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February 16, 2006

LAW PROFESSION NEGATIVITY IN ALL ITS FORMS, et al., Plaintiffs v. HALF-FULL CUPS, Defendants.

He's right. In our profession, we've lost our mojo--if we ever had one--and we need to get it back. Or maybe get one for the first time. Jon Stein at The Practice just wrote back-to back posts (here and here) on negativity in the profession, from three sources: bloggers, lawyers and non-lawyers. Jon concludes the first post by challenging bloggers to write 2 positive posts the rest of this week. His two are worth reading. Here's a small excerpt, an eloquent one:

And then I go out and read legal blogs. And the negativity comes flowing out like a New York City fire hydrant opened by kids on a hot summer day. There are blogs, which shall remain nameless, which are 99% negative. Post after post after post is negative. There are other blogs which are 50% negative. Why?

You can't write about addressing negativity without getting a little negative. But here goes. On bloggers, I don't see that many negative blogs--in fact, with some glaring exceptions, I think we are an "up" and optimistic lot. We are first and foremost people who feel strongly about something good we have discovered, and want to share that with others. "Hopeful" comes to mind, too. The goals of gaining stature and more clients through blogging is secondary; many of us will blog whether there's money in it or not.

But I agree with Jon that lawyers and non-lawyers alike are negative about the profession, if for different reasons. We lawyers do whine a lot and forget to count our blessings. It's a privilege to work, and a privilege to practice law. Yet our profession is full of (1) ungrateful boomer weenies my vintage with first-rate educations our parents often paid for and who just a few years out of law school started "phoning it in" and treating even the best clients like troublesome peasants, and (2) younger lawyers with marginal work ethics who were told all their lives by their parents that everything they did and would do in life was "just great" and, sorry, dudes, it just wasn't and isn't that great. Practicing law is hard. You have to pay dues. And then you still have to do it right, every day, for years. You do it when you are tired, are sick, just heard the Second Circuit ruled against your client, were dumped two days ago by your girlfriend, had your BMW stolen, just learned a parent is suddenly gravely ill, or are in the middle of an endless divorce--that's the price of the privilege. But all this is obviously my beef and part of why I launched this blog last year. And I'm getting negative.

Non-lawyers? Sorry, everyone, and see above. Generally, I whole-heartedly agree with non-lawyers that we lawyers are clueless and out-to-lunch. In fact, I'd go further. Shoddy client service, cavalier disregard for clients as a necessary evil and outright contempt for our customers are far worse problems than non-lawyers and clients (even GC's) even know. At BigLaw, solos, and everything in between, we don't get it yet. We can get much, much better--but only with a revolution in the lawyer mind. Clients and lawyers can have true partnerships which can make both well-served and even rich.

Anyway, Jon, nice posts. And my first positive contribution for Jon is this: Clients are everything--so start there. If you can think and plan it, you can do it. And attitude is more important than facts. Sweetness, light, and truth, folks.

Posted by JD Hull at February 16, 2006 12:32 PM

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