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Around the Blawgosphere: Thank God I’m a Country Lawyer; Rebuffing Firms’ Family-Friendly Advances

Posted Sep 16, 2011 8:36 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Podunk Practices

In July, Minnesota solo Bruce Cameron did a Rural Lawyer post listing eight misconceptions about rural law practice. This week, Cameron used email excerpts from his correspondence with "Thomas," a 27-year-old lawyer who lives 40 miles from Dallas ("I still need to move farther out," he writes), to create a guest post of sorts.

"I think that most of the people who spread the misconceptions about rural law practice are, frankly, lawyers who aren’t making money in the big city and use these myths as excuses for not opening a rural practice," according to Thomas. “ 'Oh, I’m struggling now, but think how bad I would have it if I practiced out in the country!' "

Thomas concurs with the point Cameron made in his earlier post about how the rural bar is older than the lawyer population in major metropolitan areas, and supports his assertion with State Bar of Texas stats. Thomas also says that small-town lawyers don't face much competition from nearby metro areas—in part because the "good ol' boys network" protects its own. His county "has a rule that in order to get on the list for court-appointed cases, 80 percent of your pending cases must be in this county—obviously a move designed to keep Dallas lawyers from getting on the “wheel.”


Forgoing Flex Time

At the Careerist, Vivia Chen notes the list of the 50 best law firms for women compiled by Flex-Time Lawyers and the National Association for Female Executives. All 50 firms offer the option of reduced work hours, Chen notes, but Flex-Time founder Deborah Henry Epstein says that only 10 percent of the lawyers at these 50 firms take advantage of this accommodation.

Chen also talked to Elizabeth Anne "Betiayn" Tursi, who chairs the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, which does its own law firm survey related to women's salaries and advancement within law firms. Chen noted the results of that survey—which gave 32 law firms "gold standard" recognition—in June.

"I don't care care about flex-time, part-time, or anytime," Tursi told Chen. "And I don't care which firms have lactation rooms." It's "impossible" for lawyers who work part-time to become business developers and leaders, she says.


A 'New Normal' Timeline

Legal Futures writes that British legal tech expert Richard Susskind predicted in an afterword to a report on general counsel that the relationship between in-house counsel and law firms will evolve in the next five years.

We're now in the first phase of the evolution, in which most law firms and GCs are trying to maintain the status quo, Susskind wrote. In the second phase, which Susskind thinks will start in 2013, both law firms and general counsel "will embrace legal process outsourcing, off-shoring, de-lawyering and agency lawyers.” In the third phase, from 2016 onwards, Susskind predicts "automated production of documents and intelligent e-discovery systems—these are applications that will be staggeringly less costly than even the lowest-paid lawyers.”

Providers rather than clients should drive change, Susskind wrote, and he thinks that in this particular evolution, non-law firm service providers will lead the way. “These providers tend to have much greater appetite for rethinking legal services than conventional law firms," he wrote. "The competition is stiffening. In the end, then, the agents of change may not be lawyers.”


Bamboo-zled

Connecticut lawyer Ryan McKeen was reviewing superior court decisions and posted at A Connecticut Law Blog this week about a pro se case brought by one neighbor against another. Caryn Rickel's stated cause of action against her neighbors, Michael and Roberta Komaromi, whose bamboo plant had spread to her yard? “Encroachment by vegetation," McKeen writes. The court struck the suit.

According to Valley Independent Sentinel, after filing the suit (but before it was dismissed) Rickel lobbied her state legislators to add bamboo to the state's list of invasive plants.

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