Transplant Marketing 101: The Local Counsel Gig

by Chad Lieberman on May 10, 2012

Take your practice beyond the local community.

I recently found an area of law that I never knew existed: local counsel.  Before moving to Denver, everything for me was local.  I grew up in Chicago, went to school in Chicago, and worked in Chicago.  My blood pumps celery salt, mustard, and sport peppers.  But then something changed.  I met a girl, got married and we moved to Colorado.  The legal community is different.  Smaller.  The hot dogs are different.  Smaller.

However, my practice got larger.  I became the Colorado contact for many, many Chicago attorneys.  These attorneys no longer had to farm their Colorado cases out to unknown lawyers and no longer had to pass on any cases west of Midway Airport.  They just called me.  At first, I had no idea this could be a business and I, naively, offered my services pro bono.  But then things changed.

In my experience, there are two methods of serving as local counsel:  (1) A mail drop and filing center; and (2) co-counsel.

The first one is simple.  Out-of-state counsel wants complete control of the case.  Therefore, he or she will pay you your hourly rate to file an appearance, coordinate a pro hac vice admission, file pleadings, and monitor deadlines.  You, as local counsel, have no actual knowledge or control over the case.

The second option is more difficult, but more fun.  You become part of a national trial team.  The out-of-state counsel leans on you heavily for matters concerning local rules, local juries, and advice on judges and opposing counsels.  You often draft the “meat” of the pleadings and motions for the out-of-state counsel to review, edit, and approve.

I have been in Colorado for just under two years and realized something almost immediately:  virtually everyone who lives here is not from here!  This includes attorneys.  Therefore, do not limit your practice locally.  Join the bar associations in your hometown. Talk to them.  Get your contact information in their publications. It’s cheap and sometimes it’s free.

Chad Lieberman served as lead trial attorney for a commercial litigation firm located in Chicago from 2005 through late 2010. He handled lawsuits involving contract disputes, personal injury, insurance related issues, product liability matters, construction defects, and real estate.  Since moving to Colorado in 2010, he practices in state and federal courts throughout Illinois and Colorado, primarily in product liability and commercial litigation.  SOLO in COLO welcomes Chad as its new editor/promoter-in-chief, effective July 2012.  Prior to coming to SOLO in COLO, Chad authored posts under an alias at attorneyatwork.com. He can be reached at clieberman@bbs-legal.com.


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