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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The "Experience Question"

So we're hearing this all the time from Sens. Clinton and McCain regarding Sen. Obama. Of course whenever I hear Hillary talk about her 35 years of experience I about want to throw up...yeah and I have "experience" as a flight attendant and as a children's book author (through my wife).

But back on point...

How do you overcome the "experience question" in lawyerland?

Personally, I think this is more of a perception question than a real substantive problem. At times I've felt that it's an advantage. At a substantive level, generally each case is fact specific. There can be similarities to past cases but each case often "falls" on its own specific circumstances. On a case-by-case basis I think the more important question is, "what's your experience with this specific case?" The example I've had where lack of experience can be an advantage is overconfidence on the part of the opposing more experienced lawyer and not keeping current on case law thinking the issues haven't changed in 40 years or whatever.

As for perception, what I mean here is a client looking at your bio. and relative youth and year of law school graduation (don't volunteer this info.) and thinking she has no experience and therefore I won't retain her. This is a more difficult hurdle to clear. One point might be is that the solo route can be particularly effective for older law school grads....yeah you just graduated from law school in '06 but you're older and have all this "other" background. I advise loading up on "Of Counsel" lawyers with your firm. Then the response is, "you're hiring this Firm" not just me individually. As a last resort (actually probably before "last") start a blog or get published or actually GET SOME experience through pro bono cases...my response if I was asked about so-called experience would be to bridge to all these things I have done: write, speak, ect. You define experience.

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