Dancing With Lawyers Online

People enter law school for a variety of reasons: The pursuit of justice or power; to change the world – or feed off it; to get the respect they deserve – or lord it over secretaries; to make their parents happy; to (mistakenly) get a general education; to prolong school and delay work; to make big money; and on occasion, because law interests them. Many of them do not intend to practice law. Most do.

Though they start for different reasons, life beyond the entry exams is much the same from school to school. So is the entry-level work afterwards. The training involves a way of thought more than the study of facts. The hours are long, and ambition is high. They have limited time or inclination for outside interests; law becomes reality. They are taught to argue – endlessly. Their sense of humor erodes; original goals are forgotten. The strange and meaningless rules they obey gradually close the doors of imagination. It remains true that "The law sharpens a mind by narrowing it."

A product of legal education is likely to be the most troublesome temporary employee you will ever hire. This book is about managing these employees; about getting results out of them; and – when possible – controlling their appetite for money.

Some readers will ask "Aren't there any honest lawyers?" Of course; even with a rigid definition of honesty, you'll find some honest lawyers. There are even a few lawyers who break all the stereotypes; I deal with one whom I suspect of being a genuine hippie. But this book is not about the evils of lawyers. It is about the strange attitudes of lawyers, about getting the job done, about money, about the struggle to get what you want, about taking charge; it is about dancing with lawyers.

There is evidence to support and contradict almost every opinion in this book. My file cabinets are packed with both kinds. Yet debate is of little use to the reader who asks "how?" – and with that in mind, there are few footnotes.

Likewise there are few anecdotes. Though I've included a few, anecdotes too often carry a fatal weakness: they describe things that happened to someone else. It's often hard to make the leap back to your own situation. (Plus anecdotes tend to turn in a writer's ain't-I-clever stories.)

"Job" means anything you hire a lawyer for. When feeling precise, I use task (a single, defined job, usually small), or project (many tasks that add up to a complicated job).

I like the word "customer" better than "client."
customer n. 1. a patron, shopper, or buyer
client n. 1. a person under protection of another: vassal, dependent 2. in Rome, a plebeian under protection of a patrician

I've used "he" to denote both men and women. My original draft attempted to avoid this convention; after endless re-writes failed to make the manuscript readable, I returned to the traditional style. Since the book was first written, "he/she" has largely disappeared, "they" has become an acceptable alternate pronoun, and I'll rewrite in a more neutral tone for the next printing.

The author is not an attorney, and neither publisher nor author is providing legal advice, or any guarantee that this generalized information will have the intended results in a specific situation. If the reader has a specific legal question he should consult an expert.

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