“In four minutes, it would be another hour; a half hour after that was the ten-minute break. Lane Dean imagined himself running around on the break, waving his arms and shouting gibberish and holding ten cigarettes at once in his mouth, like a panpipe. Year after year, a face the same color as your desk. Lord Jesus. Coffee wasn’t allowed because of spills on the files, but on the break he’d have a big cup of coffee in each hand while he pictured himself running around the outside grounds, shouting. He knew what he’d really do on the break was sit facing the wall clock in the lounge and, despite prayers and effort, count the seconds tick off until he had to come back and do this again. And again and again and again.”
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a longish piece on just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. A Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic intrigue, the treatment does little to tell us why in the hell we care just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. I’ll leave that determination to the qualified pundits and their punditry.
But what the Times article does do is shine a light on what it means to be a lawyer. What it means to others and what it means to us. Completely by accident, the mess at the IRS tells us how important lawyers are. And how impotent we are. This makes little sense even as I type it. But bear with me. Please. It is not often that meaning comes so nicely gift-wrapped.
Tim Tebow is one of the most polarizing figures in America. And for good reason. While a good deal of America finds him to be a media-created proselytizer with the foot speed of a backup Tight End and the arm strength of a backup Tight End, the rest of America is stupid. And this is coming from someone who sported quite the Tebowner when the Broncos embarked on their unbelievable run with Tebow at the helm two years ago. It was magical. It was exhilarating. It was a tremendous run of defensive football.
There are always athletes that explain something about our culture. Our divided self is on full display every time Floyd Mayweather fights. It was on display when OJ Simpson literally got away with murder. Bird and Magic did something similar, if on a lesser scale, in the 80′s. The common thread, in case it isn’t already obvious, is that our polarizing sports figures have largely explained a black-and-white America. Our problems with race, that old American bugaboo, have often found their expression in sports. And for good reason as most men in this country pay more attention to sports than they do politics or entertainment or law or any other bullshit thing that isn’t debated on ESPN’s First Take. If men have a problem in this country, that problem will find its way into our sports.
But what of Tebow? Why do we debate him? Why do we care about a bad quarterback? Why do you care?
On Tuesday, I wrote about my own student loan debt. And how someone needs to do something quick about it before it, and things, get out of control. It took a great deal of personal responsibility on my part to own up to the fact that the government needs to bail me out. While I agonized over the decision of whether to come out against my own financial ruin, I eventually decided that if I could save one student from a lifetime of crippling debt, one adult from poverty, one person from pawning off their Billy Ripken f**kface baseball card just to buy eggs, well… I hope that one person is me.
In related news of Randian pluck and rugged individualism, America’s baseball teams have been swallowed whole by a hungry horde of destitute billionaires. The latest in this very proud lot is the Ricketts family, who bravely spent close to a billion dollars of someone else’s money to buy the Chicago Cubs. This week brought news that the clan may move the Cubs out of Wrigley Field, their home and frat boy toilet for close to one hundred years. And why is such an iconic urinal being threatened?
Because the owners of the Cubs don’t have as much money as they pretend to have. And because someone must pay. And that someone is someone else.
I am supposed to be paying something on the order of $2,500 a month in student loan repayments. I currently make a shade over $55,000 a year which, after taxes, comes out to a tick under $3,200 a month. Please don’t mistake me for a braggart, dear reader, as I am a man much like yourself. I get up every morning and slip my cheap suit on one pant leg at a time. Just like you! It’s just that, after my threadbare suit is hanging from my gaunt frame, I have dozens of dollars to my name. Dozens.
If you are reading this website, you are well-acquainted with the state of student debt in this country. Above The Law, once a bastion for bottles, models, bonuses, and benefits, covers the hangover now too. The hangover is a useful start for any consideration of debt in this country, as it turns out. Shot through with the morality that only the descendants of Puritans can muster, debt in this country is treated not unlike a sexually transmitted disease or pleated pants: it’s moral turpitude that led you here.
Remember kids, banks will never ever ever forget your student loans. They may forgive them, though. As if they’re handing out papal dispensations from on high, banks are passing moral judgment even when your duties as a debtor may be discharged.
This is the moral universe we currently reside in. And it’s one that has seriously warped consequences.
In honor of last night’s first round of the NFL Draft, I decided to scrap my usual routine this week. That routine consists of combing the internets for sports stories that ever-so-slightly touch on legal matters and bringing those stories to you with a healthy dose of deranged non sequiturs. This column rarely makes sense and when it inexplicably does, it may be even more unreadable. No matter, as last night’s auction of human beings gave me an idea that, I hope, will really knock your socks off your now-naked feet.
