Friday, July 17, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener...

We've heard it before, and we'll hear it again: July and August are typically very slow for law firms. Green Street is no exception, even though the color green evokes prosperity and growth (right?). Lately, we've felt like an under-watered lawn. We're busy with little things, but the little things require other people to engage, and you know how that goes when you're trying to juggle 5-10 other people.

I tell you, Portland starts to look better and better sometimes. Yeah, I know it rains, but it's just not as inundated with attorneys as down here. Yeah, I know it's sunny here just about all the time, but it's difficult not to get Environmental Fatigue, our new phrase to describe the constant traffic, crowds, garbage, lack of fresh air, etc.

Pity party for one?

Tip the world over on its side and everything
loose will land in Los Angeles.

~Frank Lloyd Wright

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Luck of the Irish

We've got a lot of things on our plates lately. Elizabeth is super busy and so am I. But, we've never considered maybe it's our individual and combined Super Irish Power that just landed us at the proverbial pot 'o gold.

When we first landed in LA, we met with an estate planning lawyer. We had a nice chat, wrote a Thank You card, promised to keep in touch, and didn't think much of it. Well, he must have liked us, because a few weeks ago, he contacted us to let us know he's winding down his practice and wants to give us some of the work. Um, this guy has been in practice for 40+ years. That means he has about a gazillion files.

So we wrote up a contract, faxed it back and forth a few times, and BAM! the first file came through today, an update to a trust. As of now, we're getting a third of the fee. But his fees are way higher than ours. So, it's a pretty sweet Irish deal.

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

~ Old Irish Blessing

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello, Law Firm? Oh, Plumbing? Yes, We Handle That Too!

Sometimes you gotta do what pays. Right now what's paying is a major plumbing issue at my aunt's house. Paul, of course, Renaissance Man Extraordinaire came to the rescue and we got a little money out of the deal.

Add the plumbing check to the $15 we won in Vegas, and we've got a serious contribution to Google Ad Words.

Not only is there no God, but try

finding a plumber on Sunday.

- Woody Allen

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rest In Peace Mr. Jackson

What a guy. Aside from all the molestation allegations and a strange lifestyle, I'll always remember Michael Jackson as an absolutely fabulous entertainer. In college Colleen, Cristina and I would rock out to Billy Jean on the record player (yes, my roommate had a record player in 2004). Love MJ.

Paul has been a victim to more than one of my crazy dancing sessions it the car when Rock with You (alllll nighhhttt!!!!), and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.

What's your favorite Michael Jackson song? I dare you to sing it without dancing!

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.
~Friedrich Nietzche

Friday, June 19, 2009

What Happens in Vegas Goes into the Firm

That's right, we're hitting the road and visiting Las Vegas for two nights. We got married in August of 2008, and have not taken one measly vacation since our honeymoon. I am already clawing at the door to get out of LA and off to Sin City!

Of course, we'll post about our big winnings from the penny slots, and how we're transferring all of it into our Google Ad Words Account.

Las Vegas looks the way you'd imagine heaven must look at night.
~Chuck Palahniuk

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Money In = Money Out

Things are going great. However, it seems the minute we get our hot little hands on some cold hard cash, it burns a hole through our pockets (see post below re: Google Adwords).

Take the fact that my laptop computer just up and died a few days ago. I've had it for four years, since right before law school, and it's served me well. So off we went to Fry's, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy. We ended up purchasing a replacement at Costco.

It's gorgeous. A Hewlitt Packard G60-243CL.

What I really like about it is that it has a bigger keyboard. My old laptop was tiny. I wanted it that way because I had to haul it around campus most days. The new laptop won't need to be dragged from room to room, so I got a wider keyboard (and screen) and it has an additional number keypad to the right of the main keyboard. Sweet.

Speaking of the number keypad, it was easy to cook up a monthly budget for our law firm. We're slidding in at about $550/month in fixed expenses.

That amount covers:
  • Rotary (two clubs, we each belong to a seperate Rotary. Our motto is divide and conquer. Rotary is, by far, the largest chunk of our monthly budget).
  • Utilities
  • University Club (our "office" for meeting prospective clients).
  • Internet
  • MyFax monthly fee
  • Monthly website hosting fee
Adding a few extra fixed expenses such as health insurance and undergraduate loan payment (the mega law school loan is still on deferral) brings it to about $900/month. I did not include our ridiculous obsession with Google Adwords either. I'll have to gird up my loins for that one.

