Tuesday, May 31, 2005

 

Some Great Advice on Law School Admissions

A lot of people call me up for advice about going to law school. I'm always happy to answer their questions and talk to them about their decision, but for advice on improving one's chances of getting into law school, I can't do better than Christine Hurt, who has the inside track on Law School admissions.

Check out her posts at Conglomerate.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Friday, May 27, 2005

 

"Religious Respect" Irreconcilable With Christian Evangelistic Beliefs?

This article about the U.S. Airforce's new campaign for Religious Respect raises a question in my mind of whether such a policy can ever be reconciled with evangelistic beliefs.

The new policy states that "Senior leaders, commanders, and supervisor at every level must be particularly sensitive to the fact that subordinates can consider your public expressions of belief systems coercive. Using your place at the podium as a platform for your personal beliefs can be perceived as misuse of office.”

Apparently, the policy is being implemented in response to complaints by non-christians that they are getting harassed by evangelistic christians.

I have a little bit of experience with evangelistic christians and I know that they interpret most efforts to curb their evangelism as being - at least - disrespectful of their religious beliefs. Any policy of Religious Respect that limits the ability of evangelistic christians to spread their beliefs will be perceived as intolerant to their religion.

Discuss.
 

My Aussie Sister's Commentary on the Corby Conviction

An excerpt from my sister's email today:

The general situation in Australia, like the rest of the world, continues to deteriorate apace.


The only really useful thing Australia has done on the regional stage is ensure that Schapelle Corby was convicted for drug trafficking. In case you're not following this important case, Corby went into Bali with a boogie board bag full of dope. She was caught and claimed that “the baggage handlers did it” (at least she was inventive).

Then Australia did the following to ensure she was convicted: the government sent a letter to the judges stating that we did, indeed, have drug smuggling baggage handlers; the “backer” for her legal expenses made media statements about prosecution bribery; commercial television had “specials” where they asked celebrities whether she was guilty (most brilliantly a Family Court judge said the trial was the most dreadful breach of justice she’d ever seen); national newspapers ran polls on whether the public thought she was guilty (it was like 99 to 1 she wasn’t); and some law professor announced (wrongly) that in Indonesia you were guilty until proven innocent (although in his defence it was after the chief judge in the case announced to the media she hadn’t proved her innocence – not a good sign you’d agree).

Anyone at all familiar with the Indonesian justice system, judges and Australia/Indonesian relations (not to mention our Americanesque reputation in the region) would have been able to predict the response: guilty of course … although they decided not to kill her which was nice of them I thought.

As usual, internationally we have done nothing of significance at all – which is probably for the best.

 

Murder Charges Dropped Against Marine

I have to say, I'm kind of glad.

I have been opposed to the war from the beginning, but I think if you're going to send people off to war, you shouldn't prosecute them for doing their job.
 

I Knew This Would Happen

The other night I was watching Law & Order Criminal Intent - an episode "ripped from the headlines," as they like to say, about judge killings - when one of the regulars suggests putting out an APB for "somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."

I thought "uh oh. Tom is gonna be pissed off when he hears about this."

And that's exactly what happened. (Thanks to Christine Hurt at Conglomerate for the link).

Christine Hurt says she didn't see the episode, but feels that Tom should "know that if he became a public figure that television shows that capitalize on depicting public figures would spotlight him."

I saw the episode, which started out really well, but deteriorated (as most L&O episodes do) at the end when the whole criminal scheme is spilled by the bad guy's naive co-conspirator who, of course, is tricked into confessing by the brilliant detective's ploy to pit the two defendants against each other (snore).

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of L&O would never fall for this trick. Why do they keep falling for it on the show? Maybe in L&O world, there is no t.v. show like L&O to tip you off that when the detective starts telling you all the reasons you should turn on your co-defendant, you should just shut your mouth and ask for your lawyer, because it means they can't make their case without your confession.

And more importantly, why do I keep watching this show, in all its various incarnations, when I know exactly how its going to turn out and I am NEVER surprised by the "surprise ending." sheesh. Apparently, this woman would sympathize with my inexplicable and probably unhealthy addiction.

But I digress.

This whole DeLay debacle got me wondering if anyone has ever sued L&O - no not for marketing a dangerously addictive product, but for ripping a little too close to someone's headlines. I ran a quick google search and came up empty. Anyone know the answer to that question?

I have no love for Tom DeLay and I think his attacks on the judiciary are idiotic, but even I had a cringe reaction to the DeLay comment. I thought it was juvenile and tasteless. The L&O producers explained that "This isolated piece of gritty 'cop talk' was neither a political comment nor an accusation." Hmmmm. I definitely interpreted it as a political comment that they placed in the mouth of a "gritty" cop. It was so clearly not something a gritty cop would normally say, it had to be an expression of some producer's political views. I had no problem with that part of it. I just thought the line didn't work well as dialogue and was kind of stupid.

I don't blame Tom for being mad, but I think he should have just let it go, or deflected it with a gracious, funny rebuttal. I wish more politicians handled bad publicity that way, instead of making every incident into a federal case (no pun intended).

