Thursday, November 26, 2015

Here's Your Thanksgiving Wine Post

This post is written for the following two types of people:

1. You are in a panic about what wine in your house to serve tonight at Thanksgiving; or

2. You are in a panic about what wine to serve tonight at Thanksgiving and you're going out today, on Thanksgiving, to buy the wine.

First, let's be honest.

No one gives a shit.

The most important thing to do before panicking about wine is to close your eyes.


Now think about your guests.

Aunt Judy from Ohio? She's just going to be disappointed that there's no jug wine.

Uncle Joe, who has promised not to do his "I'm telling you, Trump's going to build that wall and kill ISIS for us," no matter what he drinks, he's going to ask "this a cabernet?"

Your guest list is not the sommeliers of your local restaurants. Scroll Facebook for a minute, no 12 seconds, and you'll see pies, sides, and the "I'M FRYING THAT BITCH" claims.

It's about the food, and trying to have a discussion with people that help you understand why things are the way they are. (No, ISIS is not walking around in UPS uniforms they bought on Ebay.)

So I'll make it simple.

The problem with pairing wine with Thanksgiving is 1. too many foods with various flavors, and 2. too many people who normally don't drink wine or if they do, they drink garbage.

So relax.

Thanksgiving is not a wine tasting for most, nor will your family be excited that the wine you served "costs $80 a bottle." They'll want to run out and buy that $15 wine they sucked down all night while telling you how much they love the new Adele album. "You know she's only 25, that's why she called her album '25.'" "No, she's 27." "Well I just love that 'Hello.' You sure she's not 25?" "No, she was born in 1988, she's 27." "OK, can I have some more of this wine?"

Here's what not to serve:

1. That heavy Cabernet you drink with steak. You are not having steak at Thanksgiving.

2. I know, you, are having steak, or lamb, or brisket. In that case, still, don't serve cabernet. I trust you are not having just vegetables with that meat. You still have a variety of foods and need wine that will compliment all of it.

3. Pinotage. I mention this because most people have never, thankfully, had Pinotage. It is a popular wine in South Africa and every time I get the chance to tell people that it is the worst wine I've ever had, I do. It is available in America, is not that expensive, and I've heard that it's been recommended when people go to a wine shop looking for something "different." No matter what you do, never drink Pinotage. The movie "Sideways" missed the opportunity to kill off this horrible wine.

4. Speaking of "Sideways," I wouldn't be serving Merlot either. It's a big, heavy wine.

Here's what I would serve:

1. Whites. Lots of them. I know, that's going to cause people to ask for reds. I'm not saying don't serve reds, I'm saying have a good amount of whites, and not Chardonnay. Serve Riesling (Dr. Loosen's entry level is about $13, Trimbach is very popular, although I don't know why.), Chablis (there are several between $19 and $25 that are very good). Other whites worth trying tonight - Viognier, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc.

2. The primary reds I would serve are Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. (NO, NOT WHITE ZINFANDEL) It's hard to find great ones for $10, but for $20, you're in business. Meomi, made by Caymus, is still the best under $20 Pinot Noir around. It's also a screw top for ease of quickly shutting up annoying guests. For cheap Zinfandel, look for Cline, Ravenswood. If you want to spend around $20 for a Zin, look for Seghesio. If you're feeling charitable and want to spend 30-40, pick one of the many made by Ridge.

3. I would also serve Malbec. For about $20, Catena is a great one. Not cheap enough? Find Alamos. A great value at about $10.

4. The best option if you just can't deal with this, go to the wine shop, give the nice man or woman your budget and what you are looking for, and have some faith.

Me, what am I serving? I haven't decided yet, because it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you tell everyone on Facebook what you are grateful for, and why you hate/love Obama.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And LawyeringShare/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Matthew Chappell, Please Read The Rules Of Professional Conduct

"Young" lawyers are an interesting bunch. Bright eyed, full of hopes and dreams, and sometimes one or two have a thought that scares me to death as it evidences their lack of understanding that this is a profession with a code of ethics, not a lead-generating scheme to make money (despite what the marketers want us to believe).

