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June 21, 2004

Five by Five - Evan Schaeffer

Evan Schaeffer is the author of Notes from the (Legal) Underground. I knew Evan as a lawyer before I knew him as a blogger, as he and I both practice in the Judicial Hellhole known as Madison County, Illinois. Evan thinks I asked him to participate in this week's Five by Five because he and I are friends. Truth is, Evan has carved out a niche in the blogosphere as a funny and insightful commentator on our legal system. Evan's other blogs, the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog and the Illinois Personal Injury Weblog focus on his plaintiff's personal injury practice. Here are Evan's five ideas:

Here are five ideas for changing the practice of law, each designed to make depositions more civil, presented in the form of a memorandum to a typical lawyer-opponent:

1) You and I both know that speaking objections aren’t allowed. Yet you and I will both try to slip a couple past anyway. Idea: Let’s agree we’re going to continue violating this rule, if that’s what it’s going to take to make us feel like real lawyers, but let’s also agree to stop if either one of us calls the other on it. Then we shouldn’t do it anymore for the remainder of the deposition.

2) You and I both have lots of documents to exchange. But is it fair to dump them on one another just before a deposition starts? Idea: Let’s give each other documents at least a week before we know the other will need them, assuming a timely request has been made.

3) You and I are both very tired. Like many lawyers, we’re sleep-deprived. That’s why our deposition could disintegrate into a shouting match after only about a half hour, even though we’ll both regret it later. Idea: Let’s try to get more sleep, and let's quit shouting. Shouting doesn’t accomplish anything.

4) You and I both know how to use the phone, even if we don’t know the judge personally. So why are we constantly threatening to call the judge, rather than just picking up the phone and doing it? Idea: Either call the judge, or don’t call the judge, but let’s stop threatening to do it unless we’re going to follow through.

5) You and I are both much more experienced than the new lawyers coming onto the scene. If we wanted to, we could run rings around them. But do you remember how nice it felt as a young lawyer when an older colleague helped us out a little? Idea: Go easy on the young lawyers, because we were young lawyers once ourselves.


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I encourage you to read the second installment of the non-billable hour's Five by Five. This week, Matthew asks the question "If you had the power to change five things about the practice of law, what would you change?" Carolyn, Sheherazade, Denise, Ev... [Read More]


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