The theoretical framework for my Law Firms as a Business Organization class is the Heinz-Laumann two-hemisphere theory, which posits that lawyers fall into one of two distinct "hemispheres": (1) lawyers who serve organizational clients, such as corporations, institutions, and labor unions; or (2) lawyers that provide personal services to individuals and small businesses. See Chicago Lawyers (1982) (detailed empirical study of ~700 lawyers in greater Chicago).
Jack Heinz (NWU Law/ABF) and Edward Laumann (Chicago Sociology) created the hemisphere typology because their research documented that these two groups had very little in common; they attended different law schools, hailed from different socio-economic and religious backgrounds, belonged to different bar organizations, and otherwise traveled in completely separate social and professional circles.
For the next two weeks, my class is focusing on the personal services hemisphere. And let's face it--virtually all law professors either worked for, or were groomed to work for, the corporate hemisphere. We don't have a lot of exposure (at least as working adults) to the gritty world of personal injury, family law, workers compensation, and other mainstays of solo and small firm practice. Since I teach the Law Firms course, I have compensated over the last few years by attending the Annual ISBA Solo & Small Firm Conferences. It was there that I first learned about Jay Foonberg, the author of the ABA's all-time best selling book, How to Start and Build a Law Practice (5th ed. 2004). Literally tens of thousand of small firm lawyers have built highly successful practices by following his simple nuts and bolts advice.
In law school, one gets the impression that success in the legal profession is primarily a function of analytical ability. But this snippet from an ABA survey, republished in Foonberg's magnificant volume, suggests that client service (a function of organization and emotional intelligence rather than book smarts) is the real make or break category:
Although the importance of these attributes, upon reflection, is obvious, they are rarely discussed in law school. Moreover, they reflect a skill set (indeed, an awareness) that many law students have not yet acquired. Foonberg is a welcomed antidote to this deficiency.