Author Topic: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?  (Read 18080 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #50 on: March 07, 2018, 09:18:13 AM »
RSM -

Look at litigation systematically and then systematically organize your ability to take action. For example, I've got a form car accident discovery request from other Plaintiff attorneys in my local Plaintiff Association for every insurance company. So, as soon as I file a case, I get that company's discovery and I have my team start getting the answers. Then when I get served discovery from the defense counsel, I answer within 48 hours because I already knew what they were going to ask and had the answers. That get's us closer to trial, shaves at least a month of the eventual resolution of the case and usually sends a strong message to defense counsel that I'm not messing around without having to be aggressive to the opposing attorney in a mean way. We do little things like that all the time systematically as a matter of course.

Anyway, that is an example of what I mean by seeing it systematically. None of this stuff is new. You can anticipate what defense counsel will do and what you are going to do in response. I have found that being "offensive" with my ability to respond to these types of things rather than unorganized, missing deadlines, never filing MSJ's or strategic discovery of my own (due to lack of time caused by poor organization) causes me to work exponentially less to accomplish much more and gives me massive leverage in any settlement negotiations. So, save your Complaints, Answers, Discovery Requests, Discovery Answers, make witness list filing/exhibit document that can be reused, get a private investigator you like to find/locate lost witnesses. Once you've created them, refine them and fine tune them and then use them repeatedly.

Practicing law by attending to each "emergency" problem caused by lack of organization is exhausting and a disservice to clients.

Thanks for this bit of encouragement.  I've been a little down lately because, again, my boss is just always operating on a 911 basis.  Every single thing is last minute chaos due to an extreme lack of organization and/or my boss's complete absence from the firm itself (she's probably been here 7 or 8 days in the 2.5 months I've been here). 

This gets compounded beyond my control because she demands on seeing everything before it goes out, and then nothing goes out because she's here probably 4-6 hours per week. For example, I drafted discovery in a domestic case a week ago, emailed it to her and put it in her bin here at the office, and it's just been sitting in the abyss.  We're not up against any 911 deadline so it's not going to go out anytime soon.  Then it will be a 911 basis when we're right up against the deadline and things will go out with fire and fury and crazy.  I absolutely loathe the modern use of the word literally, but this is how it is for literally everything--draft it, wait weeks for her to review, and then nothing goes out.

That's my venting for now.  This is still a great learning experience because I am starting to use this experience almost as an incubator for my own eventual practice.  I have been putting anything and everything in my Google Docs and saving them as forms.  I've rented a practice manual from the local library and copied forms and checklists into my Google Docs on a variety of matters (estate planning, domestic, personal injury so far).  I'm eventually going to get to all the other areas I think I would eventually want/need for my own practice (civil litigation, criminal work, traffic tickets, workers' compensation).

Also, because part of my pay is based on my own receipts, I am keeping a very close track of my own referral generations, billing, and receipts.  I haven't quite come up with the number yet, but I think when I'm generating around $75,000/year in receipts and have "x" amount of money saved in my bank account (for cushion), I will be comfortable going out on my own.

So this is all a process, and I appreciate all the advice and wisdom from all you more experienced and wiser attorneys. Cheers.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2018, 09:23:17 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2018, 11:36:22 AM »
Sounds like you are making great use of your time.

About the laggard boss, I might start sending reminder emails weekly with lists (numbered lists, of course--we are lawyers) of items that she needs to review.  Nag her that way, and you've got a written account of all the times you tried to get her to act in her (and her clients') best interests.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2018, 11:41:51 AM »
Sounds like you are making great use of your time.

About the laggard boss, I might start sending reminder emails weekly with lists (numbered lists, of course--we are lawyers) of items that she needs to review.  Nag her that way, and you've got a written account of all the times you tried to get her to act in her (and her clients') best interests.

Totally sensed this about a month ago and put this into practice two Fridays ago.  My assistant and I meet in the conference every Friday at noon, I buy her lunch, and we go through every active matter.  I send my boss an email of the status of every active matter and highlight the text of things that need her attention.

You've been great with your advice throughout, so if there's anything else I should be doing, let me know.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #53 on: March 08, 2018, 12:46:50 PM »
Sounds like you are making great use of your time.

About the laggard boss, I might start sending reminder emails weekly with lists (numbered lists, of course--we are lawyers) of items that she needs to review.  Nag her that way, and you've got a written account of all the times you tried to get her to act in her (and her clients') best interests.

Totally sensed this about a month ago and put this into practice two Fridays ago.  My assistant and I meet in the conference every Friday at noon, I buy her lunch, and we go through every active matter.  I send my boss an email of the status of every active matter and highlight the text of things that need her attention.

You've been great with your advice throughout, so if there's anything else I should be doing, let me know.

Oh you.  Flattery will get you everywhere.

I wonder if a single email with lots of text is something she is actually reading (although I love that you highlight the text that needs her attention).  I might suggest asking her to meet with you for status reviews weekly.  Maybe you can get her used to it.  Who knows?  She might even appreciate it.  Or don't even ask.  You could make it a friendly ambush on her next day in the office--plop down in a chair in her office and bring your pad and just start in with your top items and keep going til you've either exhausted her or finished the list.  Then do it again the following week.  Make it a routine.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2018, 03:37:00 PM »
I bet she would appreciate it.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't implement regular meetings with all my team until a year ago. It helps tremendously in getting everyone going in the same direction.

I would suggest that if you can get this other attorney to see that she needs someone with organizational talent to support her entrepreneurial talents and then supply your organizational ability - she might be (should be!) extremely grateful.

If she were not grateful, it wouldn't matter. You would have done all the organizational work and would have the capacity to do it again for someone else or for yourself. Small law firm management has a lot of value.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2018, 03:43:38 PM »
Can you suggest to your boss a regular meeting every Tuesday where you go through your Friday bullet points and agree on next steps?  Tuesday gives her time to go through them, but also gives you time to follow up before your next Friday update.  Pin her down for at least 2-3 hours/week like clockwork.  Would probably help reduce the 911 incidents.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #56 on: March 10, 2018, 06:20:25 AM »
Since this has turned into a journal of sorts, I'll keep ranting here (since I don't like for my wife/parents to get too worried about me)...hopefully some other attorneys find some value in my experience.

Can you suggest to your boss a regular meeting every Tuesday where you go through your Friday bullet points and agree on next steps?  Tuesday gives her time to go through them, but also gives you time to follow up before your next Friday update.  Pin her down for at least 2-3 hours/week like clockwork.  Would probably help reduce the 911 incidents.

When she's at the office, she's there to do what she has in mind, period. I'll bring something up (e.g., we have to file this by 03/16/2018, what do you want me to do), and she'll dismiss it and get back to why she is there. 

Also, her schedule is also incredibly inconsistent.  The odds of her coming in even one day a week--let alone the same day every week to meet to discuss matters--are pretty darn minimal.

I bet she would appreciate it.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't implement regular meetings with all my team until a year ago. It helps tremendously in getting everyone going in the same direction.

I would suggest that if you can get this other attorney to see that she needs someone with organizational talent to support her entrepreneurial talents and then supply your organizational ability - she might be (should be!) extremely grateful.

If she were not grateful, it wouldn't matter. You would have done all the organizational work and would have the capacity to do it again for someone else or for yourself. Small law firm management has a lot of value.

I actually came to learn yesterday that my boss *hates* my weekly update memo, telling her secretary that "it's a waste of a half hour" and she's never going to read it anyway.  I timed myself reading my update email and it took about four minutes.  I find it hard to believe she doesn't have time for that.

What I actually think is going on is that she is worried that I'm basically leaving a paper trail for her neglect towards some files.  I've come to learn of a very valuable workers' comp client that fired her for lack of communication, and I've also learned of two grievances filed within the last three years.

Just yesterday, a client walked into the office super pissed about a bill.  My secretary dealt with it and I could only overhear, but basically, my boss was supposed to file an abandonment of land contract about THREE YEARS AGO, never did, and then years later when the client figured out it never got recorded, my boss stated that she never did because the client never paid.  I reviewed the file and no bill was ever sent out.  No fee agreement was signed.  But regardless, my boss had the secretary create a bill at 2.75 hours at $250 per hour--when I know she only started charging that this year--and sent it to the client, which led them to coming in.  And I'm sitting there thinking...do you WANT a grievance filed?

Another similar incident this week: former client called me, said her husband died, said my boss did a deed with joint rights of survivorship back in 2012, and wanted a copy of the recorded deed to make sure house didn't go through probate.  I pull the file and...the deed was never recorded. No fee agreement signed.  No bill sent out. 


So coming full circle here...I think my boss hates my update email because it leaves a paper trail for all this shit she finds herself in.  But I'm not going to stop, because my first priority is protecting my own license.

/endrant

LeRainDrop

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #57 on: March 10, 2018, 07:43:17 AM »
Since this has turned into a journal of sorts, I'll keep ranting here (since I don't like for my wife/parents to get too worried about me)...hopefully some other attorneys find some value in my experience.

Speaking for myself, yes, I do!

Quote
Can you suggest to your boss a regular meeting every Tuesday where you go through your Friday bullet points and agree on next steps?  Tuesday gives her time to go through them, but also gives you time to follow up before your next Friday update.  Pin her down for at least 2-3 hours/week like clockwork.  Would probably help reduce the 911 incidents.

