Regret

January 24, 2014

Victory. Not just victory, but epic victory. Judge Lawlor not only dismissed the case against my client, but also sanctioned the other side and their attorney, Chad Cooper. This was going to a fun call to my client…

I have to be honest, Chad Cooper might have been the worst lawyer I ever had the displeasure of dealing with. The only positive thing I could muster up about Chad is how much I loved mopping the floor with him on every motion or court proceeding. His suits never fit right, and he didn’t make a lot of sense in court. I couldn’t believe anyone was paying this guy money to represent them. Every time I dealt with Chad I felt a sense of disdain and dislike. Part of me took great pleasure watching Judge Lawlor constantly rip him apart.

They key to winning this case was easy, really. File lots of motions, overwhelm him, and give him no mercy. “The Chadster”, as I liked to call him around the office, wouldn’t respond on time. Then the judge would get angry, and sanctions would be issued. Chad was always so overwhelmed. This was a constant theme throughout the case:

“Hey Jordan, it’s Chad… I’m a little jammed up this month. Do you think I could get a 14 day extension?”
“Chad, the best I can do is give you three days. That’s it. If you don’t like it, put it before Judge Lawlor again. Actually, I think I would like to see Judge Lawlor. Wouldn’t that be so much fun? I’ll even wear a tie like a big boy.”
“…three days is fine, Jordan. Thanks.”

From there, the Chadster would put together a half hearted, sloppy reply. After about six months of this pattern, Judge Lawlor had enough. Chad and his client got sanctioned, and my client was let out of the lawsuit. I immediately sent Chad a letter informing him that I was going to sue him and his client for bringing suit in the first place.

Read the rest of this entry »


Smokey the Cat

January 5, 2014

“Jordan, have you ever done an eviction before?” my boss James asked me. I had been working for a small firm in suburban Pennsylvania for about three years now, and was beginning to hit my stride as a lawyer. James was letting me handle files from start to finish with more regularity.
“Nope. But I’m sure it’s not rocket science. Just give me the file, old man,” I said with a grin. “This one sounds boring.”

The case was simple enough. A woman named Agnes was renting a house from one of James’s biggest clients. She hadn’t paid her rent in a long, long time. The client decided he didn’t want her living there anymore. Too easy, or so I thought.

I drove to the courthouse that day and filed the paperwork. A few weeks later I had a default judgment and a writ of possession, meaning I could have the constables remove the tenant with force, if necessary. The constable posted notice on the house, and we made arrangements for the eviction. Again, too easy. Chalk this up as another win.

“How is the eviction case coming along, Jordan?” James asked me a few weeks later.
“Great! We got a default judgment. I’m going to the house tomorrow morning to remove her. Next time consider giving me an interesting assignment, old man,” I said laughing.
Read the rest of this entry »


The Plea

December 3, 2013

It is Tuesday at 9.30am and I am in the booth.

The booth is a tiny box where I have the honor of talking to my client through an inch of bullet-proof glass. I say “talking”, though it’s really more like yelling, since it’s pretty hard to hear through that glass.

“Booth” is a misnomer too. “Booth” reminds me of the precursor to something fun. You buy tickets to a movie or carnival rides at a booth. No such fun was happening today.

Really, the booth is purgatory, a limbo my clients sit in after they’ve made their way from the prison and to the courthouse basement’s holding cells, but before they enter the courtroom where they await final judgment.

This particular morning, I am wearing a navy flannel Brooks Brothers No. 1 sack suit, a white shirt I freshly pressed at 5.30 that morning, and a somber tie that reflected my mood.

In gross juxtaposition, my client is in an orange prison jumpsuit and has a thermal on underneath to keep warm. I guess this hell follows Dante’s rules.

My client is a good man who’d recently made a series of terrible decisions, all of which led to where he is today. Despite his cock-ups, he was truthful and admitted his mistakes not only to his family, but to members of his community.

Then the police became involved.

And he got arrested.

And his mistakes became a “case.”

And that’s how we ended up on opposite sides of the same sheet of glass on Tuesday at 9.32am. Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: Keith Lee’s The Marble and The Sculptor

November 24, 2013

From the moment I saw the fictional character ADA Alexandra Cabot on Law and Order: SVU I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.  My thought was, and I kid you not, that I was going to be one of the most well-known, admired, feared, young, blonde lawyers to sweep a city off its feet.

Before I continue, let me just say you’re right, that almost never happens.  Alas, I thought it would.

Had Keith Lee’s The Marble and The Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice been one the books recommended to me (instead of Gideon’s Trumpet, etc.) I would have known from page 5 the truth – “the practice of law is nothing like you have seen in the media.”  I learned that the hard way in law school.

