The Smoking Purse

In my short seven years of private practice, I handled only one divorce case. It was enough. My client was a woman who said that her husband was domineering and prone to violence. So, I was not surprised when I got a call from a sheriff’s deputy in the county in which my client’s husband lived. The deputy was calling to warn me that the man might show up at an upcoming hearing with a weapon. I called the court to let them know about the deputy’s warning.   Read More +


There’s an episode of the show Friends that I always think of whenever the topic of quitting arises. Rachel Green and Joey Tribiani are in a sailboat in one of the rivers off of Manhattan and Rachel, who learned to sail as a kid at the hands of her overbearing father, is trying to teach Joey to sail. After a little while in the boat, Rachel starts channeling her father’s crushing authoritarianism. Joey, who is not having nearly the amount of fun he expected to have learning to sail, announces, “I quit.”  Read More +

Listen Up

In the hope that I might improve myself and help another lawyer suffering from my same affliction, I want to confess a character defect. I am not a good listener. For as long as I can remember, I have been a poor listener. I don’t think that I’m an inconsiderate or unkind person. I want to be a good listener, but it’s really hard. I have so many things I want to tell people. I have solutions to their problems. I have nuggets of wisdom to impart to them. I need to save them from their misguided beliefs. And I am passionate about certain things and want them to feel that same sense of passion.   Read More +

To Do or Not To Do

A cogent argument could be made that I am not the *perfect* person to write an article on productivity, to-do lists, and generally getting things done. I am not proud to say, I have spent (wasted?) hours and hours of my life reading and rereading books, articles and columns on productivity trying to find the absolute perfect system that will transform me into a productivity god. As those who work closely with me know, this is, ahem, an ongoing effort.   Read More +

To Buy Or Not To Buy?

One of the early jobs I had in my career, I worked for a lawyer who was a terribly smart business owner and as good as anybody I’ve ever known at seeing trends and skating to where the puck is headed. I learned a lot from him, some of it not entirely pleasant to learn, that I’ve carried forward in the years since. One of the relatively few things I saw him get wrong on the business end of his practice was his insistence on never having the firm own real estate. I imagine he looked at the big law firms in the downtown high rises and noted that they rented real their estate and applied the same logic for his firm. For whatever reason, he was dead set against owning real estate.   Read More +

On Gardens and Law Firms

My college roommate, Jeff, married into an old New England family that has a beautiful cabin on a lake up in Maine. When I used to live in Boston, and occasionally still if I am just the right amount of shameless, I was able to wrangle myself an invitation to stay there for a night or two.  It’s a gorgeous place up on Belgrade Lakes region – if you think On Golden Pond, you’re not too far off. If you’re younger than 50, replace On Golden Pond with, I don’t know… I am over 50. Just picture a cabin on a lake, preferably not from a horror movie.   Read More +

Law Firm Technology and the Expensive Camera Problem

I love photography. Not so much the doing of it as the admiring the finished product of beautifully composed and edited photos. Especially landscape photography.   There was a time – or if I am going to be honest, there have been several times over the past 20 years because it takes a while for a lesson to make a dent in my hard head apparently – where I’ve looked at some beautiful landscape photography and thought, “I might like doing that…” Read More +

Browser Basics for Busy Lawyers

The web browser is one of those things that flies under life’s radar. It is almost definitely one of the top two or three pieces of software used on your phone and computer (competing with Outlook and Word, for most lawyers), and yet it also probably gets among the least amount of brain space and attention. This is kind of a shame because browsers are kind of amazing software. Free, easy to use and almost infinitely customizable, they can be huge value adds to your workflow, as well as make the other non-work parts of your life (you do have some of those somewhere, right?) smoother and easier, too.   Read More +

Tech Tips For eFiling In North Carolina

The pilot for the eCourts launch in North Carolina went live on February 13 in Wake, Lee, Harnett, and Johnston counties. There are several components of the eCourts system. Tyler Technologys’ Odyssey is the integrated suite of products for attorneys, court personnel and the public that will replace 40+ legacy systems for eFiling, financial management, and document management for all case types. This integrated system is called the Odyssey Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). Read More +

Preparing for an Economic Downturn: Part 3: Identify Unprofitable Clients and Services

There was a time when I was a little bit obsessed with productivity books. (That time was known as my entire adult life up to and including today.) I don’t know why, but I love them. All evidence to the contrary, I always feel like I am one good self-help book away from really firing on all cylinders. In actuality, I have a shelf full of books that I never look at and as for firing on all cylinders… I could charitably be described as cruising in eco mode.   Read More +

Our Legal Deserts

Where are You Now? Odds are that you are sitting in the Triangle, the Triad, Charlotte or perhaps in Fayetteville, Asheville or Wilmington. There are fewer lawyers per capita in North Carolina than in other large states, especially in rural communities. The American Bar Association survey published in 2022 sta… Read More +

Preparing for an Economic Downturn Part 2: Protecting Cash Flow and Client Base

I grew up with my German grandma living with my family. She was like a third parent to my brother and me. She wasn’t an educated person; her formal schooling ended in 8th grade and she immigrated to the US in the early 1920’s after she turned 18. She was smart and wise and had lived through the best and worst the 20th century had to offer.   Read More +