Solo practice right out of law school?

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FlanAl
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby FlanAl » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:32 pm

cantaboot wrote:I wonder why anyone would do this if they have other options, even if those are 'shitlaw' jobs.
I know only one person who is doing this. 2 years out of law school. All the best to him.

If you have 3+ years of experience and are getting tired of biglaw/midlaw, you may consider setting up a small shop with 3+ of your colleagues/friends.
(I know a few upperclassmen who are doing this. Still, I wonder if this is a wise option. My SO's former colleagues tried to persuade him to join them but being very risk-averse, he turned it down.)


would 3 years in big law really prepare you to operate as a solo? I've talked to people literally only do one obscure securities lit thing in their big law office, its all they've done (save doc review) and all they know how to do. Seems like you'd be in pretty rough shape trying to go solo after big law, unless you made partner and had a big book of business.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby gwuorbust » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:38 pm

FlanAl wrote:
cantaboot wrote:I wonder why anyone would do this if they have other options, even if those are 'shitlaw' jobs.
I know only one person who is doing this. 2 years out of law school. All the best to him.

If you have 3+ years of experience and are getting tired of biglaw/midlaw, you may consider setting up a small shop with 3+ of your colleagues/friends.
(I know a few upperclassmen who are doing this. Still, I wonder if this is a wise option. My SO's former colleagues tried to persuade him to join them but being very risk-averse, he turned it down.)


would 3 years in big law really prepare you to operate as a solo? I've talked to people literally only do one obscure securities lit thing in their big law office, its all they've done (save doc review) and all they know how to do. Seems like you'd be in pretty rough shape trying to go solo after big law, unless you made partner and had a big book of business.


working at a biglaw firm would help in two ways: (1) acquire capital; and (2) competence/confidence building. While doing something like securities wouldn't help you in the technical aspects of day-to-day solo practice, it would help you become more competent at doing research, interacting with other lawyers, etc.

But generally, you are correct. Most of the technical work you will do at a biglaw firm will not translate to working as a solo. You will have to learn from the ground up.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby gwuorbust » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:43 pm

In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:10 pm

Dale wrote:I (and probably everyone else reading this) totally agree. So why hasn’t this been corrected? Are there not any schools that have adequately addressed this issue? As much as I would like to consider a solo practice, I (1L) do not believe law school has (even in the smallest way) prepared me for this undertaking.


One of the primary reasons that it has not been addressed is because the ABA requires law schools to have a significant amount of full time academic professors. In the old days, law schools used adjunct practitioners to teach their students; schools didn't have to pay these adjuncts astronomical salaries and students actually learned about what they should be doing (while saving money on tuition, no less).

Think about medical school -> most professors at medical schools practice medicine in addition to teaching students. The reason that law school cannot follow that model is because law schools don't manage law school branded firms. However, if law schools could ever do that, law school could slowly evolve into the medical school model.

The other primary reason is that US News values peer review scores (too) highly. While in reality the opinion that academics have of each law school really won't change, schools like pretend that those opinions can change. So in order to change them, law schools acquire professors known for their legal scholarship. These overly academic professors often do not know how to practice.

I agree with nealric that a lot of students don't do what they are supposed to do in school by taking silly courses like"Law and.....", participating in journals that have almost no value but a resume line, and competing on pointless moot court teams (i.e. not entry trial court). However, while some elite schools offer enough opportunities for the majority of their students, the overwhelming majority of law schools do not have enough of these opportunities for even 1/3 of their students. These opportunities include trial moot court, trial advocacy, clinics, pretrial litigation courses, transactional-related (non-doctrinal) courses, etc. So I cannot really agree with blaming the students for their own unpreparedness.

SN - Some very low ranked law schools teach their students a lot of practical skills. These schools basically assume that their students won't get jobs, and so they offer a -fair- amount of practical training. This is in contrast to the laughable practical training that the average student gets at a higher-profile law school.

