I don’t want to and you can’t make me


As a child, I always hated being told what to do. Even if it was for my own good, as my parents would remind me.

It’s something visceral with me, even today. I don’t like the word should. As in you should do this or you should(n’t) do that.

I want to do what I want to do and I don’t want anyone telling me I shouldn’t.

We hear the words should and shouldn’t a lot, don’t we? Spoken by skunks with evil intent, but also by well-meaning people who care about us.

They might tell us what to do because they know more than we do about the subject. Or think they do. Or because they’ve done it themselves and want to justify (to themselves) having done it.

I’m not a bandwagon kinda guy. How about you?

What if they’re right? They might be. We might be on the wrong side of the issue. We might be doing ourselves a big disservice by refusing to listen.

I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do.

When I was a pup, my dad told me I should go to law school. I didn’t want to go, not because I had any material objections, but because he told me I should. I had other ideas, other plans, and didn’t want to be told what to do.

Of course I went, but it was my decision, made after exploring my other options and finding them wanting.

Okay, I’m a rogue. Stubborn as hell. Maybe a bit crazy. And I don’t understand why so many people buy what others are selling.

But I’m not going to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do.

Okay, that’s not true. I also have a big mouth and often tell people what they clearly don’t know or correct them when they’re clearly wrong.

Especially when someone says I shouldn’t.


Lawyers usually don’t get punched in the face


The other night I watched an old favorite, Hard Times, starring Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Strother Martin, and Jill Ireland. It takes place in Depression-era New Orleans when a stranger comes to town to earn some money with his fists.

There are some great fight scenes in the movie and if you’ve never seen it, or want to see it again, you can rent it on Amazon Prime.

I tried to find some parallels between the world of street-fighting and the world of lawyering, but I had to tap out.

We may have long hours and a lot of stress, we may lose a case or a client from time to time, but no matter how difficult things might get in our world, no matter how much we get “beat up,” we (usually) don’t get punched in the face.

We talk, we write, we argue, and we get paid. Usually, even if we lose.

In the fight world, you either win or you’re a bum. And no matter how good you are, no matter how many fights you win, someone eventually comes along who’s better and you’re back to being a bum.

Lawyers don’t have to be the best. Frankly, we don’t even have to be that good. We can have a nice career even if we’re just average.

How about marketing? Piece of cake. I never once had to deal with gangsters or loan sharks or had my life threatened in order to keep my doors open. How about you?

Nah, we’ve got it good. Let’s raise our glasses to making a fine career choice, shall we?

No matter how bad things get, after our fight, we can dance in the ring, grab the microphone from Mr. Cosell, recite a poem, and tell the world, “I’m still pretty”.


How did you react to finding out you passed the bar exam?


I was willing to wait for the results to come in the mail but my father (attorney) wanted to know if his son had passed and didn’t want to wait.

He drove downtown, to the Daily Journal newspaper office, where the results were posted in a street-level window.

I remember getting his call, telling me the good news. I think he was more excited than I was.

Actually, I felt relief more than excitement. Relieved that all my hard work had paid off, relieved that I didn’t have to study for it again or take it again. Relieved that I could move on to the next phase in my career.

With such a low pass rate in California, it was a big deal and I’ll never forget how it felt.

The other day, I saw a video of a young man in front of his laptop, logging in to get his results. His mother stood behind him, hands on his shoulders, looking at the screen, waiting for the results to be displayed.

As you can see, mother and son have different reactions to the news.

We all handle important news differently. How did you react when you got your results?


I’m okay, you’re okay


Remember that girl in school who sat in the front row, took copious notes (with excellent penmanship), and raised her hand so often the teacher stopped calling on her?

She always turned in her homework on time. And she always got an A.

I hated that girl.

If you were that girl, sorry, I didn’t really hate you. I was jealous of you. You were so organized. You made everything look easy. You made the rest of us goof balls look bad.

