Sunday, September 2, 2012


Dragon speaking naturally that is.
this blog post is written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
I've never used this program before so this is a test. I don't know how to insert a carriage return by my voice so every time it skips a line that's me hitting the return button.
So far so good. I'm hoping that having this program will allow me to get more blog posting  done.
I have learned some problems I don't also know how to backspace or delete. I'm sure that will come quickly. For now I think this is good enough there haven't been any typos or missed words I see a capitalization that was missed but we'll see what happens when I start using legal jargon.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Buckle On, McGruff!

Remember the "crime dog" McGruff?  the "take a bite out of crime" commercials?

Well McGruff better be sure and wear his seatbelt in New Jersey.
There's been a lot of news lately about how New Jersey has made it the law that all animals riding inside vehicles be restrained. 
People are upset.  They see this as the nanny state reaching to control Americans.
Some commenters have gone so far as to say this step will keep Governor Chris Christie from ever being a Republican candidate for President.

This is all very strange since the governor had nothing to do with the law that was passed back in 1995.

On May 30 the New Jersey SPCA held an educational event along with the Motor Vehicle Commission. Someone there pointed out that New Jersey has a law restricting the "cruel and inhumane" transportation of animals and that the law could be used to fine drivers who let their dogs roam free inside their cars.

Personally I think you'd be stupid to let your dog free in the car and am reminded of Andrew Burnett and Sarah McBurnett (just a weird coincidence) in California. They had an auto accident and Ms. McBurnett's dog Leo was running free inside the vehicle. I don't know if that contributed to the accident, but Andrew walked over to Sarah's car, and during their "discussion" reached inside, grabbed Leo, and tossed him out into the oncoming traffic where he was killed.
That's not the danger the SPCA is concerned with in New Jersey, but hey, a harness or crate would have saved that dog's life.

So what is the actual situation in New Jersey?
If you travel with an unrestrained animal in your car, you could be issued a summons or warning if the animal is loose in the back of a pickup or on the driver's lap, or with 30% sticking outside the car window.

So buckle up your pup unless you want McGruff from his mother's lap untimely ripped.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Condo Law

This was never an area of law I sought out, but I'm becoming well versed in it out of necessity.

One time I was asked while I was applying to law school why I wanted to be a lawyer and I joked about the statistics of lawsuits and she said "so out of self defense."
In a way, that comes true.  I am on my condo's board of directors and I have to keep checking the law on various things. I just drew up a waiver in case anyone wants to start doing improvements on the grounds on their own - because someone already has been and if he gets injured I think we should have a better defense.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Turn and Face the Strange Changes

I can't believe I have not blogged since April. How time flies.  And Blogger has changed quite a bit. It's going to take me a while to figure things out again.
I haven't been totally inactive. I've been answering questions on AVVO and now I'm building my Linked-In profile.
I've decided to focus my practice a bit into 3 areas. More to follow soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Did Maryland pass an Anti-Woody Allen Law?

I have just read the text of HB438, the "Civil Marriage Protection Act".

I just can't quite understand the purpose of this law, at least of parts of it.
In short, it defines marriage as a union of two individuals not otherwise prohibited from marrying. It then lays out a long string of people an individual may not marry. Finally it declares that the state won't force ministers to solemnize marriages they are opposed to on religious grounds (something no one has ever done, and the state could not ever do under the Constitution - I think it's just there to make religious people feel better).

But what's in that list of prohibited marriages?
No marrying a grandparent, parent, sibling, child or grandchild.
Okay, that's what used to be called consanguinity (having the same blood). You can't marry a close family member. Cousins? Aunts? Uncles? well....
Then there's the second list:
Grandparent's spouse, parent's sibling, stepparent, spouse's parent, spouse's child, child's spouse, grandchild's spouse, spouse's grandchild, or sibling's child.

Okay, so that rules out aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. It also rules out people married to those close relations.
I admit to being a bit puzzled by the ban on marrying someone closely related to your spouse. As far as I know, if you have a spouse, you are married, and marrying a spouse's relative would violate the fist part of the law that defines marriage as between "two individuals." Pretty sure we already have a ban on multiple marriages so I think the legislature must have meant an ex-spouse or a late spouse.