Speaking of schemes, meet Matthew Chappell of Texas. Matthew is a "young lawyer," but not a young man. He's 42. He's a "young" lawyer because he's been practicing less than 5 years. Actually, less than 3.

Seems Matthew, understandably, is a bit impatient. It happens. Sometimes those pesky requirements of  "5 years" minimum as a practicing lawyer gets in the way of being on certain committees, or being appointed to other positions, or in Matthew's case, being eligible to receive work from Fidelity Investments.

Not wanting to wait the extra few years, Matthew sent this email around to his Texas brethren:

I’m going down the list of Board Certified Texas Attorneys to find a solo attorney with 5 or more years of experience to make this offer to. I have 2 years experience, graduating from STCL in 2013.
I have family friends at Fidelity Investments who promise me AT LEAST one new client a week (Estate Planning) if I were able to get on their Preferred Attorney’s List; however, I have to wait a three more stupid years, as Fidelity now requires 5 years of experience to be placed on this list (which wasn’t always the case).
I need to find someone with 5 years who my friends can nominate; the business would be filtered through that someone, but wouldn’t be intrusive AT ALL(I will set up a separate email acct or Google phone number for these clients).
There is absolutely ZERO liability or accountability or responsibility on your part. In exchange, I’m willing to either offer you a share of the clientele or to subsidize your malpractice insurance to bring it up to 2 million/per incident (usually around $3600/yr), which, in addition to the 5 years, is another Fidelity req to be on the list. I already have this type of policy myself.
Let me know if you’d be interested, and I’ll put you in touch with my Fidelity contact who can explain further. Like I said, I’m going down the Board Specialization list of names one by one and sending pretty much the same email. First come, first served.
Thanks, and all best,
Matthew Chappell
Attorney At Law
723 Main Street
Suite 700-07
Houston, Texas 77002
Mark Bennett, not a "young" lawyer, thought it would be beneficial to reach out to Chappell by email:

Not no, but hell no.
 Is there any chance I can, old dog to young pup, persuade you to stop now and not pursue this fraudulent course of action?
 Please let me know before noon.

Now this type of interaction is something "old" lawyers frequently discuss. "Should I reach out to him?" "Is he going to take it well or tell me to screw off?" Most "older" lawyers  just want to say "hey, I don't think that's such a good idea," as Bennett did here.

But Chappell argued with Bennett and refused to retract his unethical proposal. 

So Bennett decided to write about it:

As Bennett correctly analyzed:

So, lawyers. Let’s imagine what happens if you sign on as Matthew Chappell’s nominee, the strawman to whom Fidelity will refer cases, which will then be funneled to Chappell with no involvement from you.
It looks a lot like you’re participating in a fraud against Fidelity. Maybe Chappell’s “Fidelity contact” can explain this in some way that makes it non-fraudulent. Maybe it is fraudulent and Fidelity never finds out. Maybe Fidelity doesn’t care. But suppose that “your” clients start complaining to Fidelity about “your” service. How long do you think it’s going to take them to figure out what your arrangement with Chappell was?
Chappell, not interested in a lesson, doubled down:
And now you’ve committed a handful of torts, including libel by taking my words out of context and tortious interference with business.
Enjoy the lawsuit I’m in the process of filing against you, psycho, arrogant, inferiority complex-ridden moron.
Matthew Chappell
Attorney At Law
723 Main Street
Suite 700-07
Houston, Texas 77002
Now I don't practice in Texas, but I checked, and yep, I was right, they have this Rule that we have in Florida:
Rule 4.01. Truthfulness in Statements to Others 
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly: (a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or (b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid making the lawyer a party to a criminal act or knowingly assisting a fraudulent act perpetrated by a client.
I dunno. Sounds kinda problematic for a lawyer who wants to do what Chappell wants to do.
Chappell of course hasn't filed his lawsuit, but he did send Bennett a certified piece of garbage which has already received a response from Bennett's counsel, Marc Randazza (both here).
Chappell's letter states in part:
Accordingly, please compose a written apology to Mr. Chappell in which you agree to, first, issue a clarification and retraction on your "blogsite", and second, remove the blog that refers to Mr. Chappell and/or any other media associated with Mr. Chappell's name and/or law practice. AGAIN, YOU HAVE TEN DAYS, SIR. 
I'm sure Mark Bennett isn't looking for a calendar to count when those TEN DAYS SIR start, but while we all wait for the failure of a lawsuit that will do nothing but again bring Matthew Chappell's stupid scheme to the forefront of his young legal career, I also have some advice.
Matthew, your proposal is unethical and possibly criminal. You are attempting to use your license in a way that I trust the State Bar, and maybe a prosecutor or two would find objectionable. Don't do it. Don't defend it. You were wrong, and your strategy here of trying to resolve your hurt feelings won't work. When you have been a lawyer 5 years, you can try to get work with Fidelity. Maybe they'll have forgotten about this by then.
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And Lawyering. Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How To Navigate The Starbucks Wine List

