Watching other lawyers in action is fun. Much more fun than watching myself in action, as I have had the opportunity to do on a number of occasions. Such as during my trial training days, when the instructors decided that making us watch clips of ourselves try and conduct a direct examination was valuable. At least they got a kick out of it. But as edifying as watching video of yourself can be, you can learn a whole lot more by watching other lawyers. This lesson was ingrained in me as far back as my 1L “summer clerkship” in New Jersey state court. I remember the clerks gathering around on motion day to check out arguments in front of other judges, mostly to watch the lawyers in action. Ditto for trials.
Of course, once you enter practice — especially in Biglaw, where opportunities to even get out of the office are hard-earned — it becomes even more important to turn opportunities to watch other advocates into learning experiences. Because of the nature of the cases we were handling, many of which involved Biglaw firms of some repute on both sides, there were plenty of opportunities to watch great lawyers in action. Just as frequently, I was able to watch inexperienced lawyers from great firms struggle to get through routine litigation events. I am sure that many other lawyers were forced to endure my inexperienced attempts to handle those events along the way as well. Experienced lawyers just love sitting through a deposition where the questioner spends an hour getting through the educational background of the witness…
You learn a lot of lessons practicing in Biglaw. A big one is that you can never be prepared enough. There is always another opinion of your presiding judge to read, or a brief drafted by your opponent in an earlier case to review. Anyone who makes it more than a few years in Biglaw learns that lesson. But as much as preparation is valued, and pursued with fervor as an ideal onto itself, there is absolutely no way for even the most idealistic Biglaw recruit to fully appreciate what they are getting themselves into.
As many know, law school itself has little to teach about the realities of Biglaw, other than to idealize it as a fantasy land of big paychecks and “interesting work.” And everyone’s Biglaw experience is so unique that anecdotal tidbits are of limited utility. Does the professor, who so proudly includes on his resume a two year stint as a M&A associate at a white-shoe firm two decades ago, have much actionable advice to give a graduating 3L headed for a first-year post at even that same firm? Not really, except to perhaps suggest that the best type of relationship with that firm is one where it is your former employer….
As humanity veers closer to becoming straight-up cyborgs, it was only a matter of time before the law started messing with the course of wearable technology. We’re not ready to deal with a world where we’re all little Robocops accessing the Internet in real-time with a literal blink of an eye. And that means it’s time for some square-peg-round-hole legal challenges.
Someday we’ll have a legal answer for Google Glass. For now, we’ll just have to agree that they look stupid….
* Were you curious about who would be on the Mount Rushmore of Tax Law professors? No? Well, here they are anyway. [TaxProf Blog]
* The so-called “trial penalty” is really a myth and empirical data confirms that defendants who reject plea deals and go to trial actually garner a “trial discount.” Yep, prosecutors aren’t overreaching at all. [PrawfsBlawg]
* President Obama called for patent law reform in the State of the Union address. Now we have some insight into what he’s thinking about. [Patently-O]
* Congratulations to Matthew Skinner, the next executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York! [LeGal]
‘Try and make it look painful, we’ve got a bloodthirsty audience here!’
* Allegations that a prison told a death row inmate to “put on a show” while getting a lethal injection. Just when you thought the death penalty couldn’t manifest itself as more cruel and unusual… [NBC News]
* A discussion of how early voting is bad. Apparently, after an electoral dialogue that usually lasts a year or more, we’re all lemmings swayed by the events of the last day of campaigning so there’s no justification for allowing voters to show up three days before the finish line. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
* Kentucky legend Richie Farmer’s basketball jersey may be retired, but the Bureau of Prisons decided to give Farmer, now a political figure heading to prison for abusing his office, his old number back as an inmate number. Thanks? [Legal Juice]
* In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama came out strong for patent law reform. Exactly the issue he needed to rally voters for the midterms! [Patently-O]
* And while it didn’t make the address itself, Attorney General Eric Holder is signaling a new administrative interest in reforming the out of whack sentencing laws. [Sentencing Law and Policy]
* On February 12, our own David Lat will be speaking at Georgetown at an ABA Journal sponsored talk on “#21stCenturyLaw.” Let’s see that hash tag start trending. [ABA Journal]
* Joshua Gilliland of The Legal Geeks reacts to the revelation that the new costuming for next season’s Doctor Who will ditch Gilliland’s beloved bow tie. Our hearts go out to you in your pain. Video embedded below… [The Legal Geeks]
Until last month, my entire legal career had been spent at large law firms. With a pretty specialized practice focusing on intellectual property, mainly patent litigation. And until last month, I never really needed to hire a lawyer, with one exception. Thankfully, it was for a good reason, to help me close on my house.
