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This is a cry for help

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Workmares

I’ve been working a decent bit over the past couple of weeks preparing several of my cases for trial. This process has included pouring over deposition transcripts, reviewing the illegible scribbles of doctors records and attempting to find those key documents that will make my case. In my quest for trial readiness, I had to do something that I swore I would never ask a law clerk to do:

“These are 850 pages of records from the maintenance department. Opposing counsel has referenced this single piece of paper 17 times in various depositions and for some reason we do not have it readily accessible. It’s batestamp page #543 but unfortunately someone seems to have dropped this stack of paper and none of the pages are in chronological order anymore. One other thing: I’m really, really, really sorry to ask you to do this.”

Three things: (1) Thank God for law clerks, (2) I really felt bad about doing this, and (3) in under 15 minutes he found the paper. But I digress…

I am solely focused on trial preparation at the moment and that means all I can think about is these cases. I go to work and I work on them. I come home and I work on them. I go to sleep…and I work on them? It’s been the weirdest thing, but I find myself waking up in the middle of the night totally focused on a witness deposition that I had read several days before. And focused is probably the wrong word to describe it as I am actually analyzing it for use in a pre-trial motion to bar. Line by line, key bit by key bit, over and over again.

Seriously. What’s going on with my grey matter?

Monday night’s ‘work dream’ woke me up at 4:45 Tuesday morning and I couldn’t fall back asleep. Even worse, I didn’t have the motion I was obsessing about in my sleep so I couldn’t just wander into the home office and continue the work I had started subconsciously. All I could do was toss, turn and close my eyes…where I would promptly begin to work on the motion again. The dreams are so real that I am wondering if I could bill for my time.

Yeah. I probably shouldn’t.

All problems can be cured by taking cellphones

Each day the commuting masses leave their abodes to make their respective ways to work. In Chicago, as I am sure is similar to all other major metropolis’ across the land, this requires the seasoned commuter to refrain from committing a justifiable homicide tolerate those who do not respect the rules of commuting decency. As more states are legalizing marijuana, I believe that the shortfall of arrests & convictions can be made up by locking away the assholes who do not exude a modicum of decency while traveling with the public.

Seriously.

I’m writing this post as I sit on a packed CTA bus as some teenage asshat is using his phone as a stereo to rap in sync with lyrics that can lightly be described as NSFW and it has been going on for more than twenty minutes. This is not the first time I’ve encountered this specific delinquent or this sort of offense. Worse, it seemingly is becoming a commonplace happening on the streets, buses and trains of Chicago and it is only the tip of the iceberg. Loud phone talkers in enclosed spaces are on the rise, game players with their annoying sounds turned on are frequently experienced and the sudden-stopper-while-in-mid-step due to phone activity pose a clear and present danger to the general public. Case in point: I run into someone on a daily basis who stops without warning to play with his or her phone.

And I’m the bad guy if I happen to push them down the stairs!

What’s most disconcerting is that this problem can’t be pinned on any one demographic (as such, no specific area of the city can be carpet bombed to rid the rest of us of the problem). As such, I am proposing the following amendments to the criminal code: (1) Minor noise infractions shall be punishable by not more than 364 days in jail and forfeiture of his/her cellular device, (2) major noise infractions shall be punishable by not more than five years in prison, forfeiture of his/her cellular device and (3) repeat offenders shall be subject to being pushed in front of oncoming car, bus or train traffic, indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Delta, chemical sterilization, a lifetime ban with communicating with others AND forfeiture of his/her cellular device.

Our legislative bodies must do something to curb the rise of these heinous actions. If they aren’t going to fix the deficit, healthcare or John Boehner’s perpetual orangey skin color, the least they can do is make our commutes less problematic.

Lawyering under the Influence of DayQuil

I wish I could say that I’ve played hooky from the office due to the reelection of the President…but sadly I cannot. I’ve had the flu (or flu like symptoms) all week. Until today, my week has been an exciting combination of napping on the couch, napping in bed and moving between the couch and the bed. Exciting stuff, I know.

