Bad Interviews: A Guide For Aspiring Lawyers

For many years, I worked at a large law firm in Kentucky.  For 10 years, I was on the hiring committee, which was known by the much haughtier “Professional Personnel Committee.”  It was a thankless position which drew criticism from people who wanted to hire their relatives and children of their friends.  I don’t know how many people I interviewed, but it has to be several hundred.

Most of the folks I interviewed were law students, some looking for summer work and others for full-time employment.  I saw a little bit of everything over those years.  I learned that you can’t really learn much about someone in a twenty or thirty minute interview.  We hired people who seemed perfectly okay, only to find out they were social misfits or wholly unpleasant people.  Fortunately, many such people had risen to important positions in our firm over the years, so there was always a place for them.

The truth is that it’s hard to wow people during an interview.  This is especially true if that person is interviewing numerous people on the same day.  Hopefully, your resume’ is impressive and you have at least rudimentary social skills.  After that, it’s a crap shoot.

While wowing the interviewer may be difficult, repulsing the your prospective employer is not.  That’s what this post is about.  Below, I offer you several basic ways to ensure that your interview goes well–or not.  One caveat:  This is just from my perspective.  Some things that annoy me might be downright charming to someone else.  Hopefully, you can find some freak like that who is hiring.


This is directed primarily to men, because they are the ones who don’t know how to dress themselves.  Young men, in particular, struggle.  I don’t know why, but it’s true.

Dressing for a professional interview is pretty simple.  A nice suit, tie, shirt and shoes.  How can you go wrong?

Well, how about getting clothes that fit?  I interviewed a very nice and impressive young man whose shirt sleeves were too long.  They almost covered his hands.  It was probably his dad’s shirt.  We hired him anyway.  He worked for us all summer with his damn hands half-covered by his shirt.  By the way, he did a good job, but the shirts just wrecked it.

Years ago, silks ties weren’t that easy to find.  Now, you can buy them at Walmart.  Just get a silk tie.  Oh, and learn to tie it.  Maybe your dad can help you.  If not, give a vagrant a couple of bucks and see if he can help.  Just don’t screw it up.  Interviewers will never tell you this, but if the knot in your tie is a disaster, they won’t stop staring at it.  It’s like having a face tattoo.  Here’s a bad one:

ESPN football analyst Merril Hoge is well-known for his outrageous knots.

ESPN football analyst Merril Hoge is well-known for his outrageous knots.

Hoge is an excellent analyst, but I wouldn’t hire him.  By the way, I met him one time in an airport.  Nice fellow.  Fortunately, he wasn’t wearing a tie.

Ronald Reagan is best known as the patron saint of all things conservative.  I, on the other hand, admired his neckwear:

Reagan tied a hell of a knot.

President Reagan tied a hell of a knot.

It’s simple:  Reagan “Yes.”  Hoge “No.”

What about shoes?  Wingtips and cap toes never fail you.  Loafers can work, too, as long as they’re not too weird.  Fancy tassels and weird two-toned colors are off-putting.  It goes without saying that you should wear socks. Actually, it doesn’t go without saying.  I interviewed a guy who didn’t have on socks.  NEXT!

Here are some shoes that will do you in before the interview starts:

I don't know what you call these, but I don't like them.

I don’t know what you call these, but I don’t like them.

A guy wore these to an interview with me.  I couldn’t quit looking at them, thinking “What the hell is wrong with this guy?  You can’t wear those with a suit!”  Later, when our committee met to discuss the interviews, everyone LOVED this guy.  I just said, “Hey, did you see his shoes?  There’s a problem here.”  Oh, how they scoffed at me!  So, I was out-voted, and we hired him for the summer.  It was a disaster, of course.  The guy couldn’t follow rules and was just generally annoying.  The shoes told the story.

One final thought on clothes:  Just wear something normal.  If you have the urge to make a statement with your attire, resist it.  You may fancy bolo ties and cravats in your personal life.  Good for you, but I don’t want to see that.  Don’t be, as a colleague of mine once said, a “glitzy bastard.”

Here’s how I deal with this in my life.  My wife picks out my clothes.  Try that, except use your own wife or girlfriend.


This is a tough one, because you may be weird.  If you’re in law school, the chances are pretty good that your are.  You have to tamp that down for your interview.

I interviewed a young man who had quite the impressive resume’.  He was an outstanding student with an impressive work history.  After we exchanged pleasantries, here is how the interview started:

HIM I was just in the bathroom and noticed that I have this big zit on my face.

He was correct.  He then explained that his face breaks out when he’s nervous.  I couldn’t focus on anything else.  I was checking his face to see if there would further eruptions.

