Wednesday, November 27, 2002

National Criminal Record Databases

Two of the nation’s leading experts on FCRA - Carl Ernst and Les Rosen –
have written an excellent article titled “National” Criminal History
Database; Issues and Opportunities in Pre-Employment Screening.

While there is no “national database” of criminal records, three firms are
assembling criminal records nationally into a proprietary database. These
companies are:
www.rapsheets.com

www.LexisNexis.com (Formerly ChoicePoint)

www.nationalbackgrounddata.com

The article explores the use of these databases for pre-employment screening
purposes, and their compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The article may be viewed or downloaded at www.brbpub.com (Look for the
title of the article in the middle of the main page, under the word
Features.)

Monday, November 25, 2002

LETTERS TO THE RODENT
Readers Reveal Innermost Thoughts About Law Firm Life

I didn’t feel like writing my column this week, so I decided to let others do it for me. The Rodent gets letters, lots of letters, from readers. Some write for advice, some need to vent and some don’t like me very much. Highlights from a few of these letters from over the years are excerpted below. The names (and numbers) have been changed to protect the lawyers (and prisoners):

I thought that hospitals and doctors’ offices were breeding grounds for lust, greed, melodrama and Greek tragedy, but they are nothing compared to what I have experienced at my law firm in just one year!
Jacqueline, M.D., Dallas

At the firm’s Christmas party, which "Daddy Joe" (the senior partner at the Devil’s Island of law firms) threw annually for the clients, we associates were directed not to touch the hors d’oeuvres. Instead, we were fed some sort of "mystery meat" that even my Marine Corps-hardened stomach couldn’t handle.
Simon, Ventura, Calif.

Your advice on billing was particularly well-taken. I do have difficulty finding stuff to bill to clients, and have become quite creative. For example, just this weekend, I went to the petting zoo and fed the sheep. This resulted in .3 of an hour billable time for preparation and a whopping 1.7 for shepherdizing! Every time I push "start" on the coffee machine, I bill .5 to preparation.
Joseph, Atlanta

During my third year of law school, I worked part-time at a Detroit law firm. I decided not to stay since I felt uncomfortable with the way clients were treated. I chose to leave quietly. A week after I left, a client firebombed the office, killing the intern who replaced me. After graduation from law school, I took employment with an Upper Michigan law firm. I noticed immediately my salary alone each month exceeded all gross accounts receivable. Disgusted, I returned to my hometown and entered into private practice with my father. I forced my mother to be legal secretary for both of us (thereby saving me money) until she became hospitalized. When my father and senior partner went to Chicago to be by her side, I took over the firm, occupied his office and advised him that he had now retired.
William, Flint, Mich.

Rodent, the strategies and techniques you have written about in your column have allowed me to increase my billables while reducing my waistline.
Samuel, Los Angeles

I just read your article about law firm fashion. The whole firm loved it–except for a few of the partners who just didn’t get it.
Roberta, Chicago

Let’s assume I’m now at the firm interviewing for an entry-level paralegal position in the area of civil litigation. Assuming that I’ve passed with flying colors through the interview, and the question of whether I’ve ever been convicted of a felony is not asked, either verbally or on an application–where am I now? Well, Rodent, are you picking up what I’m laying down? Being the hipster that you are, I’m sure you’ve either heard tell of what law firms think of ex-felons, and are in the know or have advice on the question raised herein. I’m also sure that you can appreciate what I’ll be facing upon parole in December.
#3428B, Leavenworth, Kan.

Rodent, around your teachings I have structured my personal life and professional ambitions. This publication should pay you much more than whatever it is currently paying you.
Many Readers, Worldwide

Keep those letters coming! You can write to the Rodent at therodent@aol.com.
Trading Tips:

Peak Performance Trading Tips from Dr. Van K. Tharp.

This section features Peak Performance Trading Tips. These won't be tips on some hot new investment. Instead, they'll be tips on how you get yourself in the best possible condition mentally to perform at a peak level. You may have heard some of them in one form or another before, but you can never apply them enough. As a result, these tips should become second nature to you.

