ABA Journal



Lawyer is shocked at nasty response to Craigslist ad, says he was offering a service to law grads

Jan 23, 2013, 01:01 pm CST


Doesn't he know he's supposed to hire the little darlings for $165,000, and not charge them money for instruction? They already have three years of that (which is why they know everything). How dare he not solve all their problems? Who does he think he is?

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 23, 1:28 pm CST

A guy not smart enough to anticipate the reaction to the ad isn't worth shadowing. He doesn't have anything to teach. Twenty years of experience isn't a credential if it consists of twenty years of practicing his mistakes.

By Pushkin on 2013 01 23, 2:05 pm CST

I'm not seeing a problem. Law schools already graduate thousands who have no idea how to examine a witness, introduce evidence, or even act professionally in court. If people want to pay him for his experience, that's between them and him.

By JimB on 2013 01 23, 2:08 pm CST

Those of you not seeing a problem should ask yourselves what your state's bar counsel would think if you began selling access to your clients' confidential information. Because that is what this scheme amounted to. @ B. McLeod, I know you have little better to do since you are the perennial FIRST! on every ABA post, so maybe you could work on that and lose the snark. These kids already paid $160,000 for the privilege of practicing law, they shouldn't have to pay some DUI loser for the privilege of a job.

By isolde on 2013 01 23, 3:01 pm CST

I've told plenty of law grads, and new admitted but unemployed attorney's, to just sit in Court and watch. Go to civil, family, and even criminal trials and see what experienced lawyers actually do. Run to the Clerk's office and read through the pleadings that led to the hearings/trials. Nothing is wrong with asking the lawyers, after Court, why they chose a specific approach (just clarify you're a trainee). Most senior lawyers are happy to spend a few minutes mentoring when they can see a kid actually trying to learn, rather than just expecting to be taught.

By Michael on 2013 01 23, 3:47 pm CST

nothing wrong with what he did but anyone who knows anything about craigslist would never have done it this way. Advertise it in a paper, or at a law school or something but on CL we get too many people trying to jip us with gigs and jobs very similar to that. Of course they destroyed him.

By wolfkin on 2013 01 23, 4:13 pm CST

@5 I like your suggestion. The great thing is that they will get to see both good and bad examples and most of the time it will be quite clear which is which.

By StephenB on 2013 01 23, 4:21 pm CST

Why buy the cow when you can get milk for free? Anyone -- law grad or not -- can sit in courtrooms and observe lawyers.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 23, 5:02 pm CST

W/ regards to the suggestion to sit and watch in court, that was suggested to me by a professor while I was in law school and I took him up on his suggestion. As a student, I spent 3 of my semesters going once a week to the courthouse to observe proceedings. I alternated between watching trials, hearings, appellate court proceedings (in front of the State Supreme Court), shadowing a judge to get exposure to pre-trial negotiations, watching a mediation (I got special permission to sit in for that.), etc. I probably observed over 100 of a variety of proceedings by the time I graduated. I brought books based on the proceeding I would be watching for that day so that I could look up stuff that I didn't understand. I was very dilligent with this and treated it like a class - in fact, I suggested to my law school that perhaps they develop a class similar to what I was doing as it was very informative, but of course, they ignored my suggestion.

I took notes of things I didn't understand during the proceedings and would politely ask the lawyers involved questions afterwards, even asking about a specific technique they used. (Ie: "I noticed that you started to bring up the fact of x, y, z, in your closing arguments but then chose not to - what made you choose not to?") In this way, I learned a lot about productive techniques. All the lawyers I talked to were always very gracious with sharing info. with me and some introduced me to other lawyers and other proceedings to watch. Some even asked me to crtitique their proceedings in order to help them know what should be hit hard in closing arguments. If I didn't find the answer to questions I asked in my law books or from the attorneys, I would try to research the answer on the Internet and if that didn't produce an answer then I would save the question to ask a professor.

Having said all that, if I had it to do all over again, I definitiely would not have spent so much time learning legal procedure, as 3 years after graduating, I no longer work in the legal field. (I couldn't find paid work after interning unpaid for far too long) and I eventually had to leave the legal field to get paid work. My time in law school would have been better spent focusing on developing non-legal skills and interning for non-legal organizations (instead of legal ones), so that it would have been easier to get a non-legal job upon graduation. Given the current reality that so few grads are going to actually be working in the legal field after graduating, their time is better spent broadening their skills and their horizons so that employers don't see them as being too narrowly focused on the law - a negative in the non-legal field. The bottom line is, while this technique definitely helped me learn more about being a lawyer, it certainly didn't help me get employed and my time would have been better spent learning non-legal skills, which, in this climate, will go farther in getting one a job.

By Observing in Court on 2013 01 23, 6:43 pm CST

I cannot quite put my finger on it, but something about the proposed arrangement does not seem right. I suspect that someone placing such an ad might not be worth "shadowing."

By Barry on 2013 01 23, 7:26 pm CST

The problem is that all states have adopted the part of the Model Professional Rules of Conduct which forbids lawyers from entering into a "covenant not to compete" which makes it difficult to find a internship because an experienced lawyer would rather hire and train a paralegal because a paralegal can't leave after the training and open a competing law firm next door. Dentists are able to find training after graduation because they are able to enter into a covenant not to compete with a experience dentist which says if they quit then they cannot start their own practice in the same geographical region within a specified reasonable duration of time.

By ProhibitionCausesViolence on 2013 01 23, 8:36 pm CST

@ 11

That's actually a really good point. It's true that we are one of the only professions has does not have non-competes in our contracts. I imagine that a lot of experience-hungry law grads would be willing to give their clients back to the firm after 1 or 2 years in exchange for valuable training.

By Jim from Ohio on 2013 01 23, 11:50 pm CST

Actually, a sharp paralegal could latch onto one of the unemployed mooncalves and set up their own shop with the mooncalf acting as the "lawyer" for the office.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 24, 12:46 am CST

My reaction to this was that I have always considered the job of mentoring younger attorneys to be part of the professional requirements of holding my bar ticket. Taking on unpaid interns is one way to do this, and actively mentoring one or two younger attorneys along the way is another. Never considered charging them for the pleasure. Doesn't feel right.

By Christopher T. Anderson on 2013 01 24, 1:44 pm CST

@5 - thanks, though I thought it was common sense. It's common in local courts for bailiff's to ask who people are with. It's not uncommon for the law students and lawyers I know who are observing to get an invite after break to talk to a judge: I've never heard of one unhappy with young lawyers trying to figure out how the system works.

@9 - Why didn't you take the volunteer work you did and build on it to make a small practice? I don't know how much you are being paid but it shouldn't be hard to build a small family law practice. Your clients may be broke but they're often not destitute. Even if they could pay only a couple hundred dollars a month, and you signed up 10-20 clients like that, you'd have had some income. If you did well you'd earn a reputation for client referrals from their wealthier relatives (one thing I've learned is they all have wealthier friends or relatives) to build your practice, and you'd also be in front of other lawyers with more established lawyers who might like what they see and hire you as an Associate.

By Michael on 2013 01 24, 2:10 pm CST

"What, people aren't fans of indentured servitude anymore? When did that change occur?"

By NoleLaw on 2013 01 24, 3:28 pm CST


#9 here. I don't really have the funds to open my own business and my law school loans prevent me from being eligible to get loans to open a business. (I already tried that and was denied.) I think it's important when starting a business to have some sort of funds to fall back onto the first few years when business is tight (I had been advised my numerous small business owners that this is ESSENTIAL), as well as to have something for advertising. I had neither. After considering the finances and the lack of demand for legal services (thus the reason why there are so few jobs available) I felt it would be better financially for me to move into another field where there was more of a chance of making a living. I have to pay off those loans I incurred, and it seemed I would be more able to by doing something else.

I know that frequently it is brought up that having a law license allows you to hang up your own shingle. Being able to do something, however, doesn't always mean it is the brightest idea and an analysis of the costs involved in opening my own law firm in comparision to the actual demand for services led me to believe that I would be more prosperous in another field. I also was hesitant because I really don't think that fresh grads out of law school really know enough to go out on their own - I had been advised by numerous attorneys that you really aren't prepared to do such a thing until you have been practicing for at least 5 years and I have no reason to doubt their assessments.

I don't regret my decision - just wish I hadn't wasted so much time studying the law when there really isn't a demand for it that justifies the cost incurred to get a law degree today.

By Observing in Court on 2013 01 24, 10:19 pm CST

Based on the comments, above, this is clearly a divisive issue. As a meager 1L at the bottom of the professional food chain who is desperate for some experience, wisdom, teaching, training, you name it, I wouldn't pay for this guy's services. My reasoning would change depending on this attorney's motive for charging a fee for job shadowing. If he's a lawyer barely making it by and is looking to "fill in the [financial] gaps" by charging debt-ridden law students, then I don't have a problem with him enticing a desperate law student. But for an attorney doing just fine, I would oppose only on moral grounds. But, for a more broader discussion about career mentoring and job shadowing, I have personally been the beneficiary of a lot of kind attorneys who allowed me to job shadow them at work, free of charge. I plan on doing the same in 20-30 years.