When she's at the office, she's there to do what she has in mind, period. I'll bring something up (e.g., we have to file this by 03/16/2018, what do you want me to do), and she'll dismiss it and get back to why she is there. 

Also, her schedule is also incredibly inconsistent.  The odds of her coming in even one day a week--let alone the same day every week to meet to discuss matters--are pretty darn minimal.

I think you need to corner her and ASK her how she wants to handle the status updates and questions.  In other words, ask what way she would prefer you handle these communications.  Does she want a weekly in-person meeting, or perhaps a weekly phone call would be better?  You've got to get your answers from her, so put in in her hands to explain how and to commit to getting it done.  I'd keep going with your weekly emails regardless.

Quote
I bet she would appreciate it.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't implement regular meetings with all my team until a year ago. It helps tremendously in getting everyone going in the same direction.

I would suggest that if you can get this other attorney to see that she needs someone with organizational talent to support her entrepreneurial talents and then supply your organizational ability - she might be (should be!) extremely grateful.

If she were not grateful, it wouldn't matter. You would have done all the organizational work and would have the capacity to do it again for someone else or for yourself. Small law firm management has a lot of value.

I actually came to learn yesterday that my boss *hates* my weekly update memo, telling her secretary that "it's a waste of a half hour" and she's never going to read it anyway.  I timed myself reading my update email and it took about four minutes.  I find it hard to believe she doesn't have time for that.

What I actually think is going on is that she is worried that I'm basically leaving a paper trail for her neglect towards some files.  I've come to learn of a very valuable workers' comp client that fired her for lack of communication, and I've also learned of two grievances filed within the last three years.

Just yesterday, a client walked into the office super pissed about a bill.  My secretary dealt with it and I could only overhear, but basically, my boss was supposed to file an abandonment of land contract about THREE YEARS AGO, never did, and then years later when the client figured out it never got recorded, my boss stated that she never did because the client never paid.  I reviewed the file and no bill was ever sent out.  No fee agreement was signed.  But regardless, my boss had the secretary create a bill at 2.75 hours at $250 per hour--when I know she only started charging that this year--and sent it to the client, which led them to coming in.  And I'm sitting there thinking...do you WANT a grievance filed?

Another similar incident this week: former client called me, said her husband died, said my boss did a deed with joint rights of survivorship back in 2012, and wanted a copy of the recorded deed to make sure house didn't go through probate.  I pull the file and...the deed was never recorded. No fee agreement signed.  No bill sent out. 


So coming full circle here...I think my boss hates my update email because it leaves a paper trail for all this shit she finds herself in.  But I'm not going to stop, because my first priority is protecting my own license.

/endrant

Oh, SHIT!

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #58 on: March 10, 2018, 09:56:38 AM »
Oh, man -- that's BAD!

Stating the obvious here, but you are in a really delicate position.  She needs to get this shit cleaned up and manage her practice better (well, let you manage her practice better because she really sucks at it), but it is embarrassing to have this stuff exposed.  It has to be done though or you are going to go down with her sinking ship.  Do deal with this you probably are going to have to be 70% psychologist (to navigate all her issues) and 30% extremely competent lawyer/businessperson (to ensure the bad habits of the past don't negatively impact the reputation of the business - though to be honest much of that damage may already have been done....).

Since she doesn't like the emails, can you at least have a sit-down and let her know this way of dealing with stuff isn't working, for her or for you?  No shame no blame about whatever happened in the past, but now that you are here you want to help her clean things up and get things running more smoothly.  If tracking case flow and making sure things get wrapped up is not her strong suit, you can take that on.   But you need to have a measure of authority that is equal to your level of responsibility.  You can't be having to run things by her all the time -- at least not when her presence in the office is so limited. 

I have every confidence you can clean this practice up and turn it into a smooth, efficient legal machine if she will get out of your way.  The question is how to get her to trust you enough to let you do that.

Maybe ask her for a list of the 2-3 most embarrassing/frustrating cases or issues she has hidden under the rug -- fix those first and then ask for more?  Or if that is too threatening ask for the 2-3 most annoying, mosquito-like ones and fix those and get them out of her hair/off her mind.

The main thing is building the trust and showing her you are there to help, not judge.  She's managed to build a thriving practice in spite of these lapses.  She's clearly good at drumming up business -- perhaps too good.  If you can show her that you have the ability to put the systems into place to actually handle that business, and make a plan for you both to continue to expand the practice as these issues get resolved, maybe you can get over this hump.

Watch your back, though.  The fact that she essentially lied/lies to clients is a huge red flag.

 

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2018, 12:12:05 PM »
Wow.

This is not a great situation.  I think you are handling it well.  Continue with the emails unless she tells you (personally) to stop.  Her comments to the secretary are hearsay and you can't be sure of the tone that she used or even what she said.  But if you trust the secretary, you want to stay vigilant.  Don't get your name and bar number attached to any of her cases.  Also think about how soon you can be ready to start your own solo practice.  Not saying you will need to immediately, but it may happen sooner than you had planned.

I really don't mean to sound paranoid, but vigilance is never a bad idea.  Who knows?  You may settle on a status update with her and she may come around to appreciating it.

I a reminded of a friend who worked as an associate for a senior partner at a large firm who often messed stuff up.  The associate refused to sign any letters or put her name on cases b/c she didn't want the partner's bad actions coming back at her.  The partner had a magical way with clients, though, so he somehow got away with murder (essentially committing malpractice, then getting the client not only to accept what he did but to pay him to fix it!).  And my friend wound up working for him even when he left that big firm--she was with him for over a decade before she went out on her own.  In your case, it doesn't sound like your boss has that magical way with clients.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #60 on: March 12, 2018, 12:27:40 PM »
Since she doesn't like the emails, can you at least have a sit-down and let her know this way of dealing with stuff isn't working, for her or for you?  No shame no blame about whatever happened in the past, but now that you are here you want to help her clean things up and get things running more smoothly.  If tracking case flow and making sure things get wrapped up is not her strong suit, you can take that on.   But you need to have a measure of authority that is equal to your level of responsibility.  You can't be having to run things by her all the time -- at least not when her presence in the office is so limited. 

+1 to this. For some reason, my gut feeling is that this should happen outside of the office. Go out to lunch, breakfast, coffee, the park, whatever. Somewhere quiet where you aren't going to be bothered or overheard and just try to talk through it and convey to her that you sincerely want to help your clients and the practice.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #61 on: March 12, 2018, 12:55:19 PM »
Seriously, thanks for all the feedback.  My mind has been relentlessly running away from me the past couple weeks as I worry about things that might be lying under the rug.  It's gotten to the point that I was thinking about all this so much that I almost ran a red light while driving around Pittsburgh this weekend because I was so distracted thinking about how to handle all these messes.

I do agree that I should meet with my boss out of the office.  I have a trial next week and shortly thereafter I will have been here for about 90 days.  I think that would be a good benchmark to propose going out to lunch to talk things over.  As you guys have correctly identified, the biggest issues are (1) me needing to run things by her when she's barely here, which is completely impractical and grinds everything to a halt; and (2) how she wants me to keep her updated on active matters so, again, we can keep things moving along.  I would hope these are resolvable issues.

The one saving grace I have is this primary goal: I want to resolve all her shit civil litigation files within this year. These are all poorly run and at this point unsalvageable due to deadlines passing, but I think this may go okay if we can get these other issues resolved and get these crap civil litigation files behind me.

As a backup, and as I've previously indicated, I really am gearing up to maybe start my own practice. My plan was to be here for 2-3 years, but that timeline has shortened to about 12-18 months.  I am keeping addresses of all clients, keeping an incredibly organized form folder, and soaking up the estate planning and domestic part of her practice.  I've also made the decision that, absent incredibly important items (i.e., a Monday deposition or upcoming trial), I am no longer going to do billable work on weekends, but will instead focus my time on organization and researching/planning my eventual solo practice.

For what it's worth, I ran all this by my dad, and he's of the opinion that I need to get the hell out of here before my name gets on too many pleadings and files that are going to go down the shitter.  He says the longer I'm here, the more likely I'm inevitably heading towards a grievance.  To quote him, "Practicing law is hard enough, practicing law with a boss like that is impossible."
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 01:08:30 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #62 on: March 12, 2018, 01:13:44 PM »
Seriously, thanks for all the feedback.  My mind has been relentlessly running away from me the past couple weeks as I worry about things that might be lying under the rug.  This forum and all you intelligent folks have been a great outlet.

I do agree that I should meet with my boss out of the office.  I have a trial next week and shortly thereafter I will have been here for about 90 days.  I think that would be a good benchmark to propose going out to lunch to talk things over.  As you guys have correctly identified, the biggest issues are (1) me needing to run things by her when she's barely here, which is completely impractical and grinds everything to a halt; and (2) how she wants me to keep her updated on active matters so, again, we can keep things moving along.  I would hope these are resolvable issues.

Here's my experience with a similar manager, for what it's worth. Not law, but some things transcend industry.

My current gig is also my first job out of (grad) school. I wasn't super young, but got treated like I was anyway.

During onboarding and all of that, my boss was like "I need to be on every single email you send." I was really surprised and a little taken aback. I pretty quickly decided that was never going to happen, but was trying to be careful about not just flouting it. My first couple projects, I was working back and forth with clients over email to figure out what they wanted, like you do. At one point, I sent a client a rough draft of a script I had been working on, and my boss reprimanded me for sending it to the client instead of sending it to my (two) departmental bosses first. Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam. Sometimes she's around, sometimes she's not. Nobody ever knows precisely what she's working on, but she has to be involved in everything.

