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The Timesheet
October 2007 | e-Newsletter Subscribe to The Timesheet's RSS feed

In this Issue

  1. Lawtoons Collection Now Available in the Billable Hour Greeting Card Store
  2. Feature Article: Inspiration for Those Considering a New Career: Can Practice be Easier?
  3. Cartoon: Stu's Views
  4. Greetings From TBH: Stand Out From the Pack by Sending Thanksgiving Cards
  5. Cartoons by Dan
  6. Guest Humor Column: The Legal Secretary's Twelve-Step Recovery Program
  7. Cartoon: Juris Comic
  8. Special Feature: Dear Professor Rosenstein
  9. Song of the Month: The Jury Sleeps Upright
  10. Poeticus Lex: Temporal Insanity
  11. Daily Legal Toon

Lawtoons Collection Now Available in the Billable Hour Greeting Card Store
Last month we welcomed Lawrence Savell and his Lawtunes CDs; this month we welcome Suzan Charlton and her Lawtoons greeting cards.

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.

Due to technical glitches, we were not able to upload all the Lawtoons cards before sending out this issue of The Timesheet. You'll find five of Charlton's insightful cartoons in The Billable Hour Card Store right now, under Collections>Lawtoons; within a couple of weeks we'll have over 30 Lawtoons cards available.

Here's just a sampling of the Lawtoons collection:

Holiday Bonus
Click here to enlarge

Legal Puberty
Click here to enlarge

Like these cartoons? Send them to friends, clients or colleagues on greeting cards. To order, visit The Billable Hour Card Store.

Trick Your Lawyer . . . Our Treat

Inspiration for Those Considering a New Career: Can Practice be Easier?
by Julie Fleming Brown
One of the curious things about my coaching experience is that the topics that arise (with current and potential clients) seem to move in cycles. Right now, the top two issues on which Iím coaching are (1) making partner (long-term strategy as well as short-term "beefing up" in preparation for the decision and (2) leaving the law. For those thinking about leaving practice: the JD Bliss Blog has done some marvelous
profiles of lawyers whoíve left the law for other pursuits, and I commend those to anyone whoís considering a move out of practice. Nice inspiration, in short bites, for anyone wondering what might be next.

Meanwhile, for those committed to staying in practice (or at least not committed to leaving), hereís something for you to consider: can you create a practice thatís any easier for you than it is now? This weekend, I was gardening (and by that, I mean tending parts of an unruly 1-acre yard) in 97-degree weather. Adjusted for the high humidity, the heat index topped 107. It was not fun. I noticed two tendencies that made my work harder than it had to be, though: I was holding my breath every time I tried to pull out a large weed, and I was drinking a bottle of water only every hour or so. Nothing would have made the work fun under the circumstances, but when I started breathing better and carried a large water bottle around the yard with me, it started being less unpleasant. I also stopped yardwork entirely between 11 AM and 6 PM; had I not done that, I doubt Iíd ever have been willing to set foot in the state of Maryland again!

Whatís the practice analogy? Itíll vary somewhat for each lawyer, but here are some examples:

  • Use the concepts of full engagement and selective disengagement for better energy management.
  • Make sure your office is arranged for maximum utility (good chair, good light, not cluttered, supplies and resources you need at hand, etc.).
  • Commit to raising your practice skills.
  • Identify the habits or tendencies that are detrimental and figure out how to turn them around.
  • If you go through your days with a negative attitude, consider whether thereís an alternative.
  • Find mentors who can guide you through practice development, office politics, etc.
Unsure what habits and attitudes are most beneficial for practicing law? Julie Fleming Brown offers an assessment that lists "best practices" for office environment, health and emotional balance, finances, relationships, and practice/business development habits. Sign up for the free Life at the Bar Survival Kit to receive the assessment.

Stu's Views
by Stu Rees

I'd Remember Crystal Ball Discovery

©Stu Rees. All rights reserved.

Like these cartoons? Send them to friends, clients or colleagues on greeting cards. To order, visit The Billable Hour Card Store.

Did you Know that Stu also licenses his artwork for use in newsletters, presentations, print publications and on websites? He even offers special rates for student and teacher use.

