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Around the Blawgosphere: Criminal Lawyers, Illustrated; Juvenile Clients—and Their Mothers

Posted Dec 22, 2011 9:35 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Drawn Out Posts

New York City solo Nathaniel Burney laments at the Criminal Lawyer that he hasn't done a lot of substantive posting since being named to the ABA Journal's Blawg 100. But he notes that instead, he's been cranking posts at The Criminal Lawyer's Guide to Criminal Law, which he calls "an illustrated introduction to criminal law and procedure."

"The response has been so unexpected and overwhelming that we’ve felt obligated to get at least the introductory sections finished before the holidays," Burney wrote at the Criminal Lawyer. "Starting off with first principles, we’ve covered what crime and punishment are, and the various purposes of punishment, and now we’re working on a sixth installment on mens rea and culpability. With any luck, we’ll have that out this week."

Constitutional Daily's BL1Y thinks it would be a good tumblr for law students or soon-to-be law students to follow—"or even if you're an older student or practicing attorney who enjoys a bit of humor and people who can say something by just saying it."


Who's the Boss?

Washington, D.C., solo Jamison Koehler posted this week at Koehler Law about having a teenage client whose mother disagrees with the defense strategy. In the case of this particular 16-year-old client, mom doesn't want the case taken to trial. But Koehler says taking the case to trial is, and must be, his teen client's decision. (Koehler happens to support that decision, because "unlike an adult case, there are very few risks to taking a juvenile case to trial. There is no “trial tax” in juvenile court, at least not in D.C.")

Still, he has sympathy for his client's mother. "I too am a parent, and I understand parents may not trust a child with a decision of this import, particularly when the child has just exercised the bad judgment that got him arrested in the first place," Koehler wrote. "It may also be difficult to have some stranger come in and work with your child in making a decision over which you have no control. At the same time, she needs to understand that she is not my client; her son is."


Her Taxing Existence

For one post this week, Philadelphia lawyer Kelly Phillips Erb turned Taxgirl over to "Employee Zero," a 40-something woman in an unspecified professional field who wanted to tell Erb's readers "the real story of what it’s like to be unemployed."

"To myself, I am still the same skilled, ambitious, generous, curious person I was three months ago," Employee Zero wrote. "In the national debate, I am a person who needs to be drug-tested and monitored, who wants to take a check for doing nothing."

As a person who figures as a zero in the minds of so many, Employee Zero is left feeling like she's no longer entitled to an opinion. "I used to be a person who was entrusted with decision-making," Employee Zero wrote. "But when you are unemployed, no one cares what you think. You are suddenly part of a faceless group that has the same needs, experience and skill level. The unemployment office in my state holds sessions on how to create a resume, as though no one who is unemployed today has ever had to do that."

And the presumption that she must cut off all luxuries now that she's unemployed is tricky: Her Internet access helps her job-hunt, and her car gets her to interviews. And she notes that a week after her layoff, she took her cat to the vet and spent $200. Is caring for a pet that feels like a family member a luxury that she should be denied?


A Man Must Have a Code

A "well-paid young associate in a midsize law firm" has made an anonymous confession at Bitter Lawyer: "I'm the lowlife who stole your lunch."

Well, he or she may be the lowlife who stole your lunch. Bitter Contributor always abides by three principles: "I eat what I steal; I steal only what I can eat; and I steal only from those higher up on the food chain." So only partners and associates more senior need to watch their snacks.

While Bitter Contributor has never been caught or even come close, he / she notes that "the messages that my victims have left on food in the fridge have become bolder and more strident" and two all-staff memos have been sent out detailing the thefts. Bitter Contributor's response to the backlash? "I’ll quit when they install a camera in the kitchen."

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