Love the Lawgirl

Thursday, May 26, 2005

 

The People's Court Meets the Apprentice

NBC's new show, creatively dubbed "The Law Firm," will pit teams of lawyers against each other "trying real court cases with real clients, in front of real judges and juries, resulting in outcomes that are final, legal and binding for the parties."

Trial lawyer Roy Black will be playing the role of Donald Trump.
 

Two Women Stabbed by Crazed Shopper at Nordstrom

I wasn't totally shocked to learn that this happened in the shoe section, although my first guess was the bathing suit department.
 

British Lawyer's Opening Statement Lasts 119 days

Whew! Thank god he managed to keep within the 120 day time limit.

This was my favorite line:

"As the legal jargon rumbled on, a mountain of files has built up on the desks of the opposing legal teams so neither can see the other."

You know they just didn't want the judge to see them sleeping.

Courtesy of Alaskablawg

Saturday, May 21, 2005

 

Big Firm - Small Firm, Part I

One of my objectives in starting this blog was to give law students and those considering law school an idea of what it's like to start out in the legal profession.

To that end, I am starting this series called "Big Firm - Small Firm," in which I discuss the professional and lifestyle differences between working for the two different types of firms. My comments are based almost entirely on my own personal experiences. I don't have any concrete plans for the direction this series will take - I am starting it off-the-cuff. At this stage, I don't plan to get into any sort of in-depth or long-winded analysis of the issue. My intention, at this stage, is to keep the posts short and sweet.

I previously wrote that starting your career at a large firm has its advantages, some of which are obvious. You make more money and you receive the benefit of a prestigious name on your resume.

Another advantage is that large firms have institutionalized legal support systems that most small firms simply can't afford. At the Evil Empire, we had a 24-hour wordprocessing and proofreading department, for example, so when you were working until midnight revising a brief that needed to be filed the next day, you could drop it off in Wordprocessing and it would be ready for you when you returned to work at 7:00 am. Sounds great doesn't it?

At a small firm, the "wordprocessing department" usually consists of one or two people, plus a part-time floater who takes over at around 5:30 for a few hours as needed. Overnight wordprocessing is practically nonexistent.

Similarly, large firms have 24-hour copying departments, which allow you to leave an overnight copy job that gets delivered to you the next day. No such thing in a small firm. There is really no disadvantage here, because photocopying can easily be outsourced.

Needless to say, large firms provide these services seven days a week, whereas small firms generally shut down for the weekend, except in extenuating circumstances, such as a Monday trial.

When I worked at a large firm, everyone automatically received a card key that permitted them entry into the building during off-hours.

I have worked at my small firm since September 2004, and no one has given me a card key to get into the building, even though I know they exist and someone somewhere must have one.

The thing you have to realize is that large firms provide all these wonderful support services because they expect work to be done on a 24-hour basis, whereas small firms expect you to go home each evening and not return until the next business day.

Sometimes the lack of sophisticated support services can be frustrating in the moment when you urgently need that copy job done or that document typed up. Those small inconveniences are well worth the payback you receive for being able to leave your work at work and have a full and balanced life.

Love the lawgirl
 

Report From the Trenches

A small-scale counter-insurgency campaign that I have been waging in my apartment has suffered some recent setbacks, due to my hectic work schedule.

A list of the most significant casualties follows:

Apparently, in my absence, a "junk-mail" bomb exploded on my dining table.

My bedroom chair was recently targeted by a "dirty-laundry" bomb. An unintended consequence of this attack is that it has virtually obliterated the pre-existing damage caused by an unsightly shoe-bomb explosion.

A particularly insidious local rebel has detonated another one of her infamous "stinky-litter-box" devices. But I believe I have the enemy in my sights and anticipate an imminent victory for my anti-terrorist forces. Hmmm . . . here she is now . . . try to act naturally, and don't be disarmed by her "look at my cute, fluffy tummy" strategy.

A scouting expedition into the kitchen reveals the most disconcerting development so far. It seems that a highly organized, dangerous cell of suicide terrorists has invaded this extremely vulnerable region. By all indications, they are an outgrowth of an earlier group that I mistakenly believed had been decimated by one of my dreaded biological weapons. I now suspect that the survivors of that attack have been laying low, developing techniques to counter-act some of the more conventional extermination technologies. I will almost certainly need to engage an outside specialist to suppress this new wave of radicals.

Lawgirl signing out.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

 

The Idea

Tonight I had one of those wonderful moments when the ephemeral Idea that has been eluding you for weeks suddenly bubbles up to the surface and you realize you have latched onto the perfect argument - the one that you know is virtually unassailable. It is a buoyant - even exhilarating moment.

For a week I have been struggling to write a motion to dismiss. I knew it made sense, intuitively; I had some good arguments; I had researched the heck out of it; I had received positive feedback on my first draft.

And yet I was struggling. There was something missing. Some connection I wasn't making.

