I’m not the biggest fan of snow days

I’m different.

I’m really wired differently than most other people that I’ve met in this world. I’m not certain that I was always like this, but at some point in my past something happened to me to make me different. Or maybe I always was this way.

I usually am good at seeing opportunity where others see conflict or trouble. I usually am the type of person to seize the opportunity that most will leave laying, or never realize was close to being within their grasp. I recall a time a few years ago while I was working for a Baltimore Lawyer handling criminal defense cases and auto accident cases.
It was mid december, maybe the saturday or sunday before Christmas. I was at my mother’s house with my wife and kids. Maybe it was just one at the time…time flies so I’m not certain. Anyway, we were there to celebrate christmas with my family, because we alternate the holidays each year and where we spend them. One year we will have thanksgiving with my family in Maryland, and Christmas with my wife’s family in New Hampshire. The next year we will swap the locations for the holidays. Therefore, this was “Christmas” for me with my family.

Back to the lawyer I was working for….I was working for a guy who at the time, and perhaps still, didn’t really “get it.” So much so that I offered myself to be the person who would have the office’s phone forwarded to my personal cell phone on evenings and weekends. Again, I’m different. I don’t fault him or anyone else for not getting it. In fact, this story will detail quite nicely how many others just don’t “get it” and how I will ultimately be able to take advantage of this in my career. I find it important to answer the phone. First and foremost, customer service and client attention is the key to continued business, referral business, and not getting bar complaints! Secondly, when the phone rings, before answering it, it’s really tough to tell what kind of person or call is on the other end. If there was any way to establish this type of foresight I’d be in a more lucrative line of work. The phone rings with the same tone when it is a drunk looking for a ride home from the bar or a multi-million dollar accident/injury client looking for competent counsel. Clearly I have drawn comparisons among some great extremes here.

We are putting the food on the table. It is almost time to eat. Ring. Ring. I look at the phone, and for a second I actually think about not answering it. Not my style.

Me: “Good afternoon, law office” (I don’t really get personal phone calls from numbers not stored in my phone)
Caller: “Oh hello (Startled) is this someone actually working in a law office?”
Me: “Well, I’m not physically in the office, but I work there during normal business hours–I’m a real person, though, can I help you?”
Caller: “Oh thank you so much. I’ve called 5 or 6 other lawyers and no one is answering their phone or has a real person on the line”
Me: “Well here we are. What can I help you with?”
Caller: “I was picked up on a violation of probation, and I have a court hearing coming up, can you help?”
Me: “I’m not the lawyer, but this is the type stuff he does. Do you want to come in to meet us first thing monday?”
Caller: “Seriously? Yes, thank you so much”

We continue to set up the appointment. I believe that I then called my boss and got him to call the potential client directly after my call with her. I like to under-promise and over deliver. I like to surprise the clients that I work with in a good way. My boss was actually pretty decent at making the follow up calls, at least initially, when I would have occasion to set something up like this.

This case turned into a paid fee of $2,500.00 if I remember correctly. Within a week of this, the client called frantic late in the evening. She had just been in an automobile accident with her sister and her young son. I have no precise recall of the fees in those cases, but I know it to have been roughly $15,000-$20,000 aggregate between the 3 claims.
But wait, there’s more….same client, while the office is representing her for the auto accident case(s) calls because her boyfriend is picked up on some criminal charges. I don’t recall the specifics, but I know the attorney gave him a discount for being a close connection to a current client. I believe that was another $1,500 or $2,000 fee.

My point here, if I trust my client’s assessment of how many lawyers she attempted to call that morning before getting me on the phone–5 or 6 lawyers passed on no less than $19,000 in fees. As a non-lawyer, I didn’t really see a dime of that money–but that’s not the point. The mentality is the key there, and I did something for my firm that a lot of other lawyers wouldn’t do for themselves. Hell, my boss wasn’t and probably isn’t even doing this for himself.

I guess on days like today, specifically in my non-lawyer, unemployed position, I feel stuck, stifled, and as if it is more difficult for me to take advantage of the opportunity that most others are likely squandering. I have spent some quality time with my kids…sort of. If my 6 year old watching cartoons on the iPad while I clean up puzzles and other blocks my 2 year old dumped everywhere as quality time. I guess I’ve spent some quality time with the 2 year old, and I’m at least “around” for the 6 year old in a way that kids these days are growing to expect as the norm of “parenting.”

