It All Matters

April 29, 2013

Last night, some Tweets by @tcita caught my eye:

Protip: don’t do anything that might upset those who hold the keys to seeing your client. And also control every moment of his day.

.@jrushie It never ceases to amaze me how little lawyers think about their interactions with guards.

It seems like common sense when you say it like that. How you interact with the guards might not be a legal paper or proceeding, but how you treat them could affect your client’s interests. So treating the guards right is important.

Her Tweets took me back to an exchange I had with Chris Bradley a few weeks ago. Chris wrote a piece about how he just showed up to a deposition, having no idea what he was doing, but sometimes showing up is enough. I started to take him to town on it, but I ended up writing a sort of incomplete, half-assed blog post about how to defend depositions. Alex Craigie was kind enough to remind me that my summary was inadequate with some tips of his own. Scott Greenfield mentioned the discussion today on his blog.

The more I think about it… it was never about how to take and defend depositions. And my response to Chris missed the boat. It ended up being another inadequate pieces about depositions.

This is the piece I should have written: it all matters. That is why you don’t just show up.

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Former Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke Files Very Stupid Defamation Lawsuit

April 29, 2013
This was me sitting on the ice at a Flyers / Jets game, toasting a Molson Canadian to Antonin Pribetic. Tickets courtesy of Adam Green.

This was me sitting on the ice at a Flyers / Jets game, toasting a Molson Canadian to Antonin Pribetic. Tickets courtesy of Adam Green.

I love hockey. There are very few sports that are as crazy, violent, and fun to watch. There is nothing more fun than watching the Flyers beat down the Rangers or the Devils. You either get hockey, or you don’t.

Which is why hockey fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world.

And yeah, sometimes I get angry with the management and the players. We call for people to be fired, players to be benched, and regime changes.

Even though we can be a little mean to our sports franchises, especially here in Philadelphia, the coaches and the players make a significant amount of money – enough to console their hurt feelings, I would imagine.

Last night I was very surprised to learn that the Maple Leaf’s former General Manager, Brian Burke, filed a lawsuit against several anonymous internet commenters who made anoymous comments about him on hockey message boards.

According to the “Notice of Civil Claim“, an anonymous internet commenter falsely inferred that Burke had an extra-marital affair with Hazel Mae and may have fathered her child. In my opinion, the statement is very obviously parody and not even the stupidest person in the world could actually believe it, especially when you take into account who said it, the hyperbolic language, and the fact it was made on a hockey message board. (quoting the comment verbatim is messing up the formatting of my blog post. But you can click and read it yourself. Thanks, WordPress.)

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You Want Some Advice, Law School Scam Bloggers? Get Off The Couch. It’s That Easy.

April 24, 2013
Maury is great. But he has no job for you.

Maury is great. But he has no jobs for you.

Alright, I’ve heard. There are too many lawyers and not enough jobs. Law schools painted a rosy picture about how much money first year lawyers make and how easy employment is to find. And apparently law students were dumb enough to rely solely on their law schools when deciding whether it is a good idea to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars and hand it over to them. Adding insult to injury, the young lawyers were left completely unprepared to practice law even after getting that fancy legal education, because most law professors have never practiced a day in their lives and are in no position to teach anyone else how to.

So now what?

Keith Lee over at Associate’s Mind said this:

If new lawyers cannot solve the problem of their own millennial malaise, how do they ever expect clients to trust them with their problems?

Of course, Keith’s post made a few millenials sad. MA (who?) was offended, and thought Keith try and help out, rather than, um, tell them the truth:

So the lucky few like Mr. Lee should try to offer real solutions to graduates. How did you find your job, Mr. Lee? How might your experience help others?

Pull up a chair, kids, it’s story time…

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How to Defend a Deposition – Don’t Just Show Up and Play Lawyer

April 16, 2013
Uh oh. The other side is wearing a suit and saying "objection." They must be for real.

Uh oh. The other side is wearing a suit and saying “objection” a lot. They must be for real.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for my guide on defending depositions, it’s here.]

Yesterday Chris Bradley wrote a piece about how to defend a deposition. Advice? Just show up. Maybe wear a suit. And if you feel like it make an objection, but do it in a really lawyerly way. The other side will respect the fact that you’re there and put on a suit, and won’t take advantage of your witness.

