Posted Feb 02, 2009 04:00 am CST
Regarding “Social Promotion,” December: Online social networking has the advantage of being “one-to-many.” When attending a community, business or social event in the brick-and-mortar world, your exposure is likely to be one-to-one or one-to-a-small-group. Whereas online you can post comments, photos, news about yourself, etc., and it goes out to your expanded network in one click (one-to-many). Blogging has an even broader reach and offers good exposure. But it’s up to you to participate and make it meaningful. It’s not a silver bullet.
If you are the type who joins a business-oriented group such as the chamber of commerce and never attends the networking events, or when you do attend you don’t hand out your business card or make connections, then why bother? Ditto for bar association meetings or other industry-focused or charitable events. It’s easy to join, pay dues, make a financial contribution and never show up. It’s just as easy to hang an online profile on a page and never get engaged in the conversation. The result is the same: pretty much nothing. I coach lawyers in business development and see this all the time. It’s work and you have to be interested and interesting.
Here’s my take on it all: LinkedIn is like a business association, such as the chamber of commerce; Legal OnRamp is like a bar association meeting; and Facebook is like an online country club where you can get a little more personal, share pictures of the kids and build social relationships that often cross over to business. Still, if you pay your dues but you don’t play golf or tennis, or use the restaurant, you’re not going to get any of the benefits it has to offer.
Regarding “Down in the Data Mines,” Decembe: As a veteran contract attorney, I can verify that “Anonymous” provided a fairly accurate description of life in the parallel universe I call “temp world.” However, I would like to offer some temp world survival tips.
He stated that he is “lacking motivation, respect and intellectual stimulation.” In simple terms, the motivation for successful career contract attorneys is the paycheck and the freedom from firm politics and billable hours. If that doesn’t do it for you, you should get out. Former firm attorneys forced to resort to contract work in desperation are often blinded to the benefits of their new lifestyle. Career contract attorneys take advantage of their freedom by using those big paychecks to plan trips, build savings accounts, invest in the stock market, buy real estate and pay off debt.
I’ve worked with contractors who included Harvard Law grads and former general counsel and big-firm partners who changed careers and took a contract job to furnish their new retail store, restaurant or office debt-free. I’ve met paralegals with J.D.s who never passed the bar and ultimately wound up with great jobs on the Hill. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. There are crazies in temp world, just like in big firms; however, there are many interesting and gifted contract attorneys. So if firm managers choose to underutilize and marginalize the talented and experienced contract attorneys in their basement and pay them $100K to read client e-mail—take full advantage of their stupidity like the rest of us.
Also, to avoid working in cockroach-infested basements in the future, ask a veteran contract attorney which firms and agencies to avoid. Who knows how long you will be living in temp world, but while you are visiting you might as well make the most of it.
Name withheld by request