Category: Lawyerisms

The Fairy Tale Law Firm – Warning: This Warning May Cause Cancer.

the fairy tale law firm

Long, long ago in a far-away, entirely fictional kingdom called California, there was a lord called ShortSightedLawmakers. This lord really liked to hear himself talk so he summoned his barrister – assuming she’d enjoy listening to him talk about stupid crap as well – and went for an inspection of his kingdom.

Lord ShortSightedLawmakers stopped in many storefronts as he passed through the villages.

“Lady Barrister,” he said, “I am very concerned by some of the compounds being used by the shopkeepers.”

“Such as what, My Lord?”

“Well, the tannery uses tannin.”

“Yes, I believe it is necessary to their work.”

“But I believe it causes cancer. People have a right to know when they are exposing themselves to such dangerous chemicals. I think they should be required to post such a warning.” (I know. This is sounding vaguely familiar.)

“Well, My Lord, I suppose I understand your concern, but how would it be enforced? Our law enforcement officials are overburdened as it is. I’m not sure we could expect them to police tanneries as well – simply to see if they are displaying proper signage.”

“Not just tanneries,” he bellowed. “Any vendor that utilizes frog’s legs! Or aspirin! Or lye!”

“My Lord, are you certain all of those cause cancer?”

“No!” But I’m not certain they don’t! And salt! I don’t think that’s good for you, either! And vinegar! Because I don’t like the smell. And there is something sinister about tea leaves!” And the Lord rambled on and on, naming chemicals he felt were vaguely threatening in some way.

The barrister sighed. “Again, My Lord, I do not see how we can put enforcement of such a law on the shoulders of our law enforcement officials.”

“Then we’ll let the people enforce it!” (Perfect. What could possibly go wrong?)

Lady Barrister’s mouth hung open a moment. “But, My Lord, doesn’t it seem that there are greedy, unscrupulous, self-serving, sleazy individuals that would exploit such a law to the detriment of poor business-owners who do not realize they are violating the law?”

“Nonsense. It will work.”

So the law was passed. And money-grubbing barristers all over the kingdom learned how to exploit the law, finding plaintiffs they could sue on behalf of and bringing lawsuits against business-owners who had no notion that they had done anything wrong. And they sued their pants off –  despite the fact that the “plaintiffs” in those cases had never been harmed by any chemical found at the business. And those “plaintiffs” and barristers made mountains and mountains of gold and business-owners were afraid and so started posting signs in every store stating that they *might* use chemicals that *might* cause cancer, simply to avoid being prey to such a lawsuit.

And all of the people Lord ShortSightedLawmakers intended to protect with his warnings, found the signs, which were now freaking everywhere, utterly useless because (a) they were EVERYWHERE (like I said), and (b) they didn’t know what the chemicals were, how much they were exposed to, or whether they even were actually harmful! Add to this the fact that the lord’s list, which initially had a few chemicals on it when he started, ended up with HUNDREDS of chemicals on it.

So, there are two morals to this story. The first, life causes cancer. Seriously. (Okay, to better illustrate – when you roast coffee beans, a side effect of the roasting process creates acrylamide – all on its own! Not man-made. Just by roasting those little bad boys. And acrylamide is on the list. Consequently, every friggin coffee company YOU know has been sued. So, next time you go into Starbucks, enjoy your warning sign. I’m sure you all stopped drinking coffee as soon as you saw that oh-so-important sign informing you that your coffee may cause cancer (if you drink 37 cups a day, 7 days a week for the next 18 years).)

Oops. Forgot I was at the “Fairy Tale Law Firm.”

Okay, second moral to this story: please, for the love of all that is holy, read laws BEFORE you vote for them. You need to consider more than whether a law would be “a good idea.” Does it have an enforcement vehicle that actually works? Because bounty hunter clauses are making asshole plaintiffs and asshole attorneys into millionaires. And I doubt that was part of what you thought was “a good idea” when you marked your ballot.

