With the Dionysian outburst of the April Fool's Blawg Review Prequel behind us -- What? You didn't read it? Do it now! Do it now!! Ahem! -- the time has come to turn to the still, calm, centered and rational Apollonian sphere, where legal weblog posts shine with the cold and sparkling brilliance of autumn stars. West Virginia University College of Law Professor James Elkins reminds us of the god Apollo's close connection to the law:
W.K.C. Guthrie says of Apollo: 'Under his most important and influential aspect may be included everything that connects him with law and order.' [Cited in Jean Shinoda Bolen, Gods in Everyman: A New Psychology of Men's Lives and Loves 130 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989)]. Bolen identifies the Apollo archetype with 'the aspect of the personality that wants clear definitions, is drawn to master a skill, value order and harmony, and prefers to look at the surface rather than at what underlies appearances.' [Id. at 135]. Those whose energy is directed by the Apollo archetype favor 'thinking over feeling, distance over closeness, objective assessment over subjective intuition.' [Id.]
Apollo is also commonly thought of in association with the Muses and thus with poetry and the arts. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke was inspired to craft one of the most famous of his shorter poems by his encounter with the Louvre's headless "Archaic Torso of Apollo":
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone could seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
The need, perhaps, to change one's life within the law emerged as a sub-theme in several posts this week, beginning with discussions of the perpetual problem of [some] lawyers' deep-seated unhappiness with their choice of profession.
- At Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground, Evan notes a particularly "bleak comment" [PG-13 for strong language and depictions of alochol abuse] that has attached itself to an older post about lawyers and depression. He comments on the comment:
The thing that struck me most about the comment is the bleak picture it paints of a lawyer's life. Even with its stylistic hyperbole, it doesn't strike me as being all that over the top. Or is it? I know plenty of lawyers who engage in some recreational self-medication. Some of them hate their careers. On the other hand, many of them don't. And if the self-medicators are any more idealistic than the other group--if they spend more time talking about justice, truth, fairness, and conscience--it's probably just a side effect of the alcohol.
- For his part, at f/k/a . . . ., next week's Blawg Review host David Giacalone asks: "do lawyers choose to be unhappy?". He suggests that perhaps they do -- "by buying into the Big Lie that Big Law is the only true source of success in our profession" -- and offers a recommendation far too few attorneys will be willing to follow:
Wanting less money and needing less prestige will go a long way toward nurturing healthy and happy attitudes.
Plenty of talk this week as well about the entry level salaries for associate attorneys at assorted Big Law firms, but the consensus seems to be that those young lawyers' pay packages are as much a problem in the long run as they are a solution -- and particularly for the young associates themselves.
- At my own alma mater, UCLA School of Law, Professor Bainbridge has this to say in his post on "Associate Trade-offs":
If my practice experience a couple of decades ago and the stories I hear from former students hold true, S&C's associates will pay for that raise. The odds are that the number of billed hours associates are expected to work will go up ... again. When I was in practice, 2200 billed hours/year put you in the top echelon of associates. Today, at most firms of S&C's caliber, 2200 hours is the bare minimum expected. In addition, there'll probably be additional salary compression, since the salaries of more senior associates will not go up quite as fast.
- Bruce MacEwan's Adam Smith, Esq. has much much more to say on the subject in "Associate Salaries: The Great Debate".
But what's to be done when those ever-spiraling associate salaries and ever-ever-ever-spiraling partner draws [which in this humble small firm fellow's opinion are grossly ridiculous, representing compensation high above what the Best Lawyer in All Creation, Ever, is probably worth -- if you'll pardon the editorial intrusion] run up against the demands and expectations of Big Law's Even Bigger Clients, who are used to getting Everything Else by means that are not conducive to paying Top Dollar?
- Enter Mr. MacEwan's other Big Post of the week, "Commodization: Threat or Menace?", in which he unequivocally and fearlessly predicts that
. . . the involvement of 'procurement professionals' — if not formally, then the toolkits and mind sets they advance — is not only here to stay, it will only grow.
It is all quite enough to make one happier to be a little guy in a Big Law world: the typical small to mid-size client (not to mention those clients who are Individual Human Beings) probably won't be calling in the procurement consultants any too soon.
Much more in the way of fine legal weblogging follows this 17th Century depiction of the Apollo Belvedere, one of the prizes of the Vatican collections. (For those who may be easily confused, Apollo would be the fellow on the left in this illustration.)
