Short Take: Second Banana

Judge Kopf, in his letter to a young practicing attorney, was deliberately provocative and slightly snarky, both for the entertainment value as well as to grab attention. The sweet tummy rubs that the babies prefer tend not to serve any purpose beyond validating their saddest feelings. That wasn’t what the good judge was aiming for.

Still, there were flaming nutjobs* who were literally shaking at the outrage of it all.  This comes as no surprise, as baby lawyers are baby lawyers. That’s the reason why an old judge would write a letter to a young lawyer, because they will bristle and buck in reaction to being called immature. They big boys and girls! They know stuff and there is nothing that experience will teach them. Until they gain experience, but that, of course, takes time.

But there was one piece that evoked a surprising reaction.

Additionally, don’t complain about a work/life imbalance. Your clients are what matters. Your spouses and kids are secondary. If you don’t agree, get out of the practice of law.

I would not have thought it terribly hard to grasp what the judge was saying. I would have been very wrong.

Raffi is an experienced appellate lawyer. Would he blow off oral argument because his daughter had a dance recital? Maybe blow a filing deadline for a brief because his son had a little league game?

The interpretation of Judge Kopf’s use of “secondary” apparently confused him, as if it meant he should stay at the office playing spider solitaire rather than go home for his anniversary dinner. Was this in doubt? Was that what Judge Kopf was saying? Does this really require gertruding, plus a full post using small words to explain?

The obvious meaning was that when there is a conflict that can’t be avoided, and something or someone has to give, the lawyer’s first duty is to the client. Obviously, if the conflict can be avoided so that the lawyer can fulfill his obligations to his client as well as go to the dance recital, he will and should. But I need to say this? Are we really that dense that this has to be spelled out? Yes. Yes we are, and so I do.

Not all lawyers will have conflicts. Some, like government and in-house lawyers, paper-shufflers and library benchwarmers, won’t understand this to be an issue because they do nothing in their job which would raise such a problem. Guess what?!? If so, then this doesn’t apply to you, at least for now.

Other lawyers have conflicts all the time and are constrained to make very hard choices. Trial tomorrow and suddenly little Joey wants you to teach him to ride his bike. Joey will have to wait, because your client is facing life plus cancer in prison and he needs you more. Does that mean you put your job ahead of your family? Does that make your family secondary? You bet your ass it does. Your client has a family too. Your client has put his life, his family’s life, in your hands. Sucks, but your client comes first.

But what is more disturbing, since I’ve little doubt that Raffi never meant to suggest that he would blow off oral argument for a picnic with the kids, is the message an experienced lawyer sends to the baby lawyers. They are hearing something very different, that their professional life is about their happiness, their feelings, their welfare. The client is just there to pay for it.

No, not all baby lawyers hear it this way. Not all are narcissists who believe it’s about them and their happiness. Not all feel entitled. But a lot do, and those are the lawyers who need to hear from experienced lawyers, and judges, that there is a responsibility that goes along with the title “lawyer.” And in those instances where a conflict arises between what they would like to do and what their client needs them to do, the client comes first.

Does that mean their family is always second banana? Hardly. But does this really need to be explained in such brutal excruciating detail? Yes, it apparently does, and that’s why Judge Kopf’s letter to a young practicing lawyer was valuable. Unfortunately, it fell short of its goal.

*Why the “vitriolic” characterization? Because when Mario Machado suggested that one unduly emotional lawyer take her grievance to the judge with the three words, “why not comment?”, she went on a seven twit tear about how Mario forced himself into her timeline and “demanded” she do so. So yeah, unhinged.

62 thoughts on “Short Take: Second Banana

  1. Scott Jacobs

    She said she was commenting on the judge’s public post, ignoring that a) it might be more useful to dialog with the judge instead of seeking affirmation from the Twitters, and b) that she too was posting publicly so why can people do likewise?

    I guess she figured people should talk about her, instead of to her.

    Like she did with his honor.

    1. SHG Post author

      I don’t want to dwell too much on people who use passive-aggressive idiocy to cover up their intellectual inadequacy. They will suffer enough on their own.

      She was largely brought into the mix as the poster child validated by Raffi’s twit. Much as Raffi might know better, she doesn’t. As her twitter bio says she’s in-house, chances are that whatever harm she might do won’t affect an actual person or will be caught by someone higher up the food chain. But what if some living, breathing human came to her, put his life in her hands? And with the validation and approval of an experienced lawyer like Raffi, she blew him off because clients don’t come first.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Listening to too much Raffi could easily lead to a cheerfully naive and simplistic view of how the world really works.

      2. Casual Lurker

        As is often the case, I’m late to the party. (Unfortunately, I don’t get to stop by every day, even with a reduced semi-retirement workload. How you manage to crank out multiple posts, on a near-daily basis and still run — what I presume to be — a full-time practice, is a testament to your time-management skills).

        “As her twitter bio says she’s in-house, chances are that whatever harm she might do won’t affect an actual person or will be caught by someone higher up the food chain”.

