Monday, February 14, 2011
ADVANCE WARNING: To those social media marketers and shiny toy evangelists who check blawg review weekly to see if you are mentioned so you can promote it to death and make lawyers think you have some relevance to the profession, you are not here. There is no link love for you in this week's Blawg Review. Nothing to promote you, nothing to retweet on twitter. No SEO juice for you to prop yourself up on Google. Try back next week when some other author may buy in to the charade. (Love and Kisses!)
Now it's time for the (more of the) love that always exudes from this blog, the affection, the gentleness, the soft touch.
So huddle 'round lawyers (real lawyers that is), big hugs.
I'm here to spread the love, as you would expect me to on Valentine's Day.
Saint Valentine is not a singular saint. Like the collection of legal blogs (blawgs) that make up the intelligent life on the internet, Saint Valentine, according to the bible (Wikipedia) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome.
"Valentine" means "worthy," "strong," "powerful," which is why this edition of Blawg Review will include no posts from any Starbucks dwelling "lawyer," social media marketers or tech addicts.
According to Wikipedia, where all bloggers go for information these days:
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); He was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate.
And as for the creation of Valentine's Day, well, Wikipedia has an answer for that too:
English eighteenth-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested that Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia. This idea has lately been contested by Professor Jack Oruch of the University of Kansas. Many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
And so the message came in from Ed. on an otherwise sunny and peaceful Monday here in Miami:
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
There was but no question that I would accept the assignment to host Blawg Review on the most romantic, love filled day of the year. Ed said he could not find another blawger that more identified with hearts, flowers, candlelight, and love. I saw where he was going, what he was envisioning about me.
Or was it this..
I know much about love, particularly that it is the opposite of hate, as depicted in one of the greatest movies of all time:
Today is the feast of Saint Valentine, so let's feast on some blawgs.
First, a warning from Dan Schwartz over at the Connecticut Employment Blog, who always reminds us how much fun he is to have around the holidays:
So, I've warned you about the dangers of Halloween and the holiday party, when it comes to employment-related lawsuits.
Often overlooked, however, is the day for lovers -- Valentine's Day.
There are, of course, a few of you who are scratching your head and thinking "How can that be? it's a holiday full of love and romance!"
And therein lies the problem. It seems to be a day that brings out the inner sexual harasser in far too many instances.
Don't know what made me think of this, but taxgirl wants you to know that breastfeeding supplies are tax deductible.
Anyway, Dan provides all the essential case law to review prior to selecting your Valentine's Day gifts, including:
In another case, the alleged victim received a large red Valentine card reading, "On Valentine's Day, remember — candy is dandy ... but sex won't rot your teeth! So what do you say!" Pucci v. USAir, 940 F. Supp. 305 (M.D. Fl. 1996).
Speaking of appropriate Valentine's Day gifts...
Jamison Koehler, to whom I have shown little love, and who did a lovely Blawg Review showing "the family" in pictures, writes about (Former) Congressman Chris Lee, posting a shirtless picture on craigslist in an effort to find a date (with a girl not his wife).
He wonders: My first reaction on learning about the story was: Don’t these politicians ever read the paper? Don’t they know that they will be caught? Haven’t they ever heard of Bill Clinton or Wilbur Mills or Gary Condit or Mark Sanford or . . . forget it, the list is just too damn long. What is it about the sex drives of politicians that seems to make this type of thing seem so inevitable? What does it say about their arrogance that they always seem to think that they can get away with it?
Speaking of love and hate, there was coincidentally much discussion surrounding men and women this week.
The ABA's #1 Criminal Law Blawger Mirriam Seddiq, with whom I had a lovely dinner, as evidenced by the emotion shown in the touching photo below, wants "ladies of the law" to write about "where you are, how you do it, what you love and hate."
What set the queen of Maryland off?
I am sick of articles about what jewelry I should wear in court, what color my nail polish should be, or if I should wear peep toes (how MUCH toe cleavage exactly?) It's completely and utterly fucked up that we, women, can spend such an inordinate amount of time discussing such trivial and irrelevant matters. We size each other up in ways that men never do.
Mike Cernovich apparently loved Ms. Mirriam's thoughts on the matter, and responded with "Are Women Bloggers Haters," at Crime & Federalism:
If women want to care about that stuff, great. It's your life, and it's up to each woman to decide how to spend her time. But if you don't like how other women treat you, or how other women behave, then stop blaming men. Treat women like adults - which means holding other women accountable for not having anything more interesting to discuss than toe cleavage.
