how NOT to build your law practice


Cue Rod Serling:

“Meet Jerry Finster, picture of a desperate lawyer. Don’t let his smile fool you. It is nothing but paint and plastic, a mask he wears to hide his pain. Like other lawyers, Jerry once had big plans for his career. But Jerry listened to some bad advice and now, he sells his soul in five minute increments to anyone with a question and a sawbuck. You’ll find Jerry in his booth at a place called, where other desperate lawyers have set up shop. The sign over his booth says you can talk to him at 10, 12, 2, or 4. The truth is you can talk to Jerry at any time. He’s waiting for you now. If you want some cheap advice, go see Jerry. But don’t go looking for him on the World Wide Web. You can only find him in a place called The Twilight Zone.”

Perception is everything. If you look desperate (or even just hungry), in the eyes of the world, that’s what you are. There are, I am sure, many fine lawyers answering questions on sites like, and I’m sure they are getting some clients. But is it worth it? I say no. You may get clients but you won’t build a practice, at least not one you want.

When I first started practicing, I volunteered one day a week at a legal clinic. I got a few clients out it (and a lot of real world experience). The people who visited the clinic didn’t have much money. When they hired me, they paid maybe twenty cents on the dollar. They needed help, I needed the money.

But I was careful. I never told my “real clients” about what I was doing at the legal clinic. They needed to see me as successful. I could look the part and build my practice on Wilshire Boulevard in Bevery Hills and nobody knew I was bringing in rent money from the legal clinic on Pico.

You can’t do that today. The Internet won’t allow it.

I could be wrong. (I’m not, but I guess I should say it.) See for yourself. Pretend you are a client looking for a lawyer. Browse through the listings of the lawyers on and see what you think. (Could they have come up with a worse name?)

Click on the button to sign up as a lawyer. But before you fill out the form, imagine that your “real clients” find you on this site. What do you suppose they would think?

If you’re not desperate, the last thing you want to do is look like you are. If you are desperate, the last thing you want to do is look like you are.

There are better ways to build your practice. You’ll find them here.

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  1. James Cragner says:

    Yeah, I actually know the CEO from NYU.

    The name “Lawdingo”, as you aptly pointed out, couldn’t be worse…this guy went to Stern and got clowned at college every day. He was the kind of kid that ran for president of dorms and went around to every room trying to get your vote, and doing whatever he could to fit in. He thinks he’s some genius, when he’s a complete tool. I’m just being accurate, I have no reason to really hate the kid. I feel sorry for him.

    I can’t believe someone put up money for this ridiculous idea. He couldn;t even blow his nose for his retarded Youtube commercial.

    People want an easier, quicker, cheaper way to do everything in this age of instant gratification.

    Two things you should NEVER skimp on:

    Medical treatment, and legal advice.


  2. I don’t know that people are skimping on legal advice.

    If a client wants to pay more for someone to sit in a pretty office with paralegals doing the most of their work, then they can.

    Or if they’re smart maybe they hire a one person operation who makes as much as a lawyer in firm, but has the time to directly handle their problems. To me you’re just cutting out overhead, but I’m not an old bag of bones… So what do I know?