Pro Tip On Bringing Your Cell Phone To Court

Can I take my cell phone to court?

The answer is yes. Yes with a slight caveat. You can’t use your phone while court is in session. Nor can your phone make any noise.

You don’t want to have a marshal take your phone. Or fine you. Or disrupt court proceedings. You really don’t. I know from experience.

These magic devices that make our lives easier are hard to mute. Even when we hit mute – notifications have a way of popping up and making noise.

Here’s a pro tip on bringing your cell phone to court.

Tip: Use airplane mode.

Hillary Clinton Sued For Being A Woman…..Again

Hillary Clinton is being sued for being a woman….again.

Eight years ago, I wrote about an Nevada attorney suing Hillary Clinton to prevent her from becoming president. His theory in a nutshell:

Simply put, he says the document the fathers drafted contains gender-specific language when it comes to the president. He counts no fewer than 19 masculine references to the president. Kolo. 

I predicted his suit would be dismissed for mootness. A prediction that turned out to be true.

I will go out on a limb and again predict the suit will be dismissed.

That’s right, in 2016, a woman running for president is being sued for being a woman. For the second time.

Using Amazon Dash Buttons In Your Law Firm

If you are running a small law firm there are all sorts of things – taxes, insurance audits, payroll, vendors and the list goes on. The work never stops in a day. You just stop working that day. Using Amazon Dash Buttons in your law firm makes life 250% more awesome. Guaranteed.

You need to spend your time focusing on the important things like clients. But there is mundane creep that tries to sabotage your best intentions. By mundane creep I mean running out of supplies. You go to print the fee agreement only to find out you are out of toner. A trip to staples ensues.

Fortunately it is easier than ever to buy anything. But there’s a better way. That better was is Amazon Dash buttons.

Dash buttons are little wifi enable buttons that are easily placed where you keep your supplies. You buy the button, easily connect it to the internet with your phone, and select the item you want ordered when someone presses the button. And bam! Two days later that item appears.

There are dash buttons for all sorts of products. In my office I use them for paper, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and trash bags.

My assistant sees the paper is running low. She hits the button. The paper that I want comes directly to the office. Neither my time or hers is wasted buying or ordering supplies.

With dash buttons you don’t have to worry about multiple people hitting the button and winding up with 20 boxes of paper. The button won’t process another order until after an order arrives.

This is especially useful for me. In addition to running a law firm, I also lease office space through a separate business to colleagues. I handle common supplies. With dash buttons there are no more emergency runs for supplies. It is less for me to do.

Dash buttons are a cheap and simple hack to make your office more efficient and productive.

If only there was a Starbucks dash button. Make it happen, Amazon.

Here’s my hokey video featuring paper and a dash button.

Picture Your First Day As A Solo

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What will your first day as a solo look like? Picture your first day.

Four years ago. I’m sitting here. On a bucket…or maybe it was a step ladder. Or a fixture that had been abandoned by a clothing store that previously occupied the space.

There is dust. There is an old record – maybe Streisand? – in close proximity. There are plans. Lots of plans. There is hope. But mostly there is anxiety. My once stable professional life was in uncharted waters.

This is the day that it got real. There was no more paycheck. No actual office to work in. No staff. Months of planning lead to me being here.

Months of office construction would come to an end. There would be nights assembling ikea. Meetings with clients at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse and Starbucks. An opening would be delayed by a November hurricane.

A year later, I’d be starting over again. A new office to paint. In a new town. A new logo. A new website. A new email. New insurance. New walls to paint. New furniture to buy. New bank accounts to set up.

And two years later I’d find myself in the position of designing a new office.  Adding members to my firm. Adding staff. Filling an office with wonderful colleagues.

But that dusty room is where the first day of the rest of my life happened.

Not all of the plans I had that day went as planned.

I can still smell and feel that day. It’s humid. It’s musty. It’s dirty. It is a day waiting to happen.

It’s a day I go back to.

When you start your journey into forming your own practice. Take a picture of what is in front of you. Maybe it is your bedroom wall. Maybe it is a friend’s conference room.

Take that picture. You’ll cherish it.

Do I Have To Dress Up For Jury Duty?

One of the questions that I’m asked is “do I have to dress up for jury duty?” The answer is: no.

When we interact with jurors we are completely interested in what a prospective juror is telling us. What someone is wearing never factors into the equation.

Wear jeans. Answer questions honestly.

Here’s the official guidance from the Judicial Branch:
Decorum is maintained in the courthouse and jurors should dress accordingly. Shorts, t-shirts, or clothing containing offensive language or imagery are not permitted.

And whatever you are wearing, understand that the lawyers, judges, and court staff are very grateful for your service.

Very grateful.

Injured Playing Sports. Can I Sue?

Last week at the Olympics the USA women’s national team won the silver medal.

In Connecticut, events on the pitch have made it to our high court –  with a friendly between Jaworski and Kiernan.

On May 16, 1993, during a game,  Kiernan made contact with  Jaworski during a recreational soccer game while Jaworski was shielding the soccer ball from the opposition so that the goalie on her team could retrieve the ball. As a result of this incident,  Jaworski suffered an injury to her left anterior cruciate ligament, which caused a 15 percent permanent partial disability of her left knee.

Jaworski then sued Kiernan for her injuries claiming among other things that Kiernan should be found liable for negligence because his actions were in violation of league rules.

