THE DEFENSE REPORT
A MESSAGE TO FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS WHAT YOU CAN’T LEARN IN LAW SCHOOL
With a whole new class of law students beginning their studies this month, I was recently asked what advice I’d give to this new generation of lawyers. At first, I was tempted to yell, “Run! Don’t do it!” — as a joke, of course. But, the more I thought back on my experience in law school, the more I had to say. Having seen what it takes to make it as an attorney, I know the classroom leaves out many important parts of the job. Most of all, law school leaves out the value of empathy. Before I dive into my reasoning on this, here’s a quick disclaimer. My first year at the Mercer University School of Law began back in 2000. The St. Louis Rams had won the Superbowl, the first season of “Survivor” had just wrapped up, and a little-known search engine called Google had just started selling ad space. Frankly, it was a different world, and I’m sure there have been some changes to Mercer’s curriculum since those days. Still, my girlfriend is currently working through her last year of law school, and she has frequently complained about how little her coursework reflects the actual work of being a lawyer. So, my first piece of advice to new law students is to never forget that being an attorney is a people-centric business. No matter what branch of law you pursue, people and their families will depend on you. Your problems won’t be abstract, logic questions to puzzle out in the comfort of your dorm room: they’ll be life-defining arguments that your clients will want updates on every step of the way. Yet, so many lawyers drag their feet to return phone calls from people they are working to defend. These are folks whose futures are at stake, so the least an attorney can do is get back to them on the same day. But to be fair, law schools don’t teach customer service or to even put yourself in the client’s shoes. Instead, courses focus on careful logic and strategic rhetoric. These are the nuts and bolts of practicing law, but they won’t make you a great lawyer on their own. Keep sight of the human side of the practice, and you’ll find life after passing the bar much easier.
Another bit of advice for first-years is don’t be a know-it-all. Now that you’ve started law school, you’ll have friends and family coming out of the woodwork for legal advice. Take it from me: People appreciate it far more when you admit you don’t know something than when you attempt some half-baked answer. Either promise them you’ll do some research on the matter and get back to them, or point them to a professional who can help. The competitive academics of law school can make saying the words “I don’t know” feel like an awful confession. But, when you’re honest with your answers, you put the people who are coming to you for help first. And remember, just because you’re studying law doesn’t mean you have to be a lawyer. A Juris Doctor is not the same as an MD — the skills you learn are far more applicable to life than what they teach at medical school. One of the great joys of my life was the way law school taught me to rethink the way I approach challenges. In a very real way, it opened up how I thought about the world. For that reason, I’d recommend law school to anyone willing to put in the work. So, I’ll close by saying that law school is incredibly tough, and there will be moments you question what you’re doing there. But, believe me; it’s more than worth it. If I had to do it all over again, I would — and I wouldn’t mind being able to use Google this time around.
Best of luck,
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5 STRATEGIES TO PROTECT YOUR BUILDING According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 20 seconds. We tend to focus on protecting our homes from invasion, but in 2016, over 460,000 nonresidential buildings were burglarized. And, after one successful break-in, your building is more likely to be targeted again. Here are a few crucial strategies to improve the security of your building. SMILE FOR THE CAMERA. Let’s start with the basics: If you don’t already have CCTV surveillance, install a system right away. Position these cameras in common areas with good lighting, and make sure they’re visible. The sight of security cameras may deter criminals from making your building a target. Some property managers try to cut corners by using fake cameras to scare off criminals, but this can backfire in the event of a break-in. Use real cameras and service them regularly so you can review the tapes whenever you need to. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR LANDSCAPING. Never let overgrowth overtake your property. Criminals view unkempt trees, bushes, and grass as a sign that you’ve been neglecting your property. This implies you may be neglecting other areas, too — your security system, for example. LET THERE BE LIGHT. Unless you have Batman patrolling your city streets at night, nighttime is when criminals are most likely
to strike. Install motion detector floodlights in prime areas around your building, including entrances, exits, gates, garages, in your landscaping, and near ground-level windows. A sudden burst of light can scare off would-be intruders and potentially alert anyone nearby of trouble. INVEST IN PARKING SECURITY. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 11% of property crimes and more than 7% of violent attacks occur in parking facilities. If your building has a parking facility, make sure this area has ample security. DETERMINE WHO’S IN CHARGE. When reviewing building security, it’s important to determine who is responsible for keeping security up to date. Should the building owner or property manager maintain security, or does it fall to the tenants? Answer this question and make sure the person responsible is following all agreed-upon security protocols. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for security. Depending on the nature of a business or building, you will have specific security needs. You should periodically assess potential risks, make sure your building’s needs are met, and make repairs as needed.
Passing a School Bus?
KNOW THE LAW
WHEN TO STOP Under Georgia law, it is illegal to meet or overtake a school bus while it is picking up or dropping off passengers. The vehicle will signal when students are boarding or leaving the bus by using flashing lights and/or a fold-out sign. When this occurs on one- or two-lane roadways, cars moving in either direction must stop. The only exception to this is if a median separates the bus from oncoming traffic. If this barrier is present, cars driving in the opposite direction do not need to stop. THE CONSEQUENCES Forgetting school-bus-passing laws or failing to notice when a bus is stopping for passengers is a costly mistake. Additionally, more and more buses are armed with cameras these days, making disputing these charges an uphill battle. If accused, you’ll face a mandatory court appearance
and fines up to $1,000, and you’ll have as many as six points added to your driving record. If you have a previous violation, this could easily cost you your license. More importantly than this loss of time, money, and personal liberty, this mistake could cost a student their life. WHY THESE LAWS EXIST Stopping for a vehicle on the opposite side of the road from you may feel like a major inconvenience, but children’s lives are at stake. Small, unpredictable, and fast, young students may carelessly sprint out from the opposite side of the bus, giving you little time to stop. Compared to the legal, social, and emotional consequences of hitting a child with your car, taking the time to stop is more than worth it.
