Rachel Rodgers’ Neighborhood

It would have been extremely funny to open this post, given what will come in a bit,  with a video of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross as a means of emphasizing how bizarrely misguided advice can be.  It would have, but I can’t.  I can’t because Rachel Rodgers used it herself, starting her terribly sad post with the same quote.

Apparently, she didn’t realize what the quote, and Mamet’s story, was about.  Baldwin’s character, Blake, wasn’t motivational, but a monster, a demon brought in to destroy and subjugate the spirit of the real estate salesmen beneath him.  He reflects the worst in man.  Rachel Rodgers uses him as her exemplar.

My first couple of months as a solo, I spent a lot of time talking to prospective clients. At that time I was offering free consultations. During these consultations I would give away the milk, which meant that very few potential clients were buying the cow. Even worse, I didn’t clearly express to my prospective clients what the cow was and why it was worth my fees to get it. I had no idea what the hell I was doing and was quite perturbed that many of these prospects weren’t becoming paying clients.

Unfortunately, how to sell is among the myriad of things that we lawyers need to know yet didn’t learn in law school. When I was just starting out, I didn’t understand how important the mantra, “always be closing” really was. After months of being disappointed at how few clients I had, I realized that closing clients needed to be my numero uno priority.

Bearing in mind that Rodgers’ decades  months of experience color her epiphanies.  When she explains how her early days as a lawyer failed to produce income, it’s easier to understand why she shifted her focus during her second week of practice by embracing Alec Baldwin’s ABC, always be closing.  Hungry people need to eat.  Rodgers is starving.

Despite her tenacious resistance to appreciating the ethical duties of lawyers, and notwithstanding the poverty of her juvenile written and reasoning skills, it’s hard to blame Rogers for her misguided views.  Had she not persisted in her efforts to be a life coach who has yet to have a life, to tirelessly promote herself as a guru to the desperate and foolish, I would not mention her.  But since she’s chosen to scream about her genius, there isn’t much choice.  She doesn’t even realize she’s a pawn, doing the bidding of her elders who enjoy the benefit of making money off her silliness, making her the target as they pull her strings.

Rodgers’ head has been filled with delusions, that lawyers sell, sell, sell, and that’s what brings success. She thinks lawyers sell real estate, sell used cars, sell day old fish. It doesn’t matter what lawyers sell, as long as they sell.  And close the deal.

When  Jordan Rushie asked me about her post, it wasn’t because he had any particular feelings toward a young lawyer named Rodgers.  Rather, he fears for his generation of lawyers.

I mean, who cares what your clients need, right?  It’s all about making money.

Sounds like a great idea, except for one problem.  As a lawyer, we are a fiduciary for our clients.

In other words, a lawyer has a duty to not to view clients as a “mark” or a “lead”.  However, in the comment section, Rachel states:

If you feel like your services aren’t valuable or lack confidence, that can be a barrier to effectively closing leads.

…closing leads?  Sometimes a client might not need your services.  Sometimes they are better off saving their money. And it’s our duty to tell them that.

This is really a question of mentoring, of guiding new lawyers down the road of ethics, or competence, of integrity.  Or empowering young lawyers to make money their God, that anything they have to do get a buck out of their “mark” is the road to success.  While some  try to reimagine the legal profession in ways that will better fulfill our obligation to serve our clients, others are redecorating the boiler room.

Just as Jordan was mentored to believe that skill and integrity are the tools with which a lawyer serves clients, and he strives to earn the trust that clients place in him, Rachel was mentored in marketing and self-promotion, where clients are leads and closing the deal, any deal, is all that matters.  Sure, as a lawyer, Rachel Rogers shouldn’t be such a puppet to the real entrepreneurs who fill her naive head with lies and delusions. But not everyone has the strength, the intelligence, the insight, to know when they’re being played.

So don’t blame Rachel Rogers for being the face of the new generation of lawyers who are so delusional and misguided that they demonstrate the worst of what can happen to the profession. Blame her mentor, Blake, no matter what name he uses.

Oh, what the heck. Here’s the video.

16 thoughts on “Rachel Rodgers’ Neighborhood

  1. Mark Bennett

    I thought I was beyond being surprised by these people, but I’m dumbfounded.

    We use “the Glengarry leads” as shorthand for what’s wrong with lawyers talking about leads: the salesmen in the Mamet story are fraudsters, and “leads” are suckers.

    And Rogers embraces the analogy.

    Just wow.

  2. David Sugerman

    I also had that jaw-dropping moment, and that was without the benefit of having seen the film. There is enough irony here to fully fill the accounts for months. But that is almost beside the point.

    Thanks, as always, for articulating standards. I can’t help but wonder about how we got to this point of failure.

    Think about it: The generation of attorneys who mentored us inculcated in a very disparate group the values of professionalism and fiduciary responsibility. We’re failing in passing the same values to the generation that follows. Why is that?

