My Shingle

New Orleans Solos, One Year Later

by Carolyn Elefant on August 30, 2006 · 16 comments

in Encouragement, MyShingle Solo

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A year ago, Hurricane Katrina reminded all of us solos of the somber side of solo practice; how everything we’ve worked to build can be wiped out in an instant.  Sad to say, a year later, some solos are still struggling to get back on their feet, as reported in  Uneasy Times for Lawyers in the Big Easy, National Law Journal (8/30/06). (h/t to Ernie the Attorney).

From the article:

Small-firm practitioner Bill Rittenberg is also dismayed
by the speed of rebuilding. He is earning about 60 percent of what he
was making at Rittenberg & Samuel prior to Katrina, he said, adding
that for eight months after the storm he did not pay himself anything.
But Rittenberg hastens to say that he feels fortunate to be working as
a lawyer. A fellow New Orleans attorney he knows is working as a
short-order cook, he said, and several lawyer-acquaintances have left
the area because they could not support their practices.

“The
good news is I’m home with my friends. The bad news is that people are
still leaving,” he said.  Rittenberg and his wife evacuated New Orleans
on Aug. 28 last year with two days’ worth of clothes. They were on the
road for two months, staying with various friends before they could
return home. While he was gone, his 93-year-old mother died, after
having been evacuated from two different facilities following the storm.

Today,
Rittenberg said he is “in much better shape,” but he is exasperated by
the lack of progress in his hometown. “The country seems to have
forgotten about us,” he said.

Still other firms are
beginning to recover, and some have even added new attorneys.  Perhaps
in another year, business will return to normal for more small firm
lawyers.

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  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    I had a Rainmaking client whose friend’s small law firm was destroyed by Katrina in N.O. Even though I focus on rainmaking these days, this client knew me from my law firm managemetn days so she sent her friend to me for help. Luckily the firm’s servers were stil intact after the storm so they were able to operate remotely from about three different states where the partners & staff scattered to. Unfortunately, their client base, mostly businesses and business people in & around N.O, were not so lucky and the firm didn’t escape the domino effect. No clients, no law firm. I eventually was able to help this young lawyer find a job in Miami where one year later she is in the process of rebuilding her career and her life. The best laid plans of mice & lawyers. . .
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com
    Helping Lawyers In Small Law Firms Make ALOT More Money!

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    I had a Rainmaking client whose friend’s small law firm was destroyed by Katrina in N.O. Even though I focus on rainmaking these days, this client knew me from my law firm managemetn days so she sent her friend to me for help. Luckily the firm’s servers were stil intact after the storm so they were able to operate remotely from about three different states where the partners & staff scattered to. Unfortunately, their client base, mostly businesses and business people in & around N.O, were not so lucky and the firm didn’t escape the domino effect. No clients, no law firm. I eventually was able to help this young lawyer find a job in Miami where one year later she is in the process of rebuilding her career and her life. The best laid plans of mice & lawyers. . .
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com
    Helping Lawyers In Small Law Firms Make ALOT More Money!

  • elguapo

    Carol, can you consider instituting a rule to stop Rjon’s self-promotion? I find it really annoying and a detraction from an otherwise excellent blog.

  • elguapo

    Carol, can you consider instituting a rule to stop Rjon’s self-promotion? I find it really annoying and a detraction from an otherwise excellent blog.

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  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    ElGuapo,
    I helped a lawyer get a job in a different city after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her law firm by destroying its client base. I’m quite proud of that fact.
    What about my comment was self-promoting or offensive to you?
    If I were in the business of placing lawyers in jobs, I guess I would have to concede your point. Or even if I was in the business of helping law firms prepare for or recover from natural disasters, I’d see your point too. My business has nothing to do with helping lawyers to find new jobs in new cities.
    I thought that since the original post on the anniversary of Katrina talked about how lawyers from N.O. are coping one year later, it might be of some interest to other readers of the blog to know two lawyers’ stories: The lawyer who I helped, and how I experienced Katrina through helping her.
    I’m not trying to be argumentative, but when you make a public statement about someone mis-using a great resource like this blog, and especially when you make a public call for censure, I think you need to be prepared to back that up.
    Respectfully,
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    ElGuapo,
    I helped a lawyer get a job in a different city after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her law firm by destroying its client base. I’m quite proud of that fact.
    What about my comment was self-promoting or offensive to you?
    If I were in the business of placing lawyers in jobs, I guess I would have to concede your point. Or even if I was in the business of helping law firms prepare for or recover from natural disasters, I’d see your point too. My business has nothing to do with helping lawyers to find new jobs in new cities.
    I thought that since the original post on the anniversary of Katrina talked about how lawyers from N.O. are coping one year later, it might be of some interest to other readers of the blog to know two lawyers’ stories: The lawyer who I helped, and how I experienced Katrina through helping her.
    I’m not trying to be argumentative, but when you make a public statement about someone mis-using a great resource like this blog, and especially when you make a public call for censure, I think you need to be prepared to back that up.
    Respectfully,
    RJON ROBINS
    http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com