Okay. I’m off my soap box. Sorry about that. And not to make this post overly educational, but here is a link to the California Attorney General’s record of Prop 65 lawsuits for 2013 – in case you thought I was exaggerating. 73% of all amounts recovered under these lawsuits went to the attorneys! I’d like to take a moment to thank those attorneys for furthering the stereotype that lawyers are basically bottom-feeding scumbags 🙂  Thanks, guys!

By the way. WARNING: This blog may contain chemicals known to the kingdom of California to cause cancer or other reproductive harm.

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They Forgot to Include ‘Zombie Apocalypse.’

I was reviewing radio contest rules today that included the most complete disclaimer regarding force majeure I’ve ever seen. Except for their glaring omission of “zombie apocalypse(s).” (I guess it wouldn’t be plural…one would probably take care of it.)

The Contest Entities are not responsible or liable to any entrant or winner … for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, volcanic eruption, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Contest Entities’ sole control.

Now, is that any ‘public enemy’ like Bin Laden or Kanye West? Or is that ‘Public Enemy,’ the rap group. Cause I would be pretty pissed if Flavor Flav interfered with my winnings.

The Fairy Tale Law Firm – Disinheritance Bites.

 

the fairy tale law firm

Once upon a time, the king of WhyDidMyKidsTurnOutToBeSuchAssholes (I suck at subtlety) had grown old and ill. He spent his days in his chamber alone, save for his nursemaid and his regular visits from his faithful squire. He knew that his son, Prince ThoughtlessPrick spent his days cavorting through the villages, gambling and seducing young maidens, while his daughter, Princess WorseThanAKardashian pursued her own vain and selfish pastimes.

The king was exceedingly wealthy, possessing more gold than any other king, largely because he had each one of his prized hunting dogs entirely encased in 24 karat gold after their death. (But Erin, you can’t dip a dead dog in gold!! It won’t work! Really? We’re trying to poke logic holes in this story?? Okay, admittedly I only bring this up because I made the mistake of saying to my husband last night, while watching Sharknado 2, “please! How are the sharks still alive if they are out of the water? They can’t breathe!” To which Steve, of course, replied, “are you really trying to poke holes in the plot of Sharknado 2?” Touche, Steve.)

Where was I? Oh, right, dying dad, shithead kids.

Tired of his children’s neglect and disrespect, the king summoned his barrister.

“Lady Barrister, I wish to change my last will and testament. It is my wish that my children receive none of my wealth. Instead, I wish all of my golden dogs to go to my loyal squire, ActuallyGaveTwoShitsAboutMe.”

“My Lord, are you certain that is your wish?” the barrister asked.

“I am. Even as I lie here dying, they care only for themselves. I only see them when they deplete their finances and come merely to insist I give them more coin. They deserve nothing and are unwilling to make their own way in the world. ActuallyGaveTwoShitsAboutMe has been a devoted friend, never asking anything in return.”

Satisfied by the king’s conviction, the barrister amended his last will and testament.

The king passed away within the fortnight (which, I guess, is like two weeks).

Prince ThoughtlessPrick and Princess WorseThanAKardashian immediately went to the castle following their father’s funeral in search of the gold dead dogs but were told by the guards that they had been bequeathed to the squire and that they were to receive nothing.

Enraged, the prince and princess engaged their own barrister to protest the change to their father’s will. And this barrister was a real dick.

On their behalf, Barrister I’mACompleteMoronButDon’tKnowIt wrote to the king’s barrister, threatening to bring the matter before the magistrate, claiming that the king was clearly mad and feeble-minded and only changed his will through the squire’s evil enticement. (i.e. lacked competence to execute the modification to estate documents and the squire exerted undue influence sufficient to overpower the will of the testator by exploiting his close, personal relationship with the king. Such bullshit.)

The king’s barrister responded, informing Barrister I’mACompleteMoronButDon’tKnowIt that the king’s nursemaid, who saw him daily, would attest to his sound mind, as would the knights she asked to be present to witness the king’s execution of the amended will. And that the squire knew nothing of the king’s intent to alter his bequest and was not present when the amendment was created, which Barrister I’mACompleteMoronButDon’tKnowIt should know is needed because to prove undue influence you have to show more than a close personal relationship giving one person influence over another – you have to show that the influence was brought to bear on the actual testamentary act and that the influencer overpowered the free will of the testator, dick! (The king’s barrister of course worded it with dignified professionalism and didn’t call him a dick. In the letter.)

