Ding, Dong, The Contract’s Dead…

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Finally, after years of suffering from killer subscription fees, the folks at UA are free of our Westlaw bonds. We’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long, long, long time. The contract is dead.

Please join us at the office today for cake and Scotch.

Long live Casemaker.


Funded by Naughty Lawyers

Funded by Naughty Lawyers

“This program is offered free of charge for all Kansas attorneys with funds received through CLE noncompliance fees.”

Evidently, there’s profit to be had from noncompliance fees.

I’m Gonna Be Rich

I'm Gonna Be Rich

How could I refuse such a tempting offer to abandon my pathetic practice and become special counsel to an international business?

Luckily, I fished this out of my spam folder. Darned spam folder, it almost prevented me from becoming rich.

I look forward to reading back from them.

Speak American!

If you read the news, you can’t help but feel a bit (or a lot) jaded. That’s understandable. The stories and perspectives feel decidedly partisan. But, why is that?

It’s because the stories are written in English, not American. There’s a big difference. English is adequate for projecting facts, but it does nothing to capture the full emotion of an idea. That’s where someone who is fluent in American becomes so valuable. American tells the raw, unadulterated truth. English leaves much to interpretation. American is fully transparent.

English is communicated. American is oozed. You know, like when you get bitten on the hand by the neighbor’s chihuahua. You figure that a nip from such a small dog is not serious. Then, a few day’s later, your now-warm and red hand starts churning its own butter. That kind of ooze.

Having said that, I’m here to help. Armed with a Kansas public school education and red state idealism, I’ll set the record straight. Depending on availability of material, this may become a recurring column.

On Coaching Sports and Volunteering at Youth Activities

English: We are grateful for volunteers who coach little league, act as scout leaders, serve on the school board, and run other youth projects and activities.

American: We are grateful for volunteers who coach little league, act as scout leaders, serve on the school board, and run other youth projects and activities as long as they cater to the needs and wants of my kid(s). Otherwise, I’m going to yell at them, leave angry voicemails, and talk to other parents about the volunteer’s ignorance and incompetence. Having said that, I’m glad they do it, because I’m, like, really busy sitting in my car playing with my iPhone while they teach my kid(s) the value of hard work, life skills, and stuff I should be teaching them if there wasn’t so much stuff to watch on TV. Plus, the internet isn’t going to surf itself.

On Abortion

English: Abortion is murder.

American: Abortion is murder. This is because a child (definition extended to the fetus) is involved. We are willing to make many, many murder exceptions involving humans over the age of 18 and most people between the ages of 10-17 (if we think they are a punk). We couldn’t care less about the carbon-based incubator for the fetus child. She needs to learn to follow orders.

On Term Limits for Congress

English: Most American’s support term limits for Congress.

American: Most American’s support term limits for Congress, except the ones for whom they cast votes. My member of Congress is great, but yours sucks eggs. Term limits are designed to protect you. As for me, I can handle my own business.

On Criminal Punishment, Minimum Sentences, and the Death Penalty

English: We, as a people, support harsh punishments for crime. This is done somewhat as retribution, but mostly as a deterrent in order to protect the right to happiness of honest, god-fearing people.

American: We, as a people, support harsh punishments for crime. We would also be OK with the death penalty for even the smallest of crimes. After all, most serious criminals start by committing petty crimes. Let’s eliminate this scourge before it seriously hurts one of us. When in doubt, remember that we do it for the children. This rule should not apply when it involves one of my close family members or friends. They should be given a chance to rehabilitate themselves, even in the most serious of circumstances.

On Religion

English: Religion is a wonderful source of ethical understanding and reverence for our creator.

American: My religion is a wonderful source of ethical understanding and reverence for our creator. That shit you believe? It sucks. It is violent and will rip any civilized society to shreds if given a chance. My religion is based on stuff that you must believe through the beauty of faith. Yours is based on stuff that some nut-job invented many hundreds of years ago. My religion is a beautiful, theological tapestry. Yours is a mindless cult. But, I’ll pray for you.

On The Definition of Justice

English: Holding someone fairly accountable for their actions within the bounds of the rules of law and equity.

