Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Some days are like that...

It has been one of those days when I feel slow and stupid...also one of those days I have three places to be at once and so I feel like I end up doing nothing well. One of those days you feel like you are somehow operating through a filter. The air is thicker, the neurons have to push through something to reach their destination. On days like these you have to rely on your organization and competence from earlier days to get you through- because if you start thinking too much, you are going to screw it up. I am going to go for a walk which will hopefully get my mind moving and back into the swing of things.

Luckily, I just have some mindless crap to do after Federal Court... I've already hit two courts this am-- just one final one to go and I am ready, cases pulled, client briefed-- and its just a little hearing with any luck there will be no problems... Although by merely writing that I'm sure I've jinxed myself into making it a full blown problem. : )

I am so ready to go lie on the beach and think of nothing important. Oh, wait, Katrina screwed that up. Damn you Katrina! and Alabama got the least of it this time. I find this amusing: This weekend at the Coast I was supposed to repair the screens my dogs had ruined...I told MadDog that at least I hadn't gone down there fixed them and then had them ripped out the following weekend- that would have really pissed me off.

What really bothers me about the destruction is that instead of wonderful laid back shacks being built back what always seems to happen after hurricanes is that the giant Corporate hotels and condos flood in in larger and larger numbers. I wish all those damn developers would just go AWAY!

When I was a child going to the coast meant nasty sulfur water, outdoor showers and all the kids in the main room. Our days were filled with mosquitoes, bottle rocket wars in the sand dunes, Junk cereal, seaweed, jellyfish and snorkeling at the water's edge until you turned all pruny when an adult would finally wake up and come down to the ocean with you. Evenings were filled with solorcaine in front of the box fan, stealing your parent's beer, and driving an hour to the store because we ate all the white bread.

Now a days it means clean chlorine pools at the condo, central air, taking the elevator down to the lower level, perfect water for showering, each child with a bedroom, cable TV, shopping, gourmet foods and amusement parks.

It means places to stay where you don't need pliers to turn on the water. Where you don't get splinters if you drag your feet on the deck. Where raised wooden walkways keep your feet from sandspurs.

Remember how it used to be? I do, and I miss it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

On being self employed...

I knew quickly when I graduated from college that I needed to work for myself. Working for other people was just not going to work for me. Sure, I did a great job taking care of them, but I wanted to do all of that for ME.

Being a lawyer was a profession I knew would allow me to do that, and provide new and different challenges on a daily basis. I also knew that even if I decided not to be a lawyer in the end, the knowlege and discipline of law school would give me an edge in whatever path I did take. I needed something to support myself until I got my book written.

So I became a lawyer. I pretty much knew from the time I entered law school I would never ever work for a firm. Working for myself is the greatest thing ever. I decide when I come in, when I leave, how my files are organized, what to charge a client, when to write on my blog. I am the kind of person who would feel like I was cheating my employer if I wrote on my blog durring work hours- but my curent boss has no problems with it. : )

I always say, "My boss can be a real bitch when it comes to getting my work done, but she's also very flexible about everything else."

The thing is, I've seen so many lawyers and others who just shouldn't work for themselves. You have to have a certain personality type to do it. You have to be a self starter. You have to be organized. You have to be self disciplined. You have to be able to keep financial records, and live within your budget. You have to make yourself stay at work when its slow, and come in on Saturdays when you have too much to do.

You have to know yourself-- if you want money, fame, and power- you probably need the framework a lawfirm provides. Solos are seldom searching for those things. I want financial comfort, personal satisfaction and a life. I want to live within my ethical framework and not have a choice made for me that I do not feel is right. These things are more important to me than being rich.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Law School Advice...

Anon. Asked if I have law school advice, and why, yes, yes I do since you asked. : )

First, Law School sucks. Ok? No matter how well you did in college, so did everyone else there. Add to that insecurity, a harsh grading on a curve system, and the stress of this being CRITICAL to your future and well, it can really suck. But, as I was told when bitching about this-- you have to get over it and just deal. Law School is about survival. As long as you pass the bar, you WILL do fine.