It's good to know the numbers up front and now they're on the office wall. It's certainly motivation to keep on truckin'.

A nickle ain't worth a dime anymore.
~Yogi Berra

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eight is Great

I was working on our database today, organizing our electronic files categories according to their legal need. We have eight beautiful little client files, all categorized to perfection. So pretty! I feel as though they are my children--I am so proud of them.

Anyone use Google Adwords? We started using it and it is addictive. It's incredible to see how many impressions you get, then how many people click through.

We pay per click, however, and the clicks can get pricey. For example, if you wanted to be at the top of the list when people search for "Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer" you'd have to pay about $15 per click. Fortunatley we're not in that area (haha..yet) but it can get crazy.

For example, our loan modification ad is hot. We get about 10 clicks per day, but they cost us approximately $5 per click. And we've only gotten about 7-8 inquires, with two people signing on for assistance. Every morning I check the balance and have to throw about $50 in the proverbial Adwords Fire. But, it is interesting to study the traffic to our site and see where people are coming from, as the analytics are very good.

Although I'm thrilled with of our eight files, everytime someone writes a check, it goes straight to advertising! It'll be a blog-worthy event when we get ahead of this prediciment. Will keep you posted. If anyone has tips on Google Adwords, please share!

For a business not to advertise is like winking at a girl in the dark.
You know what you are doing but no one else does.

~Stuart H. Britt

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Two Pictures in ONE Day

Okay, so we didn't want to jinx ourselves, but we have good news.

Let's hear it for not one, but two new clients!

No estate plans here, we're doing what's hot in this region: loan modification and foreclosure avoidance. There are so many scams out there. We look forward to assisting these folks and providing advice and counsel.

In other good news, we got our first settlement check for our rent deposit return website.

Paul wrote a mind-blowing demand letter, and the check just came in the mail yesterday. The client is over the moon and so are we. This could be big. More on that in a few weeks, when it's bigger than one check. ;-)

I know the price of success: dedication,
hard work, and an unremitting
devotion to
the things you want to see happen.

~Frank Lloyd Wright

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Slow as Molasses

Hopefully by the end of next week Green Street Law will have more news. Until then, we can't risk jinxing anything. One can become very superstitious in this practice.

Feels like molasses.

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
~Buddhist Saying

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Drum Roll Please...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...we have our first family law matter!

Considering we walked out of the first day of Family Law class, I was surprised to get a referral for a divorce. Um, sure, we do divorces!

The initial meeting was a little rough, due to our lack of experience (this is where I thank God we have a list of helpful attorneys in our contact database). We wouldn't have taken the case save for the facts that there are no children (those can get really ugly and last a long time) and the wife (who we represent) has a moderate income.

Due to these two factors, we are going to do the "unbundled approach." That means we limit our representation to assisting with specific items such as document preparation and coaching, rather than "full representation" which would entail her paying a hefty retainer fee. Several attorneys who practice divorce law complain that when they burn through the retainer and ask for more, the client then squeals "I have no more money!" and the lawyer is left to do the rest of the work for free. It puts both attorney and client in a real bind.

Unbundled legal services is a great solution, providing affordable legal services to middle income families, and allowing attorneys to do many family law matters on a flat fee basis.

Anyways, off the soapbox. Wishing you all a great weekend!

Ah, yes, divorce ... from the Latin word meaning
rip out a man's genitals through his wallet.
~Robin Williams

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tell Me Your Story

My apologies for the lack of entries recently. It's not that we've been bowled over with clients throwing themselves at our door like voracious zombies (that one is for you, James!).

Actually, we've had several phone calls. But many are those we like to call "Story Tellers."

Take "Mike," for example. He calls me on a Saturday (at this point, we'd answer the phone for a client on Christmas Eve if we had to). He's talking really fast, something about a physical illness he had which was something something with his Veteran's benefits.... Finally I interject and ask for his name and telephone number, politely stating that I'll need it in case we get disconnected.

