Monday, June 27, 2005
Lawgirl's Guide to New York Dives and Deals
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Lawgirl's Guide to New York Dives and Deals
Well, I have to say it was delicious. We shared one appetizer (mussels in wine sauce), the Pizza De Palma (mozzarella, ham and arugula), and the chocolate mousse pie (yummmm). We also ordered a pint of beer and two glasses of Australian Shiraz (I won't say who had the two drinks - hic!). The homemade bread, which was served hot with olive oil, was positively addictive.
The total (including tax and tip) was about $50.00. It's definitely not a dive and maybe it doesn't quite qualify as a deal, but the prices are not bad for New York. The food tastes fresh and homemade, the atmosphere was warm and relaxed, and the service was very good. You can have an excellent, satisfying meal for a decent price surrounded by beautiful artwork.
Apparently, they deliver in the area.
Speaking of deals, even though our concert was a washout, there will be many more opportunities to hear free music at Madison Square Park this summer. Here is the schedule.
And see a more complete listing of free concerts here.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Except thanks to Daniel Drezner for the link.
Did You Know Diesel Cars Can Run on Soy Oil?
Apparently, the mileage isn't bad, either.
Lawgirl's Guide to New York Dives and Deals
To that end, I am starting a new series highlighting some the affordable dives and deals I've found in the city.
This week's cheap eatery is the Festival Restaurant, a Mexican dive (and I mean that in the nicest sense) located at 120 Rivington Street (one block from the Delancy Street station on the F-line). My boyfriend and I had dinner there this week and loved it. The bill for our meal, which consisted of Chicken mole with rice and beans, nachos with chorizo, a beer and a margarita, came to $28.00, including tip. Tortilla chips and spicy hot salsa were included. The mole was very good, the chicken was tender and moist, the chorizo nachos were delicious. I thought the margarita was a little weak. The restaurant was almost empty when we arrived at 7:30, but was filling up by the time we left an hour later. Pretty good for a Wednesday night.
After dinner, we headed over to Sin-e, at 15 Attorney Street and Stanton, where we heard a lively battle of bands (boys vs. girls). It was a fun laid-back venue, with an $8 cover and a beer/wine bar. The club entrance is around the corner from the main entrance to the bar. The cover varies between $8 and $10, so check the website. They sell earplugs for $1.00.
Animal Cruelty? No. Hypocrisy? You Decide
Assuming the animals were euthanized humanely, I don't think PETA or its employees are guilty of animal cruelty for desecrating the dead bodies of Fido and Felix. I do think they are guilty of breathtaking hypocrisy.
Anyone who still thinks PETA is an ethical organization should check out Penn & Teller's wonderful expose on Showtime.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Microsoft Word Ban or Who Really Cares?
Big Firm, Small Firm - Part Two: Client Contact
When you are interviewing for your first law firm job, one of the issues you're expected to discuss (in order to demonstrate your thoughtful approach to the interviewing process) is client contact.
How much client contact will I have as an associate in your firm?
My clinical experience gave me the opportunity for a lot of client contact.
While I enjoy researching and writing, I recognize that client contact is one of the most important aspects of legal practice.
For low-level associates at big firms, client contact is pretty much a myth. Client contact is almost exclusively handled by partners and a few senior associates, who will take it as a personal offense if you attempt to engage in any activity that might remotely be interpreted as client contact (such as calling up a client to ask a question or clarify a point of information for a brief you are writing). Before contacting a client about anything, you must first navigate the precarious tightrope of the big firm hierarchy - you call the mid-level associate, who calls the senior associate, who calls the partner, who in some cases then has to call the billing partner. All to find out if the Senior VP of Sales for the corporate client first contacted the plaintiff in November or December of 1991.
Of course, don't even suggest calling the client until you've waded through thousands of documents to see if you can find the information there, because you never ever take up five minutes of the client's time asking a simple question if you can find the same information on your own in about five hours.
