The Undeniable Tour – The Recap

I asked all the social media movers and shakers that I met during The Undeniable Tour to sign the arrow

I asked all the social media movers and shakers that I met during The Undeniable Tour to sign the arrow

I’ve been home for a few days and I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on the whirlwind trip that was The Undeniable Tour: 15 days, 2 airplane rides, 1932 miles of driving in the rental car (courtesy of my concierge sponsor Web3Mavens), 6 hostels, 5 speaking engagements, 4 official sponsors, a handful of other freebies, and a whole lot of awesome! Thank you to everyone who supported this crazy adventure, especially the schools and organizations who invited me to speak, the people who attended my talks, and of course my sponsors without who this tour couldn’t have happened: Web3Mavens, Enchanting LawyerTotal Networks, and Attorney at Work.

I have gotten a handful of questions about The Undeniable Tour which I’m happy to answer.

Why did I create The Undeniable Tour?
I noticed there is a gap in education for lawyers when it comes to social media marketing. I get most of my information about the logging and proper ways to use social media from mainstream sources. A lot of people ask me how I’ve been able to leverage these tools to get clients and make a name for myself and I wanted to bring the lessons I have learned to broader audience.

Last year I read the book Creativity for Sale by Jason Surfrapp (now Jason Zook). By the time I finished it, my head was buzzing with ideas for future professional ventures, including The Undeniable Tour, so I ran with it.

Why did I choose to stay in hostels?
The Undeniable Tour was a shoestring operation made possible by getting sponsors and small speaking fees. Staying in hostels is much more economical than staying in hotels, and I discovered that I liked staying in hostels a lot better than budget-friendly hotels. I don’t mind sharing a room with7-23 other people or using communal bathrooms and I love being more connected with the adventurous traveler community. Plus Wi-Fi and breakfast are often included in the price.

Have I noticed an uptrend in non-traditional lawyers?
I won’t say there’s an uptrend in the number of nontraditional lawyers; however, I think more lawyers are interested in the hearing about how others are practicing law differently. I suspect more people are dissatisfied with billable hours and working 90 hours/week and they see that others are doing something different and are happy or as a result, and they want to know more.

Are law students driven to go solo?
That’s depends on who you ask. At one school I went to over half the audience was interested in going solo and at another school, almost no one was. I suspect many law students are interested yet frightened by the prospect of going solo right out of the gate. (I certainly was.) I hope hearing my story showed them that it’s possible to go solo early in your career and be successful – and that there are lots of resources available for a lawyer who opens their own firm so they never have to feel like they are going it alone.

What will I do differently next time?
Oh geez. Probably everything.

If I do another tour, I will probably try to make it shorter in terms of time, do more engagement with the local media in advance (print, blogs, vlogs, and podcasts), and try to schedule more speaking engagements (and maybe some CLEs for law firms) and a smaller area.

Planning this tour could have been a full-time job in and of itself. There is so much to do and coordinate. Hopefully having this tour be such a success will make it easier to plan similar activities in the future.

What advice do I have to anyone who thinking about organizing a similar event?
If you want to plan a speaking tour or get sponsors for your event, you have to be super organized and diligent about follow-up. A lot of my success from planning The Undeniable Tour came from follow up emails and phone calls. Additionally, you don’t have to necessarily re-invent the wheel – look to your network of contacts for suggestions and potential leads in terms of locations and sponsors.

If there is anything else that you want to know about The Undeniable Tour, feel free to leave it as a comment or shoot me an email.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during this crazy adventure. It took about 8 months to organize and execute this. A tremendous thank you to my sponsors: Web3Mavens, Enchanting LawyerTotal Networks, and Attorney at Work.

All Tour Sponsors

The Undeniable Tour Day 10 – Life is about Experiences

The Redwood Forest at the Trees of Mystery

The Redwood Forest at the Trees of Mystery

I recently saw an article pass through my Facebook feed that says people who focus on experiences rather than possessions are happier. I couldn’t agree more.

