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» Practice in General

Understanding People

TED is a wealth of inspiration. I recently watched a talk by Andrew Stanton, who wrote Toy Story. Discussing the story’s hero, Woody, he explained the character’s selfishness in the context of his various other, more positive attributes. He noted something to the effect that we are all willing to act certain ways as long as certain conditions are met. It’s true. Experience has taught me that people are rarely just bad. People are filled with desires; they want certain conditions to be met. Some want the sun and moon but thrive in modern society on far less. Others want something very simple and violate society’s norms in all kinds of horrible ways fulfilling their desires. In many instances, the issue isn’t any … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Practice in General

An Unemployed Lawyer Is Still a Lawyer

The legal market is not good. You probably knew that already. There are unemployed lawyers everywhere and probably even more soon-to-be-unemployed-lawyers sitting in law school classrooms around the country. You probably knew that too. It seems like everyone knows it’s a rough economy for legal services, but people are entering the profession in droves. Is it that they all assume they’re the best? That they’re the ones who are going to be first in their class and skyrocket to lawyerly fame and fortune? I don’t have an awful lot of sympathy for law grads struggling to find work. It wasn’t too long ago that I had nothing but a bar number, an awareness that I had no clue what the hell I was doing, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Solo Practice

Creativity

I’ve had creativity on the brain lately. Always looking for ways to improve the way I represent my clients, I’ve been tying to address my faults as a lawyer by emulating in my problem areas the way I approach those aspects of my job that I believe to be my strengths. Strangely, hiding behind every single thing I ever even arguably thought I did somewhat well was creativity. It turns out that most of the supposed talents I occasionally think I have are just symptoms of the underlying disease of an occasional abundance of imagination. I sucked at cross-examination five years ago. I was terrible. Prior to that, however, I vaguely recall performing what I thought was a great cross of a cop while I was … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Trial

Discharging Student Loans in Bankruptcy

According to the ABA Journal, Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, has been trying to drum up support for a bill to allow the discharge of private student loan debt in bankruptcy. I wish him luck. I think he’s going to fail, however, seeing how banks seem to run everything. The government happily lets them dip into its resources whenever the negative implications of their own poor decision-making come back to haunt them, and the poor graduates who are struggling with their loans don’t exactly have the kind of money it takes to elect themselves a congress. Regardless, I’m glad Senator Durbin is at least bringing up the topic. I have student loans, and I dutifully pay them each month. I probably wouldn’t take advantage of the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Practice in General

The Conveyor Belt

There’s a dead person. That’s what starts the conveyor belt. People don’t just die anymore. Unless you’re a hundred years old with cancer and dementia and doctors gather around remaking about how incredible it is you’ve held on so long, death is murder. People are murdered by their greedy next of kin. They’re murdered by corrupt businesses. They’re murdered by drugs that are fun or helpful, occasionally the drugs that stop the murderers themselves from suffering. People are always murdered by an enemy of some kind. The enemy can be disease or lightning, but if it isn’t, the enemy is a person. When it is, we often still look for a person to blame. The person we find is guilty. The person must die too. The person needs … Read entire article »

Filed under: Death Penalty, Government Rants, Practice in General

What Would I Have Done?

I finally subscribed to Above the Law. I thought about it once before after clicking on links to it from Simple Justice, but I quickly realized that Scott Greenfield’s commentary on articles far exceeded the quality of the articles themselves. It popped up on my radar again after people kept asking me if someone there found out about something from me and didn’t attribute it, but I doubted that was true and didn’t have enough time to worry about it anyway. I forgot about the site again until recently, when Brian Tannebaum began posting there. I couldn’t figure out how to just subscribe to his posts, so I’ve been getting everything. It’s way too much to read, what with running a practice and all, but some of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

Taking a Vacation

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things after the longest vacation I’ve taken since I began practicing law. From planning the vacation, to preparing for it, to actually taking the time off and trying to enjoy myself, the experience taught me quite a bit. It drove home a lot of points about the nature of what I do. I should never view any non-work-related plans as concrete. As hard as that’s been for me to swallow, with my current practice, I know that it’s true. I represent a fair number of clients each year, and at any given time, many of their cases are at very different stages. I’m never at a point where I have no clients, so there’s always somebody who’s my … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General, Solo Practice

Getting a Job and Doing a Job, Gen Y Style

I recently had to fly to an undisclosed location to participate in an interview with a witness who shall remain nameless. Everyone involved tried to make the whole thing seem very high security, as you can probably tell. They seemed to be caught up in the intrigue and secrecy of it all. I found it extremely inconvenient. I didn’t get to know where I was going to go until a couple of days before, and I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it. After arriving, I was supposed to meet some people at a mysterious location. They refused to give me any details in advance. I knew the purpose of the meeting and who set it up, and I didn’t want to end up on … Read entire article »

Filed under: Law School, lawyers, Practice in General, Solo Practice

Managing Caseload

Most lawyers plan for when times are bad. We tend to only joke about what we’d do with an enormous caseload if times got great. I’m certainly guilty of making off-handed comments about too much work being a good problem to have, but in reality, when too much work really does become a problem, it’s probably worse than the alternative. Before I had any real experience, I looked all over the place for guidance about caseload. I spoke with public defenders and met some who had 30 open felony cases. I met some with 60. Several public defenders who handled misdemeanors as well as felonies told me they typically had over 100 open cases at any given time. Relying to some extent on the stereotype … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

Refining the Product

Private practice lawyers learn to play many roles. One role that many people seem hesitant to acknowledge is the role of salesman. Like it or not, if you want to make a living in the private sector representing human beings, it is imperative that people want to hire you. To do that, you must occasionally play the role of salesman. I am no salesman. It isn’t in my genes, I haven’t gone to great lengths to develop any sales skills, and quite honestly, the idea of selling things to people, even if it’s something I believe in, makes me feel a tad bit icky. I acknowledge I must sell my services to stay afloat in this profession, but I generally do that by sticking with one … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing, Practice in General

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