Timesheet readers get 15% off all licensing orders (use coupon code BILLHOUR). Click here for information on licensing "I'd Remember", click here for information on licensing "Crystal Ball Discovery", or visit www.Stus.com for more information on licensing one of the hundreds of images Stu offers.

Greetings From TBH: Stand Out From the Pack by Sending Thanksgiving Cards
According to a USPS news release from November 2006, the Postal Service expected to deliver 20 billion letters, packages and cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, with the busiest mailing day expected to be Monday, Dec. 18, when more than 280 million cards and letters would be processed—more than twice the average processed on any given day. Total mail volume on Dec. 18 was projected to rise to 900 million pieces of mail, increased from 670 million pieces on an average day. About 100 million first-class letters are processed daily. That number increases to about 150 million a day during the holidays.

How can you make sure your do you stand out from the clutter? Try avoiding the "Holiday Season" altogether, and sending Thanksgiving cards instead.

What better way to thank your clients for thier business and your referral sources for their support than by sending a card for Thanksgiving . . . the holiday when we give thanks?

Since you can include your own message in any of our greeting cards, just about all of our humorous legal cards can be sent at Thanksgiving time. Of course, we offer non-legal cards as well, including this watercolor-style scene:

Happy Thanksgiving

Suggested inside message: It takes time and effort to grow a great business relationship. I'm grateful for the part you've played in growing ours.
Happy Thanksgiving!

For those who prefer to send cards that will arrive between Turkey Day and Silent Night, we have a wide variety of images to fit your needs. New this year is Suzan Charlton's Holiday Bonus (pictured at the top of this issue), while Stu's Merry Christmas (pictured below) is a perenial favorite:

Merry Christmas

We also have a wide range of more tradional Season's Greetings, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards, including, but not limited to [how's that for lawyering it up?]:

Peace on Earth Cool Yule

Christmas Tree Christmas Trees
Bonus: you can customize the text on the front of these two cards, in addition to including your personal message inside!

Hanukkah Magen David Hanukkah Candles

Happy Kwanzaa Kwanzaa Tradition

In 2006, the USPS's mail-by date for domestic first-class mail was December 18—a week before Christmas. Although we haven't seen the USPS mail-by dates for this year, you're probably safe leaving the same one-week lead time. Just because December 18 is more than two months away doesn't mean you should wait for the last minute, though: why not place your holiday card order early, and save the stress for making your billable hour target before the ball drops in Times Square?

If you're too swamped between now and Thanksgiving to even think about getting your greeting card list together before the end of November, consider going in the opposite direction, and sending New Year's cards instead. Here are just a few of our New Year's greetings:

New Year Champagne New Year Snowflake

Another way to make your holiday card special is to include a color photo—whether of your lawyers and staff or a local snow-covered landmark—inside the card. The photo will be printed on the cardís inside left panel. This feature is optional, and there is no additional charge to include a photo.

We haven't forgotten the importance of convenience during the busy run-up to the holidays: you can elect to have your boxed cards shipped to you, or mailed individually directly to the recipients on the date of your choice. Your own return address appears on cards mailed directly to the recipient: in effect, you receive free envelope imprinting. Addresses can be uploaded from Microsoft Outlook as well as other CRM programs. The envelopes are stamped (not run through a postage meter)—just the way you'd do it yourself.

Cartoons by Dan

Hanging Jury Consultant

Lost Gavel
Images ©Dan Rosandich. All rights reserved.

Like these cartoons? Send them to friends, clients or colleagues on greeting cards. To order, visit The Billable Hour Card Store.

Guest Humor Column: The Legal Secretary's Twelve-Step Recovery Program
1. We admitted we were legal secretaries—that our lives (a third of them, a least) were completely dominated by the whims of lawyers.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could make us stop seeing every puddle on the supermarket floor as a lawsuit waiting to happen.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to coming up with a polite but firm brushoff for "friends" who ask us for legal advice.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of our understocked supply rooms.

5. Admitted to our God, ourselves, and our lawyers that once, 8 years ago, we forgot to mail out a service copy until the next day.

6. Were entirely ready to storm the mail room in search of . . . just . . . one . . . measly . . . Fedex pouch!

7. Humbly informed our lawyers that they should forgive that mail-out lapse because of the time we smoothed things over with that irate judge who called while they were out golfing.