I know, it's a blog about law and ethics. But it's my blog, and this Starbucks wine thing is more important to you anyway..

I was ready to pounce, hard, when I read that Starbucks is now serving wine. I was ready to laugh, ready to see a list of garbage.

I was shocked to see that the selection is actually pretty impressive, for a coffee shop. I'll go as far as to say it's impressive for one of those restaurants where you wouldn't expect a decent wine list.

I like that all the wines on the list are available by the glass, and by the bottle. I don't like that the online menu has no prices, but I would expect that these wines would sell in the $7-$13 range by the glass. You'll let me know if I'm right. The calorie count is kind of comical, as who really gives a shit how many calories are in wine. If you're on a diet, drink something else.

I don't know if this is the list at all Starbucks serving wine, but here's some specifics for you Starbucks Lawyers that want to impress a potential client:


Pinot Gris (pronounced Pinot Gree) is a underrated, inexpensive white. Erath is a good producer and they also make a good Pinot Noir. So for a white, I would try it. I know you love Prosecco and Chardonnay, but expand your life a bit. It won't kill you.


I generally hate Chardonnay, but Ferrari-Carano is no slouch when it comes to wine. It's good mid-range California wine. I'm surprised to see this in Starbucks, and I predict it is likely a pricey white compared to others on the menu. It's a good splurge though, if you're looking for a decent Sonoma white.


People love this easy-drinking-fruit bomb. I think it sucks. Don't buy it if you're with someone that knows wine.


I was shocked to see this one. This is the best $10 Malbec on the market. I doubt it's $10 a bottle at Starbucks, but it's good,

The other wines I've either not had, or they are mass produced average stuff not worth your money, or my writing. I mentioned Apothic because I hear the excited masses cheering about it.

I trust Starbucks is not going to be using good crystal wine glasses (which yes, does change the taste), but hey, at least maybe you can buy a bottle of wine and have someone write your name on it with a Sharpie.

Enjoy. Don't feel bad about not inviting me, I'm good.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And Lawyering


Monday, May 4, 2015

The Tech Train Missed The Courtroom Lawyers Stop

The legal profession has given themselves to the tech vendors. Their influx to everything lawyer has been successful, causing anyone in state Bar and Bar association leadership to advocate that we all must "embrace technology or die." It's embarrassing, but there's nothing I can personally do about it. I've tried to argue that relationships and ethics are at the core of better lawyers and lawyering, but that has done as much as cause the Law Practice Management Section of the ABA to decline to have anything to do with my book. My balance-tech-with-other-lawyer-qualities is bad for business.
End of soapbox, for now.
One thing I've noticed about everyone in Bar leadership jumping on the tech train is that it doesn't seem to stop at every courthouse door, effectively leaving lawyers - who do strange things like go to court - out of the loop.
Question to the tech train - if you are going to do the tech vendor's work trying to convince every lawyer they need to "get on board," where is the effort for a national tech policy for lawyers who don't practice from their pajamas, but actually have to put on suits and go to those old fashioned places known as courthouses? You do know those lawyers, the ones not sitting at home selling documents, still exist?
I looked on the internet for the latest on this important issue, and found only one article from 2011.
It begins:
The American public loves the convenience of their wireless communication devices—PDAs and laptops, smart phones and earpiece devices, among others. It’s estimated there are 285 million cell phone users in the United States.
However, the same devices that provide convenience in communications may raise security concerns in federal courts and possibly disrupt proceedings. Courts have responded with a variety of access policies.
Apparently, in response to various courthouse tech policies that drive lawyers crazy:
...the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, in consultation with the Information Technology Committee and the Judicial Security Committee, has issued revised guidance for courts to consider that updates how new technologies could be used and what this may mean for courts."
That's right, to try and resolve this issue, we have the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, working with the Information Technology Committee and the Judicial Security Committee. The quickest way for any good idea to die is to send it to a committee, or three.
So according to this article, back in 2011:
About half of district courts allow the public to bring electronic devices into the court, usually with some restrictions on their use.

