Vol. 76, No. 12, December
Attorney & Law Firm Guide to the Business
of Law: Planning and Operating for Survival & Growth, 2d ed.
By Edward Poll (Chicago, IL.: ABA General Practice, Solo
& Small Firm Section, 2002). 642 pgs., diskette of forms. $119.95.
Order, (800) 285-2221.
Reviewed by Nicholas C. Zales
Every new lawyer should read this book. It is full of excellent
advice and practical legal tips that seasoned lawyers call common sense.
Experienced lawyers will find it a valuable resource, particularly those
who want to change their practice to make more money or find more
personal satisfaction. Geared to the small firm lawyer, Poll covers the
basics - starting a practice, overhead and billing, knowing the law,
negotiating, getting organized, and managing time. Then he goes far
beyond into topics such as marketing, the Internet, financial planning,
hiring and firing, attorney self-analysis, and client satisfaction
surveys. The book comes with a floppy disk full of organizational forms.
The basic flaw with this book is that it covers so much that it fails to
cover anything in great detail. Nevertheless, it provides a rock-solid
foundation of fundamental practical information all lawyers should know
or be aware of.
Poll begins each chapter with a clever legal cartoon related to the
chapter topic and two prescient quotations to make you think. My
favorite was "Failing to plan is planning to fail," by John Wooden. Poll
precedes each chapter with a checklist of essential items to remember
and then plunges into the details. He describes a myriad of common
business practices, which are uncommon to lawyers, and then shows how to
adapt and apply them to your practice.
Poll's book is based on the premise that law as a business depends
upon strict attention to detail in all aspects of planning and
organization. After showing how to do this, he turns to the fundamental
question for experienced lawyers: How does one find the time or
motivation to make major changes in the way one practices law? Poll
notes it is not easy, because busy lawyers may lack the time or
motivation to carry out his complex and detailed ideas of running a law
office like a business. Poll convincingly argues, though, that lawyers
must change through better organization and the learning of skills other
businesses have carried out for years or suffer the consequences. Change
is not easy, but if you want to, this book is full of clever and
insightful ideas that will get you going down that path.
Terms of Enforcement: Making Men Pay for What
By Steven S. Richmond (Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford
Publishing, 2002). 220 pgs. $19.95. Order,
Reviewed by Samuel F. Algozin
In Terms of Enforcement, Steven Richmond provides a highly
personal account of his experience being charged with and convicted of
domestic violence. Armed with this experience, Richmond argues that the
laws established to combat domestic violence have created a vast
imbalance of power in favor of female complainants. He asserts that
lawyers advise female clients to use abuse prevention statutes
(specifically, restraining orders) to strengthen the clients' positions
in divorce proceedings and child custody matters.
In the midst of divorce proceedings, Richmond's wife obtained a
restraining order against him, and he later was charged with violating
the order. While Richmond does acknowledge erratic behavior, he asserts
that he never threatened or abused his wife. In essence, Richmond argues
that he became the victim of a legal system gone mad in which accused
men have no legal remedies. As a result of violating the restraining
order, Richmond spent time both in jail and in a state mental
While Richmond acknowledges the need for laws to remedy the problem
of domestic violence, he asserts that the current laws only serve to
remedy one imbalance in social justice and power relationships by
creating a new one. To Richmond, the legal pendulum has swung too far in
the direction of protecting women from domestic abuse. The domestic
violence laws view men as "bombs waiting to go off" and deprive them of
their constitutional rights.
Richmond, a psychotherapist and social worker by trade, himself
formerly counseled male domestic abusers. The book reads as part memoir,
part therapy session, and part call for reform. However, Richmond fails
to provide much insight beyond his own subjective experience. He makes
the objective assertion that restraining orders are used as weapons and
are used to exact revenge against men, yet he fails to provide a basis
for this allegation. While this book may have provided Richmond with the
opportunity to finally tell his side of the story, he fails to give any
lasting insight into the issue of how the legal system should deal with
the continuing problem of domestic violence.
Gender on Trial:
Sexual Stereotypes and Work/Life Balance in the Legal Workplace
By Holly English (New York, NY: American Lawyer Media,
2003). 324 pgs. $44.95. Order, (800) 603-6571.