Students across Georgia are heading back to class this month, which means it’s time for drivers to study up on rules regarding school buses. Unlike most other automobiles, there are special laws regarding when you can pass these yellow vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most passing violations are committed by those who simply aren’t aware of the law. So, here’s a refresher to keep you, your license, and your students safe.
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LAUGH IT OFF
Of f icers Don’ t Have to Tell the Truth ‘ARE YOU A COP?’
It’s a common myth: When you ask someone if they’re a cop, they have to answer honestly, even if they’re running a sting operation. In reality, law enforcement officers can lie, and they do so often. In the above case, it’s understandable — telling someone you’re an officer while undercover can be extremely dangerous. But, there are plenty of other subtle lies and half-truths officers can use to pull the wool over your eyes and subvert your rights. ‘COOPERATE AND THE DA WILL GO EASY ON YOU’ This is an all-too-common fiction used by officers during questioning. The officers have no way of guaranteeing how a prosecutor will treat your case, and they have no incentive to go to the DA and argue on your behalf. This line and others like it are just a means of getting you to talk without first speaking to an attorney. They may also flip the script and suggest that prosecutors will be harsher if you stay quiet, but remember, you are always entitled to your Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent. ‘WE HAVE EVIDENCE’ This is a very underhanded trick that is not unconstitutional. After an arrest, you may be told, “We have an eye witness,” or “Your fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime.” But make no mistake, these claims may be 100% false. While officers may be hoping to catch a criminal with minimal effort, this manipulative tactic has been shown to lead completely innocent people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. ‘LET’S TALK OFF THE RECORD’ In a classic “good cop” move, an officer may tell you they’ve shut off their tape recorder during questioning. In truth, the phrase “off the record” is meaningless. Officers aren’t journalists, and as long as you’ve already been read your Miranda rights (and, in some cases, even if you weren’t) anything you say can and will be used against you. These and other tactics are painfully common and contribute to many false convictions. So remember, no matter what an officer says, you have the right to remain silent and the right to seek out a criminal defense attorney.
SENEGALESE LAMB SKEWERS
Inspired by Food & Wine Magazine
Adapted from a recipe by famed Southern chef Sean Brock, these skewers are seasoned in a Senegalese style and served alongside mustard-flavored onions.
INGREDIENTS For the lamb: • 2 lbs. trimmed leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes • 1 tbsp peanut oil, plus more for grilling • Salt and black pepper, to taste
For the onions: • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
• 1/2 cup Dijon mustard • 1/2 tbsp agave nectar • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced • Salt and white pepper, to taste
EQUIPMENT • Bamboo skewers INSTRUCTIONS 1. In a bowl, coat lamb with 1 tbsp oil and generously season with salt and pepper. 2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and agave nectar. Toss in onions and season with salt and pepper. 3. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium and oil the grates. 4. Thread lamb on skewers and grill for 6–8 minutes. 5. Serve alongside onions.
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What You Can’t Learn in Law School
Can You Trust Your Security System? Sharing the Road With School Buses
Know When the Police Lie to You Senegalese Lamb Skewers
The Art of Stargazing
HELPING HUMANS SLOW DOWN AND LOOK UP THE ART OF STARGAZING Modern humans are stuck in a routine of expected and constant industriousness. But with all this rushing, people often drag themselves home at night with no energy left to enjoy the most splendid show nature has to offer: the wondrous night sky. Most people go through life looking straight ahead, but if they would stop and peer skyward, they’d bear witness to a massive, unexplored frontier made up of the moon in all its phases, burning stars sailing through the sky, constellations with epic origin stories, and meteor showers bright enough to warrant sunglasses. If you’re looking for a hobby to help you slow down and appreciate the world around you, stargazing is a great option. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. The Higher, the Better If you’re a city dweller, meander a little way out of town or try to find a tall building to keep the light pollution to a minimum. 2. Extra Set of Eyes While novice stargazers often want to immediately throw their money at a new telescope, astronomy experts recommend starting with binoculars instead. You’ll need to identify several anchor planets or constellations to help you navigate the sky before using a telescope.
3. Utilize Assets Put your phone to good use by downloading apps like Stellarium, Starwalk, and Google Sky Map. Each of these apps offers a unique benefit for aspiring stargazers. For example, Starwalk lets you point your phone at the sky to see stars, constellations, and planets in real time based on your location. 4. Mark Your Calendar In 1972, beloved singer-songwriter John Denver wrote about a meteor shower he witnessed during a camping trip in Colorado. He describes the scene by singing, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.” The “fire” he recounted was actually the Perseids meteor shower, the most recognized shower on Earth. This astrological wonder takes place every year from July 17 to Aug. 24. During this time, viewers should be able to see shooting stars associated with the Perseids, but the shower reaches its maximum rate of activity on Aug. 12–13 this year. Grab some friends and family, and head outdoors to put your newfound stargazing knowledge to work.
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