This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office New York attorney, addresses the slight degradation that solo attorneys sometimes face, through the “lens” of a sunglass.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about commodity culture and how we are subtly trained to fetishize certain brands. (I know . . . probably not what you were thinking in terms of starting a blog about solo law practice, but bear with me…)
My thought process was solidified on a recent trip to purchase a new pair of sunglasses to replace a pair that I lost. So, I go to the store and start trying things on.
It is amazing how two nearly identical pieces of plastic can vary so much in price just because of a small logo.
I mean, seriously, I looked at two pairs and there was a $300 difference simply because one said Dior.
Say what you will about craftsmanship, these two pairs of sunglasses were just black plastic. Nothing more, nothing less.
I ended up purchasing a pair of Ray-Bans. Yes, they are overpriced, but not as bad as others, and they offer the same functional use-value.
It got me thinking…
Aren’t lawyers just like sunglasses: a commodity? Don’t we all have the same functional use value? Do legal consumers suffer from the same brand fetishization as sunglass consumers?
We are all basically just a commodity.
“Oh, you work at Debevoise?” You must be really smart. They are $1,000 an hour Dior sunglasses.
At the same point, consider the law firms with well-known brands – say a firm like Jacoby & Myers. They are Ray-Bans: mass-marketed sunglasses for everyone.
Finally, take solo attorneys. Somewhat denigrated by lawyers in the above two categories…
(Many people I have met assume that I am solo by force, rather than by choice. When in reality, it was a little of both.)
We are the knock-off sunglasses that you buy from a sidewalk vendor. No fancy logo, but they get the job done on a sunny day, and at an affordable price.
We all have the same legal background.
The irony of my analysis is that, just like most sunglasses, attorneys are largely cut from the same cloth. We all had to take the LSAT’s. We all had to go through three years of law school. We all had to study for the bar exam. We all had to pass it.
We all live by the same set of ethical rules and interpret the same statutory code and the same case law.
In many cases, the only difference is where we chose to work and what we charge for our time.
Buyer, be aware!
Caveat emptor to consumers of legal services: just because you buy a name brand – whether it be a pair of sunglasses or a law firm – you may simply be overpaying.
Don’t get in the way of your own success!
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.