And to make things worse, I was crushed for time. I was feeling the pressure of a hundred responsibilities bearing down on me. My deadlines had deadlines. It was a bad scene man.

I was supposed to give the partner a draft today, but was still unhappy with my product. She graciously gave me more time - until tomorrow afternoon, even offering to read it on Saturday if I couldn't get it done in time for her to look at it on Friday. I felt relieved, but I was still discouraged that the Idea I had been chasing continued to elude me.

Encouragement came in the form of an associate who stuck her head in my door and said "you won! You won your motion!" I was baffled. My motion was sitting in front of me - a half-baked, incoherent, poorly constructed creation taunting me from my computer screen as I sat despondently amidst piles of lexis printouts, digests, encyclopedias and statute books.

I stared at her blankly wondering if somehow I entered a fissure in the space-time continuum and I was witnessing a moment in the future when my sad little motion would rise victorious from it's humble origins.

"You won! You won the motion to dismiss!"

I was still perplexed. She waived a document in front of me. "It's the order from the motion you wrote on tortious interference. It was granted."

Suddenly, it was all clear to me. A motion I wrote in October of last year had been granted. I took the papers from her and read through the judge's Order. It was like my own thoughts coming back to me. My heart suddenly felt light again. It's the first time I've really "won" anything as a lawyer. And I knew it was my hard work - my research - my arguments - that had carried the day.

I smiled and turned back to my computer.

About two hours later, the Idea came.

And it was perfect.

Monday, May 16, 2005

 

I Ain't Dissin' Julia

Professor Bainbridge (bless his soul) seems to have misconstrued my remarks about Julia Child. At first, I was prepared to let this misunderstanding slide, but now there are others who have attributed anti-Julia sentiments to me.

I want to clarify that I have no objection to putting her on the list. I merely found it remarkable that she was the only woman he thought "definitely" belonged on the list.

Even Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart didn't make it to a list of "definites" that included Knute Rockne and Barack Obama (although, now I can't find Obama on the list - was he removed?). And, according to PB, neither Helen Keller nor Harriet Tubman even "remotely" belongs on the list??

The fact that PB's list leans heavily towards Politics, History (by which I mean historical events that the dominant culture considers to be important) and, apparently, War (see the inclusion of Chester Nimitz, Omar Bradley and Raymond Spruance) renders his list predominantly male.

And yet, because he is a "foodie" Julia makes the list, even though arguably, there are women who have contributed as much or more to society, culture, history, etc. I have no problem with acknowledging a foodie - I am no Foodist. But what about artists, writers, cultural critics, anthropologists, activists, many of whom had influenced society in significant and permanent ways. Is Julia really the only one worthy of receiving PB's "definite" nod?

The good Professor argues that my criticism is merely that his list is not PC enough. That criticism may have merit, but it is not my main point. I don't think you have to be PC to think that there has been more than one "definitely great" woman in the America. I agree (again) with Shraub, who says "maybe Childs [sic] should indeed be on the list. I'm just saying that it is pretty skewed priorities to place a woman's contributions to the culinary arts over those who were critical to racial equality, woman's suffrage, and woman's equality, respectively." I would add that contribution to the culinary arts, while important, is no more or less important that other artistic, literary, and cultural contributions.
 

More on Whether Lawyers Should Blog

For some reason none of my trackbacks to my previous post on this issue worked (that's why I call myself Lawgirl and not Techgirl). I will try again with this post.

I notice that IBM has issued blogging guidelines for its employees and is encouraging them to blog. I am still digesting the guidelines, but so far I like them, because - for the most part - they don't look as if a lawyer wrote them.

I will have more comments on them specifically, but I also like the fact that James Snell takes a swipe at the CNN article which recommends that people blog anonymously or not at all. I read a similar article about blogging anonymously and, at the end of it, I was left wondering "what's the point?" I can't link you to that article, because for some bizarre reason, I forgot to put it in my "favorites" (can't imagine why). But the guidelines were similar to those suggested in the CNN article, such as using an anonymous blog server (does anyone do this?) and password protection. It didn't go as far as CNN's moronic suggestion to return to the age of "pen and paper" but it was pretty close.

I've been doing quite a bit of internet research lately on the subject of employee blogging and I find IBM's attitude refreshing. Because we lawyers are so risk-averse, we are often attracted to the option that appears to subject us to the least exposure. Ambivalent Imbroglio bemoans this tendency, which he feels has characterized the responses to his own question about whether he should blog as a Summer Associate.

Again - here are some of the links that take the risk-averse viewpoint:

Legal Ethics Forum

Conglomerate

TechLawGeek

As well as Cathy's response to the Legal Ethic's Forum.

Update: I forgot to include Three Years of Hell

New Update: This poor man seems almost morose about this issue. Buck up, Blogger - things will get better.

Even Newer Update: Apparently, he's not that morose - apologies if I offended.

Ambivalent Imbroglio points to this blog as an example of the type of blogging that he feels does not compromise ethics or client relations. I have only skimmed the first page, so far, but I will try to read it more carefully over the next few days. Based on my superficial review, however, I can already tell that the writer has a very different view about professional blogging than I do.