By Boyd Johnson on 2013 01 25, 8:50 am CST

@isolde, wait B.McLeod doesn't work for ABA journal? That's too funny I thought he was writing half the articles and responding to comments, hilarious I can't stop laughing
thank you isolde

By cjmari on 2013 01 25, 9:13 am CST


Read Michael's comment @5- free, solid advice.

Also, I'd be careful with being so accepting of a "lawyer barely making it" and filling "in the gaps" by charging debt-ridden law students. There are multiple things about the entire scheme that frankly make me sick. A truly accomplished attorney, one that young and future lawyers can learn something of value, typically takes pride in the trade and wants to foster the same in us. The legal community is remarkably helpful when a student shows the slightest interest.

Something to chew on despite the moral implications: an attorney that is struggling to get by, coupled with the fact that he would be willing to charge already enormously indebted students for his "time" is most likely struggling for a reason. Why would you ever even consider paying someone to teach you the skills necessary to be unsuccessful?

By 2L on 2013 01 25, 10:14 am CST

For those of you discussing noncompetes in the legal field, in the northeast at least it is virtually impossible to enforce a noncompete against an attorney.

By VT Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 10:43 am CST

It takes a long time to get up to speed after graduating from law school. Most law schools do not even prepare students adequately for taking the bar exam and if not for Barbri or other prep courses most would fail. If I had the opportunity to work with a lawyer in my field for a fee, in would have jumped on the opportunity. Also I am not sure why there is no much negativity about the service he was offering. The fact he is offering it does not mean he is not competent in his field. Additionally I see no ethical breach. One other thing that my experience has taught me (12 years +) is that lawyers do not want to share information. Even when you join these various specialty organizations and you post a question most with respond to questions like this: "read the regulations". They make you reinvent the wheel as opposed to just telling you how to solve the problem easily based on their experience with similar situations.

By Vince on 2013 01 25, 10:59 am CST

I don't see this as a scheme or unethical at all. It's simply someone (who has experience to "show") taking advantage of the market. Very few people reading this can honestly say that money was not a part of the equation when deciding to go to law school. So how is this so wrong? Who said that pro-bono intentions are required of any lawyer who decides he's going to give distinct personal treatment to a potential protege? It's a question of will someone bite or find it 'worth it.' If they do, great, good for them - it's their money, time, and business.

Here's another way of looking at it: Someone could come into his office prior and ask to shadow him or intern, but he'll respond, "I don't have the money to pay you, and even if I did, I'm not looking to give up a lot of this important work to someone with your level of would be too much effort and time to review, fix, go over, etc..sorry" And the response: "Well then I'd pay you to let me work for you."
The situation just took care of itself. That's all this ad is. Whatever his intentions, it's obvious he doesn't need (or can afford) any help. He's just wondering if others on the outside need his help enough to make it worth his while.

Most of us realize this is foolish and like many of the comments on the board, know that anyone can walk into a courtroom in just about any jurisdiction and observe proceedings. Hit up an attorney who just made an argument, motion, etc...ask him/her why or how, etc. It's all there. And most of them will be flattered you took the time to ask and were interested. We're all a bunch of blowhards anyway.

There really is little reason to debate. This guy put out an offer, not unconscionable at all, just a little different. And no one even knows what his monthly 'fee' is. I paid for an entire semester of trial advocacy, to argue a fake trial in front of a federal judge. Why didn't he just teach the class for free?

By Toolow on 2013 01 25, 11:44 am CST

And the subject of the article, attorney Beck, has joined the discussion himself using the name "Vince".

By Observer on 2013 01 25, 11:52 am CST

Toolow, we do know what his 'fee' is--it's there I'm the article: $300 an hour. Basically "just enough that he's not losing money"--you know, because any less than that and he can't make it work. Even though I bet dollars to donuts his clients pay him less than that!

By Observer on 2013 01 25, 11:56 am CST

A newly minted lawyer made a cold call through an email looking for some help
I took him to the courthouse to introduce him to various person and most importantly the law librarian, got him a library card which allows 24/7 access to the courthouse and had him signed up to be an arbitrator took himto lunch and talked about the practice of law
Most of this was news to him
hopefully some of it helped
Continued to follow up with him until he landed a job
It was a rewarding experrience

By Bucks (PA) Barrister on 2013 01 25, 11:57 am CST

Yes, I missed that. My point still remains however, that it's a personal choice to hire or be hired, juxtaposed in this situation of course.
In no way am I painting this guy to be a picture-perfect attorney, at all. He could be quite bad, and this ad in many ways points to potential negatives. However, I cannot argue objectively that he did anything wrong. $300 a month, for a couple months to a new lawyer, could be very much worth it. Maybe.

That's an admirable thing to do and it does sound very rewarding. I believe that many lawyers would, and do, do the same. But it's a personal choice. Not all lawyers are charitable people necessarily...and (fortunately or not) are not required to be. This attorney is a case in point.

By Toolow on 2013 01 25, 12:23 pm CST

As lawyers we see the ups and downs and experience the financial benefits and strains of running a practice. We should welcome the opportunity to share our experiences with our future colleagues without bringing them financial hardship. They are going to have enough trouble finding jobs; certainly, burdening them with additional expense to "learn" is disheartening. In part my thought is, if Beck is financially well off to where he wants to show our future lawyers how "it is done", then he doesnt need the money. If he is so broke that he has to charge law school students to watch him, then I am not sure any law school student wants to pay for that education. On the other hand, as pathetic as this is, maybe it is a good idea for law students. There is value in seeing what kind of lawyer you never want to become.

By Javier H. Armengau on 2013 01 25, 12:24 pm CST

@25 - Learn to read. He said he WASN'T going to charge them $300/hour.

By Idiots Abound on 2013 01 25, 12:37 pm CST

To clarify my position, this guy is scum for pimping out knowledge that he most likely received in part for free from mentors. But it's a sign of the times...mediocre children being coddled, being misled into thinking they have what it takes to practice law, then demanding to be spoon fed with professional competence.

By Idiots Abound on 2013 01 25, 12:40 pm CST

This doesn't seem right to be. Based upon the reaction that Beck received I'd say a lot of people agree. I'm surprised something inside of Beck's conscious didn't make this seem wrong to him too before he posted the ad.

It's a sharp elbowed world and there is always someone looking to take advantage of someone else.

mcleod why so nasty and mean spirited to young, new grads just trying to find their way? For someone who proclaims to have lead such a blessed life you sure do leak a lot of nastiness and negativity.

By Defective Product on 2013 01 25, 12:47 pm CST

Talk about clueless

By Andy Crocker on 2013 01 25, 12:54 pm CST

Looking at this from a potential client's perspective - why would anyone hire a lawyer who pays for something that everyone gets for free? This doesn't say much for the business management smarts of either the attorney offering the service, or any recent graduate taking him up on his offer. We've have several discussions here on looking at the value of legal services for pricing models - where is the value in charging for something that is free?

By NYS Courts ex wife on 2013 01 25, 1:07 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By DirkJohanson on 2013 01 25, 1:15 pm CST

It's an interesting and novel approach, perhaps giving law schools an idea of improving students' learning experience or inspiring students to take initiative. After all, anyone can go into a courtroom to observe arguments: from trial courts to the Supreme Court. Yet I suspect many that balked at the modest proposal would also balk at an eighty-dollar résumé critique when seeking a six-figure job! The latter may be a job-search related deductible expense. I wonder if the hands-on training would be too.

By Joe The Job Guy on 2013 01 25, 1:15 pm CST

Frankly, I have had a similar idea when it came to dealing with the law school graduates who have worked in my practice. The economic benefit to them has outweighed the value of their services to me, however, as compared to a legal assistant trainee, these individuals do work that is compensable and that they should be paid for that labor. But you could say the same about any occupation and industry as far as those individuals who are beginning their careers.

I soloed without working for anyone, because realistically, for a number of reasons I was not employable by another attorney in the geographic region I live and practice in. I sought but did not receive good mentoring from most of the attorneys in my town. A few did step forward with words of encouragement, and, most importantly a few referrals. Extensive networking among the "industry" and relationship building with opposing counsel out of my small town has proved to be my best resource for finding assistance with difficult questions. And, on a number of occasions, I have paid consultancy fees to more experienced lawyers with client permission in order to tap in to a more experienced lawyer's guidance and experience.

I also utilized the practice of just going to court and watching other lawyers or sitting through the entire calendar when I was on the docket when time permitted. Anyone who is unemployed and seeking legal employment should be doing this with their relevant rules of evidence and procedure in hand and a yellow notepad and jot down what you see. Dress like a lawyer, sit with the lawyers and lawyers will introduce themselves to you from time to time.