        “But what if some living, breathing human came to her, put his life in her hands? And with the validation and approval of an experienced lawyer like Raffi, she blew him off because clients don’t come first”.

        I think you present a false dichotomy. To me, the operative word in Judge Kopf’s post was “young”. (It seemed as though his post could have just as easily been titled “Hey, you kids! Get off of my lawn!) That’s not to say there aren’t arrested development types and/or just plain… er… “nutjobs”.

        A non-committed lawyer may get you ‘life plus cancer’. But in most cases you won’t get a [statutory] death sentence.

        On the other hand, on an annual basis, half-awake interns cost numerous people their lives or limbs. I shudder to think about the actual numbers (not some cited fiction), so I won’t even speculate. If M&M conferences were subject to any type of outside (appellate-like) review, there would be outrage when the findings went public.

        Regardless, I don’t know of too many medical interns (R1s and R2s) that actually have families of their own. (Heck, they’re lucky to have “friends with benefits”). It’s not that they’re non-existent, but they’re definitely outliers. Their hours (and paychecks) virtually ensure they don’t have families.

        By the time they do have life-and-death responsibilities (sans close oversight) *and* families, they tend to have developed a sufficient moral compass to put patients first. Those that cannot make that commitment usually have enough sense to go into areas of practice unlikely to encounter emergent conditions. (Say, Dermatology, or some such…)

        And I suspect a very similar self-selection process occurs among lawyers.

        And speaking of “flaming nutjobs”, I’m guessing that’s a legal term of art? Among the various DSM categories (Manias, Psychosis, Phobias, Etc.), I couldn’t find “nutjob” in either the DSM-IV or the fairly recent DSM-V, let alone a “flaming” sub-category.

        The DSM does have “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (301.81), which would seem to fill the bill.

        However, for the next edition, to assist in ‘harmonizing’ the nomenclature used by non-clinical-practitioner professions, I’ll petition the APA board to add “nutjob” to the list of categories.

        1. SHG Post author

          Much of what Judge Kopf writes is tongue in cheek, which is obvious to some and both lost on, and irrelevant to, others. To borrow from their lexicon, it’s “exhausting” to explain, word by word, why their fantasy outrage and offense at everything is not just silly, but misreads what was meant. They don’t care anyway. The adore their outrage.

          But while the DSM has yet to catch up to “flaming nutjob,” a small cabal of the unduly passionate hide in their insular community of allies while the big, mean world shakes its head at what has become of lawyers. They feel vindicated by the support of their tribe. The larger legal world wonders how it failed so miserably to produce such snowflakes.

          Life goes on, but for the future clients of America, this bodes poorly if the only lawyers left care more about their own sad feelings. Every once in a while, something happens to remind the profession that we’ve lost our way. This was one of those times. And from what I’ve heard from the judges who read SJ (but choose not to comment publicly), there is no shortage of shock and dismay.

    2. Marty Solomon

      Scott, your comments to both Raffi and kp are entirely unfair, disrespectful, and unconvincing. The natural reading of his Honor’s post called for Raffi’s post. The nuance beneath his view is a far more realistic understanding of how young lawyers would read his Honor’s post than is your response. The “tough guy Marine” view of law practice espoused in your post is the refuge of those who don’t know how to effectively manage their practice so that their families don’t suffer from their self-inflicted crises. The generation behind us knows better and their lives are already better for it. More significantly, your ad hominem attacks on kp are beneath any lawyer, and are frankly unacceptable in civil discourse. Grow up, apologize to kp, and get your priorities straight

      1. SHG Post author

        So here’s the question, Marty. Why would you entertain the notion that your disapproval would possibly alter my view. Are you someone whose opinion is deeply meaningful to me? Do I have a clue who you are or why you are so presumptuous to believe you’re entitled to scold me. Is there a reason, any reason at all, that I would give a fuck?

        I’m trying to understand what could possibly make you think that your telling me to “grow up, apologize to kp and get my priorities straight.” Here’s my problem Marty. I’m not guided by your sensitivities or social justice values. I hate to be so blunt, but I truly don’t give a damn that feminists find everything problematic and any challenge to their lies or stupidity gets voided by the vagina excuse.

        So Marty, as much as I care deeply about you and your very sensitive feelings, even though I have no clue who you are, I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass.

      2. Scott Jacobs

        The “tough guy Marine” view of law practice espoused in your post is the refuge of those who don’t know how to effectively manage their practice so that their families don’t suffer from their self-inflicted crises.

        Do you mean to tell me you found a magic means of preventing client emergencies at inconvenient times?

        Please, share.

        Because if not, then you are saying you would ignore client needs because your life is more important. The “generation behind us” is filled with nitwits who think their happiness is more important than winning for the client. They don’t care if their client sits in prison another week, unable to kiss their kids goodnight or go to work so the bills can get paid, all because they vacation to where-the-fuck-ever was planned months ago and they didn’t know that a continuance would put the trial smack-dab in the middle of their beach time.

        They just get another continuance, putting off the trial for a damned eternity, and go on vacation while the client sits and rots (and is possibly abused by other inmates.

