring everybody that they possibly could even large law firms.
[00:41:05]I had one of the strangest thing happened to me. It was one of the first attorneys. I got an awful fart and, this isn't, I don't know. 20 years ago. But, but what happened was there was so much demand that this attorney, was making risky, was in like Seattle or something like that.
[00:41:21] And just maybe making, $80,000 a year. He got an offer to work in a firm in the Bay area for, maybe $150,000 here. he said, he didn't know he was thinking about it. The taxes were higher in California. And then the law firm offered him like a $50,000 starting bonus. And. I think they up to salary to one 75.
[00:41:40]it was just crazy. And, you don't see that kind of stuff anymore, but, back then you did. law firms were just very hungry to get them, that practice area. And there weren't a lot of people in the background, in the law that had science backgrounds and so forth compared to how many there are now.
[00:41:55] And because there was so much money. And so much opportunity. Lots of people [00:42:00] with a science background started law school. then people in third world countries meet, the internet kind of started evolving. They started working on patents, and helping with those and, smaller law firms, popped up doing them, the work, fixed costs and that build lower rates.
[00:42:15] then there's been, since that time that a lot of, downward pressure on the rates. Large law firms. Don't like that. Now more pressure on rates because they want to charge not flat fees, but hourly fees. And some more of that work now is going to smaller firms. The large law firms have been letting many in large law firms, not all of them, but, have started letting patent attorneys go.
[00:42:36]in many companies like Microsoft and Amazon, just to give you an understanding of it, actually have, a small law firm, even a single attorney sometimes, working at home, doing these patents that have fixed costs. but what happened is they had all these patent attorneys and, that they weren't using and they decided, doing this fixed costs work.
[00:42:53] And so they decided that. a really good use of their, these people would be to do a patent litigation. So they [00:43:00] wanted to, have a lot of attorneys do patent litigation and they started hiring a lot of litigators to do, patent litigation. And that got extremely busy and became a huge, money.
[00:43:10]firms made a lot of money from it for a long time. And then there was, a decision that came up called Alice versus CLS bank. And this was after, thousands and thousands of attorneys went in or probably tens of thousands went into patent litigation. And, this limited the ability to patent trolls to bring cases, only in jurisdictions, where the, the people, the fringers located and those aren't all bad plaintiff.
[00:43:34] So once this happened, what happened is just all these lawsuits, went away and, patent litigators are still losing their jobs and. and it's not a good thing. there, there's a lot of, it's just, it's been, going on, but firms have been thinning the hers for a long time.
[00:43:47] So people that wanted to do patent prosecution, ended up, not having a career as they thought they would assuming the path of engagement. And this is like this with, all practice areas that, corporate every eight to 10 [00:44:00] years. it takes a significant hit and, corporate attorneys lose their jobs.
[00:44:04]typically I haven't seen it as much, recently, but typically pet trademark work will come to a complete standstill, real estate, when interest rates get high, that practice area typically stops and that hasn't happened in a long time, but, that's what happens there. And then, bankruptcy of course, if there are a lot of bankruptcy, then the economy is doing very poorly.
[00:44:24]then that does well, but another times, it becomes very difficult for bankruptcy attorneys to find shops. you know that as well. So that's, how that works. And the other thing is just the political party, and power often control, different types of work.
[00:44:36] So environmental work, it can be busy obviously, when, Democrats from power and, Republicans are committee office set. And, there's just all sorts of, patterns like that. And I'm not sure that this environmental thing is a great analogy, but the power that the political party in power, the spending that's happening and so forth can have, a lot of Veron and what happens to you and, there's this broader socioeconomic forces and that it can [00:45:00] happen to people regardless of their background.
[00:45:02]Oh, the next thing is just, you can't control as being in the right legal market at the right time. And this is, the next, the last one, and this is important, if you're in the right legal market, you may do very well. And if you're in the wrong one, you may not. during the 2008, 2009, 2010 recession, there was a lot of oil and gas work in Texas.
