As I’ve touched on before, one of the great parts of LawyerSmack is that the discussions are wide ranging. Yes, people talk shop on the regular, but they also talk about their kids, hobbies, #LawTwitter folks behind their backs, and more.

Recently there was a great conversation in the personal finance channel that started about credit cards, but ended up going into freelance work, geographic independence, having a man or woman partner in your corner, and the importance of connecting with other lawyers at work or wherever you can.

Grab a cup of coffee and tuck in for fun and wide ranging conversation.

Credit Card Churning

Mike [7:01 PM]
Unrelated, I tried to apply for the Chase Amazon Visa card, and I was told that they needed additional time to process my application. This is shocking to me, because I have a credit card and a car loan with Chase already, where each is on autopay for the full balance due (for the credit card, it’s paid off in full every month, and for the car loan, I pay about 10% more than the minimum). My credit score exceeds 800 (barely) and I have a credit history dating back literally to before I was born. WTF Chase?

Katherine [8:12 PM]
My husband has that card and I think he was told the same thing. He’s got good credit and was eventually approved for it

Okeoma [9:08 PM]
@Mike I’ve had over half a dozen cards with Chase (I do a fair bit of credit card churning and travel hacking) over the years and in my experience they are terribly inconsistent.

biglawinvestor [5:29 AM]
I’ll echo that they are terribly inconsistent as well.
I’ve had luck calling them after you get a “need more time to process your application message”.
It seems that when they talk with an actual human being they change their mind and get really excited to give you the card.

Denise [5:32 AM]
It just means your particular credit makeup triggered human review for some reason. Which is why biglaws suggestion might work.

I’ve never had an issue w auto approval w Chase and I churn their cards like nobody’s business, but I think I just hit the computer credit report algorithm lottery.

financialpanther [6:48 AM]
How many cards does everyone have these days? I’ve got 13 over the last 14 months now, haha.

Brad [7:09 AM]
I have two. Personal amex (delta skymiles cobrand) since 1998 and the Chase Amazon Visa for a couple years now.

Peter [7:11 AM]
I think about 6-7, closer to 10 with store cards
Mostly just use my Citi Double Cash these days

matt [7:13 AM]
I need to see if I can consolidate all of my chase UR points

Peter [7:14 AM]
Have a Sony card that pretty much funded my video game ~addiction~ hobby for a few years

Denise[7:40 AM]
I fluctuate between 8-12

richterjw [8:33 AM]
2. Citi Double Cash (primary) and Hilton AmEx (used only when I stay at Hilton brand hotels for work travel)

Okeoma [8:54 AM]
I’m at 14 right now because I picked up two SW cards. Going for the companion pass this year.

biglawinvestor [8:55 AM]
I only have 3 these days! I’m still burning through 100,000+ of miles.

Okeoma [8:56 AM]
Which 3?

Denise[8:57 AM]
we had the companion pass and never really took advantage of it unfortunately

biglawinvestor [8:57 AM]
I have the USAA 2.5% cashback (my primary card), the Chase Sapphire Reserve (for dining) and the American Express Gold.
I’d ask you which 14 but that seems like a lot. Which do you use regularly in that arsenal?

Okeoma [9:36 AM]
I primarily rotate between my American Airlines card (international travel), Southwest cards (domestic travel) and Citicard double cashback (primary). I currently have 0% interest on 6 (including the American Airlines card and the Double cashback) of the cards so I’m probably rotating through more of them than I would like. (edited)
@Denisewhere you just unable to get away?

Denise[9:42 AM]
yeah, we wanted to leverage it for int’l because it was right after SW started doing int’l, but never got around to it. Domestically everything SW ran through BWI from Boston, so it was never actually worth the extra leg when you priced it out. if you are near a hub, I imagine it’s great.

Okeoma [9:54 AM]
That makes sense. We are less than 15 mins to Dallas Love Field and travel monthly as it is. We’ve also recently decided that we’ll move back overseas eventually.. (edited)

Josh [10:01 AM]
I have a discover card and a Mastercard through BOA. I pretty much only use the Discover. I had the United Visa card but did not see a point in paying for a credit card. I do not fly enough for the free bags to be a factor.

biglawinvestor [10:02 AM]
Ohh, that’s interesting @Okeoma – where are you thinking?