        This is the mindset the Host and His Honor are talking about.

        If you were capable of reading God Damn English, you’d see that Our Host explicitly stated that normal matters can be planned around and moved so that such “kids or the client” issues don’t crop up. What they are talking about are those emergencies that come out of nowhere and you have to say “see my son play soccer, or work for my client.”

        When those situations come up, which do you pick?

        As for KP, she’s a big girl and can come here and demand an apology herself if she thinks she deserves one. She doesn’t need you coming here and demanding on her behalf unless Our Host’s accusations are accurate, in which case she wouldn’t get the apology anyway.

        1. SHG Post author

          Marty is a white knight. That’s what guys are supposed to do for equality, fight battles for fragile girls and believe all the feminist tropes with all their heart.

      3. Scott Jacobs

        Also, learn how to use a God Damn reply button right. I’m not the guy that runs the blog, so replying to my comment with words intended for the host means you either a) can’t tell the difference between my name and the Host’s name (hint – he’s “of the tribe”) or b) are so incompetent you can’t even manage to hit “reply” to the right item on a blog.

        Though I’m not willing to rule out c) both.

      4. Miles

        “The generation behind us knows better and their lives are already better for it.”

        At the expense of their client’s lives. But as long as they’re happy, isn’t that what law is all about?

  2. Mark M.

    What part of “zealous representation even if it causes personal inconvenience” (to paraphrase the rules) is now left out of ethics class? Hell, do they still require ethics class? Or has that been replaced with “safe space appreciation” or some such.

  3. Mike G.

    It’s not only in the practice of law that clients come before family.

    Try blowing off a client who just has to move into their new home, which means working over the weekend to make them happy, but means your family misses the camping trip planned weeks in advance. It may not be life or death, but can be the difference between retaining a new client or losing them to another contractor.

  4. Raffi

    Scott –

    Thanks for your post, which does clarify what you mean. First, if anyone understood me to be saying that you ought to blow off deadlines to go to little league games, I agree, don’t do that. That’s unethical. That isn’t what I wrote or meant. And if that’s all Judge Kopf meant, I have no disagreement. But I don’t think that’s a fair reading of what he wrote.

    What the Judge said was, to paraphrase slightly, “don’t complain about work/life balance” and makes your family secondary to your job & clients.” If you don’t do these things, you should “quit the practice of law.” I think that’s wrong on all fronts. First, if your job is significantly impinging on your family life to your family’s detriment, my view is that you should complain and see what can be done about that. If the place you work is unwilling to accommodate you, or thinks your concern is indicative of a lack of dedication, then you should work elsewhere. That is, quit. And it’s exactly what I did earlier in my career. Does that mean that in every circumstance, family obligations win over work? Of course not. It’s a balance, and for me, if the balance tips too far in favor of work, that’s bad. I read Judge Kopf as saying that this is unethical whining. I reject that.

    Second, the belief that family is “secondary” to work is at the root of many pernicious things I experienced as a young lawyer in biglaw. As I said elsewhere on twitter, I met partners who told me they skipped funerals for work to show their dedication, or that family vacations show you don’t care enough about practice. That lunacy is the terminus of over-emphasis on work. By placing family above work, most of the time any conflicts between work and family can be resolved satisfactorily (whether that means working later after kids are asleep, or having a colleague help, or discussing a realistic deadline with the client, who is not usually unreasonable, frankly). There is no reason law should engulf your life, even if you are very dedicated. And if it does, if you agree with me about the proper balance in life, you should adjust your job, not your family life, to rebalance it. And you needn’t quit the practice of law, as Judge Kopf recommends. None of that makes me or anyone who thinks the way I do a “narcissist.”

    1. SHG Post author

      Thanks for your response, Raffi. As I think I’ve already addressed your concerns in the post, I’ll let it stand as is.

    2. wilbur

      “my view is that you should complain and see what can be done about that.”

      To our blog host, to whom do you complain and see if they can change things?

      My point is not to belittle Mr. Melkonian or his views; rather, it’s to point out that there are many different kinds of lawyers with very different kinds of practices. Judge Kopf’s post was (I believe) primarily directed at those who choose to become criminal defense lawyers, a special practice requiring special levels of dedication and focus. It was a little tough love from someone who’s seen it all.

      1. Sgt. Schultz

        Saw Raffi and his crowd of village idiots on twitter. I want to belittle him. I thought he had a brain, but he’s just an SWJ poseur surrounded by a circle jerk of feminist tummy rubbers. It was one of the most pathetic showings of stupidity, lies and bullshit I’ve ever seen.

        But I did learn one thing: when women are caught lying, they get a free pass by using the vagina card and all the rest of the little assholes cry sad tears for their fallen sister.

        1. SHG Post author

          Yeah, today I learned an SJW problem. It a woman lies, you can’t call her a liar because then your sexist. And never call them irrational no matter how irrational they are, because that’s a dog whistle. So if you want to please the deeply passionate, the only option is profusely apologize for your toxicity and (as my old pal Marty says) apologize for being so awful. Ain’t equality grand?

