Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Things to Look Foward to: 3,000 Billable Hours/yr

These guys forgot to take Professional Ethics in law school. Whoops.

Suit by Fired Lawyer Claims Law Firm Encouraged Fraud with 3,000-Hour Billable Quota - News - ABA Journal

Friday, October 14, 2011

Teacher Fired for Facebook Activity

Facts: Teacher posts Facebook pic of her drinking alcohol. Parent anonymously complains to administration. Administration asks teacher to resign. Teacher resigns and sues school.

Issue: Was the teacher denied due process?

Conclusion: Due process was not violated because she resigned of her own accord.

Now, due process aside, the real issue here is whether such actions against the teacher were really necessary. Is this just a case of Georgians Overreacting? Or is there something else to this?

Granted, I wouldn't want my kids seeing their teacher like this. That might be slightly undermining for the teach. But the woman was on vacation. And this was the offending picture. Seriously, Georgia? You should be happy that women like that bother putting up with your kids. The least of your problems is a teacher double-fisting some booze on vacation.

Some people say women don't belong in the profession. Suck it.

A testament to the fact that women are better than men: The Most Kick-Ass Female Lawyer EverNo, really.

Accomplishing child birth and the Bar in the same day? I think we just found Superwoman. Granted, it was the Illinois Bar which is nowhere near as painful as CA or NY. But we can let that slide for once...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Introduction to Modern Civil Procedure: Bench-Slapping

The judicial system is hierarchical. Cases start in trial courts and move to appellate courts which then move to superior courts. Up and up we go.

There's also a social hierarchy: 

Law Student < Pre-Bar Lawyer < Post-Bar Lawyer < Associate < Partner < Judge. 

It's a bit patriarchal, of course, being a male-dominated profession. And Daddy doesn't like it when you screw around with his bidness. Hence, we welcome the invention of bench-slapping, where judges let you know who's boss and when you've been a bad, bad peon. 

While bench-slapping is lawyer jargon for being intellectually or professionally outwitted or abused by judges, it can also apply to other members of the court room. For starters, let's look at the bench-slapping of defendants. This is what happens when you refuse to afford the proper respect to the Big Man in the Robe.

But, bench-slapping lawyers is far more fun.

1. Last-Ditch Efforts:
"Throwing 20 affirmative defenses against the wall to see what sticks is a strategy that did not go over well with Manhattan Civil Court Judge Arthur F. Engoron in a landlord-tenant dispute over back rent.  The case is Cityspire Inc. v. Gotham Lasik and here's what the judge said in his order granting summary judgement:

The [affirmative defenses] are a veritable laundry list, something of a 'greatest hits,' of what respondents tend to argue . . . In other words, we have the usual suspects, with, naturally, a few vague counterclaims thrown in for good measure."
2. Improper Lawyering
Lawyers are supposed to be ethical! Righteous! Professional! But sometimes, they can be a bit petty. When lawyers fail to do their jobs properly, the bench inevitably loses patience. So when two lawyers couldn't come to a consensus over the location to depose a witness, the bench gave a subtle declaration that was borderline bench-slap, ordering them to

"... meet on the front steps of the Courthouse .... At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of 'rock, paper, scissors.' The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006."

Yeah, when your job's been reduced to 'rock, paper, scissors,' you know you pissed someone off. At least the judge had a good sense of humor, though. He could have held them in contempt for being such huge pussies.

3. Rudimentary Skill-Fail:
Children need to learn to crawl before they walk. Lawyers need to learn civil procedure before they argue in court. Sometimes their briefs and motions are actually produced by law students or inferior associates because they're hella busy. Nevertheless, it's still their responsibility to double-check the work product with their name on it. When they don't, the judge invites them to kindergarten parties to work on their lawyering skills.

