I imagine there are a few dozen articles on the internet about “dealing with difficult opposing counsel.” There’s probably some good advice in some of them, but I thought I’d offer my own, as, well, I deal with difficult lawyers and have found a way to cast them into the abyss of irrelevancy, causing them to either question their own disgraceful way of practicing law, or wonder how to proceed next.
First, where I learned how to deal with these self-important blowhards. When I was a young lawyer, I had the opportunity to work on a case where a well-known securities lawyer was involved — he was on our side. I went to see him at his New York office, and after an all-day session with the client, he invited me to dinner. (See what I did there?) He told me the story of an opposing counsel in another case that sent him a “lawyer letter” laying out his position on the case, and making several threats and demands.
My friend responded with a letter of his own. It was two words: “I disagree.”
That dinner taught me two things. One, there is no requirement that your response be as wordy as the initial screed of threats and demands. Two, there is no need to respond in detail to bluster, regardless of who is blustering.
I’ve used this tactic many times. I read every email with this question in mind: “Does this require a response?” I also maintain a philosophy that I practice law my way, not opposing counsel’s way. Just because you yell, doesn’t mean I need to yell. Just because you’re a piece of crap, doesn’t mean I need to join you in the gutter….
Do federal employees know how to use all the items in this picture?
The federal government hasn’t exactly been covering itself in glory. This weekend, the IRS was caught line dancing. I had to go on The Mike Huckabee Show where I was allegedly “destroyed” by a conservative screaming about Holder and his association with… Covington & Burling. The right wing is whipped up into a frenzy, and I’m sure if they want to keep focusing on this stuff instead of passing, say, comprehensive immigration reform, Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden will thank them for it in 2016.
But the bottom line is that when you habitually starve the government of the resources needed to hire quality people, you end up with less than stellar government services. The IRS probably doesn’t end up looking this incompetent if it isn’t staffed by glorified toll booth employees.
That’s some big picture stuff. Elsewhere in the regulatory firmament, on the small scale, we’ve got federal regulators who are being investigated for their inability to blow their nose properly…
You know you’ve had a bad weekend when you’re a lawyer and a video of your bare ass is making its rounds on the internet. We suppose things like this tend to happen after you’ve gone on an admitted bender and thrown your panties at the police while screaming “Suck my p***y” and “Eat my ass, you f**king pigs!” And by the way, it was a lawyer who allegedly showered the police with these kind words.
You must be wondering what could have caused an esteemed member of the bar to do such a thing. Well, you see, women are wont to do some pretty crazy things following bad breakups…
Earlier this week, we discussed L.A.-based patent attorney Andrew Schroeder. For those who missed out on the first go-around, Schroeder penned a couple of blistering assaults on the quality of the USPTO’s work that were brought to the attention of University of Missouri Law Professor Dennis Crouch, who posted them on Patently-O.
But the story does not end there. Yesterday, I received an email from Andrew Schroeder pointing me to his blog post responding to Crouch (and, to a lesser extent, me). I found Schroeder’s original work to be professionally over the line — and at times a little offensive — but also very funny, so I was excited to see what the maestro of meltdown letters would say to his critics.
Does spending their lives poring over minuscule differences between the designs of mundane products drive IP lawyers mad?
After yesterday’s tale of a patent lawyer ripping not one, but two letters berating the “special” insights of the examiners of the USPTO, a tipster topped that outburst by directing us to the tale of an attorney who went over the examiners and tongue-lashed some trademark judges. Because if arguing the uniqueness of water sprinklers can drive someone crazy, arguing the uniqueness of a fabric patterns creates a new kind of super-crazy.
There’s something beautiful about watching someone have a full meltdown. There’s a primal insanity that spews forth during a complaint-filled rant. It’s what makes movies like Network and Falling Down such enjoyable romps.
Attorneys aren’t immune to meltdowns, but they usually reserve them for a legal secretary, hapless associate, or beleaguered co-counsel. Anything to keep the episode shielded from the prying eyes of ATL.
Which makes a patent attorney’s public freakout on the USPTO itself so much more entertaining.
Prepare a Bingo card for the over-the-top references you expect to see in these rants (yep, plural). Here’s a freebie for the center square: mocking the Special Olympics…
We get it: the job market is tough. You’ve sent out résumé after résumé after résumé, and you haven’t even gotten so much as a response. If a response ever comes, it’s too late for your liking. It’s rude. It’s offensive. It’s humiliating. It’s demeaning. It’s insulting. You DESERVE a job. You’ve EARNED it. You’re, dare I say, ENTITLED to a job.
Except you’re just a 1L. If you think you’re entitled to anything at this point, then you’re sorely mistaken. You’re just another whiny law student who thinks that people, even potential employers, should bow to your demands for respect and courtesy. But we don’t need to tell you that — thankfully, Miss Manners already did it for us.
This is what happens when you bring your “woe is me” complaints for civility in the job market to a seasoned etiquette professional….
Oh, I pity the prospective law student who thinks that getting into law school means that he’ll never have to work at Burger King again.
There’s a departure memo going around the internet today — a kid sent a mean (and mildly racist) memo to his colleagues as he ended his employment relationship with Burger King. The kid is going to law school and feels the confidence to end his resignation letter with: “So, consider our bridges burnt.”
Or “flame broiled,” as it were.
But if all he’s got lined up is law school admission, I hope he’s still on good terms with the people at Wendy’s or something….
The job market for entry-level lawyers isn’t a very welcoming place, and while it’s better to be underemployed than unemployed, you might have to take some blows to your self-esteem in the process. It’s not a big deal, because you’ve realized that beggars can’t be choosers.
Take, for example, the case of the recent law school graduate who was only able to find a job as a paralegal. Hey, at least you’re at a law firm. Endless hours at the copy machine? You relish it. Redacting documents until you’re high off Sharpie fumes? Bring it on. Creating binders until you’ve got more paper cuts than you can count? Meh, that’s what Band-Aids are for. Being forced to feed your boss as he pressures you to join him in a polygamous romp and become his “third wife”? Uhhh…
Let’s meet the woman who claims she had to turn down her employer’s polygamous pleas, in a sexual harassment suit that she slapped him with late last week….
One argument you sometimes hear in favor of making the jump from Biglaw to boutique is that small firms are, for lack of a better word, nicer. Everyone knows everyone else, so people treat each other with respect and even kindness. The hours are less brutal than at large law firms, and the overall environment is less impersonal and more friendly. The lawyers and staff at small firms are less focused on billable hours and the bottom line than their Biglaw counterparts.
At least that’s the conventional wisdom. But is it universally true? According to one current employee of Faruqi & Faruqi, the litigation boutique on the receiving end of an epic sexual harassment lawsuit, F&F is not exactly a “Fun & Fabulous” place to work.
And this person provided email messages from the two name partners to support their claims….
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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