Dylan and Me at the Trees of Mystery - look at giant Paul Bunyan in the background!

Dylan and Me at the Trees of Mystery – look at giant Paul Bunyan in the background!

This morning I woke up at the hostel at Point Reyes after sleeping like a rock, had breakfast with my fellow travelers, and headed north in the Maven Mobile (courtesy of my sponsor Web3Mavens). I drove through the gorgeous Redwood Forest to Crescent City. (I’ll be speaking at Lewis and Clark in Portland on Monday.) Photographs do not do justice to how beautiful this area is.

Just south of Crescent City is the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, CA. I don’t know what the mystery was but the view was amazing – huge trees as far as the eye could see. I met a fellow traveler named Dylan in the parking lot and we trooped through the trees and rode the Sky Train to the observation deck. We discovered that we both have discarded many physical possessions in favor of freedom and adventure. I definitely get more joy from what I do than from what I own.

Sometimes I have to step a back and remember that I’m on a business trip. I’ve always known that I didn’t want a traditional legal career, but I had no idea that my professional life could be this good. I have seen the most beautiful things and met the most amazing people in the last five years. I am grateful for all that I have, all that I get to do, and that I get to share part of it with others during The Undeniable Tour.

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors: Web3Mavens, Enchanting Lawyer, Total Networks, and Attorney at Work.

All Tour Sponsors

The Undeniable Tour Day 2 – Making You Work for You

University of La Verne Law School

University of La Verne Law School

Today was my first speaking gig of The Undeniable Tour at University of La Verne Law School. I had a full room of students who were engaged and it was awesome to see that so many of them were interested in starting their own firm.

Speaking to these students reminded me of my bizarre professional journey – I didn’t have a traditional path to follow. I just kept doing what made sense at the time and so far it’s working out. It’s was great to talk with them about how there’s more than one way to be a lawyer and I also told them about the Rule of Two Feet.

One thing I’ve learned in my professional career is that the biggest limits I have are the ones I put on myself. It’s a lot of hard to work to work outside the traditional framework of what it means to be a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in blogs, vlogs, podcasts, writing, speaking, or creating a special niche for yourself. A lot of times it’s a matter of deciding what you want to do, learning how to do it, and committing to making it happen.

There have been many times this trip already that I’ve found myself repeating Tim Gunn’s trademark line “Make it work.”

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors: Web3Mavens, Enchanting Lawyer, Total Networks, and Attorney at Work.

All Tour Sponsors

No Path to Follow When You’re a Non-Traditional Lawyer

Me and the Skies by Jesse! S? from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Me and the Skies by Jesse! S? from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Let me tell you about a pivotal day that happened early in my legal career. I was a second-year law student at Arizona State University. During a study break, I was hanging outside the law library with my classmate Julia who is also one of my best friends. Out of nowhere a thought popped into my head and I blurted out, “I don’t want to be a traditional lawyer.”  She responded with a look that screamed, “Duh.”

It was an incredibly scary moment of clarity for me. By that point, I’d had enough experiences in internships and my pre-law school career that I knew a lot about what I didn’t want in a job. I wasn’t sure how I wanted my future to look, so I had no path to follow to make it happen.

About eighteen months later, I had lunch with the family friend who would become my business mentor. I’d taken the bar exam but I was still waiting on my results. I told her some of my ideas about what I was looking for in a legal career and she bluntly asked, “Why don’t you just start your own practice?” The idea of opening a solo law practice excited and frightened me so much that I started sweating profusely. My dress was soaked by the end of that meal. I knew no one would hire me as a first year associate and let me continue to blog, write, speak, or dig into the depths of topics like social media law and flash mob law.