Take CLE's. There are a number of free on demand CLE courses available, utilize the practice oriented ones. Realize that opportunities for employment are limited in this economy and face the hard reality that you may have to ultimately hang out a shingle. This was the dirty little secret of the law school industry for years, that graduation ultimately didn't lead to a job, it leads to ultimate self employment. This should be embraced and taught in first year classes. If you didn't get this training in law school, get it from CLE's. Live, in-person CLE's are an excellent, but expensive approach to networking, but you have to get out of yourself to make it work.

I am always hoping for the day when a bright young attorney who wants to make it shows up on my doorstep willing to take the same types of risk I was because some day I will want to retire and would like someone who could pay at least a little for what I have built and will continue to build. The flip side is that these individuals who have what I had are few and far between. Other young attorneys are simply too arrogant and proud.

That said I make a real and pronounced effort to be available to mentor, even to the young punks.

By Anonymous But Not the First on 2013 01 25, 1:15 pm CST

@29 in reference to 25, Thank you.
I thought I was going crazy after I went back to the original craigslist article and didn't see any amount listed (to be sure). The 300 dollar amount, as you stated, was in the article above and referenced sarcastically.

By Toolow on 2013 01 25, 1:15 pm CST

This reminds me of several Craigslist ads I responded to after passing the Florida bar two years ago. I would e-mail my resume and shortly thereafter I would receive a phone call telling me that the job was for an unpaid "internship" with a mere possibility of being hired. Apparently these firms thought that if you labeled something as an "internship" it qualifies as an automatic exemption from minimum wage laws. Although I sent numerous complaints to the Florida bar, amazingly not a single firm was sanctioned! Perhaps its about time that the state bars stop preaching and actually go after some of these bad apples.

By Bad Apples on 2013 01 25, 1:16 pm CST

This situation is a wake-up call to law schools and the profession. When I attended law school a few decades ago, nearly all of the faculty practiced pro bono and appellate law. Students who so desired gained experience by helping faculty with such cases (often for free or work study wages) or interning for private firms (sometimes only for minimum wage but always for pay).

Today, with the rankings pressure for law school faculty to focus on scholarship, they are unable to mentor their students regarding practice. The ABA should use its accrediting authority to turn about this shift away from practicing faculty. Otherwise, law school should no longer be a prerequisite for law and students should instead be paying their tuition to attorneys such as Beck. It's sad the profession has arrived at this state, that law school has become so irrelevant, that students need not only pay for bar courses but also for their "apprenticeship".

My gut says that Beck inappropriately crossed a line, but I have to ponder whether he is a bellweather.

By Wake-Up Call on 2013 01 25, 1:21 pm CST

I think the tone of the comments reveal the type of lawyers who make up the majority of those hanging out on the ABA Journal and leaving 10 comments a day.

Regarding this clueless fool, if he had researched before making such a weird proposal, he would know that law schools, in their desperation, already pay students to do the exact same thing. They call them "fellowships." The law schools pay their massive legions of unemployed graduates to perform the same types of internships that they did in law school for $500-1,000/month. Then, the schools count them as employed in a full time legal position to keep their fake employment numbers from plummeting.

Why would a recent graduate pay this guy?

Second, this guy's clients pay him for "explaining things," why gouge a desperate grad? A person "filling a gap" usually indicate the performance of volunteer service ( perhaps as part of helping others or cleaning up the mess of our profession). This is not the same thing as a person shamelessly taking advantage of other people's misfortune or desperation.

By AB on 2013 01 25, 1:21 pm CST

I have offered to have young lawyers do a case with me to no avail. When I try a jury trial in my major metropolitan area, do you know who shows up to watch me? The prosecutor interns and staff outnumber defense lawyers 5 to 1. And I have a reputation for winning cases that is among the best in the state.
I worked for a horrible incompetent lawyer when i started interning. I then became friends with other outstanding public defenders, and sat second chair on the third retrial of a murder case before the ink was dry on my diploma. We won. SInce then every year I have not been a public defender, I have done a pro bono Murder case. I would never bill some new lawyer to learn how to be a lawyer.

By Luther on 2013 01 25, 1:37 pm CST

In the 80s, something like 3% of students participated in unpaid internships, and many of the rest performed low-paying (but paying) work in something like apprenticeships before graduation, and then could expect a paying job upon graduation. Nothing amazing, but it wasn't ridiculous for someone to assume that a college education would lead to a paying job, and that people should be paid for their work.

In the aughties, as everyone knows, the cost of higher education has risen exponentially. Meanwhile, something like 80% of students are expected to participate in unpaid internships - giving value to the community in exchange for "experience", all while taking out unfathomable loans to pay for their schooling and livnig expenses. They are WORKING, and yet not being paid, and having to borrow money to live - or go to school full time, volunteer 10-20 hours a week in internships, and then moonlight as a bartender? Does that sound like a good plan?

And now the trend is to make people pay for the privilege of work?

Jesus. Seriously. If this is the way capitalism in America is trending, then where is the logical end point? Before going to law school, my salary broke down into an hourly rate of about $25 an hour. I volunteered 1,000 hours to internships and externships in law school, which would have been worth about $25,000 if you go by my previous hourly rate. But instead of being paid that money, which would have allowed me to feed my family and take out fewer loans, I had to donate that time (if I want to expect a paying job on the other end), borrow ridiculous amounts for tuition, and also borrow living expenses. And then it's ridiculous for me to want to be paid for my work when I graduate? I have to not only continue to donate my time, but pay for the privilege of my work? Good lord.

By SA on 2013 01 25, 1:41 pm CST

The posting is sad because it shows another older attorney who is taking advantage of the over saturation of the market and inability of young lawyers to find ways into the business. I would give him the benefit of the doubt if the posting was for free but to charge? Thats insulting and frankly, he should be ashamed. Additionally, I am going to take a swing that the lawyers who responded to the posting were bottom tier'd students, who already shelled out hundreds of thousands for a poor and private education, and to take advantage of that further? SHAME ON YOU KEN!

By ElJefeMatthew on 2013 01 25, 1:43 pm CST

Young law students would be better served by taking an accounting course.

By cathy on 2013 01 25, 1:45 pm CST

Well as a law student, I can see where people got upset here. For 3 years, we spend all our free time following lawyers and judges, asking questions after observing court proceedings, writing papers, memos, motions and the like, and they call us interns; we don't get paid a dime, and we typically don't have to pay anyone to do it. Now that we graduate, and we all just dropped 100K to get our degree, we are supposed to invest more money? So in short, we have to pay someone to be an intern now that we aren't in school any more? It's ridiculous!! None of us signed up for that!!

I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about law students these days. You let the media feed you too much "hearsay" and not enough factual information. We aren't as money hungry as you would like to believe; sure we'd like to get paid, as anyone would that invests time and money into obtaining a higher degree that ensures us an opportunity to work in a career that is among the highest paying in the nation. However, the vast majority of us know that we aren't going to get a huge paycheck right out of law school, and most of us covet a low status/low paying judge clerkship opportunity over that first big law firm job.

But this guy is amazing. His plan was amazing. I'm going to charge you to be an intern. Brilliant.

By Brandon Roby on 2013 01 25, 1:49 pm CST

Perhaps the Law Schools will catch on to this and add a required mentoring program to increase their profits! Why pay a lawyer a few dollars to show you the ropes when you can charge it to your student loan revolving line of ulimited credit. (Gee it seem like this should be on another board)

By JF on 2013 01 25, 1:50 pm CST

He should know that you have to be an ABA-accredited law school before it's appropriate to charge an obscene amount for a questionable legal education.

By John2510 on 2013 01 25, 1:54 pm CST


I was beginning to wonder where the common sense in the legal profession had gone.

By C.D. Collins on 2013 01 25, 1:57 pm CST

Bad idea by someone who should know better and if he did not know better unlikely to help the persons interested in his proposal. Appears to be taking advantage of the desperate and hopeless.

By AGB on 2013 01 25, 1:57 pm CST

It's called mentoriing. As an experienced lawyer, one should provide this without expectng compensation as a way of giving back to the profession and helping younger lawyers improve their knwoledge and competence. What beck did was not only short sighted. it was a betrayal to the profession.

By benfranklin2 on 2013 01 25, 2:05 pm CST

Something along these lines was apparently normal practice, at least in some cities, before the Second World War. Rick Dickie, a senior partner at Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett for many decades, told how he ended up in New York: a poor boy from Montana, Rick was a scholarship football player at Princeton in the 1930s. From there, he went to Penn Law School on a full scholarship. When he graduated, he was offered a place at a very prestigious Philadelphia law firm. He loved it, and all seemed to be going very well. He was receiving high praise for his work from the partners, and clients were singing his praises to the partners. There was only one small problem. Rick had not received a paycheck. He was married felt the pressure to provide for his family. So, after several months (I heard the story a couple of times, and the length of time varied in the telling), he went to a senior partner and made inquiries. He asked if his work were satisfactory, and was assured it was - indeed, the senior partner said he envisioned a very bright future for Rick at the firm. Rick then mentioned that, unlike many young Philadelphia lawyers, he did not have independent means, and had been a scholarship student at both Princeton and Penn. The senior partner replied: "Oh, yes, the firm is well aware of your circumstances; we unanimously agreed that we would waive the customary fees our associates pay us during the first [two?] years with the firm." He thanked the partner and left.
Immediately thereafter, he learned somehow that New York firms actually paid associates, took a train to New York, interviewed with Simpson Thacher, and was working their within a fortnight.

