- CDs for JDs: Soundtrack of the Legal Life Available From The Billable Hour Company
- On its First Anniversary, The Timesheet Introduces New Features, Retires an Old One
- Feature Article: Sustainability
- Cartoon: Stu's Views
- Announcing Lawyer in Love Greeting Cards, Just in time for Valentine's Day
- Humor: Call Me Ishmael
- More Legal Humor from Consortium: the Journal of Legal Nonsense
- Cartoon: Juris Comic
- Humor: The Blight of the Cows
- Song of the Month: It's in His Briefs
- Poeticus Lex: A Lawyer's Love Poem
- Daily Legal Toon
Having trouble figuring out what music to play in the background as you bang out that brief? Looking for some songs to psych you up on the way to court? We have the answer to these interrogatories in our new music store featuring CDs by and for members of the legal profession.
CDs for JDs: Soundtrack of the Legal Life Available From The Billable Hour Company
The Bar & Grill Singers are a group of practicing attorneys in Austin, Texas. On their three CDs—A Time to Grill, Grilling Me Softly and Licensed to Grill—they blend layered vocal harmonies with topics ranging from lifetime judicial appointments ("Appointed Forever") to somnambulant factfinders ("The Jury Sleeps Upright").
West Virginia lawyer Bob Noone—along with with his group, The Well Hung Jury—covers a lot of ground on his two featured albums, Wingtips Optional and Second Helping of Chicken Suit for the Lawyerís Soul, tackling everything from legal education ("Fifty Ways to Get Through Law School") to lawyer advertising ("Bring Your Case Here to Me") and more. A wacky, high-energy performance is captured on the group's DVD, Bob Noone & The Well Hung Jury Live at the Greenbrier Resort.
Both groups perform in a wide range of musical styles, from swing (Nooneís "Lawsuit Riot") to 80ís pop (Bar & Grillís "Iím Billing Time"), R&B (Nooneís "My Will") to do-wop (Bar & Grillís "Mr. Foreman").
We chose these groups to inagurate our musical offerings because—as we're sure you'll agree—their songs are simply hilarious. The CDS also feature tight arrangements and high production values.
The Billable Hour Music Store is at www.TheBillableHour.com/music.php.
We're proud to announce that The Timesheet is one year old this month! The Timesheet—and our company—have both come a long way in the past year.
On its First Anniversary, The Timesheet Introduces New Features, Retires an Old One
When we launched The Timesheet in February 2006, our products included only our unique watches and clocks marked in six-minute increments. We have experienced explosive growth since then, and now offer personal accessories (including the Original Pocket Briefcase and Soft Sided Leather Pocket Briefcase); greeting cards (including the Stu's Views, Poetic Justice, Lawyers in Love and AttorneyMan lines); humorous CDs and DVDs by and for lawyers; office accessories (including Slam-A-Gavel, Sign & Seal, Comic Block, Buddha Board and Mini Buddha Board); and custom logo timepieces. We've even launched a Luxury Line featuring a 14k gold version of our popular Classic Watch model.
The Timesheet—which is featured as a quality of life resource by the ABA GP|Solo Division—has also changed over the past year. First Sean Carter, then Bob Pladek, joined as our regular humor columnists. Bob's cartoon, Juris Comic, joined Stu's Views in the humorous legal cartoons category. Last month, Julie Fleming Brown took over from Cheryl Stephens as our regular work/life balance columnist.
This month, we are inagurating two new features. The Song of the Month will feature the lyrics of one of the songs available in our Music Store, along with a sample of the song. We are pleased to welcome Fred C. Russcol, Esq., an accomplished lawyer and poet whose poems will be featured in our Poeticus Lex column. Finally, we're saying goodbye to our Book of the Month feature (although you can always find a list of books addressing work/life balance and related topics at our resources page).
I burn my candle at both ends
by Julie Fleming Brown
It will not last the night.
But ah my foes and oh my friends
It gives a lovely light.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
What do you think when you read this? If youíre like many lawyers, you felt a flutter of recognition —perhaps just before you recoiled at the idea that, perhaps, your candle wonít "last the night." Itís just the weak who canít burn and burn and burn, right?
Sustainability isnít a sexy word, and most of us donít see it as something to aim for. After all, we tend to want bigger and better and more, not homeostasis. What does it mean, though, to have a "sustainable practice"?
According to Merriam-Webster, "to sustain" means (among other things) "to supply with sustenance: nourish" and "to keep up, prolong." And sustainable means, of course, "capable of being sustained" or "of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods."
How do you nourish your practice? How does your lifestyle support you in keeping up and prolonging your practice? Ideas that occur to me (aside from the standard work less and play more, which is easy to say and very difficult to do):
1. Discover whatís meaningful to you and focus your attention and practice on that. If itís client service, you will draw a strength and energy from serving your clients that someone whoís in practice because of the intellectual stimulation wonít experience. Connecting to what matters to you illuminates your purpose. Having a purpose nourishes your practice.
