Quote of the Day - I'm the podcast guy; do you believe that?
Shameless Self-promotion: Vote For Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast
Just in case you haven't voted yet (yes, it's way past November), here's your chance. The American Bar Association Blawg 100 nominated Bob Ambrogi and my podcast, LawyerLawyer for the top podcast for 2008.
So hustle on over to the ABA Blawg 100 vote-for-your-favorite-podcast site, and click on Lawyer2Lawyer as your favorite podcast. It's the most fun you can have with a vest on.
Thanks for checking the box!
Put That Cell Phone Down And Drive
No Texting, Either
It'll cost you (at current prices) just over 10 gallons of gas ($20.00) if you get caught driving California roads violating this law: "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication."
Just in case you're trying to parse the definitions, write, send, or read a text-based communication "means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail."
Now don't go into a panic here. There's an exception to almost every rule: you can still "read, select, or enter a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call."
But don't get caught twice - the fine goes up to $50.00 for a second offense. Neither the first, second or following offenses, however, will result in adding a point to your driver's record. Since July, California drivers (except emergency personnel) have been prohibited from holding a cell phone and talking while driving, and this ban on texting amends that law. This amendment extends the same ban on texting while driving.
If you haven't gotten enough finger-wagging from the California State Legislature, then you can always listen to the Mom Song.
Congrats To The Top 40 Mediators
You can wander on over to Alex Polsky's webpage. Plus, he's available worldwide.
Merry ChristmasMIPTC wishes its faithful readers a very Merry Christmas. I hope your holidays are joyful and peaceful.
Not A Creature Is Stirring, Not Even The BloggerIt's Christmas Eve, and Santa is about to take off. You can check out his travels on the Norad Tracks Santa site, no matter what your language.
My Favorite Christmas Card
This time of year, my mailbox fills up with family Christmas and Hanukkah letters. I also get the politically correct "Seasons Greetings," which I have to admit I send out on occasion, even though I more enjoy receiving Christmas cards, since that's the holiday I celebrate. There are the ones with the beautiful pictures of snow scenes, small towns and the ubiquitous Kinkade drawings. But one type of card holds a special place for me.
As I reach the point where I've celebrated more Christmases than I would like to remember, I relish the cards I get from old friends, even if it is once a year. My father, a Congregational minister, used to rail privately at those members of his parish who came only at Christmas, but I used to think - and still do - that some is better than none.
When I was a small kid, I had the fortunate happenstance to be on Cape Cod in the summer of my twelfth year, building sand castles on the beach with my brothers and wearing my Boy Scout hooded sweatshirt.
Yes, sand castles and the summer beach is a long way from Christmas, but stick with me here.
Raycroft Beach in Dennis adjoins Massachusetts State Senator Bowers' summer cottage, a fact I was soon to learn in my twelfth year. Early in the morning Senator Bowers came over to the public beach, and asked me and my brothers if we were willing to cut the grass at his cottage for a small sum of money, which was more than acceptable to us given that we only had our $.25 allowance money in our pockets.
We went over to his cottage and got not only the keys to the garden shed with instructions to cut the grass, weed the lawn and flower beds and generally act as gardeners for the remaining weeks of the summer, but we also got a bit more. We got the key to his cottage (on the beach), along with his invitation to use it during the week while he and his family were in Boston, since they generally only came down on the weekends. Plus, we got a substantial advance for our yet-to-be-done work.
We proudly marched back several blocks to our inland cottage (actually, it belonged to my Dad's church secretary) to show our parents and tell them they could come down and use the "private home and the private beach."
If I remember correctly, my mother grabbed my ear and marched me and my brothers right back down to the Senator. She just couldn't believe he would trust us with an advance, keys to his cottage and such an open invitation. Senator Bowers assured her that all was in order, and responded to her "but, but" questions with a calm observation: he knew we were trustworthy since we were all Boy Scouts, as we readily confirmed when he first met us.
