"I tried to write the majority of these songs with that simplicity in mind-- probably not successfully. I really tried to think about that place that sits on the edge between being cliché and profound. That's a rarified space that songwriters rarely get to."
--Beck, on his new "album," Song Reader, which is made up of 20 new songs in sheet-music form only.
LAWYERS CAN BLOG -- HERE'S HOW -- A NEW BOOK FROM ERNIE SVENSON. . .
Ernie Svenson's new book Blogging in One Hour For Lawyers (ABA 2012) is targeted at lawyers who don't blog yet but want to learn how. It's a nicely-produced and well-written book. It certainly accomplishes its main goal: teaching lawyers what they need to know to start blogging right away, with clear, step-by-step examples and useful appendices and checklists.
Ernie Svenson is, of course, the author of the blog Ernie the Attorney, which was one of the only law-related blogs I read before starting this blog back in 2004. Svenson sent me a copy of his new book as a gift. Because I'm highly-invested in the question of blogs for lawyers--having kept two blogs going without interruption for nine years (!!!)--I got to work immediately reading the book.
The surprise is how useful Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers would be for veteran bloggers too. In addition to the basics, Svenson also covers a number of technical issues, e.g., domain names, domain mapping, blog promotion, and RSS feeds.
Before I had even finished with the book, I made a change to my blogs based on one of Svenson's recommendations, which was to link my blogs more closely to my Twitter account. I also paid close attention to Svenson's insights into the ethics of blogging, "dealing with criticism," and "best tips for success" ("be honest and down-to-earth about what you believe and why you believe it.")
ADVICE TO YOUNG LAWYERS #17 . . .Dear Mr. Schaeffer:
As a second-year associate at a large law firm in New York City, I'm required to work very long hours. That's not true of all the associates at my firm--the patent department has it pretty easy, as do the bond lawyers--but my personal gig is litigation. It means I'm always being asked to put out fires or do things at the last minute. On a good day, I'm not home until ten in the evening. I throw down my briefcase, kick off my shoes, and plop down on the sofa. I sometimes think about calling an old friend or two but it's always too late or I'm too tired. It's been this way for as long as I can remember. Except for once in awhile with my older brother, I haven't had a real conversation in months. It was two summers ago that I had my last real date with a man. Sure it's great to be able to pay off my student loans, but this job is just making me so terribly lonely.
It was for these reasons that I decided to keep a hamster at the office. His name is Fred and he's my friend at a time in my life when it seems I have no friends.
Like many professionals, lawyers take pride in their ability to perform at the highest level of their professional capabilities. But even when they’ve reached this peak, the best lawyers never stop learning. That's why they are naturally drawn to the useful nuggets of information that are strewn around the Internet in the form of “tips.”
While finding a single useful tip constitutes a good day, turning up an entire list of tips is even better. In my contribution to the literature of useful tips, I’ve narrowed my own list to just three. While a tip-list of this size is short enough for busy lawyers to skim, it’s also meaty enough that lawyers with a free weekend and an underused Internet connection can spend hours and hours really pondering how they will use each of my three tips to really super-charge their (hopefully ever more successful) daily law practices.
Without further ado, here are my three tips--
1. Tip of a Butcher’s Nose
I was a little reluctant to list this as my first tip, as it seems a tad too specific and might not aid to strengthen the law practice of every lawyer who reads this list. Although a more generalized tip, e.g., “tip of an average Caucasian nose,” might have increased the reach of my advice somewhat, it’s likewise possible that I would have veered into over-generalization, in which case my advice would have been watered down to the point that it was of little value to anyone.
This is another way of saying that the lists of tips you find on the Internet (but not this one!) often fall into one of two categories: (a) inapplicable to your own personal situation, though possibly of some general help to some other greater idiot, or (b) applicable to your own personal situation, but so obvious that, unless you are a greater idiot yourself, you’re already putting the tip to good use. (Either way, if not properly written by a true authority, only greater idiots stand to gain from lists of tips.)