Tip# 40
The Art of Journaling, Part One

by Brian June and Van K. Tharp

At the end of the trading day, your first impulse is probably to shut down all your equipment and get far away from trading. Trading is a strenuous activity, much like taking an exam. If you can remember the feeling of a very strenuous all-day test, like taking the SAT college entrance exams, the trading process is the same - it drains you. The reason it drains you is because you are using large amounts of your brain processing capacity while you trade.

Even though you may feel drained at the end of the day, you need to either discipline yourself to continue on with a daily debriefing process or to discipline yourself to come back and do it at a set time that evening. The daily debriefing is a critical part of your trading success. This process will have a critical impact on your bottom line-a positive one if you do it and a negative one if you skip it.

There are several steps to this debriefing process, including:
1) reviewing your trades;
2) determining whether or not you made mistakes during the day;
3) learning from your mistakes when you do make them;
4) doing periodic reviews; and
5) refining the process of trading.

Review Your Trades: Live and Learn
When you use today's direct access trading software, you will have a record of every trade you make during the day. We strongly suggest that you take that raw data and put it into a database of some sort that will make it useful for you in the future, so that you can understand your trading patterns. The simplest suggestion would be to use an Excel spreadsheet. That spreadsheet is divided into nine columns, with each row being an individual trade.

The most critical elements to include in your spreadsheet (as column headings) are the following:

1) Date and time
2) Symbol for what you traded
3) Your entry price
4) Your initial risk (i.e., your stop price)
5) How many shares you traded
6) Your total risk exposure in that trade (which we call R)
7) Your total gain or loss
8) Your R-multiple
9) Your commission amount. [This technique is described in detail in the Market Mastery, February 2000 issue.]

Your Level II software will write the price for the entry and exit and the number of shares traded to your hard drive, but you will have to copy this information to your spreadsheet and fill in the blank columns. In addition, we also suggest that you make notes at the end on why you entered and exited that particular trade (if you can remember) and any emotional reactions you had to the trade. Since important psychological information is both subjective and qualitative, the sooner you do it after you finish trading, the more likely you are to remember what happened.

Environmental Influences: When you're doing your journal, capture as much information as possible. Did environmental influences have any impact? Note the lighting, outside distractions such as children or spouses talking to you, distractions such as telephone ringing, anything having to do with the environment external to yourself. What will happen over time is if you pay attention to these things, you'll learn to set your environment up in a way to reduce or eliminate their impact on your trading. Minimize your negative environmental factors and enhance the positive ones.

Personal Thoughts: Your thoughts have a great effect on your trading. So keep a journal of your thoughts when you are not under intense pressure from trading with a time stamp for each thought. Notice how you are thinking during the day and how those thoughts are impacting your trading. For instance, when you lose money on a trade, what do you say to yourself? If you're using words like stupid, ignorant, loser, or using phrases like "I can never do anything right" or "I always do everything wrong", you're using very disempowering language. You're teaching your brain to actually attract the negative as opposed to attracting the positive.

To see if that's true, try the following experiment. Right now, do not think about the color blue. Concentrate on not thinking about the color blue as long as you can. Are you ready? Try it right now. Do not concentrate on the color blue. What happens? What happens is, the only thing you can think about is the color blue. We have talked before about the influence of positive self-talk, so here, when we're talking about our personal thoughts, we're really talking about the thoughts and the words that we're using to say to ourselves.

If you catch yourself using negative self-talk, concentrate on positive issues. Reward yourself verbally and mentally when you keep your trading rules, meaning you made a good trade. Do not punish yourself when you do not keep your trading rules. Instead, use something more empowering. For instance, if you break one of your trading rules by failing to stop out when your rules dictate, don't say to yourself, "Dummy, you didn't stop out!" It's better to use language such as this: "I recognize that I broke my trading rule. I assume personal responsibility for that. Next time, in order to enhance my self-worth, I will adhere to my trading rule." These seemingly small things make a big difference. And you are not likely to recognize these changes unless you've taken the time to make a journal. Because once you've taken hundreds or thousands of trades, you simply won't remember anymore. That's when you can get yourself into trouble as a trader.