Anyway, Carolyn Elefant, who I love by the way, calls Mike her "intrepid blogging colleague," and engages in a love fest with Cernovich that's worth a read, as well as Carolyn's response to said love fest: Women Lawyers Too Busy Reading People Magazine To Blog, Suggests Crime & Federalism Blogger
Carolyn demands answers from those with penises, to questions like:
When’s the last time you did the grocery shopping and planned all the meals for the week and made all the lunches and made sure that kids had the materials they needed for that science project and those chips for the class party and the white shirt for the special performance and a three ring binder and six family photos?
I don't have a good answer for that question, except to say that reading it reminds me of this:
A man who loves his country, Military Criminal Defense Lawyer Eric L. Mayer, well, he had some strong thoughts on the topic. After answering all of Carolyn's questions, he added a cup of STFU:
Try doing all the stuff we do as parents and lawyers while also getting emails from Baghdad that 2 mortar attacks occurred within 100 yards of your spouse’s bedroom.
... this us vs. them shit does nothing but breed animosity, and nothing good ever comes from that... pulling the “Hey, Mr. Man, do you know what it’s like to take care of kids…” crap doesn’t fly anymore. The current year is 2011. Welcome.
If you can’t manage an aspect of your life, start cutting stuff away. If you can’t serve your clients, don’t take cases. Need more time with the kids? Don’t expect to get paid as much for work. Wife or husband won’t pull their share? You’re the one who chose to marry them. If you choose to shoulder most of the household load, remember that it is a choice above all else.
Apparently, our good friend Gideon. was so disgusted by the back and forth of this debate, that he remained silent on the topic.
Gideon is however, after a month-long hiatus subsequent to his hosting of Blawg Review, back with his analysis of some recently filed bills in the Connecticut Legislature which he does not love.
Of course we in the legal blawgosphere no longer have to bring these debates in for landing, as we now have Big Legal Brain and their cast of idiots (group photo below).
BLB is no ordinary blawg, and lately has been upstaging the other seemingly intelligent lawyers typing away their thoughts.
In You're My Huckleberry, I'm Your Jim, BLB post author C. Hank Peters (whom I affectionately refer to as "Chank Peters" (pronounced "shank - pee-ters") isn't impressed with single Moms making lunches:
I'm a single dad with four kids and six foster children, plus I care for my adult brother who has severe ulcerative colitis, no legs, and a brain injury from serving in the first Iraq war. I usually have to carry him on my back to most places, including depositions and court appearances. He has to be hand-fed, usually with fruit and organic grains that I hand-crush each night before I go to bed, if I choose to sleep that night.
With all that on his plate, he still manages to accomplish more than just blogging and reading People Magazine:
At least once a week, I schlep my ass through WalMart trying to estimate how many 55 gallon drums of milk are required for the week, filling my cart with various food goodies as I go. By the way, I also cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekends. Just this morning, I helped my youngest do all of his Valentines, and I helped to make his cutesy, yet masculine, Valentine’s mailbox. Additionally, I must drop chips and dip off at their party next Monday. I also just finished gluing 100 things onto a t-shirt to help my middle kid be a part of the group at school for the 100th day of classes.
As usual, the Legal Brains over at Big make all of us feel a little small.
Speaking of small, that's me above, next to The Trial Warrior, Canadian Antonin Pribetic.
He's full of love this week for the Revolution in Egypt, keeping all of the lawyers who usually troll the internet only looking for the newest marketing silver bullet up to date on the real "game-changing events."
Pribetic writes extensively about the history of Egypt and asks that we consider their past before we jump to the conclusion that after three decades of police state brutality and suppression of freedom, the Rule of Law will reign supreme.
While "Nino," as his 3, no 2, friends call him, was finding love for the Egyptian Revolution, he had no love for the trolls that continue to permeate social media.
In Bad News For Wannabee Twitter Trendsetters, a continued debunking of the comical notion of the usefulness of a paid social media guru, he writes:
When I joined Twitter back in the summer of 2009, it really wasn’t difficult to open a Twitter account....I quickly immersed myself in the 140 character Twitterverse. I don’t recall my first tweet, but it was probably embellished with an ornately rococo flourish like “I’m eating breakfast!”. The rest, as they say, is all a rich tapestry.
Perhaps there are some lawyers who just cannot grasp the most basic of user-friendly technologies, or they may have an unfortunate genetic abnormality such as a lack of opposable thumbs.
Yes, using twitter requires no paid teacher, but when we're talking about getting to the first page of Google, well, according to Scott Greenfield, (who got no love from Ariana Huffington this week) that takes money:
After reading about yet-another-lawyer-marketing-scam at Legal Skills Prof Blog, Greenfield (who remembers when those two crazy kids above fell in love) reminisces:
When I was a puppy law clerk working for an old time criminal defense lawyer, a call came into the office seeking help with a social security disability claim. My boss, affectionately known as Uncle Milty, told me to send it to Harry Binder. Even then, representing claimants in social security disability was a specialty niche, and the guy who did it was Binder.