2. Delegate. If you can identify aspects of practice that you personally donít have to fulfill, youíll increase your energy by passing it along to someone who can handle it. If you find yourself thinking that youíll spend less time doing it (whatever it is) than teaching someone else to do it, consider whether youíll save time over the long run if you turn it over, even if it requires an investment of time now.
3. Connect. If you enjoy socializing, make sure you have a group of lawyers you join for lunch or drinks or a volleyball game on a regular basis. Youíll increase social contact, have a group of colleagues to use as sounding boards, build a resource for giving and getting referrals, and more. You can even do this online, but consider whether youíd get more out of interacting with flesh and blood colleagues.
4. Notice how your body feels when you have adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Just notice. If your noticing convinces you that you feel better and have more energy, consider what to do with that knowledge.
5. Develop discipline. You can put a schedule in place that will support you. Plan time when you put your calls on hold and get concentrated work done. Set time aside for meeting with your support staff, the lawyers you supervise, and those who supervise you.
6. Take time for outside interests. Hike, read, act, whatever . . . . But donít allow yourself to be one-dimensional.
7. Do you live on adrenaline and caffeine? If so, chances are that youíre running from crisis to crisis. Ask yourself whether thereís a way to limit the crunches to times when thereís really a crisis. What feels good about putting out fires? Spending some time resolving this will provide support for making changes that leave you working on a non-emergency basis, which facilitates having more energy. Adrenaline and caffeine are great, but theyíre hardly the key to a sustainable practice or life.
8. Set aside time to check your progress on these and other habits that support you and your practice. Because itís easy to get sucked into a hectic schedule (with your candle burning not only at both ends but in the middle, too), arrange a relationship that will hold you accountable to whatever adjustments you may decide to make. Consider whether coaching might be the appropriate relationship.
Julie Fleming Brown provides professional and personal coaching for lawyers on topics such as client and professional development, job searches, career transitions, and work/life balance. She is also certified to provide the DISCģ assessment. Please visit http://www.LifeAtTheBar.com/ for more information and to arrange a complimentary coaching exploration session.
©Stu Rees. All rights reserved.
Like this cartoon? Send it to friends, clients or colleagues on greeting cards. To order, visit The Billable Hour Card Store.
The Billable Hour Company has teamed with LawyersinLove.com—the only online matchmaking site catering expressly to the interests and busy schedules of lawyers, law students, and legal professionals—to launch a new Lawyers in Love greeting card line, just in time for Valentineís Day. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Announcing Lawyer in Love Greeting Cards, Just in time for Valentine's Day
Suggested inside text: Who says lawyers aren't romantic?
images ©LawyersinLove.com. All rights reserved.
As with all of our cards, you can write a special message on the inside, to be printed in any of eight different fonts and 131 ink colors. You can also upload a signature or logo to appear underneath the message, as well as a photograph (which will be printed on the cardís inside left panel). At each stage, you can preview your card on the screen before proceeding. Don't worry about running late: you can elect to have cards shipped to you, or mailed directly to the object of yor affection, with a "Love" stamp.
For more Lawyers in Love greeting cards, visit The Billable Hour Card Store.
Recently, I had an experience that reminded me of Herman Melvilleís classic novel Moby Dick. Sadly, I found myself cast in the role of Ishmael. And just like Ishmael, I got much more than I bargained for. Let me explain.
Call Me Ishmael|
by Sean Carter
Ever since leaving my cushy job as in-house counsel at a public company, Iíve found myself sailing the "high seas" of self-employment looking for a "big fish" to hook—my own Moby Dick. As a lawyer, public speaker, writer and sometimes squeegee operator, Iíve found myself wistfully daydreaming about landing THE client—the Fortune 500 company that burns through money like the federal government . . . or even better, my wife.
Well, as luck (bad luck) would have it, I did just that last year. In fact, I didnít just land one big fish; I landed three of them. Each of these companies was a household name and combined, they had a net worth almost equal to Oprah Winfreyís. I just knew that I would never have another financial worry for the rest of my life.
Of course, as it turned out, I couldnít have been more wrong if I bet on the white guy in a boxing match. In hindsight, I should have known that something was wrong when the first client sent over its standard vendor form, which contained more boxes than a UPS loading dock during the holiday season.
And it wasnít just the amount of information, but the fact that some of it is what I would consider "personal." Now, donít get me wrong. I understand the need to know the state(s) in which Iím licensed to practice law and my social security number, but did they really need to know my blood type and the history of mental illness in my family? After all, my wife didnít even ask these questions before we were married; something Iím sure she regrets now.
