Ready for Spring Cleaning? Here are some Not-So-Typical Tips!


Spring cleaning Office

3 Spring Cleaning Tips

While wacky weather has marked the start of spring here in New York City, the fact that we are already in the second quarter of the year should not go unnoticed. It may not feel like spring, but this is still the time of renewal, a phenomenon that has as much relevance in our professional lives as it does it in the natural world. By now, we know if our New Year’s resolutions have amounted to anything, and it is a natural time to pause and consider whether our year is off to the start we were hoping for — because there is still time to correct the course, especially if decisive action is taken right away with that goal in mind.

As lawyers, the idea of a professional spring cleaning can mirror the yearly domestic routine that many of us follow once springtime rolls around. Depending on our motivation level, and strength of our hoarding tendencies, home offices and garages might be cleaned out over the course of a lengthy (and nowadays sports-light) Sunday afternoon. Yes, we may one day find some utility in that 2005 day planner, but more likely the time has come to free up precious shelf space.

In a similar vein, I just found myself pulling no less than seven suit jackets, some dating back to the turn of the century, out of my closet. All were ostensibly repurposed as sport coats, once the accompanying pants had worn through in the seat — but in truth they were doing nothing more than serving as decorations for some of my finest hangers. The fact that it was even a question as to whether to clear them out is a testament to the power of inertia, at a minimum.

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200,000 Virginia Convicted Felons are Voting in November….Why aren’t YOU?

About 200,000 convicted felons in Virginia will now have the right to vote in November

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will make all ex-felons in Virginia eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election, part of a years-long effort to restore full voting rights to former convicts. (Governor Virginia / YouTube)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will allow more than 200,000 ex-cons in Virginia to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election, one of the biggest actions taken by a state to instantly restore voting rights.

The change applies to all felons who have completed their sentences and been released from supervised probation or parole. The Democratic governor’s decision particularly affects black residents of Virginia: 1 in 4 African Americans in the state has been permanently banned from voting because of laws restricting the rights of those with convictions.

“Once you have served your time and you’ve finished up your supervised parole. . .I want you back as a full citizen of the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “I want you to have a job. I want you paying taxes, and you can’t be a second-class citizen.”

The governor called the instant restoration of rights to these Virginians the natural next step to his incremental streamlining of a process that has already given 18,000 nonviolent felons their rights back. With the signing of Friday’s executive order, McAuliffe eliminated the need for an application for violent felons who had completed their sentences up to that moment.

The announcement Friday immediately drew criticism from Republicans who viewed McAuliffe’s action as a blatant favor to his longtime friend Hillary Clinton, for whom he and his wife recently raised $2 million at their McLean home.

“It is hard to describe how transparent the Governor’s motives are,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said in a statement. “The singular purpose of Terry McAuliffe’s governorship is to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States. This office has always been a stepping stone to a job in Hillary Clinton’s cabinet.”

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How Donald Trump defied all odds

donald trump

Everyone said it wouldn’t happen. Everyone was wrong.

Donald Trump pulled off one of the most unlikely electoral coups of modern times this week, toppling the political and media establishment to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. His domination of the primary season, which effectively ended Wednesday when Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped the last remaining challenge to Trump, was unthinkable just weeks ago when the political conversation still centered on the potential of a contested convention.
But a campaign initially dismissed as a joke — The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank promised Thursday to honor his vow to eat his column in penance — confounded the pundits to such a degree that all bets are off about how the rest of the 2016 campaign might unfold. Even Trump himself seemed surprised by the swiftness at which he locked down the nomination. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Wednesday, Trump said he expected Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to finish her primary campaign before him.
“I’m even surprised,” Trump said. “I thought I’d be going longer, she’d be going shorter.”
But the grind of presidential politics leaves no time for savoring victory.
In his first full day as the presumptive nominee, Trump’s campaign had to quickly shift gears from a primary fight to a search for a running mate. Meanwhile, Trump faces a host of new questions about his prospects against Clinton in the fall, including whether his unorthodox approach to winning the GOP primary will translate into a general election battle against one of the biggest names in politics.
“It is a big challenge but he has already defied every single thing of political gravity that we have known,” said Mike Shields, former Chief of Staff for the Republican National Committee.
“Who’s to say that he can’t do all of these things and then some,” Shields said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Trump is starting from a tough place.
A new CNN/ORC poll on Wednesday found that Clinton leads Trump 54% to 41% in a potential general election match-up — her biggest lead since July. She is more trusted than him on issues ranging from foreign policy to education and health care.
Still, by a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton. And almost 9 out of 10 voters in the poll called the economy extremely or very important to their vote, outranking any other issue tested in the poll.
The political skills that Trump brought to the primary fight could prove potent in a race already shaping up as a bitter, nasty personal clash with Clinton.
After all, the tough tactics from the political neophyte disrupted one of the most experienced Republican fields in a generation. He destroyed the political hopes of Jeb Bush with his “low energy” jibe. Trump’s brawling tongue also obliterated — at least for now — the potential of the GOP’s next generation of political rock stars, “Lyin” Ted Cruz and “Little” Marco Rubio.
He’s trying to take a similar approach to Clinton, dubbing her “Crooked Hillary.”