So, number one: Remember that everyone you meet in law school is going to be practicing with you. Be nice to them even when they aren't. This will come back to you and serve you well. Just remind yourself that one day these people are going to "get it" and then know that you got it long before they did. They will then be impressed. I have had people apologize to me for how they behaved in law school.

Second: Unless you are in the top ten percent and really want to clerk at a big firm, I suggest you apply to clerk for a District or Circuit judge after your first year. It will probably be unpaid, but you will learn more about how the law really works doing that than any thing else. It will also help you meet attorneys if you are not in the top ten percent and thus get a job.

Third: Treat law school like a job--8 to 5 and then stop. You should be able to get your studying done and stay on top of things. Brief your cases religiously for the first semester. Remember, it all boils down to one test at the end of the semester. Buy those casenotes books. Read. Go out, exercise and have fun- just don't skip class.

Fourth: Find someone who is a third year and get their notes for first and second year. People can be really weird about sharing notes but it really helps to have someone else's notes from a class to know where the teacher is going. I had the notes from the editor of the Law Review. Extremely helpful.

Fifth: Remember that any awful thing you do will be hashed and rehashed by the gossip mongers. One girl in my class is now known as the girl who stuck her finger in a guy's butt. Another guy is the cokehead. Do your best not to be either of these people. Fly under the radar.

Sixth: Don't be a gunner. (A gunner is someone who is trying really hard.) Don't sit in the front row, don't sit in the back.

Ok, so that's my basic advice. If I think of anything else, I'll add it. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Representing yourself...

There is an old saying in the law that someone who represents himself has a fool for a client and a jackass for a lawyer. For anything serious this is definitely true, but then there are the iffy cases-- small misdemeanors.

If you are going to represent yourself these are some things I saw today that I recommend against:

1. When the D.A., assistant D.A. or whatever they call the person in your district calls you up and makes you an offer-- listen to his or her offer in its entirety before beginning your part of the talk, and before rejecting the offer.
This person is merely a hired gun and pissing him or her off will just make things harder. Person after person today came up and just as the prosecutor was in the middle of his offer they would interrupt with, "Naw! I ain't gonna plead guilty." If you have some fact you think renders you innocent, wait until s/he is done and then present it to him/her. Do remember that the whole, "Anything you say can and will be used against you." Still applies.

2. If you accept the guilty plea, you have to be willing to admit you did it. This is one of those pesky fundamental requirements of the Justice system. The Judge will not let you get up there and plead guilty unless you admit you did whatever it is you're accused of doing. If you maintain your innocence, s/he will make you sit back down and have a trial. For some reason, the Justice system believes that no innocent person would ever plead guilty.

3. Bringing a bible up with you is not going to help. Even in Alabama. However, not wearing beer/pot/or stripper clothing may help.

4. Using, "Please," "May I, " and "Would you mind," is highly recommended, even if you do not wish to use Sir. Muttering "Fucking pig, " under your breath is not. Police officers are pigs. Assistant D.A.s are not pigs, no matter how porcine they appear. Get it straight if you're going to insult someone. That's like calling a Southerner a Yankee.

5. Relying on what other people have told you is the law is really a bad idea. I promise you: if that dude who was in jail with you who gave you advice was anywhere nearly as smart as you seem to think he was- he wouldn't have gotten caught. Great example: I once listened to a man who got up in front of the Judge and began his rap about how the judge should grant him a chance to go to rehab, just like the Judge's sister was granted a chance to go to rehab. He went on and on with a few insinuations that it wasn't fair that the Judge's sister got to go to rehab if he didn't and maybe he would be calling someone about that...Finally, he was done and the Judge peered over her glasses at him and said, "Well, that's all very interesting, Mr. X, but I don't have any idea what you're talking about. I don't actually have a sister."

Bwahhaa. I felt pretty bad for that guy.

Now, a great example of when to represent yourself: MadDog's secretary got a speeding ticket. She looked down at the ticket and saw that the officer had written the ticket for going 30 in a 30. She didn't tell the officer- he might have just written another. THIS is the kind of loophole you should exploit. Nicely. She got it thrown out- all she did was hand it to the DA and say, I'll be happy to plead guilty to going 30 in a 30. The DA started cracking up and threw it out.