Market Influences: As much as you can during your journaling, notice the market influences for each trade. I go back to my five indices that I keep all the time, the Tick, the TRIN, the S&P futures (first forward contract), the Nasdaq composite and the Dow Jones. I write the trades down, then I write down in the condition of these key indices, so that I would know whether the market was positive, negative, up-trend, down-trend, or consolidating. You will also want to include in this spreadsheet the impact of news, positive or negative, and any sector news. For example, if you're trading biotech stocks, it's important to know how the other biotechs are trading at the time. If you're trading Internet stocks, then note what the Internet Index is doing.

Equipment and Support: You should note these types of problems in your journal. For example, note when your data feed, software, or your ISP go down and how you dealt with it. What happens when you have computer problems? If they are impacting your day, then make a note of that in your journal. As an extra benefit, with your connectivity and computing history captured in your journal, you'll be able to troubleshoot problems much more effectively.

In Part Two of this tip we will continue with the key to debriefing, the importance of following your trading rules, and the four categories of mistakes.

Editor's note: This article is excerpted from "Financial Freedom Through Electronic Day Trading" by Van Tharp and Brian June.
The Only Way To Survive Market Chaos, By Steve Sjuggerud

"People are in a hole and they just keep digging," my dad said on the phone this morning. Leave it to my dad to sum up the message of last week's Investment U E-Letter (#156: Getting Back What's Gone) in one sentence.

I remember when I was last in a real hole. If I'd kept "digging" I would have died. It was my only near-death experience...

I was pinned to the bottom of the ocean under a large sail. I was only in about two feet of water, but waves were breaking over the top of this windsurfing sail, pinning me flat. Even worse, I was connected to the sail by the hook of a seat harness, and in a twist of bad luck, this harness was caught. I couldn't get myself unhooked from the sail to try to swim out from under it.

I started panicking. I was out of breath and out of options. I remembered that someone had drowned in this exact spot, in the exact same way, a few months earlier. Now I'd probably been under the sail for over a minute. As I was scrambling and it was looking pretty bad, something came over me. All of a sudden I told myself to relax...and THINK! There has to be a way out of this...

And there was... Believe it or not, I stopped what I was doing. I (reasonably) calmly assessed the situation. The hook was stuck. I couldn't get it undone. But I COULD undo the ENTIRE seat harness, taking it off my body. It was a few buckles and straps, so it would take a little while, but it was a sure thing. And it worked.

I crawled up the beach and sat. It took a long time to catch my breath. Then I went home and slept. For hours. But at least I'm here to tell about it. And it's all because while I was in a serious hole, I made a lifesaving decision - to stop digging. To stop scrambling. To stop panicking and calmly assess the situation. It was the only way out.

STEP BACK AND ASSESS THE SITUATION

Most investors are in a hole right now. And most will choose to keep digging, which will quite likely ruin them. But the few that can step back - and assess the situation as calmly as possible - will be just fine.

Assessing the current situation in the stock market calmly, we find three things...

1) Stocks are still somewhat expensive by historical standards.
2) Stocks have fallen 40% -- the biggest fall since 1929.
3) Investors are spooked.

From these three things, we can draw a few simple conclusions. Let's take them one-by-one:

1) Since stocks are still expensive, chances are, we won't see extraordinary returns from stocks over the next decade. That doesn't mean returns will be bad, it just means they probably won't be fabulous. How about a little lower than the long-run average return of stocks? That would mean returns in the high single digits.

2) The 40% fall in share prices IS significant. In today's "Wall Street Journal," Jeremy Siegel reminds us of the following:

"There have been six major stock market peaks in the past 100 years. After the market dropped by 40%, subsequent five-year returns have averaged 8.6% per year ABOVE INFLATION and none has been negative. And all subsequent 15-, 20-, and 30-year returns have not only been positive, but have also been above the 7% long-run average real return on stocks."

