Lawyers Should 'Work For Exposure', Not Necessarily A Good Idea
Feb 28, 2017 02:59 PM EST
Whether or not lawyers should "work for exposure" isn't a simple issue. The answer depends on many factors and it is useful to have some criteria to examine each opportunity that comes in.
Many CLE (Continuing Legal Education) companies and bar associations expect lawyers to work for free. While it can be a good practice to master the crafts, doing so without compensation can be extremely draining.
In fact, profit-making companies are often generating a profit from the content of the lawyers who are not paid to speak. At times, it becomes more offensive when CLE companies charge the presenters to speak and doesn't disclose the arrangement to the attendees.
Seth Godin, founder of HubPages and best-selling author, thinks the right kind of exposure, is a good practice, an honest contribution and a great chance to build credibility. He wrote on his official website highlighting that it shouldn't be a habit nonetheless, because lawyers end up in seting up a new standard for themselves - that they work for free, instead of working for exposure.
The problem often lies among the lawyers who are hesitant to say, "My speaking fee is $X." Jeena Cho from Above The Law, who admitted to being one of them, thinks it could be a combination of fear of rejection, being told the lawyers don't worth that much, and perhaps most importantly, not valuing own worth.
She shared some additional factors lawyers may want to consider before deciding to work for exposure. Some of the questions include: Does the organization or company charge the attendees? What is the opportunity cost? Are you required to assign your IP? Is this an organization you care about? Would you charge another similar organization or company?
Just because the speaking engagement opportunities are free, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea. It only means the lawyers should think hard about how everyone benefits from the opportunity, and that certainly includes themselves.