  • elguapo

    “What about my comment was self-promoting or offensive to you?”
    Ummm, the last 2 lines.
    Also the fact that you specifically mentioned helping “a Rainmaking client.”
    These things strike me as gratuitous to your story.
    I challenge you to post on this blog without linking to your web site or otherwise mentioning whatever it is that you are selling.
    If you are not posting here to promote yourself, then you shouldn’t have a problem doing that.
    Just my humble opinion.

  • elguapo

    “What about my comment was self-promoting or offensive to you?”
    Ummm, the last 2 lines.
    Also the fact that you specifically mentioned helping “a Rainmaking client.”
    These things strike me as gratuitous to your story.
    I challenge you to post on this blog without linking to your web site or otherwise mentioning whatever it is that you are selling.
    If you are not posting here to promote yourself, then you shouldn’t have a problem doing that.
    Just my humble opinion.

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    ElGuapo,
    Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate the candid feedback and the opportunity to explain myself in order to hopefully, clear-up any misunderstandings. I’ve tried to respond to your comment one piece at a time:
    “My Rainmaking Client”
    I could have said “some lady I know” but then that would have been sort of strange that she would know anything about my background to refer a lawyer she knows to me for help in finding a job, don’t you think? I could have said “a client” – like so many other participants do when the relationship is relevant to the story, but again, that would have been misleading because I have never provided legal services to the person who made the introduction. And I suppose I could have just excluded the whole part about how I was introduced to the lawyer who lost her firm and her job in Katrina and left it to everyone’s imagination how a total stranger happened call me for help finding a new job in a strange city. So I stated the facts.
    The Last Two Lines
    I am an active participant in this and several other blogs. In many cases, the opinions I express or the experiences I have, suggest a conclusion or a way of approaching an issue that is different from those of the other commenters, and sometimes even different from the host who made the orginal post. As an aside, I generally refrain from making “me too” comments when I am in agreement with a post or the direction in which a discussion is headed, which may be why I’m so often on the “other side” of issues.
    I think if you will be fair in your assessment of my participation on this blog though, you must agree that I always express such ideas, opinions and perspectives with respect, never seeking to publicly embarrass anyone.
    Furthermore, I take great pride in the fact that I always go out of my way to explain the reasoning or experiences upon which my statements are based. Now, if I were to express a minority opinion on a controversial subject like, Flat Fee vs. Hourly Billing, as just one example and I simply identify myself as a solo practitioner, then some other solo practitioner might read the nine other statements in favor of hourly billing and disregard my lone argument in favor of flat fees.
    That same solo practitioner however, if he or she were to be aware of the fact that I am basing my statement not only on my own experience, but on the experiences of several hundreds of lawyers whom I have helped to successfully implement flat fee billing arrangements…well then, that hypothetical solo practitioner may think-twice about whether that one guy with the minority opinion may actually have a valid point based on more than just one lawyer’s sole opinion/experience and evaluate his or her options differently.
    ElGuapo, I am not criticizing you for choosing to protect your identity when you blog. I approach blogging differently though. Not better or worse, just different. I post with my full name, e-mail address and contact information. Sometimes I get personal e-mails expressing disagreement with the things I say. Sometimes I get compliments too. But I don’t hide from the fact that I am in the business of helping lawyers with their businesses. Nor do I seek to hide that fact from my fellow bloggers. Rather, I put it all out there in order to help anyone who wants to consider them, better evaluate my perspectives, ideas, advice and opinions. I don’t know how else to do that without telling people what I do.
    “If you are not posting here to promote yourself. . . “
    First of all, I do not accept the premise that there is anything inherently wrong with promoting oneself. I trust that you do not get offended when you watch the evening news, or read the newspaper, or attend every single bar function or CLE program you’ve ever been to. Equally, I doubt it offends you that there are like fifty links permanently displayed that lead to various lawyers’ own personal websites on this, and many other blogs.
    I include a link to my website in order to help readers better evaluate my comments, and yes, to promote myself. If my comments are relevant and helpful -which by virtue of the fact that you cricized me for everything else BUT that, leads me to think you agree that they are – then why is my self-promotion any different from every other source of information available in the world?
    Respectfully,
    Some guy who may or may not know what he is talking about.

