Volume 19, Number 7
October/November 2002


Something Fishy

By jennifer j. rose

Have you ever been confronted with a platter of sushi and the only familiar ingredient was the rice? And the menu's Japanese translation to English read like a lab science manual?
General practice is not as safe as plucking chocolates from a Whitman's Sampler, where a chart safely identifies each piece of candy. When a client's question isn't part of a lawyer's usual meat-and-potatoes fare, it is easy to feel like a novice at a sushi bar, where there always is another diner holding court over the finer distinctions between fish roes, salmon skin, and eel innards. As much as I like sushi, I don't want to risk anyone's slipping shrimp or fish liver onto my plate-but at the same time I hate to appear ever so ignorant.

Pretending that you already had kanimiso for lunch or you know the difference between futomaki and onigiri can be easier than answering your companions' random questions about nonprofit corporations or immigration law. Unwittingly wading into less-than-familiar waters can be as deadly as tasting fugu prepared by amateurs. Dodging the bullet of a client who expects a lawyer to know everything isn't as easy as disguising raw fish and its unknown parts with copious amounts of wasabi and pickled ginger.

From Toluca Lake to the Virgin Islands, more authors than ever contributed to this issue of GPSolo, serving up some finely crafted morsels of advice in practice areas in which clients expect some kind of immediate answer. Mary Ann Baker-Randall, in her article "Handling Cases Outside Your Practice Area," provides a primer for those faced with matters beyond their usual comfort zone. Then there are those clients who confuse sushi chefs with short-order cooks, expecting that their counsel perform all legal tasks for them for one all-you-can-eat, low fee. Setting the parameters of the attorney-client relationship and the job description is the focus of "Rules of Engagement: Taking the Offense When It Comes to Defense," Stephen Terrell's article about the importance of retainer agreements, nonengagement letters, and disengagement letters.

Almost every lawyer would agree that sex with clients is generally not a very good idea, particularly when it comes to those sticky issues of ethics and getting paid. Last winter the ABA came up with a new Model Rule of Profes-sional Conduct barring lawyers from having sex with clients. Is a bright-line rule necessary? Does the prohibition simply go too far? In "Sex with Clients: Always a Violation?" Professor Nancy Moore and Lawrence Fox take the issue in Point/Counterpoint.

This issue marks even more changes. "The Bus-iness of Law" column, gen- erously written by Edward Poll for the past seven years, has been sunsetted. We are deeply appreciative of Ed's vigorous support and efforts throughout the years. Replacing that column is one specifically targeted to the needs of solo practitioners, written by David Leffler, a solo and longtime Section member practicing in New York City, specializing in business law and dishing up his real-life challenges and solutions. GPSolo's editorial board brainstormed for an appropriate name for the column, suggesting and rejecting "I Did It My Way," "Lone Shark," "Garbo," "There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone," "So Low You Can't Get Over It," "Soul Practitioner," "The Azygous Attorney," "@ One with Money," and "Solo Edge," and settling on the Zen-ish "Being Solo."

Carolyn J. Stevens, a solo from Lolo, Montana, ably and ambitiously served as issue editor, and the credit for developing and organizing this remarkable issue of GPSolo is all hers.
Stay tuned for the December 2002 issue of GPSolo, the Technology & Practice Guide, focusing on effective ways to use the technology you already have.

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoac√°n, Mexico.

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