He tells me his name is Mike. He gives me his area code, then goes off on another long tangent about how the Veteran's Administration misdiagnosed him, yada yada yada. I interject a second time, explaining it's a Saturday and I actually have to meet a friend shortly, but I'd be happy to talk to him more on Monday, if he'd just give me the rest of that phone number.

He hangs up. I kid you not!

Now seriously people, did he get anything out of yaking my ear off for five minutes? I don't know. But, I've run this by several other attorneys and they agree it's pretty common. Some people just want to talk, share their story.

One more thing they don't teach in those non-existant Law Firm Management classes at law school.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.
~Groucho Marx

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's My Birthday and I Got a Stapler

My mom is in town, and she took us on an office supply blow-out buying spree at Costco today. Her gifts will cover both of our birthdays (mine being May 12th) and Paul's in July.

On the long-coveted list:
  • A rockin' STAPLER--this baby can do 25 sheets. It is HOT.
  • A Brother 4-in-1 machine. Faxer, printer, scanner, copier. Wow!
  • Paper--5,000 blindingly white sheets.
  • Business security envelopes.
She also bought me a pair of shorts, running socks, a new shirt, and some Philips Sonicare toothbrush heads. What can I say, I'm a practical woman.

Thanks Mom! Seriously, the "business" gifts are much appreciated because they will really increase our productivity. Let's hear it for Liz's Mom!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Favorite Blogs

As bloggers, we have to keep up with other blogs. Our blog is quite measly compared to the ones we'll list here. Some writers are so creative, cleaver, and informative, it's hard not spend the whole day reading their entries, when we need to be out beating the pavement.

Hence, a post about some of our favorite blogs, and why we are shamelessly addicted:
  • Sweet Hot Justice: HILARIOUS account of an associate at an anonymous big law firm. Her accounts of big law life have made me squirt Diet Coke through my nose more than once.
  • California Injury Blog: Jon Bisnar and his crew are incredible, maintaining an amazing blog with almost daily entries about personal injury cases throughout California. This guy never sleeps.
  • Above the Law: one of the top-ranked legal blogs in our present day. It's our one stop shop to learn about the latest law firm lay-offs and hiring freezes. Tip: ignore the comment sections, things get out of control regularly.
  • My Shingle: consistently brings in news and tidbits for those out on their own, in the sun or in the cold. She also wrote a book titled Solo by Choice. Although we've yet to check it out, judging from her blog, it's likely a good read.
  • Legal Marketing Blog: consistently comes up with solid, useful tips for marketing a law firm.
  • Build A Solo Practice: I've been following this informative blog since before graduation from law school. It has a wealth of resources and interesting articles pertaining to hanging your shingle. It's creator, Susan Cartier Liebel, is the mastermind behind the incredible Solo Practice University.
  • The [Non] Billable Hour: the top post was "Selling Through a Slump" so it automatically goes on here.
  • The Greatest American Lawyer: blog tag line is "Changing the Way Law is Practiced." We're doing the same thing. So there. It's G2G.
The personal nature of the blog is what they find appealing.
~ Ethan G. Salwen

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Entering the Ooma Vortex

Yesterday we bought a new office phone system. It's call Ooma. It's a box you buy at the store (we got it on sale for $199, typically it runs about $249) and then you can make and receive domestic phone calls for free, forever through your high-speed internet, which you're already paying for. Ooma is an additional device, not connected with your internet provider. One telephone number is included.

We also signed up for the Premier Services, which run $99 per year, or $8.25 per month through Ooma. These services include:
  • An instant second line (through the same box)
  • Three-way conferencing
  • Voice mail forwarding to our cell phones when we're out
  • A personal blacklist (ooohhhh!)
  • Custom ring patterns
  • Message screening
  • An additional phone number
Wishing there was more to report, I'll be signing off to make some calls.

The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.
~ Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just Chillin' at the Bus Stop

We feel a lot like this squirrel. We may not wear hats, but we do bring our own bags to the store. Save a tree.

I digress. Sometimes it feels as though the bus has already left, or it simply is not coming.

We've got our one client, and we're still out shaking the acorn trees for more.

In the meantime, we are going nuts over some new areas of law we may venture into. We'll keep you posted, we know you're hungry.

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the
ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.
~ Josh Billings

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Got Your Number

We made a switch here at Green Street and changed our telephone number to accurately reflect our location in Pasadena.