Now that's the best reason for cheer I've heard in some time. If the "real" return is 8%, and inflation is 2%, then 10% average annual returns in stocks from this point forward are not out of the question at all.

But while what Siegel says may be reason for cheer...I'm still not buying. Assessing the situation calmly, I see that the stock market had become more expensive than it's ever been this time around, by a long shot. Sure...a 40% fall is important. And Siegel's facts are noted. But there are only six historical examples of this. No first-year student of statistics would deem Siegel's research as usable. It's interesting. Something to talk about. But not something to hang your hat on.

3) Now...as for the third point I mentioned earlier - the fact that investors are spooked - that is reason to cheer also, actually.

"THE MARKET IS MOST DANGEROUS WHEN IT LOOKS BEST; IT IS MOST INVITING WHEN IT LOOKS WORST." - Frank J. Williams, a great stock trader of 100 years ago, quoted from Siegel's article today.

There was no fear in the market in March of 2000, when the NASDAQ was at 5,000. Now the market looks terrible, everyone is scared, and the NASDAQ is at 1,200.

Funny how it looks risk free at 5,000, and risky at 1,200.

WHAT WE "KNOW" RIGHT NOW

There is a gauge of fear in the market. It's called the Volatility Index, or the VIX, for short. And when it peaks, stocks rally (often 20% in three months). Believe it or not, the VIX hit levels not seen since September 11th this week. And sure enough, we had a huge rally on Thursday. It could be the start of good things to come, in the short run at least.

So based on these three "knowns," we know this:

-The market is expensive and may not produce extraordinary returns over the long run.
-The market has fallen 40% and the little historical evidence suggests that you might do okay from here on out.
-The high level of fear right now out there may allow the market a quick 20% upward burst in the short term.

Well now...this is a little frustrating. These three indicators are indicating somewhat different things. Weak long run, decent long run, and strong short run. All maybes, mind you. So how should you approach this?

THE APPROACH I'M RECOMMENDING

The approach I'm recommending to readers of my newsletter - "Steve Sjuggerud's True Wealth" - right now is as follows: subtract your age from 100. Then cut that number in half. That's how much you should have in stocks right now.

So if you're 60-years-old, you should have 20% in stocks right now. That's 100 - 60 = 40. Cut 40 in half and you get 20. There you go.

When conditions become more favorable (say, when stocks are cheaper, or the indexes start to turn around), you'll want to return to my basic 100 minus your age rule. When we get back to that point, 60-year-olds could have up to 40% in stocks. But we're definitely not there yet. Stay with me here in these Investment U E-Letters, and I'll let you know when that day comes.

Until then, keep your head screwed on straight. Make sure you cut your losses as always. Adjust your allocations to 100 minus your age divided by two.

And stay cool... You can't control the stock market, so don't lose any more sleep about it. You can't lose sleep over things that are out of your control.

Rise above the chaos. Stick with your plan. Cut your losses so you're never in the position to have a catastrophic loss. And have your first good night's sleep in a while.


Good investing,

Steve

Steve Sjuggerud, has a doctorate in finance and has been regarded as one of the best researchers on the stock market around. He is the editor of "Steve Sjuggerud's True Wealth" and has been a member of the OC Investment Advisory Panel for more than five years and is the co-founder and President of Investment U. Before 1996 he'd been an analyst, a broker, and vice president of a global closed-end fund, in charge of trading. In 2001 Steve ran his own hedge fund.

He will be a featured speaker at IITM's Basic Stock course, December 7-8.