Easy, right?

Errr… not so fast…

When it comes to clients, it takes more than just showing up and wearing a suit. What bothered me about this particular article is Chris decided to fake it with real clients. See, Sybil Dunlop wrote a piece last week about her “motion in lemonade“, which was funny. Why was it funny? Because it’s okay to mess up or puff yourself up before a lawyer who is supervising you. You’ll look dumb, but it won’t hurt anything except your ego.

However, that logic does not apply when you’re the attorney in charge. It is not okay to be a pretend lawyer with it comes to  clients.

You are either competent to handle an issue or you’re not. In Chris’s case, he may not have been competent to handle the issue but went ahead and decided to go ahead and fake it anyway, thinking that “showing up” was enough to do his client right.

That can get you into trouble. Because you know what’s worse than making a big mistake in a deposition? Making that mistake because your lawyer didn’t give you good advice. That can get both you, and your client, into serious trouble.

Showing up is never enough, especially when it comes to defending depositions.

So, let’s take a look at why this is awful, awful advice to a young lawyer. Because depositions are very, very important.

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Is Wynn coming to Fishtown? Don’t blow this for us, Philly!

April 11, 2013
bellagio

What is better for Fishtown? This or vacant land? Hmmmmm…

Behind the Port Richmond Shopping Center and along the riverfront sits a huge piece of vacant land that used to be a shipyard. Now, it’s a nice piece of land, but it hasn’t been used for anything in decades. Since it was used industrially in the past, the land is a biohazard and needs serious work done to use it for anything. Mind you, this is less than half a mile from my house and my office.

So… what are we supposed to do with a big piece of vacant land, connected to the waterfront, that will take a significant amount of time and money to revitalize?

When I first heard it might be used for another casino I was less than enthusiastic. Here we go again… I guess Fishtown is going to be Philly’s casino district. Ugh.

However, I was happy to learn that’s not the case. Steve Wynn proposes to use that land as a world class resort with a casino attached to it.

A world class freaking resort.

My view? It’s almost too good of an idea, and perhaps it makes too much sense. This isn’t “We can’t use this land for anything good, so let’s use it for something stupid.” This is actually a sensible, pragmatic use of the property.

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Customer Service

April 6, 2013

At first glance, I thought Brandon was going to be a great client for the firm. He was dressed well, had a thriving business, and had no qualms about paying our retainer. This was going to be a good relationship. Brandon wanted to hire us to help him go after about six businesses who stiffed him.

Easy enough.

James called me into his office and said to just run with the file. I’d worked for James for about three years now, and he was confident I knew the ropes when it came to handling civil litigation files. James sent Brandon an email letting him know I would be handling the file.

“Dear Brandon: My associate Jordan will be handling your cases. Please continue to copy me on emails, as I will be supervising, but Jordan will be your point of contact. Thanks. -James.”

The next morning, I got into the office after getting back from court and checked my voicemails. “Jordan, it’s Brandon. Have those lawsuits been filed? I’m eager to get started!” I returned his call quickly. I didn’t want to cost James a client. But how could I possibly review his file and initiate a lawsuit in less than one day?

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Your Website Is Not a Reception Area #abatechshow

April 6, 2013

Today I was bored and decided to see what Rachel Rodgers is up to. Something she said caught my eye:

As a lawyer with an online-based law practice, your virtual law office website is your storefront and reception area. The first impression you leave with website visitors can often determine what they think of you and whether or not they will become clients. Its important that your virtual law office website be an interactive, trusted resource for your clients that reflects your personality and gives them a sense of what its like to work with you.

Ah, the future of law! Technology is going to change everything about lawyering! In the very near future no lawyer will have an office and everyone will work from either Starbucks or their living room. The cat will proofread your briefs. There will be no need for filing cabinets because all paper will be stored in the cloud (or the trunk of your car). Court will be held in a chatroom, and the judge will be a moderator. Judgements will be in bitcoin and people convicted of crimes will be banned from the internet or something. This is where it’s all going! Get your iPad ready!

Of course, this “future of law” is usually propagated by non-lawyers and failed lawyers who claim to be qualified to tell us about the future without ever having been part of the past.

So get this. In the future, your website serves as your reception area!

Err, wait, what?

As a young lawyer with a real office, here is my actual reception area:

reception area

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