Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lawyer Jokes (An Occasional Series).

Told this joke in class this week before discussing an actual case involving a doctor and lawyer:

"A doctor and a lawyer were talking at a party. However, their conversation was constantly interrupted by people describing their ailments and asking the doctor for free medical advice.

"After an hour of this, the exasperated doctor asked the lawyer, 'What do you do to stop people from asking you for legal advice when you're out of the office?'

"'I give it to them,' replied the lawyer, 'and then I send them a bill.'

"The doctor was shocked, but agreed to give it a try. The next day, still feeling slightly guilty, the doctor prepared the bills.

"When he went to place them in his mailbox, he found a bill from the lawyer."


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mark Your Calendar!

At least this prediction was specific: May 21, 2011! And it's promised to be "100% biblical".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to Its Knees (2010).

A college roommate implored me to read Tolstoy's War and Peace.

His persuasive pitch was that the book covered every aspect of the human experience.

I would challenge him by asking, "What about [this]?" He'd reply, "It's in there." I'd try again, "What about [that]?" He'd say, "It's in there."

I've been heartily recommending Circle of Greed by Patrick Dillon and Carl M. Cannon to my law students and fellow lawyers with a similar pitch: Circle of Greed covers the entire range of experience for litigation lawyers, ably showing how cases are prepared, litigated and tried. In so doing, Pulitzer Prize winning writers Cannon and Dillon have created a masterpiece much like Tolstoy. I can't say much more than to declare this is the best book I've read this year, and I doubt it will be topped in 2010.

The book reaches its dramatic apogee in and around chapter 22 cleverly entitled, "The Hunters and the Hunted." In this duality, the book reports on class action securities lawyer William Lerach's simultaneous climb to pinnacle of his civil law niche in pursuit of Enron, while descending to the nadir of the criminal law as the target of the federal investigation that ultimately led to his felony conviction and substantial prison time.

Since Lerach cooperated with the writers, the book provides many fascinating details that an "unauthorized" book would not. While trying to be fair, the book exposes both the laudable and the lamentable. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, Lerach does emerge rather well from the narrative, vindicating his decision to participate in the book.

The ultimate beneficiary, however, is the reader. Circle of Greed garners my top recommendation.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review: Last Words (2009) by George Carlin with Tony Hendra.

I confess I don't like the old George Carlin.

By this, I don't mean the elder version. I mean the younger one.

The older George didn't like the the younger one either.

This posthumously published book, Last Words, explains why. Carlin writes about how he found his voice later in life. He found his voice only after he dug deeply, while dispensing with artifices that characterized his earlier career filled with synthetic television show appearances, "micro-world" topics, such as toe nails and peas, and throwaway characters (leading to some self-loathing).

Carlin's later material (especially his HBO specials from about the late 1990s forward) was beyond challenging, bracing, acerbic, dark, angry and at times idiosyncratically insightful. On top of the penetrating substance, Carlin's mastery of the English language, his delivery, and presentation set the bar for later comics.

More informational than funny, Carlin's book reveals much about his Irish-Catholic upbringing in New York City (with, as he says, "no father and half a mother"), his surprising time in the Air Force, his career arc, and most intimately, his marriages (he was widowed from his first wife and married to his second for almost 10 years when he died on June 22, 2008) and personal failings and insecurities.

Recommended to Carlin fans and to satirists/comics wanting to learn from the best how it is done.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Lawyer Jokes (An Occasional Series).

Another law and theology joke:

"A lawyer was sitting in her office late one night, when Satan appeared. The Devil told the lawyer: 'I have a proposition for you. You can win every case you try for the rest of your life. Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you, and you will make embarrassing sums of money. All I want in exchange is your soul, your husband's soul, your children's souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law, and the souls of all your friends and law partners.'

"The lawyer thought for a moment, then asked: 'So, what's the catch?'"

(via The 'Lectric Law Library:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lawyer Jokes (An Occasional Series).

Author and attorney Scott Turow told this joke on NPR today. Because it mixes law and theology I can't resist repeating it here (with slight paraphrasing).

An engineer, a physician and an attorney were sitting on a park bench.

The engineer asserted God was an engineer because he created the physical universe with such precision and complexity.

The physician disagreed, arguing that God was a doctor because of how he created human bodies with such intricate, symbiotic functionality.

The lawyer asserted, "You're both wrong. God was a lawyer. The first thing he created was chaos and darkness."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Movie Review: You Don't Know Jack (2010).

If someone were to come to you with an offer to make a movie about your life, and pitch that Al Pacino would play you and Barry Levinson would direct, would you think it was going to be a positive portrayal?

I would. So when I saw those film auteurs would be involved in the HBO film project about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, I predicted he would be essentially lionized in it.

I was right.

The film treats Dr. Kevorkian as a principled, yet eccentric fellow who is fighting for phyisician-assisted suicide, even at his peril. On top of medical and ethical issues, the film delves deeply into the legal conflicts Dr. Kevorkian found himself in, which the movie noted was no fewer than five prosecutions. In addition to trial scenes, the movie shows an appellate oral argument. As a result, lawyers will enjoy the movie much like watching the trial scenes in My Cousin Vinny.

Dr. Kevorkian did well in these legal skirmishes as long as he left the lawyering to lawyers (i.e. Geoffrey Fieger, who donated his time to the cause). On the last one, Dr. Kevorkian essentially represented himself and did eight years in prison for second degree murder. Surgeons wouldn't dream of performing surgery on themselves, and much more so, nondoctors shouldn't either. The strongest case the movie makes is one should not represent oneself in a murder prosecution. Good advice.

Strongly on Dr. Kevorkian's side, the movie unnecessarily lampoons as charicatures those who disagree (essentially on religious grounds). The film makes no pretense of presenting the other side reasonably, but resorts to reducing the opposition to sloganeering (from sneering, unsophisticated folks).

Despite the imbalance, the movie deserves credit for addressing an incendiary issue through the quirky life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and in doing so, in the context of legal procedure.

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