Monday, June 20, 2011

Look, Fred! Our Old Pal Stimpy is Back....

 This is an article extolling the imaginary benefits of starting your own practice fresh out of law school:
 Solo Practice U will tell you what to do!

 Before I say anything else, I would like to draw attention to a statistic located towards the bottom of the page:

About half of all practicing attorneys are sole practitioners.

Yes, because that's what all attorneys wanted.  They wanted to go through the expense of making themselves more desirable to employers only to end up in a position where they are their own employer.

Maybe after 5-10 years of practice a sane person may consider it because people in the community might recognize our faces from the back of the milk carton.  But let's face it:  the reason why so many attorneys are sole practitioners is because not even WE want to work with ourselves!  I wouldn't work with you, and almost all of you should not blame me for that.  Considering some of the half-baked stories some of you come up with in law school about your awesome full ride scholarship from your 178 LSAT and the $300,000 per year starting salary job that you somehow managed to get while going to a fourth tier school, one can sense--just a teeny tiny bit--that this behavior is going to spill over into your practice.

Oh yes, you just signed up some client with a stubbed toe that permanently landed that person in a wheel chair, and you expect to get a half a million dollar fee out of it.  Does anyone want to guess how long it will be before I look at the expense records and see that we are thousands in the hole because you blew the kitty on hookers?

That's why a lot of firms rely upon the army of drones approach.  They placate their victims with the chance that they will one day be allowed to use the executive wash room.

But let's get back to this "I loves me some food stamps!" mentality driving this article.  I could see where a person may be compelled to says "I loves me some sole practitioner work" just to get their name in the news somewhere.  And, indeed, there are some people crazy enough that they want to hang their own shingle.

It even sounds glamorous to all of you 0Ls who are partying down with the alumni this summer before you load up your U-Hauls and drive straight to purgatory.  You may have even cooked up the rationale that your life would be much better as a solo because you don't have a grubby old geezer running off with your money.

Yet, in this magical land of ice cream treats, you have a ready and waiting line of desperate clients who have been waiting for your services because:
A.  You are awesome
B.  There is a shortage of attorneys.

I'm not exactly sure how the person in this article is set to make $42,000 in their first year as a solo after expenses. Some might call it a tall tale.  Some might call it nepotism. All I know is that, if this story is true, it is highly unusual.  First year solos are notorious for starving.  They don't have a ready set client list and it takes much longer for them to do anything because they still don't know the basics.  Therefore, their volume of business is very small and they usually take cases nobody wants and have very low monetary value or receive misdemeanor court appointments. 

So, if this person didn't supplement their income through temp attorney work, then I would guess copper wire theft, or drug mule.  Considering how the article reads as an advertisement for Solo Practice University, they must have scrounged up an outlier to prove their point and shake down $700 for pointers that most of you could learn if you simply interned with a sole practitioner while in law school.

Yes, why not actually make a few dollars an hour while finding out where all of the offices in the courthouse are located instead of shelling out money to some service which is like the black letter law equivalent of legal practice?

Knowing the general rule against perpetuities may have helped you pass the bar, but it's no good for your locality.  Same thing here.  You would be much more successful at the end of the day if the judges saw your face while dragging rolling carts behind Lionel Hutz.  However, I don't think people want to accept that reality because it means facing the sad, cold fact that we all have to start out somewhere.  To me, a service like Solo Practice U allows the purchaser to maintain the illusion that they could simply skip all of that and go directly to being the bad ass who showed up and kicked ass on their first day in court.

If you think about it, it may very well be that $42,000 a year is being fed court appointments by a judge that he developed a special relationship with.  It's like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck when they made "Good Will Hunting."  The story is that they were a bunch of nobodies who realized their dream and won an Academy Award.  The truth is that, they got help.  Likewise, how a lot of people get their jobs in the legal industry is much more complex than simply purchasing Solo Practice U.  They may have a cousin who is feeding them work.  They may have done some grunt work for a friend on a large case as a favor and is paying them a flat fee if the case settles.  The point is, I wouldn't necessarily see what these people do as a success in the way that we were raised to define success. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Depression as a Tool of Adaption?

I know this is not law school related, but I felt like playing amateur scientist for this evening.

I am interested in the concept of evolution.  Whatever trait we have originated because of a need in the past to help the species survive.

Now, people love to go on about "women be different than men!" jive, and only think about evolution as fast runners outstripping a pursuing lion, but there are all sorts of other traits that serve other purposes.

