Equal opportunity? Making a case for young lawyers

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Before I get to the point of this post, I must admit to something.

I come from a long line of lawyers — sort of. My grandfather was an attorney. One of his sons (my uncle) had a law degree, and my father — who studied international law at the Sorbonne — might have also gone into the “family business” if he hadn’t been forced to flee from his country (a former Communist regime) as a political refugee.

And now I’m a paralegal — although technically I am not working as one in the conventional sense.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Go figure.

But that actually brings me to my point. Finally.

The reason I’m not working as a paralegal in the conventional sense is because competition for entry-level jobs in the greater New York City area is stiff. And firms that are hiring new paralegals insist that candidates have at least one year of experience.

And that raises the age-old conundrum. How are you supposed to get any experience if no one will hire you because you don’t have any experience?

It is a dilemma that young professionals — and those of us who have switched fields — have always faced. But these days, this predicament is not unique to job-seekers in the legal profession. Aspiring trial lawyers who are gainfully employed often find themselves in a similar quandary.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, a federal judge’s reaction to a young lawyer’s presence in his New York courtroom highlights the dearth of opportunities for would-be litigators.

Apparently, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis objected to the fact that a law firm sent a “junior lawyer” to participate in a routine scheduling conference. Strenuously. He reportedly claimed the decision to do so was “outrageous and irresponsible and insulting,” and demanded that Kirkland & Ellis LLP “send a partner” to the next hearing.

Granted, the actual presentation of arguments in the matter, described by The Wall Street Journal as  “a pair of cases alleging Facebook facilitates communication among terrorists,” would best be made by an experienced attorney. But it is not unreasonable to think that a junior attorney could handle something as simple as a scheduling conference. I mean, that’s hardly a matter of life and death.

And according to The Wall Street Journal, many judges agree. Some are even demanding that new lawyers are sent to handle routine matters in their courts.

Current practices just aren’t cutting it, one judge told the Journal.

“If the veteran lawyers of tomorrow get no trial experience, there will be even fewer trials in the future,” said Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Gregg Costa.

Kathi Vidal, a California attorney also quoted in the article, agrees.

“People become trial lawyers because they want to be in court—not sit at desks,” she said.

Scams, schemes, lies and a lawsuit of epic proportions

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At this point I’m not sure who I’ll sue. But I’m going to sue someone. I may even sue a whole bunch of people. And if I have my way, it will be a lawsuit of epic proportions.

But then again, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. So let me start from the beginning.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

To start with, I don’t want to be sued myself. So I can’t name the parties involved in this case. Let’s just call them Company X, Company Y and Company Z.

As I may have mentioned in a prior post, we enlisted the services of Company X in connection with our kitchen renovations earlier this summer. Because Company X is an international conglomeration with a very good reputation, we were confident the project would be completed promptly, on budget and to our satisfaction.

Little did we know…

At any rate, Company X referred us to Company Y, which we paid for general contracting services. We also paid sub-contractors to do the rough plumbing and electrical work, which all went according to plan. We were totally happy… until we phoned the Town Hall to see when the inspections for the rough plumbing and electrical had been scheduled — and found out they weren’t.

So we reached out to Company Y to see what was going on. Phone calls went unanswered. E-mails weren’t returned. A dumpster partially filled with construction debris sat in our driveway.

This went on for weeks.

Finally, we heard from one of our sub-contractors, who called for an update. Without going into too many details, he told us that there was some huge kerfuffle with Company Y — and that we should go ahead and schedule the inspections for the completed work ourselves. So we did.

The inspections went smoothly, but we still couldn’t get a hold of anyone from Company Y. So we got in touch with Company X and they referred us to Company Z. Company Z gave us detailed information about Company Y, and suggested we take legal action against them. Company Z also promised to “make things right” and help us get our project back on schedule.

A week or so after our initial conversation with someone from Company Z, another representative came to meet us in person and assess the status of our project. Based on that conversation, we thought everything would be okay. That was a month ago.

Fast forward to today, when we finally called our attorney to schedule a time to talk about this and then called Company Y to let them know what we’d done. Much to our surprise, someone from Company Y called us back — and told us everything we’d heard from Company Z is a pack of lies.

So we’ll meet with the representative from Company Y next week.

In the meantime, the project that started in June and was supposed to take six to eight weeks is still on hold.

And it’s almost October…

Any absolute stance on transgender bathroom rights is pointless

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“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms.  This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.”  — Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

With all due respect, Ms. Lynch — you just don’t get it. Oh, I’m sure you mean well. But you’re deeply misguided at best. At worst, you’re an absolute idiot.

Having said that, you are right about one thing. The current transgender bathroom law debate is about much more than bathrooms.

But that’s it. You’re completely wrong about everything else.

You see the question isn’t whether transgender people should be treated fairly. Of course they should. That goes without saying. The question isn’t whether transgender people should be allowed to have access to public restrooms  matching the gender with which they self-identify. Of course they should. That goes without saying, too.

The question is how to accommodate the transgender population’s needs without infringing on the rights afforded to the rest of us. The question is how to educate and inform the general public about the transgender population’s needs without lecturing or bullying them. The question is how to let people who disagree with transgender bathroom laws express their opinions without disparaging them and calling them names.

Here’s a hint. Swapping lawsuits with North Carolina is not the answer. After all, litigation is an adversarial process.

Don’t Get Me Wrong…

Clearly there’s no place for hatred in a civilized society. Clearly we need laws to discourage people from acting on hatred and punishing them when they do. Clearly we need to enforce them. Clearly we also need laws in place to protect and ensure the fair treatment of minorities.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

But as I have said before, lawmakers and politicians can’t force anyone to understand something they have difficulty grasping. You can’t force anyone to change their beliefs. You can’t force anyone to have an open mind if they’re not so inclined. And you can’t make anyone stop being afraid of something they truly fear.