American: Dude, I’ve got no clue, either. Here, have another shot of this stuff I distilled in my basement.

A Summary of Internet Wisdom

After a few years of using the internet, here’s a quick summary of every viewpoint, every angle, and every affiliation.

Say what we think you should say, in the way we want you to say it, or we’ll dismiss you as unworthy of attention.

Read what we think you should read, or we’ll label you as unintelligent and uninformed.

Stand where we want you to stand, or we’ll claim you are weak.

Agree with our thoughts, or we’ll curse you as evil and unfeeling.

Surrender what we want to take, or we’ll say you lack charity.

React as we feel you should react, or we’ll dismiss you as uncaring and boorish.

Interact with those whom we approve, lest we labor for your damnation.

Take what we are willing to give, or we’ll chide you for being ungrateful.

Never question what we say, or we’ll subject you to instantaneous social exile.

No matter what we say or how we say it, we are more accepting, charitable, openminded, and tolerant than everyone else.

We only want to ensure your freedom, your happiness, and the safety of your children.

*Feel free to add “So help me, god” after any (or all) of these, if it makes you feel better.

The Value of Legal Representation

Many argue that there is plenty of work for lawyers, but not enough potential clients with the means to pay for legal services.

I disagree.

Oodles of folks have the ability to pay for legal representation, but most choose to value other things over legal services.

Based on almost 10 years of observations, here’s a list of things that seem to be valued by many, many potential clients, in relation to legal representation (from most important to least important).

  1. A Fancy Car
  2. A not-so-fancy car with $20,000 rims.
  3. A not-so-fancy car with a boomin’ sound-system and $5000 rims.
  4. A 1995 Brown Chevy Caprice Classic with $2000 rims.
  5. $2000 rims, but no car.
  6. A weekend in Cancun with unlimited alcohol.
  7. A weekend in Panama City with pay-by-the-drink alcohol.
  8. A big-ass flat-panel television (minimum 50 inches).
  9. A weekend in a crappy hotel in Gary, Indiana with two bottles of cheap alcohol.
  10. Tattoos (thanks to Texas ADA).
  11. A weekend in an average hotel in Topeka, Kansas with a bag of weed.
  12. One afternoon in a Reno, Nevada brothel.
  13. An opportunity to flirt with the female clerk working the afternoon shift at Panda Express at the southside mall.
  14. Paid access to adult internet site featuring a girl who attended their high school.
  15. A $3000 Karaoke machine.
  16. One night out at Applebees.
  17. 15 minutes of tokens for private booth at Franks Adult Emporium.
  18. Playstation 3
  19. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 for Playstation 3
  20. A $200 Karaoke machine.
  21. Blu-Ray of “Barb Wire, Extended Director’s Cut.”
  22. 2 tickets to a Lakers game.
  23. Bus ticket to see girlfriend in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
  24. Replica movie poster of Al Pacino in “Scarface.”
  25. Blingy “$” necklace.
  26. 4 tickets to see a Monster Truck show.
  27. One day at a state fair.
  28. iPad
  29. One purebred Pit Bull Terrier.
  30. iPhone
  31. One pair of the latest in-brand of jeans.
  32. One carton of Marlboros.
  33. NFL Sunday Ticket.
  34. New Baskeball Shoes.
  35. A dog (any breed).
  36. Six Pack of Beer (any brand).
  37. A Large, One-Topping Pizza from Papa John’s.
  38. One pack of Marlboros (or one can of Copenhagen).
  39. A new jacket (hunter camo pattern ONLY)
  40. A 1983 Chevrolet Chevette (not necessarily operable).
  41. One can of body spray.
  42. Glass anal beads.
  43. Legal Representation
  44. Plastic anal beads.
  45. Education
  46. Condoms

The Professional Army Life

In the Army, you are never allowed to remain in one job for more than a few years. In my final 6 years of service (as a JAG officer), I held 4 distinctly different primary jobs.

While those jobs were different, there are distinct similarities shared by all Army jobs, whether at a different geographic location or different primary duty at the same geographic location.

Every assignment in the Army can be divided into three equal phases.