Then, there was the guy who held his tie between his index and middle fingers and flipped it up and down when he talked.  Finally, he looked down at his tie and said:  “I keep doing that, don’t I?”

A young lady had to take a break during our interview for a snack.  It was okay with me, but it did make the interview drag a bit.  She answered my questions between handfuls of chips.

I could list a dozen more similar tales, but I won’t.  The bottom line is that you may have to hide your true self during the interview.  I used to tell interviewees:  “If you spend a lot of time wearing Spock ears and playing Dungeons & Dragons, just keep that to yourself.”


Although being a pompous ass may well go hand in hand with being a lawyer, most people don’t like pompous asses.  Here are just a few things NOT to say in your interview:

  • I’m a perfectionist. [Oh, good.  We all want some over-achieving jackass around us all day].
  • Your firm has a great reputation. [This means nothing to me.  My firm had a reputation at one point of being a miserable sweat shop.  We knew that.]
  • I’m interested in International Law. [Good for you.  Go find an International Law Firm].
  • I enjoy working hard.  [No one enjoys that.  If you do, I don’t want to be around you.]
  • I’m a self-starter [Really?  As opposed to a sloth who has to be kicked to get moving?]

The simple truth is that you aren’t that impressive.  Yes, a work ethic and baseline intelligence are necessary, but if you’ve made good grades you likely meet those requirements.  Remember:  Your goal is to come across as reasonably normal.  You can’t really impress a pompous ass like me anyway.

Oh, don’t carry a brief case.  That just makes me want to beat you over the head with it.


Again, this applies to men only (usually).  Take it easy on the odd facial hair.  Here is a photo of one of my sons:

My son's facial hair is a non-starter for an interview.

My son’s facial hair is a non-starter for an interview.

I love my son, but if I were interviewing for a new son, he wouldn’t get a call back.

The basic beard or mustache is fine.  Mutton chops are not.  The same goes for the classic Fu Manchu.  The soul patch is definitely out, too.

Here’s my advice:  Just shave before your interview.  That way, you take out any possibility of your taste in facial hair being a problem.  For women, it’s even more important.


Closely related to facial hair is head hair.  GROOM YOURSELF APPROPRIATELY.

Back in the 1990’s slicked back hair was all the rage for the aspiring young professional male.  Thank God that was short-lived or we’d be kowtowing to an army of Jerry Lewises now.  If you think you should be the one to bring back that look, think again. Then wash your hair.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is unkempt hair.  Hey, you might be a hipster or gadfly of some sort.  Your hair may be your calling card.  That’s your choice, of course, but  I won’t overlook it.  Check your hair in a mirror.  Is there a part in it?  If not, start comb it until a part develops.  That’s a good start.

It’s also good time to check out your hair care products:  gels, sprays and the like.  While I don’t like unruly hair, don’t go too far.  If your hair looks like it could deflect a hockey puck or is in danger dripping on your impressive resume’, back off a tad.

Hair color is important.  I’m not suggesting for a moment that you change your natural hair color, but, if you do, go with a natural color.  I don’t mean just any color found in nature, such as violet, orange or bright red.  I mean a color of human hair.  I grew up in a small town where women had an affinity for blonde hair–really blonde.  I know that it is easy go way over the line with it.  Like any healthy man, I appreciate a nice blonde look, but don’t over do it.  Ric Flair is not the look we want.

Ric Flair has nice, but the hair needs work.

Ric Flair has a nice suit, but the hair needs work.

If you do go blonde, steer clear of Stripper Curls:

This isn't the image you want to impress upon your prospective employer--or IS IT?

This isn’t the image you want to impress upon your prospective employer–or IS IT?

If this is all too overwhelming for you, just shave your head.  A word of caution to women:  That’s usually not a good look for you.  Use your judgment.


In closing, here are few more deal-killers, all based upon my real life experiences:

  • The only men who wear white dress shoes are pimps.  If you are interviewing for a pimping position, that’s fine.  Otherwise, it’s a no go.
  • Asking questions is fine.  Asking a hundred isn’t.  You’ll know you’ve overdone it when the interviewer says “SHUT THE HELL UP!”
  • Eye contact is good.  Staring isn’t.  I don’t need you to look into my soul.  I won’t hesitate to ask “What the [expletive deleted] are you looking at?”
  • Your controversial political or religious views are probably fascinating to some people.  I’m not one of them.
  • Pinky rings on men and dozens of bracelets on women:  These are distracting, and I don’t like them.
  • If you sweat profusely, just stop it for the interview.  It’s only decent.
  • Talking is a plus.  Mutes struggle to make an impression.
  • Zip up your pants.
  • And your skirt.
  • I have an Eastern Kentucky accent.  Unless you have one, too, don’t make mine a point of emphasis.