    I can’t get my head around to a simple explanation. Part of it has to do with the economics. I trained as a young associate in a small firm and got my butt kicked as part of the process. Those opportunities do not exist in the same way for today’s new lawyers. But there is more, of course, including a culture of entitlement, the rise of technology that displaces young lawyers, overly doctrinaire view of the protected nature of advertising that promotes the race to the bottom.

    Great post. Thanks.

  3. SHG

    Dan Hull and I actually wrote an article for the ABA Journal on this, which I believe will be coming out in the next issue or two. Or soon. Or never. Or whatever. Mentoring isn’t as sexy as the shiniest new toys.


    I have something coming out soon on the concept of “fewer clients.” I won’t make many friends with it, as evidenced by rock star Rachel’s prose.

    Her philosophy is the mantra of today’s Starbucks lawyer – get as many cases as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t handle it, don’t worry about the (non) payment plan, don’t think about anything else but the dollar.

    The problem in addition to “lawyers” like Rodgers advocating crap like this is that lawyers are listening to her. She’s not “part of the past” and all the failed lawyers-turned-marketing-hacks use her as an example of the future.

    The only reason lawyers like her have an audience is because no one wants to wait to be successful. It’s easier to claim success than to actually attain it these days.

  5. SHG

    You made me realize that I had spelled Rachel Rodgers’ name wrong, and so I went back to correct it.  After all, there is no insult to the marketing lawyer worse than spelling her name wrong.

  6. BL1Y

    “Get a whiteboard and write down how much revenue you want to make this quarter. (Go ahead. I’ll wait). Under your goal number, write down how much you’ve made so far this quarter and subtract it from your goal number. The new total is how much you have left to make. …Here’s an example:

    “Goal for Q1: $20,000

    Revenue to Date (2/2/12): $ 6,500

    Need to Make: $13,500″

    Hate to disappoint you, SHG, but I have to go with a Social Network reference here:

    “Hang on, I’m just checking your math on that. Yes, I got the same thing.”

    What’s awful about this sort of advice is that there is a real issue to address. Plenty of people in small or solo shops have no experience in sales. This advice just doesn’t do anything to help.

    I don’t think the advise is bad so much as it is simply empty. Ohhh, I need clients to get paid? Thanks, how do I do that? Ohhh, by signing clients. Gotcha. Thanks, I’m ready to conquer the world now!

    “Selling is only icky if you’re selling something you don’t believe in to someone who doesn’t need it.”

    Do you think people like her really believe in their product? Are they used car salesman aware of the swindle, have they drunk the Kool-Aid, or do they just lack the mental ability to judge quality?

  7. Thomas Stephenson

    It’s not your generation of lawyers, it’s mine.

    I’ve gotten plenty of great advice from your generation, but a lot of the young lawyers out there have no interest in hearing it.

    They went to law school so they could have a six-figure income, by God, so they’re going to get a six-figure income whether you like what they do or not. Being a good lawyer (or hell, a competent lawyer) is not part of it.

  8. SHG

    Yes, it’s empty, but what would you expect? Rachel would have to be a success before she could know how tell others to be successful. I forgive her that, as she simply has no clue.

    But that doesn’t preclude the advise being fundamentally misguided as well. They aren’t mutually exclusive, and from a longer view (that being mine rather than yours), the greater damage isn’t that her sales advice is crap, but that lawyers should conduct themselves like salesmen rather than, oh, lawyers.

    As to your qustion of whether she “really believes in her product,” I believe she does. She just has no clue what she’s talking about. A new lawyer is brilliant. A lawyer with five years experience knows everything. A lawyer with 20 years experience has much to learn.  At 30 years, we’re just beginning to realize what it takes to be a lawyer.  So yes, she believes she can fly.

  9. Eric L. Mayer

    “A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.” Alec Baldwin, GGR.

    Our potential clients aren’t looking for something to buy. They’re looking for help. The fact that she doesn’t grasp the considerable difference between these concepts is disconcerting.

  10. Leo

    I give up. My “generation Y” lawyers are hopeless. I am still flabbergasted that SCL allows Rogers to swindle unsuspecting new law grads into paying for her advice. Though I guess that goes right along with the Glengarry Glen Ross theme.

    Though I guess she doesn’t really care, so long as she gets her leads.

    I can see it now:

    “Rachel: You see this watch? You see this watch?
    Jordan: Yeah.
    Rachel: That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing. Nice gal? I don’t give a shit. Good mother? F*ck you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here – close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you c*cksucker? You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don’t like it, leave.

  11. RodgerEpstein

    +2 to the blog post above and the following comments!

    My knee jerk reaction when reading such a boiler room reduction of the legal profession is disgust and disappointment.

    This is definitely not what this profession needs (not to mention the potentially actionable ethical violations inherent in treating one’s clients like mere customers passing through Best Buy).

    Thank you to sites like this for offering a true sounding board by which precarious advice like hers can be challenged and checked.

  12. Pingback: A Question For Rachel Rodgers – If It’s Not Legal Advice, What Is It? | Philly Law Blog

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