Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Monday, February 12, 2018

The Reagan Administration was populated with every sort of grifter, goniff and poltroon anyone could have imagined at the time, and the Republican Party managed to persuade itself that it was a brilliant success, and that Ronnie himself was a bizarre sort of secular saint. That's the problem with lying to yourself- at some point you start believing it, and we end up with the sort of cargo-cult politics we are living with today. Do you think Paul Ryan believes in this shit? Of course he does- he really is that stupid. As for the 40% that mostly supports Trump, my guess is that roughly 10% should know better, but are so pissed off that they have persuaded themselves that trolling the rest of us is a productive and worthwhile thing to do. It is possible that Mitch McConnell falls into this group, a septuagenarian middle finger to the world of the sane

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

We were watching "The Good Place" and I opined that there is a difference between morals and ethics. EGC, who has taught Ethics and certainly given the issue more thought than I have, contends that the terms are interchangeable.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bars that aren't sports bars shouldn't have TVs. Also airports, doctors' offices, medical waiting rooms generally, and pretty much any other public gathering space that isn't devoted to watching sports.

Monday, January 29, 2018

To Monty Alexander at Bruce Eaton's Albright-Knox Art of Jazz series yesterday. At these concerts
 there is usually some sort of a pre-show event. Sometimes it's a movie, occasionally it is an artist's talk, but usually it is Bruce Eaton talking about the context that the music we about to hear comes from. Mr. Alexander is from Jamaica, and the arc of his career is a long one. To illustrate the history of Jamaican music Bruce elected to describe the career of a Jamaican guitarist/producer Ernest Raglin. Mr. Raglin was an early mentor to Mr. Alexander, and the two  of them nicely illustrate the influence of jazz on trans-Caribbean music. It's an interesting way to think about this stuff: I am used to thinking of the Afro-Cuban sound that Dizzy Gillespie found and ran with, and of course there are many other ways to think about the jazz diaspora. All it takes is big ears.

Mr. Alexander himself played in a trio that was mostly straight-ahead, and reminded me a bit of Errol Gardner-- melodic improvisation, with a lot of witty quotation and just enough fancy flourishes to make it clear that he wasn't just showing off-- they were having fun up on stage, and wanted us to have fun too. He's a bit of a raconteur, and had some stories about earlier visits to Buffalo, interactions with Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis, and other topics near to my heart, but what was most notable was the way he integrated reggae material into the set. A very nice afternoon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

One of the things I miss most about not having Tom Petty any more is his radio show, which was characterized by his utter delight in the music he played. "Awwwwriiight," he'd say, "That was the Yardbirds," or someone else terrific. He played a lot of stuff that are now obscurities, and included in that catigory were hit instrumentals, an almost forgotten form. "Awwwwriiight," he'd say, "That was Sandy Nelson...." or whoever. Here's some rock instrumentals. Miss you, Tom.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Legal ethics is an area that is a lot less interesting than it sounds: mostly it is about not stealing from clients and maintaining independence. There is little that is intuitive about it, so I have made it a practice to avoid steering close to the wind, and conduct my practice along bright line rules. One of those rules is that we can't fee-split with non-lawyers, and another is that we can't pay non-lawyers for referrals. Another is that we aren't supposed to  hold ourselves out as "experts". There are, as you would expect, services out there which kinda maybe sort of come close to doing these things, and I have always been troubled by them. Perhaps the most venerable is Martindale-Hubble, which is kind of a national and international directory of lawyers. If that was all it did I'd be fine, but the reality is that Martindale also runs a peer-review system that rates some of the lawyers in its listings. An "AV"  rating is the top for ability and ethics (you can't just be really capable, you also have to be "ethical"). BV is a tier below, and after that a lawyer is just listed. Lawyers and firms can buy bigger listings-- back when I was at a large firm the firm bought listings for everyone. The expanded listings include details like a lawyer's educational background, publications and presentations, bar association memberships and representative clients, and are crazy expensive. Lawyers who care about this stuff carefully cultivate their Martindale bios, updating them to include only the most recent publications, for example. Martindale maintains that its listings and its ratings are independent from each other, but they sure are aggressive in marketing their listings.There are clients who have made an AV rating an essential prerequisite for retaining a particular lawyer, so this matters.

A few years back Thompson-West decided to get into the act with its own ranking system, called (stupidly) Superlawyers. These rankings are also supposed to be based on peer reviews, and the listings are also super expensive.

A third service is called Avvo, and Avvo is different from the others because in addition to its ratings system it offers, for a fee, an on-line referral service. The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics has ruled that New York lawyers may not participate in this service, but I see no evidence that this has reined in the practice, and I get at least a couple of calls every other month or so soliciting me. Frankly, all such services should be banned.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I have long maintained that Nixon was the last Republican President who possessed any sort of meaningful intellectual capacity. Reagan, Bush pere, and Bush fils, were basically fronts for interests that couldn't otherwise be advanced. (Ford? Ford did what he was told.) Trump is like this, with the chief difference being that everyone is saying the quiet parts aloud.

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