March 27, 2012
Barn + Hay + Match = DISASTER
March is well on its way to being written up as a decidedly odd month; strangely dry, unusually warm, and replete with eccentric client requests – law school really does not prepare one for the question: “where can I get a good medical kit for disasters?” Now, from a client’s viewpoint, I suppose that a lawyer’s stock in trade does center around disasters – after all, when the average client walks through the door looking to hire a lawyer something in their life has really blown up in a big way – though I am not sure that there is a 1 to 1 mapping between being able to resolve disasters of a legal kind and being able to handle disasters mother nature throws our way.
Now, my search for a good medical kit lead me through the highways and byways of the internet and along the way, serendipity re-acquainted me with Don Lancaster (or at least a Don Lancaster inspired “nickel generator”). For those of you unfamiliar with the geek world’s paleolithic era (the 1970′s), Don Lancaster was an advocate for the concept of micro-scale businesses (at that time the tech world’s solo practitioner) arguing that it was only this type of business that was agile enough to recognize and react to the coming (remember, this is the 70′s) paradigm shifts. (more…)
March 20, 2012
It’s in the homes of spiteful old widows that one finds such cleanliness. — Fyodor Dostoevsky
From a photo by Roma Flowers & used by permission
I cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be confused with a clean-freak. My private office is kept in a state of carefully managed chaos, occasionally disrupted by a biannual reorganization of the piles, the odd vacuuming, or an irregular exposure to a dust cloth, isolated from the ravages of the cleaning crew that patrols the public spaces of my office keeping them to the impeccable standards of the attorney I share space with.
Even the physical manifestations of my digital world embody this laissez-faire approach to neatness – cables run freely along baseboards, bursting from their cable ties to add a bit of kinetic color to the drab, industrial black demarcation of the boundary between wall and floor. Printers, routers, disks and CPUs are scattered between bookshelves, desktops, and tabletops; often sitting check by jowl with books, orchids, and the occasional stuffed frog – location being determined more by the availability of an electrical outlet than any cohesive plan – it’s feng shui colliding with Thomas Edison.
But cross the digital divide, and it is a far different story. My digital desktop is a stark expanse of lovely, precise (almost compulsive) order. A few files (my most immediate matters) sit with military precision along the periphery of my monitor, leaving vast expanses of uncluttered pixels to be managed by virtual desktops – one to a file, each corralling the applications needed for that matter. (more…)
March 5, 2012
I hope you don’t mind the informality, Mr. Flanders seems a bit stiff for this blog (it’s more Carharts & Red Wings than Brook’s Brothers & Edmund Allens around here). First, thanks for the comment to Beyond Our Field of View; I am always flattered to know that someone other than spammers peruse my miscellaneous ramblings on rural law and rural lawyering. Now, to address some of your questions.
I don’t have a good definition of what or, more precisely, who a rural lawyer is. The prototypical rural lawyer lives and practices in a small town, yet some live in small towns but have offices in larger cities, and some live in larger cities and practice in small towns. By the way, “large” and “small” are relative terms depending on the area of the country you live in (what’s “large” out here on the prairie would look pretty “small” were it plopped down by Los Angeles – my guess is that there are more people in one block of downtown LA than there are in the small town I live in). If you are serving small town clients, you are a rural lawyer in my book.
There is nothing wrong with having both city clients and country clients. Donald Landon in Law Careers and Community Context: A Comparison of Rural and Urban Experience noted that to meet the entrepreneurial imperative of building a practice while still making a living, it was not unusual for rural lawyers to arrange their practice so that they drew clients from small towns as well as metropolitan areas – this is what practicing at suburbia’s edge is all about. No matter what, if you are starting a law practice, you are starting a business and you have to think first in terms of being an entrepreneur – unless you are blessed with a remarkably large personal fortune and practicing law just happens to be your way to do that “charity thing”, the point of this exercise is to make money, so take on city clients, country clients, or clients from other worlds (just be sure to get that retainer up front). (more…)
March 1, 2012
In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. — Peter McWilliams
In his March 14th, 2011 article in Forbes, Glenn Liopis talks about the concept of earning serendipity – that by actively seeking out unexpected good fortune it becomes easier to reach out and seize that life changing opportunity. Mr. Liopis points out that in a country of boundless possibilities, we have become myopic; unable to see the opportunities available simply because we are unwilling to pull our focus away from our narrow definition of a successful career path.
While Mr. Liopis writes in general terms about this shift in mindset, I was reminded of the opportunities that lie out there in the dark of the night sky - those opportunities that await the lawyers willing to broaden their field of view and look towards small towns and small firms for that great career opportunity.
Now, I will be the first to admit that rural living and a rural practice are not for everyone – this is not a “go rural young lawyer” call to action. But, perhaps, as you lift your eyes from the metropolitan law firm partner track and gaze out toward those small quiet places that interrupt the space between real cities you will discover that there are other opportunities, unexpected opportunities waiting.