Good luck out there.  The good news is that most people don’t like doing interviews and barely pay attention anyway.  Of course, I’m not one of those people.  The better news is that I’ve retired from interviewing.  Aren’t you glad?

© 2013

The All-Purpose Facebook Privacy Protection Disclaimer

Evidently, people on Facebook are concerned about their privacy and protecting their posts about their kids, dogs, meals, prayer requests, political rants and family photos.  One can hardly blame them.  I know I don’t want the world seeing this photo of me should I foolishly decide to run for political office:

I fear that my gangsta past will come back to haunt me.

One can even dig deep into my past to find embarrassing photos like this one:

Honestly, I know a lot of people who would vote for this guy.

As a result, many folks are now protecting their rights by expressly reserving their privacy with this post:

Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute)

As a lawyer, this fascinates.  Yes, it’s true.  I’m a lawyer.  I graduated from law school, passed the bar exam–all of that.  As a service to my Facebook friends, I decided to use my finely honed lawyering skills to break down this disclaimer and explain exactly what is being said here, as only a real lawyer can explain:

Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall.  I certainly agree with this statement, assuming you possess rudimentary pointing and clicking skills.

This will place them under protection of copyright laws.  Who is “them?”  That confuses me. “They” must be the cutters and pasters.  I also don’t see any copyright protection in this statement.  If you want copyright protection, say so or use this nifty symbol: ©.  You can also claim a trademark with this: ™.  The bad part is that these only protect the rights you actually have. They don’t create rights.  For example, if I quote from Moby Dick on my Facebook wall (as I might do to show how brainy I am), I don’t have any copyright protection just because I claim I do.

By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contentsWho the hell uses the word “communique?”  Did James Bond write this?  Also, what action do we fear that Facebook will take “against” us?  A drone strike?  I know of no police powers granted to Facebook.  Perhaps we fear that Facebook will show our posts to someone.  Here’s a suggestion:  Don’t post anything that you don’t want people to see. 

The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control.  I’m not sure what the prohibited actions are, but they must be the actions “against me” that Facebook may take.  I’m also curious about the students under Facebook’s direction or control.  This brings to mind a cadre of brain-washed college kids spending their days reading Facebook posts and then informing Mark Zuckerberg of all the juiciest details.  If these people exist, I fully understand the desire to limit their powers.  Oh, “aforementioned” is an excellent lawyerly word.

The content of this profile is private and confidential information.  Now, this is problematic.  You see, when you sign up for Facebook, you agree to all the Terms of Service, which are quite detailed.  You probably didn’t read them.  I know I didn’t.  It’s doubtful that our posts are considered private or confidential.  This explains the Privacy Settings on our accounts.  I suggest that you don’t post confidential information.  For example, I don’t recommend posting nude photos of yourself, unless you are a reasonably attractive woman.  In that case, post them now using this disclaimer as protection.  Also, please send me a link to your profile, so that I may see if your protection was effective.

The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute):  This is my favorite part.  The UCC is the Uniform Commercial Code, a set of uniform statutes regulating commercial transactions.  Every state has adopted the UCC at least to some extent.  Its application to Facebook is a legal mystery.  Here is what Article 1-308 says:

1-308. Performance or Acceptance Under Reservation of Rights.

(a) A party that with explicit reservation of rights performs or promises performance or assents to performance in a manner demanded or offered by the other party does not thereby prejudice the rights reserved. Such words as “without prejudice,” “under protest,” or the like are sufficient.

This statute is often cited by conspiracy theorists or other folks on the fringe as giving one the right to do anything “under protest.”  For example, some folks will sign their tax returns and cite this section, believing that they haven’t really agreed to pay their taxes or that they have somehow reserved the right to challenge the IRS’s taxing authority.  I won’t bore you with all the legal niceties, but the UCC only applies to certain commercial transactions.  I took classes in law school about the UCC and remember a good deal about it. The UCC just won’t help you here.

Article 1-103 is even less applicable:

1-103. Supplementary General Principles of Law Applicable.

Unless displaced by the particular provisions of this Act, the principles of law and equity, including the law merchant and the law relative to capacity to contract, principal and agent, estoppel, fraud, misrepresentation, duress, coercion, mistake, Bankruptcy, or other validating or invalidating cause shall supplement its provisions.

I don’t even know what to say about this one. All it says is that the UCC doesn’t replace any other law unless it specifically says so.  If that gives you any comfort, so be it.

The Rome Statute:  The only Rome Statute of which I am aware involves the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Crimes Against Humanity, genocide and the like.  If someone of the ilk of Slobodan Milosevic hacks your account, you may have something here, but it’s doubtful.  Although Facebook taking action against you might be offensive, you may have a hard time convincing the International Criminal Court that it rises to the level of a war crime.