  • http://www.HowToMakeItRain.com RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com

    ElGuapo,
    Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate the candid feedback and the opportunity to explain myself in order to hopefully, clear-up any misunderstandings. I’ve tried to respond to your comment one piece at a time:
    “My Rainmaking Client”
    I could have said “some lady I know” but then that would have been sort of strange that she would know anything about my background to refer a lawyer she knows to me for help in finding a job, don’t you think? I could have said “a client” – like so many other participants do when the relationship is relevant to the story, but again, that would have been misleading because I have never provided legal services to the person who made the introduction. And I suppose I could have just excluded the whole part about how I was introduced to the lawyer who lost her firm and her job in Katrina and left it to everyone’s imagination how a total stranger happened call me for help finding a new job in a strange city. So I stated the facts.
    The Last Two Lines
    I am an active participant in this and several other blogs. In many cases, the opinions I express or the experiences I have, suggest a conclusion or a way of approaching an issue that is different from those of the other commenters, and sometimes even different from the host who made the orginal post. As an aside, I generally refrain from making “me too” comments when I am in agreement with a post or the direction in which a discussion is headed, which may be why I’m so often on the “other side” of issues.
    I think if you will be fair in your assessment of my participation on this blog though, you must agree that I always express such ideas, opinions and perspectives with respect, never seeking to publicly embarrass anyone.
    Furthermore, I take great pride in the fact that I always go out of my way to explain the reasoning or experiences upon which my statements are based. Now, if I were to express a minority opinion on a controversial subject like, Flat Fee vs. Hourly Billing, as just one example and I simply identify myself as a solo practitioner, then some other solo practitioner might read the nine other statements in favor of hourly billing and disregard my lone argument in favor of flat fees.
    That same solo practitioner however, if he or she were to be aware of the fact that I am basing my statement not only on my own experience, but on the experiences of several hundreds of lawyers whom I have helped to successfully implement flat fee billing arrangements…well then, that hypothetical solo practitioner may think-twice about whether that one guy with the minority opinion may actually have a valid point based on more than just one lawyer’s sole opinion/experience and evaluate his or her options differently.
    ElGuapo, I am not criticizing you for choosing to protect your identity when you blog. I approach blogging differently though. Not better or worse, just different. I post with my full name, e-mail address and contact information. Sometimes I get personal e-mails expressing disagreement with the things I say. Sometimes I get compliments too. But I don’t hide from the fact that I am in the business of helping lawyers with their businesses. Nor do I seek to hide that fact from my fellow bloggers. Rather, I put it all out there in order to help anyone who wants to consider them, better evaluate my perspectives, ideas, advice and opinions. I don’t know how else to do that without telling people what I do.
    “If you are not posting here to promote yourself. . . “
    First of all, I do not accept the premise that there is anything inherently wrong with promoting oneself. I trust that you do not get offended when you watch the evening news, or read the newspaper, or attend every single bar function or CLE program you’ve ever been to. Equally, I doubt it offends you that there are like fifty links permanently displayed that lead to various lawyers’ own personal websites on this, and many other blogs.
    I include a link to my website in order to help readers better evaluate my comments, and yes, to promote myself. If my comments are relevant and helpful -which by virtue of the fact that you cricized me for everything else BUT that, leads me to think you agree that they are – then why is my self-promotion any different from every other source of information available in the world?
    Respectfully,
    Some guy who may or may not know what he is talking about.

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