To do this, we bought a "626" telephone number from Skype ($35 per year?! Can't beat that with a stick!). Now we can answer the phone on our computers.

But wait, there's more!

Paul installed a VOIP box that will transfer the phone calls online to our cell phones, so we'll get the calls even if we're on the road. How sweet is that? Ahh, technology.

People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much
better press than people who are just funny and smart.
~ Howard Simons

Thursday, April 9, 2009

No Better Than a Used Car Salesman

For the past several weeks we've been trying to set up dates to do presentations at several local venues. There is one library which has been extremely accommodating and willing to work with us. I applaud them for being so helpful. We are really looking forward to that date.

However, other groups are treating us like used car salesmen. They don't return phone calls, don't understand why anyone would want to talk about the subject, and are very quizical as to what we are promoting, believing we're simply going to shower the room with our business cards.

Today was the straw that broke this blogger's back. The "gatekeeper" said she'd have to check with another venue where we plan to give a presentation and see how they said it went. I sputtered for words, and finally croaked out "okay, sounds good, look forward to hearing from you!"

I felt like pulling a Steve Martin line: "Excuuussssse Me!"

Dear readers, no one will deny that we are trying to grow our business, but we are also trying to provide a complimentary public service to those in our community. These presentations are always in the evening, or on a weekend (when we'd much rather be at the beach). We never talk for more than half an hour (we don't want to bore). Then we answer questions. We bring food. We dress up, we are friendly and personable. Did I mention good-looking? What is not to love???

In law school, professors and deans always said "as an attorney, you will be one of the most highly regraded people in your community." Yeah right!

Love what you do. Believe in your instincts.
And you'd better bet able to pick yourself up and brush yourself off every day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wow. Just Wow.

Yesterday Paul and I had the privilege of meeting with Jay Foonberg, aka "the Godfather." His book, How to Start & Build a Law Practice is the Bible of hanging your own shingle.

I once checked his book out from the Career Services Department at our law school and intentionally did not return it for months (I rationalized it because they had seven more copies). Thankfully, I got my very own copy for Christmas this year! Jay's book is practical and addresses so many concerns that first-timers are worried about, such as:
  • How do I set my fees?
  • How do I get clients?
  • Can I really do this?
Mr. Foonberg lives in Beverly Hills. I figured since we're judgment proof, I'll call his office.

The phone rang twice, then suddenly I hear:

This is Jay Foonberg, how can I help you?

*Thunk* That was the sound of my jaw dropping on the floor.

Yesterday we took him to lunch in Beverly Hills. Let me tell you, he is the NICEST guy, had tons of advice, and wished us the best of luck. Mr. Foonberg spent two hours with us, answered all of our questions, and signed our book. We were so honored to spend time with him. Thanks Mr. Foonberg!

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.
~ Boris Pasternak

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pasadena v. Pasadena

We're on a kick to get involved in the Parks & Recreation departments of our city. These departments often hold classes on estate planning, elder law, veterans benefits, and the like. We'd be thrilled to offer a complimentary course in the evenings or on weekends to our local community.

So I'm all jazzed to start contacting people. I reach this super nice guy and he gives me the name of a really friendly woman and it's all cupcakes and marshmallows, I'm finally feeling as though I'm getting somewhere by the end of this week. I've even added these folks to our contact management system (CMS for the nerds out there).

Um, yeah. Until I figure out I've just left messages and had conversations with people in Pasadena, TX! One guy even described to me the location of one of the senior centers, giving me street names, etc. I just go along with it--figure I'm new to town and don't know all the streets, even though I've never heard of them.

So...I end the week red-faced. Thank God it's the weekend.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
~ Albert Einstein

Monday, March 30, 2009

Keep Pushing!

We had another breakthrough today on the phone. It occurred during the fourth phone call, in trying to set up a presentation for us to:
  • provide a community service
  • reach our core client base
  • eat cookies (by providing refreshments)
Boy, did I get the runaround. First I lightheartedly suggested we talk about XYZ. She told me all the people already had XYZ. Then I suggested ABC, to which she said "not really."

Every time she started explaining why we couldn't do it, I took deep breathes and thought "How am I going to get her on my side?"

