Talking Torrents: Frequently Asked Questions About Bittorrent Litigation

September 30, 2012

One afternoon you check your mailbox and notice that your internet service provider has overnighted you a letter. You open the letter and find it says you’ve been named in a lawsuit for downloading porn, movies, or music on the internet. Your internet provider says they’re going to turn your name over to a law firm unless you file a motion to quash because of a court order.

Uh oh. This doesn’t sound good.

Now what? What the hell is going on?

First, take a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world.

Now I’m going to try and explain what’s going on here…

Ok, first off, what is bittorent?

Bittorrent is a file sharing tool that enables peer to peer file sharing. It works like this: imagine if there were a big puzzle, and when that puzzle was put together, it creates a complete file (like a complete movie). Joe Smith might have part of the puzzle in Iowa, and then he might share a piece with Mark Jones in California. Everyone can reproduce the puzzle. So now, once its downloaded, Joe and Mark both have a full puzzle. They can then replicate it and give copies to their friends, kind of like in Star Trek. Except they are not replicating cups of Earl Grey tea, they are replicating movies, music, and porn. A lot of which happens to be copyrighted. Everyone who was sharing the file is allegedly part of the “swarm“. That is the nature of peer to peer file sharing.

In laymen’s terms, bittorrent is an easy way to download stuff off the internet. It’s typically used to download music, movies, and porn. It is the next generation of Kazaa, Napster, etc.

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Spend More Time at the Bar

September 29, 2012

You are not cool enough to hang at my favorite local bar.

Imagine this: It’s Friday night. You’re at a bar having a good time. It’s the same bar you go to every Friday night. You’re talking sports with your friends, doing shots, and hanging out. The bartender knows you’re a lawyer because you’re usually in a suit and tie, and often complaining about taking a whooping at trial. She trusts you because you always tip well, you don’t act like you’re better than everyone else just because you’re a lawyer, and you both are secretly huge Dawson’s Creek fans. One night the bartender asks if you handle custody matters because she is having an issue with her former husband. You help her out as a favor because she doesn’t make much money, and she always makes your drinks stiff. The bartender tells her patrons, friends and family what a great guy you are – you’re the guy who saved her kids. Six months later, her friend calls you because they are looking for someone to help negotiate a big car accident settlement with an insurance company. On another Friday night you’re at the bar watching the Eagles game. A bar patron who knows your face pulls you aside at halftime and says, “Hey, can I ask you a lawyer question? My friend got into a big accident over the weekend. The insurance carrier won’t negotiate with him. Do you think you could help him out? The bartender told me you’re a good lawyer.”

Sound familiar?

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The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

September 28, 2012

“He did what? Oh my God… you just don’t do that” said Jamison Koehler. “Every lawyer should know that,” Jamie quipped on the phone as we laughed about an incident in the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center.

It’s true. There are some things that every lawyer should just know.

After Jamie said it, I thought to myself, “there is so much stuff you don’t learn in law school. Stuff that only comes with experience… someone ought to write it all down. And why don’t lawyer consultants ever offer to teach the unwritten rules?”

So if you’ve ever wondered why practicing lawyers are so hard on lawyers with no experience teaching people how to open law practices, it’s probably this:

There are the unwritten rules in law. Certain rules every lawyer should know, and they are important. Often they are practice or court specific, and there are tons of them. These rules are not found in a textbook, either. They’re learned from experience, and I’ve come to believe that you spend a lifetime learning them. Learning the unwritten rules is quite possibly the hardest part about practicing law.

Many purported “legal consultants” are selling advice that isn’t all that important. You do not need to know what “the future of law” is, or which iPad to use. No, it’s the unwritten rules that will get you jammed up. But if you have only been practicing law for a minute, or you’ve never practiced at all, you won’t know the unwritten rules. Physically starting a law practice is easy, but doing it right is hard.

Here are some examples of unwritten rules…

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A Conversation I’ve Never Had

September 25, 2012

“Hey Mike, nice to meet you. Looks like this is going to be an interesting case.”

“You too, Jordan.”

“…so… where did you go to law school?”

Widener.”

“…oh. I guess it’s pretty hard to get into a good school. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. Clients won’t hire me because I didn’t go to a T1 law school. They don’t care about my trial experience or my practice areas. Clients simply won’t hire me because I went to a T4. My friends and family won’t even retain me.”

“Man, I’m so glad that I went to Temple, a T2. That’s normally the first thing my clients do – they Google where my law school was ranked and then make a decision to hire me based on that. It’s great, because I can charge almost 3x the times of lawyers who went to a T4. Clients say that where their lawyer went to law school is the most important decision when it comes to hiring them.”

