|June 2009 | e-Newsletter
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When we saw this hilarious piece about our namesake, the billable hour, we knew that the author was our kind of guy. Luckily, the mysterious author, Court Jester, felt the same way about us. He'll be joining The Timesheet as a regular humor columnist.
Timesheet Welcomes Litination's Court Jester as a Regular Humor Columnist
Court Jester, who blogs at www.Litination.com is a member of the Litination who believes that the practice of law requires a sense of humor. His goal is to provide an entertaining diversion from the regularly scheduled billable hour or law school seminar. On his blog, he provides fake legal news and links to real headlines; his hope is that one or the other will provide you with a laugh in an often unnecessarily stressful day.
We're big fans of www.Litination.com, especially its regular features—including Partner Doppleganger, Associate Photo Captions and Small Shop Web Flop. Click here to read CJ's first Timehseet column, Firm Forecloses on Non-Equity Partner's Office.
Most of the lawyers I talk with enjoy practicing law, at least to some degree. They may not love it, but thereís some part of practice that works for them, whether itís the intellectual challenge, the stand-up work that can harness the acting bug, or even the money. I donít think Iíve ever met a lawyer who thinks her practice is just perfect, with no need for growth or adjustment, but the majority of lawyers arenít desperately searching for a way out of the profession.
Feature Article: Escape the Trap|
by Julie A. Fleming
I find that one trait is almost universal among those who are unhappy in practice, though: a sense of being trapped, with no alternatives, no escape, just a decades-long future in the same miserable position.
The source of the misery varies, of course. Sometimes itís working too many hours, with the accompanying pain of a distant or angry spouse/family, no time to develop a relationship, or feelings of burnout from trying to please clients, employers/partners, family, friends, etc., but lacking time to enjoy personal pursuits. Sometimes itís feeling trapped in a job that doesnít fit, because of the practice type, clients, colleagues, the way the firm (or company) operates, or because the money is an insufficient reward for the effort required and thereís no passion to balance it. And sometimes, itís the result of years of academic competition without any particular direction, yielding a terrific but unwanted legal career.
Lawyers talk about golden handcuffs, and especially in view of law school debt, thatís a real phenomenon. However, I stand for the believe that no one is ever truly trapped. Thereís always an option, usually a variety of them, though it may take the help of someone else to see what those options are.
Sometimes the choices only require an adjustment. For instance, burnout can often be countered with rigorous energy management. (If that intrigues you, read The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.) Sometimes, the choices are much more difficult—a new job or practice, perhaps with a pay cut. And sometimes, the path is undefined and the first steps of moving into it are exhilarating and also terrifying.
So, for anyone whoís wondering: the trap, though it looks real, is an illusion. In Einsteinís words: "The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them,Ē and "One cannot alter a condition with the same mind set that created it in the first place."
Julie A. Fleming, J.D., A.C.C. provides attorney development coaching and consulting to law firm associates and partners, focusing on topics such as leadership, client, and professional development; career strategy; and work/life integration. A certified leadership coach (Georgetown University), Julie publishes the weekly email newsletter Leadership Matters for Lawyers and posts often on the Life at the Bar Blog. Learn more at www.LifeAtTheBar.com or by contacting Julie by telephone at 800.758.6214 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If constantly feeling overwhelmed is keeping you from being happy as a lawyer, join Julie Fleming and The Billable Hour Company partner Lisa Solomon for a May 21 teleseminar about the Five Foundations of Time Mastery for Lawyers.
Cartoon: Stu's Views|
by Stu Rees
©Stu Rees. All rights reserved.
Did you know that Stu licenses his artwork for use in newsletters, presentations, print publications and on websites? He even offers special rates for student and teacher use.
You can also purchase original artwork and custom prints (framed or unframed) from Stu.
Timesheet readers get 15% off all licensing orders, original artwork and custom prints (use coupon code BILLHOUR). Click here for information on licensing or purchasing Miranda Warning, any of Stu's other Constitutional law cartoons, or any of the hundreds of images Stu offers. For more information on original artwork and custom prints, click here.
by David Mills
Courtoons are the creation of David Mills, an Ohio appellate lawyer who works with litigants and law firms involved in civil and criminal cases in federal courts across the country. Visit David's law firm website at www.MillsFederalAppeals.com
So there's another BigLaw tell-all making the circuit. First there was lawyer-turned-sex-novelist Deidre Dare, whose erotic stories about a fictional BigLaw lawyer's party life in Moscow were said to be based on her real-life experiences there as a lawyer with Allen & Overy. Now comes the former Sidley Austin associate known only as ZZ and his memoir about sex, drugs and fast-living while working in Sidley's office in Beijing.
A Titillating Tell-All Book for Small-Firm Lawyers|
by Robert J. Ambrogi
As scandalously delicious as these books may be, they leave the literary and legal worlds with the distinct misimpression that only BigLaw lawyers have libidinous tales to tell. The truth is, life is no less lascivious for lawyers in solo and small firms. Even though discretion keeps us from blasting our bawdy behavior to the world at large, do not for a nanosecond believe it's all billable time behind our closed office doors.
Hoping to help set the record straight on behalf of solo and small-firm lawyers everywhere, I've decided it's time to write a tell-all of my own. I've just started to outline all the tawdry details, but to whet readers' appetites—and, one might hope, set the stage for phenomenal book sales—allow me to tease you with a few tantalizing tidbits I intend to reveal in all their salacious detail:
Not wanting to give it all away, let me stop there. No doubt, I've already revealed enough to make my point. The life of a small-firm lawyer is no less glamorous, no less scandalous, no less titillating than that of any BigLaw lawyer working in some exotic overseas city. The one place I'm stuck is on a title. Dare called her book Expat. ZZ named his China High. I'm thinking something like Solo Survivor.