Okeoma [10:04 AM]
That’s the great debate. My husband would love to do LATAM but I’m itching to head back to SEA.

matt [10:06 AM]
I am so intrigued – will you be lawyering overseas @Okeoma?

Okeoma [10:06 AM]
We’ll be FI (financially independent) by then so I won’t need to but I probably will continue to do some legal work

matt [10:07 AM]

Freelance Lawyering

matt [10:08 AM]
my wife grew up overseas, but we have never figured out how to make it work – lawyering is not very portable

Okeoma [10:10 AM]
It just takes some creativity but it’s definitely doable.
Admittedly it is slightly more complicated when children come into the picture because of the increased fixed costs but completely virtual firms are sprouting up everywhere.
I spend a lot of time learning from Joey Vitale and Rachel Brenke about how to leverage the internet to make $$$ lawyering

Okeoma [10:23 AM]
One of my first mentors left the US after the great recession to pursue a role as counsel for that show “the Contender” that was filmed in Thailand. When the show wrapped he stayed and hasn’t been backed since. Now he represents all those digital nomads working in coffee shops and taking IG photos of their lattes throughout Thailand.
TLDR: Laywering is not VERY portable, but it’s portable enough for the lawyers who make it a priority. (edited)

Denise[10:24 AM]
is he licensed in thailand?
I thought one of the problems is the geographic connection with licensing

matt [10:25 AM]
Right. I’m on Joey Vitale’s website – it looks very geared towards the creative professional type, but how does he deal with the fact he has a geographically-limited license but is advertising nationwide? Is he just taking clients in his locale?

Okeoma [10:40 AM]
My understanding is that a lot of their work is federal trademark work and then they do a tiny bit of incorporation/contract stuff which is more geographically-limited.
The legal field has a long way to go when it comes to providing guidelines for lawyers advising clients of the new gig economy. I tried to dig into this topic with my guests this week. They represent social media influencers and themselves are quiet nomadic, but it ended up being unusable audio.

Melissa [10:46 AM]
Oh I mostly deal with locals, my practice tend to be hyperlocal but I am building it so I can keep doing it if we move to Canada. Mostly people do not want to see me.
The biggest difference is I need to use secure text with some people because they do not phone.

matt [10:47 AM]
in house for a state agency is not so portable 😉

Melissa [10:47 AM]
Trade ya!
I love my work but sometimes I really miss working for the state
Emergency Management got to me, impossible to keep doing but I miss it

matt [10:49 AM]
as far as lawyering goes I think my work is fine – but I’m not so keen on lawyering

Gig Economy

biglawinvestor [10:49 AM]
It’s not really that law hasn’t caught up with the gig economy, it’s that law hasn’t caught up with the internet and modern communications. I am licensed in New York but have clients all over the country (physically), many with corporations in Delaware (though not all) and work on contracts governed by the laws of many jurisdictions. For contract lawyers, it seems like where you are licensed means nothing.
I obviously wouldn’t walk into a courtroom though …

Denise[10:51 AM]
part of it is there is no enforcement against that kind of multijurisdictional practice
because it would be absurd to enforce that

Melissa [10:52 AM]
Yeah. I hope one day I will be part of a network of primary care lawyers so we can pass stuff around but it is hard. And everyone would rather you see a lawyer
I love being a lawyer matt but that is part of what took me so long to start practicing

Okeoma [10:53 AM]
biglawinvestor Fair point.
matt I thought I wasn’t so keen on lawyering either until I found clients I really liked with problems I enjoyed solving

matt [10:55 AM]
if I could figure out another profession that I could easily make decent money at, I’d probably give up on lawyering but I’m very risk averse

Okeoma [10:56 AM]
The being risk averse is what’s going to get you every time

biglawinvestor [10:58 AM]
Exactly. I’m guessing Joey Vitale just set up shop and kept going. He’s not practicing in front of a court so nobody is going to care. I’m curious what governing law he uses for his standard corporate contracts.

