Around the Blawgosphere

Generation X's impact on the legal industry | A blogger shares his wife's lung cancer struggle

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“There is a generational shift taking place, and very few people are talking about it, nor the impact it is having on our sales culture, nor our business culture,” Heather Morse, director of marketing for Barger & Wolen in Los Angeles, writes at The Legal Watercooler. Members of Generation X—like herself—now in the partnership ranks and in the position to hire law firms don’t think like baby boomers, she writes.

“They are not buying into this more money, more money, more money model based on 2,400-billable hours a year,” Morse wrote. “They might hang out long enough to pay off their student loans, but they are not willing to hang around hoping that they too will one day share in the deep pockets. … Gen Xers do not have faith that ‘it’ (permanent financial success and security) will actually happen, and are therefore willing to take their clients to another firm to have their financial needs today met.”

Those she describes as “trailing edge boomers,” young Boomers currently in their 50s, are in a tough spot, she writes. “They are lacking the entrepreneurial spirit of their GenX counterparts, coupled with no longer being the recipients of the institutional client being handed to them upon the retirement of a senior partner. These are oftentimes the partners we marketing folks are not able to pry out of their offices to go off and meet with prospective clients. Great service partners. Great at cultivating existing relationships. Not so great at making brand-new rain. They were raised with the same idealistic promises of the leading-edge boomers. However, they were never prepared for hard times, and they are fearful of failure.”

Sharing her story

Santa Clara University School of Law professor Eric Goldman cross-posted at both Goldman’s Observations and Technology & Marketing Law Blog a personal note: His 41-year-old wife, Lisa, like some 30,000 Americans every year who have also never smoked, has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Lung cancer is “hard to detect, so it’s typically diagnosed at a late stage, and it easily metastasizes, especially to the brain. As a result, lung cancer victims, including those who never smoked, often die before they can share their stories to the world.” But, Goldman wrote, “this situation is changing. Blogging technology enables lung cancer victims to tell their stories firsthand, and recent improvements in treatment are helping lung cancer victims live a little longer—perhaps long enough to tell their stories.”

Goldman says that his wife has launched a blog, Every Breath I Take, to document her journey with lung cancer. “Please spread the word about Lisa’s blog and the reality that lung cancer isn’t just a ‘smoker’s disease,’ ” Goldman wrote. “Until we get past the ‘blame the victim’ narrative, we won’t fully understand the disease and the victims who have it, nor will we make optimal investments in preventing and treating it.”

But are legal services the focus?

This week, we noted the young law firm Tandem Legal Group, whose nonlawyer chief executive, Mike McDevitt, is allowed to share in the law firm’s profits because of unique ethics rules in Washington, D.C., where the firm is based.

But while D.C. solo Carolyn Elefant thinks that Tandem “is irresistibly cool and smart,” she notes at My Shingle that its LinkedIn page “categorizes the firm as providing ‘management consulting,’ not legal service.”

Too little focus on law could have them walking an ethical fine line. In D.C., “if legal services become ancillary to business services, then the combination of lawyers and nonlawyers sharing fees isn’t ‘working in tandem’ at all, but instead, unlawful fee-splitting,” she wrote. “In addition, if legal services are ancillary to other dealings, that may also raise questions about whether attorney-client privilege attaches to lawyer communications.”

Who’s OnFirst?

Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites burst the bubble of Foxwordy, which says it is “the first private social network for lawyers.” Foxwordy’s public relations director told Ambrogi that the new network is private in that it’s invitation-only.

“Well, sorry, Foxwordy, but even by your own definition, you are not the first invitation-only social network for lawyers,” Ambrogi wrote, noting Legal OnRamp, which the ABA Journal wrote about in 2007.

“So what is different about Foxwordy? I haven’t received my invitation yet, so I can’t say for sure,” Ambrogi wrote. He noted that users can request an invitation at the site and get a free three-month membership.

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