Of these districts, one-third prohibit the public from bringing the devices into the courtroom, two-thirds allow the devices in the courtroom but they must be turned off or in silent mode—unless the judge gives permission to use them.

About half of district courts ban all devices in the courthouse, except by judges, clerk’s office and chambers personnel, and probation and pretrial officers. Anyone entering the building is required to either store the device with court security officers, or leave the building to store it elsewhere. 

Some exceptions are permitted with a judge’s permission, e.g., attorneys are usually allowed to bring in laptops and other audio-visual equipment for the presentation of evidence at a court proceeding.
And their recommendation?
...courts are urged to adopt a policy that can be applied on a courthouse- by-courthouse basis because of the unique needs and circumstances of each location. Thus no uniform national policy is recommended. 
So on one side we have the tech train trying to convince lawyers to grab every device they can get their hands on, along with any and all software that can automate the practice of law, and on the other side we have some courthouses that don't allow any of these devices.
An example. In my home federal district (Southern District of Florida) we (now) can bring devices in to court. In the Southern District of New York, you can bring in one device, but if you are not a member of the SDNY Bar, you have to file a motion to bring in your one device. Pick your poison - cell phone, iPad, laptop. I know someone is going to tell me they filed a motion and got to bring in two, but that's not the policy, and the once device policy is strictly enforced. So decide what's more important - keeping in touch with the office, witnesses, opposing counsel, clients, or having your documents available electronically and the ability to type.
And I know, security is at the forefront of any government objection to electronic devices in courthouses. The parade of horribles is always describing pictures being illegally taken of witnesses, or court personnel, or clients getting a hold of phones and making illegal calls, etc.. etc...
But lawyers are being driven to practice electronically, and if they are bringing these devices to court, likely they are doing so to practice law. Lawyers are accountable to their state Bar regardless of where they are practicing. 

If we told every lawyer they could bring one phone, one tablet, and one laptop to court, that wouldn't work? If we promise to be good? 

Can we try? 

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And Lawyering.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Should Asian Women Stick To Massages? UPDATED

Dan Hull apologizes here.

Lawyer Jeena Cho (Asian woman pictured) is a San Francisco Bankruptcy Lawyer involved in the "Mindfulness" movement for lawyers. I have no interest in the "Mindfulness" movement and have no problem making fun of whatever it is. 

I recently met Jeena and when introducing her to others, and hearing people ask "Mindfulness?" I responded "flowers and birds." Jeena has a book coming out in September. I'm going to buy it and read it and hope to connect her with someone I know who is involved in this movement - he's one of the most respected federal judges in Florida. 

Right now Jeena is traveling the country, meeting others interested in "Mindfulness" and writing at my former home, Above The Law.

Yesterday was Law Day and Jeena wrote a post about civility. Nothing earth shattering, nothing real new, and not one of the best posts I've ever read. It didn't change my life, and I don't think it will do much for the profession. It was Jeena's thoughts on civility related to her "Mindfulness" stuff.

Enter Dan Hull. (White guy pictured). Dan is a lawyer whose message is that the clients are what is important in the practice of law. I agree with him. I think we need lawyers to remind lawyers of the importance and perspective of clients.

Dan wrote a post in response to Jeena and basically said it was the worst thing he's ever read in the history of Dan Hull reading anything. He hated it.

