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Lexpert, July 2006

by Marzena Czarnecka

I spend a lot of time on law firm website reading lawyer profiles. I’m not telling you this just to make you feel sorry for me–okay, feel sorry for me just a little bit and if you want to commit a random act of kindness someday, put something racy in there when you revise it, so I don’t nod off while trying to get your phone number, please?

But I digress. I spend too much time on law firm website reading lawyer profiles. Okay, mostly looking up lawyers’ telephone numbers and email addresses. But the rest of the words kind of force themselves upon my eyes. So I read them. I’ve probably read yours. I’m probably one of three people in Canada–maybe four–who has. Yours and just about every other lawyer profiles from every law firm in Canada and then some (okay, now I am trying to get you to feel sorry for me. Do you ever read your colleagues’ profiles? Didn’t think so. If ever you have trouble sleeping…)

And I have a complaint, which you–as I constitute at least 25 per cent of your audience, and probably more–should take very seriously. No, it’s not that they’re duller than Stephen Harper’s smile. I expect them to be boring. I know you show these things to potential clients and you can’t run the risk of the client thinking you’re an interesting person who’s done exciting things (there’s Law Society rules against that sort of thing, right?). So that’s fine. Boring I can do. Redundant–per listing all 644 subsecialty areas within the area of your practice–I can skim. Self-aggrandizing–all those Lexpert, Chambers, and Who’s Who Rankings–I kinda dig. Publications–heck, sometimes those are even helpful. Photographs–you know it doesn’t look a thing like you, right? I mean, I’ve used that photograph to try to find you at parties, restaurants and in your own lobby, and maybe you looked like that when you first joined the firm, but today… I digress again. Photographs are fine. Just make sure you get a haircut next time you update it, and don’t wear a patterned shit. Year you were called to bar helps me ballpark your age (your photograph, of course, doesn’t–and I understand perfectly. The photo above is neigh on eight years old). The law school you went to doesn’t interest me in the least… but I suppose potential articling students may find it of use (clients, not so much). That you got an honours pre-law degree, that just tells me you’ve got little else to brag about (which is okay if you’re a first year associate… and not so okay if you’re a partner).

Which brings me back to my complaint. My favourite part of your profile is the part where I get to find out what you you’ve actually done. Finally, I think, as I read “s/he has represented,” I get to find out what this dude or dudette’s all about. And what do I get? “A multinational corporation in a multi-billion dollar acquisition of…” Aaaargh! (They’ve changed those Law Society rules, by the way. Name the @#$%^ client!). There’s more–you sit on a number of boards (is it Bre-X? Hollinger? Enron? Is that why you can’t tell me?). And you’re involved in the community (doing what? Buying girl Guide cookies?).

And–my pettest of pet peeves–if this is not the place where you cut your articling teeth, “prior to joining [firm], s/he was with another major Canadian law firm.”

Yes, I certainly feel I know all I need to know about you, thank you. That is, if you were trying to convey the impression that you were virtually undistinguishable from your colleagues and competitors? You weren’t? Then baby, do you ever have a lot of work to do.

Start small. Get a couple of client names (how: 1. Pick up phone. 2. Call client. 3. Ask permission. 4. Call marketing department… can you take it from here?). Then tell me why those deals or cases were important (assume I don’t know–you’ll probably assume correctly). Tell me why you’re hot stuff (you are hot stuff, right? That’s what John Black told me…). And if you can get your firm to change its idiotic policy, tell me, before I “google” it, what you did at your prior firm. And which major–or not so major?–Canadian law firm it was.

You’re not ashamed of it, are you?

Marzena Czarnecka spends too much time sifting through law firm websites–and lawyer profiles.

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