Sleeping

For your information, in case you’re not familiar with my process, I take copious notes during the testimony of each witness, and I would like to place into the record my personal notes of what happened that afternoon to reflect that I was not asleep.

I want to put this in the record as a Court exhibit to indicate what I was doing that afternoon. It was not sleeping. I was not sleeping.

– Senior Judge Ellen Bree Burns of the District of Connecticut, a nonagenarian, speaking in her own defense during an ongoing federal drug trial after members of the defendants’ families accused her of sleeping on the bench.

Roger Clemens

Coffee is a critical tool of the American justice system.

Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School, commenting on the need for jurors to have access to caffeine during trials. This topic arose after recent happenings in the Roger Clemens trial.

(What happened during Roger Clemens’s trial that would elicit such a response? Find out, after the jump.)

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Not to be all on Catherine Rampell’s jock today, but the other thing I read in the Economix while I was catching up on the internet seemed far more interesting than imagining Shearman & Sterling partners bitch about how flat profits per partner left them with only $1.56 million, on average, to play around with in 2011.

On the one hand, it’s an obvious point: a study about the most “sleep-deprived” professions found lawyers to average only 7 hours of sleep a night. Only “home health aides” received less sleep.

It doesn’t come as a galloping shock to anybody that lawyers average less sleep than almost anybody else. What did surprise me was the figure. What the hell kind of lazy lawyer is getting seven entire hours of sleep every day?

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... but it will never be granted.

* Most Americans can look forward to a tax increase in 2012 because our elected officials would rather bicker with each other than do their jobs. Happy freakin’ New Year! [Los Angeles Times]

* Duncan Law’s dean sheds some light on why the ABA might have denied the school provisional accreditation. Come on, what’s not to like about a median LSAT of 147? [National Law Journal]

* Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber, has put in some special requests for a new lawyer. Beggars can’t really be choosers, though, so I wouldn’t count on it, buddy. [Reuters]

* More ex-NFL players are suing over brain injuries. You shouldn’t be allowed to sue over your career in football when you knew that a helmet was a required part of your uniform. [Bloomberg]

* If everyone with a professional degree could sue over lost sleep and long hours, then almost every lawyer in the country would be a plaintiff, especially those in Biglaw. [New York Post]

Sleeping Beauty: Not on the fast track to partnership.

I’m a big believer in forcing society to make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. It’s not too much to ask that disabled people be provided with handicapped accessible taxi cabs and buildings. And a special parking spot. Or whatever. If there’s a reasonable thing that society can do to make it a little bit easier to function with a disability, we should do it.

As long as we’re dealing with a real disability.

We used to live in a world where it was pretty easy to identify a disabled person. “Hello. Hello? Oh, you must be deaf.” “Hey, why are a you miserable cuss who keeps screaming ‘hoo ha’ at me? Oh, you must be blind.” “Why did you take out a hundred thousand dollar loan to go to a school that doesn’t help people get high-paying jobs? Oh, you must be retarded.” Man, those were the days.

Sadly, we now live in a world where it’s harder and harder to separate out the really disabled people from those who just can’t get their stuff together. To cope, I’ve developed my own little test: if I wouldn’t want the disability, it’s a real disability. If I’d gladly take the “disability” in exchange for a cash payout, it’s probably fake.

So let me ask you this: would you take a cash payout from your Biglaw firm if I afflict you with the dreaded “I’m really sleepy” disability? Yeah, this woman would too….

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Congrats to Mike Sacks on his new gig!

* I’m not alone in arguing for apprenticeships in the world of legal education. On the other side of the pond, Chris Ashford likes the idea too. [The Lawyer]

* Speaking of legal education, “Some Things Are Funny in Law School.” [Only in Law School]

* Congratulations to Mike Sacks — founder of First One @ One First, and a past contributor to these pages — on his exciting new job! [ABA Journal; First One @ One First]

* What should rejected applicants to the shrinking DOJ Honors Program do? Let them eat… muffins! Cake can’t hold a candle to $16 muffins. [Constitutional Daily]

* Given my own uneasiness about guns, I’m not so enthusiastic about the right to print arms. [Associate's Mind]

* Professor Glenn Reynolds asks: “Can Lack of Sleep Ruin Your Marriage?” Just ask the divorced denizens of Biglaw. [Instapundit]

As any law student can tell you, pulling an all-nighter sucks. Biglaw associates, however, have to pull all-nighters quite frequently — and sometimes they’ll have to get by with very little sleep, for multiple nights in a row. As one of our Above the Law editors mentioned to me, a Biglaw all-nighter “is nothing like any other kind of all-nighter [he's] ever experienced.”

So what happens when you’re on your eighth caffeinated beverage of the night and you’re still yawning? You can literally feel the small amount of blood left in your coffee stream getting ready to stage a strike if you don’t catch a few Z’s. As a young lawyer, would you even consider going to sleep? And would your firm approve?

Hell no. Don’t even think about it. You can sleep when you’re dead. But for now, you get a futuristic-looking pod to take a nap in….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

My client wasn’t getting enough sleep. I assumed it was insomnia, but that didn’t fit the bill. It wasn’t that she couldn’t sleep; it was that she wouldn’t sleep. She was staying up from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., lying in bed — mostly, playing Angry Birds.

Those few hours were the only time she was left alone all day – no one from the firm called to assign her something awful to do or yell at her for something awful she’d done. To relinquish this sliver of “me time,” even for sleep, was out of the question….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I was kidding around with some of the guys at my gym, tossing around the question – would you fight Mike Tyson for $3 million?

One of them joked – I think he heard this on Howard Stern – that he’d fellate Mike Tyson for $3 million. He could spend the first $1 million on mouthwash and retire on the rest.

Then another guy spoke up, a sometime professional heavyweight boxer. (I’m not making this up, he really has boxed, for big money, not too long ago – and has plans to do so again.)

“It’s not worth it. Mike would destroy you. There would be no retirement.”

He went on to explain what he meant. He knew from experience – this guy had been in the ring. You’d have more than bruises – you’d have concussions, brain injuries, damaged bones and joints. You’d never be the same – and it wouldn’t be worth it. You’re better off not having $3 million but appreciating the finer things, like being able to walk and talk and think.

I saw his point.

Biglaw is also not worth it, even for big money. That’s because it, too, destroys you – just like Iron Mike…

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LaLeshia Walker Alford Judge Laleshia Walker-Alford Louisiana Above the Law blog.jpgGotta love an elected judiciary. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

A Shreveport judge’s excessive use of prescription drugs led her to disgrace the judiciary by missing work, falling asleep on the bench, and at times talking gibberish to convicts, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled in a 7-0 decision that permanently removed her from office.

LaLeshia Walker Alford, first elected to the Shreveport City Court in 1997, was removed from the Caddo Parish bench and ordered to reimburse the state $5,000 for the cost of the investigation that began six years ago.

We especially appreciated the article’s deadpan subhead: “Absences, gibberish on bench recounted.”

So how did this all get started?

Alford, a Tulane Law School graduate who was re-elected in 2002, fell under state investigation after an anonymous complaint May 27, 2002, accused her of missing work regularly, canceling court without any notice, and presiding on the bench impaired, inarticulate, and at times nodding off. At one point, Alford threw a 15-year-old boy into an adult lock-up after fuming over his poor report card….

Dozing off on the bench? No big deal. One well-regarded federal judge has his clerks bring him a pitcher of ice cubes and a glass while he’s on the bench, so he can chew on ice to stay awake.

But napping on the bench is just the tip of the iceberg for Judge Walker Alford. Check out some excerpts of her judicial gibberish, after the jump.

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