These days, people who want to become lawyers spend three to five years in law school and another two years looking for a job. Unfortunately, even after graduating from law school, being admitted to the bar, and landing a job (or starting a practice) new lawyers still do not get the respect of many of their older colleagues. Worse, some established lawyers do not accept that new lawyers are actually real. Why? We’re not quite sure, but from our research we believe it relates to new lawyers using shiny technology, wearing inappropriate shoes, and hanging out in coffee shops. But don’t despair. There are are few simple steps to follow to gain the respect and acceptance of established real lawyers.
Switch Coffee Shops
New lawyers get a bad rap because they use Starbucks to drink coffee and hog the free WiFi. That’s too bad, because Starbucks is easy for clients to find and has relatively good coffee. But, because curmudgeonly older real lawyers believe you are, well, not real, it’s probably best to switch your coffee shop to avoid more widespread fake lawyer stereotyping. Look for a local independently-owned coffee shop with WiFi. Or consider a more acceptable traditional setting to impress the older real lawyer crowd, such as sitting in your car outside a Hardee’s or using the waiting area of a national muffler chain like Midas. With WiFi now ubiquitous, you have plenty of other options besides Starbucks. Use those options.
Wear Sensible Shoes
Nothing rises the ire of an established real lawyer than a fake lawyer wearing inappropriate shoes. Worse, some fake lawyers are apparently wearing “flip flops” while practicing law, causing established real lawyers to go apoplectic (especially if worn at Starbucks). Fortunately, there is a good solution to this perceptual issue: wear more sensible shoes. Avoid flip flops unless you are at the beach or sending out client correspondence while at the spa or doing yoga.
Consider an iPad Alternative
While an iPad is a great device to use for a new practice, it does not help you become a real lawyer. The issue? Many real lawyers are still using IBM Selectric III typewriters and rotary phones. For them, the iPad is just too shiny and “complicated” and thus incomprehensible. Plus, most older real lawyers have an inexplicable distrust of Steve Jobs, whose trademark black mock turtleneck represents flip flop fashion gone nuts. Consider alternatives to the iPad, such as the Galaxy Tab or Blackberry PlayBook. While these are also shiny and complicated, most established real lawyers only know about the iPad, thinking it’s the only technologically advanced gadget out there other than a dictaphone.
Don’t Return the Insult
While it’s tempting to fight fire with fire when an established real lawyer questions your street credentials, take the high road. Don’t goad real lawyers with terms such as “Gramps,” “Pappy” or “Matlock.” Remember, established real lawyers worked hard to establish their practices and were at one time innovative. Embrace their wisdom and nod politely when receiving their advice, even though it’s circa 1998.
With these few simple steps, you can soon be seen as a real lawyer helping real clients who have real problems. Good luck, and let us know how things work out.