Now, I'm pretty stubborn and pretty blunt, so there were lots of disagreements over this kind of crap. For years. At one point she put me on probation/PIP.

Eventually, after three or four years of butting heads, things sort of leveled off. She still drives me nuts with the micromanaging sometimes, but she's mostly backed off for my primary project. The rest of my department is not so lucky. We were hoping it would get better after she came back from cancer treatments.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying zebras rarely change their stripes.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #63 on: March 12, 2018, 01:21:36 PM »
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying zebras rarely change their stripes.

Thanks for your reply, and that's exactly what I'm scared of--that no matter how much I try, she won't really change, and I'll find myself significantly at odds with my boss's management style.

And in further support of that, I actually reached out to her former associate and we got beers last Tuesday.  Turns out I am her fourth associate in two years, that one associate was so blown away by how much of a cluster**** this office was that she quit after one month and via a post-it note, and that this is basically how it always was when he was here no matter how many discussions he had with her.  He lasted about six months.

Somebody beer me.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2018, 03:32:53 PM »
OK.

Follow your dad's advice.  Keep your name off everything (at least her micromanaging works in your favor here) and keep your head down until you can figure a path out to your own practice.

What did the other associates move on to?  Any of them start a practice they could use help with?

At least you are getting a crash course in how NOT to run a practice....

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2018, 04:08:46 PM »
Yeah, RSM. Here's the deal - be careful. These types of solo's are a different breed. But, there are some details that you should try and keep in mind and it definitely has to do with the 70% psychologist that was mentioned above.

First, what you described is - without judgement - a bad business person. But, that isn't all that surprising because I've come to realize over the years that most attorneys are bad at business. But, just a simple statement that has lots of consequences.

If this person is bad at business, they must have some strength. You need to identify and observe this other attorney's strengths and weaknesses. At the very least, you'll see her clearly and take all the lessons you can. Some lessons are intentionally good. Some are unintentional based on incorrect actions - but can still be a lesson for you.

Also, start looking around for other attorneys. You should now have a more refined capacity to see who is actually good and who is not. Or, if you don't have that yet, you soon will. The point is, as a young attorney, you might think someone is "good" because you have heard of them or recognize their name for some reason. But, some/many small and medium firms are a collection of attorneys that are bad at business and a result are ticking time bombs (at worst) or slowly decaying institutions that don't do a true service to their clients by providing high quality representation because they lack the business systems to effectively serve. Try to use this experience to be able to see what makes a good firm vs. a bad firm. You can put that to use in creating your own firm or entering a better firm in the future.

For example, could you define what a good small firm looks like and identify one in your community? At some point in your future that will be easy to do. For now, it probably is not.

I guess I have to stop myself. I could talk about small law firm management for a long time. But, don't lose your head dealing with this person. See where you can assist, work with them, keep your integrity at all costs, build your management skills for yourself or a better place in the future, build your legal skills as well (they are distinct qualities).

Oh, one last thing, read the book the "E-Myth" by Michael Gerber. It will give lots of insight into your bosses mind - that even she doesn't have.


TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #66 on: March 13, 2018, 11:50:37 AM »
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying zebras rarely change their stripes.
I actually reached out to her former associate and we got beers last Tuesday.  Turns out I am her fourth associate in two years, that one associate was so blown away by how much of a cluster**** this office was that she quit after one month and via a post-it note, and that this is basically how it always was when he was here no matter how many discussions he had with her.  He lasted about six months.


Fourth associate in two years???? 

Get out.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #67 on: March 13, 2018, 12:56:14 PM »
I'm hesitant about my dad's advice because this is a really small town.  My boss is well respected, and I would never speak ill of a boss in an interview no matter what I thought.  I think it would get around that I was already looking, and that wouldn't be a good look.

---

That said, I'm definitely being as careful as humanly possible:

(1) I do not sign, or have my name on any signature blocks/certificates of service, on any matters in which I am not primarily handling;

(2) I keep crazy accurate billing with very detailed accounts of what I am working on, who I spoke to, etc.;

(3) I am sending her my weekly update email;

(4) I am making checklists on the minor files (estate planning, deed recording) to make sure that everything gets done before the file is closed.

My half glass full part of me says all these systems will be essential when I go out on my own, so I want to test the viability of these checklists, tinker them, etc. while getting paid by somebody else.  If any of you have any more ideas, then let me know.

---

In terms of four associates in two years, I left out an important detail: I am the first associate she's ever hired that wasn't fresh out of school.  I have been practicing for about four years and at least have a grasp of what's going on with these files.  God pity my former self if I got thrown all of this, with no supervision at all, and poor management on top of it, fresh out of law school.  I probably would have quit.

---

I totally agree that this is a learning experience: Despite everything I've posted about, her phone rings off the damn hook.  This is one of the great contradictions I've seen in my professional life, and I need to figure it out.

Also, I'm gaining a TON of experience on her dime because she's never here.  I tried a Civil Protective Order this past Monday.  I'm taking two depositions in an employment intentional tort case this Thursday and Friday.  I have a bench trial in a home construction dispute next Wednesday.  I am finishing up a couple wills after that.  I'm currently litigating three divorce cases.  This is all stuff I would want to know how to do when I was out on my own, and I'm getting paid a salary (and incentives) to figure it all out.

---

I'm really trying to play the somewhat long game here, and again, last about 18 months (15 months to go).  I've posted relentlessly over the past 2-3 years about starting my own practice.  This experience is accellerating that while instilling best practices (and what NOT to do) deep into my subconscious.  That's at least worth something.

To go back to my first point, though, CYA is my top priority, so if any of you guys have any other ideas, let me know.  And if you honestly think the only proper way to CYA is to get out of here, then that's fair, too.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 01:02:18 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #68 on: March 13, 2018, 01:09:55 PM »
It sounds like you have things under control.

Can you talk to the other three former associates to verify that they quit (and were not fired), and find out what other skeletons might be hanging about in the closets you haven't gotten to yet?

It might be better to wait until you have cleaned up more of the past messes before having that talk with her -- really show her the value you are bringing before you start pushing for more formal changes.  She can't be blind to it. 

And while you are cleaning up the past messes, put good structure around the cases that come in from those constant phone calls, and try to handle as many of them yourself as you can.  Again, a way to show the value you bring with a more structured, organized approach to case management.

Hopefully she will quickly see you as more of an asset than a threat, and stop micromanaging so much.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #69 on: March 14, 2018, 01:24:03 PM »
My experience in IT may or may not be relevant to you. I've dealt with both micromanagers and scatterbrained managers who couldn't meet deadlines.

Have you been able to determine why she wants to review everything?  Because it is new to you and she's afraid that you will make mistakes?  Because she has control issues?  Because she's used to straight-out-of-school associates who don't know anything?  Because she's so scatterbrained it doesn't occur to her that you might not be?  Because she's worried about more grievances being filed against her so she feels she has to be involved?  Because other reason....?

For some of these explanations, the key might be time.  Prove that you know what you are doing and she doesn't need to hold your hand, and she may back off.  I generally give my bosses six months to figure out they can trust me.  That means you have another 3 months to go...and in the meantime, can you ask her if you can just highlight a few cases in each type?  I.e., I promise I'll run things by you if I've never done it before, and once you've reviewed 3 of these types of cases, we'll consider that training finished.

For others of these explanations....those are her issues and not yours.  You'll just have to choose which path makes sense to follow given her personality and your deadlines.  If you haven't already, it might be worth asking some of the other employees in the office for advice on how boss works best/what paths might make most sense for you to take. 

I think you are doing the right thing with your weekly emails.  I love to send these.  I break mine into sections depending on what action the boss needs to take. That way there is no scrolling to figure out what is really relevant.
NEEDS REVIEW [highlighted/in red] - with quick bullet points about what I need from the boss.  Includes a date by which I need a response and is sorted by that date.  I totally lie about dates, asking for their feedback a good week or two before I need it because I don't like unnecessary fire drills.
NEW - new stuff I took on
On track - status change on projects that I don't need anything from boss; just an FYI
Closed - things that are now off my plate.

When I was trying to clean up a process-free IT group, I also sent my boss emails detailing the processes I was putting in place and why.

Boss eventually admitted he never read my emails - he was too busy.  I got in the habit of stopping in his office once a week at 5 pm and not moving until we dealt with the stuff he'd been postponing.  He figured this out eventually and as soon as I showed up he'd open his email and sort on my name.  We'd go through each email individually and get through as many as I could before he got bored and/or I wanted to go home.  I know this will be harder for you given her lack of a formal schedule, but stick to your guns when she is there.  When she tells you to go away, politely insist that she set a time when the two of you can discuss the things you need to discuss.

For one boss, I just gave up after a while and stopped waiting for him to reply.  I did my thing, and when he figured it out he'd yell at me and I'd cross my fingers behind my back and apologize and promise never to do it again. Repeat cycle.  After 2 years of this he caught me on a bad day, started yelling, and I snapped at him "Exactly what would you have done differently?"  He sputtered and walked away.  That broke the cycle.