At a small firm, it's a different world. Unlike large firms, where cases are generally heavily staffed with layers of lawyers, a small firm will usually staff all but the largest cases with only one partner and one associate. This is a big adjustment for an associate transitioning from a large firm to a small firm. Suddenly, client contact is the name of the game. As long as the partners feel you are not a complete buffoon (and they would not hire you if they thought so) you will be in contact with firm clients practically before you've finished filling out your W-2 form.
Sounds wonderful, you say! After all, isn't that what we want? Weren't you just talking about the importance of client contact? Isn't signficant client contact one sign of professional advancement? Sure, that may all be true, but you will need even more skill to navigate the minefield of client relations than you did to navigate the hierarchy of a large firm. In other words, client contact is a double-edged sword.
Here are a few DOs and DON'Ts I've learned about client relations in my short career:
1. DO think of your clients as people, rather than nameless, faceless entities.
In a small firm, clients are usually individuals rather than big corporations. As an associate in a big firm, you can forget that there are individual clients behind those corporate names, because you rarely see or speak to them. In a small firm, you must jettison this attitude. Clients have feelings and can often be very emotionally invested in their cases. Soothing those feelings and reassuring them about their anxieties, while still being realistic, is part of your job. Develop a personal rapport with your client. Remember their kid's names (or their pet's names) and ask about them. Pay attention to the personal clues they give you and draw on them later. For example, a client just told me he was coming up on a big promotion in a couple of months. I scheduled a reminder to ask him about it and sent an email to the partner suggesting we send the client a gift when it goes through.2. DO have a split personality.
On the one hand, you must make the client feel that you are 100% on his or her side. On the other hand, you must try to maintain 100% objectivity about the merits and viability of your clients' case.3. On a similar note, DON'T create false expectations of success.
My clients sometimes want reassurance that they have a good chance of winning a motion or the case itself. I prefer to be more pessimistic than optimistic and to emphasize that litigation can be kind of a crap-shoot. Many uncontrollable factors can influence the outcome. As in life, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.4. DO COMMUNICATE.
I am starting to believe that good communication is as important as achieving a great result. Maybe I'll change this view, but right now, my clients seem happier when they know what is going on, even if it is bad news. Remember to take advantage of the fact that communication is a two-way street (pardon the cliche). It may be obvious, but some lawyers seem to forget that the client is the best resource for developing the case. At a big firm, low-level associates will spin their wheels for hours (wasting time and the client's money) trying to develop the facts of a case. Develop a relationship with the client where you are comfortable picking up the phone and getting information directly from the horse's mouth. I say this with the caveat that, of course, you should never call the client to ask them a question you should already know the answer to.5. DO think of them as your clients, not just the firm's clients.
Be as invested in your clients as you would if they were paying you directly for your services.6. DO treat each client as if he/she is special, with kindness, patience and respect.
I have actually heard of lawyers telling their clients "you are not my only client. This is not my only case." Why? Don't we want to make our clients feel they are more important, not less? When speaking with a client, don't let impatience or frustration seep into your voice because you are feeling stressed and pressured. Do not be rude or brusque. You may need to explain things several times before they understand. Don't talk to them as if they are sophisticated legal thinkers, but don't condescend to them either.7. DO be conscious of everything you write about your client.
While we have all experienced frustrating moments with clients, do not document your frustration, even in a short email to another lawyer in the firm. Whenever I am faced with this temptation, I remind myself that most of what I write on the client's behalf belongs to the client and may - in some context - be disclosed to the client. The problems that would arise in that situation would far outweigh the temporary satisfaction I would get from venting in the moment. This is sort of an unrelated point, but also be careful about criticizing a judge in a written communication to your client. What if the client relationship ends up in a fee dispute or malpractice litigation? God forbid the case ends up before the same judge, or someone who is friends with that judge. Opposing counsel would love nothing more than to waive around that memo you wrote to the client saying "Judge Smith, like most judges, is an idiot and doesn't understand the merits of your claims."8. At some point, DO think of the client as the firm's client and not yours.