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:10 pm

gwuorbust wrote:In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


I feel like I would get so much more out of law school if it was nothing but mock trials, mock negotiations, brief writing, and clinics/externships. The only substantive classes you really need before all that is like a 3-week crash course each in CivPro, Contracts, Torts and maybe one week of Crim. Everyone saves the real substance for their 2 months of Barbri before the bar exam, anyway.

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Royal
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Royal » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:34 pm

Tanicius wrote:
gwuorbust wrote:In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


I feel like I would get so much more out of law school if it was nothing but mock trials, mock negotiations, brief writing, and clinics/externships. The only substantive classes you really need before all that is like a 3-week crash course each in CivPro, Contracts, Torts and maybe one week of Crim. Everyone saves the real substance for their 2 months of Barbri before the bar exam, anyway.


Ditto on the clinics/externships and brief writing emphasis, but truthfully, even as a solo, trial work only makes up a fraction of what you'll do. There should really be more stress on LRW, with a focus on briefs and pleadings, and civil procedure. Schools should REALLY also offer classes on STATE specific civil procedure for a few of the big states.

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RedBirds2011
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby RedBirds2011 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:41 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:
Dale wrote:I (and probably everyone else reading this) totally agree. So why hasn’t this been corrected? Are there not any schools that have adequately addressed this issue? As much as I would like to consider a solo practice, I (1L) do not believe law school has (even in the smallest way) prepared me for this undertaking.


One of the primary reasons that it has not been addressed is because the ABA requires law schools to have a significant amount of full time academic professors. In the old days, law schools used adjunct practitioners to teach their students; schools didn't have to pay these adjuncts astronomical salaries and students actually learned about what they should be doing (while saving money on tuition, no less).

Think about medical school -> most professors at medical schools practice medicine in addition to teaching students. The reason that law school cannot follow that model is because law schools don't manage law school branded firms. However, if law schools could ever do that, law school could slowly evolve into the medical school model.

The other primary reason is that US News values peer review scores (too) highly. While in reality the opinion that academics have of each law school really won't change, schools like pretend that those opinions can change. So in order to change them, law schools acquire professors known for their legal scholarship. These overly academic professors often do not know how to practice.

I agree with nealric that a lot of students don't do what they are supposed to do in school by taking silly courses like"Law and.....", participating in journals that have almost no value but a resume line, and competing on pointless moot court teams (i.e. not entry trial court). However, while some elite schools offer enough opportunities for the majority of their students, the overwhelming majority of law schools do not have enough of these opportunities for even 1/3 of their students. These opportunities include trial moot court, trial advocacy, clinics, pretrial litigation courses, transactional-related (non-doctrinal) courses, etc. So I cannot really agree with blaming the students for their own unpreparedness.

SN - Some very low ranked law schools teach their students a lot of practical skills. These schools basically assume that their students won't get jobs, and so they offer a -fair- amount of practical training. This is in contrast to the laughable practical training that the average student gets at a higher-profile law school.


Ugh...completely agree. It is so annoyingly stupid!

sadsituationJD
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby sadsituationJD » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:43 pm

In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


You didn't pick a jury (the most important- strike that, the only important part of trial work). So no, you could not competently run a trial. In fact, your assertion is as absurd as a 9 year old saying he could competently drive in the Daytona 500 because he played "Grand Theft Auto" and beat all his friends.

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RedBirds2011
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby RedBirds2011 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:44 pm

sadsituationJD wrote:
In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


You didn't pick a jury (the most important- strike that, the only important part of trial work). So no, you could not competently run a trial. In fact, your assertion is as absurd as a 9 year old saying he could competently drive in the Daytona 500 because he played "Grand Theft Auto" and beat all his friends.


Oh hi it's YOU!! Lol

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:13 pm

sadsituationJD wrote:
In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


You didn't pick a jury (the most important- strike that, the only important part of trial work). So no, you could not competently run a trial. In fact, your assertion is as absurd as a 9 year old saying he could competently drive in the Daytona 500 because he played "Grand Theft Auto" and beat all his friends.



