How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

Once again, Evan, you've gone where no sensate being dare to go. What's scary is that these folk are going to be somebody's lawyer in a few years.

Note to the "ipso facto" weblogger: Rather obvious name AND already used by a number of websites. I suggest, if you must use Latin, "ipse dici" -- "because I said so" -- which I just Googled and does not appear to be taken.


David: You don't like law-student weblogs? They're my favorite. You get the intelligence and wit of smart people without all the "I'm a lawyer so I better self-edit the fun out"-ness of law blawgs.

Not that there's anything wrong with being dry if you have to be--it goes with the territory of being a lawyer, I guess.

David Giacalone

Evan, there are only so many hours in the day for weblog-surfing (unless you're a trial lawyer, apparently). I see no real difference between law students and any other 20-somethings as far as wit and insight goes -- and I don't have a lot of time for 20-something weblogs. I guess I like my wit and insight a bit more aged. Call me agist, old-fogey; I can take it.

Oh, and I like fomenting fomentation.


To each their own David. I prefer to spend my time reading poems that are a bit more developed and nuanced than those which arise from 5 point plans. Haiku as a busy lifestyle accessory? As something “easy” which does not require discipline and understanding? Please.


The Scoplaw


Ahem, David. Not *all* law students are "20-something". A few of the older, "returning to school geezers" such as myself blog as well. But hey, I'm still a law student, so I guess I should just go get blitzed. I mean, hell, it's already 1:00pm on a Sunday, and I certainly wouldn't want to buck any law student stereotypes.

David Giacalone

Dave!: You, like any wise law student, lawyer, or human being knows: (1) there are a lot of valid reasons for most stereotypes; (2) there are usually significant exceptions to every stereotype. and (3) a sense of humor is a most valuable asset.

Hey, Scoppy: I'm not trying to change anyone's taste or opinion. But, I'd love to know what you're smokin'. When your head clears up, please read my post on lawyers and haiku again. Maybe you'll be able to summarize it a wee bit more accurately next time. Unlike the current White House, neither this weblog nor mine is a Nuance-Free Zone.

Now, when I get back from my nap, I hope we'll all be a lot cheerier and entertaining, for Evan's sake.


David: Don't worry about me. I think this thread has been plenty entertaining, even if not too cheery.



Sorry to clutter your blog.


Apparently I haven't been smoking enough, as I've yet to have a "multi-dimensional artistic experience." However, in an event that was nearly as surreal as I imagine such would be, I did re-read your post, and I *am* pleased that you fought your way upstream against our "hyperactive society" and realized that even you "could learn to 'do something creative.'" What's next, knitting?

I must use this quote somewhere: "The haiku concept is complex enough to be a challenge but manageable enough to be mastered by anyone who gives it a little quality time. Every lawyer may not have a great novel inside her or him, but every lawyer can create some very passable haiku, and maybe even some great haiku."

Quite the rallying cry. If I have any quality time on my hands this afternoon, I'll be sure to master this 600 year old art form (a.k.a., "the haiku concept"). Seems much easier than knitting, somehow.


To get a law student's perspective on sex and the law. And check out Scott's Fans! [Life, Law, Libido]

David Giacalone

dear Scofflaw: How silly of me to think that a person trained in the law would be able to understand a concept that is "600 years old". Thank goodness that it wasn't until the second half of the 17th Century that haiku as we know it -- stand-alone poems of 5-7-5 "syllables" -- was established in Japan. See The Classic Tradition of Haiku (Ed., Faubion Bowers, Dover Press, 1996). Maybe we have a chance now to bridge the centuries.

I'm going to assume that your answer is supposed to be provocative and entertaining, rather than thoughtful. It would be interesting to see some of your more serious written workproduct -- legal or literary -- so that I could appreciate your talents further.

Meanwhile, I'm going to continue to believe that most lawyers (and, yes, even you) could -- like millions of others worldwide -- learn to appreciate the concept of haiku sufficiently to know and enjoy a good one, without enormous investment in time or intellectual elbowgrease. And, if desired, they could then start writing passable ones, and maybe eventually great ones, without having to give up their day job.

Please stop by f/k/a, if you'd like to enjoy haiku by some of the best haijin currently writing in the genre [plus my own humble, beginner haiku], and for translations from the great Issa. If you're interested in writing haiku, check out Jim Kacian's Primer at the site, and other materials found on our Haiku Resources page.

Thanks for the suggestion, but my little old hands are a bit too clumsy for knitting. It's tough enough typing up posts that will be reviewed by some very bright young critics.


Discrimination is arguably the heart of poetry, and perhaps it has something to do with the law as well. Let’s consider the different stances you’ve taken with regard to approaching haiku, namely, “mastering” an art form v. “appreciating” the art form v. “understanding a concept.”

I understand the basic concepts behind figure-skating quite well. Does it follow that I have an appreciation of the art form? How about an informed appreciation? Does it follow that I can “master” that form?

To break it down in the opposite direction, can one “master” a form without an informed appreciation of the form? Can this informed appreciation exist without a comprehensive understanding of the concepts involved?

