Firm Rules (Dos, Don’ts and Truths of Law Firm Life)

Rule #408 Don’t lay claim to your personal coffee mug by mass e-mail.

Rule #78 It is impossible to send an e-mail longer than two paragraphs without a typo.

Rule #765 A managing partner should never walk the halls in stocking feet.

Rule #189 Docketing “twittering” to client development is sure to invite ridicule.

Rule #685 Don’t hang a picture of yourself wearing a bathing suit in your office.

Rule #441 If you’re under 50 and using a fountain pen you’re trying too hard.

Rule #210 Make funny faces and adoring comments when a new baby visits no matter what you’re thinking.

Rule #923 Telling colleagues their voice message is out of date is not an act to win friends.


  1. Rule #78 Corollary: Typos matter only in emails with doG and the Queen.

    Rule #685 Corollary: Or goalie equipment.

  2. re # 923 – I would treat it as a favour if my voice mail message was out of date and someone told me. Government ‘quality service standards’ require that I give the date daily or weekly (‘this is the week of January 11 and I am in the office…’). I resist, because it’s a formula for inevitably sounding stupid some of the time (‘hi, it’s yesterday and I’m in the office’). That’s especially true for someone who does not get a lot of v-mail messages, so does not develop the habit of renewing the message early every morning (or every Monday morning). But if I’m gone for the day or longer, I do a message to say so – and then sometimes forget to restore the general one when I return. I don’t mind people keeping me from sounding stupid, to the extent that they can….

  3. re # 923 (voicemail) – thankfully our IP phone system now asks how long you want your out-of-office message on after which time it turns off and switches back to your “normal” voicemail.

    Worst “don’t”? The dreaded “reply to all” that was not meant to go to all. When sending sensitive emails to a group and you do not want the risk of one of the recipients “replying to all” send the email to yourself and “bcc” the group . . . .

  4. If your managing partner has a Facebook account, which in itself is highly irregular, you should not “Friend” him/her.

    If the managing partner tries to “friend” you, you’re on your own.

  5. Bruce Carton over at Legal Blog Watch is inspired to fill in “the other rules” Dan missed. And recruiting friends to help… drop by. :)

  6. I just added three to the Legal Blog Watch list. I didn’t realize that all of them were “6” numbered rules until after I finished. A devilish coincidence.

    Rule #666 — The Devil made me/him/her do it.

    Rule #613 — Try to obey all the rules, even if some are no longer comprehensible.(You’ll need some knowledge of Judaism to get this one.)

    Rule #6 — “There is no rule six!” (From the Monty Python “Bruces” sketch.)

    I wonder how long it’ll take somebody to post a Rule 66 which plays on Route 66.


  7. You’ve really started something! The ABA Journal is tracing it and has added more: (and be sure to read the comments, also).

  8. Where is Stanley J. Fairweather when we need him?

    Here is Article IX from the Partnership Agreement of Fairweather, Winters and Sommers, from Arnie Kanter’s The Secret Memoranda of Stanley J. Fairweather:

    Partners do not make mistakes. Blame for anything that goes wrong with respect to a particular file shall be allocated to the Associate whose initials are the last on the file. Credit shall continue to be distributed, in accordance with the accepted firm practice, on the principle of LRP (Least Responsible Partner).

    And from another book:

    Can I get back to you on that means the attorney does not have the foggiest idea what to say next, but may be able to come up with a response in a week or two.

    He was thirty years ahead.

    Pity I can’t find any of the writings of the great Stanley J. Fairweather on the web.

  9. Rule #765 Corollary : Or goalie equipment

  10. Pleased to have sparked a social media event, especially one that spans the border. I’ll dream of doing the same again, but next time based on a serious thought! Dan

  11. Rule #765: Exception to corollary: unless the managing partner is Michael Myers or Willam Shatner.If the former, all equipment is optional other than the mask. If the latter, the mask is optional.

  12. More lucrative before serious. Then you’ll have all the time you need to consider Deep Thought.

  13. Rule # 661: Casual Friday isn’t.

    Rule # 224: You don’t know anyone who can afford to retain you at your hourly rate.

    Rule # 383: Blank walls are boring but that doesn’t mean that you should hang your degree certificates. It’s not as if you’re unique.

  14. Rule #86 The shoe phone…err…cell phone..will ring just as you are about to leave for your vacation ..This is, of course, an urgent call from “Chief” at CONTROL (ie the Managing Partner) stating that KAOS has broken loose and you will be required to immediately cancel your vacation to save the day.

    Rule #99 Your secretary will constantly save your butt but she will never receive any of the credit.

    Rule #13 The lowly associate, along with Hymie the Robot, will have to work the longest hours of all in a cramped and windowless office in the hope and expectation that this will lead to their being kept on and continue to work evenings and weekends in an cramped office but this time with windows.

  15. Uh… Rule #441 If you’re under 50 and using a fountain pen you’re trying too hard.

    I’m well under 50 and I regularly use TWO fountain pens (not cheapos, either)… ah, that’s right – I don’t practice law, I just write about it.

  16. Hey Luigi. I use one too, and with an ink well! If you can’t make fun of yourself then… Take care! Dan.