Finally feeling better, I made the choice of trying to head back to work today. Let me say that while I feel better than I have since Sunday, my head is presently drifting through the clouds in a semi-permanent zoned out state. When I’ve been sick in the past, I have been able to time my triumphant return when there is absolutely nothing going on at the office.

Not so this time.

I’m sitting in a courtroom at the moment hoping that I (a) don’t fall asleep or drool on myself, (b) remember my name and who my client is and (c) can respond to the judge without giving her the deer in headlights look when asked my name and the name of my client. I am not sure I could pass a field sobriety test at the moment (Damn you DayQuil). My thoughts feel itchy and my brain seems to be sloshing around my skull as if it is a free floating mass. If I’m not careful, I’m going to end up getting the lawyering equivalent of a DUI. Which I am fairly certain is a contempt citation.

“Good morning your honor, my name is…uh…my name is…shit…I should know this…”

Laziness doesn’t always pay dividends

Attorneys by their very nature are lazy. There is nothing more that we love to do than steal another lawyer’s work product, reformat it, slap a linguistic change or two and call it our own. Meanwhile, as should be no surprise, the client gets billed for our plagiaristic genius. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel in our daily practice, we just want to be able to get paid for using it to move the case along.

As a lazy lawyer one who possesses an eye for efficiency in his professional skill-set, I try to get things done as quickly as possible even though spending a little more time on the problem would bring greater benefit to me. Case in point: my desk. My workspace was a complete disaster with court orders, briefs, correspondence, discovery and a least one copy of my résumé waiting to be sent to a potential employer. Most of these documents had been unceremoniously dumped onto the desk by one or more partners looking to offload the piles of crap from their desks. Yours truly, in true protest, refused to move the clutter (“You want to clutter my desk?!? Fine! We all will suffer!!!”) and neglected to organize anything. As is the natural order of things, this pile of crap enlarged itself so much that it began encroaching on the most important piece of office equipment: my printer.

My laziness was so great that when I ran out of paper and the chaotic morass blocked removal of the printer paper tray, I refused to fix the problem. Instead, true to lawyer form, I went with the quick fix: the manual feed. This solution worked well for the first few days. Unfortunately, it was only temporary relief as the manual feed chute stuck out over my desk and I caught it square yesterday morning as I tried to sit down. I nearly ripped the front printer panel off and only just missed falling into my recycling bin. After this near miss, I bit the bullet and feng-shuied my desk.

Nothing like an office equipment induced accident to motivate one to stop being lazy.

Your Honor, I’m going to need a continuance and a roll of Charmin

We’ve all been in the untenable situation where you have to be someplace and your body is telling you the opposite. Grumble. Ugh. Grumble. Grumble. Uh oh. It doesn’t matter who is demanding your presence as your bowels are commanding you to be situated in one location and one location: seated upon porcelain. This is exactly what happened to one of my colleagues.

What makes this noteworthy is not that it happened but where & when it happened to him: while he was in the middle of a trial.

I don’t care if you’re Clarence Darrow or a Moot Court participant, there is not a class offered on how to take a moment of personal privilege while you are in the middle of your case in chief.

Lawyer: Then what…um…uhhh happened…oh God…next…

This would be the exact time that the flop sweat begins and the worst feeling of helplessness ever imagined settles in: I am going to sh*t myself in front of the judge. Fortunately for this attorney, he didn’t lose total control,
was able to successfully receive a brief recess and make it to the facilities prior to soiling his trousers. However, he wasn’t done as he quickly realized this was not his Morning Constitutional.

But Food Poisoning.

The question I have is how does one appropriately inform the court that your insides are betraying your will to live and it would be in the best interests of justice (and the court house plumbing) to continue this matter to another day?

I’m thinking text message.

What exactly is going on here?

The day is like any normal day around the office: I am on the phone attempting to settle a case. And it isn’t going as smoothly as I would have hoped. I parry, I jab and I use just enough humor to make this appear to be a friendly conversation with the other side. Despite all of my best efforts to provide levity, this is serious business. And it is exactly the moment I don’t want to see anyone, let alone a named partner, invade my personal space.

