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Lawyers with Verve (or Nerve)

Vivia Chen

October 18, 2012

Who says lawyers are just a bunch of dweebs without a stitch of creativity? Inside many a lawyer beats the heart of a frustrated rock singer or a novelist. Some even have the guts to perform in public or write a novel. Being a former lawyer myself, I have a soft spot for lawyers who go off-course. Here's the latest crop of lawyers who have found their inner artist:

Call Allen Matkins, Maybe. You know the hit song "Call Me Maybe," right? Of course you do (if you don't, you are truly out of it). The California firm just spoofed it in a video where the firm's lawyers pine away for an elusive client. I'm not sure that Allen Matkins's lawyers (over 40 of them perform in the video) should quit their day jobs anytime soon (let's just say that Bristol Palin could give them some dance pointers), but it's still rather endearing. Check it out:


Why the client development theme in the spoof? The firm's managing partner David Osias says it was not based on a "real rigorous analysis." He says the aspirational phrase “call me maybe” is just as applicable to "lusting" after a romantic object as it is to a potential new client. In both cases, you're "hoping that they would hire you, or at least "call me maybe,” says Osias. “We work hard, have fun, don’t take ourselves too seriously, and if we can help you, call me maybe.” 

I don't know how they do it. I'm always amazed by the number of lawyers (some who are still practicing) who manage to churn out a novel. Most of these novels—for better or worse—are about lawyers, and many seem vaguely John Grisham-esque. Here are some recent ones:

1. Godsent by Richard Burton, an in-house attorney with Landmark Management Group in Plano, Texas. (He also practiced at Bickel & Brewer.) TexParte Blog says it's a "thriller about the Son of God coming to earth in the modern time." Okay.

2. Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. (About life in a big firm.) 

3. Guilt by Association and Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark (yes, that Marcia Clark).

4. Terminal Ambition by Kate McGuinness, a former partner at an Am Law 100 firm and GC of a Fortune 500 company. It's about Big Law and politics. Susan Estrich and Steven Harper liked it.

5.  Attorney-Client Privilege by Pamela Samuels Young, a former O'Melveny & Myers associate and in-house counsel at several companies.

6. The Floater  by Sheryl Sorrentino, a solo practioner.

Just reading that list makes me exhausted. Hats off to them for making the effort, though I'm not sure we should be encouraging the habit.

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I actually just read the first one on your list - - Godsent. It was an amazing story. One of the best novels I have read in a few years. Have referred it to everyone I know. It seems a lot of lawyers know how to write well. This one is way better than the da vinci code.

We all tend to write what we know. However, I went outside my comfort zone into the world of children's literature. My protagonist is a 12-year-old Norwegian boy who stutters. The Best Words Ever represents my ideal of combining multicultural education with an inspirational message for children, particularly those with challenges. It's available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/TJS4fU.

Vivia - check out the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra of lawyers, which includes notable judges and local Chicago personalities..

Thanks for the shout out. Terminal Ambition is indeed about Big Law and politics, and the politics swirl around the firm chairman's desire to hush up sexual harassment to preserve his chance to be named U.S. Attorney General. A female partner takes takes him on, but only one of them can win. Readers can find more reviews and a book trailer here. http://terminal-ambition.com/

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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