The Latest in Big Law Must Haves: On-Site Career Coach

Today most self-respecting law firms offer their associates state of the art gyms, emergency child care, cappuccino bars. Firms that are looking to stand apart from the rest might consider offering their associates something different…career coaches.

Ideally the career coach should be someone just down the hall that is available to give lawyers the career direction they crave when it is needed. Consider this, a 2012 study done by Manzo Coaching and Consulting surveyed 63 Am Law 200 Firms, 98% of them responded saying that they use coaches – internal and external coaches. The breakdown:

  • 90% use coaching for business development
  • 61% use coaching for leadership development
  • 49% use coaching for training
  • 24% use coaching for conflict management

Granted, coaching is not a new concept (35% of the firms that responded state that they have been using coaches for the last 7 to 10 years). The twist these days is that firms are grooming their own coaches. Many firms are turning to former associates, typically a lawyer that has 5 years or more under their belt that first moved to a professional development role and progressed to the role of coach. According to the survey practically all lawyer turned coaches have gotten professional training from organizations such as Hudson Institute of Santa Barbra.

The reasons that firms are investing in full time coaches for their associates include:

  • Help associates that have been on leave return to practice
  • Stem attrition
  • Develop high potential candidates (for partner)
  • Etc

This is a basic extension of talent management, take the best that you have an groom them for something better. Today firms are investing a lot of money in recruiting so they are looking for ways to keep their associates happy so that they stay with the firm.

The other reason for coaching is that the internal structures of firms are changing; this can often make firm navigation difficult for lawyers. Ambitious lawyers take the initiative to ask what their path is in the firm.

Coaching can take a variety of forms such as group coaching. Group coaching usually consists of a group of people all working towards a similar goal. Coaching can also be individualized for issues such as tension with the boss (this would be more short term) or helping an associate decide if they should try to become a partner (more long term goal).

Coaches that are former lawyers are effective as coaches because they have “been there done that,” they know the ropes and they can bring empathy for the up and coming associate. There is another advantage to having a coach that was a lawyer, they know how lawyers think.

Coaching can be difficult to sell to lawyers, but it helps them. Lawyers are trained to retain a lot of facts, think linearly and remain logical. Lawyers expect a very straightforward approach. This doesn’t mean that emotions won’t spill over into coaching sessions, but sessions aren’t meant to be therapy sessions.

At the moment, data is still out on the ROI of onsite career coaches due to the fact that it is relatively a new concept. Firms that are looking to promote retention though should pay close attention to providing their associates a way to explore personal development as well as professional development.

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Public Interest Law

For attorneys or law students seeking to make a difference, there is public interest law. Although the financial rewards will certainly not be as high as you would find in the private sector, many who do practice in this area achieve personal satisfaction in advocating for a cause, ideology or issue that may directly benefit an individual or society generally.

Public interest law denotes an area of practice whereby certain issues of public importance, depending on your point of view, is sponsored by a nonprofit organization. The first public interest legal organization was probably the American Civil Liberties Union which, since 1920, has defended the rights of individuals in religious expression cases, free speech issues, and against unreasonable government intrusion. Although many view the ACLU as a liberal or left-leaning organization, it has defended the rights of neo-nazis and other hard Right groups and even the controversial conservative radio commentator, Rush Limbaugh.

More visible public interest legal organizations include public defender offices, public prosectors, legal aid, and other government agencies. Federal and state attorneys general offices provide consumer protection and investigate labor law issues, immigration and public health issues. Positions in these organizations may offer outstanding benefits, job security, and salaries that many find more than adequate.

Non governmental funded public interest legal advocacy groups include the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center, prisoner or Inmate advocacy groups, and the Innocence Project, among hundreds of others. The latter group has similar organizations in law schools that use law students and dedicated private attorneys to investigate certain controversial convictions and has succeeded in finding overlooked or neglected evidence, employed new DNA technology, or uncovered prosecutorial misconduct that has exonerated numerous inmates, some of whom had been incarcerated for decades or had been on death row. They also lobby legislators and the public for reforms in the criminal justice system.