Reviewed by Michael A. Salatka
Should male attorneys be allowed to take paternity leave? Are
assertive female attorneys viewed favorably in the profession? Are
female lawyers as competent as men? If you answered "yes" to these
questions, and believe that these are accepted norms in the workplace,
then you are probably from another planet. Gender on Trial
seeks to reshape the gender bias debate - and succeeds brilliantly. This
book is intended for potential lawyers, practicing lawyers, and
management groups, but the content is applicable to all professions.
There are chapters devoted to leadership styles, part-time attorneys,
"underground harassment," fatherhood/motherhood, gender segregation,
"competency testing," commitment to the profession, stereotypes, and
appearance. What makes this book different from most discussions on
gender is how the author peppers each topic with candid interviews with
people from around the country. Male and female practicing attorneys,
psychologists, sociologists, recruiters, consultants, and former
attorneys provide true-to-life experiences and observations on gender
that are both insightful and astonishing. The reader is almost
overwhelmed by "what people really think." Between the powerful
interviews and extensive research by the author, it is clear that gender
bias issues in the workplace are not a thing of the past.
The author provides useful approaches for confronting gender
challenges as well as methods that organizations can use to resolve
gender bias issues, but there is no definitive conclusion in Gender
on Trial. The book is meant to regenerate the gender debate and
promote common goals between men and women. As the author intimates, the
formidable task of thoroughly addressing and completely resolving gender
issues in the workplace begins with each of us.
The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How
to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations
By Randy Cohen (New York, NY: Doubleday Broadway Publishing
Group, 2002). 284 pgs. $14.
Reviewed by Mary M. Kuhnmuench
Is it ethical to bring your own snacks into a movie theater? When is
a lie not a lie? Randy Cohen puts his considerable wit and street smarts
to the test to answer those questions and many more like them in this
Cohen's book is the latest entry into the popular arena of self-help
books. And, while Dr. Phil may offer pithy advice on relationships, and
Richard Carlson advises us not to sweat the small stuff, Randy Cohen's
entry into this field provides us with witty sound bites masquerading as
answers for those nasty little ethical dilemmas we sometimes encounter.
The material for Cohen's book comes from real-life questions posed by
real-life readers of his column, "The Ethicist," in the New York
Cohen employs a question and answer format, and I must admit that the
most intriguing part of the book for me was trying to follow, let alone
understand, many of the submitted questions. For instance, the following
question had the familiar ring of the dreaded word problems I remember
from high school algebra: "Two of us at work travel to the same city to
check on our project. One stays at an expensive upscale hotel and
receives frequent-flyer credits. The other chooses to stay at a much
cheaper hotel, closer to the job and equally nice, but without that
bonus. Is the first person taking advantage of the corporation?" You
will just have to read the book to learn the answer. But therein lies
the problem. Do you really need this book to answer that question?
Unfortunately, it is representative of the majority of questions found
in Cohen's book and it lends itself to a very sophomoric answer.
Cohen is, by his own admission, an accidental ethicist. He fell into
his occupation by sheer happenstance. The editors of the New York
Times magazine thought that he might make the "discussion
illuminating, the analysis thoughtful, and the prose lively." Roughly
translated, he was qualified to write a column on ethics because he
might be able to take a seemingly antiseptic subject and turn it into a
witty, entertaining, and above all else, quick read. Perfect for the
morning commute. Fast food ethics for our fast food world. I'm left to
wonder if something isn't amiss when we reduce moral rectitude to trite
fortune cookie advice. I know that I like fast food, but I also know
that a steady diet of it is not healthy.
To Review a Book...
The following books are available for review. Please request the book
and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of
Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, email@example.com.
Publications and videos available for review
Basic PowerPoint Exhibits, by Deanne C. Siemer & Frank D.
Rothschild (Notre Dame, IN: National Institute for Trial Advocacy,
2003). 178 pgs.
- Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century, edited by
Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Michael S. Scott Morton (Cambridge,
MA: The MIT Press, 2003). 443 pgs.
- Kids Going to Court: A Story and Activities that Prepare Children
for Court, by Kidsrights (Indianapolis, IN: JIST Publishing Inc.,
2004). 16 pgs.
- Lease Negotiation Handbook, edited by Edward Chupack
(Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2003). 782 pgs., with CD-ROM.
- Medical-Legal Aspects of Pain and Suffering, by Patricia W. Iyer
(Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2003). 544
- Patent Law & Practice, Fourth Edition, by Herbert F.
Schwartz (Washington, DC: BNA Books, 2003). 330 pgs.