The more you try, the more the person or people you are trying to influence will cling to their beliefs. The more you try, the more the person or person are trying to influence will resent it. The more you judge and resort to self-righteousness, the more they will resort to anger and hate.

If you don’t believe me, just take a good, hard look at the people who support the so-called bathroom laws.

There’s Got To Be A Better Way

As far as I am concerned, there’s got to be a better way. It would be fantastic if we could all sit down and have a calm, rational, adult conversation. It would be awesome if we could all express our views in a healthy manner — without resorting to name-calling and vitriol. It would be wonderful if we could all learn to respect each other’s differences, even if we don’t understand them.

But judging by what’s going on in America today, I guess that’s just wishful thinking…


Passport, please: convicted sex offenders fight tougher travel rules

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I rarely read The Wall Street Journal, but every so often, I come across interesting articles there during my endless search for new stuff to write about. Last week I found an intriguing piece about a controversial law called the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.

From what I understand, the law allows the government to issue modified passports for people convicted of certain sex offenses involving children and adolescents. Specifically, the essential travel documents issued under the law include some sort of symbol identifying the holder as a sex offender.

Pros and Cons

Those who like the idea say it can help combat the worldwide exploitation of  children. Specifically, they say the use of a passport mark promotes awareness and communication between authorities in different countries. If nothing else,  it is a simple and effective way to let them know when people who have engaged in criminal activity with minors are entering and leaving their countries, proponents claim.

On the other hand, opponents say the law is unfair. They claim it makes life even more difficult for people who already face hardship resulting from their inclusion on sex offender registries. They argue that it wrongly targets some people found guilty of relatively minor transgressions. Some even question whether or not the law is constitutional, and a federal suit has already been filed in California.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the suit is the first of its kind. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Cry Me a River

For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the issue. I am a firm believer in the old saying, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. And nothing bothers me more than a criminal with entitlement issues.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I don’t care if you’ve been convicted for something as simple as sharing inappropriate photos on your cell phone or social media and I have no sympathy whatsoever if you’ve engaged in something as reprehensible as child molestation or abuse. There is simply no excuse for any kind of criminal activity involving or targeting minors.

As far as I’m concerned, the second you decide to target, prey upon, and exploit someone else, especially someone vulnerable, someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, you’ve lost whatever right to “fair treatment” that you think you’re entitled to.

So if you’re worried about being branded as a sex offender and you don’t think that having a symbol on your passport identifying you as one is “fair,” here’s a tip: don’t break the law. It’s that simple.


The Peyton Manning case: Will another idol fall?

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Peyton Manning sure has been getting a lot of “exposure” lately.

First, allegations surfaced about some HGH being sent to his wife back in 2011. Then Manning defied the odds and led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl title. Now some disturbing information about an incident that occurred when he was a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee has come to light — again.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard all the sordid details, so I’ll keep this brief. According to numerous media reports, Manning’s name came up in a recent lawsuit filed against the university claiming that it mishandled sexual assault complaints involving student-athletes. Although the suit brought by five women pertains mainly to incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2015, it also alludes to prior episodes, presumably to show a pattern of behavior or conduct.

As a student athlete at the university in the late 1990s, Manning reportedly exposed his backside to a female trainer who was treating him at the time. That resulted in the trainer filing a sexual assault complaint against him.

The matter was settled fairly quickly — but the trainer sued the quarterback after information about the event appeared in a book called Manning. That suit was also settled.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Now renewed publicity brings new questions. There has been much talk about if or how this will affect Manning’s legacy. Will one of the NFL’s superstars — who also happens to be a stellar salesman,  weather the storm? Will he retain his credibility? Or will another idol fall?

To me there is a far more important question. Why do we put these athletes on pedestals in the first place? Think about it. From the second a little boy or girl shows that they may be athletically gifted, their parents, teachers, coaches, and peers treat them differently.  The older they get, the more special attention they receive. Why?  What is it about someone who can throw a football, kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball or a hockey puck that makes them so special? Why do we care?

And why are we so surprised when they act out? Or when they think they deserve special treatment? Or when they develop entitlement issues? Or when they think they can get away with anything? Or when they do get away with so much reprehensible behavior on and off the field? Or when they refuse to be held accountable for their actions?

Sure the athletes who reach the top of their respective games put in a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice a lot to get there. Sure they put themselves at risk in order to entertain the masses. Sure they provide a welcome distraction from the daily grind. And for all of that, they should be admired — but not idolized.

As Charles Barkley once said, “I am not a role model.”

Neither is Peyton Manning.

Duty calls

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Don’t you just love getting mail from the government?

Your pulse quickens, your stomach knots and your mouth gets all dry. Your hands shake, you start to sweat and your head is pounding.

You study the return address, trying to figure out whether or not to open it. Maybe if you ignore it, it will just go away. Maybe you’ll “lose” it.

Then again, maybe not.

And in all fairness to much-maligned bureaucrats out there, sometimes those envelopes do contain good news. Sometimes it’s your tax refund.

Most of the time, it’s not.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I got my property tax bill from the Town of Greenwich recently. And then the state sent me a note informing me it’s my turn to report for jury duty.

I already paid my taxes. As for jury duty, I’m supposed to go later this week. On one hand, I’m dreading it since I’m supposed to be at the courthouse early and it will probably take an hour to get there. On the other hand, it would be kind of cool to be chosen for a high-profile case.

I suppose it would be fairly easy for me to “get out of it” if I really want to. I have a paralegal certificate — so I know a bit about the law. I also spent the better part of 21 years covering cops and courts…

Then again, the experience could provide some very interesting blog fodder.

In any case, I will definitely let you know what happens… as soon as I can.