Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dream come true?

Three of the partners at the law firm for which I work (including my boss) has recently decided to split from the rest of the law firm (located in a different city).  The "mother law firm" and the "child law firm" have decided to part ways to the extent that we will be entering a new office by the end of the month.  In a move highly exciting for me, we may be leasing office space in the wonderful Alico Building.  Three cheers for the home team.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

What should I do with my life?

Po Bronson wrote a fascinating book about the young person's least favorite but most important question to answer.  According to the people whom Bronson interviews, the difficulty of the question is rarely eased with age (only the person's sense of possibility is diminished).  While this is bad news for people like me who hope that life's experience will push me in the right direction, it has caused me to think about my future and what I want to do.  (As if I weren't doing that already.)

The one thing I know is that I want to be a lawyer: I want to go to law school; I want to wear suits; I want to be able to speak with authority and confidence; I want to know how things work.  But that only partially answers the evil "WSIDWML" (pron. "wuh-sihd-wuh-mill") question because the legal profession is incredibly complex with probably thousands of different specialties and different jobs that must be performed.

So question 2: what kind of lawyer should I be?  Before I worked at my previous job, I thought that family law was a horribly boring field of law that no one should get into except for the money (it pays surprisingly well for those who are good at it).  Part of my job involved legal research, though, and I even wrote a brief for an appeal of a termination of parental rights.  (Which we won, dadgummit.)  Through that experience, I discovered that even family law can be fascinating.  I won't go into specifics here, but I learned that any area of law could be fascinating if you gave it enough attention.  Conclusion: looking at different fields of law to find one that's interesting just won't work for me.  I need to consider more about the practice of that particular field.

So question 3: what kind of law would I enjoy practicing?  Alas, this is the hardest question so far.  No lawyer wants to talk about their daily routine.  I have searched hundreds of blogs and find only commentary on law.  Blogs very rarely discuss the ins and outs of actual, daily practice.  Fortunately, I have worked in two law firms: one a solo practitioner family lawyer and the other a small insurance defense firm.  At this point, I prefer the people interaction of family law and the research possibilities of insurance defense.  I dislike the hours of family law and the relative lack of court-time of insurance defense.  (But I'm told that family lawyers outside small towns spend very little time in court.)  As my old logic professor used to say: I am stuck in the horns of a dilemma.

The answer, I think, for now, is that I don't know.  I don't know what I want to be.  I have several "options" or "theories of the future."  For example, I could become a property investor/developer, or I could practice insurance defense, or I could practice family law, or I could get a job with the Travel Channel writing about what to avoid in other countries' legal systems.  What will probably happen is that I will get a job out of law school and be ushered into a specialty which I will either love or hate.  If I love it, I'll stick with it; if I hate it, I'll find a different specialty.  I call this the pinball approach to life.

I think it's what most people do.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Adapt and Endure

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is the Greatest American Lawyer blog.  He recently posted about "Adaptability as a New World Trait" discussing how the "new world lawyer" will be able to adapt to any new situation seamlessly and easily.  I have two goals as a lawyer: (1) make money so I don't have to worry about bills and (2) work a 40-hour work week (or as close to that as possible).  Do I think this is possible?  Yes.  James Gould Cozzens said that the first test of intelligence is figuring out the easiest way to make a lot of money (paraphrased of course).  Anyway, I plan on figuring out how to make bookoos (should be spelled "beaucoups") of money with very little effort.  One characteristic of effort is that things we enjoy are easier than things we do not enjoy.  Unenjoyable things require much more effort than things we enjoy.  Thus, very tentatively, my plan is this: (1) do some criminal work using my laptop and visiting my cliens at jail or at public meeting places; (2) do some family law work meeting my clients at my office; (3) do some wills/probate work meeting clients at their homes or other public meeting places; and (4) do insurance defense at my office.  I hope not to be tied down to my office but to have all the mobility the future promises.  (I also hope that Sprint's crazy mobility stuff will work out so that you can get internet freakin' anywhere.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Premature FOSSils

So as part of my lawyer-in-training mentality, I am looking at a lot of ways to make my future office more technologically efficient.  One thing I'm serious about is the "paperless office."  I haven't fully decided how that will work or even if it will work, but I'm definitely looking into it.  Another technology thing I've been paying a lot of attention to is the free/open source software (FOSS) movement.  I recently downloaded Firefox, and have been quite satisfied with it.  If you've never tried it, go out and download it, you won't be disappointed.  It definitely makes the experience of the Internet easier and more satisfying.  Unfortunately, I haven't had as much luck with some of the other FOSS applications.

Thunderbird, for example, is little more than a free version of Outlook.  I'm not well-versed enough in either program to tell you whether it's an excellent copy or not.  And I'm not technological enough to tell you whether Thunderbird is "more secure" or not.  All I can say is that they look and appear to work almost exactly the same.

In another arena of technology, my wife's computer has been having problems lately.  Her copy of XP has decided that it is not genuine.  So I've been looking around at alternatives as a way to fix it temporarily.  (I have to get a new computer for law school, anyway, so she'll get mine then.)  One of our options is Linux.  At first, I was pretty excited: a whole brand-new operating system--how exciting!  I remember the days when my public school was stuck on Macs, and I thought it would be like looking at something totally different.  (Like switching from Mac to PC back then.)  All the websites and articles bragged about the security and ease-of-use of Linux and its distributions (as they call them).  They talked about how they were so innovative and ahead of the curve.  Perhaps I am in no position to comment, but I wasn't very impressed.

I downloaded the NX client, an application that allows you to remotely access other computers, and I logged onto, a website that offers remote access to a server that uses Linux programs.  There, I looked at Linux's fabled KDE (K Desktop Environment) and their office suite,  Neither was very impressive in terms of prima facie innovativeness or creativity.  In fact, is exactly like a free version of Microsoft Office or Corel WordPerfect without the Book Antiqua font (my favorite).

My conclusion: if you are worried enough about security and hate Microsoft, then go ahead and get a Linux computer or download a free distribution (surprisingly, they're not all free).  If not, stick with what you're used to.  It really makes no difference.

But then again, I don't know enough about computers to be making this kind of judgment.

Very Interesting

    This is a very interesting idea.  Firefox has a little thing where you can blog down at the bottom of your windwo.  VERY interesting.