Alas, the king’s awful children and Barrister I’mACompleteMoronButDon’tKnowIt insisted on bringing the entire matter before a magistrate. After much testimony from all subjects in the kingdom having personal knowledge of the matter, the honorable magistrate ruled that the amendment was valid and that the asshole children were entitled to nothing because YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO LEAVE YOUR SHIT TO WHOEVER YOU EFFING WANT WITHOUT DICKHEADS SAYING YOU WERE CRAZY AFTER YOU’RE DEAD IN AN EFFORT TO GET YOUR MONEY!! (Sorry. I’m done.)

Then the magistrate threw the prince and princess in jail for being greedy, money-grubbing, evil bastards and disbarred Barrister I’mACompleteMoronButDon’tKnowIt for being a moron (because this is my damn fairy tale and I say that’s how it ends).

THE END

The Fairy Tale Law Firm (or The Not Even Remotely True Stories of How I Spent My Day).

the fairy tale law firm

So my dentist asked me yesterday to tell him about some cases I was working on…just whatever I could say without giving away too much. It was trickier than I thought because I’ve become so sickeningly cautious. My solution? I’m going to make shit up. Here is my very first installment of “The Fairy Tale Law Firm.” (Don’t steal that. Seriously. I’ll find you.)

Once upon a time, there was a glorious Kingdom called Can’tWeAllJustGetAlong. The beloved queen who ruled the land arose early one morning to the sound of birds singing. She went down to the courtyard and greeted her subjects. Then she climbed onto her gleaming white horse to go for a ride along the countryside. The drawbridge was lowered and the queen rode across it.

Once outside of the castle, the queen was approached by the king of the neighboring kingdom, We’reAllAssholes. The queen sighed. She dreaded interactions with the nasty little king, but she smiled kindly anyway.

“Queen EvenNicerThanJenniferAniston! Every time thouest lower thy drawbridge, it rests upon part of my kingdom! If thouest persist in opening thy drawbridge onto my land, I shall have my squires hack it to pieces!”

The queen was quite distraught and called for her barrister. “Lady Barrister, King MyMotherDidn’tHugMeEnough hast threatened to destroy our drawbridge, claiming that it lowers onto his kingdom. Why would he say such a thing?”

“Because he is a dick, Milady. But have no fear. We shall summon a squire who is wise in matters of land boundaries (and actually understands all that metes and bounds bullshit in property descriptions).”

The wise squire appeared and, after much investigation, reported to the queen that her drawbridge did not encroach on King MyMotherDidn’tHugMeEnough’s kingdom, but that his drawbridge actually lowered onto land within the boundary of Can’tWeAllJustGetAlong. (Karma’s a bitch, right?)

Queen EvenNicerThanJenniferAniston informed the king of the squire’s findings.

After much shouting, tantrum-throwing and name-calling, King MyMotherDidn’tHugMeEnough said, “it matters naught! My drawbridge has lowered onto that spot for 100 years! No one can make me move it!”

“But I would be within my rights to remove any portion which encroaches upon my kingdom, is that not true, Lady Barrister?”

“Aye, Milady.” (Note: this is a fairy tale. Generally all forms of self-help are discouraged by law enforcement and courts of law. Consult an attorney before cutting up your neighbor’s drawbridge.)

The queen then said to the king, “however, Milord, I have no intention of stooping to such measures and, if you and your subjects can try to stop being such assholes, I will consent to your drawbridge encroaching on our land.”
The king’s face turned red, he stomped his feet and said, “never! We’ll never stop being assholes!”

The queen sighed, smiled and said, “don’t piss me off or I’ll sue your ass.”

THE END

Stupid Lawyer of the Week.

Yes, I’m sure there is more than one, but this gentleman was brought to my attention. In the off chance that even one single misguided reader might think, “hey – this is the lawyer for me!” I’m refusing to post any links to his website. Or even use his name. For the greater good.