Phase 1: The last job you had was the worst. Ever. The people sucked. The work was tedious, and you’re extremely happy to be in this wonderful, new job. This place is great!

Phase 2: Your current job sucks. In fact, it is so terrible that Dante Alighieri didn’t have the guts to write about it. Your last job was great. Everyone knew what they were doing. At your last assignment, everyone was competent, kind, and bowed to your greatness. Now, just hell. Suicide is contemplated.

Phase 3: Your next job, which you now know of, will be the best. Ever. You can’t wait to be gone from the cesspool that is your current job. Everyone around you is inferior because they don’t have the wonderful, upcoming job opportunity that you have. You’ve forgotten about your previous assignment.

This repeats for every military assignment until retirement, separation, or death.

Manning Update

A few things learned yesterday about the Bradley Manning court-martial.

1. The judge awarded him 112 days credit for illegal pretrial confinement conditions while housed in the Marine Corps brig. This will be added to the day-for-day credit he will receive for all pretrial confinement. If he ultimately receives a life sentence, it really doesn’t help too much, aside from maybe moving the date when he could be considered for clemency/parole of some sort. Either way, the ruling doesn’t hurt. Interestingly, the judge did not release her written decision. Conspiracy theorists everywhere rejoice at the empowerment granted by the lack of transparency.

2. Apparently, the animators from the cartoon “South Park” are now moonlighting as courtroom sketch artists.


Army Scott just notified me that the courtroom artist is the subject of intense discussion within Army JAG offices.

Big Fat Losers

Yep, that’s us.

At the ABA Blawg 100, we finished abysmally in popular voting in the “Trial Practice” subcategory. Nonetheless, thanks to the 16 fine folks who did vote for us. The winner was “The Velvet Hammer” blog, with almost 10x as many votes. We feel horrible (See Note 1), ashamed (See Note 2), and dirty (See Note 3).

Knowing this, expect big changes here, starting with our name. In order to compete with the likes of “The Velvet Hammer,” we are changing our name from “Unwashed Advocate” to “The Dialectical Penetrator,” with the slogan “The legal blog that doesn’t pull-out until the final verdict.”

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Note 1: Not really.

Note 2: Absolutely not.

Note 3: Yes, always.

Additional Note: “The Velvet Hammer” is trademarked by the owner of said blog. It is mentioned here merely for newsworthy and humorous effect. It is not used by us for commercial or monetary gain. God this trademark shit is a pain in the ass.

Client Intake 101

Everyone knows that law schools across America teach classes like Torts, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Contracts, and Law & Literature. They are all classes that focus on substantive law. They don’t focus on the practice of law.

The closest you’ll get the a class involving the practice of law might be a Trial Advocacy course, taught by an adjunct and looked-down-upon by tenured faculty who have never seen one of those trial thingies.

It’s time to focus on the practice of law. Not just the practice of law, but the most vexing, infuriating, bad-time-consuming part of practicing law. That is potential client evaluation and intake.

Now, I’m not asking for a 3-hour course. Although, most of us who’ve practiced more than  a few years have enough material to fill a 5-credit-hour course to the brim. Perhaps a 1 or 2 hour seminar course is appropriate for starters.

Assuming 22 class periods, let’s take a look at each of them.

1. Introduction. Title: “No Kids, We Don’t Make This Shit Up”

2. What the hell is a “consultation?” How your definition is not the same as that of the potential client.

3. Practical Exercise: Controlling the initial consultation. Theme: It’s not for them; it’s for you.

4. Getting to the Bottom Line 1. Theme: Your mortgage cannot be paid in thank-you-so-much-for-your-time and you-gave-me-a-lot-to-think-about currency.

5. Getting to the Bottom Line 2. Theme: You are not a flea market. Stand firm on fees.

6. Government to Private: Adjusting to charging for your services after having dutifully served as a public defender. (This is a harder transition than most realize.)

7. Getting to the Bottom Line 3. Theme: Wives hate lawyers (or, why “I just need to talk to my wife (spouse) about this” means they will never call you back.