With the passage of a number of environmental regulations and legislation, including the Clear Air Act and Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, the environment has been a focus of public interest legal groups since the 1970s. The U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s first allowed the beneficiaries of a law to sue an agency rather than waiting for a regulated industry to do so. This has allowed environmental groups to directly bring lawsuits to protect endangered species or protect certain land from development.

Also, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has furthered the efforts of groups to gather valuable information to pursue the policies and agendas of certain public interest organizations.

Other issues that have brought public interest legal organizations into existence are single issue groups devoted to making consumers safe from defective drugs, defective products, unsafe food, and seeking immigration and campaign finance reform. Taxes, marijuana and drug reform, term limits, education, gay rights, social security, women’s issues, abortion, population control, and military groups all have legal advocacy groups as well.

Not all public interest groups are tied to liberal groups. There are numerous Libertarian, family focus, tax groups, and others that promote through lobbying and the courts to advance their conservative cause. Such Right leaning organizations as the Heritage Foundation, the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Pacific Legal Foundation, National Right to Life, Libertarians for Life, the Center for Individual Rights, and the Institute for Justice are just some of the conservative legal organizations that are advancing certain principles. These groups usually focus on property rights, economic liberties or the dismantling of restrictive government regulations, social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and limiting government power.

Although a successful lawsuit may yield an award of attorney’s fees in some cases, most public interest groups are funded by government grants, membership dues, and private contributions.

Nearly all law schools offer courses in public interest law with a number of highly ranked schools such as Stanford, Yale, and Cornell, encouraging its graduates to become advocates for consumer rights and other public issues. A number of law schools including Northeastern University School of Law focus exclusively on public interest law.

For lawyers seeking a new career or a start in the legal field, public interest law can bring excitement and passion to a particular cause and offer benefits beyond compensation. There is probably a public interest group that fits anyone’s particular ideological bent or vision and which may offer a rewarding experience. It can also be bridge for attorneys seeking future positions in private law offices that may represent corporate clients or individuals in similar issues or give them an entry into the political and business worlds.

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Shpoonkle – Measuring the Value of Experience For Attorneys Practicing Law, created by Grant Niznik, an entrepreneurial law student at New York University, has created quite a stir recently, eliciting strong criticism from the legal communityand praise from entrepreneurs.The name itself is a divisive topic and tests the long-standing rhetoric that all press is good press. However, looking beyond the name, the concept raises a more interesting question: how much do consumers of legal services value experience and credibility?

First off, this is novel name, not a novel idea. Several other reverse auctions have launched and folded with little fanfare, so the issue is whether the proliferation of the Internet, social media, and increased unemployment, has made Shpoonkle a viable option for both consumers and lawyers alike.

Legal services are not the first professional services to utilize the myriad of discount websites and online marketing tools currently available. Dentists have flocked to Groupon and Living Social as a cost effective way to attract new clients; are doctors and lawyers next? Dentists embracing the discount websites is not surprising given that many consumers perceive check-ups as standard non-intimate procedures, requiring no expertise beyond a degree. I don’t believe that dentistry and legal services are common goods, but it is certainly arguable that in certain areas of both, price is the dominant factor.

The most common fear amongst those in the legal community is that a reverse auction will generate a race to the bottom and further damage the perception of lawyers. Generally speaking, my intuition is that a race to the bottom is the most likely outcome of such a website and would undermine its success. However, given the excess supply of lawyers and proliferation of blogs and social media, the time may be right for a website like Shpoonkle to succeed.

Here at Lawmatch, we post roughly 50 legal jobs a day, and very few require less than two years of experience. For this reason I believe it will be new attorneys crossing the finish line first in this “race to the bottom”, but that the bottom may be higher than we think. In this economy, people are not necessarily struggling for work or unemployed because they are bad lawyers, and the importance of satisfying your customers is higher than ever. The old adage, “satisfied customers tell three friends, unhappy customers tell 3000” still holds true, only now, unhappy customers write a blog, post on Facebook, and the bad review shows up on Google. For this reason, I think their are sufficient external checks and balances and that fears that Shpoonkle will be a black eye for the legal profession are overstated.

