Rough and Tumble: How Not to Deal With Opposing Counsel

Recently I received a brief in a matter from opposing counsel.  It took me somewhat by surprise to find a petition, brief, and twelve attached exhibits on my desk on a Monday morning, since I had spoken with opposing counsel just the week before in regards to the case and we had engaged in some settlement discussions.  Without going into a large amount of detail, and in order to preserve my client’s confidences, the issue here is a petition to open a default judgment on their end, which requires (1) promptly filing the petition, (2) stating a reasonable excuse for the delay, and (3) alleging facts in support of a meritorious defense.  On those facts, the insurer’s attorney and I were having productive conversations about liability, default judgments, the hassle and expense of either fighting to open the judgment on their end or domesticating our judgment on our end, and were beginning to get close to coming to a numbers agreement.

Then the motherfucker, without warning, filed his petition and brief.  Thus hell was unleashed upon the court.  Goddamn these soulless insurance defense attorneys, if they’d just stop fighting and fucking pay me we’d get along a lot better.

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Conflicts of Interest: Clashing Personalities in a Law Firm


I work at a small law firm in a failing city about 45 minutes as the crow flies outside of Philadelphia.  This city, whose railroad is featured on the Monopoly board, is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll in its makeup, sitting in a county with an eclectic mix of old money and the hillbilliest farmers you’ll see outside of an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.  The city, however, can best be described as a barrio, with Spanish being the primary language of the streets, the center of downtown failing in a spiral of poverty and crime, and, like many such areas throughout the country, the urban center of decay being a staunchly Democrat stronghold in a sea of an otherwise-Red county.

This has caused me a few problems.  See, I’m a white southern male who transplanted to the North, and as such am viewed with distrust by everyone around me.  I’m also just slightly to the left of Roosevelt politically.  I would have been ecstatic to have had the option to vote for Sanders.  I am, God help me, a southern Democrat.  My style is to never raise my voice, never yell, never scream.  I’m openly friendly, but, as our office staff says, they can easily tell when I’m angry because my tone hardens, my drawl disappears, and I begin to clip my words.

My boss?  Not so much. He is the last of the old school of lawyers, who combined legal skill with powerful presence to get things done.  His style includes yelling during phone calls with clients and opposing parties.  When he’s calm and things are going as predicted, things around the office are peaceful and even friendly.  When something goes wrong, or he perceives something to be wrong, things tense up as he screams his way through the office.

A common target of this screaming is the poor associate who sits behind this keyboard.

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Getting What You Pay For: Free Time Billing Software and Ethics

Recently there was a post in a super-secret forum for lawyers asking about a free case management/time-billing software known as Praxis for Lawyers.  Always a cheapskate, I took a moment to go over there, sign up
for an account, and take a look around the software itself.  First, it appears to be truly free.  Second, it looks like it would be functional for a solo practitioner to bill time and keep track of his cases.  Third, it could end up getting someone in trouble with the ethics panel.

I probably should have led off with that third point, right?

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Fuck You, Soldier, Pay Me.

There’s an area of contract law that deals with voiding out contracts based on a mistake.  Without going into too much detail, because I’m not trying to write a fucking hornbook on the subject, there are two types of mistakes:  Unilateral Mistakes (one guy was a dumbass) and Mutual Mistakes (both guys were dumbasses).  You can’t get a contract thrown out because you alone were a dumbass, you can get one thrown out because everybody was a dumbass.

 
This does not apply to the Pentagon, whose dumbassery is legendary and undeniable.  The dumbassery of the Pentagon, it seems, is so enormous, so monumental, and so expected that it apparently is the legal duty of those under its command to expect them to fuck things up.  Hence the reason that men and women who entered into contracts with it and gave due consideration in the form of years of their lives, their sanity, and their youth are being told those contracts are worth less than toilet paper.  

Of course, the people telling them that are the same dipshits that spend thousands of dollars on a roll of Charmin, so at least there’s that.

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I, For One, Welcome Our Reptilian Overlords

It’s official.  This election year is like a bad science fiction television show. I keep waiting for the part where the candidates remove their realistic flesh masks and reveal themselves as Lizard People.  For the record, if (when) this fuckin’ occurs, I for one, welcome our reptilian overlords.

Think that’s a crazy concept?  More or less crazy than conspiracy theorists pandering to the supporters of a major presidential candidate by stating there is a federal protocol in place to simulate an alien invasion?  I ask, because we all know someone’s reclusive uncle or grandmother who never quite got over the unquestioned trust of Edward R. Murrow is totally going to post the following on Facebook as proof that Hillary Clinton is the harbinger of the apocalypse:

Done watching four minutes of batshit insanity?  Great.  Knock back a slug of your drink of choice, take my sweaty, oversized hand, and let’s travel down this batshit filled rabbit hole together, shall we?

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