You followed the rules and never got in trouble. I didn’t like following rules and looked for loopholes. You behaved. I made jokes in class and threw spit balls at the teacher in the lunchroom.

You got awards. I got sent to the Principal’s office.

I thought you were a goody two-shoes. You thought I was a loser.

We were both given the same set of rules. You followed all of them, I followed some of them. You worked hard. I looked for shortcuts. You behaved. I acted out.

And yet. . . we both turned out okay.

We both became lawyers. Had successful careers. Made a contribution. We just took slightly different roads to get here.

You followed GPS. I winged it. You got here on time. I got lost a couple of times (I’ll never admit it–I’m a guy), but here I am.

Let’s drink a toast to the past and celebrate our differences. And give thanks that school’s out for summer. Oh, right, you’re taking summer school. Figures.


A lawyer who’s having fun with his marketing


A “real” lawyer has a youtube channel where he “reacts” to trials on TV shows and movies, like My Cousin Vinnie, The Rainmaker, and Star Trek TNG (where Picard defends Data’s humanity). He shares his take on the accuracy of these fictional trials.

Today, he released a video titled Real Lawyer Reacts to Lawyer Jokes.

I haven’t watched any of these videos yet but his nearly 500,000 subscriber-count tells me all I need to know.

He’s doing something right.

And, by the look of his laughing face on the thumbnail of his lawyer joke video, I’m thinking he’s also having fun making these.

Yes, marketing can be fun. Even for lawyers.

Marketing doesn’t need to be something you hate doing. You don’t have to be as serious as a heart attack all the time.

Years ago, when I first launched my website, I had a page with a collection of humorous things said in courtrooms, taken from trial transcripts.

For example:

Lawyer to witness: “All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
Witness: “Oral”.


Q: How old is your son–the one living with you?
A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.

Q: How long has he lived with you?
A: Forty-five years.

One of my favorites:

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.

Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.

Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.

Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.

Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

Anyway, you don’t need to share jokes or make videos, but you should find ways to have some fun with your marketing. I do it; you should, too.

By the way, did you know there really is only ONE lawyer joke? All the rest are true stories.

Okay, I’ll work on it.

Are you ready to take a quantum leap in your practice?


Are lawyers pessimists?


Elbert Hubbard said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”

That sounds good but I think it depends on what you do for a living.

I’ll explain.

I woke up today thinking, Why is it that engineers often make good entrepreneurs and lawyers often don’t?

Both groups are smart, analytical, and precise. We both work hard and put in our dues.

So, what’s the difference?

I’m going to take a guess and say it is that engineers focus on finding ways to make things work, while lawyers focus on finding things that can go wrong.

Engineers are optimists. Lawyers are pessimists.

Engineers believe that there is a solution and keep working until they find it. Lawyers solve one problem and expect to find more.

Engineers expect to fail many times before finding the solution. Lawyers are built differently. We avoid risk because we want to avoid failure.

Engineers succeed by making lots of mistakes. Lawyers succeed by finding lots of ways to avoid mistakes.

I’m probably wrong about this. Or am I just being pessimistic?

Marketing online for attorneys


No jail can hold our clients


I saw an article today about why folks may want to create a family motto, something that fosters unity and inspires the kids. Of course, I immediately thought about how this could apply to a law firm.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two mottos for law firms, both DUI defense lawyers who have done a lot of advertising: “No Cuffs” and “Friends don’t let friends plead guilty.”

So, how about your firm?

Hmmm, for a family law firm: “When you can’t take it anymore, call us”. Hey, not bad.

How about immigration: “They’re here. We can help them stay.” I think that might actually work.

Landlord/tenant (evictions): “30 days means 30 days.” I like it.

I’m on a roll.

Insurance defense: “Our JDs can increase your ROI”.

PI: “Insurance companies hate us.”

Anyway, even if you don’t advertise, give some thought to creating a motto or slogan for your firm. It can help you conceptualize a key benefit you want to convey to prospective clients.

Or, create one for internal use only. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

I’ll start.

