The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

Attorney at Work

Day 10/90 – Tweaking my Terms of Service for Good

Day 10 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I updated my sites’ terms of service! (I swear it’s not as boring as it sounds.)

Walter Ball!!

Walter Ball!

I write a monthly column for a site called Attorney at Work that helps lawyers run their firms and market themselves more effectively. I love this gig.

Previously, I wrote a post about how I feel when others copy my content. I’ve never said “no” when anyone has asked to use one of my posts for an event or to distribute it to their organization; however, it peeves me when people use my work without asking permission and without adding any original thoughts to the conversation. Unfortunately, too many people think this is permissible as long as they provide in attribution and a link to the original post. Whenever someone does this with one of my posts for Attorney at Work, I get a notification.

I’ll admit, I was pretty annoyed when I saw that someone stole one of my posts today. I grabbed my Walter Ball and played with it furiously while ranting to a coworker. I notified my editors of the situation and asked if they wanted me to call him out. Luckily for him (and me), they are much more tactful than I am. They addressed the situation appropriately and mentioned that they should revise the provision on their site about requesting a license to use or reprint posts. I suggested they add a provision that says failure to request permission in advance is an expression of the person’s willingness to donate $100 to the charity of my editors’ choosing when they discover what the person did. They liked that idea.

I like that idea.

I’ve had terms of service on this site and my law firm’s site for years. Here is what part of it used to say:

I am Not Interested in Unsolicited Emails that Pitch Content or Services
Do not contact me to pitch your SEO, other marketing, or lead generation services.
I’m not interested in a new website design.
I’m not interested in letting you pay me to embed a link on an existing post.
I’m not interested in your infographic.
No, you cannot write guest posts for my site.

Contacting me for any of the above reasons is an expression of your willingness to pay me $100 for annoying me.

Any time anyone sends me in unsolicited email hocking their marketing services or asking to write a guest post, I have a canned response I send that informs them of my terms of service and provides my mailing address for sending payment.

After today’s experience, I decided to change it:

I am Not Interested in Unsolicited Emails that Pitch Content or Services
Do not contact me to pitch your SEO, other marketing, or lead generation services.
I’m not interested in a new website design.
I’m not interested in letting you pay me to embed a link on an existing post.
I’m not interested in your infographic.
No, you cannot write guest posts for my site.

Contacting me for any of the above reasons is an expression of your willingness to pay $10 to the charity of my choosing.

I’ve been telling people to send me $100 for annoying me for years, and so far no one’s paid it. I figured it would be better to ask for less. Hopefully some people will actually do it. It’ll be for a good cause.

In case you missed it: Day 9 of the 90 Days of Awesome – WordTasting Tour!

When You Come to the Fork in the Road…

I love the Yogi Berra quote, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” It’s a reminder to me to keep moving forward whether that’s physically, emotionally, or professionally. When I knew I would be passing through Pasadena, I knew I had to stop to see the actual fork in the road.

Fork in the Road, Pasadena, CA

Fork in the Road, Pasadena, CA

This this is freakin’ huge! It’s at Pasadena Ave and St. John Ave. in a residential area. It’s so unassuming that it’s easy to miss it.

If you want to see what weird stuff is in your city or wherever you’re traveling, check out Roadside America.

My trip to Pasadena is part of The Undeniable Tour, which wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors.

All Sponsors

Going Pantsless was the Best Thing I Did in Law School

The best thing I did in law school was the 2009 No Pants Light Rail Ride in Phoenix, Arizona. The people I met there opened the doors to the opportunities that made me the lawyer and the person I am today.

Photo by Jamey Peachy

Improv Everywhere has been doing the No Pants Subway Ride since 2002. In preparation for the 2009 ride, they invited everyone to organize No Pants Rides on the same day in cities all over the world. Jeff Moriarty conspired with a small group of his friends to do a ride on the newly opened light rail in Phoenix. I was a first-year law student and really a nobody in my school and the greater legal community. I didn’t know Jeff back then, but I saw the event on Facebook and signed up to do it with some of my friends.

On the day of the ride, all of my friends who were supposed to do the No Pants Ride with me chickened out. I wasn’t surprised. I said, “You guys all suck. I’m going without you” and I headed out to Tempe to meet my fellow pantsless riders. I figured Jeff had to be a cool guy for organizing the ride, so I purposely stood next to him on the ride and chatted all the way to our final destination.

The rest is history. I can show you, in 7 connections or less, how participating in the 2009 No Pants Ride led to some of my best professional opportunities and experiences.

