F**k Avvo.

It’s been a long time since I had to censor a post title. I don’t tend to place curse words in the post titles simply because it’s bad practice, and it decreases the number of lawyers and legal folk that will promote, retweet, or link to the post in the long run. Some people care about what their social media displays, because they’ve linked the social media accounts to their professional image and firms and can’t really promote stuff that blatantly curses out others. It’s bad form for a lawyer to be professionally retweeting stuff about bondage gear and the like, and it’s bad form for a lawyer to be promoting blog posts that contain a string of curse words.

But Avvo, the legal website that lets people ask questions for free and allows lawyers to answer those questions for free, has drawn the anger of a drunken litigator for the last goddamn time. I’ve had it. I’ve had it up to my fucking throat in relation to this cesspool of legal marketing disguised as an “access to justice” resource for the general public and their “gun to your head” tactic of recruiting attorneys lockstep into their site. It’s time, motherfuckers. It’s fucking time for the reckoning of the angered lawyer to come down upon you with the full fucking force and let you know exactly how fucking much most practicing lawyers hate your exploitative asses.

Cover your goddamn ears, ye of big firm connections, because today Lawyers & Liquor is lashing out for the little guy who doesn’t have the goddamn time to answer the phone and explain for the 15th fucking time to some faceless rep that they have no goddamn interest in buying a promoted listing from you.

Today, we’re the Avvo-fucking-Avengers.

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“The Sky Is Falling” – The Difference Between Clients and Lawyers

Let’s go back to talking about something I absolutely love discussing today: Clients. Clients, in case you’ve managed to somehow forget, are the literal bane of my existence. They’re also the reason that I can afford to do things like eat food and sleep indoors. As such, clients and I have a love-hate relationship, in that I love taking their money but hate having to deal with the minutia of human existence.

However, today I’m not going to rip clients a new asshole. I want to, oh lord do I want to, but at some point I’ll have to acknowledge that clients are people too. Frustrating, infuriating people who you wish would just send in their goddamn invoice payments and leave you the hell alone to work through some shit in lawyer land, but people nonetheless. Until my proposed legislation reclassifying clients as big game, and therefore open for hunting once or twice a year, passes, we’re just going to have to accept that your clients, and likely most of my clients (the jury’s still out on this) are human beings.

As clients are, debatably, humans, they are also deserving of a bare minimum of understanding. Maybe, some schools of thought that I believe are absolutely incorrect would say, clients aren’t bad people. Maybe they’re good people having a bad time, and I should mention that. In the interests of fairness, though not agreement, today I’ll take about a few things every attorney, be they a bright-eyed asshole or a salty old veteran, likely needs to understand when dealing with their clients in any litigation matter:

How clients and lawyers view a legal matter vis a vis the importance of it is drastically fucking different.

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Film Friday: Schindler’s List as an example of “Morally Right, Legally Wrong.”

Alright, so over the past few months I pretty much intentionally embroiled myself in the controversy of “go forth and punch a Nazi” with the opinion that physically assaulting someone when their actions are mere speech, and not an imminent threat of violent action, was no bueno. The most common reaction to that opinion was that statement that it was morally correct to punch a Nazi, and therefore justified, regardless of the presence or lack of an imminent threat of actual harm. In essence, the opposition to that position boiled down to “legal or illegal, it’s right to punch people who espouse such vitriolic and hateful opinions.”

I mean, I personally disagree, just because I believe violence is an appropriate response to the threat of use of actual violence, not the intangible threat of some possibility of violence in the future, and I have some issues with the position we should legitimize violence as a response to speech (when it is only speech). Rest assured, I don’t like the goddamn Nazis, I don’t like the goddamn bigots, and I’m not saying we have to discuss the validity of their positions or “hear them out.” My concerns are primarily linked to that whole “slippery slope” thing we lawyers talk about, and the belief that if we legitimize a violent reaction then we’re handing them a nail-and-barbed-wire covered bat to come back with when we speak out against them louder than they speak out against us.

