Dear Police

July 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dear Police:

It’s me, Eric, a Criminal Defense Attorney. I know, I know. We butt heads often, but I wanted to tell you something. I hope you’ll listen. I’m being sincere.

We need you to do your job well. All of us want to live in a safe environment. We want our children to live without fear. We want you to be a part of our community. We want you to be approachable. We want you to be reasonable. You are part of making our communities safe and strong. We like that. We want that.

I’ve always paid my taxes. Income. Property. Personal property. Sales. Every time I’m assessed a tax, I hope the pennies goes to something worthwhile–something that helps my community. That includes your salary. I want to know that my pennies are paying the salary of a good person who is doing good things for my community.

We want you to enforce laws. Really. After all, laws mean very little unless someone steps-forward to enforce them. But, our laws begin with the Constitution. We want you to enforce that, too. Regardless of what you may have heard, that includes the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments. If you look at those rules from the perspective of an ordinary person, you realize that they are intended to make us feel safe and secure. You want us to feel safe and secure, right? They try to eliminate fear. You don’t want us to be afraid, right?

We don’t want you to be macho or tough. We want you to be a quiet professional. We want you to realize that people have flaws. Some people are mentally ill or sick, and we want you to see that, too. We know that sometimes you need to be tough, but we need you to be in control. If you lose control, people suffer. If you just want to be tough, people also suffer.

We want you to choose the law over your friends and colleagues. We pay you to do the right thing, not the “loyal” thing. Some of your buddies will do the wrong thing, and some of your other buddies will help them to cover it up, make it go away, or explain-it-away with bullshit reasoning. When that happens, people suffer–most of whom pay your salary.

Help us to fight against any injustice, even the ones committed by your brothers and sisters. Remember, at the end of the day, you’ll be one of us again, and you’ll want to feel safe and secure, and without fear. Someday, you’ll hope that the tax dollars you pay from your retirement fund goes to a good cause, not a macho one.

Thanks for your time,

Eric

Pro Bono With iPhone

July 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

Note to Potential Clients: If you are going to ask me for Pro Bono representation, please be sure to delete the line “Sent from my iPhone” from the bottom of the email.

Crowdsourcing My New Duds

July 29, 2011 § 10 Comments

Always a huge fan of crowd sourcing decisions, I’ll let you decide what you think about this change in the format of my blawg. The change is intended to make this blog less about the extraneous crap, and more about writing and reading.

So, how about another poll? My previous attempt at a poll was a resounding failure, with a majority of voters picking the most boring option available.

See if you can do better with this one.

For you cool RSS people, please disregard. This is for folks who like to read my blawg with flair.

One Year Old, But No Cake

July 28, 2011 § 16 Comments

I just realized that this blawg is now over a year old, and I missed the birthday. I’d miss my own birthday if it weren’t for family members to remind me.

The birthday: July 17. I started to peruse some of the older posts, but they suck worse than the ones now. I did notice one amusing thing–the evolution of the blawg in that time.

Admittedly, I started it for two reasons. First, I like to write, and this is a chance to practice what I love while simultaneously subjecting myself to peer (and sometimes non-peer) review. Second, I’ll be honest, I started it because many folks told me that I was ~supposed~ to do this to market my wares as a lawyer.

At the time I started it, I completed 6 years of service to the Army as a lawyer (after 5 years of service as an Infantry Officer). In the service, my paychecks flowed like clockwork twice a month. The client base had no bearing on my pay, and many viewed a life as a Maytag Repairman to be preferable to that of hectic lawyer. The idea of marketing myself and my wares was not a consideration. The clients were who they were. I didn’t seek them. They just eventually made their way to my doorstep. Good and bad, I was bound to take them all. Marketing and private life were foreign to me.

The blawg started as a companion to my practice. Why? Well, that seemed to be what a lot of folks were saying to do. “You need to drive traffic to your site,” they said. “Don’t be left behind in your marketing plan,” they implored. They screamed, “You’ve got to be on the first page of Google!”

I bought a bit of it (philosophically, NOT monetarily), but then, after a few months, I had a chance to look at my practice. The quality clients came from the more traditional sources, and not through newfangled marketing schemes.

More importantly, I sought and received mentorship from others, but it didn’t come from those who focus their careers upon the marketing aspects of the legal profession. The mentorship came from real lawyers–those who have clients and have seen the inside of many courtrooms. They emphasized simplicity, hard work, humility, and, most importantly, patience. I listened, even to the ones from New York.

So, the last 12 months has seen a systematic divorce of my blog from my practice. That trend will continue.

As I wrap-up a few cases this summer, you’ll likely see the name of this blog change.  The layout will change, too. The substance, however, will not change. It will still contain random smatterings of whatever the voices in my head tell me to say. Much of it will related to the military and military law, but not all, as usual.

Hopefully, my regular readers (there are 14 now (I broke into double-digits a few months ago)) will appreciate it. The changes are made with them in mind.

I Get Press Releases…

July 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Every now and then, I receive press releases from various places. They seek to spread their information by using free blog labor (folks like me).

