I’ll give away my special sauce to military justice practitioners.All day. I wrote a book on my method for writing motions in military practice. I wrote a book showcasing best strategies for litigating motions for military practitioners. And soon, we will release my latest book on the specifics for Rule 412 drafting and litigation. I speak at conferences to military defense practitioners, and I will gladly share my strategic ideas about ways to leverage the most we all can for military clients. I do all over this blog.
What I will not give away, and I am frankly super tired of people asking me to, is the secrets of my hustle: my business strategy. No one is ENTITLED to that.
I keep capitalizing entitled because that is what resonates with me. 99% of people who approach me to “pick my brain” do so with an air of entitlement. Seriously?
Maybe my general poor view of these approaches dates back to some pretty awful behavior by different people. Maybe it’s not fair. But here’s the context for why I get pretty defensive and annoyed.
Back in 2015, I reassessed into the reserve component. I ended up in a job around 2017 as an adjunct faculty member in the Criminal Law Department at the Army’s JAG School. I was a little anxious being back in uniform at the “regimental home” of the JAG Corps after a several year break in service. I did not advertise that I was serving. You see, there are strict ethics rules about not profiting in your personal capacity based on your public service. I have always strictly run away from anything that could look like blurring those lines because let’s face it. There are plenty of people who would love to take a shot at me. I have ticked off a fair bit, and I have long felt a target on my back.
So, I am standing there, and all sorts of people from the grad course program are smiling, coming up to me, and many seem perplexed that I am in uniform. No worries. I am handling it. And then one individual approaches me in this group and says, “Oh, your private practice failed so you had to come back on active duty.” Wow. I responded, “No. I am here on reserve orders.” And I walked away. What an as$$.
There are quite a few people who try their hand at hanging a shingle post active duty service. The average person who tries leaves that practice within 18 months to 2 years to take a government job. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. More fail than succeed and mostly because they, like many lawyers, are not terribly business minded, they underestimate the hustle required, and / or they are not patient to see growth.
People have said to me that “it can’t be that hard. You did it.” Well, f&ck you very much.
I even brought someone I thought I could trust into my practice. She assured me she would NEVER want to break out on her own, that she could NEVER handle marketing on her own, and would NEVER try to compete with the business I had put together. She even signed a (valid) non-compete. I taught her my approach to my practice, I explained to her my core value of only taking cases where we can do the “most good.” And for more than a year, she built a practice behind my back, took leads from me but only paid out on according to the terms of our agreement about 1/3 of the time, and broke her contract with two days’ notice (rather than the 60 she agreed to). So, I have some trust issues, and I definitely have resentment for her brazened behavior. Sadly, she tried to emulate my hustle. But my hustle will never be anyone else’s.
I have worked tirelessly for my client and to build my practice. I have been selective in the organizations I partner with for marketing endeavors, and I play a hands on roll in every advertising effort. I directed my first legal brand video. I have been hustling for a long while.
So, in the name of all that his holy, and especially if I don’t know you, don’t come at me with a request for a call to “pick my brain.” Does anyone believe that even a $3 cup of coffee (and I don’t even drink coffee) entitles you learn the lessons I have forged over the last several decades? At least one person bought me a burrito bowl once. Actually, she lured me into a “let’s do lunch” before telling me she planned to start a private practice and what advice did I have to give her. How about be upfront in all your business dealings? Is that a good one?
Yes, I am grumpy. I work hard. I always have. It is part of the hustle, and I don’t resent how hard I work and will always work. But it is enormously insulting to assert an air of entitlement for any share of my knowledge about business if you are someone who wants to compete with me in my niche industry. I hustle for military justice.
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