While talk of branding today is mostly hogwash, the name Binder & Binder has long been the established name in the New York bar, and maybe the country, for handling that very specialized sort of work.
So when another law firm wanted to capitalize on the social security/disability legal market, they of course bought "Binder & Binder" as a search term, and got slammed.
The court awarded Binder & Binder $292,000.00 in lost profits and enhanced damages for willful infringement by the competing law firm.
Greenfield laments about the day when one built a reputation through things we scoff at today - like hard work and happy clients:
More to the point, however, is that this is where lawyers have turned to make a living, sponging off the hard work and reputation of others, anticipating that enough people will be confused and mistaken click on the wrong link so that they will get business intended for another.
Lawyers have happily become cannibals, eating their own for a buck, Greenfield writes.
In a perfect send off that is sure to fall on deaf ears, Greenfield succeeds in the shame:
...if the best you hope to achieve as a lawyer is to deceive enough people to make a living, or make a killing, then you deserve to be called a sleazeball. When you sat in law school and dreamed of what you would be ten years down the road, did the name "Binder" come up? What about the word "sleazeball?"
Or did you dream of being a great lawyer?
Speaking of great lawyers, The Texas Tornado Mark Bennett has no love right now for the association he once led, the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. An editorial by the Vice President of HCCLA condemned the release of this videotape, calling it “a direct assault on the Bill of Rights."
Here's Bennett's problem:
...the lawyer for one of the police officers shown on the video is HCCLA’s President, and HCCLA’s President-Elect and Immediate Past President have a contract to defend police officers against criminal charges.
The apparent (clear) conflict of interest, caught a rebuke from both Fresno's Rick Horowitz, and another Houston criminal defense lawyer, Paul B Kennedy, who also showed this week that he is one of the few bloggers with good taste in music (cue the e-mails), with this lovely trial-prep music list
The conflict can be summed up with this 70's one hit wonder:
Speaking of conflicts, there apparently isn't as much between prosecutors and defendants as you may think. Over at BLT (no, not me) there's a report of an attempt to withdraw a plea for lying to Congress, in which the prosecutor urged the judge to reconsider her ruling that jail was mandatory.
Now that it appears the prosecutor's efforts to secure probation for the defendant have failed, what's the prosecutor's position on the defendant withdrawing his guilty plea?
The government believes that the defendant’s position is well-founded, and will not oppose his motion to withdraw his plea.
And now for a quick pause and a question.
Do you love being a lawyer?
The ABA wants to know, they're all about happy this month.
And everyone wants to talk about it. It is, after all, the time of year when love abounds.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner: a joyous time when people are supposed to be happy and celebrate the things in their lives that they love. This concept seems a bit ironic for lawyers. We’re supposed to be heartless, unhappy pessimists. Moreover, when stories about unemployed law school graduates and the plight of lawyers continue to plague the headlines, how are we supposed to be happy as professionals?
Then Lawyerist blows the whole gig by confusing everyone with one of their top myths about the legal profession - A high salary does not automatically lead to happiness.
Well great, now what are all the social media marketers going to do?
So, what does the ABA think is the key to finding happiness in the law? It sounds cliché, but the ABA advises that in order to be happy, lawyers should do what they love.
The happiest lawyers tend to be those who do work that they think make the world at least a marginally better place. [A]ttorneys experience ‘the greatest source of disappointment in practice’ when they feel that they are not contributing to the public good.
Speaking of love, I loved this post by young lawyer Joseph Brown at Gen Y J.D. It is one of the best posts I've read from a young lawyer on entering practice when the world is not waiting to give you the job to which you are entitled. He did it on his own, and the right way:
I always knew I wanted to start my own practice after I passed the bar exam. During law school I studied every resource I could find to prepare myself to launch my solo practice. Although I came across several excellent books and websites pertaining to solo practice, I found there was a lack of straight talk advice from young attorneys in the trenches of solo practice regarding the nuts and bolts of creating profitability and generating an income as quickly as possible.
Joseph gives detailed advice, including: One Practice Area.
When I first started my solo practice I accepted every case that came through the office doors, and in so doing became stressed out and really miserable. Every simple task came with a time-consuming learning curve, and I found myself working insane amounts of hours handling only a few client matters.
Speaking of happy, Brian Cuban. who promised me an autographed hat if the Steelers won, which they didn't, has been obsessing over the 400 people who (got screwed) didn't get to sit in their seats at the Superbowl.
I can not imagine how I would feel if I had invested thousands of dollars and braved brutal cold and an ice-storm only to be told that my seats did not exist when I arrived at the stadium. To be more accurate, they did exist but I could not sit in them. I would be in riot, kick the bowling ball return, stroke-out anger mode.
