Legal Groundhog Day Defeating Monotony Makes a Better Lawyer Better Call Paul Better Call Paul Your Personal General Counsel
As we roll into February, the last “holiday”movie hits the airwaves. “Groundhog Day,” the comedy staring Bill Murray, is probably more famous than the holiday it’s named after at this point. Even those who haven’t watched the film are aware of the basic premise: A man is cursed to relive the same day over and over again ad infinitum. So today, I want to address a pitfall many lawyers fall into —mistaking their day-to-day work as their own personal “Groundhog Day.” One doesn’t have to be in the law very long for this to start happening. You begin seeing patterns in the cases you take on. People face similar problems stemming from the same root causes, the same lines of questioning come up repeatedly, and the bog of standard procedures and paperwork begin to feel as unending as Bill Murray’s supernatural predicament. It’s no wonder many people burn out in this line of work. But the lawyers who succeed are the ones who see the differences in each and every case. These differences can be subtle, yet they create vastly different results in how a given case plays out. For example, the exact same case with the exact same plaintiff could play out in wildly different ways depending on the defense counsel put on the case, and that says nothing of the judge and jury. Knowing these factors and how best to respond is what sets apart a great attorney from those just treading water. Furthermore, the needs and situations of each client are utterly unique if you look beyond the surface level. From divorce proceedings to driving under the influence charges, no two cases are identical, and no one solution fits everyone you are trying to represent. Thus, representation has to have an element of personalized attention for the best chance at success. I’ve seen it, well, again and again. Sound familiar?
because a friend was in a similar situation. Their good or poor result is irrelevant. The facts, the people, and the timing of your situation are going to make your case unique; it will have its own path to success. This is all to say that lawyers can avoid falling into “Groundhog Day” by simply focusing on using their experience to help people as individuals facing their own challenges. This actually dovetails with the conclusion of the movie itself. Murray’s character only finds relief and joy in his situation when he starts using his knowledge of the day ahead to assist those around him. There’s a surprisingly apt metaphor in that.
“This isn’t just a lesson for lawyers.”
Until next time,
-Paul J. Tafel ski
This isn’t just a lesson for lawyers, though. I think it should be more widespread in the general public, too. There is no such thing as “your average court case.”Don’t expect the same outcome for your case just
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Meet Conan THE DOG WHO HELPED TAKE DOWN AL-BAGHDADI
In college, arriving late to class might earn you a stern look from your professor, and turning in homework late normally results in a docked grade. For one student, however, these actions resulted in veneration from the academic community and a story that has become legend. George Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate statistics class one day in 1939. He saw that his professor, Jerzy Neyman, had written two problems on the board, and guessing they were the homework assignment, he wrote them down to solve later. A few days later, Dantzig delivered his answers to Professor Neyman. He apologized for turning them in late, remarking that they seemed more difficult than usual. When Neyman told him to just throw the answers on his desk, Dantzig reluctantly did so, fearing his homework would be lost forever in the sea of papers already there. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Six weeks later, Neyman went to Dantzig’s house and excitedly asked him to read the introduction he had written on one of Dantzig’s papers. Of course, Dantzig had no idea what he was talking about. Over the course of the conversation, however, he found out that the two difficult problems he had thought were homework were actually examples of famous unsolved statistical proofs — and Dantzig had solved them! On Oct. 28 last year, President Donald Trump tweeted a photo that quickly went viral. It showed an adorable snapshot of a bright-eyed Belgian Malinois, tongue lolling, still wearing its camo military vest. In the caption, President Trump explained that the pup, Conan, was a national hero who was instrumental in taking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. With four years in special operations forces and roughly 50 missions under his collar, Conan was selected to be part of the team that pursued al-Baghdadi through a network of underground tunnels in northwest Syria, where the terrorist ultimately died. It’s unclear whether Conan was there to track al-Baghdadi or to spot improvised explosive devices that may have been planted on the route, but either way, he performed well. According to NBC News, Conan was injured by some live electrical cables during the mission, but he recovered quickly and was back on duty within the week. Meanwhile, President Trump invited the brave pup to the White House and tweeted out a doctored photo that showed him awarding Conan a Medal of Honor. President Trump captioned the photo “AMERICAN HERO!” and he’s not alone in his appreciation for the hardworking dogs that have been helping our military since WorldWar II.
“To me, they’re the first line of defense,” United States War Dogs Association President Ron Aiello told Vox after the news about Conan came out. “They’re such a great asset to our military today.” Military dogs are put up for adoption after 6–8 years in the service, which means a lucky civilian could take Conan in as early as 2022! Meanwhile, dozens of other smart canine heroes are looking for homes. To learn more about military and other working dog adoptions, visit MissionK9Rescue.org.