Finally, my last ditch effort was to ask her what she thought people would like to hear about. Ahha! She had two ideas which were perfect, both of which we have experience talking about.

Lesson: instead of sighing and saying, "Okay, thanks anyway" when she turned me down, I kept trying to think how I could work with her so that we could have a mutually beneficial relationship. Victory!

Never, never, never, never give up.
- Winston Churchill

Friday, March 27, 2009

The First (Glorious) Check

Payday is here boys and girls! We got our first check from our fantastic clients.

They are happy with our service, thrilled that we are working for them. What could be better?

Money is not the more important thing in the world. Love is. Fortunately, I love money.
Unknown (but well said!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conversation Starters--How to Break The Ice

Often times I'm at events by myself. Or I'm there early, waiting for the people I'm meeting to show up. These are good opportunities to break the ice with people I don't know. But it can be challenging. First, it's hard to tap the glass around a married or romantically involved couple. An alternative is to join a "quad," but it can be risky because you're at the mercy of their conversation (if the topic is sports, I'll be woefully unprepared).

Hence I try to pinpoint other people out on a limb, flying solo. But even then, the standard "So, what do you do?" gets crusty. At Networking Insight, the author offers ten topics to start a good conversation.

Below are my top 3 that lead to more than just yes or no:
  • "That is such a nice shawl/pin/dress you are wearing, where did you get that?"
  • "Is this going to be a good party or what?" or "Did you come to this event last year? How was it?"
  • The tried and true, "Hi, how are you today?"
Sharing is caring. What's your best opening line? The worst? Most interesting?

Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread.
~ Johan Arndt

Thursday, March 19, 2009

From Headache to Adrenoline Rush

Yesterday I went to one of my weekly networking meetings. I got there early with the intention of networking before the program began. Unfortunately, there were very few people who arrived early, and they had already broken up into "huddles" where three or four of them lean in real close and have intense discussions. They're probably talking about March Madness.

So I swaggered over to the buffet and loaded up my plate. I decided to sit at a table of people whom I did not know. Uh oh. I sit down and meet a lawyer ("L"), and a small business owner ("SBO"). I introduce myself with a big smile and explain I'm one of the new members. L starts going on and on about how we don't need anymore lawyers in the group. SBO just smiles, helplessly. L continues to berate the fact that there are so many in the legal profession as part of this organization.

I ask L how long he's been in practice. He tells me 30 years. At this point, with a headache already starting between my eyes, I couldn't help myeslf, so I light-heartedly suggested, "You know, some of you all should retire! Let the newbies get our feet wet!" SBO bursts into laughter, noting my charm. L is not very amused.

I start feeling head-achey. Is this what this club is going to be like? People that are annoyed that I even joined? I can't believe we're paying money for this. Wait, thank you Lord, someone I know has just walked in! I jump up and rush to him, then shamelessly beg him to come join my table. He obliges, much to my relief.

Now that I have one fun person to talk to and my headache has melted away, I decide to redriect myself. Maybe L is having a bad day, but I will not let this opportunity pass me by. So I make a mental checklist of things to do:
  • Talk to that lady over there.
  • Join that club within the club.
  • Volunteer to help in this capacity.
  • Talk to other person about one other thing.
After the meeting adjourns, I jump up and relay around the room to catch all these people before they leave. Success! I get to everything on my list, and then some.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You've Got (Direct) Mail

Things are going along swimingly here. Our one client is perfect. But, no rest for the weary, we have to keep pounding the pavement and beating back the bushes to get that second and third client.

As many of you know, print advertising is prohibitively priced at this point. For example, there is a small local newspaper that we'd love to run ads in. However, I almost snorted diet soda through my nose when they told me their rates. That's a few clients down the road we figure.

Next idea: direct mail. We can order full color postcards from VistaPrint. They cost about $0.34 each for 500. Or $0.25 each for 1,000. I'm a big Costco fan, so I'm jazzed about getting 1,000. One thousand cards! If we can't get 1 client from 1,000 cards, we need to change professions, right? We don't plan to purchase mailing lists either. We have our ways to use technology to save on that cost.

Anyone have experience or tips regarding direct mailing? We realize it doesn't usually have an excellent success rate, but it's what we can afford right now. Thoughts? Opinions? Are we nuts?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drumroll Please....