Which brings me to my own "guidelines." Without getting into all the obvious stuff about not using profanity or engaging in flame wars, I have developed a set of personal guidelines regarding blogging content that I refer to as the Four C's:

Clients - I will not blog at all about the firm's clients, regardless of whether the information would be confidential or privileged. I would not want any clients (or my employers) to stumble upon my blog and be upset about anything I have posted about them (this is a no-brainer to me).

Cases - I will not blog about any of the matters that my firm is handling, even public information. This is mainly for the same reason that I will not post about clients, but also there is too much of a risk of letting slip some strategy that an opponent could capitalize on. Also, there is a risk that readers might think I am speaking for the firm, which I am not.

Colleagues - I will not blog about my colleagues, unless I have something super-nice to say about them, and only with permission first. I think it is offensive (and stupid) to bad-mouth colleagues on the internet - plus, there is no upside to doing so. Save it for margaritas with your friends and family.

Company - For now, I am staying away from blogging about my firm, the kind of work we do, or my impressions of working there. I have also vowed not to blog on "company time." Since lawyers don't really have a concept of company time, I define this as any time before 6:30 p.m., except for one hour during the afternoon (which other people refer to as "lunch time.")

Of course, you've probably noticed that, after all my grandstanding about not wanting to be "risk-averse," these guidelines are about as risk-averse as one can get without just giving up, hitting "shut down," and reaching for that pen and paper. Well, you busted me.

At any rate, I would love to get feedback on these guidelines or any of the other points in this post, or my previous post.

Love the Lawgirl.

p.s. sorry to Ambivalent for my numerous misspellings of his name (some unintentional and some intended to be funny) I think I have it right now.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

 

I'd Like To Order an Emergency Appropriations Act - hold the Real ID bill

The ACLU has come up with a creative advertisement to publicize their campaign against the Real ID Act (see link).

They argue that the government's centralized network (which will contain all kinds of personal information) will be a prime target for identity thieves and terrorists.

To participate in the ACLU's letter-writing campaign to Congress (telling them how displeased you are with them for not removing the Real ID Act from the Bill), go to the ACLU's website

Thanks to my boyfriend for emailing me the link.


Bruce Schneier issued some dire warnings about the Act, which have elicited many comments and trackbacks. I agree with PrawfsBlawg's point that, regardless of how you feel about the Act, the bigger problem is the way it was passed.

Love the Lawgirl
 

Sure she could make a mean Osso Bucco, but really!

Apparently there's only one woman who "definitely" belongs on a list of 100 Greatest Americans, according to Professor Bainbridge - and I guess that's because someone has to do the cooking ;)

David Schraub at the Debate Link finds the Professor's omission of Jackie Robinson debatable - not to mention Martin Luther King, Jr. Good grief! Is that even debatable? I agree with all of Schraub's points, and I'll even forgive him for not mentioning the Julia Child thing (and I'll even add him to my blogroll and my bloglines feed. Don't be jealous Professor - you're already on there).

Friday, May 13, 2005

 

Is it Wise and Ethical for Summer Associates (or any associates) to Blog? Finally my POV - sort of . . .

I promised to address this question a couple of days ago but I've been sidetracked by a far more important and pressing question:

Is it wise and ethical for me to blog? (BTW, to clear up confusion - I am not a summer associate- I am a third year associate).

To be perfectly candid, Ambiguous what's-his-name has got me wondering (and worrying) about the implications of my blog for my own career. He has raised a number of ethical issues with respect to client confidentiality. While naturally, it's always a danger when pontificating on a particular subject that one could inadvertently reveal a client confidence. However, I intend to steer well clear of client matters on this blog, so I think the risk is reduced. I decided from the outset - as a matter of policy - not to blog about any of my cases or the clients my firm handles. To the extent I decide to blog about legal issues, I will handle them the way any lawyer would in an article for publication - as a mind-numbingly boring treatise peppered with as many idiotic hypotheticals I can think of.

I also have no intention of badmouthing or criticizing my current firm or any of its partners, associates or employees. I like my firm, enjoy working there, and would like to stay for a very long time.

I do post general criticisms about large firm practice - based on my experience at my previous firm - but I don't mention it by name or in sufficient detail for anyone to recognize it.

For now, I am blogging anonymously because I am new to the blogosphere and I'm not sure how it all works and what kind of problems will arise if and when I decide to "come out." I would like to come out at some point and hope to elicit the support of my firm (although not their interference - except if they think that something I post violates a client confidence, harms a client relationship or exposes the firm to liability).

If I do a good job with this blog, I hope that it will be an asset to the firm, although that was not my primary reason for creating it. My main reasons were (1) as an outlet for self-expression; (2) to provide information and entertainment to others; and (3) to get involved in an interesting, dynamic on-line community. So far, the experience is meeting all my goals and expectations. If I can build enough of a readership and develop enough trust with my readers, maybe some day, somewhere one of them will say "I need a lawyer - maybe I should hire that lawgirl." Who knows? It could happen.