Ok, have a great Wednesday!

Name of the Day....

And the name for today is:


To me, it sounds like one of the words Jeff Forworthy would come up with, "Albetanisha comes home, then I'll win, and if she don't, then you win."

Friday, August 19, 2005

closed comments

I closed the comments to the kakhi pants due to another "hijacker" comment. I opened it back up, just ignore the crap. Philosophicalawyer shakes her fist at hijacker... "if you were on fire I wouldn't piss on you to put it out." That was always one of my favorite insults.

What you first grader should know...

I wasn't going to post today, but I found an article on MSN about skills your first grader should have...(Yes, I was wasting time...) and it kind of struck me... Wow! FIRST GRADE? I know fully functioning adults who couldn't properly complete this list... "Participate in group decision making?" Hmmm. We all know people who can't do this!
And "Understand traditions that reflect American ideals and influences from diverse cultures within the nation." Please read 1984 and remember that Newspeak is BAD people. Is this where we studied where Christmas traditions came from?

Social Studies
Locate the United States, the seven continents, and the four oceans on a large map or globe
Construct and interpret simple maps with cardinal directions and map key
Demonstrate awareness of current news
Participate in group decision making
Understand traditions that reflect American ideals and influences from diverse cultures within the nation
Create charts and timelines demonstrating an understanding of past and present
Recognize shared values and goals as students in the same community, despite differences in backgrounds

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The khaki Pants Story...

So, when I went to visit my British friend at his home I should have known it was going to be a tough weekend. The first thing that happened was that he told me to catch the train to Lester. When I arrived at the train station there was no place called Lester. I promptly phoned him and he began laughing hysterically. Apparently, its spelled Liecester.

Ok, so I catch the (later) train.

When I arrived he picked me up and we went to his parent's home. My friend was always very proper and so I was dressed in my best traveling outfit and trying to look spiffy. Unfortunately, being me, I had gotten something on my pants. His parents wanted to take us out on a tour, so I said, "That would be lovely, but I seem to have gotten something on the fanny of my khaki pants so I'd like to freshen up and put on some clean ones. " Everyone got the wierdest looks on their faces. My friend asked me if I was ok. His mother asked if I needed some Pepto Bismal. I said, "No, I'll be fine, I just want to put on my blue pants and wash the spot off my khaki pants." Again weird looks. As though I had just spoken about something quite impolite, but they were going to do their best to ignore my gaffe, because I was, after all, American, and probably couldn't help it.

Finally it dawned on BL, "You mean the back of your tan trousers?" "Yes," I said, "My khakis."

He then pulled me aside and explained to me that: 1. Fanny was the British word for a woman's privates. 2. Pants are what they call underwear and 3. Khaki is slang for shit (especially in my Southern accent).

Yes, I had just announced to his parents that I had shit in the crotch of my underwear.

We all had a good laugh after we translated for each other.

And that is the story of the khaki pants....

Bar Complaints....

One of my friends had a bar complaint filed on her recently. She said when she received it she almost threw up. That official letter from the Bar... just makes you feel awful.

Then she realized what it was about. She had a client. The client's baby daddy died. The client was truly upset she was no longer receiving child support. My friend asked her if the man owned any property... to which the client replied, "He ain't got nothin. I done took it all."

Lawyer tells the client there is nothing she can do-- the man is dead and has no estate.

Woman files bar complaint because her lawyer can't get her no child support. From a Dead man. With no assets.

On the brighter side of being a lawyer, I had a fabulous day in Court today... 4 cases all of them criminal appointments... all of them Won! I have never done that with criminal cases... but this time the stars alligned and the facts were right and I had some very happy clients...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cool T-Shirts....Check it out!

One very creative favorite person of mine works here and designs and prints these t-shirts (along with other people, but she's the one sweating in the ovens....)

Check them out....

Things I learned in Denver....

