The Break Up

January 29, 2015

tombstoneIt was a good run.

But ultimately, Jordan and I have decided our practices are taking us in different directions.

So after much discussion, a bit of Sarah McLachlan, a few boxes of tissues, some Crossfit (I hated it), and a brief custody dispute over our awesome furniture, Jordan and I decided to part ways effective Jan 1, 2015.

I’m continuing with a new entity, “Mulvihill LLC”, where I’m going to keep doing what I do, namely, defend my clients and be a thorn in the side of prosecutors (by the way, got another Not Guilty verdict today).

Jordan’s continuing to practice as “A. Jordan Rushie, Attorney at Law“, where he’s going to keep doing whatever it is he does (namely, wiping the floor with opposing counsel in poorly considered lawsuits against his clients. See, e.g. this).

But don’t cry for us, blawgosphere, as we both are going to continue to write here for PhillyLawBlog and be general pains in the ass. We still have a lot to say, whether you want to hear it or not. Don’t be strangers.

Hugs and Kisses. XOXO,

-Leo & Jordan


A Tale of Honey and Vinegar

January 9, 2015
Oh I'm just a little black rain cloud…

Oh, I’m just a little black rain cloud…

It was 11.30 am. I was standing behind defense table, arguing to have my client’s case dismissed.

I was also really pissed off. You see, I’d been waiting in court for the DA to be ready to put on their preliminary hearing.

Around 8.30 that morning, while the Court staff statused the cases for the day,  the District Attorney said “Your Honor, I have good contact with my witness, and they are on their way in”.

“Ok”, said the judge. “Witness hold”. She turned to me “Counsel, please come back at 10 for a status of witness”.

“Of Course, Your Honor” I said. The witness already hadn’t shown twice, and the case was marked “Must-be-Tried Commonwealth”—e.g., if the witness didn’t show up, the case would be dismissed. My client had been arrested five months prior and had been sitting in custody ever since on $100,000.00 bail. He was anxious to get out. I was anxious to get him out. I wanted to get this case over with. “I’ll be back around 10.00 Your Honor, thank you”, I said before I left the courtroom, off to the number of other courtrooms that commanded my attention that morning.

That was three hours ago. I’d taken care of my other cases in my other rooms, and I had been waiting since 10 for the District Attorney to come back. He’d walked in the room at 11.29.

The first words out of his mouth: “Your Honor, my witness can’t make it in today”.

Perfect. Read the rest of this entry »


Should I Start a Law Practice? (Redux)—Retrospective, Dec. 31, 2014

December 31, 2014
The Author with an Author

Sometimes real lawyers agree to slum it with the likes of me.

The practice of law is about relationships“.
-Me (And Brian Tannebaum, and probably plenty of other people much smarter than I am).

About two and a half years ago, Jordan wrote a post called “Should I Start a Law Practice?” It remains one of our most-viewed articles on this blog. Because it’s the end of the year,  rather than being creative and thinking of a new and exciting topic, I decided, now concluding my fourth year of practice, and having started as a true solo fresh out of law school, to revisit the topic Jordan discussed back in 2012. I’d intended to write this follow-up to his post way back then, but simply never got around to it.

My perspective is different that Jordan’s—partly because I graduated in 2010, when the market had tanked—and partly because I did not work at a firm before I hung my shingle.

Here’s my point: You should start a practice if you want to, and if you understand that the practice of law is all about relationships—with your colleagues, with your mentors, and with your clients.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Appointment, Part 2.

November 25, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.55.39 AM

[Ed.- This is part two of an ongoing series. For part one, click here.]

It was 10.11 am, and I was in the ante-room with my client, Barnaby Jones.

Mr Jones had been my client for all of 8 minutes now, and I had trial in a month, after his previous lawyer had sat on the case for four years. I’d just given him my spiel (e.g., I’m Leo, I’ve never been a prosecutor, I’ve always fought to the defense, I don’t treat my court-appointed clients any differently than my private pay clients, etc…).

Mr Jones was receptive to all this, and smiled as I shook his hand. I closed my elevator speech by taking out my business card.

“Mr Jones, take this. You and I have to talk. Soon. My office number is on the card, but here, let me write my cell on there…”

I don’t normally give my cell phone out to clients—for good reason. I’m not much a fan of getting calls at 10.30pm on a Saturday asking “So, what’s going on with my case?” (Answer: “Call me on Monday during business hours and I will let you know”.)

