TODAY in Continued Legal Education!

Categories: Uncategorized
Comments: 5 Comments
Published on: April 6, 2011

I am supposed to be learning about Civil Litigation right now. That’s what I got my firm to pay for. I have the headset on. I am listening to the teacher. I have the slides up on the screen. But, in reality, I am playing Tower Defense. Yes, it’s a great time-waster, especially when my conference-call instructor is rambling on about the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, describing her five cats and giving us subsections that don’t match up with the specific rule we are supposed to be discussing.

“Now, Rule 3 says that when you file a complaint, you’ve started a civil action. So, remember that subsection (d) here says you must send it through first class mail, accompanied with another copy and an stamped envelope with the return address on it.”

Evidently, she’s mixing up the rule on commencing civil action with the procedures for a defendent’s waiver regarding a summons. It’s interesting how the legal association I picked to take these courses has marketed this lady as being a member of four separate state bars and the president of some prestigious school in the early 1980s. I’m not really sure how much of this is true, but I try to believe it all. Perhaps time has just worn away a once great mind. Maybe she was an incredible litigator in her day. It’s hard to imagine that at this moment, because I have this PowerPoint presentation both on my screen and in my hand. And I know she’s looking at the presentation at the same time we all are, but suddenly she’ll just randomly veer off topic and start talking about a completely different subject that doesn’t even enter into the realm of necessity.

“I remember all those years ago, when I was just starting in the legal field, there was a clerk in the courthouse named Beth. You didn’t want to cross Beth. She even scared me once, because I gave her too many copies of the brief I guess. So its important to remember here that you need to always go by the rules of the court. But, then again, Beth had some sort of nervous breakdown and now I think she’s in a mental hospital somewhere… So, let’s continue on to what different types of counterclaims there are.”

I swear, I’m relaying what she’s speaking. Verbatim.

This woman kind of reminds me of my mom… One of those ladies that makes you really wonder what color the fireworks are in their head. The other day, my mom was trying to make me feel better about my next oral surgery and very matter of factly tells me:

“Last time I went to get my bridge worked on, they took the thing out of my mouth and this terrible smell came out. I mean, JUST terrible! They then pulled a piece of meat out. Then I remembered we had filet Mignon for dinner last week.”

Yeah, I know. Gross. But, that’s my mom. I think with age, people (and in my estimation, women especially) gradually lose control of their verbal filter. After 60, communication is straight up stream of consciousness… or maybe unconsciousness. I’ve seen it happen with my mom and it’s evident this woman is well on her way. It looks like we’re all on the verge of a Chatty Cathy pandemic..



Symptoms May Vary


Constantly Losing Enthusiasm

Categories: Uncategorized
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: March 11, 2011
So, what’s the topic of today’s lesson… Well, I guess we should talk about proactivity in the workplace. Most of you already know all about this, but it’s probably worth restating. While being bored, investing in things that might help your coworkers (hell, even your evil bosses) is always a cool way to pass the time and helps you get noticed. As an example, a couple weeks ago, I got a new neighbor when a new partner (actually, our firm has some weird title for what he really is) moved here from out of town. He kind of reminds me of a rhino, so we’ll call him Rhinoman. Anyways, Rhinoman is very ferocious at times. When he is frazzled or when he is in a hurry. And especially when he is talking to his wife over the phone. Thank god we are not his wife.

One day, he is freaking out because, well, I really don’t know. But he is screaming at his very nice Vietnamese administrative assistant. He wants her to fill out a PDF form on her computer. But, unfortunately, her previous boss evidently did not rely that much on computers, since her skill level puts her in critical danger of operating a can opener. Once Rhinoman had decided to stop tormenting his assistant and grump back to his messy, brief-strewn cave, I ask if she needs assistance. She happily accepts and within minutes, I had prepared the PDF for printing. She pulls the form out of the feed and hands it to her boss. Over the day, I receive about twenty emails personally thanking me for helping her coming from all these assistants I barely even knew!

Other than feeling really good about this (and feeling like I’ve finally boosted my karma up just a tad,) I realized I’m “in” with the assistant circle. That’s a hard one to crack too. Whenever I used to go into the lunch room to eat the lunch I brought from home and there was a crowd of them sitting around the tables, I never felt more unwelcome. I think that’s the reason I now eat out every workday.

So, you’re probably wondering where the sarcastic twist is in here. Let’s get back to the point of proactivity. I’ve always tried to be proactive in my job(s). In my eyes, I’m helping the company grow from the inside out with my own creativity and initiative. It’s being (wait for the Harvard business blogger term) an “intra-preneur.” God do I suck. However, trying to help a K Street firm is impossible. It’s like buying the present for the person who has everything. After probably a month of considering (this is a month’s worth of unbillable hours I’m talking about,) I landed on something. Seeing that my resume reflects a kind of “Jack of All Trades” aspect, I came into my current field with absolutely no prior legal experience. Now if I know next to nothing about law, I might as well try to be more useful to my bosses. Like actually be able to do things that a normal paralegal would be able to do. Such as anything that doesn’t have to do with a…


I decided on doing a bit of CLE, which stands for Continuing Legal Education. Maybe I could get my firm to, um, sponsor me financially so I could learn from outside classes (on a conference call) and then get, **cough, cough**, ‘certified.’ That would help my practice immensely in the end… Or at least that’s what I made everyone who’s important believe. I brought it up to those in charge. The attorneys in my practice nearly fell over with approval. I guess they were really happy how much excitement I showed. I gained full approval and began my classes the next week. I’ve actually always liked learning. That’s actually not true. I hated it in grade school through high school. I don’t know my high school GPA because until recently, I didn’t know it existed and I probably scored a 1.1 on my SATs. But, come college, it completely turned around. So, that’s my story on that. Big nerd all of the sudden.

So, I get really psyched about taking these eight classes I somehow swindled my firm into and began the first class. Once I get through, though, I realize CLE really stands for Constantly Losing Enthusiasm. Through the entire class, the woman who is instructing is obviously doing this from her kitchen dinette. Her little labradoodle is continuously barking in the background, interrupting the flow of the show the entire time. At one point, she starts asking why she does not hear any questions from the audience. Now, one of the procedures of these classes is that we are put on mute so that WE don’t interrupt the flow of the show… hmmm. Anyways, the instructor begins to get more and more annoyed that we aren’t responding after each segment of her incredibly intriguing presentation of the history of law, which I believe started at Habburabi’s Code of Laws and went through each decade since. We then learn during one of her spats that she doesn’t believe anyone is listening to her because it’s all silence to her. She finally blows her lid and barks, “If you aren’t going to pay attention, I’m just going to leave this presentation!” Click.

Suddenly, another voice comes on. It’s the moderator. “[Instructor?] Umm… [Instructor?] Are you there?”

After a few minutes, the instructor comes back on and gives the excuse, “Sorry, my portable phone died.”

Uh huh. I am so glad I get to listen in on so many more of these classes.

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