Top ten things I learned in Denver:

10. When Enterprise advertises that "they'll pick you up," they mean within a 10 mile radius of their location. Then, when you figure out how to take the bus from the Denver Airport and call them and tell them that you'll be in the Cool Springs Park-n-ride at precisely 2:57 PM, and then call them back at 2:55 PM and tell them you're pulling in they will inform you that they're busy and can't be there for 20 minutes and so you will stand there in the rain at 50 degrees for 30 minutes and then they will not seem to know where the Cool Springs Park-n-ride is, so that you, the person from Alabama, will have to give them directions. Then, when you finally arrive at the Enterprise location, they will not ask how to make it up to you or offer you a nicer car, you will have to tell them that you're so irritated you're going to call the national number so they finally get it through their heads and come down on the price to the point that you're actually quite pleased.

9. When you ask the woman behind the counter at Enterprise the name of the County in which she lives, she will not know. She will then say, as though it were amusing, "I guess I've lived here for four years now, and I still don't know the name of this County."

8. When you finally leave the Enterprise office headed to your hotel, you will stop at the first liquor store you pass, as you really need a drink at this point, and you will discover that the car lock clicker does not work. You will be too tired at this point to care.

7. When two tired women are trying to find the Jefferson County Courthouse in Golden Colorado, and one of the women is trying to determine which direction on a road to take and tells the other woman that she should go East, but that that is an emotional feeling, the other woman will not yell at her about it as a man would. The two women will devolve into fits of laughter and East (Look, the road was going straight North and South there!) will turn out to be the correct choice.

6. Everyone in Jefferson County Colorado refers to their Courthouse as the Taj-Ma Hall. The Courthouse looks more like Monticello than the Taj-ma Hall. It looks nothing like the Taj-Ma Hall.

5. Death Certificates in Colorado are not public records. Crying at the woman at the Denver Public library will, however, get her to fax the Obituary to you at the coroners office within 15 minutes.

4. If you have a corroded battery and want to clean it off, baking soda and water work really really well, but won't do a durn bit of good if the corrosion is so bad that it has eaten through the connectors.

3. If someone has over 200 keys and you separate off 5 keys to give the neighbor to get into the home, you will give to the neighbor the one key to the locking gas cap which you will discover 100 miles from said neighbor in the middle of nowhere, when you discover the existence of said locking gas cap. You will also promptly set the car alarm off twice ascertaining whether or not you have the key to the locking gas cap.

2. AAA will not come and help you if you have a locking gas cap and no key. Something to do with liability for the car blowing up. Some dude from Arkansas hanging out at the shop will, however, be willing to take a drill to said gas cap for $20.00.

1. If one sets a car alarm off in the middle of the night in the middle of Kansas, and can't figure out how in the world to turn it off, it can, somehow, surprise one so much that one shuts one's ear in the door of the car. I would have told you this was impossible until I saw my mother do it. And it was the middle of her ear, not the lobe. Amusingly, the car alarm going off for over a minute will not bring the rednecks out to see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, the laughter will generate enough adrenaline to keep you awake for at least another two hours.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I understand those of you who wish to remain anonymous. Really I do. However, with the spoil sports from last week, and the JACKASS who put up some crap link today NO MORE. (and apologies to you anon, if you are a person who actually read and liked my blog... But your blog has no content, so I think that's not the case....)

Were this the real world, where I could shun people who do stuff like this, I'd do that. But you private sorts may get an excite or yahoo account and make up a name and then post....

Sorry kids. If anyone knows how to fuck with the person who posted the crap link, please tell me how.

St. Yves

She Put What Where?

Thought I might do a legal post before I did my "Alabama Lawyer in Colorado" series.

Ok, so on the plane to Denver Mommy Dearest is reading our local paper. She begins choking at one article, piquing my interest.

The article is about a woman who is arrested on only FTA (Failure to appear) traffic warrants.
These aren't such a big deal.

When she arrives at the Jail the corrections officer who supervises her changing from her clothes to the jumpsuit sees something emerging from her privates. They call in other officers and do a cavity search that reveals that the "something" is a bag of pills. Oops, now we have a felony possession charge and a misdemeanors "promoting prison contraband."