4. The Bench-Slapper Becomes the Bench-Slapped:
What happens when you receive national attention for being a giant asshole, as in the aforementioned instance? Your superior reins you in via an e-mail, which is then conveniently leaked nationally:

It has not escaped my attention, or that of my colleagues or, I am told, nationally known blog sites that you have issued several 'cute' orders in the past few weeks. The order attached below is the most recent. Frankly, this kind of rhetoric is not funny. In fact, it is so caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous that it casts more disrespect on the judiciary than on the now-besmirched reputation of the counsel. It suggests either that the judge is simply indulging himself at the expense of counsel or that he is fighting with counsel in what, as Judge Gee used to say, is surely not a fair contest. It suggests bias against counsel. No doubt, none of us has been consistently above reproach in our professional communications with counsel. We are all prone to human error. But no judge who writes an order should allow such rhetoric to overcome common sense. Ultimately, this kind of excess, as I noted, reflects badly on all of us. I urge you to think before you write.

tl;dr There's always going to be someone more important than you. Show proper respect. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Resolving Cross-Continental Confusion: A New Yorker's Guide to the SF Subway

It is a well-established fact that I, J-Hizzle, detest San Francisco public transit. Indeed, one of my friend's selling points for my moving to the city was that the transit system was one of the most revolutionary in the country! That I would be impressed by the extent of the network! That I would be able to get anywhere via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) or Muni (Municipal Transit)! That jerk lives in the suburbs. Of course he thinks it's magnificent in comparison to the absolute deficiency of public transit in California.

On numerous occasions, MUNI or the 'light-rail' (personally, I find it to be a black hole of disappointment) have failed me. So, I feel obligated to dedicate a post (read: rant) to the inadequacies of San Francisco's transit system. Being a New Yorker for my entire life, I now understand how spoiled I was by the labyrinth of accessible transportation both above and below the city streets. Granted, it wasn't always clean or pleasant but it got you where you needed to go. Additionally, let's not forget Metro North and our beloved Long Island Railroad (LIRR)! Despite being in the suburbs, they work like clockwork. Expect the trains there, on time, down to the minute, and in great frequency. The breathing, breeding, violently passionate organism that is New York would crumple without the extraordinary transportation network that spiders out from Manhattan's center up to the pastures of Albany, the vineyards of Long Island, and the trash dumps of New Jersey.

So, on to my--probably incomplete--guide to surviving SF transportation.

A New Yorker's Guide to the SF Subway:

1. Gambling your Commute Away

The first thing you must learn is that, by committing yourself to SF transit, you have just played penny slots at a second-rate casino. The algorithm is off ever so slightly, so you either win big or lose steadily to the point of madness, where you're just pumping money into the machine in hopes it'll fix the damage it's done. When I hit big, the train gets me where I need to go in thirty minutes or less. How delightful!

What you need to keep in mind is that winning big is a rare occurrence, especially at second-rate casinos.  When expecting to commute, always add at least half an hour (preferably forty-five minutes) to your expected commute time because you will likely encounter one of several problems:

a. The driver stops at every street to pick up hordes of morning commuters, effectively packing the train to sausage-like consistency and adding anywhere between ten and twenty minutes to the commute.

b. The driver will stop mid-commute for unscheduled maintenance, 'security' issues, to chat with a train conductor going the opposite direction, take a bathroom break, yield to a broken down train on the one rail line in the city, whatever. What civil engineer decided to make ONE rail line? He should be hung by his thumbs in a prison somewhere moist and tropical.

c. Disgruntled locals have decided to protest some cause or another and half of the stops have been shut down while they vent their agitation.

2. Interacting with the Locals

Expect to be packed like a sausage into a Muni train or bus at one point or another. It will be an experience, for sure. Now, I do not mean to imply that this sort of transit overpopulation does not occur in New York. In fact, it occurs all the time and you can probably expect to be pick-pocketed if you are oblivious to the stranger pressing up against you. But, in San Francisco, you have a few types of people that frequent the overpopulated trains:

a. Really friendly people. They stand out against the general misery permeating the place and everyone hates them.

Advice: Tune them out by turning your iPod up.

b. Really uncomfortable people. They clearly do not want to touch, smell, or feel the aura of anyone for as long as possible. In fact, they hate it so much that they keep everyone else from moving to the back of the bus by standing a ridiculous distance from others in the aisle. Consequently, no one else can get on and a giant plug of bodies develops in the center of the bus.

