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Choosing the Right Path

While attending college, I knew that I wanted to go to law school. I expected to be a corporate lawyer. I’m not even sure why except that it seemed to be what I wanted as a career path. Then, I was in a car accident on my way to a final exam during college.

I had been rearended by a corporate truck. The experience changed my “want”. I no longer wanted to be a corporate lawyer. Instead, I wanted to represent the injured and learn personal injury law.
In law school, there are certain courses that are mandatory. Tort Law was a mandatory two semesters. It introduced me to a wide spectrum of personal injury cases. Then, I interned for two law firms during school and learned more personal injury law.
I have always been thankful for that experience in college, that changed my career choice of the kind of law that I wanted to practice. Based on that, I recently laughed when I read a satirical view of representing insurance companies by a writer who has since passed away. In my opinion, his tongue in cheek view of such legal representation pretty much sums it up:
It is an honorable calling that you have chosen. Some of you will soon be defending poor, helpless insurance companies who are constantly being sued by greedy, vicious widows and orphans trying to collect on their policies. Others will work tirelessly to protect frightened, beleaguered oil companies from being attacked by depraved consumer groups. [Buchwald Commencement address, Tulane University School of Law}

And for our pic o’ day on this Monday:

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Best Of Bieber- Back to School Edition

The following blog is one from “Best of Bieber”. That means that Joel took a short blogging break and the JB Social Media team picked out the following blog. Plus… there is a new pic o’ day, but no one is taking responsibility for that. Hope you will read for the first time… or read again.

Illegal Sunscreen in School

Violet and Zoe Michener came home from a field day at school with such severe sunburn, that their mother rushed them to the hospital. (NY Daily News).  The reason that teachers at the Tacoma, Washington school did not apply sunscreen? Because school policy forbids teachers from applying it to their students.

It’s one of those stories that usually gets somehow blamed on lawyers. Kinda like  peanuts at the steak house. People blamed lawyers when the peanuts disappeared, because of the lawsuits from slipping on the shells. Now, the peanuts are back because someone decided it would be a good idea to use buckets for the shells, instead of just having them thrown on the floor. Someone owns a thinking cap.

The sunburned sisters on the field trip, were in the sun for 5 hours without sunscreen. They even watched a teacher apply sunscreen “that was only for her”.  That morning, their mother didn’t apply sunscreen before they left, because it was raining.

School policy did not allow teachers to apply sunscreen for the students,  because it is classified as a medication. To use a medication, you have to have a prescription. It’s for liability reasons, they say. Now you can see the “shells on the floor” thinking.

The spokesman for the school system said that “because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause an allergic reaction in some children, we have to really monitor that”. So, instead of doing anything, the teachers watched as the girls just got burned. They even remarked at how red they were.

The ending to the story gets a little better because the state now allows school districts to implement their own policy regarding medication classification. In basketball, you can’t teach height. In life, I guess you can’t teach common sense.

Now for Pic O’ Day, “life is about communication”.

Sunday Court

     “You are going to handle our Night Court”, the  Senior partner told me. Since I was barely above a “para-lawyer” status at the firm, I knew what was coming next. “It will be good experience for you”.

     I was in my third year of law school. I had been sworn in to the practice of law by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, with certain restrictions. I could represent firm clients, as long as they signed a statement  that confirmed that they knew that I was still in law school.  By law, there were some matters that I could not handle on my own.

     This limited license to practice law,  reminded me of a driving “learners permit”. I don’t remember all the specific requirements but I do remember that I could not represent a client before a jury, without an Oklahoma licensed lawyer with me.

     I did have the opportunity to participate in some jury trials. That meant that I was doing the heavy lifting of the trial. No, that doesn’t mean that I was doing the hard stuff and the planning; Literally, I was doing the heavy lifting like dragging exhibits and evidence boxes to court.

     I did get to participate in some jury trials. One of the partners “took me under his wing” and would try to take me with him on several cases, and discuss his strategy on the way. True mentoring.

     Some of my “limited practice” came in the form of administrative hearings, or  job injury hearings in front of a Commissioner of the Worker’s Compensation Commission; Most of my “practice” was representing clients on matters like traffic tickets.

     Oklahoma had a Night Court that started at 5P. It was considered pretty progressive at the time. People didn’t have to miss work for their traffic ticket hearings. That  also scheduled well with my law school classes.

     Plus, I think that my employer enjoyed that they could pay me $9 an hour and charge $250 for a traffic ticket. I seem to remember that we started to  handle more traffic tickets during my employment there, and I use the term “we” pretty generously.

     That memory came to mind, when I saw that the Florida Judge had decided to keep the Casey Anthony criminal trial moving, by having Court on Sunday. I think that they are having Court in that case, almost everyday. 

     I don’t know any details on why the Judge held Court on Sunday. Maybe it was related to schedules of the jurors or the Court. It does effect a Court docket when a Judge and Courtroom are involved in such a long trial.

     I wonder whether other states have Court on Sunday. Years ago, I suspect that such scheduling would never have been considered. Now, I guess, Sunday Court is just considered to be progressive.  At the risk of sounding a bit old fashioned, is that really an advancement for our legal system?

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