Solving the Unsolvable THE BEST CONSEQUENCE EVER FOR ARRIVING LATE TO CLASS
Neyman published the first of the two proofs soon after. Then, a year later when Dantzig was struggling to decide on his doctoral thesis topic, his professor just shrugged and told him to wrap the two problems in a binder. Neyman said he would accept them as his thesis. Dantzig’s story has been retold in various versions over the years often as an illustration of what a person is capable of when they think positively. After all, Dantzig may not have solved these proofs if he believed they were “unsolvable!” However, even though some versions might lean more toward urban legend, it’s still an impressive story of the best consequence a student ever received for arriving to class and turning in homework late.
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TAKE A BREAK
FROM ZERO TO 300 Meet the Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports
While Danica Patrick and Courtney Force are well known as modern faces in motor sports, they’re far from the first women to cross the finish line. Since the early 1900s, women have been a constant fixture of automotive racing, including the following three who each left their marks on the sport.
SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY Shirley Muldowney is professionally known in the drag racing community as “The First Lady of Drag Racing.” In 1973, she was the first woman to earn a Top Fuel license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and, despite backlash from competitors, went on to win the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series an unprecedented
three times. Twentieth Century Fox documented her trials and accomplishments in the 1983 biopic
“Heart Like a Wheel.”Muldowney famously loathed her own characterization but still lauded the film as required viewing for anyone interested in the sport of drag racing. JANET GUTHRIE Janet Guthrie had her sights set on the stars from day one. A skilled aerospace engineer, she began her racing career in 1963. After taking home two class wins in the famed 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, Guthrie became a well-known figure among racing gurus. In 1976, she became the first woman to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series when she finished 15th in the Coca-Cola 600, then called theWorld 600. To date, Guthrie’s storied career has landed her in the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Automotive Hall of Fame. DOROTHY LEVITT Dorothy Levitt is known for her driving skills on both land and water, setting the first water speed record and an early women’s world land speed record. Her motor racing career started slow in 1904 due to illness and various car troubles, but Levitt eventually went on to garner a reputation for her speed and earn the nickname “The Fastest Girl on Earth.”When she wasn’t racing, she spent her time writing. In her book “The Woman and the Car,” Levitt recommended that women carry a small mirror with them for driving in traffic, effectively inventing the rearview mirror five years before it went into production. If you want to learn more about these women and others in motor racing, pick up Todd McCarthy’s book “Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing.”
EASY SHRIMP SCAMPI
Make date night simple with this easy shrimp scampi recipe.
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp oregano
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz cooked linguine
1/4 cup parsley
1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 2. Add shrimp and oregano, stirring frequently until shrimp is pink. Remove shrimp from skillet. 3. Add wine and lemon juice to skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. 4. Stir in remaining butter and olive oil and cook until butter is melted. 5. Add cooked shrimp to skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. 6. In a serving bowl, top cooked linguine with shrimp mixture. Garnish with parsley and serve. Inspired by The Blond Cook
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Legal Groundhog Day
Meet the Dog Who Helped Take Down al-Baghdadi The World’s Hardest Homework Assignment
Easy Shrimp Scampi Fearless Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports
A Slippery Crime
STEALING MISS HELEN ‘OCEAN’S 3’ ATTEMPT A HIGH-STAKES HEIST
On a hot summer day in late July 2018, three people entered Miss Helen’s home, forcibly removed her, put her in a stroller, and ran toward their getaway vehicle. This might sound like a typical kidnapping story, but Miss Helen is no ordinary person. She is a 16-inch horn shark living at the San Antonio Aquarium. Fortunately, their fishy behavior didn’t go unnoticed, and someone alerted the aquarium staff. One perpetrator drove away with Miss Helen in tow, but the other two were stopped by aquarium staff, later confessing to their involvement. Thanks to some observant witnesses and aquarium surveillance, police were able to identify the third thief and obtain a warrant to search his house. As it turned out, he had an extensive aquarium in his home and possibly hoped to add Miss Helen to his collection. After being identified, Miss Helen was returned home safely.
The aquarium staff was grateful to have Miss Helen back unharmed, despite her ordeal. “She’s a tough little horn shark, I’ll tell you that,” affirmed Jamie Shank, the assistant husbandry director at the aquarium. NO MINOR CRIME While many animal lovers might disagree, animals are considered personal property, so stealing them is a crime of theft, not kidnapping. The penalties for stealing animals vary depending on each state’s laws, and some states have specific laws regarding animal theft. In Texas, larceny law designates the theft of property valued between $1,500–$20,000 as a felony. In the case of Miss Helen, who’s valued by the aquarium at $2,000, the thieves committed a felony. Also, transporting certain animals requires special permits, which led to additional charges against the three thieves.
The Animal Welfare Act, which was adopted in 1966, is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Interestingly, it only applies to warm-blooded animals, so if Miss Helen had needed further protection, she would be left out in the cold.
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