Free Speech Friday: The First Amendment – One Sentence, 10,000 annotations

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

U.S. Const. Amend. I

Welcome to the first of a new monthly series here on Lawyers & Liquor, which we’re calling “Free Speech Friday.”  I’m your host, the Boozy Barrister.  Over the next however long it takes us, we’re gonna take one Friday a month to discuss legal issues of free speech and constitutional law here, both areas that I, as a shitty shit lawyer in Shitadelphia, Shitsylvania am not overly familiar with.  So, this will be a learning experience for both of us, as Boozy pursues edification and then, like the loving momma bird that I am, promptly turns to vomit up the knowledge into your eagerly cheeping mouths.

Yes, I know, that’s probably someone’s fetish.  Put it back in your pants, Pete.  We got law to talk about.

More specifically, we have one specific law to talk about, being the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  You can see the whole fucking text of the thing above, one sentence that lasts 45 words and has caused more goddamn trouble to the courts than anything else.  One sentence that has been used to guarantee the rights of everyone from activists marching for racial equality to assholes picketing funerals.  45 words that have been interpreted to allow folks to spout 14 words in city center when they seek to do so.  Often contentious, and always loud, the First Amendment is, as author and Huffington Post journalist Naomi Wolf said, “designed to allow for disruption of business as usual. It is not a quiet and subdued amendment or right.”

In other words, it is the right to be fucking loud and, in general, do so without fear of restriction from the government.  But how, exactly, did we come about gaining that right, written into the very foundational documents of our nation’s history?  And why?

That’s what we’re talking about today on Free Speech Friday:  the birth of the First Amendment and the why of why we have it.  So sit back, grab some popcorn, and let’s get going with an impromptu legal history lesson.

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Avoo Maria, Part 1: Talking About The Avvo Legal Services Shutdown

Welcome to another session of the profane legal ramblings that appear on this site, which we have politely named Lawyers & Liquor.  I’m your host with the half cup of coffee and the stained suit, the Boozy Barrister, here to curse the day that I decided a scholarship offer from a law school was a good idea.

So the big news, or rather the not so fucking big news, in the legal world this week is the shutdown of Avvo’s fixed price legal services platform.  You may remember Avvo if you’re a regular reader as the high-pressure sales environment that puts on its slimy car salesman suit to harass the fuck out of any lawyer stupid enough to claim their profile on the site.  Well, imagine if the guy that was showing you your own car and then calling you twenty fucking times a day to see if you wanted it painted decided to move on from that and then offer a service where other people could drive your damn car at a certain price that they decide, not you!  That was essentially Avvo’s fixed price legal fee service, and like all bad ideas it was destined to either go down in flames or get elected President.  Luckily, in this specific situation, it was the former.

So let’s spend a little time today providing erotic elucidation (because anything that negatively impacts Chris who calls my office to get me to buy ad space certainly gives me a half-chub at the very least) on what Avvo was offering and why it was shut the fuck down faster than a nerdy kid gets shut down by the head cheerleader.  Break out the marching band and let’s move on ye of little experience as we discuss why a lawyer advertising service somehow decided that exempted it from impermissible fee sharing agreements in today’s Lawyers & Liquor.

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Things I Don’t Care About: BigLaw Pay Raises

Hello and welcome to Lawyers & Liquor, where we do nothing but talk about legal stuff in a profane manner because…you know what? I don’t owe an explanation to you.  Every lawyer in the world wants to just start cursing about halfway through discussing anything legal with laymen and brand-spanking-new baby attorneys, and that’s what I do because, frankly, I ain’t got much to lose anymore by doing it.

So today let’s start talking about the things I don’t really give two watery shits about, and by that I mean the whole thing going on that’s  been over-reported and covered with intense scrutiny in the legal community.  No, not the death of Judge Leighton, former federal judge and civil rights pioneer, and quite possibly the most interesting man in the world, back in the beginning of June, but rather the BigLaw pay raises that I, like many other small-time meat and potatoes attorneys aren’t affected by and don’t fucking care about.

I’m the Boozy Barrister, and it’s time to buckle the fuck up.

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“Hi, I’m Goliath from Goliath & Goliath.” – A Philly Lawyer Takes on Morgan & Morgan

Let’s take a minute and talk about these huge, multi-state law firms that swoop into the local area and start slinging their advertising dollars around.  These are the candymen of the legal advertising industry, keeping radio jingle writers and shady TV commercial producers in dollars so they can run all of their ads during Rush Limbaugh or the seventeenth mid-day rerun of Judge Judy.  We all know the types of guys I’m talking about, with ads that say shit like “call us, we’ll get you your money” and some 1-800 number that takes you to a switchboard before directing your ass to a regional office in some big city. The dirty little secret of lawyering is that these places are really just mills, gigantic firms from out of state with not a single named partner who could find your podunk little shithole on a map unless their private jets were flying overhead.  

These guys are, basically, the Waffle House of the legal world, with a branch every damn place.  They’re the bane of the small law practitioner, and especially the small PI guy, who can’t compete with the advertising and the crisply pressed suits of some partner that shows up in the commercials but never in court.  After flooding the local airwaves with commercials, lining the streets with billboards, and getting the name recognition that used to go to the decent guy down the street, they’re gonna take every call from a dog bite to a fender bender  and move on.

These are the personal injury mills.

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Stop Being a Reptilian Overlord – Lawyers Can Be Human

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 6, 2018 edition of Lawyers & Liquor, your home for the very best in profane commentary on a variety of legally related matters.  I’m the Boozy Barrister, and you assholes need to stop taking yourselves so goddamn seriously.

Turn the fuck back now.  I’m warning you.

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