Today we signed an engagement letter with our first client! It's not the one mentioned from our last blog post, but a couple we met yesterday when we gave a presentation. Looks as though it will deal with elements of insurance law, contract law, and even a tad of landlord/tenant law. We are really excited!

We celebrated with lunch at one of our favorite burger joints, Hi Life Burgers. Sharing a Diet Coke, (remember folks, we haven't gotten paid yet) it was difficult to raise our one "glass" to toast our good fortune. To improvise, Paul proudly held up his bean burrito and gently taped it against the Styrofoam cup as I shouted "Salud!"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Probate?

We recently got a referral for a probate case. It's full of sticky issues and very complicated. But good, clean cases are not falling from trees in this economy, and we have the time to handle it. So we're going for it. This afternoon we're meeting the family and hope to move quickly to get things started. Wish us luck!

I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman.
~ Dan Castellaneta

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

9 to 5? Try 8 to 2

We work long hours most days. Sometimes we leave the house at 7am and don't return until 10pm. But sometimes you run into people that make you grateful you are not them. At a party recently, I met a young lawyer who graduated the same year that we did. She said that this was the first social engagement that she had attended in a long time.

She tells me she works at Paul Hastings. To be honest, I tell her that I have not heard the name of the firm, although today I notice the name plastered on the side of a high rise in downtown L.A. It's comical how lawyers always expect that you have heard the name of their firm. As if my entire existence is to memorize the names of big firms that I would never want to work for.

As we are chatting, the topic of hours comes up, and I ask her how long her days are. She tells me "things have been really busy lately" adding, "I usually get into the office at 8 in the morning and leave at 2" By 2, she means 2am. It's hard to contain the horrified look that spreads across my face.

Now, I know that large law firms rely to a major extent on the air of prestige to carry them through. But what is prestigious about making this poor woman work those types of hours? What is to envy about her life? I find out later in the evening that her work is boring, she never gets to court, never meets face to face with clients, and that the office is a complete meat grinder, forcing her to work sweatshop hours. Throughout the evening she takes several breaks to check her Blackberry and respond to messages from superiors. Gag. Me.

Elizabeth and I are working very hard, and there are days when we wonder if we're doing the right thing. But we both agree wholeheartedly that we'd rather be doing this than that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What can I say?

We've been blogging lately about all of our new pals in our new town, the wonderful people we've met, the Networking Olympics, and the like.

Now, a tribute to some wonderful friends from our Pre-Firm days. Unless you are living under a rock, you know what how tough the economy is out there. And believe it or not, it is really tough for lawyers. Several of our law school pals are struggling to find meaningful work.

They're open to pay cuts, volunteering in hopes of landing a paying gig, and applying to all kinds of lawyer positions they wouldn't have even considered a few months ago. Some of our friends who are employed with firms are beginning to loathe their lot in life, but are keeping a stiff upper lip because while it may not be pretty in the office, it is ugly in the hallway.

I, unfortunately don't have any great pearls of wisdom, except that I think of these friends often. I wish they could find a fantastic job that was 9am-5pm, on the 35th floor in a 700 square foot office, facing the ocean. Lunch would be catered every day. There would be a gym in the office. Fresh flowers on their desk.... They deserve it!

A salute to our friends, and a sincere hope that something good comes to each of us, sooner rather than later.

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Friday, February 20, 2009

Branching Out

As fun as it is to meet with attorneys, we've determined we'll need to branch out beyond the legal arena to connect with people who may give us clients. However, I still give my gratitude for attorneys, because it was an attorney who put us in touch with the man I'm writing about.

Today I met with a guy who owns a company which provides home care services to the elderly. His company will bring aids to the homes or assisted living facilities of elderly people to take them to the store, play cards, eat together, etc. This allows elderly to stay in their homes longer before heading to the oft-dreaded nursing home. He has been at this for 5 years and now has 150 home aids working for him. He suggested we work together to give presentations at senior centers and the like. Bingo!

With today's families being crunched on both sides -- their aging parents on one side, their children off to college on another -- his business plan is a smart one. It is affordable and provides peace of mind to families.

