Around the Blawgosphere: Ideas on Fixing Long Lines at Polling Places; America's Funniest Lawyer

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How Should Obama ‘Fix That’?

University of Califorina, Irvine, law professor Richard Hasen wrote at Election Law Blog about how he thinks President Barack Obama could make good on his promise to ‘“fix” the problem of outrageously long lines at polling places.

“I am thinking that a bipartisan commission should be convened to make recommendations, including draft legislation, to be presented to the president and Congress,” Hasen wrote. “Dealing with the long line problem might take the commission into broader proposals, such as carrots or sticks to get states to adopt early voting or extensive mail-in balloting campaigns, centralization of election databases, requirements for shorter federal ballots if a state like Florida decides it needs to produce a very lengthy ballot containing every word of measures virtually no one would read.”

Regardless of what action is taken, Hasen doesn’t think the federal government should wait too long. “This is something that must be done in the off-season. Getting election reform done close to elections is too tough.”

NYC Associate Gets Comedy Gold

The Careerist’s Vivia Chen covered a charity America’s Funniest Attorney contest last month at a New York City comedy club. Six finalists competed at the charity event—proceeds went to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation—and Gibson Dunn associate Goutam Jois captured the title.

Chen did not comment on Jois’ performance in particular, but noted that “all the lawyer-comedians at the event were raunchy and politically incorrect. … And, of course, virtually everyone made cringeworthy comments about their own sex lives (gay, straight, and whatever).”

Jois, said he hadn’t told anyone at Gibson Dunn that he was even in the contest, told Chen he’s been going to open-mike nights for a year or so. But he wouldn’t let his work suffer for his art. He would leave the office in the evenings for a gig, and then return to the office. “I’ll be checking my BlackBerry at a club before I go on stage,” he said. He also said he loves his work and doesn’t plan to quit his day job.

Social Media on Skis

At Lowering the Bar, San Francisco lawyer Kevin Underhill takes note of a new gadget on the market: new Oakley Airwave ski goggles with a digital display that tells its wearers how fast they are going and lets them view incoming calls and text messages.

“Unless the message is ‘TREE IN PATH,’ it can wait,” Underhill writes. He also thinks that “the inevitable lawsuits” won’t be deterred by the prominent warnings in the owner’s manual (PDF) along the lines of “Pay attention to what you are doing.” The first bullet point under that warning? “Concentrating on the display while moving may distract you and cause injury or death to yourself or others.”

Hill writes: “On the bright side, when they find your body they will have a record of the awesome hang time you managed on that last jump, and probably can post it directly to your Facebook memorial page.”

Writing for the Circular File

Aon counsel Mark Hermann writes in his column for Above the Law about the singular experience of writing “to be read” and describing the joyful experience of seeing that his 15-year-old son seemed to be enjoying his drafts of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law.

“Remarkably, many lawyers are utterly unfamiliar with this kind of writing: Writing not to have written, but to be read,” Hermann wrote. “Lawyers spend way too much time writing for themselves or the trash can; lawyer-authors write stuff without giving a second’s thought to whether anyone would ever care to read the finished product.”

And Hermann is not innocent. “Don’t get me wrong: There’s mandatory writing for the trash can. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. I’ve written books that I knew no one would ever read. My months of labor were meant to achieve only two ends: (1) To create something that would sit unread on law library shelves, until some associate stumbled across the tome at midnight one night and had a ‘Eureka!’ moment, and (2) To permit me to say to clients at beauty contests, ‘Everyone claims to know about this field of law. But I wrote Oxford University Press’s leading treatise in the field [picking up the book in one hand, waving it about, and placing it down on the table in front of the potential client], so I’m not bluffing on these subjects.’ “

These books are props and not truly for clients to read, Hermann writes. But sadly, many things that should be written to be read—law firm brochures, law firm newsletters, and briefs—unfortunately fall in the “written to be written” category.

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