Article reprinted with permission from Investment U. To learn more about them visit their website http://www.investmentuonline.com/ #157 The Only Way to Survive Market Chaos, The Investment U E-Letter from July 25, 2002
What Is a Shifted Librarian? What Is a Shifted Librarian?
So I call myself "The Shifted Librarian," but what does that mean? I took the name from a presentation that I do called "Information Shifting" about how the change from pursuing information to receiving information is and will be affecting libraries.
You can see the presentation at http://www.sls.lib.il.us/infotech/presentations/shifting/index.htm, but please note that it's a bit disorganized and it desperately needs to be updated. Rest assured it's on the to-do list. In fact, I'll be posting to this blog many of the ideas and trends I will be adding to the presentation.
So back to the definition of information shifting. It comes from a New York Times article that discussed the history of consumer fair use and the entertainment industry's efforts to regulate use of VCRs and MP3 players. It referred to the 1984 Supreme Court decision in favor of VCRs in which the judges declared that these devices were okay because consumers were using them to "time shift." In other words, to record shows to watch them at their convenience.
The Rumble in the Jungle:
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Miss World contestants in bright summer dresses and tank tops left Nigeria for London on Sunday after four days of sectarian violence left more than 100 people dead and forced the pageant to move.

Organizers decided to move the contest from Nigeria to London ``for the sake of the nation,'' pageant publicist Stella Din said. ``Even though we believe this violence is not connected to us ... we didn't want any more bloodshed.''
FACT-CHECKING MICHAEL MOORE: Forbes says that "Bowling for Columbine" comes up short in the accuracy department. Excerpt:

TITLE: Moore titled the movie Bowling for Columbine because, he suggests, the two kids who shot up Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., went to a 6 a.m. bowling class on the day of the attack.
ACTUALLY: Cool story, but police say it's not true. They say the shooters skipped their bowling class that day.

MISSILES: Moore wonders whether kids at Columbine might be driven to violence because of the "weapons of mass destruction" made in Lockheed Martin's assembly plant in Littleton. Moore shows giant rockets being assembled.
ACTUALLY: Lockheed Martin's plant in Littleton doesn't make weapons. It makes space launch vehicles for TV satellites.

WELFARE: Moore places blame for a shooting by a child in Michigan on the work-to-welfare program that prevented the boy's mother from spending time with him.
ACTUALLY: Moore doesn't mention that mom had sent the boy to live in a house where her brother and a friend kept drugs and guns.

BANK: Moore says North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Mich., offered a deal where, "if you opened an account, the bank would give you a gun." He walks into a branch and walks out with a gun.
ACTUALLY: Moore didn't just walk in off the street and get a gun. The transaction was staged for cameras. You have to buy a long-term CD, then go to a gun shop to pick up the weapon after a background check.

Hmm. If a big corporation were this dishonest, Moore would be making fun of it.

UPDATE: SpinSanity has a post in response, concluding:

When the most popular documentary of the year is riddled with blatant lies and distortions, it's a cause for concern. When the film is part of a pattern by one of the nation’s most prominent political celebrities, it's disturbing. And when the media gives Michael Moore free reign to spread his lies and distortions with very little critical analysis, it's a sad comment on our democracy.

Or at least on our media. However, another reader -- who because he works at Lockheed-Martin will remain anonymous -- points out that the plant Moore refers to did formerly do missile work. That's true, though the Titans that Moore showed -- unless he was using ancient archival footage -- were commercial vehicles used to loft peaceful payloads, not "weapons of mass destruction." (Though I believe that military spy satellites are among them).
LawMeme
Meme- a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

LawMeme - a unit of legal information, such as a law or regulation, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

Dear Tech Support:

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a
slowdown in the performance of the flower and jewelry applications
that had operated flawlessly under the Boyfriend 5.0 system. In
addition, Husband 1.0 un-installed many other valuable programs, such
as Romance 9.9,
but installed undesirable programs such as NFL 7.4, NBA 3.2 and NHL
4.1. Conversation 8.0 also no longer runs and Housecleaning 2.6 simply
crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these
problems,
but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed, Desperate



Dear Desperate,


First, keep in mind that Boyfriend 5.0 was an entertainment package,
while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Try to enter the command
:/ITHOUGHTYOULOVEDME and install Tears 6.2. Husband 1.0 should then
automatically run the applications Guilt 3.3 and Flowers 7.5. But
remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to such background
applications as Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0, or Beer 6.1.
Please remember that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create
SnoringLoudly.WAV files. DO NOT install Mother-In-Law 1.0 or reinstall
another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and
will crash Husband 1.0. They could also potentially cause Husband 1.0
to default to the program Girlfriend 9.2, which runs in the background
and has been known to introduce potentially serious viruses into the
Operating System.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited
memory and can't learn new applications quickly. You might consider
buying additional software to enhance his system performance. I
personally recommend Hot Food 3.0 and Single Malt Scotch 4.5.