There was one thing Dan noted that he liked about the post, and that was a comment by a serial Above The  Law commenter and typical fraud posing as a former lawyer "Partner Emeritus (PE)."

The most on-point remarks given the circumstances, however, were arguably by my friend Partner Emeritus. Certainly, his comments were the funniest assuming that, like me, you still value wit and the First Amendment, and you deplore PC culture. Consider PE's approach to having the author of the article consider other lines of work.
Ms. Cho, your people are very good at imparting relaxation techniques. Back when I was a practicing lawyer, there were times I would exit the complex on Centre Street with knots on my shoulders and other limbs. I would take a stroll up to Mulberry Street and an Asian woman would be able to bring me instant stress release in 5 minutes. It was the best $20 I ever spent as a New Yorker. Alas, these establishments were eradicated in the wake of the Giuliani Era. Ms. Cho, if you are ever in New York, please contact me as I may require your services. Namaste Ms. Cho.

Dan calls PE his "friend," but I don't know if that's internet friend, or friend.

Yes, I deplore the PC culture, but being politically correct is a bit different than one lawyer telling another lawyer that she should maybe stick to what her people are "good at" because, you know, Jeena is Asian, and Dan doesn't like her writing. Dan used the term "politeness police" in the title to his post, indicating his hatred of the post didn't require him to be polite (which is correct), but the opposite of polite doesn't require being a total fucking dickwad.

Dan mentioned in his post that he commented too, and posted this intelligent comment:

A spectacularly naive and lightweight piece--and one of the worst and frankly misleading writings you could see in the growing category of "it's all about the lawyers" profession literature. The author needs to take a deep breath and re-think the nature and goals of this law thing. It's sad to see an article like this in ATL. Would be wonderful to see more feature stuff on lawyering--its gritty and often difficult details--and serving sophisticated clients.

But for some reason, Dan left out part of another comment he left at Jeena's post in response to his friend PE:

I'm just glad Jeena is not black, Muslim, Jewish, or anything else other than a fair skinned white American who wrote something that possibly sucked.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And Lawyering.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Your Contribution To Lawyer Suicides

I was surprised that an article about why so many lawyers are killing themselves generated an actual real-live thoughtful discussion. While I'm sure in the annals of the internet there are a fair share of comments of "who cares," and curiosity of how we get more lawyers to put a bullet in their heads, the discussion I've seen has been relevant and thought-provoking.

But it doesn't go far enough.

Long-time New York Criminal Defense Lawyer Scott Greenfield, who practices in an area, geographical and legal, that can stress out the best of them, gives his two reasons for the problems of today's lawyer::

From my perch, two things seem to permeate the problems suffered by lawyers: First, good, hard-working lawyers are not earning enough to enjoy a sufficiently comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their family to justify surmounting the barriers to entry and the headache of the job. Second, the arbitrariness of the law. Non-lawyers think the law is somewhat reliable, and if a lawyer does good work, they will prevail. We know better, and it makes us nuts.

Money, and the uncertainty of the law.

OK, I'll put those on the list.

Greenfield also mentions a couple others that have weighed in on the guessing festival of why a lawyer may not want to wake up tomorrow:

At Stephanie West Allan’s Idealawg, Colorado Senior District Court Judge John Kane attributed it to the pressure of gaining and keeping “success”:
As for lawyer suicides — and I’m not trying to be flippant— I think they are billing themselves to death. The constant pressure to generate income by billing on an hourly basis is far more stressful for a trial lawyer than trials. In fact, less than 1% of cases now go to trial. The courts have become settlement bazaars.
Pressure to bill (i.e., make money) is more stressful than practicing law. OK, money again.

The other mention by Greenfield goes to Dave Shearon at Positive Psychology News Daily who says it's due to four things:

1. Lawyers deal with the toughest conflicts

2. Lawyers must deal far more regularly with zero-sum situations than other professionals, and zero-sum conflicts elicit negative emotions. 