But yet, as his name is on the door, he comes in unannounced.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily like the management to know how I make the sausage…err…settle cases. Frankly, because I don’t want them to discover I’m a hack in a nice suit. It’s a little unnerving having he who must be obeyed saunter in just as you are trying to close the deal.

Turns out that he wasn’t there to micromanage, it was far more disconcerting: he began to rummage around my bookshelf, file cabinets and desk. Needless to say I’d stopped listening to whatever was being said on the phone call because I was trying to figure out what the f*** he was doing. Enough was enough, so I covered the receiver and mouthed

Can I…help you?

He stopped, looked up and told me he was looking for envelopes. Before I could say anything, he had a sealed box of file folders in his hand and was attempting to open it. Let me say this again: it was a sealed box of file folders that was unmistakably marked as file folders. Before the words directing him to envelopes could spring forth from my lips, he began to rip the box open as if it was his mortal enemy.

Those are file folders…not envelopes. The envelopes are over there.

Despite the fact that he could now clearly see that the box he sliced open like a velociraptor did not contain the envelopes he was looking for, it was apparent that he was not sold on my directions. He set the box down, followed my directions to find the envelopes and left without saying a word.

I am still not certain as to why he didn’t go through his own file cabinets to find envelopes, why he didn’t ask someone who wasn’t on the phone (trying to make him money) where the envelopes are stored or why he felt the need to rip apart an innocent box of file folders. But these are questions a lowly associate cannot ask of the named partner so I went back to my phone call.

Yep, just another day in the office.

Time needs to start moving at ludicrous speed. And Go…

It’s Monday and I am back in the office. It’s Monday after a holiday and I am in the office. It’s Monday, after a holiday, I am in the office and I have absolutely no desire to be here.

Shocker, I know.

I’ve got reams of outstanding discovery to finalize, a brief to begin drafting and a stack of phone calls to
make kicking various attorneys in the arse… yet the motivation isn’t there. In my stack of to dos, there are at least three motions that need to be drafted and it turns out that one of my biggest clients needs a favor as his daughter decided to be on the receiving end of a pair of police handcuffs.

I also missed three days last week (but I wouldn’t say that I’ve been missing it).

In light of all of the above how do you think I spent my first hour in the office? Those of you who guessed ‘Starbucks’, ‘Napping’ or ‘Lawyer Work’ all definitely made the wrong assumption. The correct answer was clearly ‘Booking flights to Cancun’ and as a result of this noble task, I am now counting the days until departure.

It is going to be an awfully long six weeks.

Yet another reason to profile (Or how I learned to use self checkout at the grocery store)

Living in a metropolitan area where there are millions of people (not to mention thousands of registered, actively voting, deceased individuals) allows you to interact with people from all walks of life. There are two distinct areas where one comes face to face with the most oddball of oddballs: public transportation and the grocery store. Fortunately, as I am doing as I write this, I can crank up my iPod while tuning out my fellow travelers.

As you have no doubt figured out from my blog and twitter topics, I have little tolerance for morons. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for morons. That said, outside of the office, I try and stay far, far away from those with declined intellects and/or those suffering from the ineffective assistance of deodorant. That isn’t so much an option when navigating the aisles of the local supermarket.

This is why I humbly suggest you profile those around you before selecting a checkout lane. For example, these are the people you want to avoid:

  • The guy that you see hopping from one side of the store to the other, much like he is under the influence of cocaine, will do the exact same thing while in line. Because he is likely under the influence of a controlled substance. Or he is stupid. But likely both.
  • The couple that can’t make up their mind on EVERY SINGLE ITEM they attempt to put in their cart will take forever deciding who is going to pay. And then one will inevitably drop their credit card, the other will attempt to step in to pay and the cycle will then repeat itself.
  • Lastly, there is the woman who seems just a bit off when you see her circling the aisles cautiously placing tofu and single ply toilet paper in her cart. When you run into this one at the cash register you will find that she has brought along her reusable grocery bags (which she has placed on the end of the conveyor belt thus denying the opportunity to unload) and 15 coupons (only half of which will work when scanned) for use on her 19 items. The reason she has nineteen items is that she has ‘buy one, get one’ coupons for her wide selection of cat food. In sum, cheap toilet paper and fake protein equals crazy coupon clipping cat lady.