The Supreme Court disagreed and offered this analysis of the game of soccer:

Soccer while not as violent a sport as football,  is nevertheless replete with occasions when the participants make contact with one another during the normal course of the game. When two soccer players vie for control of the ball, the lower limbs are especially vulnerable to injury. If a player seeks to challenge another player who has possession of the ball or seeks to prevent another player from gaining possession of the ball, the resulting contact could reasonably be foreseen to result in injury to either player.

The Court went on to find that the defendant could not be held liable for negligence only deliberate, wilful, or reckless conduct:

A final public policy concern that influences our decision is our desire to stem the possible flood of litigation that might result from adopting simple negligence as the standard of care to be utilized in athletic contests. If simple negligence were adopted as the standard of care, every punter with whom contact is made, every midfielder high sticked, every basketball player fouled,  every batter struck by a pitch, and every hockey player tripped would have the ingredients for a lawsuit if injury resulted. When the number of athletic events taking place in Connecticut over the course of a year is considered, there exists the potential for a surfeit of lawsuits when it becomes known that simple negligence, based on an inadvertent violation of a contest rule, will suffice as a ground for recovery for an athletic injury. This should not be encouraged.

If you have been injured playing sports whether or not you can sue depends on how your injury occurred. Every situation is unique. If you would like your claim reviewed by an attorney, free of charge, contact us:

Choose Your Own Success

One of the ways you can lose your mind in this business – any business – is to compare your success to others. This is a scarcity mindset. The feeling that no matter what we do that it is not enough.

Scarcity is deeply rooted in the legal profession. Success looks something like go to a big law school, make law review, land the posh summer associateship, get hired at a big firm, toil for a few years and then do the next thing – inhouse or partnership. That’s the path.

When you start your own practice there is no path. It is more like being in an open field. There are lots of ways to go.

My two cents: be bold in choosing your success and let no one else define it for you.

Maybe you are a working parent and you define success as being able work enough to make enough extra money that it makes a difference in your life. You are not trying to win Supreme Court cases. You are not trying to dominate part of the market. Your success is working in a way that makes a difference for your kids.

Success could be leveling a playing field for someone.

Define your own success. And then embrace it.

Practice Gratitude

We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if want to know joy. – Brene Brown

I’ll never forget that day. The day the water came through the ceiling. Lots of water. A pipe burst 3 floors above our office. 

All of our carpet – destroyed. The ceilings needed to be redone. The cleanup company installed dryers that sucked moisture from the hardwood floor. They also sucked electricity from the meter. My keyboard was fried. Our brand new office was offline for what now felt like months though if you told me was weeks – I’d believe you.  There was a moment of panic about insurance coverage.

There were other problems too. Ones not for this post. But at the time the water was both real and metaphorical.

My anxiety levels were very high.  I was waiting for something worse to happen.

This is exactly the place many clients find themselves in when they meet me.

Something bad happened. And when something bad happens unexpectedly it makes us very aware that another bad thing can happen unexpectedly. It is a scary place.

For the most part we can deal with problems. We can hold the safety rule violating company responsible for the damages they have caused. Carpet can be replaced as can keyboards.

In some ways the harder part can often be the anxiety.

Lee Rosen has a nice list of things you’ll fear when you open a law practice.

I found Brene Brown somewhere along my journey in the not for the faint of heart world of legal self employment. Brene Brown teaches that in the face of anxiety, scarcity, and fear that gratitude is the key to being joyful.

When I get to work, I try very hard to begin my workday by thinking about what I’m grateful for in my practice. It helps. It really does. If I could go back to the day the water came through the ceiling, I’d tell myself to practice gratitude.

If you come to me with an injury case, don’t be surprised if we talk about Brene Brown. Practicing gratitude may be a piece of your recovery puzzle.

Change One Thing

The only thing that has been a constant in my life the past 4 years is change. I left a good job. That was the first change. The change that started a lot of other changes.

I have committed to improving my law practice by joining a community of some of the finest lawyers in the country – The Rosen Institute. These lawyers are the cutting edge. From them I learn and share ideas and processes that have immeasurable impact on the services I am able to provide to my clients.

One of the things that I am doing at the institute is an accountability group. The group is comprised of 5 lawyers across the country. We meet bi-weekly and commit to doing some task to improve our practice. We then report back.

Last week, I committed to doing a relatively small task. When I looked under the hood and made the change – I found other changes and then other and then others. I became consumed by my side project. Going to bed way past my bedtime for the past 10 days.

I have also found myself more energized in everything I do.

Whatever improvement you are thinking of making in you practice – make it. Make the small improvement. Once you change anything you may find yourself changing everything.

Driver Who Caused Accident Has No Insurance

Yesterday, I wrote about what happens when a driver has a low insurance policy.

The only worse than a low insurance policy is when the person who hits you has no insurance. You are driving along. Following the rules of the road. And then BAM. Through no fault of your own your life has changed on a dime. It’s not right.

Joe Biden’s car?

What are you going to do?

Your only option is likely to make a claim against your own policy. This is known as an underinsured motorist claim. Your insurance acts as if it was the person’s who hit you. Your liability limits are the amount of coverage available to you.

Do I need a lawyer?

Most likely. Insurance companies have thousands of lawyers. They act to protect their money at all costs. And at the time you were in the accident you went from their customer to an adversary. They are going to try to pay you as little as possible.

What will your lawyer do? Your lawyer will make a claim against your insurance policy the exact same way a claim would have been made against the person who hit you.  Your lawyer will also evaluate a claim to see if the person who hits you has any assets that you can recover. Mostly people without insurance have nothing to attach. But your lawyer needs to explore this.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact me. I’m happy to answer your questions.