Litigation: “Will sue for food.”

Start ups: “Legal obstetricians: We help you give birth to your great idea”

IP: “We help you ‘Ink and Grow Rich'”

Okay, that’s enough from me. Your turn.


How much is my case worth?


I watch a lot of Evernote videos. Even when you know as much as (I think) I know, you can always learn something new.

In one video, a young woman starts out by telling her Evernote story–how she got started in 2013, how she has “so many” notes and how “it takes a lot of effort to keep everything organized”.

I’m closing in on 11,000 notes. I’m always interested in what others do to organize their notes.

Anyway, about midway through the video, the woman says that she has around 240 notes.

For her, that’s “so many”. That’s “a lot to keep organized”.

I got to thinking. I do that sometimes. I thought about how one person’s “so many” is another person’s “so what?”

I thought about how when we’re speaking to a client or witness and they tell us they’re in a lot of pain or they missed a lot of time from work or someone owes them a lot of money, we don’t write down “a lot” on our legal pads, do we?

We ask questions.

We are in the clarity and precision business. We assume nothing, ask lots of questions, and nail things down. Then, just to make sure, we go back and ask the same questions again.

A lot of people think we’re a big pain in the ass.

It’s ironic. Attorneys value clarity and precision and yet are often unclear and imprecise in their marketing and in answering a client’s questions, such as when the work will be done or how much their case is worth.

Because we don’t want to be pinned down.

Hey, we may be a pain in the ass but we’re not stupid.

How to get “a lot” of referrals


Yoda was wrong


I heard that the face of Star War’s Yoda character was loosely based on the visage of Albert Einstein. I don’t know if that’s true but I’ve seen photos and there is a resemblance. 

Anyway, like his face-sake, Yoda is a smart guy who said a lot of wise things. But there’s one thing Yoda got wrong. 

“Do or do not,” Yoda said. “There is no try.” 

Nice try, Yoda, but no cigar. (See what I did there?)

Of course, there is “try”. Without trying, there can be no doing. 

You can’t find an idea that works without trying out ideas that don’t. You can’t find a date or a mate if you never play the field. 

In fact, the power is in the trying. Doing is nice but often anticlimactic. And not doing doesn’t deserve its bad rep. Not doing, i.e.,  trying and failing, is how we learn and get good enough to do. 

Didn’t Joseph Campbell, whose work inspired Lucas to create the  Star Wars story, write about the value of The Journey? He didn’t rhapsodize about the value of The Destination.

And didn’t Luke fail a lot before he was finally victorious?

How ’bout them apples, Yoda?

Okay, I’ll probably hear from a Star Wars scholar who will set me straight. Tell me why I should kiss my sister or something.

Until then, I’m going to try to do some more writing. 


If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right


Dale Carnegie said,”People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they’re doing”. Was he right? Can you be successful doing work you hate? Or work that bores you to tears?

In the short term, sure. We’ve all done it. But in the long term, if you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never accomplish as much as you could.

But here’s the thing. You don’t have to enjoy every part of it.

When I was practicing, I loved helping my clients–watching them smile when I told them the great result I’d obtained for them, hearing them say thank you, getting cards and gifts, and having them refer lots of friends and family.

That was fun.

I also had fun going to the bank and making deposits. That never gets old.

Everything else? Being papered to death by deep pocket defense firms, Los Angeles traffic, calendar calls, the lack of conviviality with some of my opposition, the bar’s arrogance and heavy hand, clients who tried to micromanage their case?

Not so much.

But, on balance, it was fun. Until it no longer was. That’s when I started looking for my next adventure.

How about you? Are you having fun? If not, what needs to change?

More money? Shorter hours? A better crop of clients?

A partner? No partner? More employees? No employees?

A shorter commute? Less trial work? Less paperwork?


Whatever it is, you can have it. I promise. Figure out what you need and go get it. Because no matter how well you’re doing right now, you’ll do better and be happier when you’re having fun.

Referrals are fun!