3. The adversarial skills in which attorneys are trained are “negative” communications.

4. Lawyers are required to perform “necessary evils” — the exercise of professional skill to inflict physical or emotional pain on another in service to a higher good — more regularly than almost all other professions, and to do so with a skilled advocate on the other side arguing against the necessity, the manner, or both. 

So lawyering is hard, we have to do things to hurt people, and that type of behavior permeates our lives, and we've become way too obsessed with money.

No doubt these are factors in why lawyers may be killing themselves.

Of course we cannot discard the darker issues - depression is not a state of mind - it is a disease, one that is often undiagnosed, and can creep up and literally kill someone. There's alcoholism and drug addiction, both caused by some of the issues mentioned above, and there are lawyers facing the power of the government, whether criminal prosecution or otherwise, who believe they and their families are better off with them gone.

The reasons lawyers kill themselves are the same reasons others kill themselves - the belief, true or not, that waking up tomorrow is a bad idea.

But the issues mentioned above are somewhat unique to the legal profession, especially today.

There's no longer 10 lawyers in the community who do what we do, charge about the same, and all know each other. Now there's thousands. Some existing mainly on the internet, with offers of "free" this and "guaranteed" that, and charging less money for an entire case than some charge for a couple hours.

There's technology, that wonderful and horrible thing that is making our practices easier and more difficult at the same time.

And there's us. The lawyers, judges, judicial assistants, clerks, everyone that works in the system. There's also the clients.

One thing I've heard over the last few days since this important article appeared on CNN was talk about what "bar associations" were going to do."

Bar Associations?

Let me guess.

There's going to be committees, seminars, discussions, mentor programs, all the same stuff that Bar Associations do (and often do well) all the time, in an effort to discover the issues and possibly help some lawyers.

Great. Go forth and work, bar associations.

But in the interim, before the big seminar, before the local Bar Association president writes an article about the issue, before whatever we in the system are waiting for to happen, happens, what are we going to do?

What are you, going to do?

I have some thoughts.

Why don't we stop using technology for the purpose of being an asshole?

Stop emailing lawyers at 6:30 p.m. to demand things by tomorrow. Actually, let's just talk a little more than email (I know, the horrors). Maybe if you called a lawyer about a discovery issue you could resolve it, or at least learn that your proposed email demanding compliance from opposing counsel "immediately" was going to take a back seat to his wife's medical appointment?

I know and you know too, that every lawyer has their phone, with email, with them at all times. This includes vacations, days off, at their kid's recital, and Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. Let's pretend that's not the case. Let's pretend that it doesn't matter if we give someone 24 hours to respond. Let's stop emailing, and at the same time, texting, calling, stalking, lawyers to let them know that we just became the most important thing in their lives. Back the hell off. Work on another case.

How about every time you do anything, think of course of your client first, but add a couple thoughts:

    a. Am I doing something to be an asshole?
    b. Do I need to do a?

Judges, I know your calendar is important, but so is my family. Some of you understand that, some of you even talk about that. I remember a judge once telling me he was tired of lawyers lying about why they wanted continuances. He said "just tell me it's your kid's soccer game, just tell me it's a family thing, I'll grant it."

Lawyers wont do that though. They are embarrassed, thinking that putting family events (other than the buzz words of a "pre-paid non refundable oh-God-Judge-please-let-me-go vacation) before a trial is seen as weakness. So lawyers adjust their litigation lives to comport with appearing "tough" in practice. These are the "I don't go on vacation," lawyers. It's not that they don't want to go, but they just won't prioritize their lives in a way that has them filing motions to do silly things like be with their kids.

And so by now I'm hearing a judge say "so Brian, lawyers are committing suicide because I routinely deny motions for continuances based on vacations?" Or a lawyer is saying "the result of me being a hard ass is suicide?"


Probably not. Hopefully, not.

But what I am saying is that if the legal profession is part of the problem (the article is not titled "why are people killing themselves") and we are part of the legal profession, why is it OK to do nothing?

The "gee, that's terrible" line is enough for you? You can't do anything?

There is nothing any of us can do to stop being a part of the problem except wait for our local bar association to offer a free sandwich and a lecture? Is it that the law is "tough," so "too bad?" Is giving a lawyer a break such a problem?