I wanted to point these shopper profiles out to you as a lesson. Namely the lesson that teaches that when you decide to go grocery shopping at 8:30 on a Sunday night and there are 9 people in the self-checkout lane versus the three in the staffed checkout lane…stand in the longer line.

It’ll be quicker. Trust me.

Congratulations, Homeowner…now get to work

Buying a home is only half the battle. Maintaining the home and being an ideal neighbor is what the real estate broker never mentions.

Yes, this is exactly what I wanted.

Yes, I love my awesome condo.

Yes, I wish I had never told my neighbors that I am a lawyer.

Thanks to truthfully answering the question “So, what do you do, Namby?” has landed yours truly in a boatload of work that I can’t bill to a client. My big mouth has caused my neighbors, whom I barely know, to anoint me as the person in charge of negotiating on behalf of the condo in all things, the de facto voice of
God on all contracts and, if I’m not careful, someone in my law firm will soon become the registered agent for the association. These people, that I live with, think that I am competent just because I have ‘J.D.’ associated with my name.

I guess my neighbors have not seen me stumble in drunk attempting to talk to the elevator buttons yet…

Next time I buy a condo, I’m just going to tell my neighbors that I’m a drug dealer. That would likely excuse me from having to do pro bono work at home, right?

My first homeowners mistake is brought to you by AT&T

I moved into my place a little over a month ago. For me, and I am going to assume like most, the first week was spent dealing with getting my stuff organized and the pesky details (power, gas, satellite, etc.) all sorted out. Unfortunately, in my fifth week of homeownership, one pesky detail still remains unsolved: I have no internet at home.

It is now time to complain about AT&T a little more.

This mess started out when I received my shiny new modem UPS’ed to me. I opened up the box, followed the pre-printed instructions (Step one: plug into wall Step two: turn power on Step three: begin downloading porn). The first problem appeared after completing step two and getting the red blinking light indicating that there is no internet connection. I engage in the proper trouble shooting process immediately thereafter: turn it off, turn it back on, then kick it. This doesn’t work.

At this point I violate the man’s code and begin to read the paperwork included in the box. Then I reread it and I try a few other things (including, but not limited to, (1) plugging everything into a different phone socket, (2) switching the phone filter, and (3) whispering sweet nothings into the ethernet plug) to get connected to the internet. None of them worked. Then I looked at the account information detailing where everything was installed. Turns out that the internet service was installed six buildings down from mine.

I made this discovery approximately 25 days ago.

Trying to make AT&T understand and correct their f*** up has been like trying to avoid a dropped call on my AT&T serviced iPhone. They first didn’t understand how this could happen. Then they said that service wasn’t available. Then it was. But then a service guy had to come out. Or not. And that was just the first week of them attempting to get it through their thick skulls that they had made a mistake.

Two weeks ago, (as I wrote at Constitutional Daily) some unwitting customer service rep called me:

Customer Service Rep: “Hey, I’m calling today to check in on how you are liking your new home internet?”
Me: “I’m not”
Customer Service Rep: “Well, Sir, how can I make your experience better with our service?”
Me: “It would help if you had installed it at my condo not a condo six buildings down”
Customer Service Rep: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
Me: “Your. technician. installed. the. internet. at. the. wrong. house.”
Customer Service Rep: “Um… uh… I just can’t understand how we did that.”

Two weeks later, multiple phone calls and at least four hours of standing in my local AT&T store (compare this with 2007 when I almost got arrested in an AT&T store), I still do not have internet. I’ve played every card in the deck including: (1) “I’m a lawyer”, (2) “I’m a long time customer”, (3) “I want to stay a customer even though you are acting like morons”, and (4) “I’m a stockholder damnit.” Still, no internet.

They’ve apologized but it is like dealing with Peggy:


As of this week, they have told me that the first time that they can come and correct the problem is July 8th. The prospect of going into the third month of no internet really sucks, but at this point about all I can do is bitch, moan and write this post.

While at work.

My Past Ramblings

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