Sadly, my conclusion is that this disclaimer, for all its flowery language and copious statutory citations, provides no real protection against use of your photos and posts.  Read the Facebook Terms of Service or the Facebook Data Policy. Those will give you some guidance on your agreement with the evil Zuckerberg.

So, if you’re wanting to post inflammatory status updates like advocating erotic literature for children or threatening to kill someone, you may not have the protection you think you do.  It would be wise to think before posting, especially if you are, say, in the job market.  An even better idea may be to just delete your account entirely.

I’m sure some other lawyer will read this and disagree. I might even get sued.  Nevertheless, I stand by my analysis.

Of course, all is not lost.  I am, after all, a lawyer.  I’ve composed my own disclaimer which you are free to cut and paste:

Under the authority of the International Court of The Hague, I hereby expressly and forever reserve my privacy rights as granted under the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Hammurabi’s Code and any and all other applicable law whether foreign or domestic. By posting on Facebook, I do not waive any and all such rights which are hereby expressly reserved unto me, my heirs, successors, agents, legatees, grantees, lessees, designees, devisees, divorcees and/or assigns.  Nothing contained herein or therein shall be construed as such a waiver and any and all persons whomsoever, whether living or dead, reading this disclaimer are hereby forever estopped from so claiming.  Should any such person or entity attempt to violate any or all such rights, those persons or entities shall be subject to garnishment of their wages and seizure of their chattels.  I furthermore claim copyright, trademark, service mark and any and all other intellectual property rights in and to any and all posts on my Facebook wall, regardless of origin, authorship or preexisting claims to ownership.  Facebook is hereby strictly forbidden from challenging or taking exception to any of the statements made in this disclaimer.

Now that I think about it, you’re NOT free to cut and paste this.  See that little copyright symbol at the bottom?  I told you:  I’m a lawyer.

© 2012

Become a Constitutional Expert

People nowadays love to talk about the “Constitution.”  Of course, I mean the United States Constitution.  Here in Kentucky, we don’t talk much about the state constitution, except when we want to amend it for things like gambling and eliminating the Railroad Commissioner.  The US Constitution is all the rage, though.  It wasn’t always that way.  Twenty or thirty years ago, you rarely heard people debating it, but they do now.  I suspect that’s a good thing.

I’m lawyer, but I’m not a constitutional law expert.  I don’t know anyone who is.  Now, I do know lawyers who are skilled in certain areas like criminal procedure and civil rights.  They have to know about the Constitution.  I have occasionally dealt with constitutional issues, but it usually requires a fair amount of research on my part.  With that disclaimer, I’m willing to bet I know as much about the Constitution as most folks.  Even if I don’t, I still feel free to offer this handy guide to all you need to know about it.

One way to learn about it is to go to law school.  Con Law, as we call it, is pretty dry stuff.  You have to read a lot of case law.  That’s a lot of work to do for something that people like Glenn Beck are free to opine about it without so much as a college education.  No, you don’t have to go to that trouble.  Here’s what you do:  Read it.  Then, realize that there is over 200 years of jurisprudence involved in interpreting and applying it.  Pretty simple.  But, if you’re American, it’s your Constitution, whether you went to law school or not.  If you’re not American, go read whatever nutty thing you have in your inferior country.

Here’s what the Constitution won’t do for you:  It doesn’t protect us from everything we don’t like.  Just because we don’t like a law, for example, doesn’t make it unconstitutional.  Let’s say the government brings back the military draft.  It would be horribly unpopular, but it wouldn’t be unconstitutional.  On the other hand, a popular law can be unconstitutional.  Pretend for a moment that the government outlaws Islam.  If, for one, would be horrified by that, but I know many people who would cheer.  Sorry, but it would be unconstitutional.

Another point:  the Constitution doesn’t guarantee “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  That’s actually in the Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration of Independence isn’t part of the Constitution and wasn’t written at the same time.  It’s completely different and not the basis of anything important–except the breaking away from King George deal.  Forget about it, except on the 4th of July.

The guts of the Constitution are in the seven articles that made up the original document.  Don’t worry about that much.  It’s just a bunch of details about how the federal government is set up, interstate commerce, elections and other minutia.  It’s like the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.  It’s important, but it’s mind-numbing.  It’s the amendments that get everyone worked up.  The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments, but there are a bunch more.  Here’s a summary of all you need to know about them.


Most people know something about this one:  Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.  Here’s how it works:  The government can’t make it illegal for you to call your boss a son of a bitch.  If you actually call your boss a son of bitch, the government can’t do anything to you.  Your boss, however, can fire you.  He’s not the government.  There’s no constitutional protection against people getting pissed off at you.  It also allows us to lie.  That’s right.  You have the right to lie.  But, you don’t have the right to defraud or defame people.  General lying, though, is okay.

