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Legal Humour Blog

 

October 2014

Ethics R Us

Oct 5, 2014 12:22 PM
Marcel Strigberger

      As of  October first Ontario lawyers have been facing amended Rules of Professional Conduct. In my view these rules will make lawyers’ lives more complicated.

      For example, they provide for a new definition of the word, "client".  In short, X is your client if he (or she) has consulted you and either retained you or has “a reasonable expectation” that he retained you.  This can be fun.  If you meet someone on the subway and they tell you about their accident 22 months ago, beware.  You have been consulted. And if you say, "Uh huh, sounds nasty," you may have been retained.  Client's choice.

       There is also a rule on getting unretained.  Even if the client dismisses you, you still have to write to the client to confirm you are no longer acting. So if a client says to you, " You are an incompetent, cretin of a scumbag shyster; you're fired", you have to write back and respond,
 
    " Dear Sir,
      This will confirm your instructions that I no longer represent you."  

       Otherwise you might still be this fan’s lawyer.

       Then we have confidentiality. We are to maintain confidentiality even if someone threatens to put bamboo strips up our fingernails.  This includes extends even to that guy we just met on the subway.

    I think we would all like to see an end to this strict onus. I say if a client does not pay our fees in a timely manner, that we be free to tell the world. We should be allowed to post it on Face book. Isn't that more equitable than having to get off the record and then assess our accounts?

    We can just post online, "My client, Gordon William McKnish, residing in Richmond Hill, owes me $4000 for all the hard work I did for him and he is stiffing me."

    Actually McKnish is not a real client. I say that in the event that there is actually a Gordon William McKnish in Richmond Hill, that he realise that I selected that name totally randomly.  So to you, William Gordon McKnish, of Richmond Hill, if you exist, you are not my client and you do not owe me a penny. If however you want to give me $4000.00, I’ll take it.

    There are also provisions on conflicts of interest.  This does not make sense to me at all. I think it would be much more economical if we could indeed represent both sides to a dispute.  Wouldn't this result in a quicker and cheaper resolution?

    Finally there is a rule on inadvertent disclosure. What do we do if say opposing counsel accidentally sends us some confidential documents that once we read them, his case is toast. The rule expects us  call the other lawyer and to utter the words, "Woe is me", beat your breast, and flagellate yourself with a tire chain.

    I would have preferred a rule that says something like, "Baby, if you ever luck out to get such a package, grab it like a Venus flytrap".

    I say, where is all the fun in practising law?  William Gordon McKnish, what do you do for a living?        

I practice family law and civil litigation, emphasis on personal injury.  Please visit www.striglaw.com .Even before October 1st, my professional conduct has always been beyond reproach.

    

 

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September 2014


Hello Again. It’s Us, the Robbers

Sep 21, 2014 6:47 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    In my hometown, Montreal, 4 robbers hit the jackpot the other day.  They robbed a bar at gunpoint, hopped into their truck and got lost in the area. They ended up returning to the front of the bar they just robbed whereupon the surprised police arrested them. At the time of arrest the hoods were still wearing their masks.

    I'd say the driver of the truck must have gotten an earful from the other three:
        "Hey Jean Claude, do you need a GPS to drive away from the bar we just robbed? Which part of 'far' don't you understand?"

    However I think they should easily get bail. After all, what are the chances they'll be able to successfully abscond?  Then again, they may get lost en route to the courthouse.

    I think when the driver gets out of jail one day, he could readily land a job, driving a truck for the post office.

 

    I practice family law and civil litigation and mediation.  Please visit www.striglaw.com . I wonder whether the 3 robber passengers have a case for negligence against the driver .

    

 

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The Gondolier and the Lawyer

Sep 9, 2014 8:58 PM
Marcel Strigberger

   We just returned from Europe which included a couple of days in Venice. It was a fine summer evening and we decided to do what comes natural in this charming city, namely take a gondola ride. I asked the gondolier how much. The Venetian air was charged with romance and passion and price of course was of no concern. The good fellow replied, "150 Euros (aka $225 Canadian loonies) per hour sir".