Good Luck.

Tech Support

Friday, November 22, 2002

Playwright Jim Sherman wrote this today after Hu Jintao was named chief of
the Communist Party in China.


HU'S ON FIRST
by James Sherman

(We take you now to the Oval Office.)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That's what I want to know.

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The Chinaman!

Condi: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya' asking me for?

Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That's the man's name.

George: That's who's name?

Condi: Yes.

George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of
China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle
East.

Condi: That's correct.

George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir is in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China.
Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the
phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don't want Kofi.

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And
then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China.

George: Will you stay out of China?!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

Condi picks up the phone.)

Condi: Rice, here.

George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should
send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get Chinese
food in the Middle East?

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Let's go for stupid
A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?"
The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead."

Caught for speeding
The cop got out of his car and the kid, that was stopped for speeding, rolled down his
window. "I've been waiting for you all day," the cop said.
The kid replied, "Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could."
When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket.

Stuck under a bridgeA truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads "low bridge ahead." Before he knows it the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The
cop gets out of his car and walks around to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?"
The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."

Drunk?
The drunken wino was stumbling down the street with one foot on the curb and one foot in the gutter. A cop pulled up and
said, "I've got to take you in, sir. You're obviously drunk".
The wasted wino asked, "Officer, are ya absolutely sure I'm drunk?"
"Yeah, buddy, I'm sure," said the copper. "Let's go."
Obviously relieved, the wino said "That's a relief - I thought I was a cripple."

Dealing with trouble
A deputy police officer responded to a report of a barroom disturbance. The "disturbance" turned out to be well over six feet tall and weighed almost 300 pounds. What's more, he boasted that he could whip the deputy and Muhammad Ali too.
Said the policeman, "I'll bet that you're also an escape artist-probably better than Houdini."
The giant nodded.
"If I had some chains," the deputy continued, "you could show us how strong you really are. But all I've got is a set of handcuffs. Why don't you see just how quickly you can break out of them?"
Once in the cuffs, the man puffed, pulled and jerked for four minutes. "I can't get out of these," the giant growled.
"Are you sure?" the deputy asked. The fellow tried again. "Nope," he replied. "I can't do it."
"In that case," said the deputy, "you're under arrest."

Too Late
The man was in no shape to drive, so he wisely left his car parked and walked home. As he was walking unsteadily along, he was stopped by a policeman.
"What are you doing out here at 2 A.M.?" asked the officer.
"I'm going to a lecture." The man said.
"And who is going to give a lecture at this hour?" the cop asked.
"My wife," said the man

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Subject: SOME LAWYERS REALLY CARE
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 13:55:12 -0500

One afternoon, a wealthy lawyer was riding in the back of his limousine when he saw two pathetic men eating grass by the road side. He ordered
his driver to stop and he got out to investigate,and asked, "Why are you eating grass?"

"We don't have money for food," the first man replied.

"Well, you can come with me to my house," insisted the lawyer. "But sir, I've got a wife and three kids here." "Bring them along!" replied the
lawyer. "But how about my friend?" The lawyer turned to the other man and said, "you come with us too." "But sir, said the friend, "I've got a
wife and six kids!" "Bring them as well!" answered the lawyer as he headed for the limo.

They all climbed into the car,and once underway, one of the poor fellows says: "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you."

The lawyer replied, "Glad to do it, you'll love my place, the grass is almost a foot tall."

Saturday, November 16, 2002


Kiki of Montparnasse Selected Images
Immigration policy stupid, evil and hurting Americans
By Peter Brimelow

IN AMERICA, WE have a two-party system," a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.

