I’m thinking again, as I did on Monday, about why lawyers go insane over time.
Years ago (long before MapQuest was even a gleam in its inventor’s eye), an older lawyer sent me directions for driving to his home. It was pretty easy to get from my apartment to his house; I had to make only three or four turns. But the directions were several typed pages long. Why?
Because this guy had been driven insane by mistakes in the past. He had told someone to turn east on a road, and the person had turned west. So now the directions eliminated that possible mistake: “Turn east (that is, turn right as you are proceeding northbound on route 1) at the light.” Someone else had missed the turn. So now the directions eliminated that possible mistake: “If you see a shopping mall followed by a McDonald’s on the right side of the road, then you have gone too far. Turn around, go back to the light, and turn east (that is, left as you are now proceeding southbound on route 1) at the light.” Having experienced all of these mistakes, the older lawyer felt compelled to help me avoid them, which made his driving directions nearly incomprehensible.
There’s a reason why people get crotchety when they get old. People forget about things that went right in their professional lives; that’s like water off a duck. But people remember things that got screwed up; that’s what sticks in their craws.
You personally are not necessarily incompetent. But you’re tarred by the ghosts of incompetents past. When your elder — a partner, a boss, a client, whoever — asks you to do something, the boss assumes that you won’t do it. The boss doesn’t assume this because she knows that you’re irresponsible; she assumes it because the clown she asked to do something six months ago was irresponsible, and she has to hedge against you being an irresponsible clown, too.
'How do I get these stupid marks to disappear from my document?'
Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about some über expensive and embarrassing examples of lawyers making technological mistakes.
Those stories involved sexily scandalous blunders, but they were relatively extreme scenarios. (If turning over thousands of privileged documents happens regularly at your firm, may God help you.)
More frequently, firm employees deal with little technological snafus that are just annoying, pointless, and a waste of time. In a world where attorneys might literally be working themselves to death, every second of the day counts. It’s when people can’t handle mundane, seriously easy computer tasks that daily tasks become inefficient and infuriating.
Keep reading for some true stories of the technologically challenged….
Jack Kevorkian was a Michigan pathologist — but the doctor spent more time in the courtroom than in the operating room. He was a frequent litigant, thanks to his central role in the national controversy over assisted suicide, whose legality he advocated.
Early this morning, “Dr. Death” died, at the age of 83. It’s telling that Kevorkian’s passing was confirmed to the media by his lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger (whose awesome website we’ve previously deconstructed). The exact cause of death was not immediately known, but Kevorkian reportedly suffered from kidney and respiratory problems.
UPDATE (10 AM): According to Mayer Morganroth, another attorney for Kevorkian, Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis, when a blood clot in his leg broke free and moved up to his heart. Morganroth was with Kevorkian at the time of his death, according to the Detroit Free Press (via ABA Journal).
The legal system tried to stop Dr. Kevorkian from assisting in suicides for many years, without success….
I have to do something I hate doing. I have to give Gloria Allred some publicity. Sure, I have to mention her only in order to say that I think she’s wrong and using the plight of women to further her own fame. But I still have to mention her, which is what she wants. It’s a great system she’s set up for herself: she wins even when people talk about how ridiculous she is.
But I can’t ignore Allred here because now she is messing with something near and dear to my heart: scantily clad cocktail waitresses in Atlantic City. That’s right, I live on the East Coast. That means I can’t easily get to Las Vegas or New Orleans. That means occasionally I have to go get my gambling fix in A.C. If you’ve never been to Atlantic City, imagine Vegas after the apocalypse: everything is broken and rundown and more desperate-looking. It’s pathetic. And you feel pathetic while you are there (until you start hitting some points and the table gets hot and you find yourself nailing a hard ten and it feels like the whole casino gives you a high five).
One casino was doing something about that depressing ambiance. It was getting rid of all of its old cocktail waitresses. Believe me when I tell you that this is an important move. Imagine sitting in A.C. down a grand at 4 a.m. and starting to think to yourself if there is any Swingers potential and then your watered-down drink comes back only it’s brought to you by a woman old enough to be your grandmother. And so instead of trying to figure out how to have sex with the waitress, you’re sitting there kind of thinking of how your mother would disapprove if she saw you in that moment. It’s enough to make you want to kill yourself.
It’s certainly enough to make you want to stop gambling. And now along comes Gloria Allred, trying to tell people that 50-year-old cocktail waitresses at casinos are still sexy, and can’t be fired….
Here’s the question swirling through the blogosphere today: Should Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resign now — because if she dies under a Republican president, it will be a disaster for every ideal she fights for?
The question was teed up on the WSJ Law Blog this morning after an AP report noted that some liberals were “clamoring” for her resignation (and that of Stephen Breyer, to a lesser extent), just in case Obama loses in 2012.
You can see why liberals are nervous. The Court already has a 5 – 4 conservative majority (if you really think Justice Anthony Kennedy is a “swing” vote, you’re a Republican who likes to pretend to be an independent). Justice Ginsburg has had health problems, and some are not confident that she’ll last until 2016 — and it’s unlikely that either the 78-year-old RBG or the 72-year-old Breyer would make it to 2020, if a two-term Republican president is on the horizon.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Which is why I think my answer is going to surprise people…
It’s been a while since we have had a good ol’ Flori-duh story. I mean, that Miami kid came up with a ridiculous student bill of rightsages ago. We’re all overdue for some Everglades antics.
We’ll need to do a Florida potpourri here, but together these two stories have everything we’ve come to expect from the Sunshine State. We’ve got randomness, violence, crime, and circumstances that would seem improbable anywhere else.
And the fact that this is happening at arguably the top law school in Florida just makes everything so much better. Pass the Tropicana and strap in, for a look at life down in Gatorville…
On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).
As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.
Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.
Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….
We recently covered the Third Circuit’s benchslap of Judge John Fullam, an 89-year-old judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In his opinion in United States v. Higdon, issuing a writ of mandamus and directing that the case mishandled by Judge Fullam be reassigned on remand, Chief Judge Theodore McKee had some harsh words for the aged jurist: “Neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.”
At the same time, Chief Judge McKee had some kind words for Judge Fullam, praising him as “a very experienced and hard working jurist [who] has devoted decades of service to the federal bench.” In the comments to our post, some readers interpreted the combination of statements — criticism for Judge Fullam’s mishandling of one case, but compliments for his “decades of service” — as the Third Circuit trying to nudge Judge Fullam into retirement.
Well, it seems to have worked — and it’s apparently the culmination of a long-running effort to get Judge Fullam off the bench….
Judge Fullam is a very experienced and hard working jurist and he has devoted decades of service to the federal bench. Nothing we have said in this opinion should detract from that. However, neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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