Denise[10:59 AM]
yeah, it would only become an issue in a fee dispute/bar complaint scenario

Okeoma [11:00 AM]
Early on Joey got a sweet boost in his business because he was working at a co-working space which later asked him to be their on-site attorney so I think a lot of his corporate contracts still come out of those local relationships
I remember Rachel Rodgers going through this. I never read the details but she had those complaints dismissed
Obviously each state and circumstance is going to be a little different but I know that Joey has worked closely with his local ABA ethics folks to make sure his packages are on the up and up

biglawinvestor [11:02 AM]
I’d love to hear a podcast about that. I always thought it was gray area and not something you could get blessed by anyone.

Okeoma [11:02 AM]
I’ll text Joey and peer pressure him into joining then we can just pick his brain directly

biglawinvestor [11:02 AM]
Even better!

Melissa [11:02 AM]
Yes please. I will send him coffee.

Okeoma [11:14 AM]
message sent. I’ll also try to line up a podcast about it. I’ve been trying to pin down Rachel on this for about a year now!

biglawinvestor [11:17 AM]
@Okeoma I’m always interested in this because it seems a way for lawyers to bridge the gap to FI. No need to be all the way there if you can part-time lawyer to generate a little income.

Denise[11:18 AM]
I find the topic fascinating
especially given that I live/work within 20 miles of two other states I’m not licensed in

Okeoma [11:19 AM]
Agreed! I think that FI is out of reach for so many lawyers because of the loans associated with getting the job that it’d be nice if this could fill that gap on the back end.

Denise[11:20 AM]
like biglawinvestor I always assumed it was a grey area where if you were doing strictly behind the scenes contract work from your home state, youd be fine, but actively practicing in a foreign locale??? that’s like a dream

Limited Lawyering

Okeoma [11:20 AM]
I had a conversation with Julia Shapiro about this last year. That was part of the reason she started Hire an Esquire was to help bridge that gap.

biglawinvestor [11:20 AM]
It solves so many problems. Work/life balance, partial income, keeping skills sharp, etc. I talked with Julie at Hire An Esquire about this once and it’s a big motivation for a lot of lawyers that work on their platform.
Haha. Jinx.
No, you are right. Is Julia.

Okeoma [11:22 AM]
No, It IS Julia.
Jinx again!

biglawinvestor [11:22 AM]
Stop living my life @Okeoma !

Okeoma [11:22 AM]
My job here is done. It seems you have things under control. I head back over to #reasonablewoman

biglawinvestor [11:23 AM]
There’s so many channels here. I have to remind myself to scan them every now and then.
DeniseI think the dream is closer than you think. The problem is surfacing these stories. I’d love to figure out how to tie them in to articles for my site (and obviously @Okeoma should interview them – heck, she probably already has).

Okeoma [11:28 AM]
I remember working on a deal back at the firm and we were having trouble getting KYC info on the GC and it turns out that he was traveling the country in an luxury RV with his family full-time!

matt [11:29 AM]
I was working on a deal with a dutch company – had to get it signed because the GC was taking a 2 month vacation starting the next week

Melissa [11:29 AM]
So how do we get Julia!?

Okeoma [11:29 AM]
Having trouble meaning he didn’t seem to be able to answer basic questions about his residency, not having trouble reaching him. I had no idea he was remote.

matt [11:30 AM]
remote GC is living the dream!

Okeoma [11:30 AM]

Melissa [11:30 AM]
See I love being settled and hate travel

Okeoma [11:31 AM]
I have the potential for that at this job but not the patience to wait the 5 years it would take to get the role

Melissa [11:31 AM]
I will just have an old fashioned boarding house for when you all pass through

matt [11:31 AM]
I’ll take the choice

Melissa [11:31 AM]
With RV pads

Okeoma [11:32 AM]
Heath and Alyssa are doing really interesting work at creating a collection of RV communities for digital nomads. (non-traditional RVers)
There’s a big market for it.