Freedom of the press works the same way.  That’s why you get so worked by what you read.  The press is free to express whatever opinions it wants, whether popular or not.  During World Wars I and II, we kind of trampled on speech and the press, but otherwise we’ve been pretty good about protecting these.

Here’s an important tip:  You can’t threaten to kill people.  Constitution won’t protect you.

Assembly:  Hey, if you want to join the Ku Klux Klan, go right ahead.  Now, of course, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t condemn you over it, but the government can’t throw you in jail.

Religion:  The government will allow you to worship as you see fit and won’t establish a state church or religion.  I know we spend all our time fretting about prayer in schools and contraception and the like, but this should be embraced by everyone.  The government butts out of the religion business.  Now, what the government can’t do–much to the chagrin of many–is declare the United States is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other nation.  I know that chafes people, especially those that are unburdened by history, but it’s a fact.  The Constitution itself does not make reference anywhere in it to being based upon Christianity or any other religion.  In fact, just ten years after the Constitution was adopted, the United States entered into a treaty with the nation of Tripoli, which said:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

There is no record of even slight debate about President Adams signing the treaty.  Rather than causing people to tear at their robes (to use a favorite Biblical image), we should all be glad.  No one can tell us how or what or if to worship.  It’s up to us.  That’s good.


Another popular one, the right to keep and bear arms.  We can own guns.  Yes, there can be restrictions, just like there can be on speech, but the right exists.  It doesn’t mean that there can’t crimes related to the USE of guns or restrictions on possession.  The bottom line is that we can be–and are–armed to the teeth.  Good thing about this one is that you can become a Second Amendment fanatic or advocate.  It’s a full-time job for some people.  Thank you, First Amendment.


Don’t worry about this one.  It’s about being forced to quarter soldiers in your home.  If that happens, you don’t have to put up with it.  Once, I tried to become a Third Amendment fanatic, but I couldn’t get any followers.


This is a biggie.  No unreasonable searches and seizures.  The cops can’t just show up at your house and kick in the door.  Understand though, that if they have a search warrant all bets are pretty much off.  My criminal lawyer friends love this one and know all the ends and outs of it.  You probably don’t need this one unless you are in serious trouble.  If you are, I can give you a referral to a good lawyer.

This is also one of those “technicalities” often cited when charges are dropped or evidence excluded against an accused criminal.  Remember that.  This “technicality” is also the same kind of technicality that lets us own our guns and go to our churches.


Anyone who watches much TV knows this one–taking the “Fifth.”  There used to be Ecclesiastic courts.  They would accuse you of a crime and then demand that you prove you didn’t do it.  We don’t do that.  The government has to prove its case against you without your help.  Again, if you need this one, you’re probably in a fair amount of trouble.  (See the Sixth Amendment)


Due Process:  You have the right to know what you’re charged with; the witnesses; speedy trial; right to an attorney.  This is all good stuff.  Government can’t hold you in jail forever without charging or telling you what you did.  Folks like to say that criminals have more rights than their victims.  They don’t.  They have the same rights.

If you want to know what it’s like without this, check out the inmates in Gitmo.  No Sixth Amendment, no rights.


If you get into any of the above trouble, you can have a jury under certain circumstances.


Government can’t inflict cruel or unusual punishment or excess fines.  For example, if you have outstanding parking tickets, a law putting you in jail for 100 years is a no-no.  Also, a fine of $1,000,000 probably is too harsh.  This also eliminates such things as burning at the stake and drawing and quartering.

What about the death penalty, you say?  No problem.  It’s not cruel and we certainly can’t call it unusual.  Of course, this depends on the method and the reasons.  Hanging, electrocution, shooting, asphyxiation by gas and deadly drugs are all okay.  Burning alive and ripping apart are not good.  A friend of mine once suggested sticking the condemned’s head in a bear trap.  That’s probably no good, either.  Must be proportionate to the offense.  Murderers are fair game.  Treason?  You bet.  After that, it gets sketchy.  We used to execute rapists, kidnappers, horse thieves and pretty much anyone who seemed problematic.  It’s a little tougher now, which is probably good.  Probably.


Just because something isn’t listed in the previous eight amendments doesn’t mean you might not have other rights.


A lot of people love this one.  Essentially, it says that anything not granted to the federal government belongs to the states.  WARNING:  There is a mountain of case law about this.  Militias and TV talking heads love this one.  Anytime you hear someone pontificate about “states’ rights” this is what they’re talking about.


It has something to do with suing states in federal court.  Basically, you can’t do it.


Fixes something screwed up about the electoral college.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.


Abolishes slavery.  Nuff said.


States have to give you due process protection, too, not just the feds.  Makes most of the first ten amendments applicable to the states, too. Oh, and the law applies to everyone equally.  Has bunch of stuff in it, too, about dealing with the Confederacy.


Can’t prevent people from voting based on race, color or being a former slave.


Good news!  The federal government can impose an income tax!  If some nut tells you he can prove that the income tax is unconstitutional, he’s wrong.


Senators are to elected by direct votes, instead of being chosen by their state governors.  Who cares?


Hello, Prohibition!  Woo hoo!  No alcohol in the US!


Women can vote!  Woo hoo! (I guess)


Something about terms of office.


Goodbye, Prohibition!  Woo hoo! (hic!)


President can only serve two terms


The District of Columbia gets to vote in the Presidential election.  Big whoop.


No poll taxes.  I don’t even know what that is.


This is about succession if the President dies or leaves office.  TIP:  Don’t even bother reading this unless the President and Vice President die.


You can vote if you’re 18.


This has to do with Congress’s salaries.  To give you an idea of how hard it is to get an amendment dealing with Congressional pay, it took about 200 years to get this one ratified after it was originally proposed.

There you have it.  The Constitution and all 27 amendments. You can readily see that the vast majority of these amendments are of no interest to anyone.  Some–like the 13th–are a very big deal.  Others, like Prohibition, are just plain stupid.  The Bill of Rights is very important–except the 3rd Amendment.

It’s hard to amend the Constitution.  That’s very important.  It keeps us from cobbling together such things as bans against Americans holding titles of nobility and legalizing slavery, both of which never got much traction.  If you want to see what a constitution looks like when it’s been frequently amended, read the Kentucky Constitution.  It reads like the unabridged version of the Unabomber Manifesto.

If you’d like to learn about how the Constitution was adopted, watch the School House Rock video on the Constitution.  It’s still the best thing I’ve ever seen or read about the subject.

Now, you’re an expert.  Or not.  But you have the right to pretend like you are.  Thank you, First Amendment.

© 2012

How To Be A Lawyer

I’m a lawyer.  Really.  Have been for almost 25 years now.  How did I do it?  Well, I graduated from college and then got admitted to law school.  Then I attended law school, passed all my classes and took the bar exam.  I passed the bar exam and was sworn in.  The substance of my oath was that I had never participated in a duel nor served as a second in a duel.  They still require that in Kentucky.  I guess Aaron Burr gave lawyers a bad name, assuming he was a lawyer.   I’d say he was.  He was a politician, and it seems that most politicians are lawyers.

Not just anyone can be a lawyer.  They have to do the things I described above or, as a lawyer might say, hereinabove (which is not to be confused with hereinafter).  It’s really quite a bit of work, and unfortunately results most times in your actually being a lawyer.  There is a better way.  If you’ve dreamed of being a lawyer (and who hasn’t?) you can now live the dream without all attendant stress and disappointment.  How, you say?  By being a lawyer or, most accurately, being like a lawyer.  There are secrets all lawyers know that make us lawyerly and, thus, like lawyers.  These secrets are not known to the general public, but I would like to share them with you.   Below (or “hereinbelow”) is my take on these secrets:


This is the first thing you must do.  Without it, you have no credibility.  Lawyers talk like lawyers.  We say things like “I submit to you…”  No one says that, but we do.  We say “With all due respect…”  The rough translation of that is:  “I disagree with you, you blithering idiot….”  That’s how we talk.

We use Latin phrases, although none of us speak Latin (by the way, I just guaranteed that some self-important lawyer who actually speaks Latin will now comment on this blog—in Latin, no doubt).  Why say “and others” when you can say “et al.“?  Normal people say “among other things.”  We say “inter alia.”  How about Nunc Pro Tunc?  One of my favorites, although I don’t know what that means.   I could slap a Writ of Audita Querela on you.

We call people names like Plaintiff and Defendant.  Or opposing counsel.  The Accused. The Witness.  Lessor and Lessee.  Guarantor and Guarantee.  Mortgagor and Mortgagee.  Obligor and Obligee.  Releasor and Releasee.  Part of the First Part.  Part of the Second Part.  In fact, you can take almost any normal word and make up a lawyer word for it.  How about Parentor and Parentee (Parents and children)?  Teachor and teachee (Teacher and student)?  Drivor and Drivee (Driver and passenger)?  The list is endless.  Try it yourself.  You, too, can sound like a lawyer in just a few minutes.

Where lawyers really shine is with the written word.  No one writes like a lawyer.  We take all our words and Latin phrases and just wear you out with them.

For example, we love the word “here.”  It is one of the lawyer’s most useful linguistic tools because of its many and varied uses.  Unfortunately, you are not likely to understand the use of these.  Below are helpful definitions:

Herein:  In here.

Hereinabove:  Up there

Hereinbelow:  Down there.

Hereinafter:  After here.

Hereof:  Of this

Heretofore:  Before now

Hereford:  A cow (we don’t use that one often)

Hereinbefore:  Before here

Hereinto:  In here

Hereunto:  On here

Herewith:  With this

Hereby:  By this

We can take these words, if they can rightly be called that, and render incomprehensible the simplest of documents.  Of course, you then will need a lawyer.  After all, a lawyer wrote your document and only a lawyer can rightfully translate it.  Would you read your own x-ray?  Of course not.  Why do we do this?  To prevent Joe Blow from recklessly attempting to write and understand legal documents.  We are, in fact, protecting you from yourself.  But, if you learn to use these words yourself, you can soon appear to be a legal scholar.

Another important point is to always write in a complex way.  After all, lawyers are smart.  Smart people are incomprehensible.  Let’s say that you’ve received a daunting pile of legal papers which you–the average layman–must decipher. The first paragraph reads as follows:

“In the hereinabove numbered action which is currently pending in the court noted hereinabove, the Plaintiff seeks to enforce a mortgage lien held by it on the hereinafter described real property.”

On your own, you will read this sentence several times, scratching your head and ultimately mutilating potentially vital legal documents.  A skilled lawyer could tell you that this means:  Your mortgage is being foreclosed upon.  Now, let’s turn the tables a bit.  Say you receive a birthday card containing the banal greeting of  “Happy Birthday!”  The lawyer would write this in much more compelling prose:

Dear Sir or Madam:  The undersigned hereby wishes unto you, your heirs, representatives, successors and assigns, the best on the annual anniversary of your date of birth (hereinafter “DOB”).  As used herein, “wishes” means desires that you receive, with or without consideration, such benefits as are reasonable and customary in the community in which you celebrate said DOB; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed as a guaranty or other undertaking on the part of the undersigned, his heirs, representatives, successors and assigns to provide for you or anyone acting on your behalf or in your stead any tangible or intangible consideration, it being understood and agreed that the undersigned’s obligations are fully and finally fulfilled and discharged by delivery of this card.  Delivery of this card shall be deemed complete when placed in the United States Mail, first class postage prepaid affixed thereto, to your last known address.

When you receive the lawyer’s card, you know exactly where you stand.  Unlike the layman, who can only manage to mutter a half-hearted “Happy Birthday,”  the lawyer has clearly defined the legal parameters of the Birthdayor/Birthdayee relationship.  With just a little practice, you will be writing the same way.


I’ll confess that this is one area where I have failed.  I don’t look much like a lawyer.  The reason is that I don’t like wearing neckties.  You have to wear one to look like a lawyer–at least men have to wear them.  Why don’t I wear them?  Because the French invented them.  Seems that the French took quite a shine to the fabulous cravats worn by Turkish officers in some ancient war.  I’m an American.  I’m not going to easily give in to a bunch of rifle-dropping Frenchmen.  To me, the necktie is a sign of surrender.  It says:  “Hey, look at me.  I’m dancing on the end of a chain like a monkey entertaining The Man.”  Now, I’d wear a cravat, but that doesn’t seem to go over well.

You will note that when it comes to advice on appearance, I steer clear of advising women.  I have been married for many years.  I cannot and will not advise women on how to dress.  I won’t do it.  Here is my standard response to such inquiries:  That looks good.  So, if you want to be like a female lawyer, what you’re wearing is fine.  You look good.

Let’s talk about facial hair.  Never a good look for female attorneys, but often just as bad for the men.  Beards, mustaches and goatees are okay (again, men only).  Soul patches, mutton chops, Hitler mustaches, handlebar mustaches:  These never work.  Don’t even try.  If you want to look like a carnival barker, go work in the carnival.

Hair:  Men–only criminal defense lawyers and constitutional lawyers can have ponytails.  Everyone else, cut them.  Wash your hair occasionally too.  A comb isn’t a bad idea.

There are some general rules which applies to both sexes:

Stay out of the sun:  A pallid, even ashen, complexion tells the world that you work all the time and don’t have time for recreation.

Eat anything:  Fried food, fast food, spoiled food–you name it.  A lawyer won’t take time to eat a real meal, unless he or she is entertaining a client.

Watch your weight:  Either gain enough weight to qualify for your own Learning Channel reality show or be so thin that you look like Adrien Brody after a debilitating stomach virus.  If you give the appearance of being “fit” or “trim” this will send the wrong signal.  You will be branded as some sort of gadabout who is unconcerned with his or her client’s welfare.

Casual wear:  When you wear so-called casual clothes, it should be something like khakis and a pressed shirt; a sweater vest; or perhaps a cape.  If you must ever been seen working around your house, wear loafers.