The state of flux in the legal community and over-saturation of the employment market is only half of the equation. If consumers are unwilling to deviate from the standard hiring practices the viability of Shpoonkle’s services is moot. However, many traditional brick and mortar services have successfully transitioned to the Internet and removed the taboo. It seems unlikely to me that Shpoonkle will have a drastic impact on legal services; however, if ever the conditions were going to be right for a reverse auction website to succeed, now is the time.  So if you are an under- or un-employed licensed attorney, you may want to consider it, if for no reason other than it is a new option that might result in work.

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Landing the perfect job after law school

You consider yourself a relatively savvy job-seeker, and are doing what you think are all the right things as you’re in the home stretch of law school. You have a perfectly crafted resume, you’re a frequent visitor and user of your school’s career center, and you’re even organized about the job search, having laid out a plan to get you where you want to be. But now you’re wondering, what else? What else should you be doing to give yourself an edge, in a highly competitive legal job market? What can you do to make yourself stand out, to the extent that you’re not just going to be taking the first job offer that comes along, but in that you’re crafting a situation that will help you land the ideal job?

Landing that ideal job will certainly take more effort than the typical job search, but fortunately, it’s the type of effort that should come easily to you if you’re truly interested in the legal profession. First of all, you should have a profile on LinkedIn, and once you’ve done that, you should be seeking out any and all law-related groups that you can find. Yes, there are likely to be a lot, but by subscribing to more of them, you’ll soon be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and determine where there’s more traffic and where you should be focusing your efforts.

Your goal here is not just to look for postings about attorney jobs, though certainly you should keep an eye out for those. No, your plan should be to come across as a smart, engaged law school student who would be an asset to any firm after graduation. You do this by engaging in discussions about topics that are relevant to you, related to the law of course. Even if you’re just asking the right questions, this too will help you get noticed and establish you as perhaps not an expert, but a smart person willing to learn, who’s already engaged in the profession in which you want to work.

What else? Let’s presume that you’ve already focused on a particular area of law that you want to practice in, which is as it should be. Have you thought about starting a blog? This would be one that focuses on that particular area of law, and while you might not have a lot to say because of your lack of experience, you can certainly show that you know what’s happening in that area of law, that you know about recent verdicts and precedents, and yes, that you even have an opinion on them. Once you’ve established your blog as a place to go to for information and the latest news, make sure that you let everyone know about it. You never know when it’ll get to the right person – or rather, the right person who can offer you a job in your field, thanks to the intelligence and ambition you’ve already shown in so clearly setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack.

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Why There Will Be More Legal Jobs in 2012

We’ve all been waiting for the economy to turn around, or at least for that turnaround to show itself in the form of jobs. This is particularly true in the legal profession, which has seen its ranks decimated, hiring freezes, and so on, as companies have cut back to the bone.

Yet there are signs that there may be room for optimism in finding entry level jobs for lawyers next year, for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at some of those.

  • New niches will open up. Opportunities will be rife in certain areas of law, particularly those that have to do with some of the new reforms coming down the pike. As more and more provisions of the health care reform bill come into play, for example, the legal profession will be tasked with figuring out not just what the implications are for companies, but for everyone else along the spectrum of health care, from patients to hospitals. The complexity of the new health care laws ensures that legal counsel will be needed in this area for years to come.
  • Companies have become too lean. This is always the risk that companies face, that in difficult times they have to let people go, and then when business picks up, they find themselves scrambling to keep up. Many legal firms were brutal in wielding the job-cutting scalpel, and now that there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon, find that they don’t have the staff on hand to handle existing work, much less new work in the pipeline. An improving economy also means that employees will have more choices available to them; thus, companies won’t be able to get away with having each employee do the job of three, unless they want everyone to jump ship at the first opportunity.
  • Less competition. The dire statistics in recent years about finding jobs in the legal profession have given many people pause, making them rethink their plans to become lawyers. This is good news for those currently in law school or otherwise looking for a job in the law field, as there will be fewer people jockeying for each position. For those who have been at the top of their class or field, this makes it easier for you to shine, as your accomplishments won’t be lost in a vast sea of thousands of resumes.