Yes, I know this rule appears to contradict Rule No. 5, but if a client starts to make your life really miserable, I think this rule supercedes. If you have an extremely difficult or even abusive client, do not get drawn into a dysfunctional relationship. As an associate, you have no power to choose or reject clients or cases. That is the Partner's call and, therefore, it is the partner's responsibility to be a buffer between you and a really difficult client. If your partner refuses to do this, you have decide if you can continue to function in that environment.9. DON'T complain to your client.
You are there to deal with your client's problems, not the other way around. Never complain about your job or badmouth a partner, no matter how comfortable you feel talking to the client.10. DO remember that the client will be reviewing your bills.
Be descriptive with your entries and review your descriptions using your client's eyes. How would you feel about the entry if you were the client? Of course, as an associate, you should never never write down your own time. Leave that to the partner. But if you think a client might be unhappy with a billing entry or with the amount of time spent on a project, draw the partner's attention to the entry as a potential candidate for discounting.Stay tuned for another installment of Big Firm, Small Firm and feel free to suggest topics of interest for this series.
Thanks also to Ambivalent Ambroglio for linking to part one of the series.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Little Things that Make a Difference
It has great advice and resources on home decorating. This post is about little things you can do to improve your living experience.
• When you wake in the morning, make your bed.
• Always leave the shower curtain pulled across, so that it can dry and not mildew.
• Use your kitchen in the morning, even if it only to have a glass of orange juice.
• Always include a thank you note with your rent.
• Don’t let your refrigerator fill up with old food. Clean it out at least once a week.
• Floss each night.
• Put all clothes away or in the laundry before going to bed each night.
• Get in bed early and read a novel for ½ hour.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Proposed New Immigration Policy
But it did give me an idea to institute a new refugee immigration policy. I think we should award legal status to a certain number of refugees each year who come up with the most creative methods of entering the country. One requirement, of course, is that physical harm to any person or animal will result in automatic disqualification.
Maybe it could be a reality TV show with callers voting on who they think should win.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Reflections of a Blogging Neophyte
Courtesy of Howard Bashman
Kentucky Lawyers Also Welcome Here
More information on this issue can be found here, here, here and here.
I would also like to offer my blog to any Kentucky lawyers who wish to continue blogging until this issue is resolved.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
More Evidence of John Kerry's Political Ineptness or Why the Democrats Deserved to Lose the Election
Shockingly, they reveal . . .
absolutely nothing we didn't already know.
The records, which the Navy Personnel Command provided to the Globe, are mostly a duplication of what Kerry released during his 2004 campaign for president, including numerous commendations from commanding officers who later criticized Kerry's Vietnam service.
The lack of any substantive new material about Kerry's military career in the documents raises the question of why Kerry refused for so long to waive privacy restrictions.
Yep, that's right. After refusing to release the records in response to demands by the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush . . . er . . . Truth, it turns out that the records actually contain glowing commendations from some of those very same veterans.
Why didn't Kerry just sign the privacy waiver during the election campaign, when it actually might have served some purpose? Well, I guess Kerry didn't want to make things too easy on himself and actually try to debunk some of the ridiculous accusations against him. Look, I think Kerry's Vietnam service is irrelevant to his Presidential qualifications, but his failure to respond to the Republican attacks expeditiously and effectively shows a lack of political acumen that bears directly on his competence to run an entire country.
The Globe theorizes that Kerry signed the waiver now in order to pave the way for a 2008 election bid. Good grief. I certainly hope not. If the Democrats are stupid enough to run Kerry again, they deserve everything they get, including having this guy as their next president.
I kid the Australians.
No Australians were harmed in the making of this post.