I like how obvious it is you haven't done trials - or for that matter watched any. I know plenty of undergrads who could cream 90+% of the trial lawyers out there. Jury selection is an important skill, and voir dire is even harder to master (if you're lucky enough to be in a jurisdiction that even lets you do it). But no - it's not the end-all of trial practice. For every lawyer you find who says it is, I could find you a trial lawyer who instructs jury selection at seminars and staunchly disagrees.

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:17 pm

Royal wrote:
Tanicius wrote:
gwuorbust wrote:In my opinion, anyone who is even considering going solo should do moot court trial. The skills you gain from learning how to actually run a trial will go far. I won a moot court competition this year and I know I could competently run a trial (both civil and criminal). If you go solo, you have an obligation to your clients to know what you are doing.


I feel like I would get so much more out of law school if it was nothing but mock trials, mock negotiations, brief writing, and clinics/externships. The only substantive classes you really need before all that is like a 3-week crash course each in CivPro, Contracts, Torts and maybe one week of Crim. Everyone saves the real substance for their 2 months of Barbri before the bar exam, anyway.


Ditto on the clinics/externships and brief writing emphasis, but truthfully, even as a solo, trial work only makes up a fraction of what you'll do. There should really be more stress on LRW, with a focus on briefs and pleadings, and civil procedure. Schools should REALLY also offer classes on STATE specific civil procedure for a few of the big states.


Wouldn't that be amazing? It's quite appalling that, at the very least, all schools don't have a class on the state civil procedure system of their own locality.

sadsituationJD
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby sadsituationJD » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:40 pm

But no - it's not the end-all of trial practice. For every lawyer you find who says it is, I could find you a trial lawyer who instructs jury selection at seminars and staunchly disagrees.


Good trial lawyers do not "instruct at seminars."

It's the old "those who can do, those who can't, teach" thing. Being a good trial lawyer is a natural gift and cannot be taught at a seminar, or anywhere else for that matter.

Besides, 99% of lawyers will never try a case in their career. For the most part this industry just pushes incredibly boring piles of make-work shitpaper from one side of a table to the other.

HTH

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:48 pm

sadsituationJD wrote:
But no - it's not the end-all of trial practice. For every lawyer you find who says it is, I could find you a trial lawyer who instructs jury selection at seminars and staunchly disagrees.


Good trial lawyers do not "instruct at seminars."


False. Pat on the back for the major creativity it took to come up with that one.

It's the old "those who can do, those who can't, teach" thing. Being a good trial lawyer is a natural gift and cannot be taught at a seminar, or anywhere else for that matter.


The public defense office from my home state has its district chiefs get together one week out of the year to instruct at a trial seminar for newly hired PD's. And it's not just seminars. Some of the best trial attorneys in the Bay Area volunteer their time with Boalt students on a regular, tireless basis. They're just talented, proven people volunteering their time because they like what they do for a living and want to make others good at it too. Feel free to disagree, but wanting to teach and mentor others doesn't disqualify anyone from being good at something.

Your burns aren't clever or based in reality. You just don't know what you're talking about.

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AreJay711
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:07 pm

sadsituationJD wrote: Besides, 99% of lawyers will never try a case in their career.


That's an exaggeration. All criminal and almost all small law litigators will take some case to trial at some point.

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:10 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
sadsituationJD wrote: Besides, 99% of lawyers will never try a case in their career.


That's an exaggeration. All criminal and almost all small law litigators will take some case to trial at some point.



Which is what will happen if you hang out your own shingle, unless all you plan on doing is real estate, wills, and uncontested divorce.

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nealric
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby nealric » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:48 pm

sadsituationJD wrote:
But no - it's not the end-all of trial practice. For every lawyer you find who says it is, I could find you a trial lawyer who instructs jury selection at seminars and staunchly disagrees.


Good trial lawyers do not "instruct at seminars."

It's the old "those who can do, those who can't, teach" thing. Being a good trial lawyer is a natural gift and cannot be taught at a seminar, or anywhere else for that matter.