Because football players are largely detestable human beings, I thought it would be interesting to take a stroll through the last twenty years of NFL drafts to recount the first round draft picks who have had scrapes with the law. From felonies to misdemeanors to a sidebar on the bizarre physical specimen that was Mark McGwire’s brother, herewith is the Rap Sheet Roll Call of the NFL Draft, Round One. The 31st and 32nd picks do not have a twenty year history and were, thus, omitted.
All facts cited come from the players’ Wikipedia entries, unless otherwise linked. Because I’m not going to the trouble of hyperlinking everything while the NFL Draft is on.
Let’s talk Mel Kiper’s hair and Mark Mayock’s lateral lisp…
The only good things to ever happen to the city of Cleveland occurred in the movie Major League. From “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn to Willie “Mays” Hayes, the Indians were never such a joy to watch as they were during that fateful summer, when they climbed back into contention against the cretinous Yankees and their slugger Clu Haywood (“Haywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair.”). With a roster that resembled nothing so much as the Island of Misfit Toys, the Indians were an absolute delight to watch.
In real life, Cleveland is an angry, festering boil of despair. The Indians suck, the Cavaliers suck, and the Cuyahoga River catches fire likes it’s made of charcoal briquettes. If there is a God, and he is a vengeful one, that God hates Cleveland. There is no other explanation for the singularly awful string of events that have befallen Cleveland sports during my lifetime. The Drive, the Decision, the Fumble, the Shot. God hasn’t sodomized a town like this since Sodom.
Yesterday, news leaked that the Cleveland Cavaliers were considering rehiring coach Mike Brown. While hilarious, this has nothing to do with the law. Instead, we are here to talk about Jimmy Haslam. Haslam bought the Cleveland Browns just this past October. This week, it was announced that the FBI and the IRS had raided the headquarters of Haslam’s company, Pilot Flying J. Yesterday, the feds announced why they had done this.
A few weeks ago, I blew your collective mind with a post about marijuana cigarettes and the lawyers who love them. Everyone agreed that it was a true revelation and a rare insight into the human condition. Lawyers stopped each other on the Subway, put down their five-dollar foot longs, and talked about pot use and what it means for lawyers who are still struggling to find jobs in an economy that deems them superfluous and sometimes even magnanimous about their superfluity. The words. They just pile up sometimes, one after another.
You know what else takes the edge off?
Good old ‘bating. Partner drops a big ol’ pile of suck on your desk at 5 p.m.? Might as well ‘bate. Judge says your motion is denied? ‘Bate. Your client is found guilty of ‘bating? Well, we’ll get to that.
When it comes to lowering stress, there’s not a single thing better than masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love, as Woody Allen once said (before he impeached himself on issues of appropriate objects of love).
Yesterday, New York Magazine highlighted a movement to deny oneself… oneself. And if you or David Lat or anyone else not named you or David Lat thinks I can’t stretch the connections between that New York Magazine article and the legal community into something approaching an entire post, you’re sorely mistaken.
Because we’re about to talk about the most Learned of Hands….
My dear sweet girlfriend Stephanie doesn’t understand sports. To nothing and no one in particular, she will say “How can anyone get upset over the results of a game?” I mentally catalog my responses. That it’s a shared culture and every result arrives like a cascade of memories, connecting fathers and sons and entire families. Place and time all wrapped up and held within a blowout victory or a narrow loss. I get frustrated. I realize that she could never understand this compulsion. I would have better luck explaining what the color blue is. Words fail me as this column attests to on a semi-weekly basis. And my mind instinctively reaches for every illogical thing she does, from the interminably long morning routine to the row of bras, neatly displayed on a table in her living room. Explain the bras, Stephanie! If you’re such a cold, calculating machine, explain the terrifyingly ordered row of bras on the table!
This all happens in the span of fifteen seconds. And at the end of the psychic meltdown, I look over and see Stephanie staring off into space, not caring about sports or even those who care about sports. She doesn’t care about the question or the answer, I realize.
My dear sweet girlfriend Stephanie trolls me on a regular basis.
You were going to read this post, until you got high.
Yo, you smoke? I mean, you like to get high? I like to smoke pot on occasion. I don’t remember if the character and fitness application for bar admittance asked about drug use, but I think it probably did. It doesn’t matter, of course. Just another brick in the wall of hypocrisy that our nation’s drug laws and attitudes have become. Or have always been. I don’t really know. But seriously, you smoke?
I’ve never been terribly enthusiastic about smoking weed. To be honest, I’m too lazy to develop a serious pot habit. To me, it’s no different than collecting stamps or reading literature. It takes effort. And that’s just something that I don’t have much of in large amounts. This is all to say that if I were a harder worker or had more motivation to do something/anything, I’d probably be a pothead. I mean, I like smoking pot well enough.
This weekend, the New York Times blew up your bubby’s spot. And Rand Paul went on national television and said a whole lot of sensible things that no one in their right minds could disagree with. And, well, it got me thinking.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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