Besides the basic information about how to start a law practice and practical advice from my mentor about accounting and marketing, I felt like I was operating without a map. It seemed like my classmates had clear paths to follow – paved by the lawyers who came before them – while I had an expanse of beautiful terrain to traverse, but not even a dirt path to guide me. My path and my destinations were for me to determine. This provided a tremendous amount of freedom in my life but also an unsettling amount of uncertainty. I’m grateful that I’ve found fellow adventurers – solo attorneys and other entrepreneurial minds – who have helped me along the way and who I continue to rely on for guidance and support.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing. I have goals for the year, but I don’t have a ten-year plan. I let my experience, creativity, and passion guide me. And it’s scary to know that I don’t have a steady paycheck coming every month, but it’s the price I pay to have a life with autonomy.

In everything I do, I try to remain teachable, strive for excellence, and learn all I can about the subjects that intrigue me like persuasive writing and how the law applies to new technology and business practices. I think there’s a lot of change on the horizon, and I want to be part of it.

As I reflect on my life as a non-traditional solo attorney thus far, I find myself thinking of the John Shedd quote, “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” I have an amazing opportunity to have the career and the life I’ve always wanted, if I’m willing to take the risk and go after it.

And one of the things I want to do is share more about my behind-the-scenes journey – how I got here, what keeps me going, and the methods I use every day to make my business, and my life, a success. Stay tuned for more about my life as a non-traditional lawyer.

If you’re interested in chatting more, feel free to connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.  Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Being the Lawyer at Phoenix Comicon

Mike Baron and I speaking on Comic Book Creator Rights at Phoenix Comicon 2014 - Mike says this photo is proof that the "gurus" could not levitate.

Mike Baron and I speaking on Comic Book Creator Rights at Phoenix Comicon 2014 – Mike says this photo is proof that the “gurus” could not levitate.

Earlier this month, I spent the weekend speaking at Phoenix Comicon. I was on two panels: Comic Book Creator Rights (with Mike Baron) and Copyright and Fan Fiction/Art (by myself). The lineup at this year’s event was amazing and included Stan Lee, Cary Elwes, Nathan Fillion, and the original Batman cast (Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar). There were also workshops on writing and costume-making, a huge exhibitor room, and the best geeky game show – The Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown.

Mike Baron

Mike Baron

Needless to say, no one was coming just for me, and I didn’t have line of people waiting to attend either of my panels. But I had about 30 people at each session and those that came were truly interested in the subject matter.

I heard a rumor before my first panel that my co-presenter wasn’t too enthusiastic about being on a panel with a lawyer. We’d never met before and I’m sure he did what I did, which was no advanced research. I bet he assumed I’d be boring, stuffy, dry, and wearing a suit. I suspect he didn’t expect his legal eagle co-presenter to be in jeans and a hot pink t-shirt that said

I got to our room before him and I did what I typically do when I present at Phoenix Comicon – I took off my shoes and plopped myself down on top of the table.  There’s something about sitting on the table that makes me feel energized and free-spirited.

Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter

Unfortunately, Mike walked in through the back entrance so I didn’t get to see the look on his face when he first saw me. He said hello and took a seat behind the table but then I declared that we were doing our panel from on top of the table. He humored me and climbed up. (I’m not sure he knew what to think at that moment.) I spent most of our panel gleefully swinging my legs and they dangled over the edge of the table while we fielded the audience’s questions.

About halfway through our panel one of the event photographers popped in to take some shots of us. He later told me that he’d never seen anyone present from on top of their table. He seemed pretty amused when he saw the two of us sitting cross-legged on top of the table. (I sit cross-legged when the photographer comes in because I think it looks cute in the photos, but I usually uncross my legs once they leave because it’s not that comfortable.)

Our panel went really well. I provided some basic information about copyright, trademarks, and contract terms, and he got to talk about how these things actually play out in the professional comic writing world. I think it was great balance between academic and practical knowledge from both of our perspectives.

I often forget that there’s a strong stereotype about what a lawyer is and that many people assume that I’m boring and that my material is dry. When people ask me to speak at their event, it’s not uncommon for them to say, “She’s a lawyer, but she’s not that kind of lawyer,” when they tell people about me.

Hmm . . . maybe I should have business cards printed that say, “Ruth Carter, Esq., Not That Kind Of Lawyer.”

Photos by Erik Hawkinson, used with permission.