February 24, 2011
Posted by Bruce under Ramblings
| Tags: Client Expectations
| Comments Off
Language is the source of misunderstandings. – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
My accountant was quite pleased - I know this because he was smiling. I was pleased because my year-end balances were significantly better that last years – I knew this because of the numbers at the bottom of the page were (a) different and, more importantly (b) this year’s was bigger than last year’s. There was only one problem, my accountant had just concluded 5 minutes of conversation with a question and I had no idea what on earth he had said. My accountant took a few more stabs at getting the answer from me, but unfortunately, my accountant-english to lawyer-english translator was simply not up to the task and I was forced to ask him to explain what he was asking about in simple terms – like he would explain things to his 5 year old.
I walked away from my brief encounter with a new appreciation for the Cants one encounters and the difficulties two people can have when communicating in what is supposed to be simple English.
As a lawyer I’ve invested a significant amount of resources into learning to think and speak like an attorney – I’ve learn the Cant of my profession and find a certain joy in the way the latin phrases and polysyllabic nonsense words come tripping to the tongue – and have spent many hours boring my parrot in the hopes of getting her to repeat res ipsa loquitur, aequitas sequitur legem, or perhaps Pro hac vice, but I digress. The thing is, Cant is a double edged sword – between lawyers it is a powerful tool allowing for a form of precise communication and a clarity of meaning – between lawyers and non-lawyers it can lead to blank stares.
So, I walked away from my meeting with my accountant with two things, good news about my practice and a reminder to leave Cant out of my conversations.
February 16, 2011
I had, the other day, the need for a haircut – an event that is becoming less and less an occasion with each passing year – an stopped by the local barbershop for a trim. Now, for the male population of a small town, the local barbershop is, for all intents and purposes, the equivalent of a day spa; a place to be pampered (or at least the grizzled male version of pampering) and to discuss the important issues of the day – the fate and future of the local sports team, the weather, crops, the market (farm, not stock), and the general competence (or lack there of) of various and sundry notables.
Now, while waiting for the number 2 chair – general barbershop etiquette, one would never presume to occupy the number 1 chair for just a “sides & back” trim – I had the chance to observe that solemn male ritual of the barbershop shave. Now this is no scrape the foam off with a multi-bladed techno-marvel kind of shave, this is soap and lather, hot towels, cold steel and steady ands kind of shave; there is the scent of danger here, an element of suspense when, at that first critical moment when 4 inches of keen edged surgical steel starts its initial glide down the cheek, conversation quiets in tribute to and recognition of that briefest moment of panic that lights the customer’s eye before fading into contentment as the steel safely starts its downward journey.
That moment of panic, however fleeting, found a echo in my memories – there reflected in those few milliseconds, was the essence of my state of mind during the initial days of my practice. From what had seemed like a good idea moments before the key was put into the lock and the rubicon was crossed now had morphed into doubt cascading over dread, roiling over uncertainty – exhilaration, calamity, wonderment and elation all warring for recognition, for resolution – leaving an intense rawness behind that has faded into the contentment of a journey safe begun.
February 9, 2011
When it comes to commercial airline travel, I’d just as soon fly myself, but a business trip with strict time requirements in the middle of winter is not conducive to travel by light aircraft – so I find myself at an airport waiting to be crammed into a large aluminum tube that will, hopefully, transport me across the country with all the comfort of your average city bus. What makes this trip unique is that this is the first trip where I’m leaving my practice behind.
This trip was scheduled several months ago, so preparations have been fairly relaxed and the advanced notice made it possible to schedule around the few week days I will be away. My answering service has been briefed on how to manage client calls, there are no deadlines to be concerned with and I have every confidence that things will go smoothly. The problem is, I’m leaving my practice behind – this is not a day trip up to the city for a CLE or a few days off to catch up on farm chores; this is being a 1000 miles away with no easy way back – totally reliant on that thin digital umbilical cord of cell phone and internet to sustain operations.
Sure, I have a back-up attorney in case the unexpected would happen and I have every confidence that should an emergency arise he would be able to handle it; but we’re in new parent territory here – this is the first trip away from baby. I know the sitter is fully qualified, that all the emergency contact information is pinned to the refrigerator and that all will be well. Unfortunately, knowing and feeling are two different things and right now, the later is running roughshod over the former.
I had thought that it would be the stress of missing work, of losing revenue that would be the hardest part of traveling – after all being way over there means that I’m missing potential income right here. But no, I’m sitting here stressing over simple separation anxiety.
February 2, 2011
In her January 25 post, my friend and fellow blawger Susan Cartier Liebel asks “what obligation does the ABA owe to law students?” Susan’s post and the November 2009 report, The Value Proposition of Attending Law School by the ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crises on the Profession and Legal Needs she mentions should be on every prospective law student’s must read list.
While I agree that the report should have wide distribution among prospective law students, I respectfully disagree with two of the post’s underlying assumptions: (a) that the ABA owes an obligation to prospective law students and (b) that the sole reason d’être for not quickly disseminating the report is simple greed. (more…)