    I said "Thank you sir" and we decided instead to settle for chocolate gelati. This also comes natural.

    While strolling along St. Mark's Square consuming our gelati, Shoshana and I discussed  the gondolier charging 150 Euros per hour. Many lawyers would only wish to make this much, or more than double what Legal Aid pays per hour. I asked myself why should a gondolier charge more than a lawyer? What do they have that we don't have? I decided to make a comparison.

    Firstly I considered the popularity factor.

    People generally have fantasies about gondoliers being romantic minstrels who wind and sing their way through the canals. A ride along Venice's labyrinth of waterways can often be a fairy tale experience.

    A visit to a lawyer evokes a slightly different atmosphere. The greatest similarity to the aforementioned experience one can draw is that many clients will claim that lawyers have taken them for a ride. I don't know about the singing part but I am sure that if you ask an Assessment Officer none will tell you that clients have ever suggested that their lawyer, while conducting an examination for discovery broke out singing "O Sole Mio". We are however known for singing the blues.

    As for the romantic part there are however some lawyers whose love life would leave even the most colourful gondolieri drifting far behind on the Grand Canal. But this article is not about Bill Clinton.

    And both lawyers and gondoliers are popularized prominently in the arts. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote an operetta about the enchanting life on Venice's canals entitled, The Gondoliers. William Shakespeare wrote, "Let's kill all the lawyers".

    Then there is responsibility. If we mess up it is likely the client will sue us. The gondolier's position is relatively claim free, short of him running his gondola into another at all of 5 kilometres per hour.

    Gondoliers probably do however have some form or errors and omissions insurance. You never know when some disgruntled client might turn around and sue the gondolier for screwing up "Funiculi, Funicula".

    Then there is training. I find that although we invest years as students we constantly have to pursue professional development.

    A gondolier can remain at his comfort level indefinitely. After all what is left after the teacher shows you how to stand upright in the back of the gondola and push your oar? I don't imagine there was a newsflash in the Gondolier's Newsletter recently, which proclaimed:

                          "Gondolieri! Those black and white striped shirts you have been wearing since the year 1542 are no longer valid after October 1st. After that date you

must switch to sleeveless white undershirts."

    And perhaps the best part of the job as compared to lawyers is that all gondoliers get paid in cash immediately. Over the barrel.                            

    Or should I say over the paddle. After Lorenzo says "arrivederci" to you, he has already pocketed your 150 Euros. With lawyers, in most cases unless you get all your money up front, you can calmly say arrivederci to your money. You will have a receivable that will be as useful as an umbrella in Pompeii the day Vesuvius erupted. This may however sometimes still be better than a Legal Aid certificate.

    So what are we lawyers all waiting for? We have choices. Anybody know where you can get a good deal on those striped shirts?

Although tempted to make a career change, I still practice personal injury/insurance and family law in the Greater Toronto Area. Please visit www.striglaw.com

 

   

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August 2014


Walmart Time

Aug 10, 2014 8:40 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    A Kristopher Oswald working at a Walmart near Detroit noticed a man harassing a women in the parking lot. He ran out to rescue the woman and for his efforts Walmart fired him. Reason: He  "violated company policy."

    What is it with these guys? Just what is company policy? If the employee sees a victim getting assaulted in the parking lot, what is he supposed to do? Join in and throw few kicks and punches?   What inspired their crass policy?  Sodom and Gomorrah?

    Not to be outdone, a mother of an 8 month old daughter and 5 year old son took photos of the backs of her kids, naked, as they were about to go into the bath. She also had a photo or two of her daughter clutching an empty beer bottle. She left them at Walmart in Gander, Newfoundlland to be developed and when she came to pick them up, the manager was summoned and told her she could not leave the premises with those pictures as they were "inappropriate" They violated a Walmart policy in that they depicted images of "child abuse" and "minors engaged in explicitly sexual situations".

