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I decided to treat myself to a couple of CDs not long ago. Nothing fancy, mind you. Just some new tunes to play in the car or on the little CD player I have in my office. So I went over to Megalithic Music figuring to buy some “jazz” or “classical music” only to find out how hopelessly antediluvian I am. First off, “LPs” are back. If you still can sing the lyrics to Sgt. Pepper’s songs, then you remember “LPs,” aka “records.” You played them on a “turntable” using a “needle.” (Geez, it sounds like I’m playing Dr. Evil in a new Austin Powers movie, doesn’t it?) Well, the reason they’re back is that house DJs spinning techno or dance can’t get the effects they need using newfangled CDs and processing technology. So old-fashioned LPs, which you now should refer to as “vinyls” so you won’t be totally gauche, have made a comeback. I digress here because the real revelation of my effort to buy something (such as a Bill Evans CD or some Johann Sebastian Bach or some band where the lead singer had married a famous fashion model or Pamela Anderson) had to do with something we as a profession are sadly lacking: genres. We have practice groups, departments, sections, teams and all kinds of monikers like that, but we don’t have genres. And we need them, because without some better genre placement, lawyers such as David Boies, who comes quickly to mind, always will stay David Boies and never get to the Boiesyonce level and true superstardom. We’ll never have industry association awards, meaningless award parties and after parties, or anything remotely as cool as a gold record. I’m a changed person already just by thinking about it, and my time wandering around looking for a simple CD by The Who was not wasted. You want genres? I’ve got genres. THE LOWDOWN First, no more big firms, large firms or even megafirms. From now on, if you work at a firm with, say, 700 or more lawyers, you work at a major label firm. Say it with me now. “I work at a major label.” This works because, just like in the recording industry, major label firms have something in every significant market niche. For example, Sony has Electric Light Orchestra and Mariah Carey; Monstrous & Overbearing L.L.P. has IPOs and Martha Stewart. Being major label also means there’s a big public relations machine that enables the “talent” (that’s what lawyers were before they got genre) to do better when they change firms than just being in a sidebar in The American Lawyer every month. Now we can have full-blown, front-page articles with glossy photos about the Lawyer Formerly Known as Boies, J-Law and other equally huge talents to keep us occupied. Remember that in today’s post-modern interactive, blogged legal world, really important lawyers make their money talking about other lawyers; so, if you’re major label, it’s not the hours that count anymore — it’s the sound bites. Fashion inspiration? Think Armani, even on casual Friday. Role model: Celine Dion or Eric Clapton. Now, in the best spirit of “no lawyer left behind,” I’m also pleased to announce that solos and small-firm practitioners can have a genre. Throw out one-man-shops, small firms, solos and all of those geeky, condescending old names. From now on, you’re the indie bar. Suddenly you’ve gone from being someone who’s viewed as, well, maybe a bit marginal by major label lawyers to someone who’s edgy, unafraid to take a chance and willing to say those really important things the establishment major labels won’t allow. Even though it’s video rather than music, I’m thinking the indie bar will need to cancel the utterly pedestrian seminar that gets put on for solo practitioners in favor of something such as the Sundance Film Festival. We’ll hold it out in Marfa or Fargo or some other place that’s so unhip it’s totally now. Couture model for the indie bar: Billy Bob Thornton. That’s the beauty of this genre-fication. It works for just about everybody. Suddenly patent attorneys and other intellectual property types, formerly the good-natured victims of snide remarks about their slide rules, pocket protectors and other similar impedimenta, become techno. In addition to their acknowledged talents for prosecuting patents and protecting intellectual property rights, practitioners of techno give off an air of just having arrived from Oslo, Norway, or Berlin or maybe Prague, Czech Republic, places where disaffection, angst and a little alienation are a part of the counterculture. Dress code for technos: Dolce & Gabbana all the way. Role model: Coldplay. Appellate specialists become practitioners of trance and not just because of what they put most appellate judges into. There is no purer form of mano a mano combat in the law than appellate argument, so your appellate trance attorneys have a bit of a goth feel about them. Long black dusters are what I’m thinking here with Metallica going at high volumes. After all, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia already appears in long black clothing, so how much of a stretch would a duster be? That’s just the beginning. Genre-fication works for just about every specialty, subgroup and area of practice big enough to have its own newsletter or CLE program. Lobbying/governmental relations types look like the P. Diddys of our world. Picturing someone such as Bob Strauss in FUBU has a real appeal, doesn’t it? It will work for you, too. See you in Marfa. Tom Alleman, a shareholder in the environmental practice group at Winstead Sechrest & Minick in Dallas, has a lot of angst but doesn’t think his practice genre-fies as techno. This indecision is yet another good reason why his opinions aren’t necessarily those of the firm, its clients or Versace.

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