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Ask Lawboy Anything!
Lawboy has been a member since September 22th,1999.
# Asked: 98 -- # Answered: 5657
Average: 0.81 -- Average: 4.70
Rank: 96 -- Rank: 6

7.31.00 Ask Lawboy anything... within reason. I will answer all questions as openly and honestly as possible; I will refuse to answer (although will help as much as I can) if the question involves matters of state law from other jurisdictions. I'm hoping against hope that the questions will involve things other than legal issues. "If you could read my mind, love, what a tale my thoughts could tell...."

Lounds: Do you feel that being a lawyer, yet riding a motorcycle portray conflicting images? Please explain.

To me, this depends on the images one has of either group. If one sees lawyers as snobby jerks, and motorcyclists as greasy lowlifes, then there might be. I tend to be more of a "real person" lawyer, meaning that to talk to me, you'd never know what I do. I tend to push resolution rather than conflict, even if it means I don't make any money at it. At least my client is happy, and will remember me should they need extensive legal help. My motorcycle isn't a Harley or anything ostentatious like that; I know some attorneys who ride Harleys because it's a status thing to them to play "biker trash" on the weekends. I ride because I want to ride, and I enjoy it.

GreyEyes: Anyone who quotes Lightfoot attracts my attention! Do you like all his music? Is this your favourite piece or is there another?  If it's not too personal, I'd like to know where you live - generally, not specifically and what you like to do to relax(besides KP).

I enjoy Gordon Lightfoot's music, and have since I can remember. My favorite piece of his is "Circle of Steel," followed by "Don Quixote." I like "Circle of Steel" because it paints such vivid word images; "Don Quixote" because the music itself is soothing, and the words tell a series of wonderful stories about life in various social strata.

I live in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, right near the shores of Lake Erie. For relaxation, I read primarily. Lately, I have taken to riding a motorcycle, and have been doing that any time the weather cooperates. I also tend to do strange things, like lie in the grass and watch the wind in the trees, or examine the wonderment of the human hand for an hour or so.

savia: Lawboy, you've posted some excellent poetry here. Do you have your works in one place (a journal, or some such) or do you just have loose sheets lying about?  Do you save them after posting here?  Have you considered a published compilation? And last, what most often inspires you to write?

Thank you very much. I don't have a journal any more; this is one of the painful losses I have suffered over the past several years. My spouse decided that many of my books, notebooks, and similar possessions were too bulky for moving; thus, she threw them out during one of our moves a number of years ago. I never started again, because the things I lost in the notebooks I kept were irreplaceable, and were observations, thoughts, ideas, and emotions that had provided the building blocks for what I am now. I would not want to go through that loss again. Now, I compose almost exclusively on the computer, and I never save rough drafts. In fact, about the only copy of the stuff I've written in the past several months is on this site.

I have never seriously considered publishing; I do not believe that my work is deserving of that honor.

The final part of your question is the hardest part, really. Occasionally, I am inspired by something I see, such as a flower blooming incongruously in a snow-covered field, or when I see a homeless man shuffling along the street at dawn, seeking some purpose to fill his empty days. Other times, I am inspired by something I hear, such as when someone says a beautiful phrase, and it echoes in my mind until I do something with it.

Most often, I am inspired by my emotions and reactions to people around me. People who know me know that my personal life is in somewhat of a mess right now, and if I don't do something relatively constructive with those feelings, I would probably not be able to deal with my life. In addition, I have some friends on this site for whom I have written.

taragl: What is your greatest weakness? Your greatest strength?

Oooh. Good question! My greatest weakness would possibly be my aversion to change. I get in a rut, and I like ruts. I like my life to be relatively boring and uneventful. However, this also makes me willing to endure things in my professional and personal life that others may see as problematic.

My greatest strength? I'm reminded of a section from a Harry Chapin song, "The Parade's Still Passing By":
You weren't no leader
You were more like a bleeder
Who was trying to cry for us all
You weren't no sage
But your sense of outrage
Sounded like a trumpet call.

The song concludes with Harry singing, "your greatest gift and the curse you lived with was that you could always care." That may be my greatest strength -- the ability to care, no matter what. Kick me a few times, and I'll still care about you. Of course, I am reasonable about this, but I do care and try to help.

LLDY: What kind of law do you practice?
Why did you decide to go into the legal profession?
Would you consider yourself a success in that occupation?

I practice labor and employment law, management side, which means I represent employers in their relationships with their employees, whether it be a union situation, a non-compete, family and medical leave, disability issues, or litigation.

The decision was not all my own. I was laid off from a newspaper job, and had no choice but to go job hunting. A relative told me I should go to law school, which sounded interesting, so I checked into it, and took the LSAT with the thought that if I did well, I'd go; if not, I'd go get a job. I did very well, and got a lot of good offers, so I went to law school. I was always interested in labor and employment law, so I was fortunate that the firm that hired me let me go into it fairly quickly.

I consider myself a success. In the time I've practiced, I have built a good reputation, and have very satisfied clients. I enjoy what I do, which I think is part of why I am considered successful by others, as well. My clients are helped a lot, whether it's a corporation employing thousands or a person I'm helping with a bankruptcy for free. That, in my opinion, makes me a success.

jmkm: How do you feel about giving out "free" legal advice to KP friends?

Been there, done that several times. I don't mind. In fact, if anything, I get frustrated when I don't know the answers. I've been known to research answers for people's questions -- even when I don't even get credits or stars or anything else. I just like to help, so ask away! Of course, answering these questions has to take back seat to my job, but I don't mind answering when I have the time.

hismel: Lawboy, who do you think will be the next president of the US? Assuming the person is not your preferred person for the job [cheesy grin] who would you like to see in office next and why? And what law changes to would you like to see on the top of the agenda?

I think that Bush will be the next president, but I would rather see someone with some backbone, some integrity, some willingness to confront controversy rather than dodge it. With those criteria, I thought John McCain would be able to do the job, but he showed a couple lapses in judgment himself. I still prefer McCain. As far as law changes, I would like to see some modifications to the National Labor Relations Act, to place companies and unions on even footing again. Originally, it was thought the companies had all the power, but that has shifted with the advent of all of the discrimination laws, etc., and unions have a distinct advantage these days.

Seedy69: Lawboy, did you ever find a trouser press of your own?

Many months ago, Seedy69 posted a question about the use of a trousers press, and I told her that I have wanted one, but still have not bought one. Still holds true today. While I like modern things to some degree, a trousers press is also a room decoration, and I would want an antique one. I haven't found one yet, but I haven't really been looking -- I'm waiting for one to fall into my lap.

GreyEyes: This is my second question, lawboy and it's a legal question. I hope you don't mind....
Are there laws on the books that make it illegal to knowingly spread STD's to many different sex partners without warning them first that they may become infected?

GreyEyes, you shouldn't do that! Just kidding! Some states are starting to move in the direction of such laws, but to date all states that I am aware of prosecute such cases as assaults, or in some cases, as attempted murder or murder, depending on what the status of the victim is at that point.

heyteach: Sorry, I shall ask a law-related question :) You say you're not much for confrontation, more for resolution, so, have you thought about writing up some things on THAT approach as a possible supplement to your income? Either for use with HR types or sale to the public, who normally are not fans of litigation? It's not the norm with lawyers from what I have seen--if there is the potential for money or fame, litigate it; if it is small potatoes, shoe them away. (Sorry, I used to work for lawyers!)

No, I haven't really thought about that, as I am spending most of my time actually implementing my philosophy, as well as starting another project I've had in mind involving my profession. I frequently do seminars for HR people, and I stress my philosophy. I realize it is not the norm, as I was talking to one of my coworkers about possibly settling a case for my client, and he told me he would want to litigate the case, just for his own ego, in my opinion. C'est la vie.

brigit: you are walking along a beach at sunrise, a beach unfamiliar to you, and utterly deserted. ahead, through the remaining mists of morning, amongst the tangles of kelp and the detritus of a late evening storm, something faintly glimmers you find yourself hurrying to reach it - what have you found?