But wait, there's more!

After the pills, she complains of abdominal pains. It turns out there is more up there than pills. Oh yes! Further checking reveals a (soft) pack of Newport cigarettes.

She was taken to the hospital for X-rays to insure there wasn't more up there.

Newports-- Soft enough to go... No, I can't. I can't say it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back in Town....

Well, I have returned from Denver Colorado where my mother and I flew to help my grandfather settle his younger brother's estate. 1 two hour bus ride, 45 minutes waiting in the rain for enterprise to "pick us up," 1000 cell phone minutes, 1 kind coroner, 1 angry neighbor, 1 antelope named Cantalope, 2 retired FBI agents, 1 retired Army intelligence officer, 1 probate office that would not accept faxes, 1 battery so coroded it had eaten through the positive connecting wires, 4 accidental car alarm incidents, 1 person's ear shut in the door (how do you even do that?), 1 locking gas cap to which we did not have the key, 3 hours of sleep in a 40 hour period, so much fast food I never want to eat it again, and enough cafeine to keep the State of Alabama awake.

I have some great stories. First, I have to help my clients, go to Court and try to get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Comment to the 4th comment on Pissed-at-the-world-itis

I'm having trouble posting a comment to the comment left by anon. so I'm going to enter this as a seperate post. I had a whole retort to this person's anon. comment... but then I remembered, I'm Philosophicalawyer and so I say to you, "Is that right?" (Must be said with a southern accent for full effect)

(Look through the archives for the post about this fabulous phrase a wise woman taught me : ))

Wednesday...And some stories from England....

This morning I walk into City Hall at 8:25 for Court and what do I see but an older overweight man sitting casually on a bench in the lobby. He was dressed normally, except for the fact that he was wearing a platinum blonde, page boy, shoulder length wig. He is still there when I walk out 30 minutes later after having requested and received a continuance for my client who is in jail in another city.


Then one of MadDog's oldest clients calls me thinking he needs to declare Bankruptcy and I explain to him how to get out of his mess without going through Bankruptcy. Good deed for the day done, I read the comments on my blog and Southern Magnolia reminds me of a story from my days at Oxford:

Ok, I'm riding the train up to London with a guy who lives in the dorm next to me who is a graduate researcher and has special access to these really wonderful documents at the British Museum. We'll call him the Kiwi because he's from New Zealand. I am going to achieve one of the items on my personal list of things to do before I die which is to touch the Rosetta stone. Please note: I did so underneath the carved face as I would never want to mar the actual stone- but I just had to touch it. And I did! I also want to see the Magna Carta and some of the Ben Johnson stuff the Kiwi is going to see which I will only get to see if I go with him... And of course the Elgin Marbles and the Egyptian collection. Oh, and I'll meet BL at his Club for lunch.

So, we're on the train. There is a group of young people about four rows down from us and they are all wearing University of Alabama T-shirts- of some form or another- the two girls had on Sorority shirts and the boys were wearing readom Alabama football shirts. At first its fine. The Kiwi and I (quietly) discuss the American penchant for wearing clothing with logos on it. I have never done a lot of this, but you can usually pick out Americans abroad by either their garishly loud athletic jackets, the fact that we're wearing tennis shoes at non athletic events (and I do that one all the time!) or their T-shirts emblazoned with school logos. The only time I saw British people wear logo shirts was at an athletic event (and then primarily only if they were practicing for said event or participating in said event, not as a guest at said event) or in some other similarly super casual event. Riding the train to London required lace up shoes, cloth pants (not shorts or jeans) and a button down shirt of even my college friends.

While we're doing this, these Americans begin discussing, loud enough for me to hear four rows back, how awful and stupid England is. How bad the food is, how crappy the weather is, how stupid the accents are (in thick redneck accents no less) and how great the University of Alabama is.