Once you have mastered sounding and looking like a lawyer, you are ready for the final step:  Living like a lawyer.  I believe it was Montgomery Burns who said that faith, family and friends are the three demons which must be slain to succeed in business.  This certainly holds true for lawyers.  You must learn to address the following nettlesome annoyances:

Family:  Oddly, most lawyers have a family.  In fact, many reproduce and have numerous spouses during their lifetimes.  Most do not allow these distractions to get in the way of their important work.  Children, in particular, can be a source of great stress.  My suggestion is to write down various important facts about your children on index cards or, better yet, in your ubiquitous smart phone.  Such things as their names, birth dates, hobbies, etc., come in handy if you are ever questioned about them.  It’s a brutal fact of life that most lawyers are not attractive people.  Sadly, this is often true of their children, too.  Find a photo on the Internet of handsome, healthy-looking children to carry with you.  In case someone asks, you can dazzle them, rather than see them recoil in horror at your tots’ genetic misfortune.  Children will often expect you to attend various school functions and sporting events.  Explain to them early on that Mommy or Daddy has no time for such skylarking.  If you are divorced, you can firmly point out that the crippling child support payments are, in fact, the child’s fault and require you to work long hours.  If all else fails simply say:  “You are the reason Daddy drinks.”  That almost always works.

Crisis Management:  Everyone has times when there are legitimate personal crises which demand attention.  Illness and death are two of the most distracting.  Those close to you should understand that you are acting like a lawyer, not a doctor.  You can’t be expected to waste valuable time loafing about a hospital.  Most importantly, you’re likely to catch some disease in the hospital.  Then, who will do your work?  Medicine is best left to doctors.  Besides, they make a hell of a lot more money than lawyers.  Let them deal with it.  Funerals likewise are time wasters.  I guarantee that there is someone in your family less important than you are who can attend to the arrangements.  Honestly, what can you do for a dead person?  There is work to do.

Busy, Busy, Busy:  Lawyers are busy.  Always. It is a well-known mark of shame for a lawyer’s work to be slow.   If you ask any lawyer how his or her work is going, the answer is likely to be “I’m swamped,” “I’m covered up,” “I’m drowning” or another dramatic pronouncement.  Practice these types of responses. It’s not necessary that you be able to describe what you’re doing.  The beauty of this is that the only person likely to ask you that is a lawyer.  Once you say how busy you are, the lawyer will begin to obsess about why YOU are so busy while his practice has fallen apart. There will be no follow up questions.

Stress:  Lawyers are stressed out.  You must become stressed out.  Develop ailments like gout, colitis, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernias, shingles, syphilis, migraines, back ailments, and hemorrhoids which you can attribute to your stressful lifestyle.  Above all, just be stressed out.

BILL, BILL, BILL:  The billable hour is the stock in trade for most lawyers.  Even a non-lawyer can take part in this stimulating exercise.  Let’s say your are a stay at home parent.  Here is how you can record your day dealing with your children:

Hours:  16.5   Description: Meeting with clients RE: waking for school; Prepare and attend breakfast; Travel to and from school with clients; Prepare and complete laundry; Work on general housekeeping; Review mail; Multiple telephone conferences with teachers; Travel to and from school with clients; Meet with clients RE: homework; Prepare and attend dinner with clients; Meet with clients regarding preparation to retire for evening.

See how much fun that would be?  Soon, you too will mentally record and track every moment of your day, just like a real lawyer.  Before long, you’ll lie awake at night wondering how you are ever going to meet the unreasonable billable hour quota you will have established for yourself.


I used to have a job where I interviewed job applicants for a law firm.  I don’t think I ever confirmed that any of these folks actually attended law school or passed any bar exam.  Maybe they did, who knows for sure?  What I do know is that I worked with many of these same folks, and the good ones all acted like lawyers.  You can, too, if you just heed everything contained herein as stated hereinabove.

By reading this blog, you agree to waive any and all claims against the author related to the advice dispensed herein, it being understood and agreed that the author expressly disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, regarding the soundness of said advice as set forth hereinabove.  You further acknowledge and understand that the author may not actually be a lawyer and may, in fact, be dangerously mentally ill.   You also acknowledge that the author is unreasonably temperamental and not receptive to criticism, whether constructive or otherwise.  Any comments regarding this blog shall be made with the express understanding that the author is also explosively violent and prone to unreasonable fits of pique.  You assume all risk in communicating with the author and agree that, by doing so, you willingly accept any irrational and abusive response you might receive, including but not limited to obscene and derogatory language and/or the use of distasteful or pornographic emoticons by the author.

GOTCHA!  See?  I AM a lawyer.

© 2012