But with so little time to prepare, I had to get moving as soon as possible. I mean, we were scheduled for a jury in a month, I had literally no discovery, and I had three other courtrooms to be in that morning alone. The clock was ticking, and we needed to get started.

“Mr Jones, call my office when you get back home, and let’s schedule a time for you to come in this week to discuss your case. We don’t have a lot of time”.

He looked at me and nodded: “Yes, sir. But Mr Leo, it wasn’t me!” A familiar refrain for defense counsel.

“We’ll talk soon. Call me today”, I said as I walked out the door and down the hall to my next courtroom.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Appointment, Part 1.

November 8, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.55.39 AM“Mr Mulvihill, you’re appointed”.

The sound of the judge’s voice speaking my name startled me from my stupor. I’d been sitting in the courtroom for an hour waiting for the District Attorney in my case to show up.

Until a moment ago, I had been bored. All criminal defense lawyers are familiar with the “hurry up and wait” endemic to the system, and today had been no different.

It was June 10 at 10.03am. I’d been in the courtroom since 8.59am, intermittently checking my phone while waiting to have my case called so I could get back to the office and address the approximately 372 things outstanding on my to-do list. With no secretary or staff, all my administrative work was my own, and it was piling up every second I waited for the DA.

“Yes, Your Honor?” Because I was too busy looking at LOLCAT memes, I hadn’t caught what the Judge said. I hoped he didn’t notice.

“You’re appointed in Commonwealth versus Barnaby Jones. Trial date to remain, July 20 for a three-day jury. Mr Mulvihill, you’re attached, and it’s must-be-tried”.

July 20th?

A month away?

Fuck.

I felt as if I’d swallowed a lead brick.

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 »


Self promotion — but at what cost to clients?

June 1, 2013

ShamelessSelfPromotionI’ve been struggling recently with the concept of lawyers’ self-promotion via the media.

Recently, I’ve noticed attorneys in several high-profile cases end up with a camera in front of them and a reporter shoving a microphone into their face, asking them for a comment. Some of these lawyers are younger; others have been around long enough that I presume they know what they’re doing.

Until the lawyer gives a soundbite that could not possibly help their client, and seems calculated only  to get the lawyer’s name out in the evening news.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Future of Law is the Fundamentals

April 5, 2013

The Future of Law is the Fundamentals

Read my non-clothing related manifesto over at Lawyerist.


“Young Lawyer Happy Hour” — uh, where are all the lawyers?

January 25, 2013
Image

“But I read this book so I already know everything about civil litigation!”

I went to a young lawyer happy hour the other evening night held by the Young Lawyer’s Division of a local bar association. I hoped to maybe meet a few other lawyers in their first years of practice, perhaps share a war story or two, commiserate about Judge Jones or Judge Judy, and swap business cards.

As I saw it, it’s never a bad thing to know more lawyers to whom you could refer cases, or maybe have cases referred to me.

Did I mention free beer and food?

What could possibly go wrong?

Read the rest of this entry »


A Day in the Life of a Young Lawyer — Part Deux.

January 17, 2013

Part two in a potentially continuing series giving some insight into the life of a young, small firm lawyer. Today, we get some insight into Leo’s day. Click here for part one.

The Evening Before.

5.30pm. I finally get the last document I need to assemble my hearing notebook for tomorrow. I have been up since 5.00am and at the office since 8.00am. Put the notebook together and set it aside for later review with fresh eyes.

6.00pm. Leave office. Walk across street to get home.

6.02pm. Get home. Greet wife with “Hey, honey, I am going to be up late tonight. I have court in another county tomorrow at nine, and I just got the final document for a hearing tomorrow afternoon.”

6.15pm. Walk dogs with my wife, talk about her day at work. Try to pay attention instead of thinking only about the statutory arguments I’ll need to tomorrow.

7.00pm. Get home. Check email. Forward some important documents to clients. “Babe, what do you want for dinner?” Leftover chili. I love my wife’s chili.

7.15pm. Eat dinner.

7.30pm. Watch yesterday’s The Daily Show on Hulu.

8.00pm. “Sweetheart, I have to finish up prepping for tomorrow. I’ll be up late.” Make a pot of tea and walk upstairs to the home office with a mug.

8.01pm-11.00pm. Put on an old Episode of This American Life for background noise. Review the client’s file and applicable statutes. Put on another episode of This American Life. Rehearse my argument approximately 400 times.  Put on a third episode of This American Life. Gee, Ira Glass’s voice is really soothing. Review hearing notebook for completeness, Bates stamp it, and submit to 24 hour printer. Get confirmation email. “Great, it will be done by 1am.” Drink another cup of tea. Green tea this time.

