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Introducing Emily Adams

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to post on MFAN’s blog! The attorneys at MFAN substantially impacted the way I thought about practicing law, and because of them, I am in the process of building a solo law firm—even though solo practice never crossed my mind in law school. Law school, although challenging, was a wonderfully exciting and stretching experience for me. I attended the University of Minnesota Law School, and I loved it. I ended up clerking after law school for the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a fantastic judge who mentored me and had very high standards. I learned immensely; words mattered and had to be chosen carefully; research must be accurate and recent. After my appellate clerkship, I clerked on the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota for another very intelligent judge. I learned firsthand that quality lawyering mattered, especially with frantic district-court schedules. During the two years I spent clerking, I saw many law school colleagues progress in their careers; many of them moved to different firms or in-house right around the two-years-out mark. I was surprised with how many expressed frustration with their employment. Because I had two small children by the time I finished my clerkship, I was especially keen to the hours worked and the practicality of daycare schedules and sick leave. My husband was in the process of becoming an attorney, also, so I became aware of how two-attorney households managed everything. And I was a little discouraged. I had eight months between the time I finished my federal clerkship (and had my second baby) and the day I would be leaving Minnesota for Utah. My husband was finishing law school, and we decided to move to Utah to be closer to family. Given the short time period I would be in Minnesota and the fact that I...

Attorney Happiness and Freelance Practice

A Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers suffer a depression rate 3.6 times higher than the rate of employed persons generally.  This should prompt all attorneys to ask themselves: “Are you happy?”  To find some answers, a 2014 study entitled “What Makes Lawyers Happy?” used theory-driven empirical research to find out who is happy in the legal profession and why. The study, conducted by a professor at the Florida State University College of Law, polled thousands of lawyers in four states, each representing a different geographical region of the United States. The Florida study authors remind us that “happiness is a prime human motivator,” one that pushes many people to enroll in law school in the first place.  Yet the study finds that law school students report increasing anxiety and depression before graduating into a profession with high rates of depression and substance abuse. Among the most important factors predicting happiness in an attorney was competence.  Happy attorneys felt that they were competent in conducting their work.  In addition, work-life balance had a strong correlation to attorney well-being.  In fact, vacations and exercise correlated to well-being as much as or more than salary. Perhaps high levels of attorney depression and substance abuse relate to the demands of the traditional law firm business model.    Volume is important to a profitable law firm.  High volume gives an attorney less time to allocate to each case, task, and document.  Meanwhile, clients demand and deserve effective representation at an efficient cost, making it impractical to hire extraneous support staff and salaried associates to handle volume. Thoroughness and preparation speak to competence as much as knowledge.  Freelance attorneys help busy attorneys do thorough work.  Thereby, freelance attorneys can empower you to feel competent in your work.  This feeling of competence can contribute to your happiness.  It can also simply give you the time...

Introducing Esmond Kim

In September 2014, after seven years of practice, I started my own law firm, E.Y.K. LAW, L.L.C., where I practice consumer bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13), probate, and estate planning.  I could not be more excited to work for myself because I want to do outstanding legal work for my clients.  I am also interested in working as a freelance attorney, because I want to help other busy attorneys achieve high standards for their legal work and for their practices. In 2007, I graduated from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts.  Boston was a great city to live in for law school, but my family was living in the Twin Cities in 2007, so I moved to St. Paul.  I passed the 2007 July bar, and I was thrilled to become a licensed Minnesota attorney. For my first year of practice I worked as a contract attorney with the General Litigation group at Faegre and Benson, assisting associates and partners on litigation projects for large toxic tort and environmental cases.  I managed electronically stored information, drafted discovery, helped prepare witnesses for depositions, and performed legal research.  When my contract position ended, I took a position as a staff attorney at Thomson Reuters (formerly West Publishing) that allowed me to further develop my research skills. I had always wanted to work as a law firm associate, but those positions were hard to come by in the Great Recession.  So I took and passed the February 2011 Wisconsin bar, and was offered an associate position at a successful general practice and business law firm in western Wisconsin: Kostner, Koslo & Brovold, L.L.C.   Some days, I handled family law and divorces.  Other days I planned estates and guided clients through probate.  The firm also worked on business matters for a large, locally based furniture company and other local banks and businesses.  While...