The key is to keep enough boundaries in place that you aren't letting the crazy take over your life (and driving habits).  If it gets to the point that you can't do that, then you have to be very blunt with her.  If you can't come up with a solution as a team, THEN I'd say it's time to run away.

shawndoggy

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #70 on: March 15, 2018, 11:32:03 AM »
As a middle aged lawyer in a small city firm, I'm probably closer to the partners at your old firm than you.  This whole thread reads as a bit of a cautionary tale.  While your salary numbers are much lower than what's market here, I'm sure the cost of living is also lower there so all things being equal, I'm sure that associates making $100K still feel like they are "barely getting by," and some definitely feel that "they aren't paid what they are worth."  But I cannot help but wonder whether this move ... and the apparent/likely/inevitable next step of hanging out a shingle ... will end up really limiting your potential lifetime earnings.  Over the years we've had a few associates that wanted to get paid partner salaries NOW and not wait.  Those who have left the firm have definitely increased take home pay in the short term (albeit at least in part at the expense of a generous benefits package), but have gotten themselves to a point where there really isn't any room for growth.  Those who have stayed have (begrudgingly!) extracted some associate salary concessions and are on track to become, or have in fact become, very successful partners who are making more than their solo counterparts. 

Reading between the lines here, it sounds to me like your biggest asset right now is diligence, and commitment to deliver a high quality work product.  And you've also figured out that lawyers who are sloppy and deliver garbage (like your boss) can still be successful (if the malpractice nightmares don't ruin them/drive them to drink/stress them to an early grave).  Fact is clients don't really know whether you are good or not... they just can't evaluate the quality of their services, especially for consumer level stuff, which it sounds like is mostly what you do.

To be really successful in private practice, I think you need to be competent in three areas:

1. lawyering (and it sounds like you are good here)
2. marketing -- making the phones ring
3. supervising others (leveraging their labor to make more $$$)

It sounds like your current boss is a master of #2 and pretty terrible at everything else.  I'd really work on figuring out what she does to keep the phones ringing.  Sounds like she's not going to be a great resource for learning the law or for learning how to supervise, but maybe you can take some of her marketing mojo with you to the next gig.

As a backup, and as I've previously indicated, I really am gearing up to maybe start my own practice. My plan was to be here for 2-3 years, but that timeline has shortened to about 12-18 months. I am keeping addresses of all clients, keeping an incredibly organized form folder, and soaking up the estate planning and domestic part of her practice.  I've also made the decision that, absent incredibly important items (i.e., a Monday deposition or upcoming trial), I am no longer going to do billable work on weekends, but will instead focus my time on organization and researching/planning my eventual solo practice.

I can't remember whether you are in Ohio or PA, but either way, if your jurisdiction has adopted the uniform trade secrets act, it could be problematic to try to take confidential client contact information with you.  I would not recommend actively soliciting your employer's client list to come with you -- bad idea.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #71 on: March 16, 2018, 10:41:47 AM »
Some great thoughts from Showndoggy.

But, from a totally different perspective, I often wonder about the people who "pay their dues" in established law firms. I've seen multiple friends get the "out" and not the "up" after five or six years of working very hard in a "lock-step partnership track." Others that became "non-equity partners" or seemed be mistreated intentionally so they felt there was no other option but to leave. Or, as appeared might have happened to RSM, they don't become partner because one partner "doesn't like them." They never make the big bucks and they are left without the skills to fend for themselves. Double ouch. That is on the allegedly "safe" path.

Also, I see some attorneys put caps on their earning by associating themselves with other "partners." For example, when I win a big PI case, I don't have to put the money into a firm account to be distributed amongst my "partners" at the end of the year. I get the check for the firm and then distribute the proceeds directly to myself. No "year end" bonus, just a direct reward for winning the case. It happens a lot and the money can be staggering. If a person works 20 years as a good, competent PI attorney they will get a million+ dollar fee. Do you want to share it? Maybe, maybe not.

In one small firm with 13 attorneys that I worked at for four years, I saw some partners give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to underperforming "partners." Count me out on that. But it was a great deal for those receiving the extra money.

I personally believe that anyone who takes the time to develop the array of skills you mentioned (legal, marketing, management) can find themselves in the best possible position with high earnings, full autonomy and great work/life balance. And, although the complete package of those skills don't come naturally to very many (or anyone?) they can be developed if an intentional attitude is taken to learn about each of them. Although some might say my situation is an outlier, I can say from personal experience this is a real possibility.

I think RSM has to adopt a vision that allows him to grow into each of those skills and see this as an opportunity to develop those skills. If he does, he will make all the money he wants and get autonomy to direct his energy and effort.

In my view, RSM's current move significantly advances his efforts to develop the skills he has and, therefore, I think it is a move in the right direction despite all the challenges he faces. So, I can't say you are wrong, but I can say I, for my part, do not see a cautionary tale. Now he has his future in his own hands. That can be scary for many, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

I personally believe that although the legal industry is a minefield of potential ways to end up in various positions that put your future in the hands of others, a successful solo or founder of a firm is a path that can result in a person "having it all." That is a valuable possibility and worth seeking.

PS I totally agree with not taking clients unless they specifically sought you and hired you directly. You don't want to build your practice by poaching other attorney's clients.

shawndoggy

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #72 on: March 16, 2018, 03:42:19 PM »
^^^ I totally agree with most of this stuff. 

Quote
In one small firm with 13 attorneys that I worked at for four years, I saw some partners give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to underperforming "partners." Count me out on that. But it was a great deal for those receiving the extra money.

Someone is always going to be in last place.  Sometimes that someone is the same person year after year, and that's frustrating.  By the same token, it really depends on how you split the overhead, and how (or whether) you value the communal safetynet of a partnership.  Over the years we've been pretty generous to folks who've been knocked down by a medical issue, and I don't regret that at all.  More like I look at paying it forward in case that's ever me.  But we're pretty unique, with an eat whatcha kill comp system.  Cover your OH, keep the rest.  I don't worry about billing, someone does that for me. I don't worry about HR, someone does that for me.  I don't worry about paying the bills, someone does that for me.  So most of the time I can use my work time for actual work, rather than running the business. 


FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #73 on: March 16, 2018, 05:47:13 PM »
^^^ I totally agree with most of this stuff. 

Quote
In one small firm with 13 attorneys that I worked at for four years, I saw some partners give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to underperforming "partners." Count me out on that. But it was a great deal for those receiving the extra money.

Someone is always going to be in last place.  Sometimes that someone is the same person year after year, and that's frustrating.  By the same token, it really depends on how you split the overhead, and how (or whether) you value the communal safetynet of a partnership.  Over the years we've been pretty generous to folks who've been knocked down by a medical issue, and I don't regret that at all.  More like I look at paying it forward in case that's ever me.  But we're pretty unique, with an eat whatcha kill comp system.  Cover your OH, keep the rest.  I don't worry about billing, someone does that for me. I don't worry about HR, someone does that for me.  I don't worry about paying the bills, someone does that for me.  So most of the time I can use my work time for actual work, rather than running the business.

Forgive me for saying it with to fine a point!

My personal experience was a lot of money being distributed to long-term under performers. I was very fortunate to have quick success in building my firm and so I became a little economic engine producing cash for the firm for four years. I paid 10k a month for the final 24 consecutive months to "the Firm" (aka the guy you know down the hall who bought a car with the money I earned him.). When I finally said I thought 10k was a bit much for an office with no staff, the under-performing partners told me I was wrong, I should be paying 20k a month (higher percentage) for all the great mentorship I was receiving as their associate!

Haha. What a hoot that was. I opened my own firm the next week.

So, I do sometimes get a little tunnel vision on the issue of the value of partnerships in small firms. I know going solo isn't for everyone. I do think there are many mutually beneficial relationships that can be made in small/medium law firms where people with various strengths (lawyering, marketing, managing) get together. For example, something like you described that works for you. Usually though to getting the the earning and autonomy one desires in a small/medium firm means having a true blend of talents.

As I said, I have the experience of seeing something...else.

Thanks for correcting my tunnel vision.

Continue on your journal RSM :) Sorry.

shawndoggy

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #74 on: March 17, 2018, 08:07:12 AM »
I paid 10k a month for the final 24 consecutive months to "the Firm" (aka the guy you know down the hall who bought a car with the money I earned him.). When I finally said I thought 10k was a bit much for an office with no staff, the under-performing partners told me I was wrong, I should be paying 20k a month (higher percentage) for all the great mentorship I was receiving as their associate!

I'm sure somewhere in the world $240k a year is reasonable overhead, but that would be very high at my firm (like we'd have had to have had an historically terrible year overhead wise).

This is a fine point too -- again having been on the other end of the associate's pay me more "gun to the head".  It DEFINITELY depends on the individual situation, but it's not uncommon for us to lose money on an associate for several years while they get up to speed... only to have the associate come to us when they finally are profitable and demand a raise. 

That was perceived as borderline offensive by older partners (guys who "paid their dues" themselves and would've never made such a demand in their day), and for those of us in the middle, who see the long term prospects of those associates (and future partners) it's a tightrope... we want to keep them happy but also recover some of the front end investment where we took a loss. 

The approach we (the younger partners) have developed is to offer a minimum salary with a profit share component.... collect $X and get Y%, make it to $X+$50k and get Z% on top of the guaranteed base.  We're only a year in on this new model, but it seems to be working.  (this also sounds a lot like what RSM negotiated at his current gig).