So what does this have to do with Woody Allen?
When he and Mia Farrow were together she adopted Soon-Yi Previn. Soon-Yi was therefore Mia Farrow's daughter. For the past 15 years, Allen and Previn have been married.
Fear not though, Mr. Allen. You are in the clear.
Woody Allen was never married to Mia Farrow, so despite the impression that seems to have gotten around, he was never her father and she was not his "spouse's child".

Of course the real purpose of the law is probably in the last provision, which prevents anyone from suing the priest for refusing to solemnize their same-sex wedding vows, though of course, no state has ever required a Catholic priest to marry two Baptists so how this changes anything is beyond me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I don't like coffee.
I don't even like the smell of it. That makes me a pariah among some friends.
It also means that the "Starbucks office" is out of the question for me.
Well I have found a solution: Smoothie King.
The local Smoothie King has a table with a couple chairs, steady noise, foot traffic, but nobody sticks around.
I met for a networking breakfast here once and I'm hooked. The smoothies are a little pricey for a drink but cheap for a meal (and if you're watching your calories like I am it's a pretty decent meal).
Sure, no infinite refills, but I just need a place with wifi and a table and chair.

Also, when nobody else is here the barista (smoothista?) goes into the back room part of the store so I have a good deal of privacy and could even meet clients here - except when it's busy. The blender is loud.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

iPod Nano

My wife got me an iPod nano a few years ago. She jokes that I would have it implanted if I could.

So it was a huge disappointment when it stopped working. It just would not turn on any longer.
Lucky me, Apple had issued a recall of the first generation iPod nano.
Every thread I read online about the replacements expressed disappointment that they were replacing the faulty nanos with old first generation nanos.
I seem to be the "lucky" one then, because after having my nano for a month Apple finally sent me a new one - a 6th generation (with an apology for having run out of 1st generation iPods).

I've had it for about two weeks now so here's my pros and cons lists as a comparison to the 1st generation.

6th generation Pros:
* smaller. It may not seem a big deal, but at less than half the size it's actually much more versatile, easy to tuck in a pocket and feels better in the hand.

* built in belt-clip. I kept the old one on a string around my neck, until the case broke. Then I got a strap for my arm for jogging with it on, but that interfered with my ability to adjust volume or switch between programs. The belt clip is built-in so I don't have to shop for an after-market extra that is one more thing to lose or break, and I always have the option of clipping the nano to my clothes.

* pedometer. This makes the belt clip even more nifty. Now even if I'm not listening to my iPod I am using it and this is such a clearly beneficial function I am thrilled.

* volume buttons. This is a nice improvement. The wheel controller on the first generation worked fine for controlling volume but because it was multi-functional, sometimes when I wanted to change the volume I would accidentally switch programs or fast-forward or make some other annoying adjustment that would require my focus to fix. The simple, single-function buttons mean I can adjust volume without thinking.

* continuous play. I hardly have any music on my nano. Mostly I listen to podcasts. The first generation nano required me to hand pick the next podcast to play after one ended. I could set it to random shuffle music and some podcasts were somehow classed as music so I could get through a few that way, but I could not download a string of podcasts and play them in sequence. Now I can. This matters most now because I'm catching up on the month I missed. But it also is useful with the Onion Radio News and Scientific American's 60 Second Science. Both are roughly 1 minute long and it was a real pain to go through the menu every minute to pick a new podcast. Now I can select "60 Second Science" and it will automatically play all of the episodes I have not yet heard, in sequence.

* double speed. There is a setting that increases the speed of what I'm playing. It certainly alters the character of music (Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics is actually pretty good sped up), but I can get through more podcasts faster, without missing anything, by increasing the speed.

* radio. My biggest complaint about the first generation was actually that it did not have a radio. (Neither did my portable CD player). Those portable radios you could get to clip on your belt were terrible. Sound quality was bad and reception worse. The nano has a radio and the sound quality is clear and the reception sharp.