Revolutionizing campaign

With an unerring eye for a rival’s weaknesses, he revolutionized how campaigns are won, becoming a master of social media, hijacking news agendas with skills honed on a reality television and a mastery of targeted marketing.
And with undeniable political skill, Trump — a multi-billionaire with a Boeing equipped with gold seat belts — became an earthy cypher for ignored blue collar Americans who revile conventional politicians as they struggle to get by in a wounded economy.
Using just a few issues, like illegal immigration, the toll wreaked on industrial communities by free trade and by playing into a wider sense of national decline with his “Make America Great Again” message, Trump made himself an unstoppable political force. His bite was so intimidating that by the time competitors such as Bush, Cruz and Rubio mustered the courage to lambast his past, his character and his politics, their campaigns were already faltering.
Clinton may not make a similar mistake. In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, she showed no problem hitting Trump.
“He’s a loose cannon,” she said. “And loose cannons tend to misfire.”

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23 Fascinating and Disturbing Mother’s Day Facts

Mothers Day

By: Millie Dent

While you’re busy lavishing praise and presents on your mom on Mother’s Day, give her the gift of knowledge: Share with her this story, as well as these other fun Mother’s Day facts.

$62,985: Annual salary you would have to pay someone in 2015 to perform the tasks mothers do at home, according to calculation by

14: Hours per week the average mom spends cooking.

84.5 million: Total number of mothers in the U.S.

2 billion: Number of mothers in the world.

2: Number of babies moms in the U.S. give birth to, on average.

84.4: Percentage of Americans who intend to celebrate Mother’s Day this year.

$4.2 billion: Amount consumers plan to spend on jewelry for Mother’s Day gifts, according to the National Retail Federation.

$4.1 billion: Estimated tab for special outings, like dinner or brunch.

$2.4 billion: Amount expected to be spent on flowers.

$21.4 billion: America’s total estimated spend on celebrating Mother’s Day.

$172.22: Average amount that Americans will spend for Mother’s Day, down from last year’s record-high of $172.63.

$133: The amount the average male spends on Mother’s Day gifts, compared with the $214 that the average woman spends.

68: Percentage of people who plan on calling their mother on Mother’s Day — which equals about 122.5 million phone calls, more than any other Sunday throughout the year.

7,300: Average number of diaper changes a mom does by a baby’s second birthday.

26.3: Average age at which a mother had her first child in 2014, up from 24.9 in 2000.

4.3: Babies born each second worldwide.

69: Highest recorded number of children born to one mother. The woman was married to a Russian peasant and lived in the 18th century. She gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

15: Highest recorded number of sets of triplets that one woman has delivered. The busy mom was Maddalena Granata, who lived in Italy between 1839 and 1886.

5 years, 7 months and 21 days: Reported age of the youngest mother ever to give birth. The girl’s name was Lina Medina and she gave birth in May 1939 in Peru.

72 years: Age of the oldest mother to give birth. She was an Indian woman named Omkari Panwar, who already had five grandchildren. She had twins.

71 centimeters: Height of the world’s smallest mom, Stacey Herald, who stands at just 2′ 4″. She’s given birth to three babies, even though she received warnings from doctors that she was too small to carry a child.

71.12 centimeters: The longest recorded baby was 71.12 cm and weighed 22 pounds.

22 pounds, 8 ounces: Heaviest recorded birth weight for a baby.

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Better Than The Dentist


dental visityOne of the most anxious days in a home with young children is “Dentist Day.” In our family, we try to get it all over with as quickly as possible, and have the dentist see all the kids in consecutive appointments. What usually happens is that at least one of them needs some follow-up, either to fill a cavity, get sealants, or check up on the progress of a stubborn baby tooth that won’t fall out. On a recent Sunday morning, it was my turn to take my daughter for one of those follow-up visits. Thankfully it was not intended as a dramatic visit involving real dental work — just a quick x-ray to monitor the progress of a tooth, nothing more.

What struck me as I watched my daughter settle into the chair was how her demeanor completely changed — really from the moment we got to the office, but more starkly once she was actually sitting down in the chair. Even though she knew we were going to the dentist, and may have had reservations about what to expect, she was her usual active, engaged self on the drive over. But once we got into the office, I could see the anxiety creep onto to her face. Once she was in the chair, it was clear that she was concerned and uncertain. I did my best to deflect her attention, and the x-ray was finished in a moment. As dentist visits go, this was as easy as it gets, and her mood almost instantaneously improved as soon as we left.

The entire episode reminded me of something we sometimes take for granted as lawyers — in particular when we interact with non-lawyers, especially when they are on our turf. While we might be comfortable in our familiar surroundings, and convince ourselves that because we have nice well-appointed offices that non-lawyers will automatically welcome a visit, the truth is that very often we are overlooking the possible anxiety-causing aspects of the experience. Any good pediatric dentist knows the importance of making their patients comfortable, whether by distraction with toys or by having kid-friendly shows or movies on the screen. Since for many people dealing with lawyers is at least as uncomfortable as a trip to the dentist, we should be sensitive to our clients’ needs in this regard.

I am not saying that law firms should start springing for Netflix subscriptions for the flat-screens in the conference rooms. Just that we recognize that even a visit to a friendly lawyer can be an anxiety-inducing experience in a client. For example, every litigator knows the importance of preparing witnesses for their depositions. While the most important part of that process is making sure the witness is comfortable with their expected testimony and the substantive issues in the case, deposition preparation of clients would be lacking if the witness’s potential anxiety is not addressed. For that reason, it is important to acclimate the witness to their surroundings. If at all possible, that can mean preparing the witness in the same conference room where the deposition will take place, or at least one like it. The more of a dress rehearsal the preparation is, the better. Including the stage for the performance.

Likewise, it is not unusual for witnesses, and even less experienced lawyers, to have some anxiety in the courtroom. One of the best ways to deal with that anxiety is to have the witness or anxious colleague visit the courtroom before their scheduled performance — ideally on a day when court is in session, so they will have the ability to watch a similar proceeding to the one they are supposed to participate in. While nothing can completely diffuse the tension of an important hearing or trial, it is best if the participants are at least acclimated to their surroundings. Performance anxiety is not necessarily always bad, since if channeled properly, it can coax a better performance out of the person experiencing it. At the same time, there is no need to pile onto an already anxious situation, particularly when some simple planning can alleviate some of the fear of the unknown.

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What Do Millennials Want?



A recent article in the weekend Wall Street Journal had some fascinating points to make about the training and retention of millennials in the banking/investment banking industries, and I think that many of those points apply equally to millennial/newbie lawyers.

Retention is a problem for the finance industry and it is becoming a problem for the legal industry as well. In finance, millennials are leaving, not just to join hedge funds or private equity funds to boost their income, but they’re leaving for startups and other employers where they feel that they won’t just be cogs in wheels, but can actively contribute to the business at hand, rather than the repetitive drudgery of spreadsheets and Power Point stacks. Sound familiar? It should.

We have the same problem in our profession, assigning millennials to document review, drafting and responding to discovery, form documentation work, all the drudgery work that makes up so much of so many lawyers’ lives, and that we all had to do as part of our training. I wonder how many of us would have ever gone to law school had we known how much routine and yes, even boring, paperwork there is, decades into the practice.

In my days, it was Perry Mason and The Defenders (if you’re not familiar with the latter, Google it, a great show) that factored into my thinking to be a lawyer. For newer lawyers, it was probably L.A. Law, The Practice, The Good Wife, among others. How many times, if ever, did we see these TV lawyers slaving over a motion to compel or a motion for summary judgment? How many times, if ever, did we see TV lawyers review files or plead telephonically with the court clerk trying to get that default judgment entered? How many times did we ever see an associate breathlessly run into the partner’s office, having found a case on all fours? “None” is the number that comes to my mind. Yours? These tasks are all part of a lawyer’s job, like them or not.

So, what do we do to train and retain lawyers? Practical skills training in law school only get the students so far. What the Journal found in numerous interviews was a tension between hierarchical culture and the desire for the younger employees to have more substantive work earlier in their careers. So, is the concept of “paying your dues,” e.g. doing the crap work that the senior lawyers had to do early in their careers, still viable? “I had to do it, so you do, too.” (Don’t get me started on the California Bar Exam being reduced from three days to two starting in 2017… talk about a rite of passage….)

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Don’t Wait For Opportunities, Create Them


It continues to be a tough market out there for law opportunitystudents and recent grads. A general malaise still envelops the oplegal industry. There are signs of optimism here and there, but no tangible, overall recovery. Too many law students continue to scramble for too few jobs. Many of them are struggling and grasping for straws

Many established lawyers look at the current employment landscape for new lawyers and say “not my problem.” Which largely, it isn’t. They’re busy looking after their own. But some lawyers (myself included), think it’s important to reach out and try and help new lawyers as best we can. For me, it’s because I remember what it was like graduating into the morass of the legal industry back in 2010. So this past week, I helped organize an event for current law students in conjunction with my local bar association.

The event started with a panel discussion with lawyers from small, medium, and large firms, along with an in-house counsel for a large corporation. A local judge moderated the panel. We talked about how we all ended up where we did. The hiring processes. How students and new grads can stand out on the job (in a good way, not in a show-up-on-ATL way).

Some question the value of bar associations, but I’ve found them to be great resources. Bar associations are essentially a lawyer’s professional community. And as I have noted before, if you invest in your community, your community will invest in you. By joining a local bar association and dedicating real time and effort to it, you can begin to develop the relationships you need in order to thrive as a small-firm practitioner. Extending these same sort of opportunities to law students only follows suit.

After the panel discussion, there was a social event held in conjunction with the small-firm section of the Bar. Twenty or so law students mixing with sixty or so lawyers. I was circulating about, chatting with many of the other lawyers there that I know. Talking shop, asking about families. The usual.

I was keeping an eye out on the law students while doing so. I was curious how many among them would take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to them on a silver platter.

FYI to law students: many lawyers find chatting with you to be a chore. Especially at Bar functions. Most of the lawyers are there to relax or socialize with other lawyers. Suddenly a law student desperate for a job comes up and starts digging for information. It’s not exactly endearing.

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Pepper Hamilton and Reed Smith Are Talking Merger

By: Gina Passarella, The Legal Intelligencer

A merger betReed Smithween two Pennsylvania-founded law firms could create a firm with more than 600 lawyers in the state and more than 2,000 worldwide if early-stage talks between Reed Smith and Pepper Hamilton result in a union. While news of a potential intrastate deal raised some eyebrows, many cited to both firms’ need to grow either in terms of geography or practice depth, with the pharmaceutical, life sciences and corporate practices touted as some of the firms’ mutual strengths.

Word of merger discussions between the two firms was first reported by Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business.

“These talks are in the early stages and will require a substantial amount of ­additional consideration on our part before we are prepared to bring this transaction before the Pepper partners for full consideration,” Pepper Hamilton said in a statement Tuesday.

In its own statement, Reed Smith said it has wanted to strengthen its industry focus and add to its strategic practice areas.

“In executing this strategy, we speak regularly with law firms around the world regarding our respective objectives,” Reed Smith said in the statement. “As part of that process, we have had preliminary discussions with Pepper Hamilton, a firm we know well and respect, about a possible combination. Based on these preliminary discussions, we see many potential ­benefits to joining forces. There remains a ­significant amount of work to do with Pepper Hamilton to assess those benefits and before any ­transaction would be ready to bring to the Reed Smith partnership.”

