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The ‘I Love Me’ Wall

Today begins week three of my new job as an associate at Plaxen & Adler, P.A.

So far, I’ve brought very little of my old office with me — my Levenger editor’s desk (which I bought about 10 years ago), a three-tiered inbox (coincidentally, from Levenger), and my Bluebook. I dumped all of my bar journals, figuring that if I haven’t referred to them yet, I don’t need them now. My new strategy for bar journals is to look over them instantly, scan in any good articles, and maintain a database so I can refer back to the good ones. A hard drive is a good way to avoid clutter.

And, that’s my theory for arranging my office — less clutter.  I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient.  I’m trying to avoid piles on the floor, messy desk drawers, and redwells full of “stuff to read.” But, does my quest for a spartan office go to far?

Many lawyers have an “I Love Me” wall — the wall in their office that they use to display college and law school diplomas, bar licenses, community service awards, and anything else that can be framed. One lawyer explained to me that these walls, regardless of what is actually in the frames, are incredibly impressive to would-be clients. The theory is that a lawyer with so much recognition and achievement has to be effective.

Early on in my career, I intended to have the main things on my wall — my diplomas and bar licenses. But, I wanted to do them right, and that meant having them all in identical, professionally-crafted frames.

When I graduated from law school and passed the Maryland bar, I couldn’t afford it. I waived into D.C., and still couldn’t afford it (such is the price of being a new lawyer). Later, I took the Pennsylvania bar, work was really busy, and I didn’t even think about getting them framed.

Then followed Georgia and Minnesota. At this point, the whole project is cost-prohibitive. And, after reflecting on it, it just feels unnecessary.

The person who spends the most time in my office is me. I’d rather look at pictures of my wife and our babies (along with Baby T’s early artwork) than any bragging wall. I’d rather get a nice piece of original art (also a longtime goal of mine — there’s a guy who exhibits every year at the Alexandria Festival of the Arts, and I hope to start with one of his paintings). Those things can tell potential clients more about me than where I went to school.

So, my diplomas and certificates will stay where they are — rolled up in cardboard tubes in the garage.


  1. Been practicing 15 years and I have not yet framed any of my diplomas/admission certificates.

  2. Same John, can’t remember the last time I looked at them.

  3. I don’t know if I can necessarily agree with your logic. I have my diplomas framed in my office. The way that I look at it, those diplomas are the most expensive artwork I’ll ever own in my entire life.