Tannebaum Takes One for the Team

Brian Tannebaum proves himself once again to be a real mensch, listening in on a Rachel Kugel “teleseminar” promised to “enable you to design and implement a strategy to boost your practice revenues and boost them quickly!”

Tannebaum doesn’t need to boost his practice revenues. If he did, he sure wouldn’t go to a six-year lawyer with no visible success. But he listened in on the advertisement because he knew it was bullshit, and he loves to make the world a better place by unmasking charlatans.

My analysis, from August, of what participants in the conference call would get:

Kugel’s “free call” will…not provide lawyers with her system; it will be designed to convince them that there is something to the system worth paying to learn about. There doesn’t have to be anything to the system because the money is not in selling the model, but in selling the event, and in selling them the selling of the event and the selling of the selling of the event…it’s turtles all the way down.

Yep. Brian writes:

The word system started to be mentioned. At one point, the questioner said “we’ve heard system, system, system,” and then he asked her to elaborate. This was exactly 45 minutes in to the call.

It’s $1297, although we were told it’s worth tens of thousands of dollars.

But wait, there’s more.

For the callers, a couple “bonus” items, including a personal coaching call from Rachel.

And for us, $997, with a 90-day guarantee that it will work.

What about that guarantee? That’s as easy to predict as the nature of the conference call was.

First, $997 doesn’t buy you the system; it buys you, at best, part of the system, and an opportunity to pay more to learn more—”the next level.”

But she promised! Yes, just like she promised that the teleseminar would “enable you to implement a strategy,” not enable you to pay more to learn the system. The fact is that once you’ve demonstrated that you’re a sucker who is willing to pay a grand, Rachel Kugel and her ilk are not going to let you go till you are tapped out; my bet is that Kugel passes you on to someone with whom she’s affiliated to pay more money for some other vaguely-described program. It’s a pyramid scheme, and free conference calls like Kugel’s are for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. In these folks’ perfect world, you will ultimately join them, selling your own “system” and directing your suckers to them.

Suppose that you don’t sign up for whatever the next level is that Kugel and her friends (Alexi Neely leaps immediately to mind) are selling. To the extent that you actually learn something for your $997, the “guarantee” will require you to follow the “system,” which will be either stupid, impossible, or both.

So what’s the pitch? Why would a floundering young lawyer send almost a thousand simoleons to Rachel Kugel, who has had no observable success?

She told of her history – solo right out of school, and a half-million in income two years later. There were also hints that that number is now one million.

. . . . .

She revealed that her average fee is $4,000. This would mean that on average, she opens 250 cases a year or, on average, over 4 cases a week.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Rachel Kugel is a liar. Kugel was not making half a million dollars on $4,000 criminal cases two years out of law school. Kugel is not making half a million dollars a year, much less a million, on $4,000 criminal cases now. She’s welcome to prove me wrong by providing complete tax returns.

It’s maybe conceivable that Kugel is making six figures off of suckers who pony up a thousand dollars for vague promises of a system. But not off criminal cases. No way, no how.

Every hustle needs an angle, and in most hustles the angle is greed. Greedy people—like those who hunger to make a million dollars a year six years out of law school—are easy to con. (Most conmen are greedy; guess who the easiest people to con are.)

Tannebaum is the opposite of greedy. He generously sacrificed an hour of his valuable time to bring us more of the Rachel Kugel story. It’s not likely that anyone else is going to come up with $997 to document the next stage in Kugel’s grift (I’d love to hear from someone who has ponied up the $997 to Kugel, whether they were happy or not; confidentiality will be preserved), but it’s not really necessary.

I am offering a foolproof system for lawyers to avoid being taken advantage of by scam artists and pyramid schemes. Don’t want to be taken advantage of by multi-level marketers and pyramid schemers? Don’t be greedy.

5 Comments

  1. Oh, dirty dish water. And here I was hoping to learn why my way of practicing law is so stupid. Well, at least not stupid enough to pony up that kind of money. Thanks, Mark and Brian.

  2. What Brian did is truly commendable–dirty and painful, but done to allow us to live happy professional lives.

    I bet he was an equally good wingman to have at your side during college on a Friday or Saturday night. Thankfully, no cell phone cameras existed back then, and antibiotics were widely distributed.

  3. Let’s do a little more math and throw in a few more assumptions. You’re taking 4-5 new cases a week. If you’re actually working them, which I sincerely hope you are if you’re charging $4,000 per case, you’re probably spending 15 hours at a bare minimum on each case. (I’m also assuming that this young lawyer is mostly working misdemeanor cases and wasn’t pulling a Rakofsky.)

    So you’d be working something like 70-80 hours a week. And yet, somehow, you have enough time left over to sell your secrets to success on the side.

    Yeah, that’s believable. Anybody who is selling the secrets to success has not experienced success and whatever they’re telling you won’t be a secret.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *