Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Sorry, there will be no erudite words of wisdom this week and possibly next. Its time for the first crop of hay and the rural lawyer will be off in search of 5 days of sunshine and light breezes hoping to turn 30 acres of grass into next winter’s feed.
So, depending on the weather, for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be driving machinery around in every decreasing circles at breakneck speeds that will, on occasion, approach 10.5 mph or tending to client needs and will be relying on a few canned posts to fill the gap.
Don't Laugh, Lawyers Still Use These
At a resent CLE, a newly fledged solo (she being in the process of outfitting her office) seeing that I was taking notes on a Mac, asked me about the software and hardware I used in my practice and what I thought were “must-haves”. So, here is my short list of “indispensables”
- My Snapscan 1500. Every original document that comes into the office relating to a client matter gets scanned and the original is sent to the client. This way, the client can track the progress of their matter and I don’t have to invest in file cabinets.
- Crashplan. You’ve got to have backup software and Crashplan allows me to back up to locally attached media as well as to a private cloud. I get the advantage of having local media for quick restores and the redundancy of off-site storage. The fact that I can use my own private cloud means that I keep my data under my control
- Daylite & Billings. Daylite is a business productivity manager – that happens to work well as law practice management software and Billings tracks time & expenses and generates invoices. The programs share data with each other and the real strength of these programs lies not in the vast array of things you can do with them, but in the fact that you can be productive with them right out of the box.
- My Mac’s (a desktop & a laptop). Sure, you have to buy into Apple’s walled garden approach to hardware and software, but that’s not an entirely bad thing – I’m looking for stability and consistency in my business hardware and I really don’t care if I can tweak a few more cycles out of the CPU or if I can install the latest beta version of a piece of software. I do care that I spend little to no time on IT issues – initial setup, from unpacking the boxes to having the system up and running with all software installed, took less than 90 minutes and I’ve not spent more than 30 minutes in any one month since on computer issues. These little buggers work.
- A typewriter. Now this one is a little practice area specific, but if you have any dealings with residential real estate in MN, then sooner or later you are going to run into a need to complete a certificate of real estate value (CRV). This is a 3 part form that has no electronic equivalent – it has to be physically filed and must be either hand- or type-written. Since my handwriting is so abysmal, were I to complete a CRV by hand it would look more like a prescription than a legal document – so a typewriter is de rigueur.
Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say that there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe. Frank Zappa
This post is off-schedule in part to that particular brand of “what were you thinking when…” stupidity that keeps lawyers employed and in part to the sheer genius of the purveyors of commercial advertising space that leaves in its wake a feeling of absolute wonderment that any organization could survive the disconnect between the people selling the service and the people serving existing accounts.
Now, I am not a marketing wunderkind – frankly my entire theory of marketing is that one should address potential clients as if they have a functioning brain and tell them “what’s in it for them” in as few words as possible. Hopefully this can be accomplished before their eyes glaze over or they run screaming from the room – my marketing theory has yet to incorporate bondage, but I do hear that it is popular in some circles. However, the idea that one’s customers might possibly be thinking creatures seems to be out of favor this week in some sales circles. (more…)
The Rural Lawyer's Ride Share
With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy…
- If you think a fortiori is the name of an Italian sports car, you might be a rural lawyer
- If you think in camera means you haven’t developed the film yet, you might be a rural lawyer
I’m sure the list can go on without degenerating to the rude, the scatological, or playing off an unflattering caricature of the rural southern poor, but my recall of cute legal latin maxims is fading from disuse – there are few instances where one can work something like ignorantia legis neminem excusat into a normal every day conversation. (more…)
A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King.-Emily Dickinson
It’s May 1st, it’s cold, windy, and snowy. It’s spring on the great northern prairie and it’s Law Day. Law Day – one of the many obscure holidays that litter the calendar and are observed only by a very limited community – is that time of year when this nation stops and reflects on our society’s “respect for the law that is so vital to the democratic way of life” (36 U.S.C. § 113); in other words, a good excuse for a bar association luncheon – an event slightly less exciting than leaping over the Beltane fires and a bit more capitalistic than a International Worker’s Day parade recognizing the struggles of workers who were killed or oppressed in their fight for better wages and working conditions.
For the local rural high schools, Law Day is a time when teachers reach out to local lawyers to help with civics classes – however passe civics may be in the large sprawling metropolitan school districts, rural schools still take civics seriously and around here, it is still a graduation requirement. So, thanks in part to the local bar’s civil education committee’s match making, I spent last Thursday talking to high school juniors & seniors about the rights of the accused and due process – the hardest part is not compressing all that I remember about due process into 30 minutes, the hardest part is the question and answer session afterwards – the students are much more interested in how the law applies to them rather than the abstract concepts of procedural and substantive due process. So, I found myself straying from my prepared materials into subjects ranging from entrapment, probable cause, search and seizure, and whether or not its fun to be a lawyer. Tough going for this civil lawyer, but at least I walked away with a great educational experience – learned quite a lot from those kids, I hope they learned a little something too.
So, here’s wishing you a happy May Day, International Workers Day, Labour Day, Loyalty Day, Beltane, Roodmas, Obby-Oss Festival, Walpurgisnacht, Första maj, Lei Day, and Law Day (that’s one handful of celebrations for one 24 hour period).