  5. Jake

    I’m glad the consequences of my many professional failures do not include some person ending up in a cage.

  6. Brian Cowles

    Just want to drop a note that the linked “seven twit tear” has been made private.

  7. Rxc

    This conflict exists in the life of everyone who calls him/herself a “professiona”. Lawyers, engineers, architects, doctors, electricians, plumbers, etc,etc. You work for the client and commit yourself to the work. (Note the absence of academics and politicians).

  8. Ronald Tocchini

    Maybe I’m being dense, but I don’t really see what the big deal is. I read Judge Kopf’s post, and I didn’t see how his opinion was all that provocative. It actually seemed more on the bland side to me, at least when compared to some of his other observations (link not placed, @SHG). My views undoubtedly betray a rather worn-out point of view. I am no longer a new lawyer, but I’m still learning. Every day.

    Nor do I take issue with the statement by Mr. Melkonian. I don’t see these two supposed paradigms as being mutually exclusive, though perhaps others do. I haven’t read through all of the comments or related Twitter posts. Perhaps doing so would change my mind, though I doubt it.

    Look, this is a calling. Of course there will be times when our responsibilities overcome family life; we’re not not mailmen.* And anyone who lets a calling (or a career) dominate the needs of a spouse and kids is a fool. I should know. I speak from personal experience.

    Balancing your responsibilities as an advocate with those of a spouse or a parent brings values into conflict; it always has, and it always will. This is a good thing. Examining these values speaks to our character as both lawyers and human beings. I’m glad these people worry about it. I’d be worried if they didn’t.

    We want our rabbi and our brain surgeons and our trial lawyers to be devoted to their callings, but we also need them to have the compassion and good judgment for the really difficult problems that can’t be described by a book or or a bar exam or a professor.** in my view, the root of all such compassion and good judgment comes from being a good member of a larger group – like a marriage or a family or even a bar association. Well, maybe not the last one.

    The profession’s demands on our families are more than just nuanced: they are dynamic. These burdens constantly adapt and erode whatever good habits we’ve managed to previously develop in “balancing” them. But I’m glad that people are upset and worried and thinking about this challenge. Rightly or wrongly, this thinking process acknowledges the underlying problem. After all, the first step to finding a workable solution*** is acknowledging the problem’s existence.

    *Sorry, “postal carriers” just lacked a certain je ne sais quoi .

    **Don’t get me started on law professors. If we educated doctors the way that we educate lawyers, we’d never let physicians near a patient for (at least) the first 10 years of their careers. I actually relish the thought of litigating against a law professor. It’s a genuine fantasy.

    ***Good luck with that. When you do find a workable solution, let me know. I will render unto you all my money and other things of value in exchange for such wisdom.

    1. SHG Post author

      I don’t think Raffi disagrees at all, but his simplistic twit was a play for the feelz of his #appellatetwitter crowd. That was why it gave rise to the post, that the elder statesmen are empowering the children to believe in this nonsense. There should be nothing controversial about what Judge Kopf said. One might quibble over whether he expressed it in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s feelings, but if so, that’s a minor beef that can be easily resolved with a question.

      Instead, it devolved to absurdity with a heavy dose of political correctness, which matters deeply to Raffi and his lean-in group and not a whit to anyone else (including me). I did, however, learn a few things: that this group not only is up to their eyeballs in PC bullshit, but that their capacity to reason is almost nonexistent. It’s bad enough that they put themselves ahead of their clients, but if appellate lawyers can’t formulate a reasonably cogent point or grasp basic facts, we’re doomed.

      1. Ronald Tocchini

        Ah, now I see. We have fallen victim to Twitter click bait. How sad. I had assumed his remarks were genuine.

        I hope they enjoy their debate. I need to get back to working on serious matters. My wife and kids expect me home tonight, and I don’t want to waste time playing to a social media strategy. People are relying on me.

        Thanks, Scott.

  9. Erik H

    What’s the fuss about? Any intelligent reading of Kopf’s missive would have taken the practice area into account.

    If you practice CDL you will obviously get a lot of late-night, urgent, short-notice, and high-priority work which cannot be ignored. That’s what CDL is. Same for some areas of family law.

    If you do civil litigation, you get some of that work on a rare basis, but not nearly as much. If you specialize in corporate work you get even less. If you specialize in formation of 501(c)(3) organizations you probably get none at all.

    All lawyers need to suck it up and do the emergency work which is required in their specialty. If your life won’t accommodate your load, do a different specialty.

    The whole problem starts because people are not honest. Many folks are trying to claim they are “just as hard working as everyone else when it is objectively false. Some folks like to say “family law doesn’t interest me as much” but my honest answer is “family law is interesting; that said I am not willing to take calls from sobbing parents at 3AM or constantly deal with emergency motions, so I don’t do family law.”

  10. Suzie

    Saw some of the stupid on twitter. I was shocked as well at the irrationality and dishonesty in breathless pursuit of their political correctness. Much as I loved the “dog whistle” idiocy, the one that got me the most was the tweet from the UNC law prof. (If you allow the link, sorry) So much bullshit packed into one tweet.