With my three elements of a successful practice I noted above, we often have a hard time getting associates to get point #2 at all (generating their own business).  Once a lawyer has their own book, they have much better control of their own destiny, and really are attractive as a lateral hire too. 

RSM, sorry for the digression, but hopefully it's illustrative of how people who might hire you are thinking, and maybe give you some ideas for the future.  I can say that at my firm we are always looking for motivated entrepreneurial associates and there's probably a firm like ours in your hood if you look hard enough.  My worry for you from your practice description is that you are turning into a jack-of-all-trades but master of none.  Down the road you can usually bill more if you have a specialized skill set (but that of course also means that you have a narrower list of potential clients than "everybody").  Some of the diversification is absolutely necessary as a smaller market lawyer... you aren't going to find a small town lawyer who only does M&A work, for instance.  But cranking out consumer oriented work (basic divorces, basic wills, etc) is a volume/price kinda market, where what you can charge is to some degree going to be governed by what your lowest priced competitors are charging. 

(no knock to people who do volume practices -- I know you can be successful on that side too -- it just sounds like such a monotonous slog to me).

With some specialization you have fewer competitors and thus can hopefully/eventually charge more/make more.  That's why the incubator nature of a firm can be really helpful for lifetime earnings... associates have a safetynet while they develop some specialization and aren't purely focused on dragging dollars in the door to make payroll and eat.  At least this is what we tell our associates ;-) (but it has been true for me too).

FIFoFum

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #75 on: March 17, 2018, 01:08:14 PM »
FWIW - I 100% agree with your dad. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

This path is a clusterfuck of malpractice and grievance risks bouncing back on you and potentially costing you way more than is worth in what is gained for sticking it out for 12-24 months.

You will be ethically and perhaps legally compromised as you uncover the depths of her past malfeasance. Your current work product is already jeopardized by her negligent process.

Beyond that, I agree with the posters who've already pointed out that you're on shaky ground trying to build a client list for the purpose of poaching them for your future practice.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #76 on: March 17, 2018, 09:47:15 PM »
One last thing to Showndoggy (sorry RSM and all other thread readers) - I actually never got paid a salary. I asked for a straight up eat-what-you-kill arrangement on day one out of law school and they agreed because they didn't want to pay a salary. In that kind of a situation, I didn't feel much sympathy when they took up your line of reasoning about being unprofitable at the beginning. I figured (literally "figured" with excel spreadsheets and math) my two years of straight up profitability was way more than enough for any costs in money or time that were incurred during my first two years.

But, alas, the fun had to end. Well, for them. I'm still having fun and I'm more profitable than ever :) And, actually, I did leave on good terms and I know they are having fun on their journeys as well. It was just business.

But I do manage my own associate attorney now. I'll tell you, that is a mind bending change of positions! That is where I say, "Don't hire anyone even remotely like yourself." I was/am a exaggerated entrepreneurial personality. I also began to see the types of people it takes to make a true team to create that "talent blend" I mentioned above.

You hear that RSM? People have different talents. You probably knew that. But, I was slow to really "get" that at a true fundamental level (What? Everyone isn't just like me???! I'm dense sometimes.). So, in case you are as dumb as me, it has now been stated to you clearly - people have different talents. Your boss has to have some talent. I presume you have a talent. The question is whether your talent and her talent are compatible. If so, you'll make each other much better than you could be apart. I guarantee that is what your boss is hoping for and the reason she hired you. If not, then it's time to start looking again. But smarter the next time - for both of you.

A couple good books on recognizing different talents are "Rocket Fuel" or "Multipliers" which could be considered management skill development reads. Google those titles with "book" and you'll find them.


ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #77 on: March 19, 2018, 08:57:08 AM »
As a threshold matter, all of this discussion above is awesome and is 100% welcome.  I love discussing the practice whether it relates to me personally or not.  If I can be used as a case study for other lawyers to examine, have at it. Keep it coming.

My first phone call today was from the judge's bailiff advising that my bench trial Wednesday was continued due to an F1 rape case proceeding to trial.  My schedule is entirely open, thus allowing me almost 90 minutes to type away on a personal finance forum.  This job maybe isn't so bad.

I'm responding to various posts, so quote whatever portion you'd like.

--

I don't want to re-litigate my decision to leave my prior firm, but just wanted to engage Shawn's thoughtful posts and critiques.  First, this move was not just about increasing take-home pay in the short term.  I had some very frank discussions with a mentor at my firm.  Assuming I made partner (big assumption), my five year window was set to look something like $52k, $55k, $70k, $80k, $90k. 

But that $90k was close to my *long-term* ceiling.  My mentor brought in some of the highest receipts in the firm for three years running, and he was making about $95k-$100k a year.  The overhead was out of control at this firm: too much staff, too much office space, too much paying old partners. My mentor told me that, while the partnership formula was complicated, you could expect to take home about 40% of your receipts.  Essentially, the partnership itself DRAMATICALLY affected your take home pay, and the partnership was entirely unable to address that in the 3-4 years I was there.  Sorry, but I'm not interested in a law firm with a 60% overhead.

The inability to properly manage the practice's finances trickled to each individual's practice: the dynamics of the firm made it an environment where you lacked control. And that was my biggest concern: about 95% of my practice was becoming ERISA defense and workers' comp defense.  I could handle doing workers' comp defense and not ERISA, or vice versa, but man, doing both, day in, day out, day in, day out...that's a tough way to make $50k a year.  More importantly, practicing full time in these practice areas aren't really transferable, and I feared feeling naked if I needed to move on if I'd been cornered into these niches for too long.

Ultimately, this decision to move was about the path I saw myself *long-term,* both in terms of practice areas and income.  My goal is to make a decent living with as much autonomy as possible over what I was doing.  I was losing control of that, seemingly in an unstoppable fashion, so I left.

--

I've worded the "taking clients" portion of my posts very poorly.  I will leave here within the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Here's the relevant portion of the Ohio Advisory Opinion on the subject:

Quote
The Board advises that a departing attorney may notify clients of his or her departure from a law firm, identify his or her new location of practice, and indicate a willingness to provide legal services at the new location.  A law firm may notify clients of the departure of a lawyer from the law firm and inform the clients of the law firm’s desire to provide continued representation of the client.  The notification may be made to the clients in person or through an announcement card or letter. Such communication is permitted under DR 2-102(A)(1) and (2) and DR 2-103(A). 

The departing lawyer and the law firm should handle the departure professionally and ethically.  Both the departing lawyer and the law firm should be made aware of the planned departure before any announcement is made to the client. The announcement to the client of the departure may be communicated separately or jointly.  The departing lawyer should not unfairly disparage the law firm to the client.  The law firm should not unfairly disparage the departing lawyer to the client.  The law firm should not withhold the departing lawyer’s whereabouts from the client.  Client files should neither be “raided” by the departing lawyer nor “locked up” by the law firm for this can cause prejudice to the client. Client files should remain with the law firm if that is the client’s choice.  However, if the client chooses the services of the departing attorney, the files should be handed over in a professional and timely manner per the client’s instructions.  Respect for a client’s choice demonstrates to the client and to the public that the lawyer and law firm are truly practicing a profession.

Another advisory opinion indicates that one should only send a departure letter to clients with whom he or she has substantial contacts.  And because my boss is never here, there's quite a bit of these.  My standard for substantial contacts will likely be "Did I handle their entire case?"  If so, those clients are on my "client log," and I will send a departure letter.

--

RSM, sorry for the digression, but hopefully it's illustrative of how people who might hire you are thinking, and maybe give you some ideas for the future.  I can say that at my firm we are always looking for motivated entrepreneurial associates and there's probably a firm like ours in your hood if you look hard enough.  My worry for you from your practice description is that you are turning into a jack-of-all-trades but master of none.  Down the road you can usually bill more if you have a specialized skill set (but that of course also means that you have a narrower list of potential clients than "everybody").  Some of the diversification is absolutely necessary as a smaller market lawyer... you aren't going to find a small town lawyer who only does M&A work, for instance.  But cranking out consumer oriented work (basic divorces, basic wills, etc) is a volume/price kinda market, where what you can charge is to some degree going to be governed by what your lowest priced competitors are charging.

This is certainly valid, and early on in my career, I complained about being just that--a jack of all trades, master of none.  But I've had 4-5 years to scale the landscape, and this consumer type of work is what's in demand in my area.  My geographic area is what they call blighted, but people need wills, they get divorced, they get in car accidents, they get in civil disputes.  Bottom line is that the market almost demands not having a niche practice where I'm from, and the most successful attorneys I know are consumer attorneys.

Also, I *love* the variety the consumer practice brings.  I'm constantly seeking to learn. I'm in the public library every three weeks getting new books.  I swing by the law library every time I'm at the courthouse to get a book on something that I know is coming up.  I have a list of mentors in practice areas who I bounce questions off of on a regular basis.  So this stuff is kind of a harmonization between what I believe the local market demands and what I enjoy doing. 

--

To wrap all this up, my ultimate goal in my career is to have autonomy over what I do.  We're all on here presumably aiming to reach FIRE, but to me, the independence is by far the most appealing of everything.  I'm not saying anything revolutionary here, but you don't need to reach FIRE asset numbers before acting independently.

I don't stuff money in retirement accounts and keep expenses low just to FIRE.  I do it to give me present day leverage.  My wife's income covers all our expenses (and more), and that fact alone gives me a ton of leverage to take risks and do what I think aligns most with my career goals.