No Pants Ride >>> Establishing Myself as a Legal Expert

  • Many of the people at the 2009 No Pants Ride are involved in blogging. This inspired me to have a blog.
  • Jeff Moriarty helped me create UndeniableRuth.com in January 2010.
  • I wrote, and still write, weekly posts about legal issues.
  • My posts demonstrated that I have a unique voice and competence in certain areas of law.
  • I parlayed my expertise into opportunities to write dozens of guest blog posts; provide quotes for news articles and blogs; participate in TV, radio, and podcast interviews; and give presentations at conferences.

No Pants Ride >>> Sponsor A Law Kid  

  • I met Jeff at the 2009 No Pants Ride.
  • Jeff is the creator of Ignite Phoenix. He encouraged me to apply to be an Ignite presenter.
  • I was selected for Ignite Phoenix #5 to present Frosting the Law.
  • Kade Dworkin was one of my fellow presenters at Ignite Phoenix #5.
  • Kade had a podcast in 2010 called Meet My Followers where he interviewed his Twitter followers.
  • One of Kade’s guests was Jason Sadler, founder of I Wear Your Shirt.
  • I Wear Your Shirt inspired me to create Sponsor A Law Kid, that funded part of my final semester of law school in 2011.

No Pants Ride >>> Paid Blogger for Attorney at Work

  • A group of us from the 2009 No Pants Ride founded Improv AZ to continue to do flash mobs and pranks in Phoenix.
  • Planning events with Improv AZ sparked my interest in flash mob law.
  • I asked Ari Kaplan whether this might be a viable niche.
  • Ari used my interest in an article for Law Practice Magazine in the fall of 2009.
  • The editor of the magazine, Mark Feldman, loved it. He continued to follow me and blog.
  • When Mark created Attorney at Work with Joan Feldman and Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, they invited me to be one of their professional bloggers in 2011.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I can show how the No Pants Ride led to making some of my best professional connections, writing my first book, developing an interest in podcasting, and meeting some of the most wonderful people in my life.

The 2012 Global No Pants Ride is this Sunday, January 8th in at least 56 cities. If there’s a ride near you, you should go. You never know what will come out of it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Networking Works

When I started law school, the career services office often spoke about the value of networking, but no one really went into the nuts and bolts of how to do it. Many of my peers had little or no professional experience, so they tried to network as best they could but often made blunders, like showing up at networking events with resumes in hand expecting to get a job interview or a job offer. They weren’t taught that networking is about creating and maintaining a professional network. It’s a continuous process, not an event.

I want to share a recent experience that shows how networking works for me.

Stepping Stones by oatsy40 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Stepping Stones by oatsy40 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

During the spring semester of my 1L at Arizona State University, the school invited author Ari Kaplan to speak at the school about how to create professional opportunities for yourself. I appreciated the fact that he encouraged people to be interesting and to stand out from the crowd. While he was still talking, I found him on LinkedIn and sent him a request to connect.

I stayed in contact with Ari. He was the person I called when I had a professional development question that I didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone at my law school because I was afraid it would hurt my reputation. Yes, despite being daring and outspoken, I’m very thoughtful about my actions.

I spent my 1L summer with the U.S. Army JAG and I got to sit in on some of the training classes for military police officers. I learned a lot about crimes that they didn’t cover during law school, like solicitation and conspiracy. As a co-founder of Improv AZ, it made me think about the ways we could get arrested just for planning a prank or flash mob.

Ari often speaks about the benefit of creating a professional niche. I sent him an email asking if he thought flash mob law was viable niche for me. He wrote me back that night. He was working on an article on creating a targeted niche for the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine. He said his article as written was dry and he asked if he could use me as an example of someone who is using his suggestions. I was ecstatic. Mark Feldman at Law Practice Magazine loved Ari’s article so much he contacted me to get pictures from Improv AZ’s flash mobs to go with it.

Ari and I regularly keep in touch, and I continue to explore my niche by writing about the legal side of various pranks and flash mobs. Having a blog, especially one with a candid approach made me stand out from my peers and opened the door to many opportunities to be a guest blogger.

Recently, I received an unexpected email from Mark Feldman. He started new venture, Attorney at Work, with his wife Joan Feldman and Merrilyn Astin Tarlton. This site provides practical information and advice on creating a law practice. They thought my writing was “wonderful,” and they invited me to bring my “undeniable Ruth voice” to their site as a monthly writer.

I’m excited to announce that starting this month, I am a contributing writer for Attorney at Work. My monthly posts will focus on the real-world technical side of lawyering.

I never expected an opportunity like this to fall into my lap, and it didn’t happen overnight. This was two years in the making through maintaining relationships, having a regular public presence, and doing consistent good work. That’s networking.

Enhanced by Zemanta