As it turned it, this was the easiest of the three clients to "hook." The other two clients had decision-making processes that make the Supreme Court seem rash by comparison. They had committees upon committees upon committees, none of them quite trusting the other. As a result, Iíd often receive calls from my company contact saying things like, "Well, Sean, things are looking really good. Your references check out and your doctor says that case of cooties from the sixth grade cleared up nicely. Once we hear back from the Cost Containment Department, which is doing an industry-wide survey on fees to see if your fee is in line, weíll call you back and start the ball rolling with the Purchasing Department."
However, in the end, persistence (and handsome bribes to my references) paid off. I was able to reap the benefits of having "big-time" clients, one of which is to be able to casually drop their names in conversation at local bar events. "Well, Jim, Iíd love to hang around and hear more about your deposition tomorrow, but I have to go home and pack. Iím speaking for Global Steel Company in Switzerland in the morning. Perhaps, we can talk again next month when I return from the Mega Conglomerate event in Maui."
For a while, life was great. That is, until it came time to attempt to collect money from these clients. Now, donít get me wrong. As a former solo practitioner, Iíve become accustomed to chasing down clients for money. However, in most cases, this occurs because they simply donít have the money to pay me. And since you canít get blood from a turnip (and trust me, Iíve tried), I see it as an inevitable cost of doing business.
However, in this case, my clients had money to burn. For example, one client made a point of making me sit through a presentation in which a corporate vice president happily explained that the company had a cash position of $2 billion. After spending three months trying to collect a fee of roughly one-millionth of that amount, it became apparent how they were able to attain this feat—they never paid their bills; at least, not in the year they were incurred.
After hounding another client for several weeks about an unpaid invoice, I received an excited call informing me that a check had just been cut that morning and that I should expect to receive it in . . . get this . . . the next 45 days. Apparently, this company didnít believe in Federal Express. Instead, it must have relied on the Pony Express to deliver its mail. In the end, I learned that the old adage is really true—"The bigger they are, they slower they pay."
I also learned that landing the big client isnít all that itís cracked up to be. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to force your family to eat Top Ramen noodles for several weeks while waiting for the Pony Express to arrive. On the other hand, the big client can serve as a great excuse to get out of hearing another lawyerís war stories at a bar event. That alone may be worth all the aggravation.
Sean Carter, Humorist at Law, is a syndicated columnist and popular speaker who presents Comedic Legal Education programs for law firms, in-house legal departments and bar associations across the country. Sean is also the author of If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit? Your Humorous Guide to the Law.
Although we like to think we have the legal humor market cornered, the fact is that there are enough absurdities in legal education and practice to fill more than one publication. That's why we're happy to tell you about Consortium: the Journal of Legal Nonsense.
More Legal Humor from Consortium: the Journal of Legal Nonsense
Consortium avoids legal precedents, pivotal cases, and high-minded legal theory. Instead, it discusses the social interactions and professional lives of lawyers and law students in a lighthearted manner.
Consortium is the brainchild of Pete Holiday, a law student at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, and Charlsie Paine, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.
The law students and lawyers who write weblogs were the inspiration for Holiday and Paine, who also serve as Consortiumís editors. "There are all sorts of great writers saying funny, insightful things on their blogs," explains Holiday, "and we thought that, if we could condense even a small fraction of that down into a regular publication, it would be fantastic."
In another departure from traditional law journals—which eschew images in favor of densely-packed text—Consortium is visually striking, from its landscape format layout to its use of color and imagery. "As much as I love what a yellow highlighter can do for black and white text, sometimes I just have to let loose and remember there is more to life than black, white and neon shades of gray," Paine muses thoughtfully.
The inagural issue of Consortium is on the web at www.ConsortiumJournal.org. Readers can subscribe to Consortium at www.ConsortiumJournal.org/rss.php.
So check out Consortium (and look for our ad with a coupon for a free song download just for Consortium readers) today!
Itís no surprise eminent domain is becoming a bigger and bigger deal in America, especially in urban settings—therefore especially in New Jersey—where developers claim the only way to put up something new in a city is to tear down something else bought at an artificially distressed price, courtesy of the local government.
The Blight of the Cows|
by Robert Pladek
Governments typically claim theyíre looking for tax revenue—the veiled threat being that but-for-development, resident property taxes will have to rise from the current, absurd level to a new obscene one. Whether, when the tax breaks afforded the developer, various local government trips to Bali for due diligence on the developer and "thank you" jobs for retiring town officials are all accounted for, the new development will generate as much revenue as the blight-claimed, underdeveloped-claimed, nasty-looking-claimed current abodes of the displaced, is still a good question.
We Jerseyans have another eminent domain case thatís trudged its way to our Supreme Court: Gallenthin Realty Development, Inc. v. Borough of Paulsboro, Appellate Division, A-6941-03T1, and A-222-04T1. Supposedly the court will give some better definition of the word "blight."
