Total Disaster

Not that I’ve got anything personally against the enterprise known as Total Attorneys, which has somehow positioned itself as the future of success for the Slackoisie.  This would be the company that hosted the Get A Life Conference, where twinkie lawyers more concerned with playtime than competence could go to learn the secrets of success without effort.

And then there is the self-proclaimed Slackoisie guru, Ed Scanlon, ushering in his new version of the perfect society.  The sky is falling change is coming, we’re told.  Apparently, it’s far more true than they realized, but not exactly the way they hoped.

The Connecticut Law Tribune has a headline story that the Slackoisie freight train is heading for a crash, and Total Attorneys President Kevin Chern is at the wheel.  [Since the Ct Law Trib is a pay for view site, and few have access, here’s another post about the story that is readily accessible.]

You’re a lawyer. You receive a telephone call from a for-profit company offering to feed you clients who visit the company’s web site seeking legal help. In exchange, you pay a fee for every consumer who contacts you. The company markets itself as a lawyer advertising site and claims the fee is used to cover operational costs and support services. But disciplinary officials, in Connecticut at least, think the agreement might be an example of paying for referrals, which is a felony offense in the state. The question of what constitutes ethical and legal Internet advertising of attorney services is back in the spotlight after local grievance panels recently found probable cause against two Connecticut attorneys who entered into business agreements with a Chicago-based company.

Shocking that the promoters of easy legal living didn’t notice the ethical line they toed, isn’t it?  Frankly, there’s nothing surprising about it.  This is a business whose model depends on the ongoing conscious avoidance of its adherents of the rules of the game.  They care for the cash, and happily turn a blind eye to the ethical responsibilities of what used to be a respected profession.  Why let old school concepts, like ethics and competence, stand in the way of Web 2.0 thinking: Grab as much as you can from any place you can and then Party, Party, Party!

Critical to the cash and party mindset is the use of online marketing to replace the grind of having to earn one’s clientèle through hard work, excellent client representation and experience gained in the trenches.  That’s old-man stuff.  New kid stuff is pay a guru for a magic bullet and come out of the box on day one making a million off the internet, whether it’s twitter, blogging, facebook, whatever.  Why go through all that hard work that grumpy old Mr. Wilson demands when you can get it all overnight?

Since posting about Ed Scanlon, whose screed about the brave new world of the Slackoisie workplace was possibly the most laughably ridiculous thing to come out of the Slackoisie since Alexis Neely proclaimed that “I feel this is a gift from God and to do anything less than [be a consultant] would be doing a disservice to the world.”   [Side Note: Alexis thinks I’m an old meany who’s picking on her.  I’m really not.  It’s just that she’s set herself up as a prime example of twinkiehood by placing herself on a pedestal, thus becoming an excellent example of what’s gone so very wrong for the Slackoisie. The downside to creating a high profile for oneself is to be called on it from time to time.]

Following the Scanlon screed, allegations of rampant misconduct at Total Attorneys started coming in.  One, alleging conduct that was not merely unethical but criminal, was posted as a comment.  As the commenter used only a first name, and the allegations were most serious, I removed the post.  I have no intention of concealing misconduct for Total Attorneys or anyone else, but I similarly expect that anyone who wants to raise criminal allegations against an enterprise be willing to stand behind them. 

I’ve also received various emails from people who claim to be former employees (and I have no reason to doubt them, since I don’t think anyone cares all that much about Total Attorneys to fabricate such a claim) raising allegations about their business practices, suggesting that they are no more honest, ethical or legitimate internally than externally.  Once again, these will not hit the surface until someone is willing to put their name to the allegations publicly.  But there is clearly a very serious groundswell of antagonism toward Total Attorneys.

Some  around the blawgosphere keep insisting that this is the future, that it’s all going to change and curmudgeons like me can either hop on board the freight train or be left behind.  While I agree that some changes have and will continue to come, they are the changes that enhance our ability to deliver better client representation, not the changes that allow quick-buck-artists and scammers to sell magic bullets and work/life balance to the entitled Slackoisie. 

There’s trouble ahead for that freight train, and perhaps those who have foolishly jumped on board would do well to get off before it crashes.

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