Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I heard a few of my associates talking about a Mardi Gras party as they were leaving the office this evening, so I asked if I could tag along.

I was kidding. I just wanted to see the fear in their eyes when they thought I was really going to invite myself out drinking with them. Because they couldn't say no. Not to a partner. They looked at me funny, and one of them meekly said, "I guess so, if you want." Another one said, "It won't be much fun." And the third one said, "I've got some work to do after all. I think I'll have to pass on the festivities."

And then I told them I had a new assignment that just came in, and they'd have to save their Mardi Gras for another night.

What's the point of Mardi Gras anyway? If I want to see topless women all I need to do is have the recruiting staff set up an event for law students at one of our target schools and say the only way I'm taking your resume is if you have beads, and the only way you're getting beads is... well, you know the rest. Doesn't matter what we make them do as long as we take their resumes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I seem to have underestimated the students at Suffolk University Law School. A handful of them are apparently able to read. I've received some e-mails from students there who are offended by my previous post. They ought to be pleased that Ms. Abdala has finally gotten their school some attention. I didn't mean any specific offense to the students at Suffolk. Except for Ms. Abdala, I'm sure they are all wonderful people receiving wonderful educations.

I went on to Suffolk's web site, to satisfy my curiosity about whether or not the school actually exists, and found a sentence that probably explains why I've never heard of them. "Whether they are enrolled full-time in the day division or study part-time in the evening division, Suffolk Law students share a spirit of cooperation."

Well, that's the problem. I don't want lawyers here who have a spirit of cooperation. And apparently they don't even each get their own spirit of cooperation -- they have to share it. Like communists. The practice of law isn't cooperative. It's competitive. One side wins and the other side loses. I look for attorneys who can win. Not attorneys who can cooperate. Our clients don't usually come to us because they really want to cooperate with their creditors, or with the people their products have harmed, or with the government. They want to beat them. They want us to help them dispose of their problems.

Ms. Abdala doesn't seem to have learned about Suffolk's spirit of cooperation anyway. That was a very cooperative exchange she had with Mr. Korman. That's why it's been forwarded around the world.

I don't want the students at Suffolk to feel maligned by my post. I've done some research and now realize it's a fine school. A substantial percentage of the justices on the Rhode Island Supreme Court graduated from Suffolk. Massachusetts congressmen and the current secretary of state of New Jersey. At least one world-ranked poker player. And one of the professors there is a man named Joe Glannon, who writes books that help students pass their law school exams even when they haven't been to class. We didn't have study aids like Glannon's back when I was in law school. Students are coddled today. Maybe it's part of that spirit of cooperation. Professors cooperating with students to give them good grades even when they don't really understand the material. It's ridiculous how easy law school is for kids today. We didn't even have wireless Internet in the classrooms back in my day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

By now I imagine most people have heard about the Bill Korman / Dianna Abdala situation making the rounds via e-mail. Abdala is a recent graduate of something called Suffolk University Law School, which I've never heard of and am assuming is one of those correspondence law schools they advertise on late-night infomercials along with a free tool kit.

She was offered a job by Korman, who, according to the article I was forwarded from the Boston Globe, had posted the job advertisement on a service called Craig's List, which is mostly used for people to find partners for casual sex. Not law firm partners. I mean partners in the other sense.

So it's a comedy of errors already, obviously.

Korman offered her a job, she accepted, and then she reneged by e-mail. Abdala claims she never really accepted, and Korman had lowered the salary offer between the first interview and the second. Korman said a start date had already been set, and he'd already ordered business cards for Abdala. I don't know why I'm telling you this. Who cares about these people? Clearly neither of them could get a job at a real firm, with real salaries that don't change between interviews (or at least don't change in *that* direction), real working hours that don't allow for time sending e-mails back and forth in the middle of the business day at 9:30 at night, and real budgets that don't worry about the expense of someone's business cards. I mean, it's criminal defense work. What could be less important than that?

I don't know what the obsession is with business cards either. Associates don't use their business cards. At least not at a real firm like mine where it takes years to be experienced enough to do real work. There's no one to give your business cards to except the friends who need your office phone number because you're never home anymore. So the fact that Korman bought her business cards speaks poorly for him, because it's not like she should need them.

Korman politely replied to her e-mail rejecting the offer, and a dialogue ensued about how needed a refresher course in contracts, and she shouldn't burn her bridges, and she wrote "bla bla bla" in response. She spelled "blah" wrong, which is enough to mean she shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

Korman's been bizarrely even-tempered in the press I've seen, saying he wishes her well and doesn't think it will affect her career. Abdala comes off like a lunatic and I'm sure he's glad to be rid of her. But, really, what kind of poor judgment could this guy have to have wanted her to work for him in the first place? He needs some stricter hiring guidelines, and Craig's List is probably not where he ought to be looking for employees. I could send him some rejects from here, if he's really desperate.

Criminal defense work. Suffolk University Law School. Bla bla bla. I hope she ends up teaching legal ethics back at Suffolk. Wherever that is.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I could write a post about how the office was way too empty today, and Presidents Day isn't a real holiday, but I think I did that on Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday, so I won't bother. Instead, I thought I'd share who my favorite President is.

It's William Henry Harrison. It's disgraceful the way he's underrated by historians merely because he only served for 30 days. Harrison exemplified the spirit of this country. Despite the cold weather on inauguration day, he stepped up and gave the longest inaugural speech in history, and didn't cave into weakness and wear a coat while doing so. Even though he caught pneumonia and died, he set an example -- great Americans believe in work, and don't let circumstances get in the way. He did his job.

