“The No-Bill Profession” – Legal Aid and Pro Bono

You know what’s nice? Knowing that the practice of law is a profession that places as its benchmark the pursuit of justice and higher school of thought.  We all go into law school thinking that we’re going to change the world through our practice of the law, and some dolent professor with an Ivy League pedigree extols the virtues of the “Noble Savage” that the lawyer is supposed to be.  We are told, in every class, that the law exists to bring justice and that the role of an attorney is a counselor and advocate for the cause of the downtrodden client.  We are, in the words of the administrators and professors, the gatekeepers of justice, the first line of defense against tyranny, and the vindicators of the downtrodden.

And, of course, we then step out into the real world of practice and become made aware of the fact that all that esoteric bullshit and idealism doesn’t make the student loan payment of the rent.  Nobody’s ringing up their landlord and saying “Hey, I stopped a family of five from being evicted today!  They paid me in a big bag of pork rinds!  Will you accept pork rinds in lieu of rent now?”  If your landlord or utility company would ever stop laughing, what they’d choke out is “No, dipshit.”  Idealism doesn’t pay any of the bills.  “Good feels” doesn’t put food on the table.  Advocacy won’t buy avocado toast.

For that, you need money.  And to make money, you have to let go of the concept that you are anything more than a cutthroat mercenary of the legal world.  Because motherfuckers may need justice, but motherfuckers gotta pay to get it.  And yes, there are lawyers out there who provide representation to those people that need it without regard to their ability to pay, and they do some great goddamn work in doing so.  But, and here’s the thing:

They may not be there for much longer, and society has no viable safety net ready and raring to go for those folks.

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No Justice: The Status of Transgender Anti-Discrimination In The United States

We’re gonna do Fetish Friday tomorrow this week, on Saturday. The reason’s real simple: I found a topic I wanted to write about that concerns some stuff that doesn’t fit the “Fetish” theme (Note: I also heard you guys on the polygamy thing, and the second part of that will not be on a Fetish Friday either. I’ll post that separately). It’s somewhat timely given a bit of shit that blew up in the Twitter-sphere, and the lovely post that came in on Wednesday from Ms. Tanner, who wrote about the harm that jokes can do to members of marginalized groups.

Today I’m going to talk about some basic legal matters and legislation that affect the transgender community. I think pretty much all transgender folks are aware of this stuff, and it’s really, really basic, but other people (including myself) don’t seem to be aware of the level of discrimination a transgender person can face, and how throughout the vast majority of this country it’s completely legal for a transgender person to be denied service, housing, or employment simply for being themselves. So, today, I’m gonna take a minute and piggy-back on Ms. Tanner’s explanation of why a joke isn’t a joke to explain why people have a right to be upset when they feel they’re being lessened to a cheap punchline. It’s because, quite frankly, we already treat them as less deserving than everyone else under law.

A couple quick caveats:

No jokes (well, maybe a couple jokes, just not at the expense of anyone), just some talk.

I’ll be frank: I have transgender friends, and I was tangentially aware of most of this before looking into things for this post, but I don’t think the unfairness of this ever hit me fully until I started on the drafts of this. I’m learning, please be a bit patient with me.

Finally, today is an introduction to these issues and a bomber’s-sight overview. It isn’t comprehensive and certainly does not address all of the issues. I’ll continue educating myself on some of these topics and digging into other matters, such as identification, estate/death matters, marriage, etc. I simply am not able to cover all of this in a single post. You should take this as a warning as to how much there is to talk about in regards to the current state of law as it relates to transgender persons: there are a lot of issues.

So, let’s get to it.

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South Dakota Prisoners: “Siri, What’s the Appellate Standard of Review for…”

Jesus I’m barely standing up today. This week has been hell on wheels for me as I start moving a few cases closer to the mythical beast that is a civil trial, intake a few new clients, and wade through literal mountains of case citations to figure out just where we stand on a few things. Kids, if you ever say you want to be a lawyer because of some desire to be the center of attention in a courtroom or some perverse, almost obsessive, love of Sam Watterson (Oh Sammy, you can move to dismiss my affections, but you can’t object in my dreams), remember that those moments are few and far between for the civil attorney. The vast majority of cases settle long before trial, and they settle because of the huge amounts of research you put into a case as it progresses until you can make something that resembles a cogent argument.

I mean, guys, legal research is fucking complicated, even with the advent of computer searches like WestLaw, Lexis, FastCase, and, uh…those other ones. That, of course, is assuming you have access to all of those things,  because some lawyers and law offices don’t. They hate efficiency and ease of practice and prefer to sentence associates to wander the stacks of the local law library in search of some tattered copy of a state reporter to look up one case from 1890 that somehow barely touches on the issue at hand, then track the entire line of cases down with cross-references and reviews the whole damn time.

In other words, this shit, doing legal research and knowing what you’re looking for, is hard.

So that’s why South Dakota has decided inmates can just sort of…wing it.

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New Milford Hates Fetishes: Politics, Optics, and Fetishes

So I was gonna spend some time today on the whole “1L Guidance” thing again, but you know when life reaches up and smacks you around a little? That happened Friday evening as I was preparing to go out and be the Amazing Dancing Badger for a group of furries in Connecticut over the last weekend. This time, the dose of reality came in the form of a link from the super-secret LawyerSlack, a place where attorneys gather…you know, like a Bar Association meeting but with less liquor and pretentiousness.  Someone posted an article about a Connecticut Councilman from the town of New Milford who “voluntarily resigned” after his participation in a certain fandom – possibly one filled with large talking animals and a love of the movie Zootopia – became even more exposed than it had been before.

And, because I’m not a goddamn fan of hypocrisy, let’s talk about this shit.

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The ABA Is Pointless: Boozy’s Take on the American Bar Association.

So back in 1878, 75 lawyers from all across the country had a collective seizure and somehow found themselves in Saratoga Springs, New York. While for many people, that many lawyers in one place at the same time would be the basis for a really good joke, for lawyers it of course meant that they needed to all meet and form an organization. This organization was the American Bar Association, and we’ve been desperately trying to free ourselves from the yoke of association ever since.

Of course, it immediately fucking transformed itself into the Evil Empire of the legal profession, insinuating its way pointlessly into the day-to-day life of the lawyer and somehow gaining the reins of power over entry into the fucking legal profession itself, despite having no real authority to oversee the practice of law fucking anywhere.

Yeah, this is one of those posts.  Enjoy the ride.

Continue reading “The ABA Is Pointless: Boozy’s Take on the American Bar Association.”