Geographic Independence and “Secret Lawyering”

Melissa [11:32 AM]
Hum. I could probably get some industrial property in Ballard on a bus line

Okeoma [11:34 AM]
When I was negotiating my job, I specifically said I’ll work as much as I need to but you can’t tell me where I need to be and they said “OK”

Melissa [11:34 AM]
It would be a little spendy but the right place could also have marina access

Okeoma [11:34 AM]
As long as it has good wifi and Kombucha on tap. I’m there! 😉

biglawinvestor [11:35 AM]
Do you think all it took was just asking @Okeoma? Or was it a big give on their part?

Okeoma [11:35 AM]
biglawinvestor how do we collect this information without outing people who aren’t ready to be outed?

biglawinvestor [11:37 AM]
Well, that’s the other problem and a good one to bring up @Okeoma. Many of these people don’t want to be outed. They’ve got a good thing going and the last thing they want is for someone to start making noise about whether they are legally allowed to practice in that jurisdiction, etc, etc.
I’m not sure of the answer.

matt [11:38 AM]
So…I need to find a company (because gov’t is 0% flexible) and negotiate that in

Okeoma [11:38 AM]
I’ve been on a flexible work schedule most of my BigLaw career so my GC knew I wasn’t going to come in-house to be stuck at a desk.

biglawinvestor [11:38 AM]

Yeah, that flexible work schedule still strikes me as atypical. But again, I know they are out there because I run across them all the time. I just never know because most people don’t bring it up.

Okeoma [11:40 AM]
matt I used to work with a lawyer who reached FI on the Financial Samurai strategy and went to work in the gov’t. If I recall, he works long days 4 days a week which entitles him to every other Friday off. He’s been to like 30 countries travel hacking on the weekends.

matt [11:41 AM]
There are no people in my ~90 person division who have a flex schedule.

Okeoma [11:41 AM]
biglawinvestor There was a woman at Milbank who had been on Flex time for TWENTY YEARS. She made partner on flex time.

matt [11:42 AM]
very traditional “we need you in the office 8-5” approach. I had to get special permission for 7.30-4.30 to pick up my daughter.

Okeoma [11:42 AM]
matt Yea it’s certainly not possible everywhere

matt [11:42 AM]
if I could work remotely/with my schedule – I could probably get all my work done in ~20 hours a week.

Women or Men In Your Corner?

Okeoma [11:45 AM]
Based on my experience, it really comes down to having a strong advocate in your corner. If there’s someone there who can and will vouch for your work ethic then it’s a simple conversation.
I’ve also always hitched my wagon to partners and GCs who themselves value family and flexibility.

biglawinvestor [11:49 AM]

Okeoma [11:49 AM]
IMHO Women are harder to read on this front

Melissa [11:50 AM]

matt [11:50 AM]
my last boss (female) requested me back in the office 3 days after baby 2 was born
up until that point she was seemingly family oriented

Okeoma [11:51 AM]
Unfortunately that doesn’t surprise me in the least
I think women are always pushing back against the perception that they are too lenient or too family-oriented (whether or not it’s justified is a completely separate conversation)

matt [11:53 AM]
we were a small environmental non-profit (6 employees) – I don’t know what message she wanted to send. I got 2 days off, worked half-week for one week, then back to full time.

Melissa [11:54 AM]
We have a lot of pressure to do everything all in and it makes things weird and unpredictable.
Older men who are allowed to just focus on work and have made other choices are in a different place socially.

Okeoma [11:57 AM]
matt I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible!