One should recall that back before Cravath started the salary wars in the late 1960s, junior associates were not well paid at all. At one fell swoop, in 1968 if I recall correctly, Cravath raised junior associates from something like $8,000 per year to $12,000 per year. The rest is history: junior associates are now paid vastly more than they are 'worth' in terms of doing productive work, and vast numbers of would-be associates cannot get work because the supply completely outstrips demand.

By Rob Perelli-Minetti on 2013 01 25, 2:07 pm CST

If this guy wants to be paid for his time to "teach," he should apply to the law school to be adjunct faculty. Having a student just "follow" you isn't a burden, nor is there any loss of time or income. In theory this may be nothing different than paying for a CLE, however, there's something unsavory about making money off the backs of these future attorneys, even more so than the absurd tuition prices they're paying. We were paid for our time as interns in years past, and didn't graduate with the egregious amount of debt they do. Pay it forward and stop trying to eat our young. If you can pay a student/baby lawyer for their time, do it. If you can't, offer to let them shadow you or even volunteer a few hours to get some experience. Opportunities are few and far between, so don't add to the problem.

By Helen on 2013 01 25, 2:12 pm CST

I love when people in any business say it's their "duty" to train the next generation. This is plain and simple economics, a subject foreign to most of my attorney brethren with history and philosophy degrees. Many of these lawyers will pontificate on the righteousness of our profession, how we're scions of justice and the only stalwart protecting the people from oppression, and other Hobbes-Rousseau, Let's do it for each other!, nonsense.

If there were enough demand in the marketplace, then experienced attorneys would be clamoring to hire new law grads because the experienced attorneys would be able to make a profit from the law grads. Here in reality, though, there is ever-decreasing demand for legal services. If there were an actual demand for more lawyers then you wouldn't have to sit around and try to use Age-of-Enlightenment sophistry to try and convince someone to give away their time for free. The experienced lawyers would be hiring inexperienced lawyers and deriving a profit from them, plain and simple.

Look at the medical profession as a great example. We actually need doctors because diagnosing and treating illness is highly scientific and difficult, and to do so requires someone who is very smart who must put in great investments in education and training. Part of a doctor's training involves on-the-job experience. This is because their services are in high demand; such high demand, in fact, that they can afford to spend time training the next generation because they are able to derive a profit from doing so. If few went to doctors anymore, or an awesome computer were invented that could diagnose and treat your illness without consulting a doctor, would you still try to argue that it's the responsibility of experienced doctors to train the next generation?

Anyone arguing the "our responsibility" angle is suffering from terrible cognitive dissonance. What we do is not terribly hard, especially considering the ease of information access nowadays. Mostly what we can still charge for is being familiar with the draconian procedural rules of the courts. Your cognitive dissonance is thus:

You believe being a lawyer is a higher calling requiring a great intellect, where in reality it's always just been a job where memorizing a lot of information is required. Now that the Internet doesn't require going to a lawyer for access to information, your job is not really needed much, demand has gone down, so few make a profit from billing for the services of new lawyers, there's less profit in training new lawyers, so few train new lawyers. You've become so convinced of your own importance that you reuse to see that simple logic, and to alleviate your cognitive dissonance you say all that Hobbesian gobbledygook.

If we were needed, there would be demand. If there were demand, we would be busy. If we were busy, we would hire new workers and pay them less than we bill. If we paid them less than we bill we would make a profit, and new lawyers would be trained in the process. You're having to resort to "we ought to" because there is no profit from training new lawyers because there is no profit to be had because we can't bill for more work because there isn't an overwhelming amount of work because there is much less demand.

By JM on 2013 01 25, 2:15 pm CST

Wow, look at all these comments in only 2 days since the article was posted by ABA! Now that's a reaction. I do agree this fellow went over the line by charging for his time. But there is plenty of precedent for having the young'uns pay for the privilege of learning from a master by contributing _work_ toward the master's end product, without being paid a cent. We call those relationships law apprenticeships, unpaid clerkships, or internships. Hundreds, nayt thousands of recent law grads gratefully take advantage of such opportunities, especially in today's tight market. The concept is fine, but the reaction was just telling this entrepreneur he went a _little_ too far.

By Mike J on 2013 01 25, 2:19 pm CST

@17: sounds like excuses to me. It should be easier than ever today to hang out a shingle. More so than when I did it 14 years ago. In most cities you should be able to find an office suite for rent where you share facilities with other small businesses, share a receptionist, etc., for fairly cheap. And that's only if you insist on having a very professional appearance when starting out. In reality, a smartphone and a laptop with a 4G card are all you really need to have an "office." I guess the point is, you don't need to go to a bank and get a fat loan to go out and lease your own space, hire a staff and spend tens of thousands furnishing the place. No matter how bad the economy gets, people still need lawyers. The money is out there, you just have to go get it.

By ArkansasSolo on 2013 01 25, 2:26 pm CST

Dude, it's called "apprenticeship" and you don't pay for it, you just work for free. No wonder you got all of them nasty e-mails.

By Anna Gray on 2013 01 25, 2:31 pm CST

I hope I wouldn't be this heartless after 20 years of experience. That man lost it. If you want extra money go work on a client. Don't take advantage of new graduates who are barely making it and need to pay back their loans. Pathetic.

By Christina on 2013 01 25, 2:40 pm CST

@48 and @42...totally agree! I would not have raised an eyebrow at the proposal of an unpaid shadowing (unpaid internship)....but having to pay for working?!?!?! An I bet this attorney (I don't even bother to remember his name as he is worthless human being) would have later dared to give work for minimal pay to those people that paid him to be trained to do his own work! I come from a third world country where education is free and it is a common practice to work the first year or two after graduating law school at some small law firm on an unpaid basis. Like a really unpaid one to two year long internship. But at some point in that time period, once you have proven yourself to be worth some pay, the attorney you would be working for would start throwing at you some crumbs from big cases on which you were HELPING him while you were learning. Even give you some small matter to handle on your own and you would take most of the pay....I think you would call that arrangement HAVING SOME DECENCY! This attorney is a MUPPET!

By VforSense on 2013 01 25, 2:45 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Mike on 2013 01 25, 2:46 pm CST

one more thing: id have jumped at this mans offer....a great idea!

By mike on 2013 01 25, 2:47 pm CST

JM (comment 57) clearly comes from the school that would classify the practice of law as a business (as distinguished from a profession). I have always liked the following definition - a "profession" is a calling in which success is not measured solely in financial terms. Certainly, the practice of law must be carried on in a business-like manner. Approaching it in the strictly financial manner reflected in JM's comment is what is driving younger lawyers out of the profession.

By benfranklin2 on 2013 01 25, 2:52 pm CST

#9 In SD where I went to law school they called the class "Clinical Internship". I spent 10 weeks working for a local States' Attorney. The SD Bar allows students with 2 years of Law School to practice under supervision under this class. I got to represent the county in magistrate, juvenile, and even circuit court. I learned a lot about the process and met some incredible attorneys who gave me insight and advice between cases. I even had lunch with a judge or two. It was a good way to get my feet wet, gain some experience and get seen by other attorneys.

By Dakotadebra on 2013 01 25, 2:54 pm CST

Offering a service...the guy could know that a lot of well-motivated, eager law students would probably do a lot of work for him too. I'm sure he paid for his internship as well.

By FedLaw Guy on 2013 01 25, 2:55 pm CST

tons of comments on this 1, but I'm sorry, this is insane! both as a lawyer and as a good person, he should be happy to have unpaid interns.

By Astounded on 2013 01 25, 3:00 pm CST

61. benfranklin2,

You can make poor attempts at sophistry all day; you can call law a "profession," or a "turtle," or a "jabberwocky," and you won't change the truth, there is not high demand for our services. Going for an ad hominem by setting up my school as the scapegoat for my attack on your "calling" does nothing to put butts in the seats. High-minded lawyers love to think of their job as a stupendous calling wherein everyone should always be employed, all new law grads should get free training via benevolence, everyone gets free ice cream everyday and rainbows cover the sky from duck 'til dawn due to the glory of your "higher calling."

As much as you may love the idea of continuing a profession even though there's less demand for it, THERE IS LESS DEMAND FOR IT. Here, say out loud that our work is "a calling," as you put it. Did you say it out loud? Did your wish become true? Did more people suddenly need to pay $100 an hour for information they can get free from the internet? No?