I am concerned, however, as to how I have gotten here in the house today. Essentially stuck. Will I be stuck in this manor in my professional career? Next year when I am a lawyer, and quite possibly running my own practice–will I have the freedom to answer the phone? My hope is yes. My hope is that I will have the ability to do the work that others don’t care to take the time to do. It’s this work, this concern, this differentness that I feel will make me successful in ways that others cannot imagine. It is how I will begin to forge long term relationships with clients, where they truly are thinking of no other lawyer when they, their friend or a family member is involved in a situation that would benefit from legal guidance.

I just want to continue being different. Being better.

My Free Law Library or why its sometimes good to lose

So today I happened across an entirely free law library. I know you’re probably thinking “everything is on lexis or west, who reads books?” and you’d be right, but books are cool. At least, to me–and now you’ve stopped reading!

For those of you who are like minded, and appreciate books, you’ll get it. To a lawyer, or future lawyer like me, books are gold. Even if you get the same info in on the web and never open the books, just having them makes you feel warm inside. When I say that I now have an entire law library, I mean it:

This is half of my new law library

 

This is the first trip, about half. This is an entirely FULL Honda Crosstour, with seats down, and the front seat full to the brim!

I’m talking open the door and books fall out full. Wowza!

 

So how the hell did I get these books? Yes, the purpose of the post, almost revealed…..

Several months ago a Baltimore Chiropractor friend of mine (yeah, why not give a free back link?) told me about a building around the corner from his office that was for sale. He told me it would be a great location to open a law practice. I reminded him that I still had about 18 months of law school left, then the bar, then I’d be a lawyer….Lets not count chickens yet. He convinced me to take a look. The building was of a retired lawyer, who apparently had either shut his practice down, or whatever–he wasnt practicing any longer. He had volumes and volumes of books. Everything a lawyer could imagine, replace your relevant state with Maryland, all the federal stuff, TONS of CLE documentation, even though Maryland doesnt require CLE, there used to be a thing called MICPEL that put on CLE courses on a ton of subjects.

I was giddy as shit when I saw this building, it was a law office, so clearly it would be perfect as a law office. Still we run into the problem…..I’m not a lawyer yet!

So…we convince my boss, who runs a large volume Baltimore Auto Accident Lawyer (ooh shit, another backlink??) that if we bought the property that we’d move the office there. Easy enough, right? Well the day that we put an offer in on the building, we learn its under contract. Shit on me, too little, too late!

Oh well, it wasn’t the best plan anyway, but it would burn me up to find out that another lawyer bought it.

For the next few weeks I continually check the SDAT recordings to find out who bought the building…two months go buy, and I think its been way too long, so I google the property. Lo and behold, its now up for auction. Whomever bought the property in the first place, apparently couldn’t use it for their intended purpose, and now its up for auction. So of course we go to the auction.

Without going into the details and the snafu that was the auction (the auctioneers could not and would not confirm whether or not the entire parking area conveyed with the property, which was a dealbreaker) we did not win the auction.

I told my chiropractor colleague, who walks by this building almost every day, to pay attention to the property. The guy who won the auction looked like a contractor, and I’d put good money on him eventually cleaning the place out and throwing out the books.

This happened today, and of course my boy clued me in on the ability to move in, and help out the guys who were getting rid of everything.

Now a 3rd year law student has an entire law library, primarily due to losing an auction!

 

Uh oh!

So, I’ve learned a lesson that I knew from the past…iPhones are glass. Glass breaks, especially when you throw it.

So, learn a lesson from me, and don’t throw your iPhone…otherwise this might happen:

 

Ouch! It's time for a new phone

 

So due to the “trauma” that i put my old iPhone through, I got one of the new ones…new for now, because I’m sure tomorrow Apple will announce their next iPhone.

Anyway, my main concern with this phone in general has been the battery life. I’ve now learned how to remedy some of this situation, and mitigate the battery loss. What I’ve always known is that all apps/programs/whatever that you run on your phone continue to run “in the background” and essentially suck up battery life.