Okeoma [11:58 AM]
I cut my second maternity leave short by a month and it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I’m still not sure it was the right one. I can’t imagine only getting two days with my husband! (edited)

biglawinvestor [11:58 AM]
Wow, this is interesting. My thoughts are that a male asking a male superior (GC / Biglaw partner) for flex time would not go well. (edited)

Okeoma [12:01 PM]
There was recently an article about male flex time

biglawinvestor [12:02 PM]
Thanks for the article link.
Is your GC a woman? I thought she was …

Okeoma [12:05 PM]
My GC was not a woman and is still not a woman.
(As you know, there’s been a recent change in guard)

manumitany [12:10 PM]
That’s awesome — the support/cover

Okeoma [12:12 PM]
The best advice I ever got from my parents was “It doesn’t matter if you have the best apartment in town if you hate your roommates.” I live and die by the quality of the people I work with and for. I will compromise on just about everything else and so far it has served me well. (edited)

biglawinvestor [12:21 PM]
Huh. In that case, I’ve probably been making assumptions all along!

Okeoma [12:23 PM]
This is definitely an over simplification but it’s sometimes the case that women lawyers are so busy fighting their own battles it’s hard to ask them to take up your battles as well

biglawinvestor [12:24 PM]
That completely makes sense to me. I don’t think I so much thought that women lawyers were looking out for other women lawyers (although I hope that’s the case) as I assumed more senior women lawyers were more likely to accept the flex time arrangement (which may in fact NOT be the case based on what you’re saying).
I also assume that women are leading the charge here and that male lawyers asking for flex time arrangements are fewer and farther between (but will read that article you sent).
The whole male/female thing is probably a red herring and I’m not sure even worth much time anyway. The entire model should be shifting toward location independent work, regardless of gender.

Okeoma [12:26 PM]
Stop reading my mind!!!

biglawinvestor [12:26 PM]
Yeah, I’m sorry. I led us down this path.

manumitany [12:27 PM]
“Fewer and father between” I see what you did there, biglawinvestor

Happiness and Connecting With Community

Okeoma [12:28 PM]
That being said, Shawn Achor is doing interesting research on the collaborative nature of happiness. Basically law is already pretty isolating which is partially to blame for high rates of depression and general malaise so that’ll need to be a consideration (but it probably won’t be so we’ll probably end up throwing out the whole idea) (edited)

matt [12:29 PM]
in my mind having an extra day off a week is a big salve for that though
more time to socialize/do things you _want_ to do

Okeoma [12:30 PM]
But I think having happiness “at” work matters
I take your point, but it’d be great if we could also find ways to maintain a level of collegiality and connection even in remote workplaces

Melissa [12:30 PM]
I think we tend to underestimate how important work with meaning is for happiness
It can be volunteer, but for me it is essential

biglawinvestor [12:31 PM]
Like Slack?
Or is this not good enough?

Okeoma [12:31 PM]

biglawinvestor [12:31 PM]
I’d be curious.

Melissa [12:32 PM]

Okeoma [12:32 PM]
I don’t know if this is helping me build relationships with my colleagues 😉
Trello has a pretty decent blog on these topics

biglawinvestor [12:33 PM]
Right. They’d need to be on Slack. I’m curious though if the happiness research would show that you can feel a sense of collegiality and connection through a shared chat room type environment rather than physically seeing each other “at the office”. For me, I’d say Slack would definitely work – but I have no idea what the data says.

matt [12:33 PM]
I don’t disagree @Melissa – but I assign so little value to what I do that I have to find that ‘meaning’ outside of work (part of what that extra day off could go to)

Okeoma [12:34 PM]
biglawinvestor You should read “Big Potential”

Melissa [12:34 PM]
I am avoiding general at the moment so I will be emo here. The first year of business using a untried business plan was scary and this is one of the reasons I didn’t quit

matt [12:35 PM]
And on biglawinvestor’s point, LawyerSmack is my connection to others/conversation with others (everything is done via email – I have maybe 4-6 conversations on the phone a week)

Okeoma [12:35 PM]
that’s fair. I suppose I am questioning the premise. I think people should move away from spending the bulk of time doing work to which they assign that little value

matt [12:36 PM]
I don’t disagree – but that work pays the bills
Sometimes you just gotta do it for the mortgage

keithrl [12:41 PM]
This has been a great convo (catching up now). Will likely clip this for blog.

matt [12:43 PM]
uh – I’m scrolling up, make me sound less like Eeyore when you do keith

[ edit: too late 😉 ]

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