R. Crowe - pompous, self-righteous ass? You decide.
According to msnbc:
The two have had a verbal battle going on since Crowe attacked Clooney and some other stars for cashing in on their fame by appearing in ads; Clooney fired back that Crowe cashes in on his fame with his rock band. “An endorsement for products is about money. My music is from the heart,” Crowe said, reports Australia’s Northern Territory News. “But what I enjoyed, greatly, is nobody seemed to get the irony that one major franchise in George Clooney’s life is based on the work of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin [Clooney’s remake of ‘Ocean’s 11’]. Sammy, Frank and Dean were entertainers in a real sense. And Clooney climbed over their bones in order to enable him to pick up an endorsement for suits.”
The real irony? The stars to whom Crowe unfavorably compares Clooney did their own share of product endorsement, as did most stars of that era. And some of the products were a lot less benign than suits.
Monday, June 06, 2005
him: yes - she committed a crime by making a false report and wasted government resources.
me: no - why waste more time and money prosecuting an obviously disturbed woman who committed a victimless crime just because the investigators have egg on their faces.
Now, investigators are complaining about the time and money expended searching for this runaway who recently surfaced after being missing for seven years.
According to one investigator: "The responsible thing to do would have been to let someone know you're OK . . . . There are going to be people expending man-hours and effort, trying to find a missing person."
Apparently, the investigators are bummed out that, in this case, the runaway committed no crime, so unlike the runaway bride, she can't be forced to repay the money they spent searching for her.
I think this is becoming ridiculous. A runaway is not going to notify the authorities of her whereabouts to save them time and money. Otherwise, what is the point of running away?
If someone is emotionally disturbed enough to run away - and even to make up stories to cover their tracks - I don't think it is helpful or sensible to prosecute them for a crime. Yes, technically, the runaway bride violated the law by filing a false report. Big deal. Let's save those prosecutions for people who actually harm other citizens by wrongfully accusing them of rape or battery or theft or murder or child abuse - and ruining their lives. Let's not prosecute people simply because they made the investigators feel like a bunch of idiots for running around looking for someone who isn't really missing.
Stupid Law Shows to Which I am Addicted
My newest obsession is Numbers, but that at least is justified by the cute brothers (particularly the obsessive math genius geek, who is quite adorable).
I am annoyed with myself that I continue to watch these shows, even as they vie with each other to see who can fabricate the most ridiculous plotlines. I am sucker for the trick that these shows always use to hook their viewers in - the episode always starts out with a gripping, creative opener, which inevitably devolves into a trite, formulaic piece of pseudo drama. The crimes are always solved through a combination of unlikely coincidences, absurd leaps of logic, and forensic technology that exists only in a criminologist’s fantasies.
But the thing I find most irritating is the nonsensical plot point that appears in almost every one of these episodes, apparently because it is the only thing the writers can come up with to advance the plotline.
Last night it took place in an episode of CSI Miami, where the team is investigating the murder of a plastic surgery anesthesiologist who is being sued by a patient's husband for causing the patient's untimely death on the operating table.
After the audience patiently waits for the CSI team to rule out the husband as a suspect and narrow in on the other members of the surgical team, the husband starts breathing down the investigators' necks to redo his wife's autopsy in order to find out what really happened in the operating room.
So the CSI folks decide they need to exhume the wife's body, but are informed by the DA that they don't have enough evidence for a court order. This provides the impetus for a scene involving magical computer analysis of the data from the operating room, during which the investigators discover an unexplained five minute gap between the wife's cardiac arrest and the point when the surgical team took extreme measures to start her heart up - enough to get the necessary exhumation order.
But wait a minute. I know what you're thinking. Wasn't it the husband who asked for the new autopsy in the first place? If so, why can't they just get his permission to exhume the body? Ummmm . . . well . . . obviously, that would be too easy and they would not be able waste another ten minutes trying to dazzle us with more of their forensic lab analysis voodoo, which is the whole point of the show.
Do these producers really think their viewers are this idiotic? I guess so. And I guess I am one of those idiots, since I keep tuning in hoping that this will be the episode that will actually live up to the promise of its first five minutes.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Update: This post summarizes my feelings precisely. Money quote:
Please tell me there is not now forming in the Arab world a new call to arms: "There is one Cry Baby, and Allah is his name."