"There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party."

He added: "Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called -- bipartisanship." . . .

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Bloated Billables
"One of the reasons attorneys turned to hourly billing is that they found they were making less money than doctors," said William G. Ross, a law professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

But the hours in question were few by contemporary standards. In 1965, the American Bar Association found that hours billed by American lawyers ranged between 1,200 and 1,600 annually, practically a part-time schedule today.

Larger firms now generally expect at least 2,000 to 2,200 billable hours from their associates, and billing 2,500 to 3,000 hours is not unusual. Earlier this month, associates at the New York office of Clifford Chance, the British law firm that is the world's largest, sent the partners an anguished memorandum. Its primary complaint was that the firm required 2,420 billable hours annually to qualify for a bonus. The requirement is, their memorandum said, "profoundly unrealistic," "dehumanizing" and "verging on an abdication of our professional responsibilities." It encourages, they said, "padding of hours, inefficient work, repetition of tasks and other problems."
. . .
As a result, said Deborah L. Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University, lawyers billing 2,000 must work 60 hours a week. "No one working these kinds of sweatshop hours can give good legal service," she said.
. . .
Associate salaries, which start at around $125,000 for new associates at big firms in New York and easily top $200,000 for more senior associates, create few options for firms. Partners at such firms, whose hourly rates have been approaching $700, often make more than $1 million.

"The salary wars have only made things worse," said Susan Saab Fortney, a law professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. "Where is the money going to come from? It's going to come from the sweat of associates."

Lawyers may look for opportunities to make the simple complicated. "Why not leave no stone unturned if you are charging by the stone?" Professor Rhode asked.


In 1999, Professor Fortney of Texas Tech surveyed 1,000 associates in Texas law firms. Almost half agreed that billing pressure "causes ethical and competent attorneys to leave private law practice." Another third abstained from answering the question. "We're driving the wrong people out of private practice," Professor Fortney said. "We're driving out the ethical lawyers."
Top Spam Scams
Balancing Life and Practice

lexisONEsm

The Federal Trade Commission lists the top 12 scams most likely to arrive in your inbox via spam:

1. Business opportunities that turn out to be illegal pyramid schemes.

2. Offering bulk email lists, which turn out to violate the terms of service of most Internet service providers.

3. Chain letters via email are just as bogus as those on paper.

4. Work-at-home schemes that require investment.

5. Health and diet scams whose gimmicks don't work.

6. Effortless income - yeah, wouldn't we all?

7. Free goods for a fee for joining a club - actually a pyramid-scheme variant.

8. Investment opportunities with a high rate of return and no risk. Buy Enron stock instead.

9. Cable descrambler kits that don't work.

10. Guaranteed loans that turn out to be just lists of lenders.

11. Credit repair companies that can't deliver or urge you to commit fraud.

12. Vacation prize promotions that turn out to be captive-audience sales pitches.

The FTC's job is to protect consumers, so if you're being nailed by a particularly egregious spammer or scammer, tell them about it on their Web site.




Monday, November 11, 2002

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING
How to Master the Art of Mastering Everything (and Nothing)

BY THE RODENT

Contrary to popular opinion, lawyers are not know-it-alls. We just pretend to be. A very big part of lawyering is responding to questions to which you don’t know the answers, much like you did in law school when a professor called on you with a question about materials you hadn’t read and a case you hadn’t briefed. But when you are out there practicing, you can’t get away with a simple "pass" or "unprepared."

No matter how qualified and diligent you are, there are simply too many topics that can come up, too many areas of law and too many cases and statutes. You can never know it all. Fortunately, however, there are ways to get by and deal with gaps in your legal knowledge and capabilities. A few examples that I learned from some of the best in the business–my colleagues at The Firm–are discussed below.

Scenario No. 1. You meet with a client or a potential client who asks, "Do you know anything about [fill in the blank with anything from dog bites to international taxation]?" The well-trained attorney responds, almost automatically, with, "Of course. That happens to be my area of specialization. Please sign this retainer agreement."