- How I PARTIED ON A SIX-FIGURE INCOME. (If you count the cents column.)
- The time I SPENT A WEEKEND with my office manager. (Granted, she was my wife.)
- My WILD RIDE IN A FAST CAR. (At least my son enjoyed Space Mountain.)
- The time I ATE 'SHROOMS at a judicial reception. (How those caterers stuff in so many breadcrumbs, I'll never know.)
- The object of MY SECRET LUST. (I'll get that new scanner one of these days.)
- My SIX HOURS IN A HOTEL ROOM with opposing counsel. (I thought the deposition would never end.)
- How I SQUANDERED MY EXPENSE ACCOUNT on a business associate. (Who knew Applebee's would cost more than $20?)
- Why I once had a STRIPPER IN THE OFFICE. (The place looked much better once the old wallpaper was gone.)
- The time I TOOK MONEY FROM MY TRUST ACCOUNT. (It was right after I billed the client and earned the fee.)
- How I SECRETLY ADMIRE MY EMPLOYER. (Wait, that's weird, I am my employer.)
- Why I decided to COME OUT OF THE CLOSET. (Once I put the broom away, what else would I do in there?)
- The time I offered to PLEASE THE COURT. (My opponent in the appellate argument had already made the same offer.)
- My ALL-NIGHTER ON COKE. (Diet Coke, actually, but at least I made the filing deadline.)
Robert J. Ambrogi's career has taken him straight to the intersection of law, journalism and technology. A lawyer, journalist and ADR professional, Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. In addition to co-authoring Law.com's Legal Blog Watch, Bob publishes two blogs, Robert Ambrogi's LawSites and Media Law.
This article originally appeared on Legal Blog Watch on May 28, 2009 and is reprinted with the author's permission.
Video of the Month: Chicolini's Trial from Duck Soup
To watch more hilarious law-related videos from around the web, join us at The Video Venue!
by Suzan Charlton, Esq.
©Suzan Charlton. All rights reserved.
Suzan Charlton is a professional cartoonist who is rumored to practice insurance coverage law as a hobby for a major Washington D.C. law firm. Her cartoons cover a wide range of law-related topics, from law school grades to law firm romance.
Song of the Month: Mediation Chorus|
by The Bar and Grill Singers
Available on Grilling Me Softly
Litigation, pure frustration, accusation, irritation, interrogation
Mediation, jubilation, no solution, restitution, confusion
We must use ADR to solve cases
Jubilation, mediation, isolation, compensation
Do mediators really solve cases
Reservation, speculation, reservation, speculation
Come let us help explain mediation
For we must settle all litigation
Will we receive our just compensation?
The details of your case, we debate
At first it's face to face and then apart and then apart
And we shall talk forever and ever
Calculate forever and ever
Speculate forever and ever
Isolate forever and ever
Irritate forever and ever
Illustrate forever and ever
Compensate forever and ever
Isolate and compensate and we shall talk forever and ever
Speculate and compensate
And we must pay regardless of our reservation
Isolate and mitigate, agitate and compensate
And we must pay without reservation
They lock us in caucus
They drill you and bill you
Litigation, irritation, mediation, compensation,
We'll meet half way
Just one of the hilarious songs on
Cartoon: Law and Disorder|
by Paul Brennan
Mitchell Zypress, a well-rested, non-equity partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, came to the office last Monday around 10 in the morning with a grande, half-caff soy latte in hand and an empty agenda waiting for him. As is the case with most transactional lawyers in this economic downturn, Zypress hasn't worked a full day in months. Unfortunately, when he arrived at his 14th floor corner office with picturesque view of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, he came face to face with the realization that his lack of productivity had finally caught the firm Ďs attention. A packet of documents with a pink "Firm Foreclosure" cover page was tacked to his office door like a scarlet letter.
Litination: Firm Forecloses on Non-Equity Partner's Office|
by Court Jester
As Zypress reviewed the packet, the color started to drain from his face. The unthinkable had happened; the firm had instituted foreclosure proceedings on his office. The notice stated that while he was welcome to continue practicing with Kirkland & Ellis, the firm just could no longer continue to provide him with an office. The foreclosure documents stated that Kirkland had lent significant money to Zypress in the form of nine years of salary and that he had defaulted on his obligation to provide the firm with either an influx of paying clients as a "rainmaking" partner or a minimum of 2500 billable hours during the past calendar year as a "workhorse" partner.
Zypress was relieved to learn that he would be afforded a cure period during which he would have a chance to work out this defaulted office loan with his lender and employer, Kirkland & Ellis. Unfortunately the acceleration clause in the foreclosure notice was none too kind. In order to cure the default and avoid being left office-less, Zypress would have exactly 90 days to either record the 1400 billable hours he was short last year or to bring in a dozen new clients to the firm.
Realizing that he would certainly not be able to cure in time, Zypress decided that he would avoid the embarrassment of being dragged from his desk by the Office Services department. He emptied out his office and proceeded to set up a temporary shop in the firm cafeteria. As soon as he was relocated, he then sent his colleagues an email stating that he had "taken one for the team in this economy" and was planning to lend his office space to the recently unemployed CEO of the firmís client, Merrill Lynch. Needless to say, Zypress still tries to go out for lunch as much as possible.
Court Jester is a member of the Litination who believes that the practice of law requires a sense of humor. His goal is to provide an entertaining diversion from the regularly scheduled billable hour or law school seminar. He provides fake legal news and links to real headlines at www.Litination.com. His hope is that one or the other will provide you with a laugh in an often unnecessarily stressful day.