I have already been asked the question, “Why did you call this blog “The Greatest American Lawyer?” No, I am not referring to myself (I shun egos and refuse to include my own name in my firm name, as I did back in the mid-1990s when I founded my first firm out of the trunk of my fancy car), but to an ideal. The Greatest American Lawyer is a set of standards which I aspire to, which standards I will share with you as I embark on my new non-solo practice. These ideals fly in the face of what many of us have come to understand as the common methods of legal practice. These standards focus on both the “professional” aspect of what we do without compromising our right to receive value for value delivered.
As I was thinking about the name of this web site, I figured it had to be something inspiring. I knew that it had to be anonymous since (1) I have not told my partners I am quitting yet, and, (2) I am focused on helping and inspiring others to 'jump' into non-solo practice and do not want to make this effort about me. I started thinking of songs which might capture the spirit of this effort. The first verse I thought of for some completely unknown reason (I’m sure I have not heard the song in at least a decade):
Believe it or not,
I'm walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free eee eee.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me.
I immediately knew it was perfect. When I Googled the TV show, the following ‘perfect’ synopsis came up:
The Greatest American Hero TV show was an adventure / comedy series about a Los Angeles high school teacher (Ralph Hinkley) who was given a red flying suit by aliens during a field trip to the desert. An F.B.I. agent convinces him to use the suit to fight crime. Ralph later discovers that the suit also gives him the power to become invisible, to see things from great distances and to see through solid objects. During the first season only, Ralph also sometimes included his students in his crime-stopping adventures.
Aliens you say? Special powers, you laugh?
I have always been convinced that the single 2” x 2” gray spot on the back of my otherwise curly brown head was left there by Aliens when they kidnapped me and drilled into my brain. This mysterious gray spot first appeared during college (of course I don’t recall the kidnapping but then again I was in college so they could have nabbed me when I was drunk). I have always believed that aliens were somehow involved. How else could a gray spot magically appear on one single spot on an otherwise unblemished human head? [Did you notice basketball player Rasheed Wallace also has the same gray spot on the back left of his head (thus further supporting my theory)?]
In any event, I do think that many clients who are victimized by current business/billing models of many law firms could certainly use a non-solo with special powers to protect them. And I know that many talented attorneys, who would otherwise qualify as the ‘Greatest American Lawyer’ within their niche, suffer under the belief that they are stuck in big firm practice.
My message is simple. Take your talents to the street. Become part of the community of non-solo practitioners. Market yourself within your areas of specialization and experience. Help you clients find the ‘best’ resource for issues which you are not comfortable handling on their behalf and then stay involved in that problem in a general counsel capacity. Build relationships with your customers (don’t even think of them as anything else) which will last and generate referrals. Don’t be shy about telling your clients how different you really are and how lucky they are to have found you as their attorney. Help non-solos change the way law is practiced and re-build the reputation and esteem which used to define our profession.
There is no reward without risk. Just ask Ralph Hinkley! Remember when he first flew and went right into a wall. Did that stop him? No, I think not. He got right back up and, come to think of it, continued to encounter navigational difficulties throughout the tenure of the show. But he kept trying. He saved some lives in the process. He championed justice in the end.
Blog-a-thon tag: EFF15