Film Friday: The Paper Chase – A Synopsis

It’s another school year! The 1L’s are filing into the halls of their Ivy clad institutions with big dreams of going forth with their degrees and changing the world! In preparation of their time in law school, which they may have heard can be quite trying, they’ve likely read a number of books on the subject, such as Scott Turow’s “One L” or that wonderful book “Law School Confidential” and now believe they know all there is to know about surviving law school.

And for all of those idealistic little fucks wandering into their classes filled with the superior air of one that will be the next Clarence Darrow or Daniel Webster, Professor Charles Kingsfield of Harvard Law has some guidance for you:

“[H]ere is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.”

Because, motherfuckers, you ain’t seen nothing yet, even though it isn’t like Hollywood didn’t warn your ass back in 1973 when it took a book about the horrors of being a 1L with a demanding professor, the crushing demands of law school, gunners, and, of course, looking like a goddamn idiot when put on call in class and turned it into the seminal movie for law students everywhere to show their friends in an act of mock bravado. Yes, buckle up, chucklefuck, because today we’re going to talk about the over-exaggeration of the horrors of law school that is The Paper Chase for this month’s Film Friday on Lawyers and Liquor.

Continue reading “Film Friday: The Paper Chase – A Synopsis”

Film Friday: Talking About Brian Cuban’s “The Addicted Lawyer”

Here’s the worst kept secret in the legal industry: lawyers are, by and large, addicts.  Seriously, it’s a massive problem in the profession. We drink to excess, both personally and professionally, pretty much from the moment we enter law school until the moment we retire from the practice. A bar event is almost always going to have an open bar at it, and, as a recent discussion in the Lawyer Slack pointed out, people that order something “not booze” at networking or professional events may be subject to suspicion or even ridicule for their choice to enjoy a nice, cold glass of milk rather than a white russian.

I have no snark for you today.  I can’t make myself joke or curse about this topic. I know too many people that are or were in the grasps of it, and have seen careers and lives end because of it.

Not mine, of course. I’m lucky in that I discovered, after much worry, that I wasn’t an addict and I was capable of saying “No” and stopping after a couple. I know, I’m ruining the mystique. Fuck you. I get to. That was a concern of mine when I was younger.  I like liquor, but I like living more.

Want the other worst kept secret in the legal profession? Your addicted lawyer likely isn’t seeking help for their addiction. Either we’re afraid of the very public stigma of admitting we have a problem, the professional stigma of admitting we have a problem, or we’re afraid of the almighty Disciplinary Board swooping in to deprive us of our livelihoods with the simple words “License Suspended.” A lawyer without a license to practice isn’t a lawyer, he’s an overeducated burger flipper and a disgrace to the profession. And, for an attorney, the loss of the license isn’t just the lost of a career…it can be the loss of your identity. You’ve been a lawyer for years, decades even. Most of your friends are lawyers. Your life has revolved around being a lawyer.

When a lawyer loses their license, they in some way lose a big chunk of themselves…and that’s fucking terrifying. So, we don’t seek out help when we’re one shot too many into the evening, or when we’re suffering from crippling depression, or when there’s a pile of cocaine calling us. Because we’re scared of the consequences, which can be swift and sudden.

So, when Brian Cuban , attorney and advocate for lawyers getting fucking help, announced the release of his new book, “The Addicted Lawyer: Tales of the Bar, Booze, Blow, and Redemption” , I was quick to pre-order a copy and then wait expectantly for its arrival.  I devoured it.  Twice.  Then a third time.  Then…well…then, in the immortal words of Elton John, I sat down to and wrote this song.

Continue reading “Film Friday: Talking About Brian Cuban’s “The Addicted Lawyer””

Film Friday: Rendering “The Verdict”

I’m going to come right out and say it: Frank Galvin, the alcoholic, ambulance-chasing disgraced attorney at the center of The Verdict is probably one of my favorite cinematic litigators of all time. The film starts with Frank sitting in a bar, circling death notices before running out to funeral homes where he presses the flesh of the bereaved and forces business cards into their hands, fishing probably for the estate or a quick buck running down a wrongful death settlement, and then back to the bar. He’s a man who lives in a shanty apartment with a run down office and a fake secretary, and who hustles for a living. In one scene, where the opposing counsel is trying to get a feel for him, they say “He’s tried three cases in the last four years, and he’s lost all of them.” He is not treated by the film as a respected attorney.

But he is treated by the film as a fucking human, and it’s a role that lawyers rarely get to authentically play. So I love this goddamn movie.

Continue reading “Film Friday: Rendering “The Verdict””

Film Friday: Your Cousin Vinny Should Have Been Disbarred

Good morning you lousy shitstains on the ass of humanity known as lawyers. So, we’ve had a bit of a wild ride over the past month or so, starting with furries, moving to master/slave sexual fetishes, and now heading into the critique of films in general with the very first Film Friday, a series that will take a look at how the law and lawyers are being portrayed in popular media of all sorts.

What’s that? Why don’t I use a name other than “Film Friday” if I’m talking about all other forms of media in addition to this one? Well, because fuck you. My blog, my rules, and I’m an advocate of illustrative alliteration when it comes to these things.

So, today we’re going to talk about My Cousin Vinny, a film that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has been wildly praised and loved for its accuracy in presenting how to conduct a trial, an effective cross-examination, general courtroom procedure, etc. I mean, attorneys fucking love this goddamn movie. I love it. I own it on VHS, DVD, BluRay, and recently purchased it on Vudu just so I could stream scenes from it if I ever find myself, say, in an airport on the way to a motherfucking furry convention somewhere and, flying United, need something to watch as I’m savagely beaten and dragged from the plane.

Of course, the unspoken part of the appeal is we love the foul-mouthed troll/hobbit hybrid that is early 90’s Joe Pesci, and the fact that he was apparently able to land Marisa Tomei. It almost broke the suspension of disbelief for me.

So, we know that lawyers love the fuck out of this film. We know that it involves scenes that accurately depict the rules of evidence, qualifications of experts, criminal procedure (“He just gave me all this stuff!” Vinny exclaims when the prosecutor makes his standard and procedurally required disclosures), and blistering cross-examination (“ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THOSE FIVE MINUTES?”). Which means, of course, I shouldn’t do what I’m about to do.

Because I’m about to argue that Vinny is unethical, improper, and should never be allowed to practice law again.

Continue reading “Film Friday: Your Cousin Vinny Should Have Been Disbarred”