Anyway, like the Ambrosiac Houligan (or whatever), I too seek your advice and input on the following questions:
1. Is there anything in my blog that - as a legal employer - you would find objectionable or worrying?
2. If you were my employer, do you think I have an obligation to tell you about my blog?
3. Do you think you are entitled to have input into my blog and how much?
4. What would be the best way to approach you and tell you about my blog and get your support and endorsement?
5. If you were me, would you be concerned about my employer's reaction to my blog and why?
6. Which is riskier: to tell my employer about it or to remain anonymous and avoid posting anything that will clue my employer in to who I am?
7. Am I missing anything?
Love the Lawgirl

Thursday, May 12, 2005

 

Dabbling in Dangerous Demographic Data Dissemination

In an impressive display of industriousness, at 10:37 tonight, Voloch Conspiracy managed to scoop a Law.com article dated May 13 (tomorrow) about a new database being created by "sixty major New York law firms" which will track the "race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation of each of their lawyers." According to the article, the database is a "client driven" initiative, "brokered by the New York County Lawyers' Association."

I find this somewhat perplexing.

First of all, isn't the basic information regarding law firm and partner composition already being tracked by big firms for recruitment purposes? As a second-year law student, I seem to recall reading all the diversity stats of the firms I was interviewing for . . . that is until it became too darn depressing.

What more do clients really need to know?

Apparently, they want to know how many gays, blacks and women are specifically billing to their matters. According to the article "law firms should not object to requests by their corporate clients [to] report the number of hours devoted to the clients' matters by minority lawyers."

Really? I kind of find it objectionable. Am I supposed to trust that corporate clients are so committed to feminist and anti-discrimination principles that they are going to be the diversity watchdogs for law firms? Can someone give me the empirical evidence to support that assumption?

Secondly, as someone who worked at a big firm for two years, I can tell you that none of the clients of my firm gave a rat's ass about my gender, race, or sexual orientation. Am I really supposed to believe that corporate clients are going to make decisions about what firms to hire based on the demographic make-up of a particular litigation team? I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who cares about diversity would not have the poor taste to ask such a question. More likely, this information will be used by certain types of companies that would prefer not to have minorities, gays and women on their teams. But that's just my opinion.

Thirdly, what moral, economic or philosophical basis is there for requiring a firm to provide this type of specific information to a customer? I don't expect the telephone company to tell me the race and gender of everyone who works on my account (well, mainly that's because I can never actually get through to the phone company, but you get my point.)

I doubt that Microsoft or Verizon would bow to customer pressure to give out this type of specific information. To be honest, I have trouble believing they would expect to get it from law firms. Call me crazy, but I have a hard time believing this is a "client-driven" enterprise. Sounds like the kind of loony idea a bunch of lawyers would come up with.
 

And the Winner of the "Too Little Too Late" Award is . . .

. . . Clarence Stower who belatedly offered to return the severed fingertip of 23-year old, Brandon Fizer, a custard shop employee who lost his fingertip in a mixing machine. Stower found Fizer's fingertip in a cup of frozen custard he purchased from the store, but refused to return it at the time, even though he knew doctors in the Emergency Room were standing by to reattach the fingertip.

Now it's too late, since (1) fingertips have to be reattached within about six hours; and (2) after absconding with the finger, Stower apparently put it in his freezer - frozen fingertips can't be reattached.

The selfishness of some people truly boggles the mind. I'll be interested to see if Fizer sues Stower and what the outcome of that litigation will be.
 

More Shameless Self-Promotion

You know, I spent a year slaving over my Law Review Note, which remained uncited at least one year after its publication (hmmm . . . note to self to run a Lexis search tomorrow).

After blogging for a week, I've already been cited by two highly-respected and prestigious blawggers.

This time it's Walter Olsen of Point of Law remarking on my "witty and creative" use of the term Rapunzelling to describe the "practice among some big law firms of not posting profiles of their young associates for fear they'll be snapped up by recruiters."

Okay, okay, he didn't actually say "witty and creative" - those are my words - but I'm sure that's what he meant to say.

Ahhh . . . the sweet taste of instant gratification.
 

"The Legal Reader" Discovers an Extraordinary New Blawgging talent

"John" of The Legal Reader, a true visionary of the blawgosphere, identifies a brilliant new star in the blawgging firmament.

Okay, okay. It's me.

Hugs and kisses, John.

Love the Lawgirl

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

Blogging for Business

Here's a recent Businessweek article on the necessity of blogging in the business world today:

Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business -- including yours. It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They're a prerequisite. (And yes, that goes for us, too)

I am riding the wave of business, marketing and technological innovation - the wave I tell you. Now if only I could figure out how to turn off this block quote function. drat.


 

The Big Issue of the Day: Should Summer Associates Blog?