A quote not so much inspirational, but beautifully written:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.
~Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Networking Superstars

Excuse me, but I'm a networking superstar now. Today I had two meetings (it was a light day) so I got in some time with my soon-to-be 95 year-old grandmother. She's a bit out of touch with reality. I told her I was volunteering at a luncheon next week because I couldn't afford the tickets (they were $250 a wack--shocking, I know). But she was uber-shocked that people today will pay that for a luncheon. I tried to explain it was a fundraiser, but it did not make a difference.

Tomorrow both Paul and I are SLAMMED. At 7am, we're both attending a meeting. At 9am another meeting with an attorney in town. At noon I roll out of town for a college alumni gathering and Paul splits for a local music conservatory luncheon. Then, at 5:30 I have a happy hour mixer and Paul has a different mixer (mine is more social, his is more networking). It's going to be a long day, particularly because these different events are in all parts of town, meaning lots of time spent in the car. Thank God for NPR.

Allow me to introduce you to Rex Gradeless (if only law school had been Grade-less!). He is the mastermind behind the Social Media Lawyer blog, which encourages lawyers and law students to get out there are use technology to save time and money. He particuarly enjoys blogging about social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). I'm on all three, thank you. It's a great blog because Rex shows people how to use these types of technologies to grow your business, not just how to make a profile or post that you're "doing laundry."

Final note: we got our pictures for our website. Lookin' good! This is us, hanging out at the entrance to our office (that's a joke, folks). Photography is credited to the fabulously talented Jordana Hazel of Hazelnut Photography.

The way of the world is meeting people through other people.
~ Robert Kerrigan

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Linking Our Firm to the Universe

I've been digging through cyberspace looking for blogs about law firm marketing. We've looked into the traditional methods, but they can be quite expensive. As in, blow-our-entire-budget-for-the-next-six-months (assuming we don't get any clients) expensive.

Hence, the search. Thanks to a blog titled Law Firm Marketing, I was informed that we can put our firm on Google, Yahoo, Super Pages, Yellow Pages, Yelp, etc. for free as a simple business listing. Free is a very nice word. Thanks to Randy for the tips!

Another tip came from Larry Bodine's Law Marketing Blog, about how to utilize and clean up our LinkedIn pages. I'm not quite sure how effective LinkedIn is. Sometimes, I feel strange about asking people to be in my "network" if we haven't worked together for a long time, or I've only met them once or twice. It's a bit more formal than Facebook. Sometimes I'm dying to link with a fascinating person I've met only once, but I feel as though it's like asking someone out on a date! Sometimes even if I know the person well, I ponder, am I worthy? Does anyone know LinkedIn etiquette?

Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.
~Clarence Thomas

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You Are Not Alone.

One of my favorite blogs, Above the Law, has profiled two friends who opened their own law firm after they couldn't find attorney positions in their town. Check out their story here. I say "Way to go Buckley & Hutchings!!!"

Major difference between these women and our story is that it was our dream to open our own shop from the beginning of our first year. We scraped money together for it, talked to many many attorneys who were in solo practice (and/or had opened shop right after law school), and we focused on what areas we would want to practice in.

Below is a quote I resent, however.
[F]reshly minted lawyers may know legal theory, but they rarely know the more practical stuff: how to bill clients, for example, or how to navigate the court system. Also, running a law firm is closely akin to running a small business. Few young lawyers learning the ropes of their profession could handle the added burden of keeping the books and being sure the light bill gets paid. [emphasis added]

Um, if we can pay our personal electric bill and manage our own own bank account, we think we can do the same for our firm. Why do some people act as though this is rocket science?

And practical stuff? That's what the internet is for! It's what making friends with more experienced attorneys is for! Come on, folks.

Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.
~ Cheri Huber

Monday, February 2, 2009

Merci Beaucoup!

I wrote several Thank You cards today. (Sidenote: I was raised never to buy cards that say "Thank You" on the front. This lesson has stuck with me, although I am unsure why it is uncouth to send cards with "Thank You" on them. Now it is a pain to find nice blank cards!)

Excuse my digression. The thing is, I have had the good fortune to run into several amazing women since we've moved here. These women are very well connected in our community, and are active in several organizations to which we have recently joined. But what makes them extra special is their inclusive nature towards me, a lowly newbie outsider.

