Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aesops Fables for Lawyers: The Crafty Old Politician

             Once upon a time there was a crafty old politician. Unfortunately, he decided not to change the letter behind his name from D to R so the sheeple voted for someone with an R behind his name and he had to go back to work being a lawyer.

               One day a nice looking woman came to his office with a tale of woe. He let her hire him for a very low flat fee because it sounded like a very easy case. Once he accepted her money, and looked at what the other lawyers in the case were filing, he realized that it was not going to be an easy case. He tried to talk to his client but she didn't want to listen to him at all and she said none of it was true. Unfortunately he was also kind of lazy, and he still had lots of political connections and big time deals, so he didn't have time to do lots of research. He just relied on his experience to throw out some pleadings and he showed up for hearings. His pleadings weren't very well written and had lots of mistakes.

                 Well, the day of the big hearing came. All of the other lawyers had given copies of all their information to the other lawyers just like the Judge asked them to do. But the crafty old politician hadn't read much on the information he had been given because he had too much else to do and after all, she hadn't paid him very much. Now, normally lawyers kind of bend the rules when there are lots of exhibits to save time so the Judge can get to the real issue and they just allow in all the exhibits except the ones they really have a problem with. But the crafty old politician knew his client was impressed when he made objections and he wanted to impress her so he made lots of objections.

              First, he tried to make the nurse who said she didn't write a letter for the mother look like a liar and the Judge had to tell him twice to speak to her more politely. Unfortunately it was pretty clear she hadn't written the letter so it just made it very obvious that the mother had written the letter and forged the nurse's
             The crafty old politician didn't stop, he threw his hands around and objected to every question he possibly could to try to throw the witnesses and the two fathers off when they were trying to tell their stories. When it was finally his turn to ask questions he would end his questions with the phrase like, "Didn't you?" or "Weren't you?" delivered in a very accusing voice like he was on TV.

             Now, one of the issues in the case was whether one of the fathers had been close to his son. The other lawyer had shown the crafty old politician all the pictures she had of the man and his son. She asked to admit the pictures into evidence all in one big lump, but he objected. Well, because he objected, the other lawyer had to authenticate each and every one of those pictures. So she did. There were 130 pictures, but she asked her client the right questions and authenticated each and every one of those pictures. It took over three hours. The judge was very, very annoyed with the crafty old politician.

                 In this case the real issue was that two men thought they were the daddy of the little boy, and they both said that the mom had told them both they were the dad and that for over ten years they both gave her money to take care of him. So, next the lawyer had to authenticate all the checks her client had written the mom, month after month for almost 10 years. The checks took another hour. Now, the Judge was even more annoyed. He glared at the crafty old politician who didn't seem to notice. 

               The crafty old politician tried to make a big deal out of the woman's name on the checks being different sometimes, but all that brought out was that his client had been married to four different men over the last ten years and had decided to spell her first name different ways at different times. After all the pictures and all the checks were finally entered, it was time for the other lawyer for the other dad to ask that dad questions, but the crafty old politician still hadn't learned his lesson so he made her authenticate all the emails from her client to the mom.

                  Thus, the other lawyer for the other dad was having him read lots of emails from the woman out loud to the Judge. In one email, the mom was saying ugly things to the other dad about the child not having a birthday because he sent her money a week late that month. The Judge stopped the hearing and shuffled through all the pictures the first father had given to him and found a picture of the little boy's birthday that the first father had given him for that year. Then he looked at the payments that had been entered and saw that both dads had given her money the month before and had bought extra things for the child's birthday. The judge was very angry with the woman already and this just gave him one more thing to be angry about.

                 All that happened with all that information was that it became really, really clear that the two dads were telling the truth and that she had taken money from both of them and that each dad loved "his" son very, very much.

                  In the end, the woman lost custody of her son and criminal charges were filed against her. She sued the crafty old politician for being a bad lawyer and he had to spend a lot of time and energy trying to prove he did a good enough job on her case which was hard because he was lazy and hadn't really done a good job.