11.01pm-midnight. Rehearse argument, review file, make last-minute changes and additions to my argument.

Midnight.

12.05am. Check email. “Oh, my print job’s done early!” Get another cup of tea — peppermint this time.

12.06-2.00am. Keep rehearsing argument. Check files for the 638th time for completeness.

2.05am. Eyelids heavy, I realize it’s time to go to bed. Shut down computer, turn off the home office lights, carefully walk into dark bedroom as to not wake up wife. Trip over dog sleeping on floor, smash my face into dresser, wake everyone up in the process. Sheepishly brush my teeth, gargle with Listerine, and climb into bed for some relaxing sleep…

Wakey Wakey.

5.00am. BEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP! Alarm goes off. Dogs jump on my face. I push them off and hit snooze.

5.30am. BEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPP! Alarm again — did I really hit snooze all those other times? I can’t remember. Dogs jump on my face again. I get out of bed, put on my robe, and half walk/half fall down the stairs. I put on hot water for tea. Read this morning’s news.

5.50am. Tea’s ready. Take two mugs upstairs. Wife’s preparing for work. I read Simple Justice, then shower.

7.10. Wife leaves. “Have a good day at work!” I get dressed.

7.30am. I walk out the door. Realize it’s raining. “Dammit.” Run to office to pick up a few things. Get to car. “God I hope traffic’s not too bad on I-95 today.”

8.00am. Drive 20 miles to get to another county’s courthouse by 9.00am.

8.45am. Park by the Courthouse and hurry in the rain to get there.

9.00am. Meet client in Courtroom. Review the case with the client. Complete necessary paperwork. Sit around until 11am when judge comes out. Hearing is over 5 minutes after that.

11.05am. Grab coat and hat and leave Court to get back to car and return to city for a 2pm hearing. Realize I left scarf in the Courtroom. Sheepishly return to get scarf. “God I hope traffic didn’t get bad on I-95 while I was in court.”

11.10am. Realize it’s still raining and that I don’t have a portfolio to protect my demonstratives. Run to local art supply store.

11.45am. Portfolio in hand, drive back to the City.

Noon.

Get back to office. Don’t even take off my coat. Did I eat breakfast? God I’m hungry. Make a cup of coffee as I review my file for this afternoon’s hearing for the umpteenth time. Chug coffee, grab el tokens & portfolio, start trudging to the El. “Well, at least it’s stopped raining.”

12.30pm. Get off the El. Walk to print shop to pick up presentation binders. Carry everything four blocks down to the hearing room. Get an email from opposing counsel in another case regarding discovery. It can wait until tomorrow.

1.00pm. Get to hearing room. Review file and presentation for the umpteenth plus one time. “Ok, so the regulation says X, we have X, we should be ok to go.”

2.00pm. Time hearing is supposed to start.

3.40pm. Time hearing actually starts.

3.55pm. Time hearing is over. Decision held under advisement. Receive a text message from another client needing to meet today for an important issue in their case. Asks to meet at 4.30pm.

4.30pm. Get back to office.

4.31pm. Client shows up.

5.15pm. Meeting over. Make a few important phone calls, send a few important emails, scan the mail that came today. Oh jeez, I didn’t eat lunch either. It’s ok, this wrap-up work will take 5 minutes. Send text to wife “Hey, I’ll be home in about 5 minutes.”

5.45pm. I look up. It’s been more than 5 minutes. My wife is used to this.

5.59pm. Finally wrapped up. Close up shop, walk home. Let my wife know I’m really leaving for real this time.

6.00pm. Get home. Greet my wife. “How was your day, babe?” Pet my dogs. Change out of suit and into dog-walking clothes.

6.15pm. Walk dogs with my wife, talk about her day at work. Try to pay attention instead of thinking about tomorrow’s schedule, and my to-do list. Ah, I need to get those subpoenas out tomorrow.

7.00pm. Eat dinner — finishing the rest of the chili. My wife’s chili is dammed good. Open a beer to drink with dinner — Stoudt’s American Pale Ale. Yum. Check my emails, review today’s news. Spend a few minutes on Facebook. Get in some stupid online arguments about inconsequential things. Start thinking about a blog post I’ll write tonight about “a day in the life”.

7.30pm. Pass out on couch from lack of sleep. Didn’t even get to finish the beer. Post didn’t get written.