Dress up our profession in all the platitudes you want, try to sound as much like a freshman philosophy student as you can, and keep wish-wish-wishing really hard that people will appreciate our genius again, and see where that gets you.

I would have LOVED to pay someone to train me out of law school; that's what doctors do for their last two years of medical school. And trust me, medicine is much more of a "profession" than law, hands down. What they do requires so much more sacrifice and intelligence than what we do, and they STILL pay for training.

Building the intercontinental railroad sure was a "calling" for many involved; should they get to keep their jobs working on the railroad when cars are invented and trains are no longer needed? Your argument can only answer yes, they should, because "callings" should be protected; they should continue training new generations of railroad workers because "success is not measured solely in financial terms." Hopeful railroad workers should get to work in the railroad industry because it's a "calling" for them, regardless of the demand for their services.

Your ad hominem was cute, by the way. You have a quaint little narcissism that says you are capable of grand thought, but those who point out your invalidities are mere automatons that parrot what their "school" taught them, as if a school is a living entity capable of sapping my ability to think intelligently, turning me into a mindless drone screaming, "Let them eat cake! GARRRR!"

Attack me, attack my school, attack everything that is ancillary to my point, because that's what lawyers are supposed to do. Keep attacking, but you won't change one simple fact: people don't need us like they used to, so our profession should shrink until it is the size that the people do need. You would have us staying at our current size because this is a "calling," something greater than the concerns of mere mortals, so we deserve to stay big. This may be a calling, a "profession" as you poorly define the word, but it is still a job, and it's a job that's just not needed as much anymore..

By JM on 2013 01 25, 3:13 pm CST

61. benfranklin2

Sorry benfranklin2, you said "the school," not "a school." Ignore my point about your attacking my school. Everything else is still valid though, floating on clouds of grandiosity won't change how we mere mortals down here on land are having trouble because there is much less demand for our services.

By JM on 2013 01 25, 3:16 pm CST

Amen, BenFranklin2. I realize there is a dearth of true mentoring, which is likely why this fellow thought there was a market for his services. But our profession has an ethical duty to fill that void, and fleecing newly minted lawyers while passing on advice is sad. More Inns of Court and more selfless mentoring is a much nobler way to address the situation.

By StonyBrooks on 2013 01 25, 3:24 pm CST

Well said...and the honest truth about law (especially the reality of its "need" in this day and age). There can be some altruism involved in legal work, but it is negligible. The true nature of law is mainly controlled by greed and hubris.

By Toolow on 2013 01 25, 3:24 pm CST

only the Shadow knows. . . .

By okiedokie on 2013 01 25, 3:25 pm CST

Comment #44 - Agreed.

By Name removed by moderator on 2013 01 25, 3:32 pm CST

#70, Winner of the "Best Name in the Universe" contest

By JM on 2013 01 25, 3:35 pm CST

if u were this guy just telling your atty friend that you placed the ad and got asshole responses from baby law grads, youre friend and you would have a laugh and it'd be over. Because its published as some sensational article everyone is acting like this is so horrible and an outrage to the profession...get a grip people.

By mike on 2013 01 25, 3:45 pm CST

@ Chris Anderson/#14
I am in agreement with your position.

By Vastly Amused on 2013 01 25, 3:46 pm CST

@B. McLeod's hatred of young lawyers is palpable.

Anyone who places an ad offering work (or observation) for pay needs to be told they are absurd.

By JK on 2013 01 25, 3:48 pm CST

#74, JK,

Everyday in america thousands of 3rd and 4th year medical school students are paying so they can do work. The last two years of medical school are medical students, in the hospital, doing work. Sure, they are also observing and they get tested, but they are also working. Just because that is called "school" doesn't change the fact that they pay so that they are allowed to work for two years.

I would hardly call this system of medical education, used the world over, "absurd," as you put it.

By JM on 2013 01 25, 3:53 pm CST

America should be capitalized, my bad.

By JM on 2013 01 25, 3:53 pm CST

This is just like the type of guy who charges their friends for gas after driving somewhere. Don't waste your time; they just won't get it.

By THE TRUTH on 2013 01 25, 4:01 pm CST

This is just like the type of guy who charges their friends for gas after driving somewhere. They just won't get it..

By THE TRUTH on 2013 01 25, 4:02 pm CST

benfranklin2: You are the winner! ****Ding..DIng...Ding*****Whatever happened to old-fashioned mentoring?

By Justice4all on 2013 01 25, 4:09 pm CST

Was Beck rude for demanding payments for instructions? Depending upon how good he is, and how helpful he is. No one seems to question law schools asking for $25,000 for an LLM in trial advocacy program. If this guy provides good legal and business instructions, what's wrong with that (asking for compensation)? At the end of the day, it is a free market economy and if newbie lawyers don't like it, don't respond. As the saying goes, "Don't hate the player, hate the game." My only complaint is that law schools give a false idea that once you have a law degree, you are made. Not true. To make a good living in the profession, you either graduate top ten law school and top of your class, look good, and skinny (to get BigLaw job) or open up your own practice. To do the latter demands that you have a strong businessmen/women stomach as well as the love for the practice of law in and of itself....and not just about getting paid.

By Thai Nguyen on 2013 01 25, 4:19 pm CST

Sadly it is The Academy, i.e., law school education that is ultimately to blame here. When it takes creating your own unpaid internships through personal initiative, countless commercial study aids, BARBRI and their competitors, Bar-sponsored Bridge the Gap Courses, and 1-3 solid years of practice just to launch yourself, there's something wrong with the status quo, Mr. Socrates. (Give me a break). The lawyer who offered to mentor for money should be ashamed of himself for creating yet another barrier to market entry for his younger colleagues. But the biggest jackasses are the law schools. Not worth the money.

By SendingtheWolfe on 2013 01 25, 4:25 pm CST

@50 Agree wholeheartedly. We have an obligation to mentor yound attorneys. For years I have had 'interns' from law schools and even undergrads in pre-law shadow court hearings, trials and, with client's permission, sit in on depositions, meetings, etc. It never, ever crossed my mind I would charge them. Unreal.

By The Jet on 2013 01 25, 4:29 pm CST

Beck may be a little of a jerk but hey, it's like receiving advertisements, if you don't like it, don't buy it. Yet we should not criticize him too much for his entrepreneurship. Again, it's capitalism and a free country. What law schools should do is to set up mentoring programs while students are still in school and teach the ins and outs of the law business. For attorneys who will end up hanging out their own shingles, law is a business. You better know what you are doing in terms of client development.

By Thai Nguyen on 2013 01 25, 4:40 pm CST

I don't consider myself the smartest guy around. But when I was 18 I did. I took the time to follow a lawyer around then and evntually became his clerk. I lived in a suburb of Chicago and had to go downtown every day to the office or meet him in court. I was given a "salary" of $30 a week, which didn't even pay for my transportation - this was 1977. I learned a lot, especially that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life - well maybe not so much anymore ;)

I tell kids all the time, take the time to learn whether you want to get into any profession, especially law, by way of seeing exactly what these people do. The idea of waiting until after law school is personally ludicrous to me. I know so many people who went to law school with no clue what to expect. They did it just out of the expectation that they thought it would be an easy road to riches. I'm sure most don't feel that way anymore. I would guess most of these people really had no idea what a lawyer actually did. To invest so much time and money into training for a career with no understanding of what that career entails can be one of the biggest mistakes someone can make - IMO.

BTW - In my entire life, I never so much as had to fill out a job application or write a resume. My first office - a Toyota pop-up camper - I used to park by the lake front next to a pay phone and fly kites while doing business. I started building a practice way before ever entering law school. I've been in private practice since - actually semi-retired as other interests keep me busy these days. I never became rich, but I'm comfortable. For some reason, my kids insist on eating every day and at least I can take care of that. I wouldn't change a thing. As someone said on this thread earlier, there's money out there, you just have to go and find and work for it.

By Lt. Dan's New Legs on 2013 01 25, 4:45 pm CST

Charging to let someone shadow you? It may not be unethical but it certainly is unseemly. I would not dream of doing this, and have considered the time taken to give guidance to younger lawyers part of my duty to improve the profession. If I don't have the time to answer someone's questions because of the demands of the case, obviously the client must come first, but seriously, it's embarrassing when one of us does his best to lend credence to the bad press our profession already gets.

By SHR on 2013 01 25, 4:46 pm CST

Every attorney got their first start from some firm (or their own) when they were too "Green" to adequately practice law. Don't blame the starving students here, shouldn't the law schools that charge $150k+ in tuition actually produce "practice ready" attorneys that don't need to pay for mentorship programs like these?

By Broke Law Student on 2013 01 25, 4:50 pm CST

I wonder if it were Gerry Spence offering to charge an outrageous amount to let attorneys shadow him for a time, if there would be this outrage. This is essentially what some lawyers do when they put on Boot Camps and the like. I for one, have paid thousands of dollars to attend a four day Boot Camp such as this, and I think it has paid off 20 or 30 fold. I guess this Beck's mistake was in not making it a more formally organized deal complete with a website and email marketing.