Certainly, this doesn’t mean that finding jobs for lawyers will now be easy, at least not yet. However, the signs do bode well for those who’ll be looking for a legal job in 2012, as they may be surprised – pleasantly, for a change – by the opportunities available to them.

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Lawmatch’s Top Six Attorney Job Search Tips

The legal industry has been hit, without a doubt, worse than it ever has before.  With rising law school tuition debts, law school graduates and experienced attorneys alike are faced with a new type of struggle.  Finding a job is not easy- but it can be done.  Here are Lawmatch’s Top Six SearchTips.

Get Your Name Out There

You have old law school professors, internship connections, and even that attorney who you worked for in your first year of law school doing paperwork… Why not contact them?  Send them a copy of your resume, and let them know you’re on the job hunt- and would appreciate them keeping you in mind if they hear of any openings.  Old connections can be a great way to find a new job.


We’ve said it before, but if you’re a tweeting, unemployed lawyer who is actively involved with the legal community on Twitter, you’re going to make some great connections. Take a look at Lawmatch’s network of Twitter followers and see the great information we share with them, and the connections we’ve made.  And don’t be afraid to jump into the conversation- they are a great group.

Sign With A Legal Recruiter

Legal Recruiters are there to help law firms recruit top candidates. In this market, you may be faced with a lot of competition.  A legal recruiter can help you identify what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to improve and build upon them.  Take a look at our National Directory of Legal Recruiters feature (lower left homepage) to locate of recruiters and/or staffing companies in your area.

Link Up

LinkedIn is a great way to form new connections and even re-connect with old colleagues and employers.  Find groups on LinkedIn that may connect you with law firms you may be interested in working with.  Don’t forget to join Lawmatch’s Legal Job Search Network on LinkedIn!


Volunteering can be a great way to build your resume and make new connections.  Offering a non-profit some pro-bono legal work can be an amazing addition to your resume.  Consider putting the word out that you’re looking for the right non profit to offer some of your free time to, and you’d be surprised how many people may come calling.  This could snowball into a permanent job or attention from the right places and could land you a job interview.

Create Your Attorney Job Seeker Account

If you haven’t already, you should create your free attorney job search account on Lawmatch.  Top law firms and legal recruiters post jobs on Lawmatch looking for qualified candidates. Their hiring managers often browse through the list of candidates on our site to single out those that may be the most favorable. They won’t find you if you’re not there!

Stay on top of the latest news in the legal employment industry by following Lawmatch on Twitter and joining our Facebook community.  Be sure to check back on Lawmatch for attorney jobs- they’re updated daily!

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Resume Advice For Recent Law School Graduates

If you’re a recent law graduate and have had the benefit of focused advice and counselling from your law school’s career services office, you are probably well-versed in the following basic resume preparation guidelines.

If you’ve not received resume counselling recently, you may find very worth your while to review some of the basics.  Here are some key tips to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward during every step of the job-hunting process.

-Don’t send the same generic resume out for every job opening. Yes, crafting a new resume can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you’re applying to a number of jobs.  Yet if you’re not doing so, you’re not tailoring your description of your past experience to the specific needs of the hiring company  – which is a key mistake.

-Don’t list simply job responsibilities. While you do want to let potential employers know what you’ve done in the past, stating the positions you’ve had and a dry rundown of what you’ve done will not win you any points.  In many practice settings in the legal world, it’s assumed that your roles include certain responsibilities. The job of your resume is to highlight what you’ve excelled at and what you’ve accomplished, not to act as a rote recitation of basic core skills.

-Don’t have an endless resume. Try to keep it to one page, unless you’ve been working for many years. Multi-page resumes are unwieldy and easy to lose.

-Don’t make the reader need a magnifying glass to read your resume. Yes, you want to have as much information as possible there, but it should also be easily readable. Going below an 11-point font could be a recipe for disaster, as you risk having your resume confused with a Unibomber manifesto.