The question was posted by ambivalent imbroglio who is preparing to start his summer job at the public defender's office:

"If you're a law student with a blog, you're probably wondering how much you'll be able to say about your job on your blog. No? Well, I am. And since my class in “professional responsibility” didn't address blogging at all (I can't imagine why), I'd love to hear from lawyers, other law students, professors, whomever, about the ethics and boundaries of blawgging a summer job."

Several blawgers have weighed in, as of posting time:

Legal Ethics Forum - Don't Blog!

Cathy - Whaddya mean Don't Blog? Of course, Blog! But Blog with guidelines.

Conglomerate - Blog if you must - but assume your clients and your employer are reading.

Tech Law Geek - Don't Blog, but if you must Blog, be meaningful and be yourself

Three Years of Hell - Blog, but not about work.


I am going to give this some thought and add my two cents tomorrow.

Love the Lawgirl
 

New Features On My Blawg

I've been messing around today with my template and have added some new features to my blawg, which are listed below.

Hopefully it's not getting too cluttered. I think that some of these features will be useful to readers.

I've been researching the whole blogging process on-line and there is a lot to learn, particularly on the subject of syndication. A week ago I had never even heard the term "RSS," which I know now stands for "Really Simple Syndication." Basically, it's a format that allows people to have updates from blogs (and other sites equipped with RSS, such as the New York Times and Yahoo) sent directly to their desktops. It's really cool. And you can do it for free.

In order to take advantage of RSS, you need to subscribe to an Aggregator, such as Bloglines.com (which is web-browser based, so you don't need to download any software). Then you go to the webpage you want to syndicate and add the "site feed" to your Blogline account. From then on, when you log into your Blogline account, it will tell what updates have been posted to your syndicated websites. You can read whatever topics interest you and ignore the rest.

RSS avoids the whole email notification process, which just clutters up your inbox unnecessarily, as well as the manual hunting around through websites looking for updates. With RSS, they come right to one location on your desktop.

I hope this explanation is somewhat clear. This is all new to me.

Anyway, I added the following items to my blawg:

1. A link to my RSS "site feed" - This lets readers know that my blawg is equipped for syndication, so they can add it to their Aggregators.

2. I have also added a traditional email subsciption box to my blawg. Theoretically, if you type in your email address, you can get emails sent to you notifying you when I have posted updates. Use this if you don't want to use Bloglines or one of the other Aggregators to have updates sent directly to your desktop. Personally, I am a Blogline convert.

3. I have added a search box that allows you to search my blawg as well as any blogs listed on Technorati (a free service that lists and rates over a million blogs).

4. I have subscribed to Blogrolling.com, a service that allows you to create a "blogroll" (a list of favorite blogs) to display on your website. My Blogroll is listed under the heading "Blogs and Blawgs I like."

5. There is a "Blogroll me" link at the bottom of my blogroll. Please click on it if you have a Blog or website and add me to your list. Let me know and I will add you to mine.

I think that's it for now. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Any suggestions for improving the site are appreciated.

Love the Lawgirl


p.s. Here are some blogs and websites that discuss RSS:

RSS Topics on BeSpecific, a blawg by Sabrina Pacific

Advice to the Bloglorn, by Louis C. Ambash

An article by Debbie Weil listing RSS resources

A blog about RSS

Update: An article about RSS on Law Dawg Blawg
 

To Be or Not to Be, That is the Question

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end

When the Schiavo media frenzy was at its height, my boyfriend correctly pointed out that neither of us has a health care proxy. His eagerness to remedy that deficiency made me realize that I'm really not sure if I want to give anyone the power to pull the plug.

I kind of sympathize with what Jason Alexander said on Real Time With Bill Maher: "I've told my wife, 'hey, if I'm not bothering anyone, just put me in a corner and leave me alone.'"

Nevertheless, I recognize that putting advance medical directives in writing is a good idea, so I was happy to learn about this new site, by the American Hospital Association, which provides information and resources to assist people in preparing their own health care proxies and living wills.
 

Finally! I'm a Real Lawyer!

At least according to this article, entitled Real Lawyers Have Blogs

One blogger (or blawger) interviewed for the article noted that keeping a blawg is "an extra discipline. . . . It's forced me to be very, very current."

I'm already starting to see that, even after one week. Blawging requires you to keep up with current legal issues and to read what other people are blawging about. It's fun and informative, but it takes up a heck of a lot of time.

She also said that blawging is "designed to be informative, but you wouldn't want the blog appearing to be construed as giving legal advice."

Ooooh no. Do not take anything I write as legal advice.

According to another blawger, one-tenth of his practice is due to his blog. "It's a very nice 10 percent," he said.

Now, I'm not saying that if you're lawyer doesn't blawg you should fire him and hire me instead, but I think the title of the article speaks for itself.

Love the Lawgirl

p.s. Also check out the article Blogging and the Bottom Line, by veteran blawger Robert Ambrogi for more information. I learned that you can subscribe to a free syndication service, such as Bloglines and Bloglet, to get blog updates sent to your desktop. I also added a link to my sidebar if you want to receive email notifications when I update my blog. I hope some of you will sign up.
 