    Mother left without those offending pictures. I think she could readily have beaten up the store manager and gotten away with it. We know store employees would not intervene.

    It is a mad mad world.

    From Michigan and Newfoundland we go to Rome. Remember Francesco Schettino? He was the former captain of the ill fated Costa Concordia, which through his negligence ran aground and sank . He is on trial for multiple counts of manslaughter.

    Well the captain was invited to La Sapienza University in Rome to give a lecture on "how to react in panic situations".  He addressed students at a class in forensic psychiatry.

    You will recall he survived the disaster as he fortuitously ended up in a lifeboat ahead of his passengers when he allegedly tripped and fell overboard.  He stated to the media that he considers himself an expert in dealing with situations of panic.  It makes me wonder about the sanity of the university faculty for even inviting Francesco.  Just what could this guy have told his audience?  "In a catastrophic situation, take it easy. Don't panic. Remember, you're stronger than those women and children."

    I can see a future for this guy. I'm sure he can get a job as a crisis manager at Walmart.

I practice as a sole practitioner, personal injury and family law and divorce. Please visit striglaw.com. My policies are not as complicated as Walmart's. Any problems, just see me.

 

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Laughter, Crying and Making Money

Aug 5, 2014 9:34 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    Let us start with laughter. Or rather if you are a woman, perhaps you should not read on, at least according to Bulent Arincs, the Deputy Prime Minister in Turkey. He said recently that women to be honourable, should not laugh out loud in public.  I hope this man’s looney tunes notion does not become law.  If it does I can just imagine the government hiring plainclothes officers to corner women in public and try to get them to laugh.  

    “Hey lady, Why did the chicken cross the road?”

    It could get worse. They can ultimately start arresting men, like Johns, for making women laugh.

    “Your Honour, while on patrol I saw the accused Ozgur Andovan pull up in his car and motion for the woman to approach. As she did, he said to her, “Knock knock.” The lady responded, “Who’s there?”  Before the accused could deliver the punch line the lady broke out in laughter.  I immediately arrested the man.”

    I guess laughter may not be considered the best medicine in Turkey.

    I am going to have difficulty talking about this next news item. A gentleman in Birmingham Alabama went into the Princeton Baptist Hospital for a circumcision. You might guess where this is going.  Most unfortunately the doctors amputated his penis.

    How could this happen? The man is of course suing and amazingly the hospital is denying liability claiming that, “The action is not meritorious and will be vigorously defended.”

    What can their defence possibly be? Consent? The plaintiff just lay on the table and announced,  “Never mind just the foreskin; I’ll have the full Monty.”  Give me a break.

    From laughing women and crying men, we go to fortunate hockey players. I am talking about  P.K. Subban, the Habs’ superstar defenceman, who just before an arbitration hearing settled his contract dispute.  The pre settlement news story read, “P.K. Subban/ Montreal Canadians 3 million dollars apart. “  

    The Habs had offered $5.25 million/ year and P.K. was demanding $8.5 million.  Subban  called the offer “low ball”.  The gap was actually $3.25 million but at these figures what’s $250.000?

    I have started doing mediations and quite frankly I would have had difficulty tyring to mediate this one.  I mean, what do you say:

    “You’re only $3 million plus apart but this case should settle. It is better to take control of the process rather than cast your fate to the whims of an arbitrator, who might be working part time at Tim Hortons.”

    I suppose if the gap gets shorter, we could throw in, “And the Habs will pay the cost of the mediation.”  That usually clinches the settlement.    

    The deal by the way was $72 million over eight years.  That’s $109,756 per game.  We’ll never know how an arbitrator would have ruled.    

    P.K. will certainly be laughing in public.

 

     I practice civil litigation/ personal injury and family law.  Please visit www.striglaw.com . I don't think I would take on a case like that medical malpractice one in Alabama. Sorry.

    

 

    

 

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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

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