-Don’t use flash, graphics, or colored paper. Your background and experience should speak for itself; going with anything too cutesy or eye-catching is risky, and may backfire. That might have a better chance of working in a creative field, but not in the legal profession.

-Don’t get too personal. While it’s fine to include some of your hobbies and interest on your resume, don’t go overboard, and steer clear of anything that might be controversial, such as political affiliation. While it’s unlikely that someone reading your resume will look down on a person who plays ice hockey as a hobby, the same can not be said for a political activist who happens to be on the other side of the reader’s personal politics.

While these tips are somewhat basic, it can be surprising just how many resumes flagrantly flaunt at least one of these, and how many jobs are lost because of that. Don’t let your resume be one of those that works against you, rather than for you. Once you’re finished with your legal resume, create a free attorney job seeker profile on Lawmatch and find the best attorney jobs and law firms hiring on Lawmatch.

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Entry Level Jobs For Lawyers- Why They’re Dwindling

Entry Level Attorney Jobs Are Becoming Few And Far BetweenAlthough we’re in no position to prove it statistically, our anecdotal impression confirms what hartlaw observes, namely there seem to be fewer entry level jobs for lawyers listed – at least relative to the years prior to 2008.

Starting with the financial meltdown that year, the legal employment marketplace (like all others) was virtually frozen for about 14 months.  Even the largest firms were scaling back and in some cases foregoing new hires altogether.  Smaller firms were certainly not going to hire in the face of daunting economic news.  Beginning in 2009 hiring started to come back, but because of the long hiccup, and the still much weaker overall demand, there were far more experienced lawyers looking for work than ever before.

If you’re an employer (law firm, corporation, non-profit – any setting), training a new lawyer out of school is an expensive proposition.  If there are people available for the same $ who already have experience, those people are going to get hired first. There are still, in 2011, far more experienced attorneys in the marketplace than we’ve ever seen in the past.  These people are often on the sidelines waiting for friends and former colleagues to network them into the few available positions, and they get hired before any recruitment ad is ever run.

The other factor in play here is one that’s been written about before and is more independent of economic cycles, and that is simply the increased supply of law graduates.  New law schools are opening every year; recently opened schools are getting accredited by the ABA in record time.  The nation is graduating perhaps 15% or more lawyers now than in did thirty years ago, and the demand simply has not kept up.  This increase in capacity is being fuelled by the economics of law schools: they’re cash cows, and any University with some classroom space available can set up shop and start reaping the big tuition bucks immediately (obviously it’s not that simple, but the economics are simple, and that’s what drives the expansion).  By comparison, from 1980-1999 only ONE medical school was opened in the United States.  (This is now changing, but available slots in law schools are still growing exponentially relative to seats in medical schools).

These two factors combined have significantly reduced opportunities for newly graduating lawyers.  That said, law firms and corporations are coming to Lawmatch to find qualified candidates.  Create your free attorney job seeker account on Lawmatch and help top law firms and corporations find you.

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THINKING OF GOING SOLO? The pros and cons of opening up a private practice in the legal profession

There are pros and cons to starting your own private law firmThose who have just graduated with a law degree have many different options available to them, ranging from going to work for a large law firm, to working in the legal department of a corporation, to setting out one’s own shingle. While setting up one’s own practice may seem like an appealing idea, there are many considerations that should factor into this decision in order to determine if this is the right path for you to follow.

There are a number of things to take into account when thinking about whether or not to set up shop on one’s own. While one of the biggest benefits of working for yourself is the fact that you’re your own boss and answer to no one, the flip side of that is that…’re your own boss. Everything falls on your shoulders, and there is no one else to cover for you. Planning on taking a vacation? Great idea, but remember that you’ll still have to answer to clients if you’re a one-man operation. You can only do so much as far as making arrangements is concerned.

And while independence can be a heady thing, it can also be a bit tricky when it comes to managing finances. Being a sole proprietor often means no steady paychecks, unless you’re lucky to have a steady client who pays you on a regular basis. Otherwise, it can be difficult to plan ahead or do any kind of financial planning, as you won’t know when you’ll have money coming in, or how much. Feast or famine is often the name of the game when it comes to being self-employed.