This time the property in question is undeveloped. Those of you who live in North Jersey may remember pictures of that from history books. Paulsboro has at least 63 acres of it, on the Delaware River, across from Philadelphia International Airport. Paulsboro and the developer who hopes to utilize it both believe it to be "underdeveloped." The owner thinks it just doesnít have any buildings. They have grown a little cow feed, and there havenít been any complaints from the cows. In fact, they appear content. But cows arenít responsible for paying taxes—a fact that makes them especially suspect and vulnerable. Moreover, they are notorious for their lack of political clout, being significantly ignored by their elected fat cow brothers and sisters.
Local government power is the real issue here, notwithstanding all the yak about the stateís constitutional provisions, the 15-year-old Local Redevelopment and Housing Law and blight definitions. Consider that two months ago the New Jersey Supreme Court said towns can use eminent domain powers to preserve open space, regardless of motive.
Developers in Gallenthin think, quite naturally, that if the locals can use it to preserve it, they sure as heck oughta be able to use it to un-preserve it.
James Maley Jr. of Maley & Associates in Collingswood, who represents Paulsboro, says itís entirely possible to declare land in need of redevelopment solely because it is not fully productive or does not add economic benefit to an area.
Peter D. Dickson of Potter & Dickson in Princeton, representing the landowners, puts the matter differently: If a local government can declare pure "land" underdeveloped, every park, the wetlands—any natural virgin parcel—is fair game.
While the court struggles with this balancing act, the legislature had better pay attention as well: If property can be deemed to be in need of "redevelopment" simply because it is not fully productive, the statehouse could easily be torn down and replaced with a Walmart, which, in addition to generating jobs (albeit healthcare-less, bloated pension-less ones), would justify Trentonís downtown traffic situation.
Bob Pladek is Special Sections Editor for New Jersey Lawyer. This article is reprinted with their permission, which wasnít overly begrudgingly given. Bobís views, thankfully, are entirely his own. You can reach him at Robert.email@example.com.
Song of the Month: It's in His Briefs|
by the Bar & Grill Singers
Available on A Time to Grill
Does your lawyer know what to do?
How can you tell if heís right for you?
Is it in his fee?
Oh, no youíll be deceived
In his law degree?
Oh, thatís no specialty
If you wanna show what your lawyer knows
Itís in his briefs
Thatís where it is, oh yeah
Itís in his briefs
Thatís where it is
Oh, is it in his face?
Oh, no thatís just his charm
Maybe his briefcase?
Oh, no heíll do you harm
Quiz him, and ask him nice
To find out what your lawyer knows
If his stuffís what he says it is
Itís there in his briefs
How Ďbout the way he acts?
Oh, no thatís not the way
And youíre not listínen to what I say
Quiz him, and ask him nice
To find out what your lawyer knows
If his stuffís what he says it is
Itís there in his briefs
How Ďbout the way he acts?
Oh, no thatís not the way
And youíre not listínen to what I say
WHEREFORE, I hereby represent
Poeticus Lex: A Lawyer's Love Poem|
by Fred C. Russcol, Esq.
I think that you were heaven-sent;
WHEREFORE, each time I see your face,
My cardiovascular system starts to race;
WHEREFORE, upon information and belief, you too
Hold a reciprocal point of view.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration
Of the forthwith presentation
Of a diamond ring without flaw
(Valuable as a matter of law)
With color pure and significant size
(Carats are known to be good for the ayes!)
Please be advised Iím prepared to pursue
The subject of a merger with you.
I submit Iím a desirable choice as a mate-
Licensed to practice across New York State;
Iíve never been in significant trouble
(See my listing in Martindale-Hubbellģ1—
Throughout the time that weíve been dating,
I have maintained an AV rating!)
Our union would be sure to please
Although I make no warranties.2
Despite some privacy concerns,
Iíd be willing to file joint tax returns;
Though I couldnít allow you to access my files,
Iíd like you to "second chair" in all of lifeís trials.
(Of course, for status quo preservation,
A prenuptial agreement is in preparation.)
And in time we might attempt the production
Of a little tax deduction.3
If you concur, signify in this way:
Countersign and return by close of business today.4
1A registered trademark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc.
2I disclaim all warranties, express or implied, including the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and the warranty of co-habitability.
3This suggestion does not constitute an offer to procreate, but merely an indication that the author would be willing to discuss this matter at a later date, and considers that this indication of willingness (and the "sensitive" proclivities revealed thereby) may serve as a significant inducement to a favorable inclination toward the proposition outlined above.
4The author reserves the right to withdraw this proposition at any time, without prior notice.
Fred C. Russcol, Esq. is Of Counsel to Castro & Remer, P.C. in White Plains, New York.