Jeff Gamso posts about a young lawyer named Joseph Rakofsky, who did nothing more than a hundred legal marketers and youthful lawyer advocates urge every unemployed lawyer to do. Be all that you can be on the internet.
There are whole conferences whose purpose is to teach legal marketers how to create
more effective lies be more persuasive in social media. The painted smiles and group love are dedicated to turning sow’s ears into silk purses.
Don’t sweat the details. Don’ be afraid to make yourself appear to be something, many things, you’re not. And don’t ever turn away a client, no matter what the case or what your qualifications to handle the case. It’s all about making money, and anything a young lawyer has to do to make money is fair game. That’s how things work in the law these days.
Gamso, who learned of the story via Jamison Koehler, provides a bit of Rakofsky’s self-proclaimed background, which is enormously impressive for a guy who graduated law school in 2009.
Per Keith Alexander in the Washington Post :Yes, indeed. Impressive enough to get him a gig defending murder charges against Dontrell Deaner. According to his profile, he’s an old hand at defending murder charges, despite the fact that it seems impossible. But online, anything is possible. In the courtroom, it’s far more difficult to pull off a lie.Rakofsky’s Web page on lawsearch.net says he specializes in criminal law, DUIs, traffic law, malpractice law and negligence. He lists his firm’s address as 14 Wall St. in Manhattan, but the New York state attorney registration offices have no record of Rakofsky being licensed in New York. Rakofsky, who received his law degree from Touro College in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2009, has been licensed in New Jersey since April 29, 2010.His lawyersearch profile tells us more.Mr. Rakofsky has worked on cases involving Murder, Embezzlement, Tax Evasion, Civil RICO, Securities Fraud, Bank Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Wire Fraud, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Drug Trafficking, Grand Larceny, Identity Theft, Counterfeit Credit Card Enterprise and Aggravated Harassment. Following graduation from law school, he worked for one of the biggest civil litigation firms on the east coast and has worked for boutique white-collar criminal defense firms in Manhattan. During law school, Mr. Rakofsky interned at the Legal Aid Society (in Suffolk County). Prior to studying law, Mr. Rakofsky studied Economics and interviewed at a well-respected investment bank with branches all over the world. Prior to law school, Mr. Rakofsky earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, concentrating his attention on DNA.Impressive, huh?
As the Washington Post notes, it proved to be sufficient to gain that peculiar result, a mistrial for ineffective assistance of counsel.
“I was astonished someone would represent someone in a murder case who has never tried a case before.”To put it another way, the judge not only found Rakofsky too incompetent to handle the case, but too dishonest. It goes much farther than mere inexperience and incompetence, but then, deceit is more a personality trait than merely an internet opportunity, so no one should be surprised that Rakofsky’s willingness to lie on the internet is reflected in his character as a lawyer. You can read the sordid details over at Gamso’s post. This is heading in a different direction.
It’s not to suggest that every young lawyer is as incompetent or dishonest as Joseph Rakofsky. Few are quite this bad. But many lie about themselves just as this mutt did. Be honest, at least with yourself, and recognize that you are doing everything you can to manufacture a false online persona for one purpose; to make money. Come on, you can do it. Just admit it to yourself.
Rakofsky didn’t do Dontrell Deaner any good. But you don’t care about clients, about your getting in over your head and some poor schmuck who was stupid enough to hire you going down the tubes. You won’t even believe that it’s your fault, pretending instead that he would have gone down no matter what. Maybe you even say aloud that he was guilty anyway, so no harm, no foul.
But Rakofsky just destroyed his career. No, this isn’t a problem, at least as far as I’m concerned, but for a new lawyer who will do anything to make a buck, this could present a problem.
So you don’t really care about clients either. So you’re only real concern is to make a quick buck, doing anything you have to do. After all, you’ve got loans to pay, and that justifies anything you have to do.
You aren’t willing to pay the price that Joseph Rakofsky is now going to pay. The internet will not be kind to Rakofsky, nor should it. If all works as it should, no client will ever hire Rakofsky again. Good for clients. Not so much for Rakofsky, but few will cry about Rakofsky’s career suicide.
Far be it from me to tell a young lawyer that they shouldn’t earn a living. Far be it from me to tell a young lawyer that they shouldn’t create an unseemly internet persona that gives the appearance of competence and experience where none exists. It’s not my place to admonish anyone to not take on a paying client when they lacked the competence to properly handle the representation.
But before you do anything that comes close, think about Joseph Rakofsky. And know that if you do what he did, I will be happy to make sure that people know about it. There are probably a few others who will do so as well. What do you plan to do about those loans when your career is destroyed?
Many, from the social media gurus to the legal marketers to the young lawyers whining about their need for money, willingly embrace the idea that the internet is free from the constraints of truth and ethics that apply in the real world, that it’s a truth free zone. If the internet can make you, it can break you as well.