This current job is one such decision.  Maybe long term I would have made more by staying.  Maybe not.  But I want autonomy over my career, and despite my gripes about my current practice, I still think it's a step in the right direction towards forging my own path.

And forging my own path involves, as FIREby35 indicates, utilizing my contacts and skill set.  I'm strong with interpersonal communication, diligence, organization, and putting out quality work product.  The things I'm missing are clients and a nose for marketing, and hopefully I can learn that in my current job.

Moving on from here, if I can find a firm that will provide decent autonomy (rather than shove practice areas down my throat), then I may go there.  If I can join another more reputable solo, I may do that.  I may ultimately go out on my own if my receipts demonstrate that my practice is stable and profitable enough to do so.

But ultimately, I want to be in control of what I'm doing, and I'm attempting to plan my career trajectory on that principle more than anything else.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2018, 09:29:45 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

BuffaloStache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #78 on: March 19, 2018, 10:49:01 AM »
Here's my experience with a similar manager, for what it's worth. Not law, but some things transcend industry.

My current gig is also my first job out of (grad) school. I wasn't super young, but got treated like I was anyway.

During onboarding and all of that, my boss was like "I need to be on every single email you send." I was really surprised and a little taken aback. I pretty quickly decided that was never going to happen, but was trying to be careful about not just flouting it. My first couple projects, I was working back and forth with clients over email to figure out what they wanted, like you do. At one point, I sent a client a rough draft of a script I had been working on, and my boss reprimanded me for sending it to the client instead of sending it to my (two) departmental bosses first. Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam. Sometimes she's around, sometimes she's not. Nobody ever knows precisely what she's working on, but she has to be involved in everything.

Now, I'm pretty stubborn and pretty blunt, so there were lots of disagreements over this kind of crap. For years. At one point she put me on probation/PIP.

Eventually, after three or four years of butting heads, things sort of leveled off. She still drives me nuts with the micromanaging sometimes, but she's mostly backed off for my primary project. The rest of my department is not so lucky. We were hoping it would get better after she came back from cancer treatments.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying zebras rarely change their stripes.

Sorry to return to this, but I also wanted to share my (non law) experiences with both a micro-management boss and a non-present boss.

One of my last bosses at my previous job (it's another story, but this boss contributed significantly to me beginning to search for another job) was insane in the micro-management department. similarly, he asked to be CCed on every email, involved in every decision, and even made a "for information only" signatory on all of our outgoing published documents (lots of them). I survived, and even found a way to thrive in this environment through continued outrageous optimism despite the circumstances, but mostly by being sickeningly polite while also having a better knowledge of corporate policies than him. Through his incessant questioning I would often catch him in scenarios that were minor violations of company policy, and then out him to all involved in the most polite way possible and recommend more appropriate path forward. After a few of these instances, he learned to loosen the grip a little bit and make it more bearable.

My current boss is very not-present, and sounds somewhat similar to RSM's boss (albeit in a corporate environment). Despite being verbally told "don't send emails unless there is an emergency", I have continued to send emails as I deem appropriate and to cover myself for the future. Additionally, I word all my emails such that a non-response to the email is acceptance ("I will proceed with this path forward unless you have any issues with this plan" is a go-to). It's been working out well so far, but your mileage may vary on that one.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #79 on: March 19, 2018, 12:25:58 PM »
RSM, I liked what you said about seeking independence and autonomy.  I truly enjoy being a solo in great part because of the autonomy and independence I have.  One of the benefits of being frugal (well, compared to most attorneys--I'm sure many MMMers would not consider me frugal) is that it gives me options even before reaching FIRE.  Since I enjoy my work and find it satisfying, I don't need to rush to FIRE by maximizing my income.

I like what BuffaloStache had to say about drafting emails in such a way that they do not require a response ("I'm going to do xxx on yy date next week unless directed otherwise").

Keep sending your weekly email; keep highlighting important points.  Keep keeping your client contact info on your own database.  As you quoted, as long as you notify the firm of your departure before you notify any clients, as long as you keep it polite, as long as you provide the client with all their options (to stay with the firm, to go with you, or go a third way), and as long as you only notify clients of cases where you had substantial input, you should be fine.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #80 on: March 19, 2018, 01:46:01 PM »
Re:   email notification of intended actions, given the 911 nature of her follow up, I would give a date/time by which feedback is necessary, e.g:

I plan to work on [strategic item A] from [B date] to [C date] so that [documents XYZ] can be submitted by noon on [deadline].   Please provide any feedback by noon on [B date-1] so that I can incorporate it in a timely way.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #81 on: March 21, 2018, 07:30:43 AM »
Thanks for the tips above.  My initial emails were organized by urgency, but my boss likes things organized by practice area.  So I tried doing that, and apparently she never read it.  I like the comments above because it balances the two and will give me some autonomy.

On a side note, and this related to this comment:

FWIW - I 100% agree with your dad. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

This path is a clusterfuck of malpractice and grievance risks bouncing back on you and potentially costing you way more than is worth in what is gained for sticking it out for 12-24 months.

You will be ethically and perhaps legally compromised as you uncover the depths of her past malfeasance. Your current work product is already jeopardized by her negligent process.

I overheard a call this morning from probably the most irate client I've ever heard speak through the phone.  My boss agreed to do a notice of intent to relocate on a domestic matter for $750.  No fee agreement.  I guess the thing ballooned out of control, and I guess my boss just sent a bill for 23 hours at $250/hour.  ($5,000 on top of the $750 quoted).

This caller was so pissed that I overheard her screaming through the phone to my secretary, who is more than 15 feet away and in another room.

My secretary, who has been here for two years, said "this has grievance written all over it."  And so I asked how many grievances there have been, and she said this would be the third in the last two years.

Thank God I had nothing to do with this file.  And ya, I'm back to "let's survive this for 18 months and get out."

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #82 on: March 22, 2018, 12:33:30 PM »
I guess I'll start by apologizing for maybe coming off as dramatic in all these posts.  But I don't vent like this to anyone.  I don't want my family to worry about me, and I don't want to disparage my boss to any other colleagues.  So as I said previously, this thread has become an outlet of sorts, and I really can't express how much I appreciate all your feedback.

We had our three month meeting today, and it was a complete disaster.  This "sitdown" (as she called it) lasted four hours.  I don't want to bore all of you, so here's a summary:

(1) There was not a single word of gratitude for me basically running her law practice for the last three months.  I don't expect a pat on the back for doing my job, but man, I've covered 100% of hearings, handled 100% of incoming calls, handled 100% of new client intakes, etc., and there was no mention of anything.

(2) She went over every single call into the firm from when I started to the present, and wanted to know how each and every one was handled.  We are talking hundreds of calls.  She was supremely upset that I was not keeping track via "client contact logs," which I was not aware existed until about three weeks ago. 

(3) She again expressed how much she hated the email update, and said it did not conform to her preexisting systems. She said she just wants the files in her basket (which I can't emphasize enough how laughable that is...her basket would be eight feet high and she would lose half of it).

(4) She criticized me for not following up on things, when my email updates expressly advised that I had done exactly what she wanted me to do.  These things were in her basket.  They got lost.

(5) She was irate I haven't done things on files that I've never heard of.  There were specifically three files which she had obtained judgments years ago, and she was upset that I wasn't working on the collections.

(6) She substantively disagreed with everything I suggested in two big pieces of litigation when I am the one who did all the research.  At this point I think we are waiving our defenses in these matters.  On one case, I drafted the answer 02/19/2018.  She looked at the answer for the first time yesterday and is upset that this is a 911.

(7) I had no opportunity to communicate any of my concerns because she had to go when she was done.  She's going to be gone for another week and a half.


I could go on and on and on.  I was in her office for four hours. Today has been bad.  Today has been the first time in my adult life where I was sitting in a meeting and actually pictured myself saying, "I'm done," and then walking out.

And I really am almost to that point.  Between the potential ethical violations, poor management, and being unappreciated, none of this is worth it.

By coincidence, my wife brought up my wellbeing last night.  She said I'm acting the way her dad did about 15 years ago when he had to leave his accounting firm and took a 9 month sabbatical from being so mentally exhausted.  She said I'm going to bed later, waking up at night more, acting more distracted at home, not eating as much, eating more unhealthy, etc. She told me she knows it's been worse than I've been telling her, and that she even went so far to say that she wouldn't care if I quit today.

Well, we have about $18k in cash, I can expect to bring a decent amount of clients with me (I have three big pieces of civil litigation that are mine), and she nets enough income ($3,200 monthly) to cover the bills ($2,700). I'm honestly really strongly thinking about leaving within a month.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 12:35:14 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #83 on: March 22, 2018, 01:21:49 PM »
This lady is bananas. Make a thorough plan with your wife’s counsel, and tell her exactly how bad it is.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #84 on: March 22, 2018, 05:43:02 PM »
Strongly recommend you get and read these two books ASAP:

The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton
Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

In my book: 

1)  This meeting today qualifies your boss as a first class asshole.
2)  Tendering your resignation is the Necessary Ending that needs to happen very soon.

I'm really sorry things went this way, RSM, but you sound like a really strong and ethical lawyer and if someone like this can build a practice in your community you most certainly can, too!



Phoenix_Fire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #85 on: March 22, 2018, 05:43:55 PM »
Not a lawyer, but if I were ever on tv I could probably pretend to be one...

