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Just When I Thought My Book Was Finished . . .

Everyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows I’ve been writing up a storm this year. I did a revision of my self-published ebook The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed and published Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans through the American Bar Association (ABA). (I’ve got to get shorter subtitles.) I finished the first draft of the manuscript for The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers in August and I thought the majority of my book writing obligations were done for the year. I was wrong.

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My book is being published by the Law Practice (LP) section of the ABA. (For you non-lawyers, this is the section that’s all about how to run a law firm more effectively.) When you write for them, you get a team of people who work on your book. Here’s a glimpse of who I’m working with:

  • Shawn my project manager
  • Evan and Dennis my peer reviewers (who make sure everything I wrote is legally sound)
  • Tom the head of the LP publishing department (who makes himself read everything before it gets published)
  • The copywriter (who will fix all my bad grammar)
  • The marketing team who is charge of my cover and promotions

I got to see a lot of my team at the recent LP fall meeting in Phoenix. When I turned my manuscript over to them, I thought I was basically done except of approving my cover art and proofreading edits. The team loves my book and said it’s a great first draft, but they’ve asked for a re-write which might include a re-arrangement of chapters, a new forward, and changing the forward into an afterword. I appreciated the feedback and I’m all for putting out the best book possible, but it’s going to be a challenge timewise.

The LP section wants my book done and published by the ABA TechShow in March 2014. I responded that I’m meeting Gary Vaynerchuk in person when he does his book signing for his new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook in Arizona in December and I promised him a paper copy. (Yes, I’m fully aware and embrace the fact that I have a massive professional hard-on for Gary Vaynerchuk.)

My mug from the Space Age Cafe in Gila Bend

My mug from the Space Age Cafe in Gila Bend

My calendar is pretty full for the rest of October and November that I’m at the point where I have to think hard before agreeing to go to any events or activities that aren’t already on my schedule. And now I need to figure out how I’m going to do a re-write by Halloween on top of all that so it can get through peer-review, copy editing, and get a galley printed and shipped to me by December 5th.

This is going to be fun . . . and by fun, I mean high-caffeinated. 😉

I had a chance to speak with Tom at the LP fall meeting. He said he really liked that my first draft was easy to read and then he asked if I had more books in me. That was a very flattering statement coming from him, but at the same time my first thought was to punch him in the face. After working on three books this year, I’m going to need a break from book writing once this book is done before I start thinking about the next one.

Lawyers’ Bad Reputations Start with Arrogant Law Students

In every industry, there appear to be some people who cling to the old school ways and others who fully embrace innovation. Apparently in publishing, there is animosity between writers whose work is published by the Big Publishing Houses and writers who self-publish.  Allegedly some people who are represented by Big Publishing claim that people who are self-published do not qualify as authors because they didn’t go through the same process to publish their work. In the big picture, it doesn’t matter. All writers have the desire to communicate their work and have to work hard to cultivate a following — let alone put the words on the page.

Gavel | Andrew F. Scott: P6033675

Image by afsart via Flickr

In the Arizona legal community, one source of animosity is the law school from which one matriculated. Until recently, Arizona had only two law schools: Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Arizona (UofA). There is an ongoing rivalry between these school based on who is ranked higher. In 2004, a new law school entered the scene: Phoenix School of Law (PSL). This school is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA); however it is not ranked in the top 100 law schools by the U.S. News. PSL has the reputation of being the school that people go to when they couldn’t get into ASU or UofA and that students hope to perform well enough during their 1L year so they can transfer to a better school.

I was not prepared for the hostility that some people have towards PSL graduates. Earlier this summer, an article was released that stated that 1/3 of 2010 law school graduates have jobs that do not require passing a bar exam. The responses from two of my classmates were appalling.

  • “This is why I hate…… PSL kids….. yes I’m going public with this comment and I don’t G.A.F.  If you want to be a lawyer, go to a real school and stop saturating the saturated market.  Was that too harsh? Whatever, I know everyone is thinking it.”
  • “I agree.  And the ABA could have a huge role to play by making law school accreditation more difficult. The problem is that there is a consent decree with the FTC which means that the ABA can’t refuse accreditation to more law schools or cut off accreditation to make fewer lawyers because it would be “anti-competitive.”  The problem now, of course, is that there’s too much competition and too many bottom-feeding, hungry lawyers.”

These comments were made by two people who had not yet taken the bar when they made these statements. My response: Who are they to judge? We all took the LSAT, got into a law school, passed our classes, and graduated. Everyone who passes a bar exam has the right to be a lawyer if they chose to be (and can find work), regardless of the road they took to get there.

These comments show the immaturity, insecurity, and enormity of their egos. During my 1L orientation, the then-dean of the law school encouraged us not to tell lawyer jokes because it perpetuated the image of the legal profession as being full of soulless, greedy, and unscrupulous ladder climbers. Unfortunately, this reputation is still earned by many lawyers now coming out of the gate.

My friend, Eric Mayer, is a brilliant criminal defense lawyer who says, “Good lawyers are not made by their law schools.” Law school is just the beginning of a legal career. A lawyer’s reputation should not be based on where they went to law school, but rather on their intelligence, competence, and ethics. I surprised an ASU law professor this week when I told her that I did not care about the future reputation of my law school because the body of my work will be more determinative of whether I’m a good lawyer.

If the legal profession wants to change its reputation, it should try to screen out these arrogant people when they apply to law school and continuously foster the idea that there’s a place for all types of people to be lawyers. More realistically, I suppose, schools should integrate elitist conversations into their classrooms and truly take the time to debate students who repeatedly demonstrate this type of arrogance. I hope comments like those enumerated by my classmates are not the norm for my class, my school, or the legal profession, but I have my doubts.

Having a different educational background does not make a person a bad lawyer. It just makes them different, and it’s this diversification that permits the profession to grow and remain relevant. Just as self-published writers may be looked down upon as being less credible, it is those who take a different path that are now spearheading certain areas of the industry. If you have a hang up about a person’s legal education, hire someone else.

Nominate Me for the ABA’s Top 100 Law Blawgs

The American Bar Association (ABA) is soliciting nominations for its 2011 list of Top 100 Law Blawgs.  It would be an honor if UndeniableRuth.com was on this list.

During the last 20 months, I have written about a variety of legal topics:

The ABA has a rule that you cannot nominate yourself, a blog you have written for, or your company’s blog, so I can’t sit on my computer all day nominating myself.  I need your help to make this happen.  Also, the ABA doesn’t want to receive nominations from spouses, which I think they’ll probably extend to anyone the ABA thinks is a family member who is not otherwise employed in the legal profession (sorry Mom).  The nomination page can be found here.

Nominations will be accepted through September 9, 2011.

You are not limited to only nominating one legal blog.  Along with this blog, please consider nominating Above the Law, Military Underdog, and Legal Blog Watch.