8. Potential Clients 1: Those who know they need a lawyer, know the value of a lawyer, and were referred to you. (Happy, feel-good class day)

9. Potential Clients 2: Those who found you because of your website. (Also known as Jekyll and Hyde day)

10. Potential Clients 3: Those who found you through Avvo. (Purchase a gas mask day)

11. Potential Clients 4: Those who found you because god led them to you. (Purchase a gun day (or Hire a Bodyguard day, if you’re particularly offended by firearms references))

12. Potential Clients 5: Those who immediately say that their case will make you rich and famous. (Run the other way day)

13. Potential Clients 6: Those whose cases will really make you famous, but not necessarily rich. (Run the other way fast while wearing a gas mask day)

14. If, after the initial consultation, your first thought is to call a press conference, it is either a really bad case or you are a moron. (Last day to drop classes)

15. Special Topic: Why becoming famous from the practice of law is not necessarily a good thing. (Nancy Grace day)

16. Telling the potential client that their case sucks, and why most react as though you just called their baby ugly.

17. Assessing the neediness factor of potential clients. How to spot potentials who, if a relationship is formed, will expect you to cater to their needs like Tom Hagen.

18. Advertising don’ts and don’ts.

19. Guest Speaker: Mark Bennett. Topic: 10 Rules for Dealing with the Borderline Personality.

20. The Retainer/Fee Agreement. Text: The 21st Century Retainer Agreement by Carolyn Elefant. (I’ve read it. I wish I had it a few years ago when I started my pathetic practice. Oh, and if you want to complain about price, compare the cost of this book with that of the Prosser Torts book.)

21. Panel Discussion with Real Lawyers (Civil Practice Day)

22. Panel Discussion with Real Lawyers (Criminal Practice Day)

Final Exam: 4 hours (1 hour multiple choice, 1 hour essay, 2 hours practical evaluation)

Save My Beloved!

The email came from a woman in New Zealand, referred from another attorney.

The writer was clearly flustered, shocked that her beloved American servicemember was being treated so badly by the Army he served for more than 10 years.

The woman, middle-aged by admission, needed to find a lawyer to help her fiance’. He, Captain Billy Ray Hotchkins*, served in Afghanistan for the past year but faced discipline when he stood-up for his soldiers in the face of command tyranny. Captain Billy is not only a great man, but a great soldier and leader. He loved his soldiers, but, more important to her, he loved her unconditionally.

They’d never met in person, but she knew he was the one. After all, he found her on an online dating site. He was handsome, sending pictures of himself in a well-tailored uniform and sporting a chiseled jaw. Of all the women on the internet, he chose her. She was smitten, and in love. Her days were spent waiting for his intoxicating emails. He was the prince of whom she’d dreamt.

Now, her prince was in trouble.

After facing punishment, her Captain suffered administrative discharge (being fired from the Army). Then, he was kicked out of Afghanistan without passport or means to return to the United States, or, as was her preference, New Zealand. He told her that the State Department refused to help because of his military discharge.

She’d wired money. It got him to Amsterdam. She wired more, and it got him to Libya. As quickly as she could untie her savings, she’d wire whatever she could afford.

In over two decades of association with the military, I’d never heard of such overwhelming maltreatment. Such a miscarriage of justice. Such blatant disregard for due process, regulations, and law. In the second order, the poor fiance’ was forced to pine for hours and days as her beloved suffered as a wandering refugee. A man without a country.

Can you imagine military commanders, drunk on their real and perceived power, casting a fellow soldier out of the Army to wander from international airport to international airport without proof of citizenship? It is a travesty. It is a shame. To make matters worse, the State Department joined in this conspiracy against one of our nation’s heroes.

Billy and his fiance’ needed an attorney to expose the government for this atrocity and fight for his rights. She did, however, confide that Billy was none too happy about her seeking the help of a lawyer in the United States. He wanted to fix this himself, the ruggedly-individualistic American that he is. He just needed a bit more cash.

My response was very brief.

“Ma’am, you are the victim of an internet scam. Please report this to your local authorities. I’ve included a link to an article that addresses this type of fraud.”

I then included one more sentence.

“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that your soldier is not real.”


*With apologies to anyone actually named Billy Ray Hotchkins.