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