Monday, September 29, 2003

Everyday I Write The Book

OK, so if you decide to bide your time, save your money at your law gig before your jump off to better things, you might as well do a good job while you're there. I mean, yeah, you could probably care less for the partners you work with if you're at a typical BigLaw, but karma is a bitch. You don't want one of the associates helping you out by doing an utterly crap job for ya.

So for those wannabe legal eagles (geared toward litigation) out there, it's time for a couple of helpful hints from Marty Stark:

1. Think about your audience--the rules flow from this. Your audience is the partner who has maybe fifteen minutes in his day to digest your research. Your audience is the judge's law clerk who has to wade through twenty to fifty legal briefs a day, summarize those briefs for the judge, and make a recommendation. Your audience may actually be the judge (there are a few who do take the time to read briefs), who also has trials to manage and cases to push forward. Your audience has very limited time to read what you write. So what you write must be clear and concise.

2. Simple sentences are the best sentences. Subject-verb-object. Subject-verb-object. Wash, rinse, repeat. Maybe throw in one dependent clause in a paragraph for variety. Legal writing has two purposes: 1) education and 2) persuasion. You accomplish neither if the judge cannot understand you. I've seen plenty of lawyers fall into the trap of trying to sound legal by being long-winded and obtuse, but they lose the plot. Compare: 1) "Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, which contains a myriad of outrageous and confusing allegations that even, if true, would not constitute a basis for any cause of action, must be granted under the federal rules." 2) "Plaintiff fails to allege a single fact that would support a cause of action. Thus, the court should grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss."

3. See an adverb? Cut it out. See an adjective? Cut that out too. Purple prose? Excise that fucker like a tumor from a testicle (see, by using extreme purple prose there, I'm showing you how purple prose can, feh, you get it). A lot of folk confuse the flash and bang of word modifiers with being "persuasive." Thus, they sprinkle their writing with phrases like, "The defendant egregiously blah blah blah," or "Plaintiff's argument is clearly blah blah blah." But, see, here's the rub. At the end of the day, a case is based upon the facts. And after reading the facts, if the judge thinks that the defendant accidently said the wrong thing (as opposed to "egregiously misrepresented" himself), or does not think that plaintiff's argument is clear because it gets from point A to point B via a path as convaluted as a Southwest Airlines flight from SFO to Newark with 4 layovers, well, you've just lost credibility with the judge. The most persuasive argument is one based on the facts. Thus, you must let the facts speak for themselves. If, after you've set out the facts and the arguments in simple sentences and you're not convinced of your position, either you need more facts, you need to rethink the logic of your arguments, or you need to settle the case.

4. When doing research, remember, secondary sources are just that--secondary. Go to the primary sources (case law and statutes) to be sure the secondary sources are accurate. Why? Because secondary sources can be wrong. I've had an associate hand me research for the proposition that "The law is X." All he/she looked at was the treatise. One of the cases that the treatise cited stated that "The law is not X." Cases trump treatise. Needless to say, it would have been bad had I cited that treatise in the motion I was drafting.

There's probably more, but I'm sleepy so pppphhhht.

Sixty Years and I'm Running . . .

I'm sure all the associates who read this article said, "Well d'uh. Now pass me the fucking Jack Daniels so I can wash down this speed. I need to crank on this 25 page motion for summary judgment that was dropped on my lap, oh, a couple of days ago after the partner turned flaky and is needs to be filed at the motion cutoff date, which is like, tomorrow."

For those of you who haven't decided to click on the link, the title of the article is "Associates Giving Up On Partnership." I've heard that quote comparing becoming a partner to winning " pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie" from at least 5 partners. Hmmm, you know there's a reason for that, doncha?

There was this young BigLaw equity partner that I enjoyed working with up in Silicon Valley. He had very young son and a beautiful wife but barely saw them. He always worked Sundays so that he could have Saturday free, but he was often at work Saturday as well. He came in regularly at 7am and didn't leave until 7pm each day, and I know he was working when he got home as well. He also had to attend after hours administrative meetings and shindigs for various bar associations. In one month, on top of the 200 hours billed, he had an additional 100 hours dealing with administrative crap and rainmaking. To put things in perspective, billing 200 hours is working an average of 10 hours each weekday. Now put in the 100 hours, and that's 15 hours each weekday you're devoting to the firm (and away from your family/friends/porn . . . uh, I mean, significant other). Fun, no?

Now you're probably wondering, hey, did the dude have to do that? Well, using that good ol' pie imagery, think about a pie. You're sharing that good ol' blueberry pie with, let's say eight of your buddies. Another buddy shows up. If that pie doesn't get bigger, that means you have less. You're gonna be pissed unless that buddy either has good reason for decreasing your share, or can make the pie bigger. So that 300 hours that partner is kicking in? It's his effort to 1) justify his share of the pie and 2) make the pie bigger. And there are plenty who would like his piece just waiting outside, pressing their face against the window, drooling while he eats his pie. Nah, dude didn't have to do that, and the firm didn't have to give him equity either.

Me, you can probably tell, I don't like pie that fucking much.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Seize the time cause it's now or never baby . . .

Hey Kids! You know what time it is! It's time for yet another of Marty Stark's tortured metaphors! Yay!

So this week was like trying to catch the eye of that pretty and posh blonde thang in the Mercedes CLK next to you on Melrose and Fairfax, the one who was giving you the eye back on Robertson but was now on her cel phone. So the light turns green and you move forward and she moves forward and THWACK, you get hit by some Ford Festiva who ran the red. So after you clear your head, you stagger out, and the driver from the Ford is out already. And she's a fit blonde thang, and she's smiling, and she says, "Hey, party person, what's your number?"

Monday, September 22, 2003

Everything to Everyone

Work today was weird with a capital creepy. The office was rather empty, and those attorneys that were present were focusing on getting outta the office. I'm sure there was work to be done, but given the choice between planning for your future security and dealing with matters that won't be yours in two months, which would you choose? Dealing with a contract attorney looking for some extra shoo monay was not high on their list. Plus, on a personal note (yeah, what in this blog isn't), I've come to the stark realization (no pun intended) that I've gotten myself into another Degrassi High like sitch. I mean, conceptually I knew I was getting into this sitch as soon as I asked about Non-Married Blonde Lawyer's 411. But the stupidity didn't really hit me until today. I think the weirdness brought it closer to home. It's like when you're a little kid and you stub your toe. Sure, it hurts but you don't feel it. Nope, you don't really feel it until your mom comes by, and when she asks, "Aw, has l'il Marty got a boo-boo?" Then you realize, "Why yes, I have a boo-boo." And then you fucking wail like a banshee. OK, maybe the imagery isn't appropos, but work with me here people!

Lately, I've begun imagining my stupid compulsive behavior as a spinning, wobbling rubber band. There it goes, round and round. Now, I can try stretching it to break it, but it just snaps back into shape. And I keep looking for some scissors so I can break that rubber band, watch it go flinging into space. Yes, I need the scissors of determination and focus to cut the vicious rubbery cycle of compulsive behavior. Oh god that's really bad imagery.

I guess my muse is still pissed at me.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Come from way above . . .

I had a freaky dream this morning. One of those dreams where you drift in and out of consciousness, where you sometimes see yourself in third person and there's this voice that tells you what's happening. Man, gotta stop eating those chili cheese burritos from Jose Bernstein's.

Anyway, I'm in Munich having a pretty crap time at Octoberfest. It's my last night there. I'm in the hotel suite, and one of my acquiantences starts having sex with this chick I used to have a crush on in law school. Sucks to be me in the hotel suite, so I grab some clothes and head out into the city. I'm trying to find my other two buddies, Dubois and Big Jew, but they're nowhere to be found. In my head, I hear this deep voice saying, "Pay attention, the lesson is about to begin."

So I wander for a bit and see this group of Italian women sitting at this long, wooden table. I hadn't had any beer all day despite it being Octoberfest, so I decide to sit down with them. This pretty, slender brunnette starts talking to me but I don't speak Italian. She doesn't speak English. So I start speaking in Spanish (which is weird, because I don't know Spanish), and she understands. We start laughing as we try to speak Spanish to each other as both of us speak Spanish horrendously. The voice in my head says, "See, this is where your friends got it wrong. They missed the second option."

I don't remember the beer coming, but I knew I had to leave. I was suddenly in a foul mood. I was thinking, "So what, she's being friendly to you. Big fucking deal. Doesn't mean she's interested. What are you, some pathetic fucking puppy that thinks anytime a pretty little thing is nice to you, she's interested. Get real."

I stood up, and the Italian girl stood up with me, grabbed my hand and smiled. OK, so she was interested. We walked around Munich for a while hand and hand and feeling giddy. I saw Dubois and the Big Jew. They looked pissed and miserable. I tried introducing Italian girl to them, but they ignored her which pissed me off. So me and Italian girl left them there to wander the city before I had to leave. The voice in my head said, "Italian girl shot them down before." After some wandering, I woke up. But despite being fully awake (or so I thought), I heard the voice one more time.

The voice said, "The lesson is timing is everything."

Whatever Happened To My Rock N' Roll?

Um, so I shouldn't mention my 500+ cd collection on the first date?

Friday, September 19, 2003

Heart + Soul

Yo Spuds. OK, I know I've been rather short on the whole writing thing, and though I have no excuse, I'll point my boney finger of responsibility denial at work. ContractGigByTheOcean isn't the dysfunctional pit of crapola that was Phuqued Firm, but legal research is dull dull dull no matter how much frosty topping you put on it.

Anyway, last night, I was taking a look through my bookshelf in my addled "Had two beers finally winding down but crap I have to sleep but I don't wanna 'cuz I've just now chilled" stage, and rediscovered one of my fave cool cat obscure writers, Jeff Noon. OK, he's obscure in the states but well known in the UK.

To geek out for a bit, his first novel Vurt came out in 1994 when cyberpunk was still dominant. A lot of reviewers compared him to William Gibson, but those reviewers are fucking lazy. See, despite all the ooh let's try to be cool vibe cyberpunk tried to put out, at the end of the day, the stories were about a bunch of skinny, geeky drongos who spent most of their hours on/in computers cuz they didn't have real lives so they plugged themselves away. Put all the neon/urban decay description you want, the main character in Neuromancer doesn't do a whole helluva lot except lie on a couch with electrodes. If Neuromancer was the tubby guy who thought he was cool because he knew every B-Side The Pixies ever released and didn't understand why the Chick at the Record Store wouldn't give him the time of day, Vurt was the punkish guy in a local band who didn't give a shit who the hell the Pixies were but could play a mean fucking axe. And, oh yeah, he was going out with the Chick at the Record Store.

Anyway, I had so much fun with Marty Stark as Dave Eggers a while back, I decided to do a Marty Stark as Jeff Noon (yeah, it's short, really short, but hey, I haven't written in a while so suck on it). So, here we go my kitlings:

'Sometimes Sunny Days Don't Chase the Clouds Away'

Fog clung to the Santa Monica beach like bad memories. These past few days hadn't been West Coast power pop, sun on your face, wind in your hair. No, these were jungle dub days full of low bass lines and no escape.

I crashed out onto Wilshire all tweeked from hours of shovelling cups of java and Diet Coke. I wanted out of the office with a mad quickness. I wanted a warm body and a cold drink. I knew I wouldn't get any the first but plenty of the second.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Can't Even Focus on a Coffee Cup . . .

Too fatigued to write full thoughts. Fragments of last couple of days.

1. Going to go on sabbatical till birthday. No. Really.

2. Coffee coffee coffee coke coke coke wired crash tired nap awake late sleep coffee not good pattern.

3. Karma says Italian engagement. Just know it in my bones.

4. Blogging while tired stoopid. All can really say is meh, pphhhhhtt, mrrrrrrrr, gug.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Keeeeeeeeeeeping Me Down . . .

Sheesh, what is it about the third e-mails on I guess I should stop mentioning those steamer trunks buried in Jersey. Kidding! They're buried in the Sierras.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Time Goes Slow and Time Goes Fast

I can't believe it was almost a year ago that I fell for Certain Someone, and nearly half of year since the, well, whatever it was with Bee's Knees crashed and burned. This past week, I've been thinking about those situations, and what I've been thinking is this--"MAN AM I GLAD I'M NOT DATING EITHER OF THEM."

Obviously, it helps that my life is actually going rather well now. So ContractGig by the Ocean is folding up by the end of the year, but two partners striking it out on their own have offered me another ContractGig when CGBTO gets swallowed up by BigLaw. The hours would be about 25 hours a week, which is perfect for me to continue writing. Ballet Chick turned out to be another non-responder, but the same night I gave up on her yet another chick (Movie Chick) wrote back. Man, that line I've been using has been 3 for 3 so far with first e-mail response. And fuggit, I'll mention the potential interesting situation with Non-Married Blonde Lawyer, though that I'll put less credence in (informal gal pal poll on the Non-Married Blonde Lawyer sitch--2 Gal Pals: She shows interest; 1 Gal Pal: Concurring though with a be zen admonishment; 1 Gal Pal: Dissent - Don't mean nothing as Richard Marx would say--feel free to send your opinions).

So anyway, I guess the ABC Afterschool/Lifetime Channel/Hallmark Special moral I should get from this is time heals all wounds (either that, or I get fucking insane once in while--Jeebus, how can I fall for a chick who doesn't like to dance?)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Six Barrel Shotgun

OK, so yesterday, I found out from Married Blonde Lawyer that Non-Married Blonde Lawyer is seeing someone. But in the past two days, Non-Married Lawyer and I had two conversations each about thirty minutes long. Not once has she mentioned her boyfriend directly to me (while the lawyer I briefly had a crush on in law school mentioned her boyfriend within the first ten minutes of our conversation). The few times there have been gaps in our conversation, she kept looking and smiling at me. Plus, today, Non-Married Blonde Lawyer said, "When I get back, we should have lunch." (She's going to Italy next week.) In my oh-so-limited experience, women in serious relationships mention the boyfriend within the first conversation. Two of my gal pals backed that up--one telling me that she will work in a way to mention her husband if she's talking to a man she doesn't know.

Yeah, I know, it's probably nothing, but give a guy his illusions. Anyway, knowing my luck, her boyfriend will propose to her at the Trevi Fountain while in Italy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I'm Going Back To The Start

Most people I know never listen to lyrics. Sometimes, this leads to fun results--like an innocent conservative Italian-American Catholic school girl cheerleader singing The Violent Femmes "Blister in the Sun" in an office full of horndog twenty-something Jersey City traders (man that chick didn't appreciate it when I asked her to listen to the lyrics she was singing). Me, my ear is usually tuned to lyrics as well as the melody, and not just because of the whole wanting to avoid singing about masturbation at work. Poetry is poetry, whether it's on paper or set to two guitars, a bass and drums.

But like everyone else, sometimes I don't listen to lyrics--there are other tracks on the album that catch my attention or the melody is forgetable or the song is so popular with the K-ROQ crowd I assume the lyrics are crap. And sometimes, that bites me in the ass.

I've had Coldplay's "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face" in my head for the last few days. There's a menace that the insistent drum beat holds, the way Chris Martin sings "When you work it out I'm worse than you" that makes you feel dark, the descending chord of the electric guitar that drives you down--it seems to fit with my mood in the last week.

When I was listening to Coldplay on the drive back home (non-married doesn't necessarily mean single), I decided not to hit repeat on track 3 like I had the last two times the song ended. I finally saw the video for "The Scientist" this weekend. Despite the brilliant unspooling backwards video, the song itself never stuck in my head. The melody was too turgid, too syrupy--rearrange of couple of notes and you have the theme to Guiding Light. Then the words came.

"Come up to meet ya, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need ya
And tell you I set you apart."

Suddenly I felt a bit ol' lump in my throat. I listened the whole way through and boy is it a
heartbreaker of a song. A man pouring his soul, knowing that it won't change the fact it's over. And the song wasn't so turgid, so syrupy anymore. I think I'll weep softly now (stupid dayquil).

Monday, September 08, 2003

. . . So Much Love That It Blows My Brain Out

Things I've Learned from
1. Apparently I'm hot stuff to women in China, South Korea, and Malaysia--well, either that or I have a big sign that flashes "Green Card" on my forehead;
2. I'm also hot stuff to hot women who "are just trying" and who I can contact using their real e-mail at;
3. Grammar doesn't appear to be a high priority to chicks who write to me;
4. Nor does physical appearance (ooooh, karma is gonna get me for that one).

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I Can't Do It On My Own . . .

Non-Married Blonde Lawyer looks like the taller sister of the blonde doctor on Scrubs. She lingered around when I was talking to UCLA Contract Lawyer about my second novel. She had a smile that was all teeth when she said to me the other morning. Buuuuuuuuut on the other hand, no pupil dilation when we talk plus I think she said she had a boyfriend (I was talking with UCLA Contract Lawyer so I only heard Non-Married Blonde Lawyer with half an ear). Oh, and she works in the same office. Geez, do I never learn?

Soul Sauce (Fila Brazilla Remix)

Internal Monologue shortly before and after news of potential merger:

OK Marty, don't be the cheesy guy who asks about the office chicas a week into the gig. Don't be the cheesy guy who asks about the office chicas into the gig. Don't be the cheesy guy who asks about the office chicas a week into the gig. What, the office may merge/close?

"Hey, so what's the story of Non-Married Blonde Lawyer?"

That's it. I'm outta here. You're on your own Marty. And you wonder why Ballet Chick never wrote back.

I've Never Been Back to Georgia

That clop you hear? That's the sound of the other shoe dropping on the hardwood floor. ContractGig By The Ocean is supposedly in talks to merge with a BigLaw. If the merger happens, no more ContractGig By The Ocean for me. No worries though since shoo monnay, no matter how temporary, is still shoo monnay. Also, merger talks take a long while as firms do that nervous tango, checking each other out to make sure one won't trip up and land flat on its ass on the dance floor. Who this really sucks for are the two new junior associates who just did a stint at BigLaw. Sucks to be them if the merger goes through.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Climbing Up The Walls (Zero 7 Mix)

OK, a week into the new gig and no one has thrown anything at me. So that should be a plus. I talked with the chick who was a year behind me in law school and who started at the same firm right outta law school (different office though). She mentioned that almost everyone she knew from law school is doing this contract thing instead of going down the partnership track. It's nice to know that a lot of folk are in legal purgatory with me. She also mentioned her boyfriend--women like her are born with boyfriends so it wasn't a surprise. And also, office flings, gotta stay away from them. C'mon, that whole sitch at Phuqued Firm (OK, to narrow it down, that whole Certain Someone Sitch) was bad spelled with a capital FUCKED UP.

As for Anthropology Chick, well, I was off since Ballet Chick responded last Wednesday. When I logged on today and looked at Anthropology Chick's picture, I didn't feel any attraction. I hope things turn out differently with Ballet Chick. She actually took the time to respond to me and let me know she was going to be out of town for a week and to try to reconnect when she got back (according to, she got back today). On Thursday, I wrote my second e-mail to her wishing her a good trip/hoping she had a good trip (depending on whether she read it before or after she got back), blah blah blah, so I'm in yet another limbo. I know I shouldn't write to her and the ball is in her court, so I'm doing my best to just chill. Ah what the hell, I know I'll be writing, it's just a question of when. Singledom sucks ass.