6th generation Cons: (it's not all good)
* pause. In my first generation nano, if I was listening to something and wanted to pause, if for example someone started talking to me, then I just clicked the center of the wheel. Bam: nano's off. With the 6th generation if I am listening and want to pause I have to hit the screen activation button, wait a second for the screen to fire up, then tap the screen right in the center. If I hit a little to one side or the other, instead of pausing it jumps to the prior or subsequent podcast and plays that.

* fast forward and rewind. The click wheel was very good at zipping forward or backward inside a program. Spin the wheel slowly and you slowly move, forward or backward as you choose. Want to jump further? Spin the wheel faster. The 6th generation handles fast forward and reverse through a scroll bar on the bottom of the touch screen, so if I miss something and want to back up a bit I have to activate the touch screen, wait, drag the screen over a page or two, touch exactly where the marker is on the scroll bar, then move my finger a tiny amount (possibly a fraction of a millimeter) backwards. Because of the size of the screen it is virtually impossible to backtrack or fast forward a short amount. I usually end up fiddling with it back and forth several times to get the 30 seconds back I wanted instead of jumping 5 minutes at a time.

* Solitaire. The first generation nano had solitaire and a couple other games that weren't as much fun. I liked being able to play solitaire while on the train etc. It's not a huge deal but annoying that they didn't include it when it should not have been that hard to do.

* clock. I thought this would be a pro but it's a con. The first generation had a setting where I could put the time on the top of the screen. The 6th generation has a very cool selection of clock faces you can use to make it into an attractive watch, but you can't have that display while listening to podcasts. The podcast screen is just a still of the podcast's title graphic. You can't superimpose the time. So the clock is a pretty function but one you can only use when you are not actually using your iPod for anything else.

It's taking some adjusting, but overall I am pleased with the replacement. Most of all though, I'm just happy to be able to hear my shows again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I have been terrible at keeping up a blog.
I wrote a post when I got back from holiday vacation but never posted it. I kept rewriting, and now I need to rewrite it again. Finding my place in blogging is hard. It has brought me one item of self-realization: It's more work than I realized to run a law firm while caring for a person with a disability.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ohh baby baby ...

If you follow celebrity news you know that Beyonce and Jay-Z have a baby.
They named the baby Blue Ivy.
Now I knew a guy named Blue and I've heard of women named Ivy so as celebrity baby names go it's not so bad. It's kind of catchy. You know. . . I think Blue Ivy would make a great product name!
And so do Beyonce and Jay-Z. That's why they registered the name as a trademark.
They are the third to do so by the way. Two others tried registering the name just after the baby was born but the applications were rejected. This one will probably go through.

I haven't looked up the application but I read that it is for perfumes and scents.
wait... what?
Do you really want to smell like a baby? Now I don't have any kids of my own but my brother has six and I can tell you most of the time babies don't smell that great.
Personally I'd have gone with a line of baby clothing, but hey, I'm not the one with the multi-million dollar portfolio.
And I'd never name a baby Blue Ivy.

So if you have a baby, before you pooh pooh any weird name suggestions, ask yourself if you want to make it a trademark. Will it be distinctive enough?
Maybe Rob Morrow should open a line of training pants named for his daughter Tu (yes, her name is Tu Morrow)

Friday, January 13, 2012


I've been a very bad blogger. It's difficult to make meaningful blog posts about interesting things in the law because to write something I feel I have to research it thoroughly so I don't pass any misinformation.
That means a single page post may take 3 hours of research and another hour of writing to get the wording clear and accurate. I need to allow myself to be a little more sloppy - or a little more superficial.
In either case I will be blogging more this year and will be talking about all sorts of things that may or may not be related to the business. I have to make it free-form so that I don't tie my own hands doing research and in the end writing nothing because I can't find the time.