Many times, the press releases center around law firm vanity polls. You know, things like “Top 10 Firms in America!” or “AmLaw 127!”).  So far, I’ve ignored them all, but not today, at least not completely. They still get no link love, and I’m only doing this for slight comic value. Nothing more.

Today, I received a press release about Vault.com’s law practice rankings. In short:

Vault.com, the source of ratings, rankings and insight for law students and lawyers, has released its Practice Area Rankings for 2012, examining how law firms rank in 25 practice areas ranging from Antitrust to Tax.

The release lists the name of what it considers to be fantastic law firms and offices based on practice areas. They also provide a small snippet (or quote) to show just how the particular firm is considered to be the cream of the crop. Frankly, I think this is as silly as the airline magazines that tout the “Best Steakhouses in America.” Those magazines really should say “Steakhouses that paid us some mad jack to say they are the best in America.”

It appears that a firm named “Skadden Arps” was a big winner this year. FYI, I’ve never heard of Skadden Arps. Though, I think I suffered from it as a child. Don’t worry, penicillin worked just fine, and it was gone in a week. But, the itch was unbearable.

Here’s part of the list:

Top Ranked Firms in Litigation Categories and Representative “Buzz” From Associates at Peer Firms:

General Commercial Litigation: Kirkland & Ellis (“Quietly great”)

Antitrust Litigation: Skadden Arps (“The leader in all things”)

Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn (“Top litigators”)

Class Actions: Skadden Arps (“Powerhouse”)

IP Litigation: Fish & Richardson (“IP warriors”)

Labor & Employment Disputes: Morgan Lewis (“Strong labor & employment practice”)

Products Liability: Skadden Arps (“Most impressed I have been with any firm”)

Securities Litigation: Skadden Arps (“They were smart and professional at all times”)

White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations: Williams & Connolly (“The best litigators in the country”)

What? No Military Law category? I feel cheated.

I’ve heard of none of these. Then again, I’m not exactly connected. The only big firm I’m acquainted with is “Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe,” and that is only because I am a loyal “Car Talk” listener.

DISCLAIMER. If you feel angry about this and contemplate suing me for some cockeyed reason, chill out. It’s just a little jokie joke. If you’re still angry, even after knowing it is a joke, I hope you develop a raging case of Skadden Arps.

Please, Just Hang Up

July 26, 2011 § 3 Comments

We get lots of calls, don’t we? We like to think of Criminal Defense Lawyers as being in courtrooms all day, but we really aren’t. Much of our time is spent in the office plowing through mundane tasks and attempting to get ahead of the paperwork pile sitting in our inbox. More than we would like, we spend much of our days answering phone calls from potential clients. They come in a variety of flavors: tire kickers, free advice seekers, crazies, and those who’ve been rejected by every other lawyer.

I have a request, and I believe I speak for the rest of the group in making it: When you realize that you will never hire us for substantive legal work, hang up the phone.

It’s that simple. There are no gimmicks, and we’re certainly not going to get rich from this, though it will save us a great deal of time. Many of you feel the need to be courteous, and courtesy is a nice thing. Our mothers teach us to be courteous. School reinforces the need to be courteous. In most situations, being courteous is the right thing to do, and people generally like you for it.

But, for this limited purpose and only in this one situation, we are begging you. Please be discourteous.

From a certain point of view, by being traditionally discourteous, you’re actually being more courteous toward us. We are constantly looking for more time to devote to the cases for individuals who are existing clients. We owe a duty of loyalty to them, and often their cases hold deadlines that we must follow. They deserve as much attention as we can give them.

Don’t bother with the usual niceties. We don’t need to know that you “have our number right here.” We figured that based on the fact that you called us.

No need to give us more facts about your case. We knew everything we needed to know about your case in order to make a decision as to the pre-payment generalities of representation. The additional facts, while important to you, are not important to us at that time, but they will be important to whoever you actually hire, if anyone.

Don’t feel the need to apologize. We understand that there may be some sticker shock. That DUI you thought would only cost $99.99 was just priced at $2500, and we know that caused you to retreat into vapor-lock. We know that there is no Kelley Blue Book for legal services. We know that some lawyers are expensive, and some are cheap. We get that.

So, go ahead and hang up. It may take us a few seconds to realize that there’s no one at the other end, but those few seconds pale in comparison to the many minutes necessary to be polite in breaking off a now-awkward conversation. We’ll appreciate you for it.

And with that said, I’m hanging up.

Click.

Offender Registries – The Mark of a Great Society

July 22, 2011 Comments Off

I’ve written before to poke at offender registries run amok. If you read most CDL blogs, we bemoan the fact that these registries are a slippery slope. Our government stands precariously at the edge, waiting for a fiery advocacy group to give one last nudge. Most disheartening to us is the plight of nonviolent sex offender registrations. When they go wrong (and they do most of the time), they go really, really wrong.

Eventually, sex offender registration will be open to anyone implicated in any crime who, at some point in their lives, thought about sex.

And, society will rejoice at how far we’ve come. Participation in the celebration will be mandatory. To do otherwise means losing your membership at the country club, and the homeowners association will cite you for a bad lawn (now, a registrable offense).

H/T to Walter Olson for the Justin Fawcett article.

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