If you were to leave right now, today, how long would it take to set up your own practice? What paperwork has to be done? Can you start prepping that now? Get all your paperwork lined up. Create an LLC or whatever needs to be done for a law practice.  Basically , get yourself setup so that you could literally walk out the door and start practicing on your own.  Get someone to setup a website, get your own domain created, with the website in place just waiting for you to hit a button and go live with it.

I think she just told you today that you are going to get the blame for anything that gets missed, even the things you haven’t been told about. And who knows how much more of that there is.

Based on the 4 other lawyers and their short timeframes, your expectations/hopes of making it 18 months are not going to happen. You just told us you don’t vent this way to family, but your wife can tell how badly you are being affected.  Her dad had to take 9 months off to recover. Don’t get to that point yourself. If she told you you could quit today, IT IS BAD!!! 

But guess what, in your short time there you have learned that you can run a law practice effectively, or so it seems.  She might be great at drumming up business, and while that is huge, she can’t keep it running effectively.  Don’t put yourself at risk.

Not sure on the ethics/legalities of it, but would the secretary consider leaving with you? She has to be stressed as well, and should at least be familiar with the clients.  Something to think about.

If you could literally be up and running tomorrow then you might want to consider it, especially with her being out for a week and a half. You could even resign with a note in her basket as she has indicated that is her preferred method of communication.  Yes, it’s a dick thing to do and passive aggressive, but sure fun to think about, right?

If you can’t be up and running tomorrow, start focusing on you and getting your practice up, do the minimum to cover yourself, and get out ASAP.  She does not view you as an asset. In fact, I think you are her scapegoat for anything that goes wrong.

If you somehow stay there 9 months, let alone the 18 you were originally hoping for, you might want to leave law altogether at that point.

Your timeline for going out on your own just got bumped up to now.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #86 on: March 22, 2018, 07:01:27 PM »
That lady is really pissing me off on your behalf!  She should be thanking her lucky stars to have you, except that it exposes her weaknesses, which she is obviously insecure about.  I have to agree with the others.  I would probably give 2-weeks' notice tomorrow.  In the past, I let a bully lady partner mistreat me and try to damage my reputation for around 18 months.  I should have left soon after it started, so I'm obviously not a good example of following through to stand up for myself.  In your case, it's different but somewhat worse in that her actions implicate professional ethics and raise malpractice claims.  I was one who thought you made the right decision to move on from you previous firm, and it still do -- it made a lot of sense.  But the mess of a firm you've ended up in, led by a totally poor manager, is not a good situation.  I would get out ASAP.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 07:03:41 PM by LeRainDrop »

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #87 on: March 22, 2018, 07:44:50 PM »
Hey RSM -

Think of it this way, you now know that raging, incompetent assholes are attorneys as well. When you open your own practice you can now say with confidence that a client is lucky to have you because it could be much, much worse.

This person is showing you something. What is it?

Now, all of that should not confuse the most basic thing that needs to be said: Fuck her. You don't need her. She's the one who will have it all come crashing down around her for the REST OF HER LIFE. She is confined to her own mental hell. Leave her to it and get out.

Fortunately, you have the opportunity to go out on your own and create a firm that provides a valuable service to people who need it for a reasonable fee on your terms. What could be more rewarding than that?

So, leave now. You don't need another dime from her. Take your cases. Work from your kitchen table and use a friend's conference room for meetings. You have friends with conference rooms. I know it.

With the few cases you have, you'll get them caught up quickly. Everything will immediately slow down because you won't be dealing with all the BS. During that time, don't panic. Slow is good. Relax.

Here is where you work "on" your business rather than "in" the business. Think strategically about the needs you have witnessed in your market. Think about good places to be physically located. Where do you start to get to your envisioned end? Read some books about business management. Grow your capacity to solve problems of all types.

Always consider yourself an independant actor who can and does act collaboratively whenever you choose but does not need anyone else.

And definitely, follow your instinct and only work with people who you like or are at least neutral. People like your boss - they just send out negative energy and abuse everyone and everything they come into contact with. There are other people who have the opposite affect and everything in-between.

Think about the power of your words. "Working with [Ridiculous attorney] helped me realize I have the ability to be out on my own." Make sure you don't downgrade the other person but clearly state you are on your own, ready, willing and able to serve anyone in need and anyone you meet can come to you for a free consultation just call the number on your card [then give them a card].

Don't take everything. But, don't be to proud to help someone with a driving under suspension for $500 bucks. You know what I mean? I love to walk my clients into court for small stuff because there is no pressure and they are always grateful for someone to just show them around and where to sit and explain what the hell is going on. It's not rocket science, and that's what I love about it. It's just helping people.

Seriously, you can do this.
 

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #88 on: March 22, 2018, 07:50:39 PM »
@RSM:  first, I am sorry.  Please spend this weekend figuring out what is necessary to go out on your own.  And tomorrow, start calling malpractice insurers.  You can get started with a cellphone and a laptop in your bedroom, but you cannot practice without malpractice insurance, and you really don’t want to leave “your” clients stuck with someone you know will screw them over, so start that ball rolling ASAP.  I bet there are Bar resources available that help lay out the details of the requirements (e.g., IOLTA accounts) so you can get your ducks in a row.

Give yourself a deadline - I suggest two weeks maybe? - and see if you can be ready to go by then.  You have the safety net, this is the time to use it — before she has a chance to throw you under the bus before the ethics board.  Hell, I’d give her two weeks’ notice tomorrow, as you will need a documented plan to make sure she is up to speed on your plans and to work client notifications. 

Oh, wait, she’s on vacation, right?  Perfect!  Spend the relative calm working out the details of your plan and get the ducks in a row, and then greet her on her return with your two weeks’ notice and detailed status memo and transition plan.  Welcome back, honey.  😉

And then go post in the Epic FU Money Stories thread.  😄👍

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #89 on: March 22, 2018, 07:58:56 PM »
Another thing to work on this weekend:  Applying for a HELOC and a couple of credit cards with decent credit limits.  Get these locked down while you are still a salaried employee.  Hopefully you won't need to use them while you get your practice up and running, but it is better to have them in your back pocket just in case.

You may get queries from the cc companies within a few weeks or months.  Just ignore them.  Chase tried to "tempt" us with an offer to upgrade our credit limit if update our current employment status/income.  Really they would just downgrade us since we are both retired but not currently drawing regularly off investments.

FIFoFum

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #90 on: March 22, 2018, 09:22:13 PM »
Oh man, that sucks.

Some great advice and comments here. I agree with Phoenix_Fire that you are being set up to be a scapegoat. I'd move into extreme CYA mode at this point. She seems like she's preparing to fight you on the "not my case/my case" line.

Until you extricate yourself from this mess (hopefully soon!), of course you want to keep sending those email updates. She hates them because they are creating a record of her dropping the ball. Of course, she'd prefer you put things in a basket - with no proof that you did so.

I'm glad your wife is being supportive and hope you figure out a good game plan together.

ETA: I'd d/l and copy my emails at this point, on the off chance she pays attention enough to cut off your email access instantly at the moment she realizes you are planning to bail.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #91 on: March 23, 2018, 06:38:03 AM »
BTW, I forgot to say that your wife sounds like a real gem. Don't forget that a happy marriage between two people who love each other is your biggest asset. This situation is allowing your wife to reveal herself as perceptive, caring and supportive. So, can you be as awesome as her? I bet that you can. Look for a way to show your gratitude for her support sometime in the coming weeks.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #92 on: March 23, 2018, 07:41:59 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement.  I've read all of your responses and private messages three or four times this morning (I will respond to the PMs in due time).

Like any good legal writer, I'll start with my conclusion: I've decided to leave my current job.  This is based on my gut, my wife's concerns about me, my dad's advice, and on all of your very thoughtful advice. I also met with a mentor last night, and long story short, he said it's unfortunate but that I should leave as soon as possible.

The only thing left to determine is the timeline.  I talked about it with my wife last night and we decided on my last day being somewhere between May 11 and May 17.  This is based on the following considerations:

Dealing with My Boss: My boss is out of the office all next week.  I have my own vacation scheduled the following week.  This means I basically won't have to deal with my boss until mid-April, and I will put in my notice in early May.  I then have a one-year anniversary trip beginning May 18, and it will be a lot more blissful knowing I left this mess behind.

Finances: My wife and I are going to temporarily stop contributing to retirement accounts, and this will allow us to save about $3k each month in April and May.  This means we will have $25k in cash when I start.  I know some of you may think there's no difference between $18k and $25k, but we are looking to start a family soon, and I'm not going to have my crazy boss dictate any of that.

Also, my payroll runs two weeks behind, meaning I will still get two paychecks in May.  My wife gets paid three times in June.  This means even without any income from me, we will have a nice surplus in June.

Logistics: I need a few weekends to really focus on my business plan, practice areas, potential office share arrangements, etc.  I want to hit the ground running.

Furthermore, I want to control the message of my departure.  My mentor told me last night that he would send his overflow work to me. Another colleague joined us and he said he would as well, and also offered free space for a year.  I want to have more of these meetings, without disparaging my boss, but just to control the message and see what's out there.

If any of you think this timing is off, then let me know.