And, from what I've read, he ran a pretty brilliant campaign, positioning himself as a self-made man from the back country when in fact he came from a wealthy and prosperous family. He sold the country a story and they bought it. Much like I do with the law school students we recruit. In a lot of ways, he's my role model.

Two other Presidents I admire are James Garfield and Grover Cleveland. I admire Garfield for lingering for months after he was shot, and not letting the bullet get to him. I admire Cleveland for ending the Pullman strike and coming down strongly on the side of the corporations over the workers. It's heartening to see the pendulum swinging back in that direction today. Corporations are the engine of this society, not the low-skilled workers. Yesterday's railroad men are today's paralegals, and frankly we could live with fewer of them both.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Anonymous Wife dragged me some sort of group couples therapy this afternoon. I don't really understand any of it, but I was willing to play along this time, probably because I got too much sleep last night and didn't feel like having an argument.

We had to stand in a circle and say something personal about ourselves. I don't need anybody knowing any personal things about me. One guy said something about how he feels like his wife is smarter than he is, and he resents her for it. I obviously don't have that problem. His wife said she sometimes doesn't find her husband attractive. I don't blame her.

I shared a story about someone who pushed all of the buttons in the elevator when I was going up to my office, and it made me mad, and fired the kid's father once I figured out who it was he belonged to, because he should teach his son better than that. On the way home, my wife told me my story wasn't personal enough. How everyone else talked about their feelings and struggles and I talked about an elevator. But, like I said, I don't need strangers knowing things about me. I'm too important for that. What if they went to the papers? I don't want to see an article about me. My law firm's important. Being a hiring partner is important. They'd love to find out some gossip. Can't risk it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kudos to the Vice President. I've often wished I could shoot people, especially the oldest partners at the firm. They've outlived their usefulness. Cheney knew this guy's best days were behind him and decided to take matters into his own hands. That's the mark of a leader. I've never been a fan of the Vice President. His heart attacks have been signs of weakness. But this incident gives me renewed respect. Besides, I'm afraid to write anything different. After all, the man he shot was a lawyer. I don't want him to come after me next.

It's probably not the smartest move to shoot a lawyer. Lawyers are litigious, obviously. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy sues Cheney for this. Some civil litigation, maybe get a jury that's sympathetic to the plight of a 78-year-old man accidentally caught in the Vice President's crosshairs, and get some money. I don't really know if it's a case he could win. I don't know anything about civil litigation. I've only been in the courtroom a handful of times in my career.

It's a misconception people have about lawyers, especially lawyers who've been doing this for a while -- they think we all spend lots of time trying cases, but especially at a firm like this one, of course we don't. If I got in legal trouble -- say, if I shot someone, but without the cover of it being a "hunting accident," I don't think there's anyone at the firm I'd trust to represent me. I'd go outside the firm, for sure. Who's the guy who got Michael Jackson acquitted? I'd get him. He's got to be pretty good. Why didn't Cheney shoot Michael Jackson? That would have made more sense. What did this Whittington guy ever do? Part of me thinks they deserve this mess, just for going hunting to begin with.

I don't really understand hunting. The birds didn't do anything to deserve getting shot. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not for gun control. I just think the guns should be used against people who really deserve it. Murderers, rapists, paralegals. Although my sympathies certainly lie with the guy who got shot, he's not acquitting himself very well in the aftermath -- he was doing great, but the heart attack is a bit of a weakness. Just when I thought we'd found a new American hero -- shot by the Vice President but comes back stronger than ever -- he starts to suffer complications.

If I was an entertainment lawyer, I'd be signing that guy up right away, hoping to get a commission when he sells the TV movie rights. We've got some guys here who could play the part of a 78-year-old confused man pretty well. One of them is in the office right next to mine. Maybe the Vice President can come down here and shoot him for me.

Then I can tear down the connecting wall and combine the offices so I can have the biggest one at the firm. That would be terrific. Instead I have to wait until he dies of natural causes. I keep trying to get him to eat more cake at the receptions. Cake, cookies, ice cream -- anything that'll get him out of that office faster. Doubling the size of my office would be wonderful. So good maybe I'll shoot him myself.

Monday, February 06, 2006

There's an odd haze over the city this morning that people have been e-mailing about. It's a dark orange color, like a cloud, and hasn't been going away. It's not us. I expect it's one of our peer firms, and some sort of malfunction with the associate incinerator. It sucks when the associate incinerator breaks down and attorney dust is released into the atmosphere. Last time it happened we were forced to issue all sorts of apologies and pay a pretty hefty fine to the EPA. We converted to nuclear energy a few years ago and so far that's been working out pretty well, knock on wood. Of course, we're all safe in the hermetically sealed building, and no one should be leaving for about 12 hours anyway, so I expect it'll pass by then and we'll all be fine. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: It appears to be from a fire outside the city. This doesn't rule out my theory. There are a few law firms outside the city. They're pretty crappy though.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A few readers alerted me to some recent problems with the Blogger service that hosts this page. There was apparently a service interruption earlier this week. This is why computers will never replace associates. Computers break down. But associates can work non-stop provided the punishment is set high enough for those who disappoint. Computers can't be punished. There are no incentive programs I can devise to make my Internet connection faster or my hard drive less likely to crash. But tell an associate he won't make partner unless he stays in the office for the next 96 hours working on a brief, and he'll do it. Every time. Or we'll fire him and find someone willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Computers don't learn their lessons either. My associates know the punishment for mistakes and they don't repeat past ones. Computers keep crashing, with no worry about the consequences. Devise a computer that can hear me screaming, and quiver in fear -- then maybe I'll hire him. Until then, I'll stick with people.

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