By ArkansasSolo on 2013 01 25, 4:51 pm CST

A Canadian expat lawyer told me that they have residency and internship requirements for attys there, much as med students do here. Something to consider.

By John B. on 2013 01 25, 4:58 pm CST

#51 -- In 1968 any salary of $10,000 or more per year was solidly middle class. In that same year a Ford Mustang convertible cost around $2,500, and in suburban New Jersey a house that today would fetch $500,000 could be had for $25,000.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 25, 5:03 pm CST

As a lawyer with 3 years experience, I wish I would have had the opp that this lawyer offered. Compared to outrageously overpriced tuition and intruction that doesn't really prepare a lawyer for true client and court interactions, paying a moderate fee for invaluable exposure seems like a heck of a deal.

Also, as a lawyer who does significant pro-bono and low-bono work, having some cash flow opens the door to providing more of those services.

Finally, if that really offends you so much, don't use it! He isn't harming you, is he? Isnt' the drastic tuition increases perhaps even more of a betrayal of the profession?

Cut this guy a break.


By Erik Halverson on 2013 01 25, 5:04 pm CST

I suppose the attorney had every right run this ad, but as an attorney who has been practicing law for just over a year now, I can say that when you finish law school, you have spent 3 years working for free in all of your spare time because that is what everyone says you have to do to gain the experience to make yourself "hireable". After that, you graduate and take the bar. While waiting for bar results a lot of the time, you have to work for free or get some crappy minimum wage job to make ends meet because no one wants to take a risk on an ulicensed attorney. Then you pass the bar and the rat race begins. It is so difficult to find a job, and your loans need to be paid, and you can barely pay rent. It is so psychologically and physically demanding to get through those months, that if you see someone asking you, instead of just working for free (your skills are always sufficient when they are free), to pay them to come and learn the trade, you may have a moment where you say to yourself, "I have multiple degrees and a six figure education. How much more degrading can this get?" Most law grads are struggling desparately under the weight of crushing debt, and lack of jobs. Its hard to imagine a worse fate than working for free, but paying someone to "gain experience".... no way.

By khm on 2013 01 25, 5:09 pm CST

I can only imagine what this guy charges his clients.

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 01 25, 5:17 pm CST

Right out of law school I "hung out my shingle". I did not feel comfortable asking attorneys I would be facing in court for "help" (small town). All you have is your reputation and everyone is trying to put on a good face; especially when you are new. I would have gladly paid someone who had survived for 20 years to let me ask them questions and see how they practice. You will not get the same level of honesty and depth if you just ask around. I had to do it and it does not answer everything I needed. I did not have time to run around hoping for the good graces of other attorneys and court staff. I had a family to feed. Law school was pointless from a practical and/or business standpoint. It was pointless in a lot of different areas, but that is another discussion. Also, the argument of- he must not be good if he is asking for money- is ridiculous. Money is not an indicator of ability as the legal profession has built in mechanisms to keep those at the top - at the top. If you do not understand that, you must work for someone else.

Most of you are not his target audience and that includes new graduates who just want a J.O.B. instead of a business/profession. I have allowed recent graduates to "intern" and it was a large inconvenience for me as a solo, plus they are a potential direct competitor. I love Craig's List because it lets you see what is coming on the fringes. Everyone is laughing or shaming him now. There is a sea change coming to the practice of law because the current model is broken. He offered a valid service to fulfill a need he understood better than most of you ever will. Please continue to hide behind your "professionalism" while your jobs can just as easily be done by software programs.

I have learned the only way to survive as a solo lawyer is to do a better job for my clients at a cheaper price. I realize that is a negative view, but from what I am reading on these posts, I am not worried. Most of you do not have what it takes to compete with people like me. Most of you would turn your nose up at how I practice law. You will defend a broken system because it is the only thing propping you up. I am not deriding real professionalism that serves and/or protects clients. Everything else is $%&#. I admire Mr. Beck's innovation.

By Paul on 2013 01 25, 5:17 pm CST

If he is so shocked why didn't he broach the idea with law schools. Really, we have come quite far from the days off apprenticeship with no law school necessary to take the bar. Would he have charged Lincoln a penny an hour?

By Ronald F Suber on 2013 01 25, 5:22 pm CST

#93, Paul,

Hear, Hear! People love hiding behind quaint euphemisms like "professionalism" to justify continuing the system that just had to have been right because it resulted in them, the amazing attorney. Exalting one's works as being deserving of high praise is usually the respite of those unable or unwilling to see the truth of the matter: they are no different than a plumber, they perform services for money. Take away their money and their nice lifestyle and ask them to work for free and see how long that high-hatted approach to "professionalism" lasts.

By JM on 2013 01 25, 5:25 pm CST

@ Paul.... Agreed with you 100%. I hung my own shingles right out of law school too. If this Beck guy is good, I pay him to pick his brains. What I found out is that hanging out your own shingles is no different than opening your own small business. There is a business and economic side of things. Client development and economics. At one point, my "law firm" grew to 3 lawyers. That was when I made the least money. Later, on one newsgroup website discussions, a former BigLaw attorney explained that before you hire someone, you better have extra work to support salary of the associate times 3. One part is salary. One part is costs, and the last part is return on capital/profits. So unless you have $120,000 worth of stable work, don't bring in another lawyer at $40,000 a year. Over time, I found out the best is to network with your local churches, nonprofit organizations, and have seminars. This way, you are able to market your services to clients directly and to those who are actually interested in the services that you are providing.....These are examples of the types of advice that if Beck gave, the money that he charge is nothing.

By Thai Nguyen on 2013 01 25, 5:28 pm CST

I am not the least bit surprised that this set desperate job seekers off. A huge percentage of law graduates are deeply in debt and unable to find work, and this guy wants to charge them $300/hr? With what money are they supposed to pay him? Welcome to the 21st century, man.

By Terese on 2013 01 25, 5:54 pm CST

@ 96. So much my experience. I have grown my gross revenues every year for six years and I feel like I work harder and harder for less and less. I overheard another attorney at a CLE this fall say that he makes more now with just him and his wife working than he did when he ran a much larger practice. 20 seconds overheard at lunch has done more for my practice of law than a semester of law school. I just assumed that the larger I got the better I would do. Not the case. I felt I lost what makes me different when I added layers of staff and other attorneys between my clients and I. Same thing with marketing. I was throwing $20,000 to $30,000 a year at everyone who walked in my door because something was working but I did not know what. (Still doing that, but I am working on it!) I wish there was some way to share this info and discuss it with other attorneys like me. Instead, every time money is discussed, someone throws out "professionalism" like I am a bad guy for wanting to run the most efficient law practice I can. My clients like me. I do a good job and I do it fast. I don't hide behind my assistant and I am always available. It is a good business model but I need more info and experience to tweak it.

By Paul on 2013 01 25, 5:57 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Sam on 2013 01 25, 5:57 pm CST

Why not close all the Law Schools and have students pay a lawyer to teach them the law and how to practice law?

By Henry Legere on 2013 01 25, 5:59 pm CST

Although the OP stated that he was charging law students a fee to compensate for the lost time explaining things, was he crediting the cost of that lost time back to the client or was he double dipping?

By WOlawyer on 2013 01 25, 6:01 pm CST

B. McLeod, I think it's quite obvious that Sam did not major in "Witty Sarcasm" or "Advanced Framing of Quips."

By JM on 2013 01 25, 6:02 pm CST

@101. Maybe he is a flat fee guy...

I saw an attorney charge 3 hours for preparing a foreclosure petition the other day. That is in the court records! Yet that happens every day across the country and no one questions it. You are an idiot if you need 3 hours to prepare a foreclosure petition. That or you should move up from the quill. However, you are a brilliant attorney if you have created/ maintained a system that allows it to happen. Can't protect if forever everyone.

(I do everything by flat fee, btw.)

By Paul on 2013 01 25, 6:09 pm CST

Pushkin's 1st sentence said it best. Law school, Bar review, and now an hourly charge to follow him around. Why not just do what new lawyers did in the New Stone Age? Hang around the court house and watch trials. Yes, new lawyers w/o work used to do that. Guess what? They asked lawyers questions during recess and got answers. Does anyone know what the hourly charge was?

By FRANCIS MARTIN on 2013 01 25, 6:18 pm CST

Agree strongly with #42.

I'm a younger lawyer (graduated in '07), and I'm really not certain where this idea came from that my contemporaries are all "coddled" "mooncalves," to use the words of posters upthread. Most of the folks I went to school with and worked with have been extremely bright and hard working, and understood that we were going to have to put in some time and effort before landing a decent legal job. I don't think anyone was under the delusion that our three years in school entitled us to a pair of white shoes and a corner office.