“…I sure wish I had gone to a T1 or a T2. It’s impossible to make it from a T4. I wish clients hired based on skill and reputation…”

“Speaking of which, did you see that Villanova dropped like 10 spots in the US News and World Report rankings????”

“REALLY?!?!? Oh man!!!! Those kids are so screwed! No one will hire Villanova graduates anymore!!”

“Seriously. Where a school is ranked pretty much dictates all of our hiring decisions. Villanova is practically a T3 now! Hell, I’d hire DREXEL graduates over them! Drexel is up and coming in the rankings. I bet it will be a T2 soon. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on it.”

“So do you think University of Chicago or Columbia will be ranked #5 this year?”

“Dunno, but I bet it will be close…”


Rockstar or Lawyer: Should I Go To Law School?

September 24, 2012

My little brother made better career decisions than I did.

Brian Tannebaum finally answered a commonly asked question by most potential law students: should I go to law school? If so, which school should I go to?

His answer:

If you went to law school to be an advocate and counselor, not just for the job you thought was supposed to be there at the end — if your goal was to enter a profession and represent clients, go to law school.

If you’re looking for a job in Biglaw, where you went to law school and your ranking matter. If you’re looking for a job elsewhere, no one cares. If you’re not going to Harvard, Yale, UVA, NYU, Stetson, or South Texas (I was kidding about the first four — (still no sarcasm font?)), it doesn’t matter where you go. Get the J.D. and pass the bar.

Are you considering law school? Wondering which school to go to ?

Ask yourself this instead – what do you want to do with your life? What’s important to you?

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The City of Philadelphia threatens to sue local business owner for cleaning up a vacant lot

September 15, 2012

In South Philadelphia, there is a vacant lot owned by the city through the Redevelopment Authority (RDA). Until recently, the lot didn’t exactly look “redeveloped”:

This is how the Redevelopment Authority thinks this lot should look

Local lawyer and developer Ori Feibush owns a coffee shop adjacent to the lot. Given that the RDA apparently had no interest in maintaining the lot, Ori decided to take matters in his own hands.

Check it out:

This is not how the Redevelopment Authority thinks this lot should look

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Should I run my law firm on Apple? (a stupid post Greenfield and Tannebaum will laugh at)

September 9, 2012

A question I get from time to time is “Should I run my law practice on Apple or PC?”

The answer? Like all things, it depends. Our practice is run almost solely in Apple technology.

I preface this with a thought… this is a stupid post. If you’re considering starting a law practice, start here, and maybe read this. The choice to use Apple or PC isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Whatever direction you choose won’t have all that much of a bearing on your practice. It’s like asking if you prefer to eat eggs for breakfast or cereal. It’s a preference. It won’t win the trial or make you lots of money anymore than your Fruit Loops will. (Actually, your choice of breakfast may have an impact on your effectiveness at trial. Your choice of Apple products, not so much.)

That out of the way, these are my musings about running a law practice on Apple…

The advantages of running your practice on Apple.

1. It just works. Apple has done a fabulous job integrating technology like Dropbox and Google Apps. My calendar, email, and Dropbox is synced seamlessly with my iPhone and my iPad. I can access just about every element of my practice from my phone or iPad. Calendar, client file, you name it. It’s at my fingertips. Acrobat Professional, Dropbox, and Google Apps all feel like they are native to Mac.

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Michael Vick, dog fighting, and why you’re probably a hypocrite if you hate the guy because “you’re so against animal cruelty”

September 7, 2012

Torturing animals for fighting = reprehensible. Torturing animals to produce mass quantities of bacon = fine, as long as I don’t think about it.

The name “Michael Vick” seems to conjure up emotions in everyone. For many, the response is “That guy killed, tortured, and mutilated dogs! He’s an awful human being! The worst in the world! How can you forgive him?! I will never root for that guy! Loser.”

You’ve seen the pictures. Mutilated pitbulls that remind you of your own dog. You’ve heard the stories about these dogs being tortured solely for entertainment. It’s awful. Michael Vick is the worst person in the world.

I hear all about it every time I leave my house wearing my Michael Vick jersey.

People, stop pretending. You don’t actually care about animal welfare.

Yes you, the gal who loves her cat or the guy who loves his dog, and thinks Vick is a monster. “What? Me? I love my pets so much, how could anyone hurt a defenseless animals? I would condone such a thing!”

You patronize the same kind of behavior every single day.

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