Judge, next time you add a taped piece of paper to your door with a policy, how about "motions for continuance for vacations and stuff with your kids will be granted." Oh, the fear of abuse. I know. Give lawyers an inch.... C'mon Your Honor, you can regulate this. Lawyers know they have to miss a thing or two at home in the world of law.

On that note, next time there's one of those meetings to change the "local" or procedural rules, maybe take a vote on whether "this proposal makes it easier or more difficult to practice law?"

I don't have the answers. I also don't have any concept of not wanting to wake up tomorrow. I do know that I do, and will continue to do my part to not be a part of the problem.

There's a reason that civility codes are appearing throughout the country. Our behavior is tied to the pressure to make money, and that pressure is sometimes too much.

Maybe we all, all, need to take a step back.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint. Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blawg Review 325.5

This week I, along with many other blawgers (slang for "law bloggers") were saddened to hear of the passing of "Ed," the editor of Blawg Review. My condolences to his family.

As usual in the blogosphere, when something important happens, bloggers get together and write. As soon as the news spread of Ed's passing, word went out to write a last Blawg Review, #325, in parts assigned to various blawgers. I got part 5.

This is quite an honor, writing part of the last Blawg Review alongside some of the great legal bloggers. Some of them I consider close friends - friends because of our writings that turned in to emails, that turned into meals, that turned in to conversations about the most personal aspects of our practices, and our lives. 

While many lawyers today see blogging as nothing more than a marketing tool, there was a time, not long ago, where lawyers blogged for the simple purpose of putting thoughts to screen. As with any internet site, lawyers quickly ran to blogging as a platform to make money instead of quality writing.

It was in this light that we all met "Ed." To this day I don't know if his name was Ed. I always thought he used that as short for "Editor" Blawg Review was the almost weekly round-up of legal blog posts, hosted by "blawgers.," No one who ran a marketing blog was ever a part of Blawg Review, nor probably ever read any of them.

Ed paid attention to blawgers. He used to chide me for my constant criticism of social media as a marketing tool. But he also noted my interest in wine, often sending me private messages with links to articles about the wine industry, or just a cartoon involving wine or social media. Ed and I didn't speak often, but the communications were always interesting and valuable. 

I hosted one Blawg Review - #298. It was on Valentine's Day, 2011. Ed specifically asked me to do it on Valentine's Day with the following tongue-in-cheek message:

Hey, sweetheart, would you like to host Blawg Review on Valentine's Day? We think you'd do a great presentation of link love to law bloggers 

I enjoyed putting it together, but one secret I can now tell you about Blawg Review is that anyone who was asked to write one, sensed a tremendous fear of embarrassment. Blawgers looked forward to the Monday Blawg Review, and no one wanted to write a substandard one. I remember a couple weeks where Blawg Review was late in posting, or the host didn't write it, and the other blawgers would start screaming - "where is Blawg Review?" "Who's hosting this week?"

Blawg Review is no longer, but truth be told, it died well before Ed. I am one of those bloggers that found other things to do, other places to write, got a little busy and left my blog to rot. Ed saw the blogosphere change, diminish, and stopped asking people to host Blawg Review. So again, I'm honored to come back here for the purpose of honoring Ed.

Now let's do some Blawg Review:

When I first saw some scuttlebutt on Popehat about a police chief in South Carolina named Ruben Santiago, I thought the controversy was that there was a police chief in South Carolina named Ruben Santiago. Nope, seems Interim Police Chief Santiago is spending his interim time patrolling the News Feed of Facebook to warn those that don't think Marijuana is a big problem that he "will find you."

I don't "Like" that.

Either does Scott Greenfield:

Dear Interim Chief Santiago,

Like Brandon Whitmer, I don’t think well of you. In fact, I think the war on drugs sucks, and since you’re proud of your warrior role in it, I think you suck. Rather than pick on Whitmer, try me.
Just so you know, I hang around with people accused of crimes all the time. I eat with them. I drink with them. I sometimes go to their homes and meet their families. And get this, Santiago. I like them. But I don’t like you.