Reed Smith has taken a few years off from substantial mergers after growing ­significantly over the course of the decade to become an international firm with more than 1,600 lawyers. But the firm laid off 45 attorneys and additional staff earlier this year in what the firm said was an effort to be more efficient. It also saw the defection of a team of lawyers in the last few weeks to McGuireWoods in Pittsburgh, New York and San Francisco that handled a notable Bank of America account.

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Strong Attachments (Or: Important Advice about Email)


attachmentEmail has long been the communication method of choice for lawyers. While chat has begun to make inroads, the vast majority of most lawyers’ communications — both internally and to the outside world — are via email. Lawyers use email heavily, irrespective of what kind of law they practice, or the type of organization they practice their law in. I have previously provided some tips for crafting good emails, and stressed how important it is to respect your reader by looking for ways to give them the information needed with as little burden as possible.

In that column, I gave admittedly short shrift to the topic of email attachments. In fact, my entire discussion of that subject matter was: “if you promise an attachment, please include it. That’s it on that one. Failure to do so shows carelessness.” While I still agree with myself, and believe that failing to include a promised email attachment is bad, I also think there is more to consider on the topic of email attachments. Before I get to that, it is best to preemptively respond to those who would say (strawman, anyone) that neglecting to include a promised attachment is not a big deal. Because at least in the legal profession, it is.

I concede that you may not care too much when your cousin in Minnesota forgets to attach pictures, like of her kids making snow angels, in her weekly update email to the entire extended family. But consider how you would feel if you just paid an obscene amount of money to a ticket broker for those Taylor Swift tickets that your teenage daughter insists would be the greatest present ever, only to realize that the confirmation email didn’t include the promised PDFs of the actual tickets. Even though you would get the tickets resent with just another call or email to the broker, you would be annoyed, and likely begin to seriously doubt the professionalism of the business you just dealt with. Clients paying you hundreds of dollars an hour feel the same way when you waste their time with careless mistakes. Sending an email without a referenced attachment qualifies as a careless mistake.

In our competitive profession, there really is not a lot of room for such kinds of mistakes. Will neglecting to include an attachment get you fired as an associate, even if you are forced to deal with the most demanding partner imaginable? Probably not. But it will dent your reputation, especially if it occurs frequently or overlaps with other demonstrations of carelessness. You need every ounce of equity you earn in this business. Trading that equity in, even in small measure, to cover for careless mistakes is just not worth it.

Paper Clip IconThankfully, I have noticed that my current version of Outlook will actually prompt me in the event my email references an attachment and one is not actually attached. It’s a handy feature, and will probably save me at some point from a careless error. At the same time, when your email client reminds you not to forget an attachment and you do it anyway, it looks even worse.


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Which Type of Exercise Is Best for the Brain?

By Gretchen Reynolds


Some forms of exercise may be much more effective than others at bulking up the brain, according to a remarkable new study in rats. For the first time, scientists compared head-to-head the neurological impacts of different types of exercise: running, weight training and high-intensity interval training. The surprising results suggest that going hard may not be the best option for long-term brain health.

As I have often written, exercise changes the structure and function of the brain. Studies in animals and people have shown that physical activity generally increases brain volume and can reduce the number and size of age-related holes in the brain’s white and gray matter.

Exercise also, and perhaps most resonantly, augments adult neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells in an already mature brain. In studies with animals, exercise, in the form of running wheels or treadmills, has been found to double or even triple the number of new neurons that appear afterward in the animals’ hippocampus, a key area of the brain for learning and memory, compared to the brains of animals that remain sedentary. Scientists believe that exercise has similar impacts on the human hippocampus.

These past studies of exercise and neurogenesis understandably have focused on distance running. Lab rodents know how to run. But whether other forms of exercise likewise prompt increases in neurogenesis has been unknown and is an issue of increasing interest, given the growing popularity of workouts such as weight training and high-intensity intervals.

So for the new study, which was published this month in the Journal of Physiology, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and other institutions gathered a large group of adult male rats. The researchers injected the rats with a substance that marks new brain cells and then set groups of them to an array of different workouts, with one group remaining sedentary to serve as controls. Continue reading