Oh, I am being a little too literal in my meaning, like Bugs Bunny asking Elmer Fudd if he would like his palm read and then, after Fudd agrees, Bugs takes out a brush and paints Fudd's hand red. Or, as drives my kids crazy at restaurants, when I order a steak and the wait staff asks "how would you like that cooked", and I exclaim "that would be great"!
I am just not sure that I like the term "hanging out a shingle". I know it is insider slang that is shouted out by the plaintiff-crips and the defendant-bloods that means going into practice for yourself. I am all for getting your "law dog down", but it just seems that phrase is so-o-o-o-o-o last millennium. It is almost Amish-speak.
My mother still laughs about my grandfather telling her and my uncle to "blow out the light" at night for years after they finally got electricity in their rural Oklahoma home. She recounts how she and her brother use to make her father mad when they climbed up to the lone light bulb suspended from the middle of the living room from a wire and blew on it.
I guess I should not talk because I am just as bad. I too often find myself telling one of my children to "dial" someone up on the phone. My children have never seen a dial on a phone. I am always saying I need to get "someone on the line" and in this wireless age that is not even true in my house. And, shamefully, I sometimes find myself asking my son to "turn the dial on the TV". I guess I am just fixated on dials.
The issue is that our imagery does not keep up with the times. Sometimes we even fight it.
A case in point is a crude story my father tells. One day in the early 50s my Dad went to see an old Oklahoma rancher who had been beneficial in helping him through college and medical school. The rancher had a son that he had sent "up North" to an ivy league college. While there the son met and married a big city "northern" girl. After graduation his son and wife moved back to the ranch while the son contemplated taking over daddy's ranch, businesses and a possible career in politics. However, to keep his wife happy the son started to substantially remodel the ranch house to include all of the modern conveniences including indoor plumbing and the building of an outside patio with a bar-b-que pit for entertaining. Sitting on the front porch talking with the rancher my Dad asked him how he enjoyed having his son and his son's wife back home with him. The rancher told my Dad he did not like it one bit. Complaining about his new daughter-in-law and her "Yankee ways", he said she had his son all confused. He said in utter shock and amazement that she has him "cookin' outside and shittin' inside".
This was antithetical to everything the old rancher knew and understood. That is also the problem with suggesting that you are going to "hang out a shingle". This is antithetical to everything for which a Third Wave law practice stands. We do not hang out shingles. Further, this old form of shorthand translates notions that just are not true. It suggests, office buildings, signage, secretaries, paralegals, assistants, copy machines, computer networking systems, file rooms, reception rooms, law libraries, payroll, benefit packages, staff car allowances, worker compensation insurance, commuting, unnecessary hours away from the family...Oh, please stop! The pain! The pain!
I recently spoke with Susan Cartier Liebel, a writer, adjunct law professor, carpet commuting Third Wave lawyer, who preaches and teaches on the benefits of going into practice for yourself. She is an inspiration and she gets it right with her saying that goes something like this: "You are the product and everything else is overhead". And, that is what "hanging out a shingle" transmits to you and others--selling something other than yourself as well as lots and lots of OVERHEAD!
Now I do not suggest the talk needs to be: "Yo Dawg! I be workin' for the Grab, doin' some M&G, doin' sum second chair stuff...know what I be saying...when THE MAN told me I had to get my dog down on Sa-tur-day and Sunday too. So, I said 'bad boy this' and left. Now I was thinkin' about, you know, puttin' my own blog out there. Whacha think, Dude"? (Although, I have to admit this would be a fun discussion).
Okay, I am not one to transcend the urban language. Country boys should stay country boys. However, there is one term that the urban language has popularized. It is called the "M-Theory", as in: "Man, what's your M-Theory"?
M-Theory was derived by Ed Witten in 1995. It relates
to the concept of the overall string theory and quantum mechanics, and it stands for "Magic" or "Matrix" or "according to test"! It affliliates
quantum mechanics with the workings of thought verses action. It has become part of the urban language because it translates into the manifestation of a dream into reality. That is a mouth full, but M-Theory is not.
Outside of quantum mechanics, a hole in one in golf could be someone's M-Theory.
In starting your own practice, give the whole shingle metaphor a rest, and you might ask, "I've been thinking of leaving XYZ Firm and following my own M-Theory. What do you think"?
I would suggest that M-Theory is the dream of doing what you love, while keeping your sanity, your earnings and your clients happy.
Give it a try.