8. Made a list of all the baby lawyers weíve worked for, and became willing to make amends for every time weíve smirked at them behind their backs.

9. Made direct amends to such baby lawyers whenever possible, except when to do so might dangerously inflate an already near-explosive ego.

10. Continued to take supply inventories and to hoard a yearís worth of any vital office item that is in perpetual shortage.

11. Sought through meditation and introspection to improve our conscious contact with normality as we understand it, hoping only to be able to converse with friends without ever saying "enclosed please find" or "assuming, arguendo."

12. Having had a spiritual awakening to the fact that our career path has precluded our being employable in any other industry, we resolved to spread cautionary tales to aspiring legal secretaries far and wide.

Lawyer's Right Hand is the alter ego of a Texas legal secretary who, after 15 years in litigation, decided that starting a blog was the ideal way to vent her frustra-- er, share her wisdom with her peers in the field. She holds candidly forth on career, excellence, work/life balance, and split infinitives at www.LawyersRightHand.com.

Juris Comic

Special Feature: Dear Professor Rosenstein
by Lawrence Savell, Esq.
Dear Professor Rosenstein:

Let me begin by thanking you very much for the insight, enthusiasm, and energy you clearly put into your teaching of Introductory Taxation this semester. It was very obvious to me that you enjoy this course, and that you make an extra effort to reach out to all the students in your class, to ensure that they understand the concepts being presented.

I am looking ahead with a considerable degree of mixed feelings to graduation next week. While it would be a relief to have this three-year and six-digit odyssey behind me, I am a bit apprehensive of the next turns of the road: the bar exam and, finally, actual law practice. I do feel that the Law School has prepared me well for both these challenges, although I suspect perhaps more completely for the former than the latter.

Like many of my classmates who desired to pursue such a path, I was thankfully successful in landing a coveted associate position at a prominent law firm. I appreciate that the prestige and reputation of the Law School significantly helped make it possible for my efforts to translate to such a job, which might during the course of my projected life span actually allow me to pay off at least the majority of my student loans.

From growing up watching rerun episodes of Perry Mason, spending a couple of summers at firms doing primarily litigation work and, perhaps most significant, being told throughout my life that I can be difficult to get along with, I plan to be a litigator. Nevertheless, I thought it useful to be exposed to a broad variety of legal disciplines, which is why I picked for my last four credits your Introductory Taxation course. Given that purpose, I did think it prudent to take the class on a pass-fail basis.

I concede and apologize for the fact that I inordinately focused my efforts this semester on the courses and activities that most directly relate to the work I plan to do, in particular the moot court competition and the law clinic. And I also confess that I did allocate my energies and time more to those courses that I was taking for a letter grade, although I was convinced that, after seven years of college and grad school, I knew what I needed to do and what kind of exam essays I needed to write to comfortably earn that critical "P." All of this had the unfortunate result of my not always being prepared for your class, and for actually missing class on far too many occasions.

What I obviously regret most was missing your last week of classes, including the class in which you apparently advised that the final exam, which was placed before me over an hour ago and remains untouched, would be not an essay exam, but a computation exam requiring specific numerical calculations with particular results.

I have often heard people speak or write of time standing still, but I have never experienced or fully understood that concept until this moment. But I am experiencing and understanding it incredibly well now. As I look around this massive exam room (temporarily renamed during testing periods to emphasize it is no longer a classroom where knowledge could be obtained), with its cathedral-like ceilings and windows, I see scores of my classmates scribbling furiously with their originally sharpened pencils and pounding relentlessly the keys of their trusty calculators.

Mine is the only head that is not looking down.

Knowing that passing this course would provide the last credits I needed for what I believed to be the technicality of graduation, I had prepared for it with no less (and arguably even a bit more) rigor than I had for other classes I have taken with such a grading option. I was prepared to discuss eloquently the nature of tax law, and the positive and critical public and social policies that often (but not always, regrettably) underlie it. For each of the concepts you taught, I had come up with what I thought were compelling examples of the arguments and implications on both sides, and airtight analysis to support the conclusions I had reached about them.

But these efforts are of no moment now. No examples, reasoning, or creativity can guide my pen (in my ignorance, I didnít even bring a pencil) to generate the supportive calculations and magical final numbers you seek. I am at sea, with (pursuant to your direction, also apparently issued during those last classes, and abruptly enforced upon my arrival in this room) no treatise, outline (original or commercial), or notebook with which to paddle to safety.

