Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July from we here at the Abnormal Use law blog and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A.! We wish you a safe and festive holiday, and we trust that you will enjoy the day and decline to spend it in the office (if at all possible). We’ll be back tomorrow with regular posts as per usual!

Friday Links

What did everyone think of that “Game of Thrones” finale last weekend?

So, according to The Onion AV Club, Apple “obtained a patent on technology that will disable your phone’s camera when it detects a specific infrared signal,” suggesting that those using their iPhone at a concert might be thwarted. Believe it or not, we addressed this very topic in a 2011 post entitled “On iPhones, Surreptitious Concert Taping, and The Future.” Are we prescient?

Although we love craft brewers, we are not ready for cookie dough beer.

We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope that you have a safe and festive Fourth of July holiday weekend. Try not to do too much billable work over the long weekend. In fact, try to enjoy the world a bit without worrying about work for a few hours.

We’re a bit puzzled by our favorite legal tweet of late, but we still keep trying to imagine the scene depicted therein.

Reptile Update Summer 2016

It has been approximately six months since our last Reptile case law update. We have been unable to find any Reptile-related case law or trial court order handed down since our last update, but we have located several recent jury verdicts and settlements referencing the Reptile, as well as some secondary sources on the subject:

The following is an excerpt from the recap of a jury verdict for the defense in a Kentucky medical malpractice case:

He referenced that some other lawyers (ones from Georgia) created a Reptilian guide to trying cases and that it is used by plaintiffs as a Bible of sorts. Moving from reptiles Nicholls finished that Chalhoub was a good doctor who cared about his patients and the community — he asked the jury to return a verdict telling Chalhoub he had done nothing wrong especially as the plaintiff had painted him as a liar.

From a recent article:

I have a slightly different, but not inconsistent, theory: fear sells. Readers are attuned to negative information for the same reason that the negativity bias is evolutionarily adaptive: you need to know about the bad stuff that might cause you harm. We cannot escape the reptile buried deep within our psyches.
SYMPOSIUM: Of Reptiles and Velcro: The Brain’s Negativity Bias and Persuasion, 15 Nev. L.J. 605.
And for another interesting analysis of the Reptile tactic, consider the following law review article for which we provide the following excerpt:
Let us begin with identifying some of the problems with finding the right place to start. For a factual narrative, the natural choice-the earliest event-is not obvious. What is the earliest event? In a personal injury case, is it the injury or the events leading up to the injury? Current books on the plaintiff’s side – Rules of the Road and Reptile – put the emphasis on the defendant and what the defendant has done before introducing the plaintiff. Even the natural “tell the story from the beginning” has many notable exceptions. We are well aware, especially with movies, of the technique where the story is not strictly chronological, but the narrative is shaped by flashbacks, which sharpen the understanding of the events as the chronology is resumed.
ARTICLE: ON EDITING, 60 S.D. L. REV. 1
We will do our best to continue keep you posted on Reptilian developments. In the meantime, please feel free to share any information or materials that you run across.

How I Became A Lawyer

I recently wrote on Abnormal Use about the importance of storytelling for lawyers when marketing themselves and their law practices. As I said then, I was inspired to work on some of my own stories. This is the result of that initial effort.

When I first went to Furman University as a student in the Fall of 1980, I wanted to be a doctor. My Dad was a dentist, and I knew that was not for me. But I did like the life sciences, including biology and anatomy. So, I filled my first year with Botany, Zoology, and Calculus, laying the groundwork for my pre-med curriculum. The next fall, when it was time to register for classes, I found myself in line to register for Organic Chemistry, the course that separates the wheat from the chaff. I hesitated. I began questioning why I wanted to be a doctor and whether I had truly considered any other path. I walked away from that registration line that day and spent the next year wandering in the wilderness.

During that year, I spent time with the Furman chaplain, Dr. Jim Pitts, exploring whether I was being called into ministry as my vocation. I even spent a semester as a volunteer hospital chaplain at Easley Baptist Hospital. It readily became apparent that was not the path for me, but I did get the chance to preach on Youth Sunday at my home church of First Baptist in Forest City, North Carolina. My uncle, Dr. John Johns, then President of Furman, was in the congregation that day. A friend recently reminded me of my uncle’s comments after hearing my sermon: “You would make a fine lawyer,” apparently referring to my ability to communicate effectively. Not long after that, I made an appointment with him to discuss it further. He encouraged me to seriously consider the law as my chosen profession.