Plus I think that when you punch these fuckers, all you really do is give them more goddamn attention and air time and spur a national fucking debate about “Who the real Nazi is, hmmmm?” God do I fucking hate that fucking trope.

But that’s not the conversation I want to have for this week’s Film Friday, because the majority of people with two fucking brain cells to rub together all agree on the basic premise that Nazis, white supremacists, the alt-right, cue whatever feel good nickname they’ve come up with this month, are absolutely and positively shitheads who make no valuable contribution to society, whose opinions (while constitutionally protected) have no goddamn merit, and who we definitely don’t need to treat as having legitimate speech that adds anything other than disarray to the world. The conversation I want to have this week is a little more nuanced than that, and it’s the concept that something can be legally wrong, but morally right.

And I can think of no better way to illustrate this point than to talk about Schindler’s List, a movie which embodies the principle of “Legal is not always moral, nor is illegal always immoral.”

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South Dakota Prisoners: “Siri, What’s the Appellate Standard of Review for…”

Jesus I’m barely standing up today. This week has been hell on wheels for me as I start moving a few cases closer to the mythical beast that is a civil trial, intake a few new clients, and wade through literal mountains of case citations to figure out just where we stand on a few things. Kids, if you ever say you want to be a lawyer because of some desire to be the center of attention in a courtroom or some perverse, almost obsessive, love of Sam Watterson (Oh Sammy, you can move to dismiss my affections, but you can’t object in my dreams), remember that those moments are few and far between for the civil attorney. The vast majority of cases settle long before trial, and they settle because of the huge amounts of research you put into a case as it progresses until you can make something that resembles a cogent argument.

I mean, guys, legal research is fucking complicated, even with the advent of computer searches like WestLaw, Lexis, FastCase, and, uh…those other ones. That, of course, is assuming you have access to all of those things,  because some lawyers and law offices don’t. They hate efficiency and ease of practice and prefer to sentence associates to wander the stacks of the local law library in search of some tattered copy of a state reporter to look up one case from 1890 that somehow barely touches on the issue at hand, then track the entire line of cases down with cross-references and reviews the whole damn time.

In other words, this shit, doing legal research and knowing what you’re looking for, is hard.

So that’s why South Dakota has decided inmates can just sort of…wing it.

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I’m Gonna Ramble About Drug Court

It’s Tuesday. Monday was yesterday, and yeah, I’m aware there was no post. Shit was happening yesterday. Las Vegas saw a gunman take over 50 lives and damage hundreds, if not thousands, of others. Some guy drove a truck into a crowd in Edmonton over the weekend. The internet was aflame and brightly burning with the cries of the world as everyone tried to make sense of the tragedy.

Except me. I made jokes. When it was stated that the shooter in Las Vegas was a country music fan, I was quick to jump on it with “Except, apparently, for Jason Aldean.”

When a gun manufacturer tweeted that “Prayers were the best armor,” I couldn’t stop myself from saying “Except for our products. They don’t do anything about our products.”

When someone asked, seriously, if they should lie in order to donate blood because they were gay, I answered “Yeah, but not about being gay. Just lie about some random shit. Tell’em you’re the King of Sweden or something.”

This is what I do. I respond to tragedy with humor, because many, many times in the course of my work I get to see human tragedy up close and personal. Yeah, it’s not as visceral as responding to a shooting or a burning building, but when you work with people in trying times you tend to see them get ready to fall apart, or watch their entire world end with a single judgment or court order, and it isn’t pleasant to see that shit day in and day out. The rest of the time? The rest of the time lawyers can be some dark sons of bitches. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, though, because we’re still humans…the humor is a coping mechanism for the horribleness of the world, a way to get through to the next case or the next client after something truly terrible walks through the doors of the office.

But sometimes we just need something good. It’s why lawyers have things like “that one case” where they did something good or saw something awesome happen. It helps us stave off the terrible fucking things that sometimes come through our offices.

So that’s what we’re doing today. We’re gonna talk about a good aspect of the legal system and let people have a little time to recover from the fucked up insanity that has been the past three days.

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