I also found, while I was trying to come up through the ranks, that when I did put in that time and sweat, the older, more experienced lawyers with whom I worked were almost universally generous beyond measure with their time and experience. I had a number of wonderful mentors, none of whom asked anything of me other than that I do the same down the line.

Maybe I've just been lucky. Maybe there are young lawyers out there who think they deserve everything for free. I haven't seen it, though.

By Jonathan on 2013 01 25, 6:20 pm CST

This profession has taken care of me for almost four decades. I've been happy to share what I know, in part because of that is what has been modeled for me by other lawyers. Isn't it a sweet privilege to play a role in the evolution of how differences get adjusted? The more skilled each of us is in promoting justice and peace, the better for all. When should teaching be free? I can't say, but the question of whether this is a business or something larger is important.

By Mullen on 2013 01 25, 6:47 pm CST

Not necessarily a bad idea by the lawyer to place the ad. Definitely a bad idea to reveal his name for the sake of this and possiby other articles.

Law schools do not teach you how to be a lawyer, they teach you to about 1% of the law.

By Speedy Law on 2013 01 25, 7:09 pm CST

@41 Luther and @51 Rob
Mentoring is not for everyone. I opened my own firm in '91 and after hiring way too many lawyers, trimmed the sails back in '98 and closed one office. Being rainmaker, mentor, banker, therapist, and backstop to all the lawyers of the Firm was more than I wanted on my plate. I just wanted to do deals. Retired now, I am disappointed I never found anyone disciplined enough to take over my practice. I loved what I did, and I never ran into anyone with that kind of passion, and a willingness to pursue self-education over the long term to take over my practice. I have met such kindred souls in other firms and to same have gone my former clients.

By de_Law on 2013 01 25, 8:44 pm CST

@ Isolde: If the know-nothings are "shadowing" the lawyer in open court, they are not receiving privileged communications.

By MikeG on 2013 01 25, 8:51 pm CST

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? (In this case, the "shadow.")

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 01 25, 9:01 pm CST

I held a free seminar on immigration for potential clients to attract clients. A girl showed up with her dad and brother asking for information on the legal profession without informing me of her intent. I told her not to get into it if she wants to get rich because she will not. However, I told her that if she wants to see what its really like, then she could come and work a few hours a week for free. Never heard from her again!

Next time I will charge for both the seminar and the advice to potential "future" lawyers.

By Susanna D on 2013 01 25, 9:10 pm CST

No one had to accept his offer so if they did not like it, ignore it. He was entitled to try his idea and he is lucky that he got all of this feedback free and so are those who did not like the idea. I benefited a great deal from experienced lawyers and still do and am 70 years of age. Getting work and experience was a privilege in my mind because I used it to learn to improve my skills to do what I wanted to do for a lifetime, so I was ready to work for free or little when I had no money to pay for the experience after law school, but I benefited and am still practicing and enjoying it, many years later. There were plenty of opportunities to gain the experience without paying for it if I wanted to do it for no or little pay, which I preferred to do and had to do.

By myles glasgow on 2013 01 25, 10:05 pm CST

Lawyers are copyrighting briefs and pleadings, publishers sell legal work product of judges and lawyers for a profit, know how or trade secrets are protected by the Uniform Trade Secret Act of nearly every state so long as the information is not commonly available to the public, kept reasonable close to the vest, and commercially valuable. I'd guess the value to his "shadow" would be in how unique and useful the information was in the field of law he intended to practice. Of course, if the information is generally available, i.e., easily gained by siting in a public proceeding, then there is no protectable secret. Charging for public information borders on simple fraud.

By msmumr on 2013 01 25, 10:50 pm CST

Isolde, Isolde, Isolde! I do not envy Tristan if this subject is all it takes to bring on so many harsh words. Reserve them for the current situation facing lawyers who have pledged their lives and their fortunes to join a profession which kills its young.

By jpm007 on 2013 01 25, 10:50 pm CST

"Apparently these firms thought that if you labeled something as an “internship” it qualifies as an automatic exemption from minimum wage laws. Although I sent numerous complaints to the Florida bar, amazingly not a single firm was sanctioned!"

You should have complained to the IRS and the Wage-Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. I think they might have taken an interest.

By sjay on 2013 01 25, 11:04 pm CST

#9 Why not practice from your home? Contact the courts to get on their appointed lists save some money and then move into an office. You can usually rent space when you need to meet with clients from your local bar or other attorneys.

By Henry Legere on 2013 01 25, 11:19 pm CST

I think #10 said it best. It just doesn't feel right. I can't imagine even thinking of doing this. And what kind of lawyer is he anyway, that he needs $ from a law grad?

By JRWPA on 2013 01 25, 11:57 pm CST

I've got a split perspective: I got my JD in the aughts - *after* rising to manager/mentor level in a previous career (engineering). And I've been a solo lawyer. My $.02:

1. Egregious treatment of new grads really does abound lately. One firm I know of invited new patent attorneys to "work for us free for 2 months and then we'll decide if we want to hire you." I'd like to see more JD grads able to laugh uproariously and walk away from "opportunities" like that, but many - perhaps most - can't.

2. Nobody held a gun to anyone's head and made them pay Craigslist Guy. He extended an offer, nothing more.

3. Craigslist Guy might be struggling financially, good at aspects of law practice other than money (insurance costs alone in some places and practices require a soloist to be Very Very Good With Money Indeed, not to mention what the recent recession's done to collections).

4. Teaching complicated processes is harder than learning them. Laser physics was easier for me to teach than legal procedure (nature's laws fit predictably together and only the very edges usually change much).

5. However, newbies don't necessarily have to be resource-sinks that mature into competitors (psst - if you're decent to them they might even stay and help you!). It's possible to get useful work out of trainees quickly, making it worthwhile to pay them, if initial projects are well organized by a "good explainer." Unfortunately, those are very rare even among professional educators.

6. If Craigslist Guy is a truly stellar mentor (i.e., the opposite of "here, blunder through it blindly by-guess-and-by-gosh, then I'll excoriate your every mistake and call you nasty names and never ever explain what I'm really looking for or how to achieve it"), and someone trained by him for a month or two could hang up a shingle and survive, I think that might change the equation a little bit.

7. If not, (Emily Littella voice) that's very different; never mind.

BTW, California has a history of disfavoring non-compete agreements - for EVERYbody - and somehow lots of business still happens.

By SiValleyGrrl on 2013 01 26, 12:06 am CST

"America should be capitalized." Agreed, JM. I hope I live to see that day again.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 26, 1:32 am CST

B. McLeod,

I wish I had actually intended to make that message, but alas, I am not so clever.

By JM on 2013 01 26, 1:42 am CST

To all of those who have responded in outrage:

If you aren't doing so already, go ahead and give back to your profession by offering advice and your time current students or recent graduates.

Making comments on an ABA article is easy. If anything, the fact that Beck came up with this idea highlights the fact that we aren't doing enough.

By Calling This Thread's Bluff on 2013 01 26, 4:36 am CST

it is disgusting to read all these comments here from self-satisfied jerks who are defending this guy. Disgusting. Filth.

By joe on 2013 01 26, 5:42 pm CST

Hey Kiddies: There was a time in NJ when in order to qualify to be admitted to the bar you had serve a 9-month clerkship with a practicing attorney or judge. For peanuts a week it actually provided enormous insight as to what the practice of law was about. Obviously, a judicial clerkship allowed even a greater eye-opener as to what went on behind the bench. Nowadays, such a requirement would violate state and federal statutes and be piteously minged about by grads. In fact, I witnessed great wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth when judicial clerks were being taken advantage of by requiring them to report two weeks without compensation for an introductory session with the clerk about to leave, poor things.
Upon my departure from my 9-month clerkship to finish as clerk to a federal judge, my private practice mentor wished me well and, as a final bit of advice, said "Never forget, there ain't no justice in the law." And, he was right.

By BILL on 2013 01 26, 5:58 pm CST

it's not really that bad an idea... but why doesn't he hire them as interns then instead of taking their money (which by the way they probably don't have any) he can take their work.

i wouldn't mind following a guy around to learn how he does things, even if he's not perfect (after all who among us is perfect). i wouldn't pay him. he's the lawyer after all, he should probably have more money than the average starving law school grad who can't find a job and has time to follow a lawyer around without getting paid.

By ben franklins hot 12 hour paris date on 2013 01 26, 6:00 pm CST

Here this guy was, just trying to do something to help all the wayward grads who can't figure things out, and they hand him a ration of crap for it. He didn't do anything to them. He didn't make them any worse off by his offer. He just had the effrontery to not recognize their freaking entitlement to have others fix all their problems for free. What is there to like about such a spoiled rotten bunch of clingy whiners?

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 26, 6:21 pm CST

There were two problems with what he did.

First, he failed to realize that what he was trying to do was to reinvent the Apprenticeship system. Not knowing that, he did so in a half-assed manner, and tried to make it sort of a Paparazzi School of Law. What he SHOULD have done is interview candidates for the position, be selective, and be very precise in what he proposed to give them for their money.