Enjoy This Spring — With Freelance Help

We have all made it through another winter.  We have been feeling some balmy spring breezes. And we are all craving some time outside. So, what are good uses of our spring time? And what can you delegate to a freelancer to help make that happen?     Five spring time ideas: Go to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis.  You will see spectacular spring wildflowers early in the season before the trees leaf out.  Like trillium, pasque flower, and jack-in-the-pulpit.  And then a changing array of other beautiful flowers and plants, as other things come into season.  You will want to go more than once. Go to the Como Park Conservatory for the spring flower show.  You will be able to see the spring favorites like tulips, hyacinth, and lilies before they are in bloom in our own yards.  Just the thing to keep us going on blustery April days.  Through April 26.  After the spring show, you can plan to see the summer flower show with hollyhock, zinnias, roses and geraniums. Buy tickets for a Saints game in the new stadium.  The opening game will be on May 10 and tickets are on sale now. There will be some blustery and rainy days.  Think about going to the Minnesota History Museum to see the “We are Hmong Minnesota” exhibit.  It’s been 40 years since the first Hmong people came here.  The exhibit shows their traditions, challenges and contributions. Survey your yard without snow in it.  Decide what to plant and where to plant it.  Haul out the grill and all your grilling equipment.  So you’re ready to plant.  And ready for some good grilling. Five things you can spin off to free up more time:  Some legal research.  A freelancer can do some research you may need for trial or appellate briefs.  Or just for assessing...

Maximizing Law Firm Efficiency: How Freelance Attorneys Can Help

The reality of law firm practice is that sometimes, it’s really busy, and sometimes, you are wishing the phone would ring. If only you could even out your workload you would find some peace of mind and produce higher quality work. I am sure you have experienced this moment: You are busily trying to finalize a client’s matter to meet a deadline (which happens to be one of many that are competing for your urgent attention), and meanwhile you keep getting calls from new potential client also with urgent needs.  You certainly don’t want to turn away new clients, but you are over capacity. You know that this situation, while it happens once in a while, is certainly not the norm. Of course you still have plenty of slow days where you wish your phone would ring, and you start to think about what new marketing strategy you should employ to get new business in the door.  But because you are not regularly too busy to meet client demands, it’s impractical to employ another full-time attorney.  At the same time, you don’t want to turn business away, especially since you know a new client could bring in many new matters to the firm, including referrals. Freelance attorneys solve this problem.  You need not commit to providing them any certain amount of work – you just call them when you need them.  Another important benefit of hiring a freelance attorney is that unlike undertaking the heavy commitment and investment of employing an associate full-time, only to later find out it wasn’t a good fit, there are no administrative hassles or sunk costs associated with hiring a freelance attorney.  If you find the relationship isn’t working out, you simply choose someone new for the next project – a simplicity which is not a reality of a formal employment relationship.  Of course...

Go Ahead, Turn Me Down

I love rejection.   Well no, I hate rejection as much as the next person, but I love it when people get in touch to tell me they’re rejecting me.  And so I want to encourage you all to do it—early and often. A friend once told me years ago that it was the “maybes,” not the “nos,” who made scheduling dinner parties difficult.  No is no; you cook five pork chops instead of six.  But maybe is uncertainty, and that’s harder to plan for.  Ever since then I’ve tried to say “no” as quickly as I can, and if anyone has been upset, they haven’t mentioned it. A freelance lawyer’s job is part dinner-party host, part air-traffic controller:  you have to learn how to manage your calendar to get projects completed and make hiring attorneys happy.  A “maybe” can tie up your schedule, making it hard to take on new projects.  There’s also an element that reminds me of dating: of course you don’t want to nag someone who hasn’t decided yet whether to work with you.  So there’s a lot of waiting by the smartphone, wondering if you’ll get the email that says “we’re on.”  As with dating, you learn how to read the signals (usually silence) that eventually let you know they’re just not that into you, so you can move on and look for other work.  Two or three out of ten contacts might turn into a project.  Rejection is part of life as a freelance attorney; it’s not meant personally, so it’s important not to take it that way. Which is why, even when I already suspect the project is not going to materialize, I love it when someone actually reaches out to tell me “no.”  First, it’s a classy gesture; it communicates that they’re a stand-up professional, and that they respect and appreciate me...

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