Which my lawyer handled with aplomb, so I am happy to recommend him if someone needs a good generalist solo based out of New York City. Even though my general tendency is to try and learn everything I can about something, when it came to buying a house, I really wanted nothing more than to have someone else deal with all the legal stuff. The fact that I was up for partner, and working pretty hard at my Biglaw firm that year, contributed to making me a “just get it done” type of client. Because I trusted my lawyer, and he demonstrated competence and responsiveness, I never needed to get out of that mode. We closed, I paid, and life went on.
I paid happily, and very quickly, because I had engaged someone to provide a service, and saw the results in a timely manner. Even though it was not a complicated transaction by any means, and I probably could have handled it myself, I valued my lawyer’s contribution and thus was happy to pay. I appreciated the small touches — like being handed a binder with copies of all the signed closing documents right after the closing. At the same time, I never really got engaged in the process enough to care to learn about it.
Comparing the experience I had then to my typical patent matter, the difference is stark….
* After striking down Canada’s anti-prostitution laws, our neighbors to the North went ahead and approved a law school that functionally bans gays. What’s going on up there? Play keep away with the Stanley Cup for 20 years and they just lose their damn minds. [TaxProf Blog]
* Professor Richard Sander won the right to examine law school race, attendance and grade information, in a bid to prove his central theory that affirmative action somehow hurts black folks. I guess the California Supreme Court is on Team Sander. [San Jose Mercury News]
* Amy Schulman, the powerful general counsel at Pfizer, is out — and now there’s some interesting speculation as to why. [Law and More]
* Yesterday we posted our holiday tipping thread, heavily citing Corporette’s Kat Griffin. Now she’s posted her own guide and we’re linking to it. It’s like Inception up in here. [Corporette]
* Why fashion gets knocked off: delving into the world of design patents and trade dress. [Fashionista]
* Comparing the modern NSA to the intelligence-gathering techniques employed during the American Revolution. Interesting stuff, but a total cover-up job. Where’s the discussion of Ben Franklin’s “electric kite drones,” eh? You must think we’re pretty naïve, Logan Beirne. [Fox News]
* Incredibly sad, but also incredibly fascinating: if a child is rendered brain dead by a possible medical mistake, should the state honor the wishes of the family to keep the kid on life support even though every day on life support makes an investigation into the cause of death harder? [CNN]
* Loyola University Chicago introduces a new curriculum to give students an opportunity to get real-world experience with a judge or practicing lawyer before graduating. A law school focusing on training lawyers to be lawyers? This isn’t all that surprising when you look back at Dean Yellen’s previous work. [Loyola University Chicago]
* Congratulations to Therese Pritchard on her election as the first female chair of Bryan Cave. We’re big fans… until you fail to leak your bonus memo to us first. The ball’s in your court now Pritchard. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The venerable Green Bag is parting ways with GMU Law. Thankfully, it has already found a new home. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Former White House attorney John Michael Farren who we reported on a lot in the past about beating his wife nearly to death… was found liable for beating his wife nearly to death. So that happened. [News Times]
* After its patent battle in the courts, Apple wants Samsung to pay for a portion of MoFo’s legal fees. When you think of it, $15.7 million is a rather piddling amount when full freight is $60 million. [The Recorder]
* Say goodbye to your pensions! As it turns out, law review articles aren’t so useless after all. Detroit’s foray into Chapter 9 eligibility is the brainchild of a Jones Day partner and associate duo. [Am Law Daily]
* It must be really stressful to plan a wedding when your defamation victory is on appeal to the Sixth Circuit. The latest chapter in the Sarah Jones v. TheDirty.com case could mean curtains for online speech. [AP]
* When it comes to their credit ratings, stand-alone law schools are getting screwed due to their inability to put asses in their empty seats. Four out of five schools profiled could be in big trouble. Which ones? [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “You need to not dress like that.” TMZ’s attorney, Jason Beckerman, is an alumnus of Kirkland & Ellis, and he was quickly advised by a producer that he needed to lose his lawyer duds. [California Lawyer]
* You’d think that when discussing major reforms to the patent system, the director of the USPTO would be there, but you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong if you thought we had a director right now. [National Law Journal]
* Welcome to the future of Biglaw: Allen & Overy has realized that it’s a waste of money to keep hiring in a weak market, so the firm is recruiting its alumni to serve as contract attorneys in times of higher legal demand. [Legal Week]
* Dean Gregory Maggs, the interim leader of George Washington University Law, is being lauded for increasing first-year enrollment by 22 percent in a time of crisis. Excellent work, sir. You flood that job market. [GW Hatchet]
* Just because you have a law degree doesn’t mean you’re “entitled to rise up and become partner.” Getting a job in the new normal involves having a good attitude and social graces. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Ladies, if you get pregnant after a fling with an Olympic medalist and move out of state, please know your “appropriation of the child while in utero [will be deemed] irresponsible, reprehensible.” [New York Times]
* GTL stands for “Gym, Tan, Laundry,” but the owner of these Jersey Shore clubs thinks it stands for “Gym, Tan, Lawsuit” — thanks to losses uncovered by its insurer in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. [Newark Star-Ledger]
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