Scenario No. 2. A senior lawyer calls you into his or her office and starts talking about legal concepts you never even knew existed. Although you feel as if you are listening to a foreign language radio broadcast of a curling match, you nonetheless sit there acting like you understand every word, nodding your head in seeming comprehension. Most important, you refrain from asking any questions because you don’t want to be thought ignorant–not just yet. (That will become obvious after you hand over your work product.)

You hold fast to your policy of not asking any questions even when the partner asks, "Do you have any questions?" Of course, the one question you really want to ask is, "Huh?" Instead, you’re hoping there’s something about the subject in the Hornbook.

My advice on how to handle this situation? I don’t know, because it still happens to me from time to time.

Scenario No. 3. You are at a cocktail party or other social gathering that includes nonlawyers. People who have never practiced law assume that if you spent three years in law school and passed the bar examination, you know everything. Even if you have spent the past 10 years doing nothing but immigration law, for example, you are still expected to know the answer to a bankruptcy question. Or, as is more commonly the problem, you will be asked a question about something very basic, such as, "Is it legal to drive a car without wearing any shoes?" Some of the best responses to such questions:

• "That’s a gray area of the law."
• "There’s a split of authority on that issue."
• "I’ll have to run that past our tax department."
• "That all depends on several variables and the nuances of the law. Come by my office tomorrow, and I’ll explain it to you after you sign a retainer agreement."

Finally, I should mention that there are situations when an "I don’t know" response is not only appropriate but also useful. These include occasions when a client complains, your malpractice carrier makes an inquiry or the bar ethics committee comes knocking. In any such situation, just say, "I don’t know."

©2002 ABA Journal

Friday, November 08, 2002

Welcome to
Dumb Warnings!
Welcome to Dumb Warnings, where you may see the consequences of numerous pointless lawsuits. This site is dedicated to helping companies fight this menace which is plaguing society today. In addition to Dumb Warnings, this site will also feature Dumb Instructions, Rules, and other information frequently placed on packages.

We need Dumb Warnings, and we need

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Winona Scissorhands’ Odd Juror

. . .
Mr. Guber’s presence on the Ryder jury stunned the town last Friday when both Ms. Rundle and Mr. Geragos approved him during jury selection. "Can you fucking believe it?" was the response of one usually dignified studio chief. "I just about passed out. I thought, ‘Are they nuts? Why didn’t the prosecutor disallow him? What kind of a schmuck would put Peter Guber on a jury?’"

Mr. Geragos must have been agog to have Mr. Guber sit in judgment of his client. Nothing like it has come up in Hollywood history. Plenty of stars have sat in courtrooms—Robert Mitchum, Robert Downey Jr., Charlie Sheen. But Mitchum wasn’t being judged by Howard Hughes or Harry Cohn.

Mr. Guber played to type: On Friday, he caused a ripple of laughter when he motioned to a courtroom sheriff to bring him a bottle of water. On Tuesday, he brought his own water, apparently having learned that the alternative was waiting in line at the fountain in the hallway with his fellow citizens.

"What helps the defense is that Guber is probably more familiar than your average person with the fact that celebrities don’t have to shop the way normal people do," says Laurie Levenson, Loyola Law School professor and veteran commentator on high-profile L.A. trials.
. . .

Monday, November 04, 2002

The Lost Chapter of Genesis

Adam was hanging around the garden of Eden feeling very lonely. So God
asked him, "What's wrong with you?" Adam said he didn't have anyone to talk to.

God said that He was going to make Adam a companion and that it would be a woman.

He said, "this pretty lady will gather food for you, she will cook for you, and when you discover clothing, she will wash it for you.

She will always agree with every decision you make and she will not nag you and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement. She will praise you!

She will bear your children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them.

She will never have a headache and will freely give you love and passion whenever you need it."

Adam asked God, "What will a woman like this cost?" God replied, "An arm and a leg."

Then Adam asked, "What can I get for a rib?"


Of course the rest is history....