Legal Quandary

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Before it's too late -

Merry Christmas to everyone...

With special thoughts and prayers to my deployed friends, neighbors, and co-workers spending the holidays away from their families and friends. May 2007 bring you home safe.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Most Important Thing I've Learned This Week

Be very careful which (if any) clients you give your direct office number to.

Especially if they give any indication that they're likely to be the clingy type who will call you (You'll know.) I'm not saying don't be responsive. Just that some people don't understand that you need a little bit of time to do research, draft documents, and talk to other people in order to help them.

If your office has a centralized number - use it. This prevents your phone ringing off the hook when you're with your other clients.

Friday, December 22, 2006


It's hard to believe that a mere 6 months ago I was celebrating graduation from law school and stressing out about taking the bar exam. It truly seems so long ago.

I've been working for exactly 3 weeks now and I'm surprised not only by the sheer volume of work I've been doing, but also by the diversity of it.

So far this month I've...

- Worked 2 landlord/tenant issues.
- Had a client cry because I didn't give her the answer she wanted.
- Fielded questions on divorce, annulment, and child custody.
- Worked on 2 legal reviews for ethics issues.
- Worked on 1 legal review for a military personnel issue.
- Been assigned my first additional duty.
- Observed an Article 32 investigation. (Think of a preliminary hearing/grand jury.)
- Drafted about 15 wills. Executed 2 wills. And served as a witness for approximately 2 dozen more. This taught me that my name is too darned long to write that many times.
- Gotten into a tussle with a Squadron Commander and his deputy.

I'm still loving my job. I learn new things every single day. But I have to be honest. I'm glad it's a long weekend.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Lawyers Taking Themselves Too Seriously? Never!

I went to a staff meeting today where my boss expressed his intense dislike for lawyer jokes. I've heard this view before, most recently at graduation, when our entire graduating class was yelled at for the shame we would bring to the profession at some future date.

On the flip side, one of the Staff Judge Advocates* I knew long ago, would either lead or close with a lawyer joke when it was his turn to talk at Wing Staff Meeting.

To be fair to my boss, he was addressing a recent and very serious ethics issue. One which has the potential to make us the target of lots of jokes of the "lawyers are all liars and cheats" variety.

But I'm curious what other attorneys, law students, and non-lawyers think about the subject. Personally, I think tasteful humor is a good way to humanize lawyers a bit - to show we can laugh at ourselves. Especially in a military environment where the only thing people seem to associate with lawyers is prosecution. Your thoughts?

*The SJA is the senior attorney in the organization. The other military lawyers in the office are Assistant Staff Judge Advocates. I think it's analogous to many Prosecutor's offices.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

Q: What's blue, white, and silver and goes "Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! ONE! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! TWO!"?

A: Why, it's a gym full of people doing 4 count jumping jacks (or flutter kicks or sit ups) while wearing the new Air Force PT uniform, of course!

Don't get me wrong. I actually like the idea of a PT uniform. I saw the Army's version a couple of years ago and thought it looked sharp, so I was excited to hear that the AF was introducing its own version. When I saw it, it also looked sharp. And then I felt it. And heard it.

Instead of comfy and breathable fabrics that you might actually want to work out in, someone decided that 100% nylon was the way to go. Which probably means it'll keep the wind out, but it's also incredibly stiff and LOUD. I work out in the gym, so wind is not a big factor for me. Also, it appears that someone failed "Fabrics 101" by deciding to make the t-shirt out of 100% polyester - a fabric which does not breath - a fact I can personally attest to, having worked out in it.

Captain Quandary gives the new PT uniform an A for effort, but a C- for execution.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Littlest JAG

I felt like today was my first "real" day of work. Although some of it was taken up figuring out which office I wanted, meeting with my boss, and trying to get my email account set up, I also got to sit in with one of the other attorneys for Legal Assistance - where we take clients either on a walk-in or by-appointment basis.

By far, the most common reason people come in is to have a will drafted. Military folks more or less have it beat into their heads that YOU NEED A WILL. Especially when deploying. This base has people come in for 2 separate appointments - some bases do it all in one appointment. Here, the first appointment is to go over a standard worksheet to identify issues to allow the attorney to draft the will. The second appointment is to execute the will. I have one will to draft tomorrow as a result of the intake appointments I sat in on today. (They gave me the easy one.) I'll also get to do an execution early next week.

Other things we might handle include document review, landlord/tenant disputes, and divorce. Although Air Force JAGs can't actually represent the military member (I think the Army does,) we can advise them about things like what state to file in, potential financial pitfalls, and Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) issues.

Legal Assistance might sound a bit mundane and I know a lot of JAGs kind of hate it. Maybe I'll get there one day too, but for right now, it's kind of cool knowing that someone walked into my office and I made their life just a little bit better - even if it was just to act as a sounding board.


Monday, December 04, 2006

CINC* Social

I received my first assignment today.

Am I researching a novel problem? Learning how to write a will or power of attorney? Interviewing witnesses for an upcoming case?


I got tagged with setting up the office Christmas party.

Seeing as how it's the 4th of December and nothing has been done on this so far, I'm hoping that expectations will be realistically low.

I just knew that being a Protocol officer was going to pay off one of these days!

* That's Commander IN Chief for you non-military types.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Eternal Damnation Assured?

EC's Chorus teacher said she was a soprano.

Will the fact that I curse this person at least once daily seal the deal on my eternal damnation?


Maybe Law School Is Finally Out of My System

I was chatting with a friend a couple of nights ago. During the course of conversation, he mentioned that one of the girls from TVPNU failed the CA bar - did I know her?

Yes, sadly, I knew "Doreen" pretty well. She had been in my 1L small section and seemed to go out of her way to make my life miserable. A snide comment here, a blatent exclusion from a conversation there, insinuations that I wasn't smart enough for law school thrown in for good measure - that kind of thing. Early on, Doreen and I were talking and she told me "well, YOU were military, so you probably think "X" about this issue." I remember that really rankled me, because although I did indeed think "X" about that particular matter (I forget what it was,) it isn't as if they issue all military members a handbook of opinions to espouse. There are lots of pretty key issues some of my other military friends and I disagree rather sharply on. Bottom line was Doreen wasn't very nice to me and she was one of 2 people I spent the rest of my time at TVPNU avoiding.

And yet, my initial reaction was not my standard "It couldn't have happened to a nicer person," but to think how disappointed Doreen and her family must be.

Mr. Q was somewhat less generous, just saying "What comes around goes around."

For any 1L's out there, my message is this: There are some people in law school who will go out of their way to be nasty to you and to make you feel "less than." I'm certain that Doreen did much better in her 1L classes than I did. But in the end, it didn't make her any better prepared to be a lawyer than it did me. As you're approaching this first batch of finals, don't let the bastards get you down.


Friday, December 01, 2006

First Day

The cookies were a big hit.

I met pretty much everyone in the office and although a couple of people seem a little quirky (they're lawyers - at least a couple of them have got to be downright weird), most still seem very nice.

Aside from that, this was the second strangest first day of work I've ever had.

I can't really go into details, but let's just say that it was not as strange as my first "first day of work in the Air Force," when I showed up in full dress blues and then somehow ended up attending a pig roast for lunch. I speak from experience when I say there's nothing quite like trying to eat a plate of greasy pork without getting spots all over yourself.

So it wasn't like that at all, but it still wasn't your typical first day. Not bad way - just not what I expected.