Later, I sat down with one of my Dad’s lawyer friends, Tolliver Davis, who was the U.S. Magistrate for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. He patiently answered my questions about the law. After this due diligence, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I was probably not sure why, or even what type of law in which I was interested. What I did know was that my Dad respected Tolliver Davis as a man of integrity. That was the beginning point, and how I became a lawyer.

I changed my major to Political Science; I graduated from Furman in 1984 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1987. I have been practicing with the law firm of Gallivan White, & Boyd, P.A. in Greenville, South Carolina ever since.

The practice of law has changed dramatically over the last 29 years. Law firm economics and the business of law have become increasingly difficult, more demanding. Yet, I have never regretted my decision to become a lawyer. I enjoy helping people and businesses with their problems, whatever they may be. Now that I think about it, not only do you know how I became a lawyer, you now know why as well.

Will The Internet Replace The Courthouse?

Internet post

The Internet has changed everything. More and more businesses are divesting themselves of brick and mortar storefronts. More companies are allowing employees to work from home remotely. The legal field has experienced huge changes as a result of the Internet, as well. Legal research has moved from books to the Internet. There are lawyers who specialize in data breach litigation, e-discovery, and various other Internet-related areas. But the question we ask is, could the Internet replace the courthouse?

There are certainly financial reasons to do so. A trial is expensive for everyone involved. Fact witnesses and expert witnesses incur travel expenses that must be reimbursed. Jurors must be selected and compensated. Bailiffs must keep watch over the security of the courthouse and the courtroom. Paper exhibits must be copied. The courthouse uses electricity for HVAC, lighting, and security equipment. Could many of these costs be eliminated by conducting the proceedings remotely?

The lawyers could argue and witnesses could testify remotely from their home or office via teleconferencing equipment, the judge could preside over the case by watching the arguments and testimony over a screen, and the jury could watch the proceedings on a computer monitor from the comfort of their home or from a remote facility. Any members of the public interested in watching the proceedings can stream the trial live. The jury then has the opportunity to deliberate with each other via a secure Skype-like program. This same technology could be used to streamline motion arguments and any other court proceeding. It seems like this would save litigants and taxpayers a lot of money. But would it be a good thing?

We would be hesitant to embrace such a drastic change in the court system. There is something about everyone being physically present in the same room that reminds everyone they are dealing with human beings and that the result of the trial impacts lives, businesses, et cetera. We fear that putting the Internet between all of the players involved with a trial could introduce an element of anonymity or dehumanization that would not serve the best interests of the people involved.

Success Is Found On The Far Side Of Failure

My wife recently sent me a video clip of author J.K. Rowling talking about the benefits of failure. Her marriage had failed, she was jobless and a single parent. Rowling said, “I was the biggest failure I knew.” But once she stripped away the nonessentials in her life and stopped pretending about who she was, she found the determination she needed. She was set free to do the one thing in her life she knew she was meant to do. Her greatest fear had been realized, yet she was still alive. By reaching rock bottom, she found the foundation upon which she rebuilt her life. Rowling said that failure is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something “unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not live at all, in which case you fail by default.” Rowling concluded by sharing the traits she learned about herself. She had a strong will, discipline and many faithful friends. And she was secure in her ability to survive.

Rowling’s words reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Success is found on the far side of failure.” Is that not what Rowling was trying to tell us? She found success after hitting rock bottom, learning some things about herself along the way. It was that strong will and determination that propelled her successful career. When have you failed as a lawyer and found success on the far side? I still vividly remember my first few jury trials as a young lawyer. One of our partners was always present to bail me out if needed, and more importantly, to assess my performance once the verdict was rendered. Whenever I am in court, whether arguing a motion or trying a case, I try to debrief afterward. What went well? What could I have done better? If the case is resolved short of trial, which is most often the case, did I move the case along appropriately? Did I get a good result for the client? If you are a young lawyer, insist that a more experienced lawyer go with you to your first hearing, your first deposition. Look for opportunities for other lawyers to help you learn from your mistakes. Don’t hide from them; dissect them openly. Take advantage of the feedback; learn from your failures.