Working in someone else’s law firm – large or small — you would be responsible for tracking every hour of your time and making sure that you have a sufficient number of billable hours, or those that can be billed to a client. This can be tedious and frustrating, and tends to make law firm employment among the most demanding of legal practice environments. These practices can also lead to very long hours put in at work.

Would this still be the case if you were working for yourself? Yes, probably, as you’ll be working to bring in new clients and handling that work yourself. But at the same time, the money you bring in will be for you, and so you won’t have to make more in order to compensate for what the law firm is getting – though of course you’ll have your own private practice expenses. Also, you’ll set your own hours, which gives you much more control over what kind of practice you want to have and how much you want to work. You may decide that making less money and working less is okay – and that’s a choice you’ll be able to make, unlike if you were at a large law firm.

The bottom line, of course, is that only you can decide what’s right for you – but if the idea of opening your own practice looks appealing, now would be an opportune time to find out.


The American Bar Association maintains a GP-Solo Practice Division, with lots of useful information, at

Many local bar associations offer help and guidance to solo practitioners, and there are several web-based programs available for entrepreneurial lawyers, including

Additional Resources

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Meet Lawmatch CEO Neal Rechtman

Neal Rechtman, Founder and CEO of legal job search site Lawmatch

Learn more about founder and CEO of his take on the legal employment scene, his favorite Supreme Court Justice, and why his favorite legal book is a moving target…

What made you decide to create Lawmatch?

In 1995, when the Internet first came on the scene, I had already been in the personnel business (temporary staffing, employment agency) in New York City for fifteen years – with a customer base consisting primarily of law firms.  I got bitten by the internet bug really bad – very high fever, hallucinations, the whole metaphorical thing – and by 1996 had launched the first dedicated legal employment Web site on the internet:  At the time I thought that resume banks would come to replace recruitment advertising as the preferred recruitment methodology (cf. this article from 1997 in NYC’s Metropolitan Corporate Counsel) so when we started out our resume bank was the primary focus of our business.  Since that time we’ve gone through at least four different business models, the latest one embodied in our current Web site.

Do you see the legal job market picking up?

It’s all relative.  There’s a lot more activity than there was in March of 2009, but it’s nowhere near pre-2008 levels, and in my view will not return to that level.  The marketplace is structurally different than it was pre-2008, and even if/when the economy recovers, I’m hard pressed to think that employers will revert to their old ways.  The key structural change is institutionally embedded: there are simply far more lawyers being graduated than there are jobs for lawyers.  But that’s a whole other story….

Who is your idol/role model?

Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice

If you could be any figure in history, who would you be and why?

Louis Brandeis.  Lived an incredible lifespan – young enough to remember the Civil War, alive when World War II began – and had a far greater positive impact on far more people than any almost any other individual in modern times (at least in the Western world).

What is your favorite legal book?

The Talmud.  (Just kidding)

My favorite legal book is a moving target.  Most recently I zipped through the “Oral Arguments of Clarence Thomas 2006-2011”, but before that I devoted at least a month to the fantastic “Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech” by law professor Cass Sunstein.

What Law Firms do you admire?

I think this must be the first time I’ve ever seen the terms “Law Firm” and “admire” appear together in the same sentence.  It’s not a trend that I am in any way prepared to encourage.

What’s your favorite legal quote?

“Book ‘em, Danno.”

If you’re under the age of 45, you won’t recognize that quote, so here’s one that’s more classic:

“The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”

Louis Brandeis, Dissenting Opinion, Olmstead v. United States, USSC 1928

Any future plans for Lawmatch?

We are constantly innovating, trying new things, new approaches, new venues.  Our current focus is on improving our SEO visibility and raising our profile at key law schools.

What Occupies you Outside of Lawmatch?

I’m an author and Open Source Democracy Advocate.  My recent novel (2008), The 28th Amendment,” explores the potential for conflict between entertainment and politics in a media-defined age.  For more about Open Source Democracy, visit

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