Update: After arguing this issue with my boyfriend, who usually plays Mr. Conservative to my Ms. PC (he claims he's a Moderate, but I said that calling himself a Moderate just gives the impression that he is Reasonable), I realized that my annoyance with this Quran-abuse issue is grounded in my deep-seated disgust of any religious group that elevates its "holy book" over the lives and sensibilities of other people. My involvement for several years in a Bible-based group showed me that adhering to a codified belief system simply because it is contained in a holy book leads people to lose touch with their individual consciences. Following the rules of their holy book gives them a spiritual pass when it comes to matters of conscience and morality and makes them insensitive to the suffering of others.
At least that's what I've observed.
People who are stupid enough to riot over reports of book-abuse should not be heard to complain when those reports turn out to be false.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Where Did Erica Go Wrong?
Apparently, people at the College of Staten Island's commencement ceremony were so offended by Erica Jong's remarks that they did all those things.
Having read the excerpts in the news article, I don't really see what the big deal was with her speech. I guess you had to be there. Is it so offensive these days to call on American students to question and challenge the status quo, even in a graduation speech? Isn't that what young people are supposed to do? I agree that a graduation speech should be inspiring, but the criticism that it was not enough of a "pep talk" seems pretty superficial.
Personally, I'm more shocked by the rudeness of the audience than by the comments themselves. Maybe a speech on manners would have been more appropriate for people who apparently prefer to be coddled rather than challenged.
Story courtesy of Instapundit, who I'm sure would disagree with everything I just wrote.
Grab Your Binoculars and Enjoy!
MARS SPECTACULAR! The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs onMars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. By the end of August, when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history.
So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month!
The defense lawyer argued this was sufficient to raise reasonable doubt.
This kind of reminds me of that old tort case, Summers v. Tice, where the plaintiff was shot simultaneously by two different hunters and could not show which bullet caused the injury.
Unfortunately, in a criminal case, the court probably can't shift the burden of proof to the defendants, as it did in Summers.
Fortunately, it does not appear to be necessary in this case, since one of the brothers finally confessed to committing the rape itself.
Curiously, the reason the rapist was finally caught was because his brother's DNA (from a subsequent crime) matched the DNA in the rape case.
Does Law and Order know about this case yet?
Crazy is as Crazy Does
Why would a woman continue to bear children and then murder them because she believed she could not afford to take care of them or that having a child would drive away her male companion? Hasn't she heard of contraception? Or - in a worst-case scenario - abortion? The only reasonable explanation is that she is insane.
The fact that she hid two of the bodies in a communal freezer in the basement of her apartment building only supports this view.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
What Would You Do If You Only Had One Day to Live?
If Tommy Chong had only one day left on this planet, he’d spend it settling a score with the former U.S. Attorney General. “I’d seek revenge on first and foremost John Ashcroft, because he put me in jail for selling bongs,” Chong told Complex magazine. “I’d tell him to go [bleep] himself, but I would do it on his terms and forgive him like a good Christian, which would freak him out. I’d probably hug him.”
It made me wonder: How many of us say we would spend our last day getting closer to our loved ones, when in fact, we'd rather spend it getting even with our worst enemy?
Commentary on the Australian Terror Attack by Our Reporter in the Field
By now I am sure it has come to your attention that Australia has been outed as the terrorist nation I have always suspected it is.
In case you have not been following the war on terror Aussie style - although I am sure by now “our shame” (the headlines informed me this morning) is international news - an "anthrax derivative" substance (whatever the hell that is) was sent to the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra. The pictures on the news looked like one of those terror strike drills, but this was not a test – I got that line from the commercial network news. Everyone’s using it; isn’t it clever.
