Around the Blawgosphere

In-person networking the right move for every lawyer?; Summer reading recs from bloggers


Late last week, Philadelphia law partners Jordan Rushie and Leo Mulvihill at Philly Law Blog and Lawyerist, respectively, wrote about “the hustle” that goes along finding clients for their small law practice.

Rushie wrote about his unpaid professional / networking activities, which includes heavy involvement in and legal work for his neighborhood association; committee work for the Pennsylvania Bar Association; and happy hour at his local bar. “Anything you do that gets you in front of people and increases your network will increase the likelihood that people will think you’re someone worth paying attention to and hiring,” Rushie wrote. “This will help your job prospects, and prospects of picking up clients. You are more valuable to a potential employer if you’re someone people actually care about, and potential clients want to hire. It won’t happen overnight, though.”

Mulvihill wrote about the power of people in your community recognizing you as a lawyer, whether it’s because you’ve introduced yourself and handed out your card or any other reason. He shared an anecdote about a successful lawyer he knows. “This particular lawyer has floor seats for our local basketball team, and wears a suit to every. single. game,” Mulvihill wrote. “While enjoying the game one night, this lawyer was approached by another person at the game, who said: ‘you look like a lawyer. Are you a lawyer?’ Naturally, the lawyer answered ‘yes’ and struck up a conversation. The result of this conversation was a new client with an excellent case for that lawyer. All because he wore a suit to a basketball game.”

Life is a networking event, Manhattan solo Scott Greenfield wrote at Simple Justice in response to the other posts. “We meet people constantly. We chat with them, make friends (or enemies), hang out and share jokes and dirty looks. There is a world out there teeming with life. You want a networking event? It’s been going on since before you were born and will continue after you die, non-stop. It’s up to you whether you want to be part of it … You aren’t going to meet these people staring at the screen of your iPhone or Ultrabook, but participating in something I like to call ‘life.’ “

Carolyn Elefant sees the value in all of this but asks at My Shingle whether urging in-person networking activities is one-size-fits-all advice.

“Even though the world as described by Scott and Jordan and their adoring commenters is how things are today, I’m troubled. Partly because I’m impatient and opinionated and don’t play well with others—and partly because as a parent, specifically a mom, my time is limited,” Elefant writes. “My point is this: given some of the problems with in-person networking—bias against free-wheelers and (possibly, narrowly) against women—should we keep endorsing, lauding and recommending it over and over because that’s how it’s always been done? Or are there equally sound ways to build a successful law practice even by limiting the role of in-person networking? I think so—but I’d like to hear your views.”

Beach books for lawyers

Just in time for the start of summer, the blogosphere is talking books. At Litigation & Trial, Philadelphia litigator Max Kennerly wrote about how he read John Grisham’s The Litigators, a novel that came out last year about a duo of ambulance chasers, and he was kind of surprised that he liked it. “The book touches upon the real themes of practice outside of the big firms, like the strange mixture of constant boredom and stress that permeates a ‘general practitioner’ who dabbles in several fields but masters none, and the toll that takes on the lawyers and their families.”

Meanwhile, Lawyerist also rounded up book picks from its writers. Two suggestions from the post for you to take on the plane with your or put in your beach bag:

• My Case’s Niki Black recommended Representing the Accused: A Practical Guide to Criminal Defense by Jill Paperno for wannabe criminal defense lawyers. “From file organization and effective client communication to subpoenaing information and trying a case, this book covers all the bases … It provides much-needed information for young lawyers and should, in my opinion, be a part of every law school curriculum. Paperno’s book is an incredible resource and one that I wish had been available to me when I started practicing criminal law back in 1996.”

• If you want to read a ” ‘lawyer-as-hero’ book,” U.S. Bank attorney Andy Mergendahl recommends The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the Survivors of One of the Worst Disasters in Coal-Mining History Brought Suit Against the Coal Company—And Won by Gerald Stern. “It’s about the 1972 collapse of a West Virginia coal mine impoundment dam that created a wall of water and debris that killed 125, injured over 1,000 and made over 4,000 homeless. Stern, a young lawyer, represented hundreds of those who refused to accept the coal company’s initial offer.”

And, of course, don’t forget about the ABA Journal’s “30 Lawyers Pick 30 Books Every Lawyer Should Read,” if you haven’t made it through that list since it came out in 2011.

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