Besides, 99% of lawyers will never try a case in their career. For the most part this industry just pushes incredibly boring piles of make-work shitpaper from one side of a table to the other.

HTH


I have got to say- I find the whole fetishization of being a "trial lawyer" a rather odd aspect of the legal profession.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby gwuorbust » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:10 am

AreJay711 wrote:
sadsituationJD wrote: Besides, 99% of lawyers will never try a case in their career.


That's an exaggeration. All criminal and almost all small law litigators will take some case to trial at some point.


yeah this poster clearly has no idea regarding what he is talking about.

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TTRansfer
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby TTRansfer » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:48 am

I know a few people who have done it and live solid lives. And not out of good schools. It's gotta be pretty damn hard, but it's certainly not impossible.

Geon
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:55 pm

Flanker1067 wrote:I'm no expert, but I'm under the impression that pretty much all small business owners pay a low tax rate because they expense pretty much everything they do or have, including cars, many meals, some travel etc. Some of it is probably not strictly expensable, but it's impossible and not worth proving it for the IRS.

Add: I guess I should have said micro-business. Small business is too broad, clearly if you have a company with 50 employees our situation may be a lot different.
Second Add: Also, I know some business owners who operate in businesses that get paid in cash a lot, like restaurants, and they all seem to "make" the same amount of money. I'm always surprised to see people who earned "40K" last year driving a 100K land rover.

+1

BeautifulSW
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby BeautifulSW » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:10 pm

This is a pretty good thread. As usual, nealric nailed it.

It can be done, depending on the market. Here in Southern New Mexico, new lawyers go solo pretty often but they virtually always have at least two years working for someone. The kind of law a new solo will practice will usually include a fair amount of state-level courtroom practice and probably some federal work as well, in bankruptcy court if nowhere else. A couple of supervised years will go a long way toward avoiding embarrassment, possible malpractice, and (depending on the judge) contempt.

Once you are established (in rural America anyway) the money can be okay. Good years and not-so-good years so you need to know how to do financial planning but it CAN be done.

Pay your malpractice premiums no matter what. Pay before alimony, if you have to. Pay before CHILD SUPPORT, it's that important. Heck, pay before bar dues if you have to; those folks will work with you.

Good luck!

Geon
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:21 pm

nealric wrote:
cantaboot wrote:
The lure of solo practice from my perspective is the ability, like most small businesses, for the owner to defer a huge amount of cost and taxes through transfer pricing. That is if you have a good accountant or a good background in accounting, you can get away with paying virtually no taxes legally. A solo earning 150-200k, where I am, is earning much more (after taxes) than any non partner in big law.


Tax lawyer here.

Regarding transfer pricing:

Image

If anything, most solos are going to pay more tax because of self-employment tax. Barring fraud and/or some really "creative" return positions, very few are paying "virtually no taxes"- and it's not because they aren't accounting mastermen.


You may be a tax lawyer, and you may be right legally, maybe you are not. But "Creative" accounting is very common.

There are U.S. tax lawyers who say you are not even legally required to pay taxes (not saying I agree with them, but the tax laws are written in a purposely vague way that is open to interpretation). Heck just take the term INCOME taxes. There are tax lawyers who argue income = revenue - expenses, and since Income tax is voluntary, if you voluntary overpay by miscalculating your income as revenue, the government is going to say its your fault for calculating wrong. Now I am not saying this is my view, but this is just an example of what one US tax lawyer argues.

I've worked in a Finance firm that use to provide advisory services on taxes to firms looking to reduce tax loads. While I did not engage in this, I can tell you we have accountants and lawyer, and accountants who are tax lawyers with LL.Ms; and its normal practice for firms to use transfer pricing to avoid paying taxes. There are quiet a few major companies doing this, and the firm has advised numerous American based f-1000 companies on this. Transfer pricing is not illegal unless the government can prove the sole purpose of you transferring is to evade taxes (tax evasion/avoidance) and in the U.S. the tax law is far more lose (no specific statute that criminalizes tax avoidance only tax evasion = not paying taxes or lying about it). In Canada it is a crime to undertake acts for the sole purpose of reducing your taxes (Called tax avoidance). In fact CBS did a documentary on US firm locating headquarters in Switzerlands, which were just mailboxes or empty offices, where they would claim they transfered all their income to.

