George Bernard Shaw said that his “main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably” – I’ve been test driving a Virtual Law Office in the hopes that, like Mr. Shaw, I could, on occasion, dress a bit less respectably (or at the very least wander about the office barefoot) and TotalAttorneys has been good enough to allow me to abuse their product, picking nits, and ask odd questions since mid-June. I’ve come away very impressed.
July 28, 2011
July 21, 2011
We must not be hampered by yesterday’s myths in concentrating on today’s needs — Harold Geneen
There are a number of reasons not to embark on a rural law career – the daily Starbucks run is going to take a good hour (and then there is the wait in the store), your typical small town is not, generally, one of those places of rarefied refinement and culture attractive to the movers and shakers of the business world, so it’s not ideal for a lucrative mergers and acquisitions practice. However, there are a few common misconceptions that should be put to rest.
1. There is not enough work out there
It may not be raining soup, but there is work out there. The rural bar is small (only 20% of practicing lawyers practice in towns with populations of 50,000 or less), aging, and getting smaller as rural lawyers retire. Yet the need for legal services remains constant, so the result is that access to legal services is reduced and small town folks end up having to either travel to find legal representation or do with out. The secret is: people in small towns prefer to spend money locally – create a favorable environment (affordable services, a reputation for competence) and the work will come.
2. I can’t afford to work at a lower rate (more…)
July 11, 2011
As I was driving through God’s Country (at least that’s what the sign on the barn said -generally this appellation is applied to any section of a county where the roads aren’t laid out along a rectangular grid and one can’t see across a section by merely standing on a gopher mound, but a sign makes it official) that small towns and rural law are places where tradition often supersedes practicality. Here I was dressed in the traditional lawyer’s uniform on a day where the heat index was in the triple digits and heading to record levels, on my way to a Sheriff’s sale – an event still held, in this particular county, on the courthouse steps.
So there we gathered – 3 lawyers and 1 deputy, all dressed to the 9s – on the unshaded southern steps of the courthouse for what had to be the fastest Sheriff’s sale in county history; 3 sales, 15 minutes and the deputy even read the complete particulars for each sale – it may have been fast, but the formalities of tradition had been met. While I did not time it, I am sure that new records were also set for the 25 yard stair-dash that followed the conclusion of the sale as all participants headed to the courthouse doors.
Outdoor temperatures had kept the usual small talk in abeyance prior to sale, but now safely ensconced in the air-conditioned courthouse lobby, one could expend the calories necessary for extraneous talking without the risk of spontaneous combustion. These pleasantries are usually limited to an exchange of names, a comment or two on the weather, the state of the crops, or perhaps the success (or lack there of) of whatever major league sports team is currently playing. On this occasion, one of the lawyers and I had one of those “I know we’ve met before, but can’t place where” moments – after running down the usual suspects – bar meeting, bar section meeting, court – and drawing a complete blank, we turned to one of the tried and true subjects – tractors which in turn, as these things do, to hay (this being the time of year for first crop), then to cows and finally to vets which brought us back to the original question – where had we met before. Turns out, we use the same large animal vet and had met at the vet’s shooting range – if your vet decorates his office with a bear trap, a half-dozen rifles, and sundry pieces of reloading equipment, is it any surprise that he has a shooting range. Small world.