The Hamdan case -- in which Presidential prerogative comes smack up against the Constitution, the Common Law, and the Great Writ, all on account of Osama bin Laden's driver -- was the major agenda item for the Supreme Court this week, and coverage of the arguments includes:
- SCOTUSblog: Analysis: Hard day for government in Hamdan case
- Balkinization: The Hamdan Oral Argument
and the various other links collected at
[Of related interest, Mr. Kierkegaard requests our notice of a major Symposium this coming Friday, April 7, in NYC on Judicial Selection and Independence.]
Elsewhere, many more Top Quality posts are to be found than time permits me to summarize, including without limitation these:
- It's all a bit too complicated for this humble scribe, but those with an interest in patent law or drug law or antitrust will want to read David Fischer's exegesis at Antitrust Review of the recent Plavix-related settlements, "Patents, Drugs and Antitrust, Oh My!"
- On the group-curated Sixth Circuit Blog, Sumter Camp provides a long and articulate analysis of sentencing conundra in "DR. EVIL’S GUIDELINES CRIMINAL HISTORY CALCULATION or The Challenge of Finding “Related Cases” in The Sixth Circuit":
The court found that the commission of a series of individual, similar crimes does not mean that the resulting multiple convictions are combined for criminal history purposes. In his concurrence, however, Judge Martin argues that 'the inquiry in these cases has become so narrow that it now exists only as a nebulous concept.' He finds that about the only person who would benefit from the Guidelines’ definition of 'related cases' would be Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. (See extensive dialogue quotation in footnote 1 of the concurrence.) What could drive an otherwise mild-mannered jurist to not only quote Michael Meyers [sic], but also beg the forgiveness of PETA for flogging a long-dead horse one more time? . . . .
- At his Insurance Scrawl, Marc Mayerson ponders a practical problem for policyholders' counsel in "Witness for the Prosecution: Me!":
Insurance lawyers face a dilemma in that we sometimes can be called as witnesses in bad-faith trials. As a result, policyholder counsel like me need to consider whether we should be the person who interacts with the insurance company’s representatives, for we risk being disqualified from serving as trial counsel for our clients. The potential for disqualification of the policyholder's lawyer stems in part from the fact that settlement discussions with the insurance company are admissible in bad-faith cases. Many lawyers and claims handlers seem surprised that settlement discussions to resolve an insurance claim constitute evidence in bad-faith cases and point to the settlement “privilege” as a shield.
But like the heffalump and the griffin, the settlement privilege is the stuff of myth . . . .
- Colin Samuels at Infamy or Praise, citing Occam's Law, suggests that justice sometimes means being able to say you're sorry.
- Jonathan B. Wilson questions the wisdom of Al Gore's proposal to solve our planet's pollution problems by . . . retooling the rules of accountancy, both on his personal weblog (in "Al Gore's Accounting for Dummies") and at PointofLaw.com (in "Al Gore's Voodoo Economics").
And by way of conclusion to this week's Blawg Review:
- At What About Clients?, Dan Hull compiles "The 12 Rules Of Client Service", full of sound advice worth repeating. Of particular note for those sorrowing, self-medicated practitioners noted above is Dan's "Rule 12: Have Fun":
It's supposed to be fun. American law is extremely varied, elastic and constantly presenting new practice areas--especially in the larger cities. It has something for everyone. I am convinced of this. Please keep the faith and keep looking until you find it. Put another way, don't quit before the miracle occurs. It's there, and it's all inside you, in front of you. Simple--but still hard. It's a privilege and joy to do what lawyers do when they do it right.
I concur (notwithstanding that Dan's bonus Rule 13 has already passed its expiration date).
Fun is what I've had compiling these twinned Blawg Reviews, and fun, if nothing else, is what I hope we've provided to this week's Blawg Review readers. Thanks to the Editor, and to all those who submitted items for consideration.
Next week, Blawg Review #52 will be hosted beginning April 10, 2006, by the exhausted-yet-inexhaustible one-breathed ethicist of Schenectady, David Giacalone, at f/k/a . . . .. For information on future hosts, and to learn how you might host, submit, or otherwise contribute to the incredibly happenin' phenomenon that is Blawg Review, please visit Blawg Review HQ.