So assured, we were able to spend the rest of our vacation acting as gardeners and acting as specially invited guests of an obviously wealthy and prominent senator, who also turned out to be a lawyer. We became fast friends, especially with his near college-aged son, Larry, and got to ride to the Nantucket Yacht Club and Monomoy Island in his wooden Chris-craft boat.
It was a summer to remember.
Senator Bowers has since passed away but his son, Larry Bowers, and I still stay in touch some 40 years later. When I published How to Get Sued, I sent a copy to him since he - not surprisingly - became a lawyer in Boston, too. He's also one of the staunchest church leaders in the Old South Congregational Church.
It was his card that made my Christmas, but perhaps more so the handwritten greeting inside: "Hail to the legal writer, whom I knew back when he weeded lawns." He is a true friend.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Mourns the Billable Hour
For almost 50 years, the billable hour has been the dominant feature of the legal profession. Coined by some as the "cockroach of the legal world," many argue that quality of time not quantity put into a client is how it should be.
Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi, as we welcome Attorney Stewart Weltman from the Weltman Law Firm, to discuss the status of the billable hour. We will talk about the supposed death of the billable hour, reaction from the legal community toward the billable hour and look ahead to see if the billable hour will rise or fall in 2009.
Click on the icon below and give a listen.
Does Mothers Day Tote Bag Giveaway Violate The Civil Rights Act?
The California Angels of Los Angeles And Anheim (or whatever their name is) Go To Court
Yes, I know it's been on the top of your mind, so let's get right to it.
Michael Cohn and a couple of his buddies went to a Mother's Day game on May 4, 2006, when the Angels played Detriot. Corinthian College sponsored a giveway tote bag in honor of Mother's Day. Due to the crowds at the gates, the Angels decided to give the bag away to any female over 18. They did not give the bag away to men, but did give it out to season ticket holders and the news media (male and female).
Mike and his buds asked twice for the tote bags and were refused. They left the game apparently suffering from emotional distress. Truthfully, they just left the game. I made up that last part about the emotional distress. Still, they were dissatisified enough to engage counsel, who promptly wrote a letter to complain.
In response, the Angels sent Mike, his buds and Mike's attorney four tote bags. Still not satisified, Mike sued.
Now you may be wondering how you could sue over a tote bag, so here's the long and short of it. Mike and his buds claimed discrimination based on sex and age under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. Here's the text of the act: "'All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever."
Cohn relied on two cases where gender based price differentials violated the Unruh Act -- free admissions for "ladies' night" violates Unruh Act and where a car wash discount for women violates Unruh Act. The Court wasn't buying Mike's complaint, however. Justice Kathleen O'Leary wrote, "For the Angels game, women were charged the same amount for entry as men were on the date in question. The tote bag simply represented a gift and did not discount the admission price."
"This important piece of legislation provides a safeguard against the many real harms that so often accompany discrimination," Judge O'Leary continued. "For this reason, it is imperative we not denigrate its power and efficacy by applying it to manufactured injuries such as those alleged by the plaintiff in this case."
"We see no reason to inhibit the Angels', or any other business's, ability to bestow gifts upon its customers. Individuals are free to give to whomever they like. Gift giving is not the same as usurping rights. We therefore find the Angels' tote bag giveaway did not violate the Unruh Act."
Mike then pointed out that the following year, the Angel's Mother's Day giveaway went to both men and women. Because the Angels changed their policy, Mike claimed he was the prevailing party and entitled to recover his attorneys fees and costs. Again, the Court didn't buy it. "We do not find the Angels' change in policy was for any reason other than avoiding another costly and irksome lawsuit and, therefore, find an attorney fees award improper," Justice O'Leary said, denying the claim.
In addition to their win over Mike and his buds, the Angels won over Detroit, 7-2. Well, the Angels really only won against Detroit. Mike sued Corinthian College, the tote-bag giveaway sponsor.
Mother's Day is safe in the world again. Well, at least in California.