So my first off-topic post is my bucket list.
I read a great bit of advice recently: make a bucket list, and when you accomplish one thing add a new goal. You will never finish your list, but that's the point.
Also, give yourself deadlines - and not literally as in most bucket lists.
I'm starting here with things to accomplish this year.
1. Get published
This doesn't have to be big. I've been published before, but it was a while ago and I should really do it more. This means to me that some other entity over which I have no control, will put my words in print - on paper. It doesn't have to be paid. If the Washington Post publishes a letter to the editor that counts.

2. Get paid to speak publicly.
The nature of the payment doesn't matter. If someone covers my dinner that's good enough. Of course I get paid to talk in court all the time but for this goal it has to be something outside the context of a litigation. Either for entertainment or educational purpose rather than advocacy.

3. Come up with more things for the bucket list.


This is an old post I wrote back in October but never uploaded.

That document review project I was on lasted only a month for me, and not much longer anyone else. The multi-billion dollar corporate merger it involved was cancelled by the DOJ as a trust violation.

No big deal. I got some more temp work almost immediately and have had my own cases pick up. I even had a trial in December, but more on that later.

I learned something very important on that project: something every lawyer should know.

So here is the big lesson I learned

Serve the bread first!

I’ve been working almost every day on this document review project. I’ve learned something valuable: start with the bread.

The place I’m working provides lunch. They lay out the food on these lined up tables and everyone walks from one end to the other in 2 lines, one on each side of the table, cafeteria style.

The other day they served build-your-own barbecue pork and chicken sandwiches, the food kept in those aluminum sterno-warmed serving trays. We all lined up to get lunch and at the starting edge of the table were the plates and flatware. Then there were trays with steamed vegetables. A good sign. There were then home-style fries and fried chicken, and then the delicious pulled pork and pulled chicken, then the cole slaw and lastly the bread.

Sounds delicious, right? Well it was. But did you notice the problem? If you’re assembling a barbecue pork sandwich as you walk along the table, what do you do with the meat when you come to it? Ideally you’d open up your bread and slap it on, but hold up. You don’t have any bread. It’s way at the end of the table. People ended up running up to the other end of the table to get a roll then running back hoping the line didn’t push ahead and they could still get back to the meat before the person behind them figured out what was happening. An ugly lump in the line ensued - or people settled for a plate-full of sloppy shredded meat.

So if you’re a caterer, and you’re serving a crowd build-your-own sandwiches, serve the bread first.

Of course there is a greater lesson to be learned here and that’s what I’m getting to now. Like a good server, I’ve left the meat of my discussion for last.

The sandwich line is an example of how lawyers are not experts at efficiency. There are experts at efficiency, but they don’t come out of law schools.

I’m a lawyer. I know the law. I like to read cases and rules and regulations. I like to see how a pattern of facts matches up to a statute. I’ve never built a car on an assembly line. I wouldn’t know what parts to start with. If I had to build a car on an assembly line I’d hire an expert at line-efficiency to work out the best way to get the car built with the least amount of time spent by line workers standing around waiting for parts.

Most lawyers don’t seem to think this way though. I think they get too focused on the legal twists that they are good at they neglect addressing the things they aren’t good at.

At the place I’m doing document review, there are somewhere around 200 contract attorneys (temps) reviewing documents - only most of the time we don’t have documents to review. We wait. We get paid to wait, to be here when the documents do come, but most of the time we wait.

Over us are maybe 6 staff attorneys, and above them one associate attorney. Their job is taking the documents that have been reviewed by a previous law firm for relevance and sorting them into batches to deliver to us to review for privilege. (if you don’t know what that means don’t worry, it’s not relevant).

Anyone with a manufacturing background will see the problem. There’s a 6-person bottle-neck. Those 6 people get to make the decisions about how we will address issues and to make on-the-spot decisions when the unexpected arises. They also form a review layer to look at what we’ve done and make sure things are working as they should. The process of batching and distributing should not also be stuck with them. Perhaps another level of temp attorneys could be hired to do that part of their job. The point is, we’re all standing round trying to make a sandwich and the firm is putting the bread at the far end of the table.

If I ever find myself as counsel on a large case that requires doc review, I will also spend a little extra for an efficiency expert instead of paying a bunch of lawyers to wait around.