    1. SHG Post author

      That was particularly disappointing, as one would want to believe that academics have some small degree of shame and integrity. But given the social justice insanity on campus, it wasn’t at all surprising. Everything is harassment. Everyone who doesn’t share their feelz is sexist. And they can’t figure out why no one outside of their small circle of warriors doesn’t respect their feelings.

      1. Miles

        Made the mistake of clicking on her mentions. She’s obsessed with you because you’re a BULLY!!! I would call her a flaming nutjob, but that would be a dog whistle for misogyny no matter how completely absurd she is. So I won’t call her a flaming nutjob, unhinged or any other mean word. No, I will not. That would make all the little boy allies cry.

        1. SHG Post author

          The irony was that this had nothing to do with gender, until the women who believe that everything is about gender decided to make it all about gender. She wasn’t unhinged because she was a woman. She was unhinged because she was unhinged. But in feminist land, that apparently isn’t possible. They’re literally shaking.

          1. Miles

            But Gurvich wasn’t really talking to you, she was virtue signalling for the benefit of her tribe of victims. So the fact that it had nothing to do with gender in reality has no bearing at all on it being easily twisted into her hysterical (because she’s a woman, she’s hysterical, not because she’s hysterical) shrieks of misogyny.

            And the tribe responded with the requisite admiration.

            1. SHG Post author

              And that goes back to the damage Raffi does by playing to children’s feelz and giving them the adult validation they crave.

      1. Anon Prawf

        You try sitting on a committee with somebody like this, and all you want to do is scream, “are you fucking nuts!?”

  11. Marc Whipple

    You know, if I had known that my policy of blocking lawyers who make jokes about other lawyers who didn’t go to T10 schools* would make me miss out on such fabulous entertainment, I might have hesitated to implement it.


    Nah. I’m good.

    *I have blocked most of the members of #appellatetwitter for this reason, so I was a little confused by our noble host’s tweets and this post for a bit. Sorry for being slow.

    1. SHG Post author

      I saw you jump in there for a moment, and wondered what came over you. There is nothing to be gained by arguing with children or fools. Though it was adorable to watch as they spiraled into their social justice frenzy.

      1. Marc Whipple

        I was in a mood. However, I am pleased with the fact that I at least had the sense to disengage almost immediately. In a few more years I hope to have the maturity/wisdom to not do it in the first place.

  12. Suzie

    Looks like Gurvich is still obsessed with you. She now calls you a troll who isn’t worth her time, and yet she can’t stop tweeting about you. Pretty bizarre since she went after you and you had nothing to do with her.

    And she still doesn’t seem to have any grasp that Marty’s comment was nothing but his feelz, culminating in his scolding you to “grow up,” etc. Intellectual rigor just doesn’t seem to be her thing. But she’s really good at bullshitting and whining.

    1. SHG Post author

      Heh. I might be able to explain this, but it would require me to use words that convey concepts that Gurvich would then call misogynistic. But it’s hysterical that she’s obsessed with me and desperately trying to bullshit her way out of this. I wish her students that best of luck. They will most assuredly need it.

      1. Joseph

        >Second, I want women, esp young women, to know what they’re facing. “Professor” title won’t save you. A Harvard Law degree won’t save you.

        It seems as though what she’s actually looking for is a license to be free of criticism. Sadly, it turns out neither a Harvard Law degree, nor a law professorship, nor a seat on the Supreme Court, nor being elected President of the United States, nor being a man, has yet proven effective at keeping people safe from being accused of lies and stupidity. Research into an effective prophylactic continues.

        1. SHG Post author

          With just the right mindset, every challenge can be chalked up to sexism so that no woman has to face the possibility that she’s just full of shit. It might not save you from criticism, but you can bask in the comfort of knowing that it’s only because of sexism and not because you’re wrong.

          Except for Kellyanne Conway. It doesn’t work for her.

  13. Anon

    I am a member of #AppellateTwitter. I cannot use my real name as I would be cast out as a pariah for what I’m about to say. Both Raffi Melkonian and Rachel Gurvich are leaders of the small and very insular group of lawyers there, and both are held in high esteem. I will never be able to do so again.

    The hive mind demonstrated against you and Judge Kopf was outrageous and ridiculous. The point was obvious, and it’s inconceivable that anyone as smart as Raffi didn’t get it. But what happened from there was even worse. How they twisted this into a sexism thing was disgraceful. I would not have believed that Rachel would be so disingenuous. And, of course, both you and Judge Kopf are correct, absent exceptional circumstances, the client comes first.

    What quickly became clear is that people who supported Raffi and others had no clue what they were talking about, but piled on based on nothing more than another person’s dishonest tweet. It quickly spiraled out of control, and the commentary bore no relation whatsoever to reality. It must have been surreal on your end to see tweets that had nothing to do with anything you wrote, but nobody cared. They were on a roll, and had no interest in facts or reason.

