Eighty-five percent of workers worldwide, in an anonymous Gallup poll , said they hated their jobs.

I was talking to opposing counsel last week who told me that after 30 plus years of practicing divorce law, she was going to try something else.  She said that the parties were more unreasonable, lawyers were meaner and courts were harsher than when she started and she had reached the end of her patience.  She asked me if I was burned out too.

I told her that I wasn’t.  I see my work as much more than the tasks required in any particular case.  My purpose in life, the reason I am here on earth, is to help people untangle the difficulties they have gotten themselves into, solve problems and sort everything out into good order.

This works for other jobs as well.  My wife supervises the front office of a plastic surgery center.  I told her that her purpose in life was to help people look their best, add beauty to the world and make people happier.  Try reframing your job in the comments below.

Law & Politics names James J. Gross and Michael F. Callahan among Maryland & DC Super Lawyers for 2018.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. 

Most mornings before the courthouse opened, all the lawyers and judges could be found at the Silver Spoon Diner.  Although they would soon be battling it out, there was a convivial atmosphere in the diner, among the clink of dishes and the babble of discourse.

Judge Cullen sat across the booth from attorney Clark.  Clark took some papers out of his briefcase.  “What would you do in this case?” Clark asked the judge.  “I’ve got paystubs that say the husband pays $300 a month for health insurance and a year end statement that says he paid $5,000.  Which one should I use for the child support guidelines?  Should I just use the one most favorable to my client?  Or prepare two guidelines and let the court decide?”

Judge Cullen blew on his coffee to cool it, then opined “Get the facts first.”

“What do you mean?” asked Clark, taking a bite out of his blueberry muffin.

“Does the husband have an attorney?” Judge Cullen inquired.

“Yes,” answered Clark.

“Then call the attorney and ask why there is a discrepancy in the health insurance premiums on the pay statements.”

Clark reached for his cell phone inside his suit jacket which was on a hook attached to the booth.  He dialed the number and had a brief convesation over the din of the diner.

“Well?” said the judge.

“He says the husband took her off his health insurance after the first few months of the year so the premiums went down.”

“Mystery solved,” said the judge, handing the bill for his coffee to Clark.

 

 

 

“Being a surgeon is stressful, for instance — but not in the same way. It would be like having another surgeon across the table from you trying to undo your operation.” — Wil Milner

Michael F. Callahan and James J. Gross have been selected to the list of 2017 Maryland Super Lawyers.  Super Lawyers recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice.  This honor is limited to no more than five percent of the attorneys within the state.

by James J. Gross

Yesterday I saw an article by @oldladylawyer.  It was about how email and texting are stripping away civility and good manners in communications.  As a writer and a lawyer, wordsmithing is a interest of mine.  I particularly like the well tuned, old-time, polite phrases of my profession, like “May it please the court” or “Further affiant sayeth not”.

  1. Don’t start your letter by insulting me or my client. One letter started, “I’m always amazed by a lawyer whose zeal exceeds his grasp of the facts.”  I rarely read such letters past the first sentence and usually give the shortest response possible like, “We disagree” or “My perception is different than yours.”
  1. Leave the blame out of your letters. Letters are for solving problems.  Don’t respond to blaming in letters your receive.  Say “responding only to the portions of yours which move the case forward…”
  1. Start by saying something nice, for example, “It was a pleasure speaking with you.”
  1. This beginning will focus your thoughts on your reason for sending the letter, keep you from straying off the subject, and help you decide what you want the reader to do: “The purpose of this letter is to…”
  1. Another good beginning is “For the sake of good order, this letter will commemorate in writing our discussions on…”
  1. Always substitute “mistaken” for “liar”. Instead of saying, “You client is a liar,” say “Your client is mistaken.”
  1. End your letter with “Thanking you for your time, attention and courtesy, I remain, Sincerely yours”.

Marriage is on the rocks for Marge and Homer Simpson.

The celebrity cartoon couple will legally separate in the upcoming season when Homer leaves Marge and the kids for his pharmacist.

No word on whom Homer and Marge will hire for lawyers, but we’ve got room for just one more good case.

My son and I watched The Walking Dead together last weekend.  We both looked at each other after it was over because we were still trying to figure out the ending.  We rewound and rewatched it several times.  Then we discussed it and  put the clues together.  Aha!  So that’s what it meant.

I told my son I liked stories like that.  The author doesn’t tell you what happens but leaves enough clues for you to figure it out yourself after you close the book and think about if for a while.   John le  Carre writes his spy novels that way.

I like to use this in my law practice.  I find it much more persuasive when I write a letter to opposing counsel where he comes to the right conclusion himself rather than me telling him.  The same goes for argument to the judge or jury and briefs to the appeals court.  Don’t hit them over the head with the answer.  Leave enough clues for the reader to figure it out on their own.

Greta Van Susteren has an idea for breaking the political deadlock in Congress.  She writes that every day of the year divorce lawyers sit down with warring spouses (who HATE each other) and manage to hammer out agreements.

She says it is not that hard to get people to work out solutions. All it takes is effort and perseverance.  She says divorce lawyers can do it so why can’t politicians.

Van Suteren’s message to Congress?  “Get to work!  Sit down and talk…figure it out!”  Maybe we should send some divorce lawyers to help Congress figure it out.

 

 

 

The morning of the divorce trial, lawyer Fred Holmes, woke up at 5:00 am without an alarm clock.

He stumbled downstairs to feed the cat and the fish.

He put away the dishes from the dishwasher, fixed himself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and added some fresh blueberries and skim milk.  He made a fresh cup of coffee with the Netpresso machine and poured in some Amaretto flavored cream.

He flicked on the tv to watch the morning news while he ate his breakfast.  The international situation was desperate as usual.

Then he did 15 minutes of P90X Plyometrics and 100 pushups in sets of 25 with a few minutes rest between each set.

After a shower and shave, he picked out a white shirt, red power tie, and his best grey suit.

He drove to the office.  He polished his shoes to a high black gloss.  He threw his pen, phone, yellow legal pad and files into his litigation bag.  Then he drove to the courthouse.

The judge asked, “Is Counsel ready for trial?”

Fred said, “Ready, Your Honor.”