I hear nothing except the sound of my own breathing.

And so I am doing the only thing I can do: I am filling my exam book with this desperate, and knowingly futile, plea for help.

I have no illusions that you will help me. Preparation is (usually) rewarded with success, and failure to prepare adequately is (usually) met with the array of sanctions designed to deter such behavior from occurring again in those that are properly fearful.

I cannot begin to imagine (although, of course, I am) how my family, and my friends, will react to my getting a failing grade and not graduating. Iíve recklessly let those who care about me down—those who have sacrificed to give me opportunities that they were not given, those who encouraged me and who looked forward to rejoicing in my having succeeded. And even if they are charitable, I have no delusions that my law firm (or any law firm) would be.

How could I have been so stupid? I think of the fallen trapeze artist in the Judy Collins song, "Send in the Clowns," and ask myself how I could have lost my balance this late in my academic career, literally when the bar is in sight.

Finally, I do thank you for reading this, if indeed you have (surely many in your position would have stopped and slapped on the "F" pages ago). Iím not sure I could have made it through these four hours without writing something, without being able to concentrate on something other than trying to work up the courage to leave this room early, perhaps four hours early.

I suspect that this letter (or whatever it is; it surely is not the answers to the questions you have asked) at this point may be more for me an exercise in self-flagellation and self-analysis than it will be for you in making any decision other than the expected one. But at least my exam booklet is not blank. I can for the moment join my classmates who are now rising to hand in their calculation-filled volumes, all of whom appear to be smiling, presumably through some combination of glee and relief. I obviously feel neither. I feel only emptiness.

Sincerely yours,
Nicholas Bennett

Dear Mr. Bennett:

This is the first occasion in my 45 years of teaching that I have returned an exam booklet to a student, but I thought it necessary and appropriate to respond to your words directly and in kind.

Obviously, as a teacher, I am dismayed that you did not devote the necessary efforts to my class. No professor wants to acknowledge that a student has been a failure in his or her course, because, if even to a small degree, it means the teacher has also failed. But students do fail, and teachers do issue failing grades, no matter how reluctantly.

I am not completely unsympathetic to your situation. I have to confess that, even to this day, and although there is no personal historical basis for it, I occasionally (and usually during particularly stressful periods) have the recurrent and still horrific nightmare in which I find myself in a final exam for which I am totally unprepared. Perhaps all lawyers do.

As you may or may not know, this was also my last class at the Law School. Last December, after 52 years of marriage, my beloved wife, Faith, passed away. I have tried to carry on the routines of my life, in particular the teaching that has for so long given me so much pleasure and satisfaction, but I have found that it is impossible to experience those feelings without her.

When I first took this position, my wife, a very charitable and forgiving person, asked me to make her a promise: that I would never fail a student. And, frankly, before this semester, there was never really a situation where I had to test the resolve of that oath. But obviously there is now.

But there are many oaths in my life. Another is the oath to maintain the standards and principles upon which this institution and others like it are built, and by which students as well as faculty strive to conform their behavior. I take these requirements very seriously, as we should.

Thus, I cannot simply and offhandedly say, "Oh, what the heck!" But perhaps the analysis should not stop there.

I do believe you have done a degree of preparation for this exam, although obviously you have not done enough. In terms of its relation to the correct responses, your answer booklet unavoidably warrants a failing grade.

But you have taken this opportunity to assess and discuss a variety of other matters. Although they bear no reasonable relation to Introductory Taxation, they (albeit belatedly) reflect your recognition and understanding of the need for proper preparation and diligence, the responsibilities inherent when others depend on you, and the value of balancing competing demands. You echo feelings of despair that countless clients who find themselves in apparently hopeless situations experience, until they are comforted by the support of knowledgeable and reliable counsel on and at their side. And you present your sentiments in a reasoned and compelling way.

I have always felt that those who want to be litigators should, as part of their training, have their own deposition taken, so they can feel firsthand the terror that a first-time witness experiences. Those who plan to be criminal defense counsel should spend a few hours being "processed" in the criminal justice system, so that they can gain a modicum of understanding of what their clients are going through.

