Around the Blawgosphere: Quitting law, by the numbers | The best word processor, word-count wise

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Former lawyers confess

Why do lawyers leave the law, and how do they feel about their choices? Adam Smith, Esq. and Above the Law teamed up late last year and polled 430 lawyers who had left practice—about half of them expats of Am Law 200 firms.

The most common answer given by respondents when asked why they decided to go to law school was that they though it would be “intellectually stimulating.” Yet 58 percent of respondents characterized their time in law practice as “boring.” And while more than half of respondents acknowledged that their time in law practice was a “terrific learning experience,” 93 percent of them had no regrets about their decision to leave.

“The tales they told us bring to mind a sort of inversion of Tolstoy’s line about happy and unhappy families,” Brian Dalton wrote at Above the Law. “Those who were positive about their time spent practicing had a diverse range of experiences; those who were unhappy mostly tell the same story.”

One representative story? “My husband and I were fighting about who would get to work on Memorial Day.”

Making every word count

As noted at the Supreme Court of Texas Blog in June, Texas, as of this past Dec. 1, Texas courts are now instituting word-count limits in briefs rather than page limits.

Right before the rule went into effect, Austin solo D. Todd Smith wrote a blog post at Texas Appellate Law Blog on how to cope with the word-count rules and noted this provision of the rule:

Certificate of Compliance. A computer-generated document must include a certificate by counsel or an unrepresented party stating the number of words in the document. The person certifying may rely on the word count of the computer program used to prepare the document.

Supreme Court of Texas Blog’s Don Cruse, a Dallas solo, wonders if the rule should also note which word-processing program was used to prepare the document—because word counts can vary a great deal between programs that have different ways of counting citations, phrasal adjectives and numerals. He tested four word-processing programs and found that Microsoft Word had the most forgiving word count, and Pages the least forgiving.

“What led to the huge gap between the lowest count (Word) and the highest count (Pages)?” Cruse wrote. “It turns out that Pages uses an algorithm that treats an abbreviation like ‘4.RR.125-26’ as being four words. Yes, four. Pages sees imaginary word breaks in places that I do not.”

Lawmaker, know thy law

“Gideon,” the anonymous Connecticut public defender who blogs at a public defender, took note of a bill introduced by state Rep. Christopher Davis proposing that all lawyers who receive at least 50 percent of their income from the state be required to perform at least 40 hours of pro bono per year.

This bill would make Gideon and other public defenders subject to the requirement. However, to follow it would run afoul of C.G.S 51-293(d), which states:

Each public defender, assistant public defender and deputy assistant public defender shall devote his full time to the duties of his office, shall not engage in the private practice of law, and shall not be a partner, member or associate of a law firm.

“That this bill probably goes no further than one man’s fancy and one blogger’s delight is pretty set in stone, but the fact that it was actually proposed by someone who is elected to be our representative in the legislative body should give pause,” Gideon wrote. “And perhaps when we pause, we should think. It’ll be more than Rep. Davis did.”

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