I'm not an accounting whiz, but I can tell you tax law for businesses, is akin to how Jack Abramoff views lobbying rules in Washington. You have alot of silly rules, that more or less parallel saying you cannot give a congressman money standing up but you can give it to him sitting down. You cannot give a congressman a hamburger for dinner, but you can call it a fundraiser and give him a cadillac and a steak.

Especially given the fact that US law firms can incorporate or the rules have been more relaxed on that issue, it is extremely easy to transfer price money. This is the real reason why $10 trillion is offshore.

Also US partnership firms can elect to be taxed as a corporation. So all the corporate tricks apply for partnerships. Only Individual income, if you believe that you do have to be taxed which I do, really have to pay income taxes.

Geon
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:41 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:
Dale wrote:Out of curiosity, didn’t some of today’s Big Law firms start out solo or small? Although a bit unlikely, is it conceivable that several Big Law firms began with lawyers straight out of law school, or else with only modest experience?

The couple law firms I checked on under their “about us” tab were established in the early 1900’s, so not much help there. I wonder if how many new law firms (starting solo or close to it) over the past decade are now super successful.


Yes. This was especially the case when a lot of the American white shoe firms didn't want to allow Jews into their firms, and this forced most Jewish individuals to start their own firms. Now look at Skadden and Wachtel (among others): Wachtel has the highest profits per partner ($4M+), and Skadden is the most recognizable law firm brand on the international level. It clearly seems like the white shoe firms missed out on incredible talent due to their low brow hiring practices, and they probably continue to miss out on talent due to relatively strict adherence to the legendary Cravath System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cravath_System).

A large problem with starting modern solo practices right out of school is that law school doesn't really prepare students for an endeavor of that nature. This is in sharp contrast to how law school used to be, as professors used to have a lot of experience and could effectively teach students how to practice. However, over the last few of decades, law school has evolved into something that is more academic than practical in nature (due to the minimal real world experience of modern law school professors, the fact that the ABA used to not require law schools to have so many full time academic professors, and the natural feelings of inferiority of scholarship that legal professors experience).


Great another racial minority coming to complain about woe is me. I could understand a black or a mexican or a native saying white man stole my land. But this is just a joke. I'll have you know the real reason why these firms did not hire jews and italians is not because of their race but their behaviour and style of dress. And by behaviour, it was the same issue in finance aka wall street, jews dressed bad, and did not understand Western business edict ie spoke loud, rude, acted crass and unrefined. And while I understand these are stereotypes and not true of every single jew, part of this was/is cultural to jew people, and I am not trying to insult jews here or be racist even though I am sure the pc crowd is going to attack me for speaking the truth. Of course I feel there is value in speaking the truth to minorities so that they can at least overcome the stereotypes about them by trying to not come across how they are stereotyped because they are likely unaware of it. Ie the jew guy at the interview doesn't think he is being loud, crass, rude or unrefined. and I am not saying I believe the stereotypes, but they exist and lots of older people do believe them.

ruski
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby ruski » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:17 pm

its the same reason why no one hires black people. its because they all come to the interview looking like steve harvey and they refer to all the secretaries/receptionists in the office as "shawty."

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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby ruski » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:28 pm

Geon wrote:
part of this was/is cultural to jew people


the "is" in your statement pretty much proved you're a bigot. even if the rest of the post might be historically accurate, that one word revealed your racist intentions pretty clearly. your description pretty much described ALL immigrants who move here. except jews havent been immigrants for the better part of a century.

and as for your claim to be helping minorities by pointing this out, it looks like we've been doing fairly well without your help thanks.

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Tanicius
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Re: Solo practice right out of law school?

Postby Tanicius » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:51 pm

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