(Bonus related tip: Tip of the Nose of a Parisian Whore) (not illustrated).
2. Tip of the Iceberg My second tip might seem to fall into one of the traps I mentioned above: so obvious as to be of little merit in a list as short as this one. Should I have saved it for the list of twenty tips I plan to publish next month, or the list of fifty-seven tips I hope to publish the month after that?
The answer might surprise you: No.
The beauty of the tip of the iceberg is that it is actually much larger and more powerful that it seems at first glance. This being the case, you owe it to yourself to obtain complete mastery of this tip.
I don’t mean to scare you, but if not properly understood and applied to your own law practice, this tip—the tip of the iceberg—could end up sinking your entire enterprise. As a student of history, I can assure you with confidence that something like this has happened before. Don’t let it happen to you!
(Bonus related tip: Tip of the Tongue) (not illustrated).
3. Tip of a Chest of Gold Half-Buried Near a Shipwreck Beneath the Indian Ocean
My third tip, motivational in nature, will, if used properly, allow you to break away from your unhealthy attachments to lists like this one, written by people you don’t really know. In undermining my own authority like this, I hope you don’t think I’m merely being modest. I’m not. When I say I probably don’t know you, I’m being serious. I probably don't.
In what sense is my third tip “motivational”? While the tip is certainly a mouthful—here I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, as I don’t really expect you to try to eat this tip—it’s a tip that represents, if considered in the proper way, a wealth of useful motivational power.
The reason is simple. The notion of a “chest of gold” makes one think of “gold” which conjures up the notion of “money," which is something which if desired with the requisite passion, will always get you away from your Internet-surfing and working a little harder.
Why not try it yourself? It's so well known that merely thinking of wealth can bring you wealth that it's even been the subject of a number of books, and so therefore must be true.
Want a personal testimonial? Here's one: I thought of wealth, and I got rich! And I'm much happier for it too!
Conclusion. Even if not ideally suited to your own law practice, this list of three useful tips will nonetheless do a world of good, if not for you then for me, by residing on and being indexed on the great Google search engine, where it will bring fresh and eager eyes to my own little corner of the Internet, with its two advertisements (both on the upper left side of the page) that I hope all lawyers will see whether or not my list of tips actually helps them.
I haven't posted much "artwork" lately, though I'm still in the thrall of a drawing compulsion, which began when conversations about art with my son Austin (of the trip to Costa Rica), who's a sophomore at the Kansas City Art Institute, began to spin out of control . . . Previously, I hadn't drawn much since high school.
I'm enjoying the sketchbook so much that it's become the new metaphor for Beyond the Underground. In my sketchbook, I can follow my whims and fancies where they lead--photo-realistic re-creations of B&W family photos with pencil one day, pen-and-ink sketches of trees the next, watercolor views of the neighborhood on the weekend, and so on. That also describes how I've been thinking of this blog lately, as a place to note whatever seems interesting to me at the moment. (By way of comparison, previous metaphors for this blog have been a daily magazine for lawyers, a promotional
brochure for my law firm, a commonplace notebook, etc. -- more on this
in another post, perhaps).
Anyway, on to the sketchbook.
Some leaves from the backyard, done in watercolor (click to enlarge)--
The dome of the New Cathedral in St. Louis (this page is seriously warped)--
The school where my son Sam is in third grade (not exactly to scale, but who cares)--
Meanwhile, Austin is urging me to "go larger," but I'm just not feeling it yet . . .
Shhh! The partner-who-golfs is teeing off, and he never likes it when you chuckle during his backswing. So you don't. Instead, you stand quietly as he adjusts his unorthodox stance, takes two painful-looking practice swings, and then gives it all he’s got with his new Titleist Titanium 983K driver.
Oh, too bad. The partner-who-golfs didn’t quite make it across the lake. As he reaches into his bag for another sleeve of Top Flites, you bite your lip.