Required Reading on Lawyer Mindfulness

Your task for today is to read two posts, written yesterday by Mark Bennett. Everything you need to know about being mindful as a lawyer is contained in these two relatively short pieces.

They are provided at no cost to you.

Just don’t expect to cull excuses from his words.

The first identifies the problem.

The second provides a solution.

My goal here is to provide a worthy addendum to his thoughts.

I found one.

Here it is:

Azimuth Check: Farewell to a Fellow JAG

We all need an azimuth check every now and then. This weekend, I got a huge one.

In mid-2004, I reported to Fort Lee, Virginia where I underwent the first phase of training to be a JAG lawyer. This included learning Army customs and courtesies, basic weapons training, basic soldier skills, and other rudimentary military training. Owing to the fact that I’d already spent 5 years as an Infantryman, I asked to skip this stuff. Plus, I was already a Captain.Compass

Instead, the JAG powers-that-were told me, “Nope, we need you to be the class leader.”

This began about a dozen weeks of herding proverbial cats. It is one thing to deal with privates who have no clue about the Army. It is entirely different dealing with a gaggle of lawyers who have no clue about the Army.

The class consisted of Active Duty members, Reservists, and National Guard members. One of the National Guardsmen was a particularly clean-cut man who was about my age, First Lieutenant Beau Biden.

In short, Beau performed magnificently. He conducted himself as a quiet professional, even when enduring some of the less-endearing tasks, such as unmasking in the gas chamber, smearing camo paint on his face, and crawling on the ground while being yelled at to “get that helmet in the dirt!” He always had a smile on his face and seemed to enjoy the best part of the experience–being around the other members of the class. Nobody saw him as Joe Biden’s son. We all saw him as a good friend and a great classmate.

I didn’t stay in contact with Beau after we left Fort Lee. I’m not really the staying-in-touch type. However, I valued the time I spent with him, as did the rest of the class.

A fantastic friend. A great classmate. A quiet professional. A quality Army officer. An American Soldier.

He is missed.

Dear DOJ, I fixed your “We Hate FIFA” Charts

I’m not particularly interested in the prosecution of FIFA officials who allegedly took bribes, but I’m always a sucker for a good chart. However, the government is historically bad at making simple, easy-to-understand visuals. The Department of Justice is notoriously bad at this.

Maybe the charts make sense to the fine folks at DOJ, but they aren’t very useful to anyone else.

Of course, I’m here to help. Here you go. You’re welcome.

Screenshot 2015-05-27 12.44.50

Can an Address Book Tell a Story?

While I find technology and digital databases to be an exceedingly useful tool, I do miss the art created through the judicious use of analog means and methods.

A few years ago, I transferred my address book to digital. Today, I’m wondering if that was the best decision for me.


Watch this at least twice.

The first time, pay attention to the main event, Gay Talese’s address book.

On the second, make note of his (characteristically) meticulously-tailored suit.

BREAKING NEWS: I’m not his lawyer anymore. (UPDATED)

We criminal-defense lawyers often do unpopular things. Occasionally, we make a few people happy, but we always piss someone off in the process. It goes with the territory. We are vilified in our efforts to protect our clients’ rights and zealously defend them. If a criminal-defense attorney can’t handle this, they should quit. The job is simultaneously lonely, frightening, frustrating, and rewarding. Not everyone is cut out to do this type of work.

Here are a few rules that help to frame this reasoning:

1. Criminal-defense lawyers are unpopular to most. We must accept this.

2. Some cases are high-profile immediately as they become cases. Some fester into high-profileness. Usually, this enhances our unpopularity, and that is nothing short of uncomfortable. We must deal with this and focus on doing what we need to do to zealously represent our clients. It may happen to us. It may never happen to us. Whether it happens is largely a crapshoot.

3. In every representation, someone will hate us and wish unmentionable things upon us and our families. Again, we must deal with it.

4. If we must withdraw from a case for any reason, we should remain publicly silent about the nature of representation. Forever. Why? Because we still owe a duty of loyalty and confidentiality based on prior representation. It doesn’t matter whether our experiences are good or bad. We shut up. Violating this constitutes Attorney Dipshittery in the First Degree. Aggravating factor: disparaging (even in a veiled manner) the now-former client on Facebook and/or Twitter. A press release to clarify your newfound non-representation and veiled condemnation is particularly egregious and constitutes Capital Dipshittery.

5. Most of the time, the evidence is overwhelmingly not in our favor. We just have to deal with it and try the best possible case.

If you can’t handle those 5 things, you should never become a criminal-defense attorney. Never. Ever.

Why am I writing this? Because of the “Best Law Firm in Charleston.”

UPDATE, 2:45PM: Rule #4 is amended to include giving an interview to the Daily Beast as an aggravating condition necessitating elevation to Interstellar Capital Dipshittery. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, as I’ve already received feedback from others who seem to believe that this lawyer’s conduct since dumping his client is perfectly hunky-dory.

Screenshot 2015-04-08 11.04.12
Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.
Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.
Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.