Friday Links

id42

Above, you’ll find the cover of Independence Day #2, a comic book adaptation published way, way back in the halcyon days of 1996 (to coincide with the release of the film). Well, as you may know, the film’s sequels hits theaters this week, and although we’re a bit hesitant to endorse it, we’ll probably see it. After all, we remember standing in line in early July of 1996 to see the first one (which morally obligates us to see the sequel). That’s how at works, or so we’ve been told.

As we mentioned yesterday, we will be at the North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting this weekend in Charlotte. Say hi if you see us, and be sure to follow the hashtag #NCBAAM16 on Twitter if you’re interested in the event.

Did anyone go see The Cure in concert last night in Charlotte?

If the representations in our favorite legal tweet of the week are true, we need to see Finding Dory (as we adore jokes about warning labels). See below, and hap tip to Bob Dorigo Jones.

Abnormal Use at the NCBA Annual Meeting

As you may know, we here at Abnormal Use often travel to conventions and meetings far and wide. As fate would have it, though, the North Carolina Bar Association’s Annual Meeting takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we have an office (and where our editor, Jim Dedman, is based). Accordingly, Jim will be at the NCBA Annual Meeting, and we suspect he’ll be tweeting from it using the Annual Meeting’s official hashtag, #NCBAAM16. In fact, as you’ll see below, he’s already at it.

If you also happen to find yourself at the meeting, be certain to say hello!

Storytelling for Lawyers

We have all read about the importance of telling a good story as part of any trial strategy, whether in an opening statement or a closing argument, but what about in our own personal marketing or when promoting our law firm? Yes, you have the 60 second elevator speech that you can use, but what about a story that informs others about what you can do for your clients or what your law firm is capable of doing for its clients?

I recently read a Wall Street Journal article by Susan Credle, global chief creative officer for FCB, one of the largest advertising agency networks. In the article, Credle says “data and technology dominate the conversations.”  There is creativity but it is often formulaic. Credle laments the absence of “bright moments when someone creates a piece of work that captures our imaginations and our hearts.” Credle’s theory is that the advertising industry has “forgotten that first and foremost we need to be storytellers.” She says the best in their industry are “relentless storytellers” whose brands are purpose-driven and whose stories are authentic.  The story is told and retold, over and over again, in “new, surprising and creative ways.” As Credle notes, this storytelling is an investment, and with each new investment, “the brand becomes more valuable.”

Credle encourages others to seize the opportunity, even the responsibility, “to create famous, lasting brand stories.” She asks if we are dreaming big enough, if we are walking away from what could be some legendary stories. Credle concludes “It is about a relentless and lasting commitment to a brand’s story, and the elation of waking up every day with an opportunity to help write the next chapter.”

Credle’s premise is that our stories create the most valuable brands. Have you thought about what stories you can tell? Can you write a story about your practice that is memorable and effective? I have been inspired by Susan Credle’s emphasis on storytelling. So, I am going to work on some of my stories. I think I will start with the story of how I decided to become a lawyer.

Until next time . . . .

Hot Coffee May Be A Carcinogen?

Coffee Art

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use have prolifically posted on hot coffee-related topics. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has now given us a novel hot-coffee related topic on which to post. A review published today by the IARC concludes that the consumption of “coffee, mate, and very hot beverages” is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

CNN reports that “the review by a panel of global experts stated that drinking beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius — 149 degrees Fahrenheit — could cause people to develop cancer of their esophagus, the eighth most common form of cancer worldwide.”  The reason being that the drinking of hot beverages “at this temperature can cause significant scald burns in the esophagus when they’re consumed and has previously been linked to an increased cancer risk in this part of the body.” The good news for our U.S. and EU readers is that “beverages are not typically consumed this hot in Europe and North America but are commonly served at, or above, this temperature in regions such as South America, the Middle East and East Africa — particularly when drinking teas.”

Reportedly, “the findings come after a group of 23 international scientists analyzed all available data on the carcinogenicity of coffee, maté — a leaf infusion consumed commonly in South America and other regions — and a range of other hot beverages, including tea. They decided that drinks consumed at very hot temperatures were linked to cancer of the esophagus in humans.”

The new classification for very hot drinks puts them in the same risk group as exposure to gasoline and lead, which are also classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the IARC. Talcum powder as used in the perineal or anal regions of the body is also within this category.

For more information on carcinogens generally, please see our prior post on the alleged carcinogenicity of certain meats.