One of the things a lawyer likes to have these days is a website. Websites are great. You can even put things on it that arent true, and no one will know. Well, unless.... personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz takes a gander.
Turkewitz brings us the story of one not-too-happy lawyer these days, and shows the naive out there how lawyer marketing has hit the sewer.
Turk isn't as concerned about the 18 month suspension as he as about the fact that what you see on a lawyer’s website, or in the newspapers, isn’t always what you get.
(Let the marketing circle jerk begin)
Turk compares the allegations contained in nine Letters of Caution, nine Admonitions, and two Advisements, including that he failed to issue itemized bills as required, failed to supervise the lawyers in his office, failed to timely refund a portion of a fee that had not been earned after the client fired him, and engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer by failing to adequately communicate with that client (or her new counsel), with his website:
For more than 35 years, The Barbara Law Firm has performed at the highest level of quality legal representation in the fields of Family, Matrimonial, Criminal, and Civil Law.
And now, for a lovely musical interlude:
Blogging ain't easy. That's why celebrating four years of doing this crap is worth a shout out.
CONGRATULATIONS DOUG CORNELIUS!
Gamso, who is often surrounded by sadness in the cases he handles, could probably give a crap if anyone else is happy. His intelligent prose on the most hard core of criminal justice issues is loved by many, all the while as he makes all other criminal law blawgers look like weeds in his garden. This week, he, talks about the lack of love for his client Johnnie Batson, who is on death row for the murder of a shop owner in Ohio.
Speaking of death, Josh Blackman writes about a minor issue of whether some (2,000) red light camera tickets were signed and verified by a dead police officer.
Not on death row but serving 10 years on another drug case, the famous (Luis) Melendez-Diaz, yes a real person, not just a case name, was acquitted last week. South Carolina criminal defense lawyer Bobby Frederick has the details, and talks a little about Gideon. (no, not that Gideon, the other one - yeah, that one).
Seems like Ohio is ripe for commentary this week, as the ACLU Blog of Rights brings us the story of a woman sentenced to prison for sending her kids to the wrong school.
Matt Brown, who I love (love you Matt) over at Chandler Criminal Defense is always good for some introspective on the practice.
This week he muses about the role of the prosecutor in plea bargaining, and Loose Ends, where he proves he is a true blue criminal defense lawyer:
Things that aren’t even on my radar always pop up and take precedent. I end up having to file an emergency something or call an angry someone. A well-planned day falls apart as I work hard to put out fires and reorganize. As is always the case, I found myself ending yesterday just like I’ll probably find myself ending every day next week. I have a well-thought-out strategy for Monday I’ll never actually use.
My love is not solely for the American blawgers, but also for those across the pond who bring us important legal news like CharonQC, who not only graced us with last week's Blawg Review, but keeps us up on relevant Brit stuff like Lord Phillips offering to cut the number of supreme court justices to save money, and the debate over whether prisoners should have the right to vote.
John Bolch is waiting by the phone for those who are forgotten and thus unhappy today, and the latest post by the intrepid Geeklawyer, has received the love and affection of many in the blawgosphere.
Of course love is alive and well in my home here in South Florida, and the bloggers deserve all the love I can give.
AVVO was the subject of a recent seminar by the Broward County Bar Association, and the questions and answers on the associations blog about AVVO are required reading for any Florida lawyer wishing to market and continue practicing law.
Over at South Florida Lawyers, where no lawyer is safe from a quick review of Pacer and a few moments with Scribd, we learn that shockingly, some lawyers have other interests - like Pinball!
David Markus, who's right now picking a jury in the re-trial of reggae star Buju Banton (Free Buju), brings us in to Alan Dershowitz's oral argument where he criticized a judge for requiring a defense lawyer in a murder trial to give his closing so the judge could go on vacation: This was a murder case. His vacation schedule trumped everything. You don’t make decisions based on [when you will be] sipping piña coladas, said Professor Dershowitz.
Over at The Reasonably Prudent Law Student, the ever languid Huma Rashid spent the last 10 days writing 10 days with Huma Rashid. I don't know if this was punishment for something we all did, or the result of there being nothing else to talk about for 10 days, but I'm told we should look for the update this summer entitled "Instead of writing a post after summer about what I did last summer, I'm writing 'what I'm doing every single day this summer.'"
Law School Ninja, never too far from Ms. Rashid, and seeing no reason to deviate, also provides 10 days of herself.
And that's it.
As I leave you today, I ask you to go love the one you're with, or find somebody to love.
I can think of no better way to say goodbye, than with this song from the great Karen Carpenter, who died 10 days before Valentine's Day, 28 years ago.
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.