These women, in their own unique ways, have taken me under their wings by introducing me to people, welcoming me to the organizations, telling me how fabulous the venture is which Paul and I have taken on, and always having a smile and a warm welcome for me. It has made the networking process much easier for me. It has made events enjoyable. It has made me feel more connected to this community (as cliche as it sounds).

Years from now, when gold bars sit lazily on our office desks, I will remember these women and look forward to how I can help the newbie in the group feel welcome. Gold bar, newbie?

When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.
~ Anthony Robbins

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bang Head Here

Today was a tough one. We were scrambling to get our marketing materials out the door. Just two sets. Two sets people! But FedEx Kinkos Lapnet is not compatible with Paul's computer. It essentially spit on his computer. So then we sent the documents from home to Kinko's, where they can print them. $13! Did I mention in a previous post that we need to get some printer cartridges pronto? Then, when I got over to Kinko's to pick them up, majorly slow service. And don't even get me started about the line at the Post Office!

The good news is that we got the sets out the door and on their merry way to people who are (hopefully) yearning for our legal services. Of course I'll keep all those in cyberspace updated on those eventual clients. The breaks are really starting to squeek. Come on people!

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion...I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Join the Club!

Yesterday we took the plunge and signed up for a private club. It's not super snooty, but no shorts or tank-tops allowed. Since we only wear suits now, no problem.

This club is trying to recruit younger members (after all, we are the future) so it had a very reasonable initiation fee ($100) and a low monthly fee ($60). I'm very excited about it because the club has several private meetings rooms which can be used free of charge. It also offers breakfast and lunch service daily. I told my aunt and uncle we will take them to lunch there when we have our first client.

Which brings me to the list of things we plan to purchase when we get that mysterious first client. On the list there are new brakes and shocks for one of our cars (which Paul will install himself), iPhones or BlackBerrys for each of us (maybe that will be the second client), dry-cleaning services for our suits and shirts, shoe repair, a huge box of printer paper and some ink cartridges, and a good $10 bottle of wine.

Other good news--free online legal research! For all of our law school or new lawyer friends, if you don't already know this, there is a whole world beyond Lexis and West Law. Anyways, since Paul is a newbie attorney, he gets free online access to all the sections of CEB for a year! Incredible stroke of luck. That saves us over $1,200 per year.

The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Good Day

On Friday we visited a lawyer in Riverside who graduated from our law school and has become one of our mentors. This guy is a genius. We are in awe of what he has been able to do with his practice in estate planning. He's getting into some new areas which would land him five figures per client. FIVE FIGURES. Needless to say, we had to pick our jaws off the table.

Anyways, his partner had an almost new Lexmark 543DN printer that she is not using anymore. She said we could take it. Take it we did! We were floored by her generosity. This is way better than the $100 junky printer Elizabeth bought for law school four years ago. This baby can can duplex and do full color laser. It has a network interface. We think it's great.

Today I have phone calls to return and a luncheon to attend.

Every morning I wake up and I think, "something good is going to happen today."
-Pete Carroll

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Adventure Begins

Well, the adventure has begun. It's been two weeks since we officially opened our law firm.

First let me explain the name of the blog. We are married, with a combined student debt load of about $200,000 and have a couple of cars. One beater, one a bit nicer. We have a few thousand bucks in the bank, which are quickly being depleted by our new law firm adventure. But seriously folks, we've got nothing to loose. Except our dignity. Which we didn't have much of to begin with. Hence the title "Judgement Proof." Take it all people, you won't get much!

Next, a bit of background. We met our first year of law school in Washington State. We both wanted to open our own firms. We both wanted to move to Sunny Southern California. It was love from there on out.

We studied for the California Bar. Studied our butts off. He passed, I did not (perhaps I have enough dignity that I don't like the word "fail.") Now, all throughout Barbri, when I was calling my mom with tears streaming down my cheeks that I would fail, she promised me "Sweetie, it doesn't matter. You can still open the firm. Only one of you has to pass." My current title is Director of Client Relations. Soon it will be "Attorney at Law Extraordinaire." But that will be about a year from now.

We have awesome business cards. We look good in suits. I'm still getting used to wearing pantyhose every day. And heals. Stepping out, with my baby....

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.