    As for Marty, his comment is nothing more than his feelings about what you wrote, and your response to his scolding you to grow up and apologize may have been harsh, but was accurate. Then again, it comes as no surprise that the brain trust of #AppellateTwitter refused to see beyond it’s outrage. You were right. Marty was not.

    #AppellateTwitter does good things and can be very interesting for an appellate lawyer. I will continue to be part of it going forward, but I will never be able to forget the disagraceful conduct of the big shots and their sycophants who mindlessly backed them up. It was always clear that there was a strong social justice current within the group, but I never realize that it was so malignant and malicious. Unhinged might be too kind.

    If I spoke for #AppellateTwitter, I would apologize for the group. As I don’t, I apologize as an individual member. It was disgraceful and dishonest. They should be ashamed of themselves. I’m ashamed for them.

    1. SHG Post author

      Just so you know, it’s more amusement for me than concern. Shrieking about sexism only matters to the people doing the shrieking, a detail they never seem to grasp. When watching, you just shake your head in amazement at how lunacy takes hold and things spiral out of control.

      What sincerely makes me sad is that people like Raffi, and to a lesser extent Gurvich (because her lack of integrity), are more concerned about their popularity to the hive than being lawyers, than their duty to clients. I don’t know what will become of young lawyers today, but the cries over my politically incorrect word choice were obviously far more important to them than the zealous representation of clients. Perhaps appellate lawyers never need to make hard choice, though I suspect they occasionally do. But the lesson to young lawyers is clients come second. That’s the disgrace here.

      Edit: And I completely understand why you’ve gone anon.

  14. Ready.when.reached

    I’ve read Judge Kopf’s letter and this resulting thread with some dismay. I’d like to address this comment to law school students and young lawyers, particularly women, who may be considering whether to embark on a career in criminal defense.

    By way of background, I have been in litigation practice for 17 years. I’ve worked my share of 80+ hour weeks. I worked around the clock for months with a team that freed six innocent men from Guantanamo. I am familiar with the sacrifices required in the profession. Two years ago I gave up a safe position in the civil practice of a large firm to become a public defender. I have loved every moment of it, including those moments (and they are many) when the sun goes down while I am still at work on a motion or a cross outline or an argument. I have never loved my work more than I do now, and I plan to give everything to it. I intend to leave it all on the field when I am done.

    First, briefly, as to Judge Kopf’s letter: as you make your way in the profession, you will encounter a small number of aging judges (and practitioners) who constantly feel the profession is going to hell and need to excoriate young lawyers on their way out. It was true when I started and it is still true today. Try not to become one yourself, should you be fortunate enough to take silk one day.

    Second, some of the comments above might lead you to assume, erroneously, that the criminal defense bar is a boys club. Not true. I am one of four male lawyers in an office of thirteen. Our district and superior court trial practice groups are headed by women. My female colleagues handle every variety of serious criminal case – homicide, child rape, sexual assault, and many others – with unswerving dedication to their clients. They are effective, formidable, tough as nails (often in the face of withering scorn), humane, and deeply compassionate – these are all necessary traits to do the work we do over the long haul. Many have families whom they dearly love; all are fully committed to their clients and passionate about their work. When hard choices need to be made, they make the needed sacrifices.

    That said, I have found the bench and bar in criminal practice to be sensitive to the needs of family. I have had court dates continued to accompany a sick family member to the hospital. I have covered duty hours for other attorneys who needed respite to take care of kids, elderly parents, etc. In my corner of the world, there is a general recognition among judges and lawyers that because the practice can be so grueling, so all consuming, relief can and should be given where possible. If you show yourself to be a dedicated servant of your clients, you will find (or at least I have found) that judges, colleagues, adversaries, magistrates, clerks and court officers will respect your personal and family needs, and sometimes even urge you to attend to them when you might otherwise try to be too heroic and take on too much.

    You will also find that your clients – especially the poor and the most vulnerable – will deeply reward your investment in their lives – your dedication, patience, and zealous effort. The hard work will not be in deciding between them and family. It will be in deciding among them – how best to triage the limited hours you have among dozens of cases (if you’re lucky – hundreds if you’re in a jurisdiction that chronically underfunds indigent defense). I struggle with that daily. I always will. If I could give twenty five hours a day to them I would.

    I don’t know who any of the commenters are, but none of them seems to be Judy Clarke, and all of them put together don’t add up to her. She has defended some of the hardest, most difficult cases of the last few decades. You won’t see her blogging or tweeting or going on talk shows or giving interviews, but if you do a little research you will find much written about her. Should you choose this wing of the profession, be ye man or woman, you would do well to study and abide by Judy Clarke’s example. True, she doesn’t have kids; no, she would never say you can’t have them, love them, and be there for them. Live by her example, and you will have no need to consult the bitter missive of a retired judge or the macho blustering of angry men.

    I’m annoyed at myself for taking time away from my clients to write this, because what’s the point – anyone serious and dedicated enough to do this work has done their homework and won’t be put off by a curmudgeonly rant or some comments in a blog. But I can’t stand what I’ve read here, and I had to say something.