Morals for Lawyers: 1. If a case sounds really easy, it probably isn't so be careful. 2. Don't be lazy; do your homework, and give your client good advice. 3. If your client won't listen to good advice, write a letter with the good advice, and if they *still* won't listen maybe you shouldn't be their lawyer. 4. Most of the time, the Judge is the person you need to impress NOT your client; you'll see the judge again a lot more times than your client. 5. Don't make bad information worse by trying to keep it out when you know it is going to come in, and don't let it be made more obvious than it needs to be by insisting on the rules. 6. Don't make objections unnecessarily; save them for when they matter. 7. You should almost never end a question with "didn't you?" or "Weren't you?"

Morals for clients: 1. You don't want a "show off" for a lawyer. 2. Be honest with your lawyer. 3. Just because a lawyer has a reputation for being important doesn't mean he/she will do a good job for you.

Aesops Fables for Lawyers: The Foolish Young Lawyer

                    Once there was a foolish young lawyer. He hadn't been practicing law very long but he knew all the rules. Whenever another lawyer filed a pleading against one of his clients he would file lots and lots of responses if he saw any rules weren't being followed perfectly. He never called the other lawyer and asked him if he made a mistake or if they could agree to resolve the issue. The foolish young lawyer thought it made the other lawyers see how smart he was and he could show his clients all those pleadings to explain why he deserved to be paid so much.

                   One day, a wise older lawyer filed a case against one of the foolish young lawyer's clients. Now the foolish young lawyer knew that his client had done the wrong thing and stayed in a house too long and had not paid his rent. However, the wise older lawyer who filed the case asked for more money than the Judge in the Court he filed it in was allowed to award. So the foolish young lawyer filed lots and lots of pleadings that showed that the lawsuit should not be in front of that judge because that judge couldn't award that much money.

                     When the wise older lawyer got the pleadings, he realized that the way he wrote the suit it did look like he wanted more money than the current court was allowed to award. If the foolish young lawyer had called him he would have explained he only wanted the smaller amount of money, but since the foolish young lawyer hadn't called him he called his client and explained he had made a mistake and suggested what he thought they should do. The wise older lawyer's client agreed, so the wise older lawyer filed a piece of paper with the Court that said he agreed with what the foolish young lawyer said and the lawsuit should be moved to a judge who could award more money.

                      And when the case came to Court the judge did award the wise older lawyer and his client more money than they intended to ask for. After the case was over, the wise older lawyer took the foolish young lawyer aside and told him that if he had just called him he would have corrected his mistake and have not asked for more money. The foolish young lawyer was defensive and angry and didn't tell his client what had happened, but the wise older lawyer's client told the foolish young lawyer's client who was very angry with him and told all his friends what a foolish young lawyer he was. The wise older lawyer also told all the other lawyers who all laughed at the foolish young lawyer.  

Morals: 1. Be careful what you ask for; you might get it. 2. When you've done something wrong, try to resolve things without going to court. 3. Always talk to your clients and admit when you've screwed up. 4. When someone makes a mistake, give them a chance to fix it. 5. Sometimes loosing small is winning big.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again.....

I miss the anonymity of my Blog, so I'm going to return to writing on it a little. This new iteration may be a bit different, as its been years since I've written. (Holy crap.... eight years since I've written!)

In many ways my life is exactly the same... still dealing with crazy behavior in the trenches of private law practice.

In many ways my life is different... I now make a lot more money to care about your problems. I have a new hobby/obsession, which all that money goes to support. I have a new significant other. (Well, after almost 4 years, he's not actually new any more but he's significant, and he's my other.)  A new drive in my life.

I've been a lawyer for over 16 years now. I still love what I do. I am very good at what I do. Running a law office still isn't easy, but its easier, and I would never consider working for someone else. I have now trained 6 secretaries. I'm getting better at that. I shepherded an intern through college, law school, and the bar (both the building and the test) to her first real job. Each assistant who has left me stays in touch and is happy with their new jobs. (2 SHMs, 1 licensed cosmetologist, 1 government budget analyst, 1 banker... and my current one who is on maternity leave.) Lots of interns, some for a few days, some on and off for years, have passed through my doors.

I read things people post on FaceBook and I want to reply to them, but due to my professional life I can't say what I'm really thinking. Here, I can. And I think I will.

So here's to 2016. Bring it on bitch.