I’m sure that anyone reading this already knows it, but if you double tap the home button you get the list of running/recent apps. you can scroll though this list, and hold one in(like you would to delete it) and it’ll start shaking, and you can now select apps to turn off!

I’m going to keep everything turned off that I’m not readily using, and hopefully this will save some battery life, so I’m not at 10% left at about 5pm every day!

Phones, Cars, Trash….

Like most professionals, at least most young to middle aged professionals, I use my phone a lot for work. E-mail, calls, etc. My office is very client centered, so when I leave the office I hit a button that forwards my extension to my cell phone. My wife doesn’t necessarily like it, but for me it works. I also screw around on my phone, and this contributes to killing the battery life quickly.

 

Usually by 4pm my iPhone 4s is nearing the 20% battery mark. I charge the phone every night, and for some strange reason it only works on one charger, plugged into one plug in my house. This prevents me from taking another charger to work, or using one in the car. However, I have a solution that may help solve this problem, as well as other problems.

New cars who are outfitted for satellite radio should be phones, too. Yes- I mean this. In theory this may sound useless, but I think it would solve a lot of problems. I have an hour or more commute each day. I use my commute into the office to call insurance adjusters, doctors, therapists, etc. I use my evening commute home to call clients and follow up with them. I am always talking calls as the phone rings. If my car were a cell phone, too–and what I means is that I get into the car, pop out my sim from my iPhone and pop it into a slot on the car, I am now making calls that should be clear as the car is outfitted with a satellite antenna, and my phone is off, thus preserving battery life.

Why would anyone do this? Well, I’ve also come up with an interesting safety/public policy reason for this. I must be through 2 years of law school to be looking at things this big picture. However, think about this: there is a HUGE issue in our country, at least in the metropolises, with people texting while driving. My phone has text capabilities. If my car were to be a phone, it wouldn’t. It could have software that automatically shoots back a text that says caller is connected to his car, your text will be delivered when sim is placed back into phone, or something like that.

I’m sick of dealing with overpriced plans, and over priced phones for sub-par service. I drop no less than 8 calls per day. My battery is dead by the time I am driving home, unless I am lucky. It’s dead by 3pm if i decide to sling birds at pigs–but here enters the assumption of risk defense.

I pay $28 every month to have a private company come to my curb weekly and take away my trash. I pay $178 every month to have AT&T deliver the trash they call service to my and my wife’s iPhones. I’m sick of it. P.S. Don’t think this is a direct dig on AT&T. If I thought any other company gave a damn enough to provide solid, decent service, I’d have switched to them months ago.

 

Looks what Sandy left in my path

Here’s a fun one… Due to hurricane Sandy, I had to take a few days off of my running regimen. I recently found a trail near my house that I have been running on. It provides a “less boring” experience than running on the road, or in circles, or on a treadmill. It is suspected by most, if not all, who know me, that I may suffer from some attention deficit disorder, so this is a good thing for me. Scenery, music, and structure help with doing pretty much anything. So earlier this week I got “back on track” or trail if you will when it comes to the running, only to find this fun little gem in my path:

Well, I can’t say that was inserted or uploaded quite as I had intended, so I suppose you’ll have to turn your head to see the full image.

Fun times, but it hasn’t gotten in my way.

I am interested to see how long this stays there…..I may not even still live here when/if it is removed!

 

Running pains?

So I’ve decided over the past few weeks to begin running. I’m essentially “training” to run a 5K, although it doesn’t seem like too much of an achievement, its still something that I’ve decided to do. Its a benchmark, I suppose, in me trying to be healthier based on the fact that I have 2 young children, and they’d probably appreciate me sticking around awhile, and being able to run with them whilst doing so. Early on in the running experiment, I had some issues with my ankle, some pain, stiffness, etc. Sought some help, and have recently gotten some Dry Needling Therapy. What is dry needling? Its kinda like acupuncture, except more, I dunno, “medical”? I can’t really describe with any proficiency the true differences, because I do know it utilizes the same principles as far as releasing trigger points and utilizing the natural mechanics and inter-ecosystem of the body to promote healing. I received this treatment several times last year as a result of an auto accident when I was suffering from some lingering headaches. It worked then, so when suggested this time I was certainly on board.

