Friday, April 29, 2016

Harrison Barnes is a Shill

Harrison Barnes is a legal recruiter and Serious Person(TM).  He must be a Serious Person(TM), because I get a couple of pieces of spam from him and his firm every day.  It's always in a predictable format: Strawman (and probably fictitious) Attorney X is not successful.  If he would just follow my advice and do A, B, and C, he would be successful.  Voila!

This is crap.  It is malodorous BarnStuff.  Now gather 'round, kiddies, because Uncle Knute is going to lay out what it takes to be a successful attorney (By "successful" I mean "earning a really nice living."  I can't think of another reason to be an attorney.).  It's actually simpler than what Barnes is trying to sell, as it comes in just two flavors.  The first option is to be so blindingly brilliant that people will beat a path to your door.  As anyone with sufficient mental wattage to read this post will know, the number of people who can punch this ticket is minuscule.

The second option, and the one used by 99.999-with-a-bar-over-it% of successful attorneys, is to have a book of business.  And by "book of business" I don't mean "people who have work for you."  There are seven billion schlubs on this mudball who have work for you.  I mean "people who will PAY you to do work."  High-minded crapulescence about professional service notwithstanding (One of the roughly nine billion things about the Utah State Bar that make me think of Al Pacino in the courtroom in "Scent of a Woman" is its constant harping about doing pro bono work, when those of living in the mortal lands, as opposed to the Mt. Olympus of the Great Firms, end up doing boggling boatloads of free work for modest income people in our day to day practices.  But I digress.), law is a business, lawyers need to eat, and clients need to pay for it.

And just how big of a book, I hear you ask?  Big.  In the words of Donald Drumpf, YUUUUUGE!.  I spoke recently to the managing partner of a boutique firm downtown, and he said you can't get in the door with less than $250,000, and it had better be over $300,000 within a year, or you'd be right back out.  I remember thinking, "If I had a $250,000 book, I sure as HELL wouldn't be looking to share it with you," but being a dissembler par excellence, I just smiled and nodded.  The Mt. Olympus firms are worse, far worse.

And it's at this point in our story that along comes a spider.  What are the big, lucrative outfits really looking for?  That's where Barnes lives.  There are five firms in town that can afford him, and they're all headquartered elsewhere.  What do the gods want?  Brutally simple and brutally ugly: They want someone who, by the time they're a senior associate with five years in the firm will have that $300,000 book.  At least.  And how are they supposed to get that?  Only one way somebody who is 30 years old max has access to that: They were born to it.  Mummy and Daddy belonged to the right country club.  They spent their lives schmoozing together a network they can hand off to Junior.

Better than a decade ago, I flat out told this to the HR director for one of those five firms here that can afford Barnes.  They were having trouble retaining women and minority associates (not a problem singular to that firm) and were trying to figure out why.  I told her why, and she looked at me like I was blaspheming her religion.  Which in truth I was.  She, like Barnes, is peddling the snakeoil that the top echelons are accessible by merit.  Bollocks.  If you weren't born to the right circumstances, don't expect law to be a golden ticket.  You'd be better off becoming a plumber or electrician or machinist.  Or become a teacher.  At least that way you'll have health benefits and a pension plan, which is more than you'll have when Big Law gives you the bum's rush because you can only muster a paltry $200,000 book and you have to hang out your own shingle for hte rest of your career.