Second, he should have stayed off the internet to do this, and instead talk to local Law School Career Advisors, first to discuss what he proposed and hone that into something the Law School would approve (which may be impossible, and I doubt I'd try this without them at least knowing and being neutral on the idea).

If this were done right, it would be good for the profession. Lord knows Law School isn't.

By Robert on 2013 01 26, 6:37 pm CST

I pay Obama and Uncle Sam for the right to go to work. What is one more person on the list?

By tim17 on 2013 01 28, 6:47 pm CST

South Carolina requires that any law grad who desires to make appearances in court first sit through a number of various contested hearings in their entirety. We call these "Rule 403s" and, after the end of the school year one can often find law students at trials watching and asking good questions. The presiding judge certifies the students' attendance at the trial.

South Carolina also has a Lawyer Mentoring Program administered by the SC Supreme Court Commission on CLE & Specialization.

I have had an undergraduate who was considering law school shadow me for a day. Of course I made her sign a confidentiality agreement and obtained client permission. At the end of the day, she decided that the work was too difficult and that the law was not for her.

By Paul the Magyar on 2013 01 28, 10:09 pm CST

I absolutely love the bar associations, but I have always found that "mentoring" never worked well for me. In fact, many of the "mentors" were looking for case referrals, which I suppose is fine but something I never expected.

I have hired consultants on some complex estate planning matters, and it has worked out very well. However, I have tried to hire a consultant in a foreclosure, who I had to fire because the attorney literally do nothing - literally, absolutely nothing.

Most attorneys you call will be more than happy to assist a new attorney or attorney venturing into a new practice area free of charge. It is a great profession. I am today, two years in, regularly helping new and seasoned attorneys in the practice areas I am more familiar with (absolutely free of charge of course).

By Hired Consultants on 2013 01 29, 1:14 pm CST

It is the sense of entitlement that these law grads have. Run an advertisement for a new associate and you'll be shocked by what you hear.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 29, 8:22 pm CST

@ 50. Have you ever heard of bridge programs that many law schools are starting to do? In which they pay employers to hire law school graduates for a period of time, 3 months, 6 months, or even a year. This lawyer recognized that by allowing a law student or a recently graduated student to learn the ins and outs of his business actually poses a competitive risk to his business because of the barring of non-compete agreements by the Bar Associations. So why exactly shouldn't he be compensated for taking on that risk? Are the law schools also wrong in paying attorneys to hire their graduates for a period of time? This is a business issue. All those lawyers who are so benevolent in doing it for free are being very generous but speaking from a business stance are are taking on a grave risk to their own business and any business advisor would likely consult them not to do it unless they were being compensated or were intending to hire the law student.

Lawyers really need to separate the ethics involved in the practice of law from how they run their COMMERCIAL business. The market place and the inherent rules are different than the practice of law. I can say this whole heartly because I worked in a law firm and I graduated from Stanford in Economics. The legal industry is going to be taken over by those who understand these differience (e.g. Clearspire, Axiom, Legalzoom, Rocketlawyer) Just like Turbotax and the other automated tax systems put many of the tax accountants out of business because those who ran these companies understood business and hired the few professionals they needed to develop the systems that would put the rest of the professionals out of business.

Adapt or watch your business die. Its just the brutal truth.

By legaltruth on 2013 01 29, 8:37 pm CST

@131. I have mentored young and old attorneys for the past 20 years. At no time did I ever feel threatened that I would lose clients to them. In fact as part of the mentoring process I allowed them to handle a case start to finish under my supervision letting them keep all of the attorney fees for the case. Whenever I feel like working less I refer cases out to younger/older attorneys - depending on complexity, without requiring a referral fee. Regardless of the above statements, there is plenty of legal work out there. It just might not be in an area you are comfortable. I don't believe that Craigslist attorney did anything wrong. He was only offering a service and desires to be paid for it. Those of us who do free mentoring also do it to get paid --- just not in money. Law has been good to me and my family. It has enabled me to put a son through Medical School, a son and daughter through Law School and another daughter through Nursing School. I anticipate that it will also pay for professional schooling for my three boys still at home. When I graduated I did not have any debt as I was on a full scholarship and received a stipend for living expenses. Additionally, I was receiving retirement pay from my former occupation. MY 2 cents for what it is worth is to get uncomfortable. If there is no work available in your practice area, learn a new one. There is a lot of help out there. Don't be afraid to ask for it. For those who may be interested the majority of my criminal law practice is Capital cases.

By Henry Legere on 2013 01 29, 9:33 pm CST

Easy for me. Just don't take anyone on as a student. Once they pass the bar they will be able to claim no experience. I don't call this mentoring or giving back to the profession. This is strictly business. If someone wants to donate time to mentor OK. If someone wants to have some of the costs offset, that is OK too. You can be sure the firms treat the mentoring time as charity and write it off. I don't think a sole practitioner can bury those costs so deep. BTW someone said this amounts to divulging confidential info to another. It certainly does not. The trainee is an agent of the attorney and covered just like a secretary would be. BBTW at my law school they offered a practical program where we worked in a clinic supervised by an attorney to do public service law for illegals and the indigent. You guessed it. Those three units were charged to the student at the regular rate The attorney said he was donating his time . It was a catholic school so I understand the give and we'll pray for you routine. So much for giving back. Just another money grab.

By jabusse on 2013 01 30, 3:00 am CST

Haven't had time until today to look at JM's responses to my comments. Been too busy at my calling. All I can add is: 1. Glad you're not my partner; and 2. If the associates who report to you are happy to work under the environemt that you appear to support, good luck to you and watch your throat. They'll cut it the first time you look the other way.

By benfranklin2 on 2013 01 30, 9:23 pm CST


Come on, tell the truth, you've actually been busy patting yourself on the back about how noble and egalitarian you are, haven't you? All we poor oafs drowning in the concerns of the hoi polloi, shackled by desires for efficiency when we should be exalting our profession by singing the dulcimer tones of our mighty esteem for we are the protectors of virtue and because God knows, any prisoner with access to legal books or the Internet couldn't do our job just as well.

By JM on 2013 01 30, 9:47 pm CST


There's no use talking to him, goading him further will only bring about more toxin.

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, for they are vexatious to the spirit."

By nobody on 2013 01 30, 10:47 pm CST

I think all of our education is WAY too long and WAY too expensive. I would rather have ne associate who had one year of law school and 2 years of internship.
I could care less about an undergraduate degree.
We need to feed societies need for workers not feed the machine that is our over rated education system.

By JGK on 2013 01 31, 4:24 pm CST

When I got out of law school in '93, there was a recession. I went to work for a lawyer for free and got great experience. I eventually got a low paying but decent job and a year after I left him, got a call to come interview for a high paying LA firm based on the first lawyers recommendation. It tripled my salary and I found the experience I got with the first lawyer and the experience I got with the low paying firm gave me enough skill and confidence to do extremely well at the high paying firm. Mind you, I couldn't have paid to be mentored back then. But working for free more than paid off.

By Mark Hartzler on 2013 01 31, 6:36 pm CST

@31/defective product - lawyers with a 'conscience'? im a lawyer and i enjoy kicking little kids and dogs under 40lbs. why you ask? because its no skin off my back and it entertains me for a couple minutes or whenever they stop crying.

By bill on 2013 01 31, 8:25 pm CST

@137 JGK and 138 Hartzler

You are exactly right, it is definitely too long (and so much of it useless). But an argument can be made that the system in itself helps weed out those who would just "study law" to say they're a lawyer.

I'm not gonna talk about lawyers' high ideals, focus, competitiveness, and work ethic, etc. I think 'we' are like that long before we ever get to law school. But what makes the difference is those students and to-be lawyers put in the time necessary to study/understand the complexity of the law, or at least the diversity. Whether that's a valid bar, is another story.

I'm all for shorter academic cycles and more apprenticeship. This is the problem with the school system today. It tries to pull people out of the offices and jobs and into their (paid) classrooms and then say "it's not only a replacement for OJT, but you get a nice glossy paper to show for it too!"

Young people are too fascinated by, however unfortunately in need of, those papers. When we as a society stop judging people by the degrees posted on their wall, and more by their character, work ethic, and their record, then we will be back in the right direction.

I worked during law school, had a job before law school. Many students have not or do not. And therein also lies a problem. 7 years of straight school and the idea is that they are 'ready' to get out there and start working!? Many haven't even had a job at McDonalds or Starbucks. They've just studied. And what is the expectation? Do they think because they've put in all the time and spent the money (borrowed), that they automatically are going to work for the best firm right away? Rhetorical questions, there's such a variance. But the point is, if you are going straight through your college without padding it or preluding it with work experience, your reality upon graduation will not only be grossly skewed, but you will be extremely disappointed and disheartened.

By Toolow on 2013 02 01, 7:27 am CST

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