At this point, I'm not going to post anything else regarding the shit going on at my current job.  I could feel something was off and this was an amazing place to vent.  But now you guys have nudged me in the final direction, and that's where my head is at moving forward.  Again, I'm sorry if I'm coming off as dramatic, but thanks to all of you for your advice and encouragement. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 08:47:48 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

LeRainDrop

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #93 on: March 23, 2018, 04:29:57 PM »
Again, I'm sorry if I'm coming off as dramatic, but thanks to all of you for your advice and encouragement. 

You're not coming off as dramatic.  You appear very level-headed and are being quite wise in how you plan out your departure and new practice.  I feel like you've grown a lot as an attorney and on the business management side during the time that you've been posting about your legal career in the MMM forum.

shawndoggy

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #94 on: March 23, 2018, 04:33:19 PM »
RSM, it sounds like a solid plan.  In my life, even in turbulent times, things get much easier with a plan to move forward.

Despite current boss's dislike of the update memo, I would continue to do them (or some version of them).  Long and short of it is that you want to be sure to "paper the file" so when the inevitable bar complaints come, you've got plausible deniability.  Additionally, six months or two years from now, or whenever those lurking landmines might explode, you'll have (hopefully) long forgotten the details of these cases.  "Making record" in the moment could have a lot of value in that context too.

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #95 on: March 23, 2018, 06:48:55 PM »
@RSM:  we are rooting for you and look forward to a few years from now when you start talking about your fantastic and lucrative solo career, like Fireby35.  😉

One thought:  make sure you download or print out copies of every single email update you provided her, and make copies of notes you took of any conversation.  You will lose access to your files and email probably as of the minute you give notice, and you want to make sure you have the documentation you need if there is a claim a year or two from now.  Because you know she’s not going to keep it, right?  Or find it if she did! 

Congrats and best of luck!

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #96 on: March 24, 2018, 09:12:55 AM »
Again, I'm sorry if I'm coming off as dramatic, but thanks to all of you for your advice and encouragement. 

You're not coming off as dramatic.  You appear very level-headed and are being quite wise in how you plan out your departure and new practice.  I feel like you've grown a lot as an attorney and on the business management side during the time that you've been posting about your legal career in the MMM forum.

I second this. You are not complaining. You are learning. Growing as an attorney is definitely an evolution who you are at a fundamental level. That requires thinking about new experiences of your own and your clients and attempting to integrate the lessons of those experiences into your most updated version of yourself. Allow yourself to grow by only lightly holding onto your current vision of "how it all is."

That is the process you are feeling play out in yourself.

It's not something to apologize for, it is something to embrace and consciously participate in. Direct the flow of your own evolution into something smarter and better every day. You will be amazed how it all unfolds.

So, what practical problems are you facing right now? Is there anything we can assist in? I, for my part, would love to hear your current ideas for how you are going to tackle this project. I am sure we could all crowd source some solutions. I know I have spent a lot of time researching best available phone solutions (Vonage Business crushes local cable companies for multiple reasons) and printing solutions and advertising methods and what not.

BTW, free office space for a year? That is an amazing opportunity! Are you taking it?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #97 on: March 25, 2018, 09:42:55 AM »
Despite current boss's dislike of the update memo, I would continue to do them (or some version of them).  Long and short of it is that you want to be sure to "paper the file" so when the inevitable bar complaints come, you've got plausible deniability.  Additionally, six months or two years from now, or whenever those lurking landmines might explode, you'll have (hopefully) long forgotten the details of these cases.  "Making record" in the moment could have a lot of value in that context too.

Definitely agree with this.  I might not do a single update email, but will definitely be going out of my way to paper files excessively over the next two months.

So, what practical problems are you facing right now? Is there anything we can assist in? I, for my part, would love to hear your current ideas for how you are going to tackle this project. I am sure we could all crowd source some solutions. I know I have spent a lot of time researching best available phone solutions (Vonage Business crushes local cable companies for multiple reasons) and printing solutions and advertising methods and what not.

BTW, free office space for a year? That is an amazing opportunity! Are you taking it?

Because I have wanted to go solo basically since I graduated, I too have been researching this stuff for quite some time.  My business plan is currently 23 pages and counting, and I have gone so far as to identify the firm credit card that best suits my needs, fax solutions, mentors for each practice area, marketing ideas, potential clients, etc.  The table of contents is as follows:

Executive Summary
Firm Description and Practice Areas
Timeline
Disengaging from Current Firm
Firm Startup and Operations
Firm Technology
Firm Finances
Short-Term Revenue Generation and Goals
Marketing Plan
Client Satisfaction
Networking
Mentors and Referral Sources
Tax Considerations
Civil Litigation
Estate Planning
Family Law
Landlord/Tenant Law
Personal Injury

I'm actually working on this business plan right now and am hoping to have it done within about two weeks.  I may share it with some of you via email when it's close to complete to see your thoughts.

The biggest thing I need to work on is establishing my practice areas.  I absolutely DO NOT want to do "door law" just because I need money.  The things I've indicated above are things I observe as being in demand, but I'd love to hear how you guys established your practice areas.

In terms of space, I don't think I will accept that offer of free space.  As good as it sounds, it's in a completely separate community from where I'm from and I don't think it's a good long term solution.

I actually had lunch with another solo yesterday who I basically idolize--I seriously want to be this guy in 20 years.  Established, well respected, doesn't give a shit what people think, and has fun practicing.  He shares space with five other lawyers in the busiest corridor of my hometown.  He has a small office that a paralegal uses and he said I could probably have it for $300/month for the first six months.  This gives me access to a receptionist, conference room, office supplies, copier, scanner, etc.  It also puts me in close proximity to five lawyers with very established practices.

That solo referred me to his landlord, who is also a lawyer in that building, and we have a telephone conference scheduled for 3:15 this afternoon.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 09:51:57 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

civil4life

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #98 on: March 25, 2018, 12:52:23 PM »
Posting to follow

RSM - I read through your post/journal.  I am not a lawyer, but have found it very interesting.  I hope you will keep us all posted on your transition to your own practice.

I think you have a great plan/schedule for leaving.  If you wanted maybe establishing a memo or fact sheet for open cases you will be leaving to her.  I think everyone has given excellent advice to make the transition and CYA.

Also, sounds like you got some great mentors to help you get on your feet. 

Your wife sounds amazing.  Do not underestimate the impact of stress on your health.  Plus if you family can cover expenses plus on your wife's salary you are in a good place to follow your destiny.


FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #99 on: March 27, 2018, 07:19:35 AM »
Despite current boss's dislike of the update memo, I would continue to do them (or some version of them).  Long and short of it is that you want to be sure to "paper the file" so when the inevitable bar complaints come, you've got plausible deniability.  Additionally, six months or two years from now, or whenever those lurking landmines might explode, you'll have (hopefully) long forgotten the details of these cases.  "Making record" in the moment could have a lot of value in that context too.

Definitely agree with this.  I might not do a single update email, but will definitely be going out of my way to paper files excessively over the next two months.

So, what practical problems are you facing right now? Is there anything we can assist in? I, for my part, would love to hear your current ideas for how you are going to tackle this project. I am sure we could all crowd source some solutions. I know I have spent a lot of time researching best available phone solutions (Vonage Business crushes local cable companies for multiple reasons) and printing solutions and advertising methods and what not.

BTW, free office space for a year? That is an amazing opportunity! Are you taking it?

Because I have wanted to go solo basically since I graduated, I too have been researching this stuff for quite some time.  My business plan is currently 23 pages and counting, and I have gone so far as to identify the firm credit card that best suits my needs, fax solutions, mentors for each practice area, marketing ideas, potential clients, etc.  The table of contents is as follows:

Executive Summary
Firm Description and Practice Areas
Timeline
Disengaging from Current Firm
Firm Startup and Operations
Firm Technology
Firm Finances
Short-Term Revenue Generation and Goals
Marketing Plan
Client Satisfaction
Networking
Mentors and Referral Sources
Tax Considerations
Civil Litigation
Estate Planning
Family Law
Landlord/Tenant Law
Personal Injury

I'm actually working on this business plan right now and am hoping to have it done within about two weeks.  I may share it with some of you via email when it's close to complete to see your thoughts.

The biggest thing I need to work on is establishing my practice areas.  I absolutely DO NOT want to do "door law" just because I need money.  The things I've indicated above are things I observe as being in demand, but I'd love to hear how you guys established your practice areas.

In terms of space, I don't think I will accept that offer of free space.  As good as it sounds, it's in a completely separate community from where I'm from and I don't think it's a good long term solution.

I actually had lunch with another solo yesterday who I basically idolize--I seriously want to be this guy in 20 years.  Established, well respected, doesn't give a shit what people think, and has fun practicing.  He shares space with five other lawyers in the busiest corridor of my hometown.  He has a small office that a paralegal uses and he said I could probably have it for $300/month for the first six months.  This gives me access to a receptionist, conference room, office supplies, copier, scanner, etc.  It also puts me in close proximity to five lawyers with very established practices.

That solo referred me to his landlord, who is also a lawyer in that building, and we have a telephone conference scheduled for 3:15 this afternoon.

I like where your head is at. Keep the rent and overhead as low as possible out of the gate. $300 a month and all the other stuff with a community of more established attorneys around you sounds positive.

Don't get to attached to your business plan! I, for my part, have never created one. I've seen a lot of people write business plans to never actually take the leap. Just know, even with all your planning, you will confront surprise obstacles. You can't think of everything up front. Be ready to be flexible and adjust.

But, having a well-thought out business plan is certainly useful. Good job.