Saturday, March 24, 2012

4 things I learned from using a quote in a post

It's important to get your facts right. Here are four things I learned about writing the first Legal Shoe post last Thursday.

THING 1: I said a very wise thing about the legal business, and business in general: 

It's 97% spit and polish, and 3% BS. 

I like to think I'm wise, But I'm not that wise. The formidable Joanne Quinn-Smith, who knows a thing or two about show business herself, reminds me that the quote stemmed from words of advice given to her by Don Di Carlo, Lightweight Golden Gloves Champion and Vaudeville Agent in downtown Pittsburgh before it was "The Cultural District." I tried to do some online research on this guy, but will have to let Joanne guest post about him. She can write about her gold lamee boots in the same post.

Joanne describes Don as a classic producer, hustler, and showman. There was always something from lunch left over on his suit, but you could put your makeup on just using the shine on his shoes. 

So think of Don Di Carlo. People are going to pay attention to your shoes. They are going to draw conclusions about you by looking at your shoes. Shoes first, BS later. Substance if you get the opportunity. Just remember that.

THING 2: You can't polish green suede shoes. That's what the little brush in the shoe box is for. Take care of the shoes, and understand the implications and conclusions that will be drawn if they don't look good. You won't feel good, and anyone considering your services will think you're slovenly in all aspects of your life. It looks especially tawdry if you've just forked out $1,000 on an "interview suit." Don't pay attention to the ads with the talking stain. The guy behind the desk is actually thinking about the applicants nice, shiny shoes.

THING 3: I have a green leather handbag that is as awesome as my green shoes. It's not suede, but it says the same things, and people notice it. It's not as big as a briefcase, but big enough to fit an iPad, an Airbook, or a really nice journal for taking notes. It's a spectacular bag. 

If you're a woman, have a spectacular bag when you meet clients. I don't mean a great big tote bag - unless of course you're auditioning for Mary Poppins. I mean a bag that's streamlined enough to look awesome, but big enough to include the things you'll need to impress prospective clients. You will be known for this bag, as Don Di Carlo was known for his shoes. 

If you're a man. there are briefcases out there (I have at least two from my father's collection) that are slim and tidy and don't look like you just stepped out of high school debate squad. Find them. Get two.

THING 4: LISTEN. Listen to the stories around you. We survived as a species by telling stories. You will learn more from your clients and mentors if you listen to their stories. You will never learn anything about them if you spend all of your time telling them how awesome you are. In fact, they don't care how awesome you are.

They already know that because your shoes are shiny and you have an terrific bag/briefcase with you.

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:  
© Tamar J Cerafici, The Barefoot Barrister™ 412-467-6141

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer Who Wears Green Suede Shoes

I wore green suede shoes to an interview with a law firm.  These weren't' the bilious stilettos one might see on the red carpet at the Grammys.

These were green suede Van Elli mules with kitten heals. The green reminded one of a willow in spring. They rocked. They had a little buckle with a bow, so they did pander to the conservative nature of the firm, one of the biggest in the country.

You can learn a lot about lawyers by the clothes they wear, but pay attention to the feet. That's where the true confessions are. This business is 97% spit and polish, and 3% BS, so your feet had better look good.  And if they look good in green suede, go for it. (*NOTE to men reading this: green suede looks silly in anything but a kitten-heeled mule - we'll have to thing of something els for you. Wear green suede to an interview and the partner will think you're applying for the pro position at his country club.)

Now I don't know if these shoes were the determining factor in the firm's decision not to hire me. Actually, another firm beat them to the offer stage.

Assuming they had some bearing on the process, here are the three reasons why firms should hire people who wear green suede shoes:

REASON #1 - The Wearer has a Creative Streak

It takes real skill to plan an interview outfit around a pair of green suede shoes, and a ton of creativity. The green suede shoe wearer will have both skill and creativity in spades. That's what you want in a lawyer.

Trends show that the future belongs to a very different kind of lawyer. Services are becoming commoditized, pre-packaged and readily available online. Left-brain thinkers who are good at writing contracts and crunch numbers are being rapidly replaced by advances in IT. The emphasis will soon be on lawyers who recognize patters and create meaning -- the new lawyer is a big-picture thinker who recognizes unmet need. Future success will hinge on a more creative and imaginative lawyer.

The kind of lawyer who'd wear green suede shoes.

REASON #2. The Wearer has Confidence. Lots of it.

Someone who wears green suede shoes to an interview is likely to have a ton of confidence in her ability to function in the mosh pit of a modern law practice, especially if the wearer can walk in the things without allowing the heel to slap unceremoniously on the floor.

This is not only indicative of confidence, but of careful preparation and consideration for the effects of her actions. Because mules lack a back strap or any other kind of connection to the heel, it's very easy to allow the heel to slap about, resulting in a disturbing clang on most law firm floors.

The green suede shoe wearer will have foreseen this. She will have spent time learning to use her toes to balance the shoe on her foot. She will know and understand how to draw attention away from the shoe and towards her formidable legal skills.

The kind of confidence that comes from such practice and attention to detail is going to be sorely needed in the next several years of the profession. As things begin to change (and they will), such lawyers will be the innovators, marketers, and creators of a multi-sourced legal practice.

REASON #3. The Wearer has Courage.

Finally, it takes courage to wear unconventional shoes to an interview. It's entirely likely that the partnership meeting after the interview will include a discussion of the shoes, and whether the wearer is appropriately serious about practicing law. Believe me, that is not the kind of firm you'd want.

Those pesky future trends are beginning to show that employers and clients want people who will build the firm, stand strong in the face of adversity, and creatively develop long term relationships. Those qualities are dependent on tenacity, creativity, and courage.

The kind of courage it takes to wear green suede shoes.

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:  
© Tamar J Cerafici, The Barefoot Barrister™ 412-467-6141