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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Translations From Lawyer Talk: Part Three

Due to popular demand (I have now asked myself to do this ten times) and as a continued public service, I am providing some more translations from Legal Talk to Plain English.

In deference to my highly intelligent wife who has told me that these are getting pretty cynical, even for me, I do want to acknowledge that there are some great lawyers out there to whom this does not apply. Once again, it may simply be a case of 99% of us giving the other 1% a bad name.

Legal Talk Plain English
Your billable hours target is 1600 hours.  We have put you in the budget for 1400 hours because we know that is as much as you can do, but we won’t tell you that because we want you to try to reach 1600. Every month we will tell you that you are failing.  
You have a non-billable hour target of 300 hours.  We don’t care if you reach it or not. In fact, we know that you can’t reach it if you are going to have a hope in hell of reaching your billable hours target. But from time to time we will tell you that you are failing.  
We will provide you with support to learn how to market your practice.  You are on your own.  
We will provide you with expert support to learn how to market your practice.  We will have our consultant tell you what you have to do and leave it to you to figure out how the hell you are supposed to fit that in and still meet your billable hours target.  
It is important to learn how to set boundaries and say no (first definition).Tell your family that your time is spoken for at the firm and that they have to get things done without you.  
It is important to learn how to set boundaries and say no (second definition).Now that we have gone on record as saying that boundaries are important, feel free to ignore this and continue to devote all of your time to the firm.
It is important to learn how to set boundaries and say no (third definition).You can say no to everyone else, but not to me.
You are not required to work on weekends unless there is an emergency.  We define an emergency as any time that a partner wants you to work on the weekend.  
You are really not required to work on weekends unless there is an emergency.  We consider it an emergency if you are not going to meet your billable hours target.  
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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Translations From Lawyer Talk – Part Two

As a continuation of my public service, I offer the following additional translations from Lawyer Talk to Plain English:

Categories
The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Translations From Lawyer Talk

As a public service, I offer the following translations from Lawyer Talk to Plain English:

Categories
The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Where Have All The Bullies Gone?

We lawyers like to use definitions in our writing.  It makes the substance of the document easier to read because it allows the drafter to avoid repeating things or using terms in an inconsistent manner.  I am going to try that here, knowing that I may offend someone or other.

In this article, ‘marriage’ means a romantic relationship (whether or not having a sexual component) between any two or more people of any genders or without a gender, whether or not sanctified by a religious or civil ceremony of any type, and ‘spouse’ means any of the human beings who are involved in such a relationship.  I hope that I have included everyone, but I will not be surprised if I have not.  Frankly, I am having trouble keeping up.

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Desperately Seeking More (Billable Hours)

“Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’nights: Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.   

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar                                           

I used to think too much.  About my files.  About my billable hours.  About marketing. About how to run the firm better.  And mostly, about how much in common I had with Cassandra.

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Seeing Around Corners

One of the best compliments that I ever received when I was practicing law was that I had the ability to ‘see around corners,’ meaning that I was often able to predict where problems were going to arise out of a proposed course of action. That comes with general knowledge, thoughtfulness, experience, and a healthy (or unhealthy?) dose of paranoia.  

Speaking of paranoia, some years ago I underwent one of those psychological assessments, where you answer a whole bunch of questions, and the computer tells you whether or not you are crazy (something that your loved ones can do without the testing.)

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

People I Met Practicing Law Episode Three: Zero Trust

Eleanor practiced family law.  She was pretty smart, and she knew all of the technical stuff cold.  What Eleanor was not that good at was the part about dealing with clients.  Especially vulnerable clients.  Such as people going through a separation or a divorce.

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Bullies in the Boardroom

In my 6th year of practice, I represented an insolvent client in his negotiations with his Bank.  The retainer came upon me suddenly as the client was summoned to a meeting with the Bank and its lawyers on virtually no notice and told to bring counsel. 

I met the client for the first time just before the meeting, and off we headed downtown to meet with the Bank’s representatives and a senior insolvency lawyer at a large Toronto firm. I will call this lawyer Tom since I want to make it clear that he was an asshole, but I really do not want to be sued for writing this article. (Although I suppose that the risk of a successful lawsuit would be low since truth is a complete defense). 

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

What, Me Worry?

In my first four years of practicing law, I learned how to be a lawyer through the “sink or swim” approach.  I did this by working 12 hours a day and 6 ½ days a week, without supervision, mentoring or training.  I was also worrying 24 days a day, 7 days a week, and waking up screaming at night. I do not recommend this approach to learning the practice of law.

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The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers Uncategorized

Who Is The Smartest Lawyer in the Room (or on Zoom)?

I am, of course. But I don’t have to make sure that everyone else knows it. Whenever I forget this simple truth, the client ends up paying for it somehow.