@whataboutparis

September 14th, 2011

J. Daniel Hull

Corporate Lawyer. Lobbyist. Fixer. Traveler. Writer.

Partner, Hull McGuire PC

Author of the What About Paris? / What About Clients? law blog

Today we’re tweeting with @Whataboutparis, the online persona of Dan Hull: int’l lawyer and “father” of the Slackoisie Movement

Two corrections: It’s the Anti-Slackoisie Movement, Lance. I am the Mother. @ScottGreenfield is the Father. Got that?

  1. @Whataboutparis, thank you for joining us on Twitter. Tell us, who is @Whataboutparis?
    WAP? is just the Twitter version of What About Clients? which started in 2005. Has been 5 or 6 writers off and on since that time.
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  2. Tell us about your law practice.
    It’s Fun. Client industries include manufacturing, transportation, energy. Most (90%) long-standing. A few public figures, writers.
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  3. What types of work do you do for those clients?
    Clusters of work for each: in’l corp. tax, IP, environmental, labor, cross-border disputes, federal courts, straight-up lobbying.
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  4. What is the single most important legal issue affecting those clients?
    The Costs of Litigation. In B-2-B disputes especially, we need more Arbitrations Done Right & new concept of what “Winning” is.
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  5. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    You ask GC/client rep what he/she Really Needs. 2. Then you just Shut Up. 3. You Listen.
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  6. Sounds about right. Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had.
    Representation of German co. sued by Spanish co. building steel mill in rural Kentucky with Atlanta arbitration under Ohio law.
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  7. Wow. Why do your clients hire you?
    Most “hires” = repeat business. But my guess: they first come & stay because we think lawyering is not about the lawyers. Ever.
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  8. What’s the most active area of your practice at the current time? Is that typical?
    Litigation. In a Recession, you’d expect it. But it is not that much more than usual.
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  9. You’ve built a thriving int’l practice w/out setting up outside the US. Is that the right business model for all?
    No. You need very energetic lawyers who (1) want to “work abroad” & (2) could do that at almost any Western firm. Not 4 everyone.
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  10. OK. Would you do the same again today? Or are the costs too high, the risks too great, the law too different?
    Great question. We worked internationally/nationally before that was cool. Am sure we’d try to enter market. Not sure if we would.
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  11. Your firm has been part of the Int’l Business Law Consortium. What is it? What’s it mean for your clients? For you?
    IBLC “unbundled” lots of legal talent & gave even largest clients more choices abroad. 80+ firms in major cities around the globe.
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  12. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    Varies. But I don’t use the word “lawyer” until I have their attention. Even sophisticated users of lawyers think we’re Wankers.
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  13. How do you market your int’l law practice? To whom? Did you always do it that way?
    We research thoroughly & pitch 4 new targets a year. If we get work from 2 inside of 18 months from first meeting, that’s success.
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  14. Your blog, What About Paris?, is many things to your readers. What is it to you?
    Mainly fun. And to pitch a few ideas: art of the client, working “in the world”, cultural literacy/wholeness, lawyering as hard.
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  15. OK, I gotta ask: what’s the Slackoisie, and why should they matter to the rest of us?
    The Slackoisie thinks Work is About Them–not about Buyers, Customers, Clients. The Slackoisie doesn’t matter. Just avoid them.
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  16. :-) Let’s switch gears now: What is the most significant issue currently facing the legal profession?
    For decades now the Wrong People have been going to American law schools. Schools attract mainly “nice, smart” people. Not enough.
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  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    1. Bigger & ultra-efficient in-house depts. 2. GC jobs more coveted than partnership. 3. Non-lawyers doing things lawyers now do.
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  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    Hard question. Most likely I’d work as either a Travel Writer or a Talent Agent (authors, actors).
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  19. How do you want to be remembered?
    Seriously, I’d be very honored if folks around me said I made them do 2 things: (1) Feel Alive, and (2) Think On Their Own.
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  20. What do you do when you’re not working?
    Travel, Read, Run, Do Stuff Outdoors. I love water. Been a fisherman my whole life–but took up fly fishing late. I love Europe.
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  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    Legal skills/reasoning=10% of what great lawyers have/use. Use Everything you have. Don’t play by “the rules”. Think on your own.
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  22. And the last question of our “longest” interview: What advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    For decades the vast majority of folks (i.e., 90%) who’ve attended U.S. law schools should not have attended. Don’t be among them.

Solid advice. Thanks much for tweeting with us (twice!); was great to get to know you and your practice better

PS Sorry I couldn’t end on an “up” note. But we do need the right people/personality types to become lawyers. :)

Indeed. And it’s good advice.

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