And I think you’re ugly. Butt-ugly. And that’s why girls never liked you.
Who am I? I’m a guy with a bulge in my waistband where my clip-on holster is positioned. I’m a guy who wouldn’t hesitate to walk down the street in the middle of the night in a bad neighborhood because the people hanging out are my friends. These are guys with lot of drugs, bad, evil drugs, who have my telephone number in their pockets. Some of them sell drugs. The same ones call me. What does that tell you, Santiago?

There's more where that came from...

Volokh has the greatest story of the week, maybe the year, and possibly the decade. Small-town Tennessee criminal defense lawyer, aptly named Drew Justice, opposed the Government's State's Motion Not To Be Called The Government Because It's Derogatory, Mean, Bullying, And Causes A Sad:

     The government has moved to ban the word “government.” The State of Tennessee offers precisely zero legal authority for its rather nitpicky position, and the defense can find none. The Plaintiff has failed to carry its burden on this motion. Moreover, the Plaintiff’s proposed ban on speech would violate the First Amendment. The motion should be denied.

     Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions for amending the speech code. First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art, obviously has a fairly negative connotation. It unfairly demeans, and dehumanizes Mr. D.P. The word “defendant” should be banned. At trial, Mr. P. hereby demands to be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title “Mister.”

Alternatively, he may be called simply “the Citizen Accused.” This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal “Defendant.” The designation “That innocent man” would also be acceptable.
Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a “lawyer,” or a “defense
attorney.” Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent.” This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent.
Oh just read the whole thing, it has all kinds of awesome.

What does the lawyer who filed the motion have to say?

Rettig couldn’t be reached to comment on her motion or Justice’s response because she was in court Thursday. 

I wonder what arguments she was advancing Thursday? Maybe that Judges shouldn't wear a black robe because it's demeaning to small dogs?

The District Attorney, throroughly embarrassed that she employed an assistant so capable of wasting the court's time, attempted to deflect any attention towards her office as the laughing stock of the entire legal community of the planet, and because she had to say something, did:

Her boss, Williamson County District Attorney Kim Helper, said her prosecutor was just trying to make sure the focus stayed on the facts of the case.

Uh, Ms. Helper (heh), I don't think that motion did what it was intended to do.

“We’re a little disappointed at the response that talked about ‘Captain Justice, Defender of the Realm,’ ” Helper said. “From my perspective, it seemed a little bit — I don’t know what the right word would be. The response did not appear to be in good faith.”

I think Ms. Helper isn't helping the situation, as it wasn't the response that did not appear to be in good faith.

Speaking of the demise of the blogosphere into a sewer of lawyer marketing, Joshua Slayen at Law Insider, tells of his journey since his graduation of law school in '09. He soon left BigLaw to try a start up that failed, and then....wait for it, decided well, he would just be a lawyer (and have a social media consulting business on the side of course). So for all you lawyers out there looking for social media consulting, some of Josh's consulting will help you:

Maintain a constant and vibrant twitter presence

Joining and participating in Facebook and LinkedIn groups

Creating iniovative and intelligent postings (I think it's "innovative," but maybe spelling is an extra fee.)

Displaying creative pictures that have the ability to go viral

Creating up and engaging in meaningful conversations.

So if you're looking to pay for some of this advice, call Josh, operators are standing by.

I see that Lawyerist is still around taking money to show pictures of Alexis Neely, and Sam Glover is still talking crazy about the possibility of having a law practice where lawyers do silly things like network by talking to people. Sam has developed a scientific formula for this idea that is as follows:

So what kind of things should you get out and do with people? Anything. Eat breakfast. Drink beer. Go to a game. Volunteer (not necessarily doing lawyer things). Play kickball. Have a barbecue. Go to a fundraiser. In other words, do normal things.

Kickball. Never thought of that. Who's up for a game?

Speaking of Kickball, Keith Lee over at AssociatesMind has a book coming out this week. I'm not supposed to say anything about it yet, so I won't. I'll probably just go read it again if I have the time.

Speaking of time, gotta go. Time to see what Ken at Popehat has for us at 325.6...

Rest in Peace Ed.