December 21, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of all the officers, leaders and professional staff of the Philadelphia Bar Association, I extend to you our best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Your participation in this great organization helped us continue excellence in the profession and service to our community. Even in these difficult times, our legal community is a powerful force for good and a hope for so many.

Please enjoy the holidays and may the New Year bring you good health, peace and joy.

Scott F. Cooper
Chancellor, Philadelphia Bar Association

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Tip of the Month: 10 Warning Signs of Potentially Problematic Clients

In October and November, I offered tips for attorneys who are considering opening their own law firms. One of the challenges all attorneys face is client development and relations, but this is especially true for those who open their own firms.

The success of a new firm depends on building a good client base. In the early stages of a new firm, many attorneys are too concerned about signing up new clients and often ignore warning signs. While it's nice to have business, problem clients can cause more harm than good.

During your initial consultation with the potential client, pay attention to the following red flags:

1. The potential client argues with you because he/she does not agree with your legal opinion.

2. The potential client appears to listen/take legal advice from a non-lawyer friend (or family member) and values this advice over your opinion.

3. The potential client has a friend (or family member) who got $____ (fill in a large dollar amount!) for a similar case and, therefore, does not agree with your damages assessment.

4. The potential client conducts his/her own legal research on Google.

5. The potential client has gone through two or more attorneys in the current matter.

6. The potential client insults you or repeatedly questions your skill level and competence during the initial meeting.

7. The potential client wants to help with legal research (or any other task) in order to reduce legal fees.

8. The potential client talks about "getting even" with the opposing party and how he/she is "going to make them pay."

9. After the initial consultation, you discover that the potential client was not 100% truthful with you.

10. The potential client is difficult to contact and/or does not return telephone calls or e-mails.

Not all potential clients who raise one of these red flags turn out to be problem clients. However, if you notice more than one of these red flags in an initial consultation or telephone call, you should seriously weigh the risks and benefits of representing the person.

Stephanie Mensing is a partner at the law firm of Wisniewski & Mensing, LLP and a member of the YLD Executive Committee. She can be reached at smensing@wm-law.net.

Entertainment Corner: A Recap of 2010 Internet Memes

As the clock ticks down and the 2010 chapter of our lives comes to a cold end, we need to look back at what will be the lasting legacy of this year, specifically the new phenomenon that has arisen: the mainstream reporting of random internet memes.

So, as we Auld Lang Syne our way into 2011, I'd like to salute the top internet memes of the year. It's nice to know what was once relegated to geeks in the dark depths of their message boards (or their forefathers, the BBS geeks...Hello, DragonKeep) has hit the mainstream.

Without any further adieu, I give you my list:

Hater's Gonna Hate
Yes, this phrase has been around, and technically the meme started in 2009. But in 2010 it burst from the obscure message board catch-phrase to every day use. The saying is a response to sarcastic or hostile remarks and usually embedded as text on some ironically comical picture.

Red Shirt Guy
This meme was launched when a video game enthusiast spoke from the crowd at BlizzCon 2010 and proceeded to ask an absurdly detailed question regarding the accuracy of the portrayal of a minor video game character in the wildly popular online game World of Warcraft. The designers of the game were completely stumped, but the Internet world was instantly captivated by the teen. The story has a happy ending: Red Shirt Guy was later added to his favorite game as a character by those same designers, appropriately named "Wildhammer Fact Checker."

Jimmy McMillan
The name may not be familiar, but the coiffure is unforgettable. The 2010 New York gubernatorial candidate shot to the forefront of Facebook updates while promoting his "The Rent Is Too D*** High" Party. His platform is simple: he believes the rent is, well, above acceptable levels. His larger than life personality and beard during a debate appearance turned him into a viral video sensation. What's next for him is uncertain, but he has not ruled out a bid for the Oval Office in 2012.

Sad Keanu Reeves
Don't underestimate the power of memes to boost someone from fringe A-lister to cult hero to megastar. Kevin Bacon could easily have gone from Footloose to working at FootLocker if the whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meme hadn't taken off. Well this year's meme was "sad Keanu." No, I am not talking about his uncanny ability to make every accent from British to Southern sound like Bill S. Preston, Esquire. After a photo appeared of a solitary Keanu looking downtrodden while eating a sandwich, the Internet world set ablaze Photoshopping him into every imaginable location. Eventually June 15 was declared Cheer-Up Keanu Day. Whoa!

Auto-tune and the Gregory Brothers
And the top meme of the year goes to auto-tune. While Jay-Z proclaimed its death on his latest album, auto-tune has reinvented itself as a vehicle for comedic songs. In addition to the always funny Lonely Island songs, this year brought us the Gregory Brothers. This geeky quartet made big waves on the internet in 2010 by auto-tuning the news with their surprise hit, "Double Rainbow."

Aneesh Mehta is an associate at Volpe and Koenig, P.C. who still holds a grudge against Keanu disparraging his hometown in "The Devil's Advocate." He can be reached at amehta@vklaw.com.

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