Anyway, the running now continues due to this treatment. I’m registered for my first 5k on thanksgiving day in NH. Good times!

 

This is what I do when I’m not studying for law school

One of the things I’ve learned in my first year and a half-or-so of law school is how to find creative ways to procrastinate. Its not altogether atypical of me to procrastinate, but when you’ve got hours of  cases to read, its real easy to find other things to do, like laundry, feed the kids, or play strange card games.

Fluxx is one of these strange card games that I just started playing. Its by a local company called Looney Labs. They’re based here in Maryland, and I have played a couple other games of theirs in the past. Fluxx is a simple to learn, infinitely changing, complex game. Yes, simple and complex.

Check it out–You start off with a basic rule, draw one card per turn, play one card per turn. Then, throughout the game players can play new rules, which totally skew the way the game is played. There are also goal cards in play, essentially “how you win.” Each of these can be changed as well. Are you starting to recognize why this game is called fluxx? If not, then this may not be the game for you. Anyway, if you’re looking for a fun game for a handful of friends to just pull out of the box and play, this might be it. Also a great game for drinking, etc.

Point and laugh for now, but videos are coming soon

In case you were wondering, I haven’t lost steam in doing videos. I have a cold sore on my nose, and it’s going away. Once its gone, I’ll start doing videos again. When you see me, go ahead and point & laugh while you can, it’ll be cleared up soon.

Next post we’ll discuss Contracts 2, and duress and bad faith in relation to contract modifications…..

Weekend plans, murder, and feedback

This semester at UB feels different than the first, and I am not alone. In passing discussions with more than a few classmates, it is apparent that the “feel” of class and the approach of the professors has changed somewhat since the last semester. It makes me think that the first semester may be the hardest because they make it the hardest, and now that we’ve survived, its time to push us through. I feel like the “socratic method” is taking a back burner. Maybe its because it’s cold outside, maybe it’s because one of our professors is video recording classes, so he seems to have a vested interest in getting the material covered correctly, and efficiently, without too many people giving answers that are way off base. Who knows. Regardless, the semester is now two weeks through, and everyone already seems to be looking forward to the end of it. My hope is to do a lot of the reading for next week over the weekend, but this may be difficult for a number of reasons:

  • Yesterday Baltimore Criminal Lawyer Marc G. Snyder (my boss) met with a representative of an organization who is working to obtain competent representation for a 16 year old child who is being charged as an adult with the murder of his allegedly abusive father* in Harford County. We may be going to visit the defendant in jail today or tomorrow, and possibly meet with family members and other supporters who are working to secure his representation. (*Not only do I not know all of the facts in the case yet, but I certainly do not want to discuss any legal strategy that may be employed, or discuss any intimate particulars of the case that aren’t already publicly posted in various media outlets.) If we do end up taking on this case, there’s likely to be a storm of media attention, as there already has been up to this point in this case. We’ve handled a lot of significant cases at the office, but nothing eliciting a heavy media response. I’m not certain that I look forward to something like this, but I also suppose it goes with the business of handling higher profile cases.
  • Tomorrow is Marc’s birthday, and my initial plan was to take him out tonight to celebrate in some capacity, but that may be put on hold, or delayed somewhat due to our office possibly taking on the above case.
  • AFC Championship game, Sunday, 3pm. At this point anyone who is reading this blog is likely a UB student, and most likely (except MargoT, our ILS TA from first semester) is a Ravens fan. The interesting thing about this game is that my wife was born and raised in New Hampshire, and thus a patriots fan. Fun times. If I have time I hope to be posting my prediction of the game on here in the next few days.

Hopefully despite all of these distractions I find the time to read, analyze and respond the work for the upcoming week on here. I’ve had fun writing this so far, and I think it’s going to help me solidify the concepts that we cover, and apparently it’s helping some classmates, too.

A shout out and thank you to the number of people who’ve found, started reading, and have approached me positively about this site so far. My intention is to continue, through all of my remaining years of law school(which is all of them) and hopefully provide a mix of both course-relevant material/commentary, real life law office experience, and maybe a little mix of my crazy life, too. Sometime next week I’ll try to provide some background on my journey to this point, what I do on a daily basis for work, and what my plans are following law school and admission to the Maryland Bar.