Advice: Apply mosh strategy and 'accidentally' bump the offending party into correct position. They're too passive aggressive to openly attack you.

c. Really unusual people. These people do things like carry small dogs or cats, smoke marijuana, inject Heroin, rock back and forth, practice Irish step choreography, have interestingly impractical hairstyles, and/or are too involved in their hipsterdom (Note: Have seen all of these).

Part A -- Avoid all eye contact. It will distress them immensely because they will not receive the necessary attention their parents never gave them.
Part B -- Stare at them for the entirety of your trip. They will reconsider their behavior on their next public transit adventure.

d. Inappropriately Sexual People. The other day, a well-dressed businessman came on the train somewhere around Forest Hill. While all of the seats were occupied, the standing room was largely vacant. For some reason, he decided to come stand directly in front of me. Interestingly enough, his man parts were roughly eight inches from my face and tightly packed into his trousers. Now, I was not trying to look at his endowments but, once the car started filling up at Church and Castro, I didn't have much choice; anytime I looked up at his face, carefully positioned right on top of the magazine he was so engrossed in, he looked into my eyes with dirty bedroom eyes. I took the lesser of two evils.

Advice: These people are incredibly difficult to avoid. Their tendency is to hover between appropriate and inappropriate physical space. My best suggestion is to give them a little elbow in the back as you exit the subway. Better yet, you could surreptitiously pinch their ass on the way out and let them feel the warm sting of sexual harassment for once.

3. Evacuating Your Personal Hell

Which brings me to the subject of leaving the car/bus whenever you're on it. Now, I'm going to assume that San Franciscans are incredibly polite people. Because the alternative is that they're stupid and/or passive aggressive assholes. Once the car stops, they tend to stand around with large eyes and slumped shoulders, looking out the door as if freedom were just beyond their grasp. There is no movement except by the floundering assholes trying to work their way through the crowd to the exit. I know, because I am often one of those floundering assholes. I've taken to pushing old ladies out of the way to claim the seat directly next to the door just so I have an exit strategy (Hyperbole. The SF subway actually has seats specifically for old ladies). In any case, they just stand there and no amount of 'excuse me' will persuade them to move their asses five inches to the side of the aisle. The other day (the same as inappropriate personal space man), I was stuck directly in the center of a car and resorted to elbowing three people out of the way and jumping over somebody's luggage that they had left directly in the middle of the aisle just so I could narrowly escape the confines of my own personal hell. Little bothers me more than people not being aware of and failing to adjust to their environment.

Advice: Find a good seat early on or stay parked by the door for as long as possible. Always yield to those exiting and others will learn by example. Worst comes to worst, shout something inappropriate and a space will clear.

4. Exploring the Underground

Now, as a New Yorker, I am used to musicians playing in the subway. Usually, they happen to be ex-Orchestra musicians who went crazy and couldn't hold down a job at the Met or the Philharmonic. Or they're students. My point is, they're really fucking good. Parting with a dollar is a privilege because you have just been so thoroughly stimulated by having the honor of watching them play. In San Francisco, there are several good musicians. The other day, I was passing through when some jazz men were grooving. I am extraordinarily partial to the gentleman at Civic Center who plays the accordion while his dog lies at his feet.

There are also several not-so-good musicians. Their cacophony echoes up the steps and throughout the subway in some sort of ear-splitting dissonance as the out of tune notes collide with each other in the worst mating season since horses met donkeys.

There are also several people that wish they could be musicians. They diligently practice every day, some with chalkboards of music notes and others with instruments they may have picked out of a garbage dump somewhere. In any case, I take my hat off to them for having the gall to try and err in front of a live audience and ask payment in return.

Also, there are tons of homeless people that live in the subway. As a bleeding-heart, I would buy coffee and sandwiches for all of them, but my native San Franciscan friends told me that I'm an idiot for attempting that even once. Use your discretion when dealing with the locals.

5. Avoid suspicious puddles. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


For some reason, SPIL decided that 1L Section 1 should have to suffer through Civil Procedure (CivPro) at 8:30am. Anyone who has ever known me is aware of the fact that I hate the morning. I actively wait until the afternoon to get out of bed. The three hour time difference from NY to CA put me on 'normal people' time for awhile but after two weeks I came to resent the morning again. 