This line is included in his bio:

<He Who Shall Not Be Named> gives all his heart, sweat and often sheds his own blood in resolving cases…

It really says that. What does that even mean? Is he an emotional cutter? Does he participate in Fight Club on your behalf? Is he talking about paper cuts??  Sigh. Alas, we may never know.

His website, however, is full of details of his big-ticket court victories and a profile picture that looks like it was intended for e-Harmony. Or a Caesar’s Palace poster in Las Vegas lauding his magic act. And why did his name even come up? Because he is the first lawyer hired on in a high-profile, genuinely tragic case that will spawn an ocean of litigation. With this guy leading the charge. Hopefully bleeding all over the place.

Top 5 Literary Crimes Committed by Lawyers.

I was an English major before law school, but law school definitely did its damnedest to instill terrible, lawyerly habits in me that would have seriously pissed off my English professors.  And, yes, I’m going to limit this to just five.

5. Jargon.

jar·gon (ˈjärgən/)
noun: jargon; plural noun: jargons
1.
 special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

Yeah, I’m not sure I even need to elaborate on that.  Thanks, Google, for that most-perfect definition.

4. The Damn Latin.

I belong to the only profession that didn’t get the memo that Latin was a dead language.  And we use it, too.  Granted, I myself don’t really know enough to be obnoxious with it, but you would be amazed by the number of briefs I read where other attorneys have expertly woven it into their prose which, ipso facto, is annoying.  (More annoying when I have to return to said Google to look up a word. Except quid pro quo, which, thanks to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I know by heart.)

3. Verbosity.

I challenge anyone to come up with one other profession as skilled at using 30 words when five would do. What is funny is that law school actually does attempt to teach you not to do this.  Yet, when you combine overly cautious construction and a healthy dose of CYA? Voila. Legal prose.

However, in defense of lawyers (that may possibly be the first time in history that phrase has been written), every five words superfluously added to a contract were only added after someone sued and won because they weren’t there.

2. Awkwardly Proper Grammar.

When I’m home at the end of the day, there is definitely a release when I turn back to my novel (or my blog) because I can do what I want. I can use all the sentence fragments and dangling participles I want and no one can tell me I’m wrong because it’s style, and “in which” can go straight to hell. (i.e. this is the blog in which I rant about stupid crap.)

1. Double Negatives.

I saved this for last because it’s my favorite.  As an English major, double negatives are a no-no. In legal writing? They’re freaking everywhere.  Because, God forbid, you tell someone they’re right…only that they’re not wrong. Do you know how many times I have read a court opinion where the court says that “Plaintiff is not incorrect” in his argument? (Really, Judge?  He’s not correct?  No, no no. He’s just not incorrect.) Yes, I understand that it is driven by rhetoric and not flawed grammar, but still.  You’re not fooling anyone.  If you’re not wrong, by definition, you are right. Right?  I’ll agree with its usage in situations such as, “he’s not unattractive” or “she’s not an idiot”…because those are sliding scales. Not being unattractive does not make you Chris Hemsworth and not being an idiot does not make you Stephen Hawking.

I’d like to give an honorable mention to Passive Aggressive Writing. I didn’t put it on the list because I’m a fan. Genuinely. Telling someone that “I’m curious as to the source of your conclusions” when I’m actually suggesting they’re an idiot who didn’t do their homework is occasionally the highlight of my day.

I’m a Huge Fan of Stereotypes.

So I showed my husband my new blog and he laughed when he saw my banner photo.  “Um.  I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell people when they go to your blog.”  I said, “what?  I love that picture.  I took that from one foot away on the Louisiana swamp.”  He replied, “yeah, I know where you took it. I was there.”  True story.  He was sitting next to me.  We were in a six-seater airboat on the swamp and our guide was feeding marshmallows to the alligators.  And this little guy apparently really likes marshmallows because he came right up to the side of the boat and posed for this picture.  Or it could have been the weird distressed-baby-alligator sounds the guide was making in his throat since, apparently, big alligators think baby alligators are very tasty.  Either way, I guess he was looking for a snack.

Okay.  I’m off-topic.  Why the alligator?  Because I’m a lawyer and I didn’t have a cool, close-up photo of a shark.