    1. SHG Post author

      A curious use of my soapbox, because you have none. A curiously passive-aggressive approach, which seems to be de rigueur for the social justice crew. An unfortunate lack of the courage of your convictions, hiding behind a pseudonym while offering your bona fides as if you can enjoy your self-importance without putting you ass on the line. But I’m aware of the litany of excuses for why some women are too delicate, too vulnerable, to engage on equal footing, so I’ll post your comment so you can tell your story of rainbows and sad unicorns.

      For the most part, you’re kinda dense. If a conflict can be avoided, then avoid it. That completely eluded you (and the other deeply passionate feminists and their allies, who are outraged at being treated like equals when they’re far too delicate to be held to the same standard as any other lawyer). But who are you to invoke Judy Clarke? Did she ever leave a death penalty defendant standing in the well alone because she has something else she felt like doing?

      If you want to call putting clients first “the macho blustering of angry men,*” that’s fine. Unlike you, we’re not going to cry about some coward calling us a name as she passive-aggressively whines about how everyone is sexist. When some poor and vulnerable defendant goes down for life while you make your litany of bullshit excuses, call names and pretend that you can’t handle equality because you’re so sad and fragile, keep telling yourself that you’re special. I’m sure the defendant won’t mind losing his life so you can feel bad for yourself.

      Enjoy your little fantasy world, where lawyers never have to sacrifice and it’s all magically wonderful and easy. And your clients love you, because all the boys from the hood respect and adore their PDs, which is why nobody ever called a PD a public pretender. I might ask why you believe that promoting this delusion serves the interests of female lawyers (as it certainly does nothing for defendants) is a good idea, but I’m told that it’s misogynistic to call a delusional woman delusional. What you’re really doing here is providing cover to young people who seek an excuse for failing to do the hard work of representing human beings, even when it’s inconvenient. Given the options, I much prefer a “curmudgeonly rant” that puts clients ahead of your your fantasy world.

      It’s a shame you “can’t stand” equality. On the bright side, most women lawyers are like Judy Clarke and put their clients first without making a litany of excuses. Whether there will be any Judy Clarke’s in the next generation of female lawyers has yet to be seen, but one thing is certain. You’re no Judy Clarke. Go back to warming the bench in a biglaw library where you can’t harm anyone.

      *Judge Kopf isn’t retired, but don’t let reality intrude on your feelings.

      1. Miles

        Uh oh. Now you’ve gone and proven that if they comment, they will be attacked by a mean, vulgar curmudgeon. You’ve got to admit, they’ve got an excuse for everything. The SJWs are untouchable in their own entitled minds. What they fail to grasp is that everyone else is laughing at them.

        My favorite part is where she writes that clients will “deeply reward you investment in them.” Made coffee come out my nose. Am I allowed to call her a fucking lunatic? I guess I’m just another angry man who doesn’t appreciate how special and fragile the girls are.

        1. SHG Post author

          Any response short of, “Oh, yes, YES!!! You are so right, can I get you some tea, you poor thing,” is misogyny. That’s how they keep their allies in check, as they’re too afraid of being labeled sexist to not acquiesce in the insanity. Since I’m not going to promote their lie, and I’m going to treat women equally rather than special snowflakes, there’s no way I can avoid being called angry old man. I’ll get over it.

      2. suzie

        There must be a reading comprehension test given before you join the SJW club. If you pass, you’re not allowed to join. It can’t be the vagina, as I’ve got one and I can still comprehend what I read, unlike Tinkerbell here.

    2. Tough PD Chick

      Since Tinkerbell here went anonymous, I will too. Tink wants to address female law students and young lawyers, and so do I. Tinkerbell is completely full of shit.

      So my unproven and completely unprovable self-described background, since as long as we’re hiding and seeking, I get to play that game too. Twenty-two years in public defense. About 30 felony trials. A few million defendants defended. So if you believe any of this, I know a thing or two.

      And that’s why, ladies, I can tell you that Tinkerbell is full of shit. The clients don’t respect us. Once in a while they say think you, but most of the time they want us to show them our tits. No, we don’t get angry or start to cry. Tink would, but we’re not Tink. We’re tough. We make jokes. We kick ass. There isn’t a word in the language that we haven’t heard and can’t bear to hear. We’re big girls.

      There are time when we can get the catcher to cover for us, or the judge will cut us a break when the kid is projectile vomiting. But to pretend there aren’t choice to be made is not just nuts, but a lie. I would love to bake cupcakes for the class like the other moms, but that damn defendant on trial won’t just cop a plea.

      Law isn’t easy. Law isn’t for the special snowflakes like Tink here. If that’s what you want, you are going to really hate it because Tink is totally full of shit. If you love the fight, if you want to do something worthwhile with your life, if you can square off with any guy without playing the vagina card, then being a public defender is great.

      But if you want Tink’s world, you’re going to hate being a public defender with 500 cases on your desk and a bunch of guys calling you mean sexist names. If this is going to make you cry like pathetic little Tink, this is not the life for you. And don’t even think of ruining defendants’ lives with your whiny girl bullshit. This is for women with balls. If you don’t get that, you don’t belong here.