As a “green” lawyer, and I mean very green, I appreciate the brutal honesty of what lies ahead for me having just passed the Bar.  However, Keith’s advice will resonate with a broad spectrum of people – from aspiring lawyers who are contemplating law school to anyone entering a new profession.  The chapters are short and sweet, covering dozens of areas from courses to take (and not take) in law school to the importance of writing well in law to professional development.   Keith isn’t afraid to tell people like me, who think (for me, thought) being a lawyer is the most glamorous and lucrative profession in the world, that failure and embarrassment are inevitable.  The theme of the book is straightforward – do everything like you give a damn.  Period.  Success in both your personal and professional life will follow.  As Keith reiterates, whining gets you no where.  Keith doesn’t care that the legal job market is in flux or that a law school exam may be too hard.  Keith instead sheds light on taking the path less traveled – get off your butt and seek opportunities, network and volunteer all with the expectation of receiving nothing in return.

Although I am past the law school and Bar studying phase, I can’t help but think “crap, I really know nothing about the practice of law.”  However, I leave Keith’s easy-to-read book with the most honest and simple piece of advice I have yet to receive — I am the master of my own success.  Keith can’t provide it.  My mentors can’t provide it.  No one can force me to network or to attend Bar events.  But Keith has provided an easy-to-follow map to help me get there (…and  to maybe one day become Alexandra Cabot).


Trash Day

November 24, 2013

“Leo, bro, it’s Jordan… you gotta see this. It’s Christmas in Fishtown. Come to the office!”
“I have caller ID. I know it’s you, Jordan. Why are you calling me on a Saturday? And don’t ever refer to me as ‘bro’ again”.
“Bro, err, Leo. Just trust me. Come to the office. And wear jeans and a t-shirt if you own anything like that.”

Before me on that hot Saturday morning stood the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – a giant mountain of trash. Well, a mountain full of discarded office furniture. Old filing cabinets, used chairs, pens, desks, you name it. Apparently one of the businesses in our building had left abruptly and figured it would be too expensive to move any of the furniture, so they threw it all in a big dumpster. I swallowed my pride, called the building manager, and asked if I could take their trash.

“It’s trash, Jordan. You can do whatever you want.”
“Thanks, Jess! You’re the best!”

Read the rest of this entry »


In This Sadness

November 11, 2013

The rain came down on the courthouse windows as I sat staring at the empty bench. The jury had been deliberating for hours. I stood up and started pacing, wishing I hadn’t quit smoking years ago… a smoke would be great right now.

“Jordan, you look nervous” the client said to me.
“I’m just thinking. I’ve been out of the office for a week now. That’s all…”

Truth be told I was nervous as all hell. But a good nervous. I felt alive.

Just as the client was about to say something, the chamber doors opened and Judge Shemlin walked out. Here comes our verdict…

At that moment, I thought back to 2009 and the first case I had ever tried. I was an associate at Wolf Rebman, a small suburban Pennsylvania law firm. I second chaired a case with my boss, James, and we had won against all odds. James had tried hundreds of jury trials in his career. He was a man of few words, and never showed even the slightest bit of emotion. I remembered the jury deliberations in that case, and asking James if he was nervous…

“Honestly, Jordan, I’m nervous as hell” James told me, still looking cool as ice, with a slight grin on his face. “The day I’m not nervous is the day I retire from law. Even after 30 years of practice, it never gets any less nerve racking. It just doesn’t. But man, when you win, it’s the best feeling in the world. There is nothing better than winning a jury trial, nothing in the entire world…”

James had spent his career trying cases, and mostly winning them. He started his practice very shortly after law school, and then spent a lifetime building it up. After 30 years of practice, James had many boats, several vacation houses, and he never needed to work again. He was the consummate trial lawyer. Cool, calculated, and someone who was prepared for every situation.

Ever since I worked for him, I always wanted to be James.

Read the rest of this entry »


In The Digital Age, What Is Privacy?

October 11, 2013

A few days ago I wrote about LinkedIn and how apparently they know who I email. After that, I began thinking about how much you can learn about a person just by their digital footprint, especially from an intelligence perspective. What’s interesting is just how much data private corporations like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft know about everyone. So, exactly what kind of things could you figure out just looking at a person’s digital footprint? Let’s think about it…

Your daily travel habits. You know that function “location services”? While it’s cool to show the world that you’re posting something from Thailand, Philadelphia, or China, reviewing your location services history also would allow someone to put together a very accurate profile of where you generally are. Your laptop, and ergo third parties like Apple, know where you are every single day. 

Your interests, including what type of music, hobbies and literature they are into. If you’re like me, maybe you buy a lot of books and music in digital format. It’s easier than carrying stuff around everywhere. However, if someone were putting together a dossier on you, they could compile all the music, books, and games you are into. While we used to listen to tapes CDs, now Spotify broadcasts whatever I listen to all over the internet. 

Your social network. Just by looking at my Facebook page, you can make some obvious connections about me. Grew up in Downingtown, went to Villanova University, and then Temple Law. Looking at my “friends” section, you can put together a very clear picture of the people I associate with and how frequently. In the olden days, the government would have to subpoena your telephone records or conduct surveillance to figure out who you associate with. Today it’s much easier to simply look at who emails are sent to, and who you’re friends with on Facebook. Keep in mind, part of intelligence is being able to see how people are connected. 

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,441 other followers