I have had to give this one a lot of thought, and wish I had rated it a 5. At first glance I thought it would be easy to answer, but it took me a while to come up with something.

An old piece of broken colored glass, polished by the action of the waves and sand over the past years. To me, such an object would show the way that nature prevails over human creation, given the time that nature has to work on our humble offerings. The greatest objects humans create can be altered in an instant by the forces of nature.

solana: If you could make a single change in the last ten years of your life, would you?

Another great question. I don't think I would, as tempting as it would be. Everything I am, everything I was, and everything I will be I owe to everything that has happened or will happen to me my entire life. If I could live my life the same, but with one change, I would choose to undo the death of my nephew. Now, he would be 3 years and 3 months old. I miss him, and would love to be able to hold him, and play with him, and have him call me, just like his brothers do.

cyndy10: Lawboy, you are always so level-headed. Something MUST make you angry, or lose that cool- demeanor, what is it that makes you lose control and think later?

When I was younger, I lost my cool over just about anything. Now, I only lose my cool over injustice, especially when directed toward children. I have the softest spot in my heart for children, even though I have none of my own, and to see a child suffer in any way breaks my heart and causes me to lose control. With everything else in my life, though, I am able to live by a basic philosophy: If I get angry, will it change anything? Since the answer is invariably "no," I don't bother to get angry.

Dewey: What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? (We promise to laugh with you, not at you!)

Gee, and I thought all those people were laughing near me, not at me.... The most embarassing thing that has happened to me recently (and I try to forget incidents, so I have none from far back) would have to be when I had a trial in federal court, and I had forgotten to bring a copy of the federal court rules. The book is about an inch and a half thick, so no one knows all of it, just the things they use regularly. My opponent submitted an oral motion, and I had to stand there and try to rebut his motion with no rules in front of me. I stammered a bit, but I ended up winning, red face and all. I never forgot to bring my rules again.

obbop: Standard Oil was a monopoly, a detriment to the people of America... it was broken into separate entities. Microsoft.... in the process thereof. Many times monopolies have been torn asunder.
When is the damn "legal" and medical monopolies gonna' be rended???

I don't think there are any monopolies in the legal field. If anything, in some areas, competition is so fierce that firms steal employees and clients at every opportunity. In the medical field, I think what's more likely to happen is either more regulation from Congress or courts becoming more willing to assess penalties against HMOs and the like. Even though the Supreme Court recently shut down one avenue of lawsuits, that of suing HMOs under ERISA, which seemed a spurious attempt at best, there are cases out there under RICO (racketeering law) and under state law contract claims that could make some significant changes.

prncss: Dumb ass question: Does the show "Ally McBeal" accurately portray a law firm? I'm sure it doesn't, but you never know!

There's no such thing as a dumb ass question, only dumb ass people, and you're not one of them.

It's very inaccurate, as a matter of fact. We do not use unisex bathrooms, we do not spend 90 percent of our day worrying about each other's personal problems and the other 10 percent in court. Instead, it's just like any other office. We work in our offices, taking phone calls, dictating letters and legal pleadings, researching, that type of stuff. On the show, you see people come in at the beginning, and the next day they're in court. That rarely happens, and never for the types of cases they show. Those cases typically take a year or more to get to trial. That's just a start.

prncss: A professor told me that even though lawyers make a great salary, they usually have to take out so many loans and they end up having to work well over 40 hours a week, so that for many years they don't make much more than the average person. Is this true?

It can be. Starting salaries for attorneys are much lower in some areas than people think. And I have many coworkers and classmates that started their careers with $100,000 or so in student loan debt. No, that is not a typo. It can be much higher, too. Law school ten years ago was as much as $25,000 per year just for tuition. And the hours depend on where you work. For me to bill the number I am expected to bill per year, I have to work 50-60 hours per week, minimum. 14 hour days and higher are not uncommon, either. But it's the life I have chosen, and most days I would not trade it for anything. Most attorneys starting out consolidate their student loans and extend the payments for up to 30 years. This makes it possible to live. Before I consolidated mine, which are not as high as a lot of people's, my student loan payment per month was more than my house payment. Still, if you want the job, it's worth the price.

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