Before I explain the title of my piece, let me back up and give a back story.

A friend of mine told me that she was being treated for Vitamin D deficiency.  I was curious about this condition, so I looked it up on the internet.  I read that people of different races needed different amounts of Vitamin D, and that African-Americans needed much more than people of European descent, and that people in more northerly climates get most of what they need from eating sea food.

As you know, people in Norway and Iceland are pale and blond, so I began to wonder how those people effectively adapted to that environment.  After all, it's not like the pale people from ancient Africa decided to go north one day.  Something happened where they all eventually became that way. 

Even with genetic mutation, how can one explain such uniformity in personal characteristics?  Dark skin and dark eyes tend to be a dominant trait.  If a person from Iceland has a child with a person with dark skin, that child is going to tend towards darker skin.  It's not like you can simply breed it out of the population on that scale like lab rats.

...Or CAN you?

Now, we know that illnesses from lack of sun exposure do show up in the form of Ricketts, but, on the whole, illnesses of the body tend to be slow acting.  If your family has a tendency towards heart disease, it's not going to be genetically bred out on its own because the illness is going to strike long after that person has popped out a multitude of children.  As such, people in northerly climates were probably already eating a sizable amount of sea food and probably could have gotten by with some level of nutrition.  They may not have lived a long, healthy life, but still would have survived long enough to have children.

So, then, my thoughts turned to this:

What part of the United States has the highest suicide rate in the entire country?


Seattle also has the most cloudy and rainy days of about any city in the nation.

Although everyone acknowledged the link between the two issues, I started looking at it differently.  I then asked myself, "what if depression is a tool of adaptation to the surroundings?"

When one thinks about it, depression is not only a genetic issue where it tends to run in families.  It can be triggered by the environment---particularly when a person is not adapting well to their surroundings.  They lost a job.  They lost a family member.  They were rejected by the community for being different.  They have run out of food.  They are in the middle of a war.  In response to their conditions, they either become lethargic and do nothing, or become restless and are spurred into running away from the situation.

Obviously, the people who did not commit suicide were better-tolerated to that environment, but it is a deeper issue than simply saying that people who were intolerant to the weather simply killed themselves.  It can also be a passive act.  It causes social isolation and lack of sexual drive, which obviously means fewer children.
  But, the illness can also cause a group of angry malcontents who simply become tired of the situation and leave.  If people are ill because of nutrition, it directly affects their mental abilities.  The body, sensing that it is not getting what it needs, creates a depressed state in the mind to seek immediate change in environment.  If that person simply stays in their current environment, they are less likely to socially participate and genetically contribute to the blood line.  As opposed to physical illness from stress, such as diabetes and heart disease that generally will not kill people until well after they had children, depression is much more immediate in effect.  Considering the fact that depression usually rears its head during the teenage years (the time when a person could start having children), it may simply be a necessary part of a person's makeup to ensure that they are well-motivated to try and find suitable surroundings in which to raise their children. 

In essence, the depression from malnutrition is signalling the body that this is an inappropriate environment to have children.

Let's say, hypothetically, that in the case of a country like Iceland, a large group of people once settled there that once looked as dark as people in the Mediterranean.  Illness from lack of sun and an inability to get everything that they need from nutrition would begin to scourge the population.  Over the centuries, the people whose bodies could not adjust to the level of sunlight in the place engaged in self-destructive behaviors, had fewer children, or simply moved somewhere else, while the people who could better tolerate the environment stayed, had more children, and continued to thrive from the available resources.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Are the Unemployment Numbers So Low?

Giggle at this headline, my friends, but I have a point.

The war on socialism is not new.  I'm not sure why Glenn Beck thinks that it is related to Nazism, because we were definitely told that it was an off-shoot of communism.  Get your history right, Glenn!

(Sheesh!  Always getting in wrong!).

One way that they tried to sell us against the idea of socialism back in the day was telling us that our unemployment numbers were a lot better than all of the socialist countries like France.

One magazine article that stuck with me explained that because of our anti-regulatory policies and reduced social policies, that all of these little things combined together and made us more economically-competitive than Europe and resulted in much lower unemployment rates.  In fact, the author likened it to a basketball team, where you cannot simply win with one star player, but had a multitude of talented players who each did their bit.

Sometimes I want to read everything I read, but I recall an article that I read when I was about 7 years old that said that animals such as dogs do not actually have emotions, and that they simply wagged their tales because they were confused about what to do when given choices to make.  As such, the questionable reads stick with me.