Rapunzelling Your Associates

I had to shake my head at the foolishness I read about in this article.

Law.com Article

Apparently, some big law firms are so concerned now about the rate at which they are hemorrhaging associates that they are depublicizing information about their associates (e.g. removing their profiles from firm websites) to deter headhunters from poaching them.

I like to refer to this practice as "Rapunzelling."

Like the witch who imprisoned Rapunzel in a high, inaccessible tower, these Big Firms hope to keep their associates locked away from the prying eyes and grasping hands of more appealing suitors.

This strategy is doomed to fail, because, as every savvy associate knows, you can’t toss out a braided golden lock into the legal recruiting market without hitting a dozen hot princes - metaphorically-speaking of course.

So, my advice to those big firm bi . . . er . . . witches is to take a long look in the mirror and admit that, if you want Rapunzel to stick around, you’re going to have to get rid of those big ugly warts.

For starters:

What if you actually made an effort to create a healthy, balanced working environment for your associates so they don't feel the need to run away screaming after a couple of years of indentured servitude?

What if you promoted more than one or two associates to equity partner each year?

What if you made good on your promises to support pro bono projects by including pro bono hours in your minimum billable hours?

What if you allowed associates to leave the office at a reasonable time each day without fear of being perceived as slackers (no 9 pm is not reasonable)?

What if you gave associates their weekends and holidays off without making them feel you are doing them a huge favor that will have to be repaid down the road?

What if you stopped promoting abusive lawyers to partner, since it is primarily their shameful behavior that is responsible for driving out smart, talented associates?

These are just a few suggestions off the top of my head. I'm sure if you started paying attention to what departing associates are saying at their exit interviews, you could come up with your own list.

Love the lawgirl


p.s. I found the Law.com article while reading Denise Howell's blog on whether all lawyers should have their own blogs, here:



Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

This is addictive


 

Lawgirl's Apology for Disappearing Comments

To those of you who have already posted comments on my new blog, I installed Trackback today and it apparently overwrote all previous comments.

Being new to the Blogosphere, I'm not exactly sure what Trackback is supposed to accomplish, but it was mentioned on another Blawg and I decided to try it. I apologize to my readers. Please post more comments and I will try not to destroy them again.

Love the Lawgirl

Monday, May 09, 2005

 

Love What You Do

Well, there's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with


I was reminded of this song today when I heard a television personality give the career advice "Do what you love."

Sure, that’s a fine-sounding, high-minded theory, but, honestly, how many of us can turn our childhood passions for staging Barbie fashion shows or lipsyncing to ABBA into lucrative, rewarding careers.

So, to paraphrase the Isley Brothers’ pragmatic, if somewhat jaded, advice, I suggest that if you can’t do what you love, love what you do.

When you made the decision to plunk down $100,000 on law school, you probably still thought that Lexis was a car manufacturer and sherpardizing was something that Little Bo Peep did before she lost her sheep (right, she lost her "sheep" - if that’s not some kind of sexual metaphor, I don’t know what is - listen honey, no matter what they tell you, once you’ve lost your sheep, they ain’t bringin’ their tail-waggin’ selves home again).

But, I digress.

Now you’re up to your ears in student loans, perhaps you work for a bunch of jerks who make Lynndie England look like Little Mary Sunshine, and you’re starting to think that being a lawyer is one of the most tedious, dehumanizing, depressing professions ever invented by what has come to be known as western "civilization."

And of course some idiot will always love to remind you that lawyers have the highest suicide rate after psychologists because lawyers spend more hours than everyone else in the world working at jobs they hate more than everyone else in the world hates their jobs.

I know this all sounds very grim, but a light awaits you at the end of the tunnel if you learn one important lesson. Those lawyers did not perish for lack of opportunity, or lack of hope, or even lack of happiness. What killed them is lack of imagination. I firmly believe that this infirmity, which is pandemic among legal professionals, is the true cause of their misery.

And yet, there is simply no excuse for being a miserable lawyer. A law degree is one of the greatest assets you can have in the professional world. Don’t lose sight of its value just because the thought of measuring the rest of your life in one-tenths of an hour makes you want to reach for the arsenic. While most lawyers do work in law firms, there are many non-traditional legal careers or non-legal careers that will allow you to integrate your legal skills with your other interests.

Start out by doing some on-line research and some serious thinking about how to turn the law into something you can really love. Here's an article to get you started:

Link

When you’ve figured out how to incorporate your life-long passion for Ultimate Frisbee or Nintendo into a creative new legal career, write to me and tell me about it.

Love the Lawgirl

Sunday, May 08, 2005

 

The Pen is Mightier than the Telephone

My friend M called me a couple of weeks ago about a situation with his landlord. It seems that M’s apartment was in need of repairs, which the landlord had been putting off for well over a year, despite numerous complaints. Someone had suggested withholding the rent until M’s landlord made the repairs and M wanted to know what I thought about this idea. I told him that, under some circumstances, a tenant can withhold rent, but this is a risky proposition. I asked my friend if he had ever put any of his complaints in writing, to which the response was negative. I told M that the first step, before taking any further action, was to write a letter to the landlord listing all the problems that needed repair, detailing the history of his prior communications with the landlord, and requesting that the repairs be made within a specific time frame.