    3. Scott Jacobs

      I have had court dates continued to accompany a sick family member to the hospital.

      I’m sure the indigent client you were representing didn’t mind spending even longer in a cell. I’m sure he was happy to do it.

      1. SHG Post author

        I missed that line (I skimmed some of the comment as it was a bit leaden). It captures the choice brilliantly. She put her family first (and the judge was unsurprisingly happy to acquiesce) and all it cost was a week/month of another human being’s life. Not only does this show where her values are (hooray, me, fuck the client), but it was her choice of example to display to young women lawyers about what their future would hold.

        Perfect. Few lines reveal the real selfishness and narcissism better.

  15. Ready.when.reached

    SHG, thanks for posting my original, and I’ll leave our vigorous disagreement on most items intact. The prosecution on my latest trial folded this morning, which left me some unexpected free time. So a couple of quick points –

    I am emphatically NOT Judy Clarke, would never hold myself out to be, and never will be, not even close – she is one of a kind. She’s the example I follow, every day, and I will never get there, but character is in the try. Glad you admire her, too. Everyone on our side of the v. should.

    Tough PD chick is right about some things: the personal-reasons continuance button should be hit sparingly and for real emergencies and unexpected crises. Also, to do this work, it greatly helps to have the skin and the stomach to put up with all manner of unhelpful suggestions, epithets, and other nonsense (public pretender, libtard, snowflake, sjw, tinkerbell, sit down and shut up, go back where you came from, etc.) with a shrug and undiminished persistence.

    My little paragraph on being “rewarded” caused some confusion and needs unpacking. It’s not about collecting moments of praise, or waiting to be thanked, or feeling like you’ve changed someone’s life, or being thought of nicely, or anything like that. Anyone who needs that will find themselves disappointed by PD practice and burn out quickly.

    The reward I have experienced is different, and comes from the act of service itself, not the result. The people I serve are consistently in desperate circumstances and leading complicated lives; often they are beset with substance use disorders and untreated mental illness; often they have been shaped by terrible histories of trauma and suffering. They were not put here to respect me, or be nice to me.

    My baseline is: you, client, don’t owe me a thing and I don’t expect a thing from you. You are not here to make me feel better. You didn’t choose any of this. You are entitled to be bewildered, frustrated, and angry about everything that’s happening to you, including me. Over time, I am going to do my best to show you, not by what I say but what I do, that you are just as worthy as anyone else of dignity, respect, compassion, and, dare I say it, Christian love. You are a fellow human being, my brother or sister, the flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood. Your rights will be respected and vindicated; I will fight tooth and nail for them. I will shepherd you as best I can through the perils of the criminal justice system.

    This is the “reward” as I have experienced it, what a friend referred to as “the hedonism of altruism” – the feeling of having given what I could, in the best way I could. It is roughly equal to the care and effort I put into the client relationship and the work.

    Nobody got held longer in jail because of a continuance I’ve requested; it’s strange someone leapt to that assumption, but whatever. I’ve left hospital bedsides and jeopardized personal relationships to answer ready for trial. (And, of course, showed up to the gov’t asking for a continuance, which of course was granted over defendant’s objection…)

    Finally, it’s super cute that y’all keep insisting I’m a lady! A punk rock-loving bandmate of mine once said I had the musical taste of a precocious teenage girl. It was a great compliment.

    Over and out.

    1. SHG Post author

      So you were mansplaining to young women? Never saw that coming.

      Interesting how once everyone gets out of their high dungeon, tone-policing and scolding for politically incorrect word choices, it turns out that most of the condemnation was smug, self-righteous bullshit.

      Most of the experienced CDLs I know can’t stomach the social justice bullshit. We’ve all sacrificed our convenience and our families for our clients when we had to. And we don’t give a damn about being politically correct. We don’t cry sad tears for black guys on social media, we save their real actual lives. We hold their kids’ hands. We do what the narcissistic little whiners cry about while refusing to give up their own happiness even if it means others suffer.

      Glad you’ve admitted that all the warm and fuzzy crap is just crap. Law is hard work. Representing human beings is a trust we willingly assume, and sometimes it makes hard demands on lawyers, but that’s what we signed up for. Hope you win your trial. Yes, the reward is saving lives. And the occasional “thank you.”

    2. Tough PD Chick

      Love the passive-aggressive sign off, “over and out.” It’s one of my favorite girl tricks. Not only do you have the musical taste of a precocious teenage girl, but the intellect and balls. You’re not fooling me, sister.

  16. David

    Also sorry about coming late to this, but just took a look at Raffi’s twitter. You were very wrong, SHG. You gave him far more credit than he deserved. He’s nothing more than a pandering effete gutless ass-kisser for likes.

    The real message here is that the #appellatetwitter gang are the last people you ever want representing a defendant on appeal, unless you’re hoping your client tanks. Smug little prigs without a ball among them fighting over citation forms and oxford commas.

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