Naturally, I have come to hate this class, regardless of the thoroughly entertaining lectures of our extraordinarily amusing professor. Without fail, my coffee kicks in around 9am which means that I have no recollection of the first half hour of class and my notes are poorly-outlined gibberish. 

In any case, what you have to know about CivPro is that it's all about how you go through the procedure of creating and sustaining civil cases. The problem of this class is that, without any practical experience, you have to creatively imagine all of the proceedings. Learning CivPro in this fashion requires a great deal of abstract thought and hypothetical setting, which means that it's rather boring. The only way you can take it out of the abstract and root it in reality is by completing the steps yourself or by imagining someone  else carrying out the steps. Try to be stimulated by the images of someone walking a pleading to the court office. Or writing a pleading at their computer. Or assembling thousands of documents for discovery. Make that person hot and blonde, maybe it'll be okay. Make that person your 90-year old professor, good luck. One of my friends from NY drew this diagram for me to temper the studying boredom and I can't wait to share it with you:

Of course, my friend is a huge, misogynist, but hey, it works to inject some humor into the ridiculousness of Civil Procedure :) Love you, Rich <3

Truthfully though, our professor makes absolutely no sense sometimes. I highly recommend purchasing the supplement below. Very clear. Examples galore. Grounds the abstract in reality quite well.

Examples & Explanations: Civil Procedure, Sixth Edition by Joseph W. Glannon

Copyright Infringement

Because I'm a 1L and I have absolutely no idea what the fuck is legal anymore, I feel obligated to tell you that I may have 'accidentally' plagiarized the title of my blog. You see, as soon as I started to spend way too much library study time on Facebook, I started to think that it might be more prudent for me to create some sort of non-status-update forum for my witticisms. I prefer long-form anyway and maybe if I limit the 'updates' to an hour-long blogging session, I would actually use the six hours I've allocated to the library for studying instead of friend-surfing (affectionately referred to as face-stalking but that sounds mildly illegal).

Well, in any case, I took the name of my blog from some random FB post I made about my neuroticism and our crazy professors at the College of Super Public Interest Law (herein referred to as SPIL for the sake of anonymity) Sidebar: I considered naming it Super Public Law Interest Foundation--SPLIF--but figured that might offend some sensibilities. Anyway, my thought process:

'What sounds cool and sounds like a story or odyssey, but in parts?' I asked myself. 'Tales! Indeed, tales are stories and odysseys in parts! And tales are old school, so I'll get mad hipster props from my SF peeps!' (<--ironic) (=super-hipster)(=score).

So I incorporated my neuroticism and law student stuff with the tales. Lo and behold, "Tales of a Neurotic Law Student" was created!

A few days later, I passed by my super meager recessed bookcase with the six books I was able to carry on the plane from my collection back in NY. (Oh my loves! I look forward to seeing your thousand brothers and sisters in December! Maybe they can join you and our family will become whole again!) I caught the green cover out of the corner of my eye.

'Ivy Briefs. Martha Kimes. Great book,' I thought to myself. 'She totally laid law school out in truth. And she had a great sense of humor about everything. Who knew lawyers had a sense of humor? Ha! What's that? Oh no.' I walked closer to the bookshelf and saw, in large bold type underneath the title: "True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student." Fml. Seriously.

As a neurotic, mildly narcissistic law student, my first response was to think that, one day, Martha Kimes would grace my blog with her web presence and haul my ass to jail for plagiarizing her book title. And then I would get kicked out of SPIL and I would be forever doomed to be the ignorant, plagiarizing girl from the East Coast who tried to knock off the Ivy League author. Fail!

So I compromised with myself and with the hypothetical, surreptitious, blog-surfing Martha Kimes. IF I admit that I took her title by accident--you know, one of those subconscious-entering decisions--THEN she could not sue me BECAUSE, according to MLA citation methods which I am familiar with at this point in time, not having started with The BlueBook legal citation method, so long as I credit the plagiarized material to the correct source, I cannot possible be held responsible for copyright infringement.

I hope.