While this may seem an obvious solution to some of us, particularly those of us in the legal profession, many people don’t realize how essential the letter-writing step is in almost any potential dispute. In many cases, an effectively written letter can produce exactly the result you desire, without recourse to more drastic action. Of course, situations will invariably arise where someone will ignore your letter and, assuming it makes sense from a cost-benefit analysis, you may have to pursue legal remedies. Even so, your letter provides a written record that you have attempted to resolve the problem informally and is, in many cases, a prerequisite to legal action. Obviously, none of this should be taken as legal advice, since I am not your lawyer. If you are faced with a potential legal dispute, you should consult a lawyer to make sure you know what your rights are. And it’s always a good idea to have your letter reviewed by a lawyer beforehand, so start making friends with those lawyers you always thought were so boring. They can really come in handy.

As for my friend M, he emailed me this week to tell me that work in his apartment was scheduled to start on Monday.

Friday, May 06, 2005

 

Big Law Firms Have Their Advantages

Last night I had dinner with two former colleagues from my old law firm - one of the largest and most prestigious firms in the city, if not the country. We all started working at what I refer to as the "Evil Empire" in the fall of 2002 and are at different stages in our exit process.

I left in September 2004 to move to a smaller firm where I work on a variety of small to medium-sized general litigation matters.

My friend S worked her last day the previous week and will be starting a new job on Monday, at a smaller firm where she would work on a variety of small to medium-sized general litigation matters.

My friend A still works at EE, but has recently been accepted into a prestigious foreign Masters of Law program that will begin in September of 2005.

As you can imagine, the main topic of our conversation last night was how horrible and dehuminizing it is to work at EE and how relieved we are to have escaped (or almost escaped, in the case of A).

For those of you who are in law school and are considering your employment options, working for a large firm has many advantages. If you have opportunity, I recommend taking the job with the expectation that they will treat you like the worthless piece of crap they think you are, chew you up, spit you out, and step all over your soggy, broken corpse on their way to the next Partners' meeting.

Don't fret about it.

Having such low expectations is the best way to approach life in a big firm. And it's worth it for a couple of years as long as you try not to take anything personally, remember you're being paid a ton of money to roll over and take it, and realize it's a great stepping stone to what you really want to do. Surviving for two years at a big firm is a rite of passage and, at the end of it, you'll likely find a bunch of small to mid-sized firms clamoring to hire you (as long as you're willing to take a big paycut).

Trust me, the paycut is worth it. I have no bitterness about my big firm experience, because I get what it's about and I never expected to like it.

Now I love what I do, I have time to see my boyfriend and my cat more than 2 hours a week, and no one thinks they own me (except maybe my cat).

Love the lawgirl

Thursday, May 05, 2005

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up, my favorite movies were courtroom dramas.

A small-town lawyer who outsmarts the big-city suits and proves his client's innocence using a pair ladies' underwear.

Two famous lawyers played by two great actors battle over evolution in an overheated southern courtroom.

A criminal defense lawyer who thinks he has freed an innocent man learns that a woman driven by love can outsmart a lawyer driven by ego.

If you can name these movies without running a google search, you may have some idea why I became a lawyer.

Long before I ever became one, I understood that real lawyers are to movie lawyers as the real world is to . . . well . . . the "Real World."

(Notice the use of the "analogy" - my strongest standardized test subject - which has been excised from the LSAT test, more's the pitty. But, I digress.)

Perhaps my appreciation for this gap between reality and fiction accounts to some extent for the temporal gap between my college graduation and my entry into law school some ten years later. I knew that reality could never match up to the iconic figure of lawyer-as-hero that had inserted itself into my impressionable brain through the medium of the silver screen.

Nevertheless, a couple of years into my third decade of life, I realized that, while being a real lawyer may never measure up to the image of the movie-lawyer, being anything else would never measure up to my image of myself. So I packed myself off to law school and embarked on a journey that has led me here.

And where is "here," you may well ask. What do I have to offer that you can't read in the weblogs of a thousand self-absorbed, self-appointed cultural critics who are convinced that the rest of the world is breathlessly awaiting their profound insights on matters of such social importance as how much carry-on luggage each passenger should be permitted to cram into an over-head compartment and whether Paula Abdul's affair with an American Idol contestant would really have any effect on the voting public?

Well, I'll tell you.

My objective is humble.

I am sure that my opinions on life, love and reality television are of little interest to anyone except my friends and family.

I believe there are others who share my obsession with the law - the fact that you can turn on your t.v. at any given time and find an episode of Law & Order lends some credence to my belief.

So, here I am. Although still relatively new to the profession, I have some experiences to share with those who are in the initial stages of considering a career in law. I hope you will find my experiences and insights, such as they are, helpful and, if not, at least mildly entertaining.

Love the lawgirl

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