Going to Work: A New Law Firm With 161 Years of Experience - NYTimes.com

4 lawyers celebrate Chronological Enrichment with their new civil liberties focused law firm. A New Law Firm With 161 Years of Experience - NYTimes.com:

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Going to work: "No answer" is not enough

Would you leave a final exam answer blank unless time had run out? Probably not. Why, then, might you tell  your supervisor that there was no answer to the problem that he posed in your  most recent assignment?

Despite your best efforts, sometimes there is no easy answer or no answer on point. However, you can’t just say “Sorry, Mr. Partner, there is no answer,” or  “I don’t know” after hours or days of research. Why not? Your boss can’t turn around to the client and say “Sorry, no answer.”   

You have to give your boss something that he can use to tell the client the pros and cons and options inherent in the difficult position that having no clear answer creates. 

At the very least you need to say “These are the options, and here are the benefits and problems of each. Given the facts as you have provided them to me, I would recommend the [first, second, whatever] choice because...”  Clients can’t make decisions based on “I don’t know,” and they fire the lawyers they perceive as unhelpful.

This applies in the public sector, as well. The Attorney General can’t go to the Governor and say “We don’t know, so you’re on your own on this problem.”
Susan Gainen's programs for law students are: Alternative Careers, 2nd Career Law Students, Job Search Skills = Business Development Skills, Professionalism Has Attached, and The Forever Skill: Job Search Outside of OCI. She is a watercolorist, painting geometric abstractions called nanoscapes, and she is artist, wrangler, blogger, and curator for whimsical creatures called small friends. Her creativity workshop is  Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun.

Diss 'Like' - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

I have been fighting against "I'm like, you know," for a quarter of a century. While Ted Gup's Chronicle of Higher Ed post is far more eloquent than I've ever been, I am pleased to note that I have come to a place of peaceful co-existence with the dialect, Teen-Age Mall Rat (TAMR).

Please continue to speak TAMR if it is your clients' first language, however, if you plan to represent them in the legal and business world, Standard English will be required.

Why? Imagine this language in a trial transcript:

"I'm like, Your Honor..."

"Like you know, the Plaintiff was like walking across the crosswalk, and, like the Defendant was like making a right turn and drove his car like right into my client."

Aside from sounding silly, is that language that your client may cheerfully pay for?

Diss 'Like' - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education:

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10 tips for daily painters, job seekers & career changers

7 Hippos Marching begin my 2012 Image-a-day Project

Whether you are a daily painter, a job seeker, career changer or someone trying to write a novel while managing job and career, these 10 tips will help keep you on track. Change "paint" to whatever your project might be and get started!
  1. Paint every day if you can. Sometimes, you can't. Don't fret. If you miss a day or two, don’t abandon your project.
  2. If you can't complete an entire painting in a day, don't fret. Leonardo didn't finish the chapel in one day, either.
  3. If you can't paint every day, think about something that you would like to try. Write it down or you will forget it. Keep the list in a handy place or you will lose it, or, in a fit of super-cleaning, you will send it out with recycling.
  4. When you get back to your studio or your desk, look at the list. Some of the ideas are genius. Some are not. Laugh if you must.
  5. If you have lots of work in progress, hang the pieces up or you will forget them. I have too many mostly-done works on an easel. I need another easel.
  6. If you can't paint every day, sketch something. Pick up your pencil. It is a magic tool, sometimes with a mind of its own. Let it lead you to a new place.
  7. In creative brain-freeze land? Pick up an art book. Go to the library or to your favorite used bookstore, both of which have hundreds of art books waiting for you.  
  8. Need to get out of the house or out of your comfort zone? Go and look at public sculpture. Like it? Don't like it? Either way, a response can get you out of your creativity brain-freeze. 
  9. Go to a museum. Everyone there loves art, and these are your people.Talk to strangers in this safe place. If you don't live near a museum, hundreds have put substantial collections on line. Bert Christensen has posted a helpful list. 
  10. Can't paint because you have no space? Clean a closet. Apply these tests: (a) Do I need to keep this? (b) Do I need to keep this here? (c) I can get rid of it if it was given to me by someone to whom I no longer speak or who will never, ever visit. (d) I can get rid of it if I don't remember how I acquired it and I have never used it.
When one of my colleagues at the LinkedIn Daily Painters and Collectors Network suggested that everyone encourage a Daily Painter, I cheered and made this list which is good for anyone with a project that is just out of reach.

Personal note: I am in my second year of posting an image-a-day to Facebook. A version of this blog post was cross-posted to the nanoscapes and small friends blogs.

Legal Project Management :: Lawyer Marketing Legal Marketing Blog: Another Reason Partners Should Learn About Legal Project Management

Thank you, Tom Kane, for an excellent post. Take one more step:  legal project management is not just for partners. It is one of many best business practices that all lawyers must learn if they expect to function effectively. Whether in the new normal of leaner-and-meaner private practice, or in resource-starved public practice, project management is a key and critical skill.

Legal Project Management :: Lawyer Marketing Legal Marketing Blog: Another Reason Partners Should Learn About Legal Project Management:

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Law Student Professionalism and an Elephant

6 blind men
Several cultures and many disciplines claim the story of six blind men describing an elephant based on the body part each holds, arguing about their observations, and being led by a wise person to a peaceful conclusion of their disagreements.

Is Professionalism an Elephant?
Is an elephant...?

A wall?
A spear?
A snake?
A tree?
A fan?
A rope?

It is all and none of those things.

How is professionalism like an Elephant?
More than a decade ago, when law school alumni and other legal professionals began to ask "Who are these people and why do them seem unprofessional?" career services professionals listened. A large group sat around many tables, and conducted numerous meetings and conference calls as they tried to create guidelines and standards to answer this question: 

What is law student professionalism? Is it...?

Dress? (For your employer, for your day)
Speech? (Too fast, too slow, too loud, too quiet, too informal and "Mall Rat")
Ethics? (What gray areas?)
Deportment and civility? (Will you be boring on U-Tube?)
Work product? (Letter perfect or take the consequences)
Attitude? (Best foot forward)
Emotional intelligence? (Can you define it?)
Working smartly with other generations? (Impeccable behavior at all times)
Maintaining technological competence? (More than with just your phone)
Impeccable electronic persona? (What happens on your blog goes viral and lasts forever)

Every professional needs to consider each of these elements before walking out the door or speaking, writing, texting, faxing, or interacting with others face-to-face or electronically. Why? The consequences to your clients for your errors may side-track your career; the consequences for your reputation and for your license may be beyond your capacity to repair.

Excellent references
Want to learn more? Contact your law school's career office or bar association program committee to arrange a session of Susan Gainen's Professionalism Has Attached program or contact me directly at 651.917.0291 or susan@passthebaton.biz.