I have my back to them so I turn around with the rest of those who are within hearing range and give them the evil eye. They are oblivious. The Kiwi wants me to get up and go give them a piece of my mind but I am loathe to do so for several reasons-- I'm blending in, I might actually know one of them, I wouldn't really care if someone decided to beat them up because they should know better, (Yeah, I'd like to see someone say that stuff about Alabama to them...) and frankly, the more people who believe Alabama is a redneck idiot's paradise, the nicer the state stays for me. I was quite relieved when the ire of the carriage was diverted by some very drunk Australians playing rugby while running through the carriage.
The ugly Austrailian just doesn't have the same ring as the ugly American thought does it?

The lunch at the Club was far far worse than that for the Great State of Alabama. Apparently in England, it is not polite to set your knife and fork down when speaking to someone- it is a sign you're done. They naturally use the European method aka don't switch hands with the cutlery method, while I was taught the switch hands/ rest the knife at the top/right of the plate/ set your fork down to the side of the plate while drinking/talking method. The napkin placed on the table being the signal one was done. BL said the waiter was going nuts behind me. After that I went with the When-in-Rome theory and switched to the European method, which is really far easier than all that pesky hand switching. Mommy Dearest and MadDog were not amused when I returned.

Next week I'll tell you the Kakhi Pants story if I haven't already...have to check the archives. I'll preview it with the quote I heard somewhere, "America and England are two countries seperated by a common language."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I got this from BritLawyer who is a Junior Partner at this point in his career....

I am working my way through a report on a VERY big project prepared by someone else. I am about to tear a gentle strip off them for having the most disorganized report in the world. Ever. Some poor person (probably me) is going to have to re-write the thing in English. In sentences. That make sense. (Weeps silently and bemoans the modern education system.) [Note: the lack of sentences in the above is not because I can't do sentences, but because I don't want to, just in case you worried.]

I suddenly feel better about my idiot clients because I don't exactly expect them to be able to function, you know? When you work in a law firm with an international reputation you expect your associates to be able to write. In fact, you expect them to be able to write well. Its always harder to have your expectations not met, than to have no expectations and to be pleasantly surprised should some unexpected competence arise.


So I'm sitting here thinking of things to write about and nothing particularly exciting has come to mind. The summer can be like this- quite a rut of same shit different day... And often I feel quite jaded because the stupid clients don't really phase me any more... Like this morning, my friend and I are sitting in Court and her client comes up to her and asks if she should have brought her phone records with her for Court today... And my friend looks at her and says, well of course, what did you think we were doing today? And I barely even rolled my eyes.

I mean, do you just not get it? Today is your day in Court- of course you should BRING YOUR STUPID EVIDENCE. Do you think we're just going to talk about what we're going to do? Why would you EVER come to Court without your evidence? I see that kind of stuff even on cases like the People's Court on TV... What did they think- they were going to be on TV twice? At least sometimes I find out they're actually lying- trying to pretend they have the evidence when they don't and I can truly understand that...but more often, they actually have the evidence and just don't bring it and THAT blows my mind.

I have a client coming in today and I don't think he'll be half an hour early this time. Last time he came half an hour early, and I said, "Why are you half an hour early?" and then I was irritated because I was just walking back from MadDog's office where I had gotten a ColdDrink and was going to come back and get his file ready and check my emails and mentally prepare for him, and there he was.

But oh no, he did come 20 minutes early- so this entry was interrupted.

I am in a service job, I am in a service job. If people did what they were supposed to do I would have to get a real job. Must repeat my mantra at least 20 times.

At least this time he didn't cry. Last time he cried. I felt really bad for him because he was in a bad way, and he deserved to cry from the stress- but still, dude, don't show up early and cry at me when I'm not mentally prepared for it. You would think after last time he would have gotten it and showed up ON TIME. But noooo, I guess I was just too nice. I should have sent him away and told him to come back when the big hand and the little hand were both pointing at the sky.

But, of course, I didn't, because its a bankruptcy and its easy money and so, I just sat down and went over it and printed it and filed it for him and said nothing about his inability to follow simple instructions possibly, just maybe being part of why he had to file for Bankruptcy....

So now I'm going to go and try to get the rest of my work done because I definitely have post vacation pissed-at-the-world Irrititis and the only way to cure that is to go home early and pretend your vacation really did relax you and wasn't too short... oh laws and its only Tuesday.