[00:45:21]that market continues to do well. through that recession when other markets, went to a standstill. if you got started at that time in Texas, you would have done very well compared to New York. when the economy is doing well, New York city is a great legal market. It's just a very exciting place to be, when it's not, the market there, doesn't do as well either.
[00:45:39]the tech market's doing well, which it has been for a long time. the Bay area does well. when you'd had, of course like the.com explosion. And, 2000, 2001, that market came to a complete standstill, and, was a horrible market. one of the worst in the country for corporate attorneys and the same thing happened, 2007, 2008, Detroit tends to be somewhat [00:46:00] dependent on the automotive market.
[00:46:01] Not as much as it used to be, that's another market, but the point is, you just, you don't have a lot of, control. over what happens in your legal market and the legal market, should you choose to join? Can have, a lot of in impact on, whether or not you're going to succeed being in a smaller market, a lot of times you're going to be insulated from the pressures of a large legal market, but not always in the practice area.
[00:46:23] And of course has a big impact as well. Okay, and this is a final one, and this is just a fairly quick one. And then I will take questions after taking a quick break, but, one of the things you also can get control of your natural political skills and, people can work hard, long hours. They can, you can, even to some extent, learn to bring in business, which are political skills are something that are difficult to control because.
[00:46:45]your ability to, network with people, make people like you, these are skills that a lot of times people just pick up from their parents and their environments unfortunately, you can learn these skills and there's classes like Dale Carnegie networking groups and stuff.
[00:46:58] But a lot of times people have [00:47:00] these skills and other don't unfortunately, that's. determines, how far you'll go many times. some people just have these skills and they're, a game and, you need to learn them, but, they will control, to a great extent what happens to you.
[00:47:12] And I do think you can learn, how to be political and politics, but, not everybody can, it's just, it's the way it is. Okay. one of the things just, the inclusion, a lot of, our self-worth does come from, am security comes from the type of work that we do.
[00:47:28] And, when you choose a law firm, a law firm career, much of what happens to you is going to be beyond your control. And, there's just so much anxiety that people have because. anytime you don't know what's going to happen here. it's like almost like an animal in the wilderness.
[00:47:41] Doesn't know if it's going to be a tack or something. it's difficult and our work, determines, many of us are self worth and how we perceive ourselves just, there's just so much that can, that factors into how well we do, and. and there's just a lot of stuff in the law firm environment you can't control.
[00:47:57] so when we come back, I will take a quick break just for one [00:48:00] minute. And, if you can type out as many questions as you guys have, I do have a lot of time to answer questions. So any questions you have about your career? all these questions are anonymous, so you can ask them anonymously.
[00:48:11] I would certainly won't use your name or anything. you want to, ask about, Indian, what I've talked about here today, or, even about your resume or ski experience or how to market yourself or, any questions I'm happy to answer and, I will be back in about one minute.
[00:48:27]All right, so I'm going to go to questions. And then, one of the things I would say is if you guys, click, the, Q and a window, you should see, the questions, as I'm answering them. So then something told me that, so I will, start these questions right now. so just, if you click on the Q and a window and then you'll see, the questions I'm answering.
[00:48:46]Okay. So the first question, I practice criminal defense law. I hope to transition to a new practice area. I'm interested in health, medical law, and labor and employment law. How important are grades for training has been practicing for 11 [00:49:00] years after a decade of practice? What should the train do if he or she doesn't have a writing sample?
[00:49:05] Okay. the first thing is there's an article that I've written called, law school grades and your career. you should hopefully, take a look at that, article. and that kind of explains your question, but the big thing is that, grades really aren't important at all. when you've been done in law school, more than four or five years, grades are just used to evaluate you against your peers when you get out of school, because there's nothing else to, identify, to.
[00:49:30]to, evaluate you based on. And, so that's, really, the thing to understand is grades aren't as aren't going to be as important. I would think as a criminal attorney, you would have a writing sample. I don't see people asking for writing samples very much.