As you may be aware, during my career I have, in addition to this course, also taught a variety of small-group practical and practice-oriented seminars, on such subjects as Legal Negotiation, Legal Ethics, Lawyers and Their Clients, Equity, and Remedies. It could be argued that you have demonstrated that you have learned much of what I have attempted to convey in these seminars, although of course you have technically never taken them. And so, with perhaps a generous helping of logical extrapolation, I can justify viewing your exam as meeting the requirements by which I could have issued a passing grade in a couple of those two-credit courses.

So, following that reasoning, I believe I can, in good conscience, essentially transfer these credits and pass you in this class.

But please do not consider this a free ride. I strongly hope you will appreciate it as one who suffers a sudden but thankfully transitory chest pain heeds it as a fortuitous warning sign, and does everything in his power to prevent himself from experiencing such terror again. Your clients and your colleagues will be relying on you, and you cannot let them, or yourself, down again.

You cite songs; I cite movies. I find myself watching a lot of them lately, and what comes to mind is the scene in Wall Street where Hal Holbrookís fatherly character advises the about-to-be-arrested young hotshot played by Charlie Sheen: "Man looks in the abyss, thereís nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."

Stay out of the abyss.

And perhaps down the road, when you are a senior partner or a general counsel (or even a law professor), and a young underling messes up, you will give him or her similar heartfelt advice and a similar second chance.

Thatís all I wanted to say. Please read these words carefully (as I suspect you have), and perhaps read them a second time. Then, find a nice open space away from other combustible materials and burn this booklet, so that the only record of its contents will be in your and my memory.

And never forget them.

Have a great career, and congratulations on your upcoming graduation.

Sincerely yours,
Professor Simon Rosenstein

Lawrence Savell is the the lyrical lawyer behind The Lawyer's Holiday Humor Album, Legal Holidaze and Merry Lexmas from the Lawtunes, which are available in our music department either individually or as part of our Holiday Humor Set. Savell is also a partner at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, where he has nearly 25 years of broad commercial and civil litigation experience, with a concentration in product liability and media law defense and counseling.

This article has appeared in numerous legal publications, including Washington Lawyer, New Jersey Lawyer, the Alaska Bar Rag, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Arizona Attorney, the Milwaukee Bar Association Messenger, the Michigan Bar Journal, the CBA Report (Cincinnati Bar Association), Nebraska Lawyer, Wyoming Lawyer, The Docket (Denver Bar Association) and Bench & Bar of Minnesota.

Song of the Month: The Jury Sleeps Upright
by the Bar & Grill Singers

Available on
Grilling Me Softly

In the courtroom, the quiet courtroom
The lawyers speak today
As they mention their grand intentions
The jury slips away

Hear the witness, the expert witness
Heís talking for a fee
See the lawyers, the judge and jurors
Theyíre drifting off to sleep

Iím awake! Iím awake! Iím the only one awake!
Hush, please whisper so you wonít disturb
This quiet, peaceful sight
Look around you donít make a sound Ďcause
The jury sleeps upright

Iím awake! Iím awake! Iím the only one awake!

Just one of the hilarious songs on
Grilling Me Softly

Poeticus Lex: Temporal Insanity
by Fred C. Russcol, Esq.
When lawyers to the bench ascend,
Prior attitudes will end;
As if they have been born anew,
They get a different point of view.

Judges want to push each case,
Move forward at a frenzied pace,
While lawyersí tactics sometimes need
A slower litigation speed;
Like cheese or wine or meat that cures,
A case improves as it matures.

Opposing counsel will decry
Adjournments for the other guy.
(Knowing well that, other days,
Theyíll be the ones who seek delays.)

In "Bleak House," the sad Dickens tale,
The Jarndyce case moved like a snail;
Generations rose and died,
But the suit would not subside;
Some lawyers now may feel distaste
At that actionís undue haste.

Time flies, in most human endeavor,
But lawsuits seem to go on forever;
If all lawyers were put end to end,
No matter how far they would extend
In one lengthy, loud extrusion,
They still would never reach a conclusion.

Fred C. Russcol, Esq. is Of Counsel to Castro & Remer, P.C. in White Plains, New York. This poem was originally printed in the Westchester Bar Journal and is reprinted with the permission of the Westchester County Bar Association.

Daily Legal Toon

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