There is a rather wide gap between people strapping on the sakes, and people who, by virtue of skill, training, and practice, are able to produce something so aesthetically pleasing that it’s worth the time of third parties (even if those third parties must have an inherent understanding of the limitations and conventions employed to fully appreciate the performance at hand).

Honestly David, I get annoyed at people who effectively belittle and dismiss any complex art form, via their insinuations that effectively *creating within that art form is “easy” to master* based on the relative ease with which one can learn to merely appreciate it. But it’s a rather common fallacy, and I should have learned to let that annoyance go unremarked upon long since.

I don’t mean to dismiss your efforts entirely, and certainly wish you the best in promoting an understanding of haiku. Perhaps, given time, you will evolve into a good haiku poet, or perhaps your educational efforts will foster the development of such a poet. But as you go about this, perhaps you ought to consider that there have probably been more good mystery novelists than good haiku poets.

It seems you hold blogs, perhaps one of the most off the cuff modes of expression available, and one without an established history or convention, to a rather high standard. Indeed, you go so far to suggest that sensate beings avoid the blogs listed by Evan, that those blogs are not worth the time to read. How very odd that as you offhandedly dismiss the lesser and more open form (blogs), you seem completely unwilling to apply a similar but reduced standard in your evaluation one of the more subtle and established poetic traditions. I think there's a word for that.

Ah, I’ve exceeded my five minutes.

David Giacalone

[Evan, thanks for granting us this space.]

Scoplaw: As a former mediator, I know that two people who think they have a significant dispute are often really much closer together than they each think -- so that reframing the issue, checking that words used have a shared meaning, and improving the tone used by the "disputants" usually shows that they, at the very least, share significant areas of agreement. I think that is true for us (unless you merely want to have a verbal fight; if you do, all I can say is "you win", as I don't have the energy nor the need for the victory).

The crux of your position seems to be my misuse of the word "master." [Feel free to suggest a better verb.] I used it in reference to mastering the "haiku concept", not mastering the writing of excellent haiku. I believe the concept has often been trivialized, but still needs to be explored further by a person who hopes to appreciate haiku as a reader, or to go further and attempt writing "real" haiku.

Only one of my five stated reasons why lawyers and haiku are a good fit is about writing haiku, and it clearly states, after the mentioning mastery of the "concept", that "every lawyer can create some very passable haiku, and maybe even some great haiku." I don't think the Reasonable Person would conclude that I believe, or was suggesting, that writing top-notch haiku is easy or quick to master. [see Jim Kacian's Primer, which I am proud to present at the site, and even my own introduction to haiku.] If I have given that impression, I'd like to correct it right now.

A quick look at my About page will show that the focus of the weblog is enjoying the reading of haiku; and there is also encouragement to learn more about the concept and try writing it. Here are the first sentence and last paragraph of the About section:

f/k/a . . . is here to offer a daily dose of quality haiku. It's a treat to find, share and write them.

I hope you'll catch haiku fever from this weblog and the resources mentioned in the weblog. Take a quick look at A Primer on English-Language Haiku, by your Editor. It's a beginner's attempt to find a definition of haiku. For a more polished primer on the essence, art and technique of haiku, check the monthly installments from renowned poet-editor Jim Kacian. But, most of all, please read and enjoy the haiku!

My reference to "sensate beings" was clearly [even without emoticons] hyperbole meant to provoke a smile and a response. As I wrote above to Dave!, there are exceptions to every broad statement or stereotype. As I replied to Evan, I simply do not have the time -- and am amazed that practicing lawyers have the time -- to check out any large number of law student weblogs regularly. I do read a couple with regularlity and I click over to particular posts that seem of interest.

Frankly, I do believe that many weblogs by students (middle school through graduate school) predominantly cover topics that are of little interest to a man who will be 55 in a couple months. Also, many law students have opinions on law, ethics, politics and other "serious" topics that are not sufficiently "mature" or "thought through" to warrant a lot of my time. Sure, I know I will miss some great commentary and punditry -- as well as humor -- but I have to prioritize my limited time and energy, just as I do with magazines, novels, journals, etc.

I don't think that I hold weblogs in general to an unduly high standard -- as opposed to holding the ones that garner a significant amount of my time to a high standard. And, of course, a lot depends on what the particular weblog is attempting to do. I clearly do not believe that we should parse as closely as you have done here the words set out in the informal setting of a weblog that is updated daily (especially in the context of a neophyte attempting to share his enthusiasm for a beloved hobby). If I thought every word I said would be the subject of intense "lawyer thinking," I would either post a lot less on important subjects, or would post a big disclaimer that the ideas are not meant to be polished, final thoughts on any subject.


Now contentionless,
I light up a smoke. At least
I've read some poetry.


Wow! Thank you for a fiery display of lawyer egos. Too bad it isn't closer to the 4th of July.


No... we really were out of toilet paper. Seriously. And I wouldn't go so far as to say that that post was out of line with my usual quality. This ain't some fancy haikuin' I'm doin' over here.

Thanks for the link, though.

David Giacalone

Sorry about the prolixity folks. Haiku is my way of learning to keep things short (kind of like that red light for Kerry). I sure wish (as do all of you) that it would start seeping into the rest of my writing.

Enjoy that smoke, Scop!

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