However, I do not pretend to know how the unemployment system works.  In a weird way, it is not really an objective factor.  The problem is the definition of unemployment.  If you have a bunch of stay at home parents in the country, then they do not count in that statistic.

Even with this economy, I am sure that there are beating the drums and telling people that we should be glad that our unemployment numbers are not like countries X and Y that have their uppity socialist views.  With that in mind, I would like to point out other factors that contribute to "low unemployment rate numbers:"

The prison system.

Quick:  Where are over two million of your fellow citizens sitting right now?  Here's a hint: They are deciding whether to join the Mexican gang, the black gang, or the Aryan Brotherhood as we speak.  They wear jumpsuits and have many new boyfriends in the bad kind of way.  For you attorneys, they may be writing you a letter asking to represent them in a lawsuit to demand that fish be served in the cafeteria.  And their numbers far outstrip the number incarcerated in any other country in the world.

Is it because we Americans are more poorly behaved than the rest of the world?   Have we over-criminalized everything?  Do we want to send every last minority to the pokey?  Are other countries simply more lax?

If you ever hear about incarceration abroad, you know that most other countries suck in comparison as per their standards of living.  Even so, we all know that there is a certain segment of the population who cannot help but draw attention from the police, no matter the circumstances.  Maybe our society is run like CSI where we expect people to drop from the ceiling and take down a kid spray painting a wall.  I can only speculate.  However, those two million are gone from the work force.


Like it or not, everyone in the US is in college.  Or, considering the fact that even the shitiest of places have a college or two taking up precious farm land, it's become easy for the unemployed or the people who are dissatisfied with life to decide that they need a degree in English and to write mass-market paperbacks.  In many European countries, university is generally the pursuit of the young.  It is treated as a stepping stone after they scored high enough on the examinations at the end of their high school years.  You tend not to see 40 year olds who had washed out of one profession sharing the same space.

Maybe a large percentage in the US do not actually graduate with a degree, but a lot of those people are still out of the work force in that year or two that they decide that they cannot hack it before they drop out.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are professional students who take way too long to graduate with their b.s. degree.    They need to change their major at least three times while they "find themselves" and pick the absolute perfect career that is going to set them off on their path of glory.  Then, after about 15 years when they finally get sick of that shit on their job, they go back to school and learn something else.  This time, they breeze through the subject after figuring out that they will never reach spectacular heights in their career.  While most simply opt for night classes, there are a few ringers who feel compelled to leave their lives behind and enroll full time--Especially if they get pissed that Joe gets paid more than them because Joe has a doctorate.

Kato Kaelins

Do not underestimate this segment of the population.  I am sure there is no accurate way of counting them, but there are millions of them living underneath the floorboards.

Some of you may be aware of the phenomenon that I speak.  While normal people go through a vetting process to see if they qualify to be let in someone's house, there are certain people who do not believe that this is an effective process.  Some such stories are like when one responds to an ad on Craigslist and move directly into their new beloved's home two weeks later without ever having previously met in person.

And they are not running Hugh Hefner's palace.  They live in something like the woodshed in the woods behind the Playboy Mansion.

As such, there is a multitude of people who effectively function as stray dogs.  On the other end of the symbiotic relationship is the odd ball who picks up strays.  Suddenly, the odd ball's house turns into a flop house and there are 12 people scattered around a one-bedroom apartment.  Half of them were people they met at the bar, and others are just people they found at the bus stop or McDonald's that morning.  The other hosts to these lecherous organisms are unfortunate people who married the individual.  The wedding ring slips on and their feet prop up on the coffee table.  They may occasionally work at a tire change place, but it never lasts for long before they become angry about something and go back to unemployment.

While the media portrays many of these people as governmental assistance leaches, the truth is that many find a suitable host and begin leaching off of an individual.  They end up with someone rooted on their couch and staying up until 5am every night because they do not need a job now that they have a suitable host.  Why get hassled by "the man" when he makes you fill out paperwork and prove that you have no income when you have the unquestioning symbiotic host willing to provide all of life's necessities without any effort?  We make our unemployed jump through hoops while the so-called socialist countries appear to be more willing to give hand outs.  As such, they probably have more people applying for benefits.  The downside for us is that family members and random strangers end up taking the economic brunt of caring for our leaches, while in "socialist" countries, they spread the wealth and keep these people off other people's couches.

In sum....if you add all of this up together, our unemployment rate is not really that much different than anywhere else....