People in those yellow HazMet suits you see in “Plague” movies and on “Medical Investigations” – who knew they were real – showed up; a “perimeter was established” or so I was assured by someone important – he seemed very pleased with himself, but then I suppose it was nice to prove all his hard work and practice has paid off (I’m sure terrorist response units have been concerned lately. But now that we are generating our own terrorist attacks, since the other terrorist nations were not obliging, they must feel their job security is much more certain); personnel were evacuated and scrubbed (on national television so we could all see what a good job the TRU was doing – well not us exactly, but Indonesia in the hopes they won’t bomb us); there was all ‘round pandemonium. I was briefly concerned about the crowd that was watching; after all standing around watching a terrorist attack doesn’t seem the safest way to spend your lunch hour, but then no one ever accused Australians of being as smart as, say, Iraqis. At least no one helped.
There is very little discussion about who is responsible or the reasons the Indonesians were targeted ... there is general consensus it was Australians in retaliation for what has become known worldwide as the "Corby Verdict" (see my recent email).
Although publicly condemned by the Federal government, this is likely to have little impact on the fall-out as such denials of involvement in terrorist activity are always given the dismissal they deserve. I expect therefore we have been added to America’s Terrorist Watch list as a nation supporting terrorism.
It will of course only be a matter of months before Indonesia retaliates with missile attacks. While Australia may have a more substantial military than Jakarta, it would breach international customary law to retaliate against such a sanctioned provoked response. Indonesia is fully entitled to hold the Australian government and the country at large responsible for a criminal act perpetrated by someone it is harbouring (precedent authority: USA - Clinton administration circa 1998).
Australia could avoid this by handing over the perpetrator, but they will obviously refuse to do so claiming they don’t know where he is and therefore have no way of complying. Of course this sort of rogue behaviour cannot be tolerated by the international community.
There is no precedent for a full scale military attack against Australia although strike forces could be sent in to assist aborigines in bring down the government if the Prime Minister continues to refuse to say he is sorry (see Operation Anaconda - US intervention in Afghanistan). But there can be little doubt there will be a pre-emptive strike against New Zealand also in accordance with international customary law (see USA – Bush administration circa 2003; Note: there is still some debate whether this requires a UN Security Council Resolution, but international experts generally agree even if it does it is not necessary for the Resolution to actually pass).
On a more serious note:
where did laboratory grade anthrax come from? I could be wrong but it doesn’t seem the sort of thing that should generally be just floating around the place. This may not seem to be cogent questions I realise. After all, the important questions are how much more of it is there, who has it, where will it show up next? But the question must also be asked how did someone with such questionable ideological priorities as to use perfectly good anthrax on something as lame as the Corby Verdict possibly have access to a laboratory where anthrax is available. He clearly must be a yobbo of little education, skill and emotional and mental development. So? What, did the cleaner just walk in and pocket it? Didn’t someone notice it was missing?
But really how pathetic are we if the best we can do as a terrorist nation is some guy who’s obviously listening to too much Alan Jones and John Laws (our resident middle age shock jockeys)? Even the British have the potential to recruit soccer hooligans (whose fundamentalist ideology and hatred of the infidel enemy competitor is well developed and widely known). Although the requisite lack of fundamental understanding of the cause he is fighting for is definitely present, the terrorist’s attack on the Indonesians was amateurish in its execution: for instance there was no video with him in a ski mask holding a meat pie sent to the ABC or any demands that Ms Corby be released. The most damning proof of our failure as a terrorist nation, however, is that multiple organisations have not come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.
On the up side as the situation deteriorates I will be free to contact UNHCR and resettle as a refugee in a variety of less aggressive countries like the United States or Britain where I can pursue my civil rights in peace. I know I can count on your support and sponsorship for my application.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Now THAT's What I Call Family Values!!!
According to the CNN article, a KFC ad, which depicts people singing with their mouths full, has become "Britain's most complained about ad, with 1,671 members of the public contacting the Advertising Standards Authority."
The viewers felt that the ad "encouraged bad manners in children by making it appear funny to sing or speak while eating, and 41 of those who complained said their children had aped the ad."
Now that's an issue I can get behind.