@eppink

November 30th, 2010

Ritchie Eppink

Legal Aid Lawyer

Justice Architect at Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc.

Member, National Lawyers Guild

Today we’re tweeting with legal aid lawyer, justice architect and friend to the poor and oppressed @eppink

This is the funnest thing I’ve done today (I hope). What do I do first?

  1. @Eppink, thank you for joining us today on Twitter. Tell us: who is @Eppink?
    I’m about home, family, hard times, whiskey, salvation, rebellion, patriotism, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak &love. &Mother. & God.
    And my opinions throughout the day are prob not those of my employer. Just to be clear.
    -
  2. Understood. Tell us about your law practice.
    I’m a legal aid lawyer, providing civil legal services to disadvantaged families who can’t really access them any other way.
    -
  3. Can you talk a bit more about your clients? Who are they? What types of problems are they facing?
    Low-income families (<$2300/mo fam of 4) in crisis- e.g., abt to be homeless, escaping violent abuse, losing access to meds.
    -
  4. You wrote that 80% of the poor seeking legal aid are turned away. How do you decide which cases to take on?
    We set formal priorities w/ client and board input. & then each case is assessed for merit and potential impact. It’s tough.
    -
  5. What happens to the ones you can’t help? Do they have other options?
    Great q’n. Pro bono or self-help is about it. The latter is very hard for those w/ little education and under v high stress.
    -
  6. Can you tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had?
    I have some bad faith foreclosure cases rt now w/ major legal import. Most signif to me tho are the dozens who’ve cried in gratitude
    -
  7. That must be extremely satisfying. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    We look together at all that’s going on & try to minimize stressors, so they can make good decisions while in a tough spot.
    -
  8. What’s the most active area of your practice at the current time? Is that typical?
    It’s all off the charts. Job loss, budget cuts, & record income disparity are leaving all kinds in our lobby. I hope it’s atypical.
    -
  9. Me too. You’ve called yourself an “emergency room lawyer.” What does that mean?
    To be effective at this work, you can only triage, treat, and move on. & some DV clients literally arrive at my desk bloody.
    -
  10. What’s the hardest part about being a legal aid lawyer?
    Limited resources. No $$ usually for depos, fancy trial prep, etc. It’s like trying to fix a transmission w/ a hammer & some twine.
    -
  11. So what can be done to improve the current state of legal aid in this country? Is money the biggest obstacle? The only one?
    Besides $$, reduce the cost & complexity of common legal experiences (divorce, bankruptcy). & require the bar to serve all.
    -
  12. You’ve said that you were homeless before starting law school. How did you get from there to here? What did it teach you?
    W/ lots of help from friends, family, & mentors. It’s taught me the honesty, humility, and common sense that too many lawyers need.
    -
  13. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    I design justice. Then build it with sweat, beer, and carefully chosen words. And then defend it from its enemies.
    -
  14. That’s fantastic! What led you to become active on Twitter? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?
    I joined @twitter with the surge at start of @sxsw 2007. It motivates me to keep track of caselaw & legislation, mainly.
    -
  15. Are you active in other Web 2.0 / social media channels? Which ones?
    Not really. Can’t stomach @facebook, decided @foursquare wasn’t helping much, but do keep up w/ @linkedin. I mean to keep it simple.
    -
  16. What is the most significant issue currently facing the legal profession?
    The profession handles the #accesstojustice problem like an alcoholic in denial. We’re a public utility leaving millions in the cold
    -
  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    In the USA, we live in Rome. If we don’t check our decadence, it will look ever more embarrassing for the bench and bar.
    -
  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    Easiest one yet! The same thing: “leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world,” however I could.
    -
  19. How do you want to be remembered? (And no fair giving the same answer as the last question….)
    How abt another quote? What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
    -
  20. What do you do when you’re not working?
    Grow & handcraft vege food, hunt out sublime nooks of NW wilderness, bike around cars in DT Boise. And most of all, share.
    -
  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    1 Network to build trust & respect. 2 Soak in CLE whenever possible. 3 Be vigilant to avoid emotional and career dead ends.
    -
  22. And finally, what advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    If yr going b/c you want to help people, then think about other ways before you commit. If yr going for more $$, don’t.

Great advice. Thank you so much for answering our questions today. It was a pleasure getting to know you and your practice

This was an unmitigated blast! Thanks ever so much for the opportunity.

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@mirriam71

November 23rd, 2010

Mirriam Seddiq

Criminal Defense and Immigration Lawyer

Founder, MSZ Law

Author of Not Guilty law blog

Pro Bono Associate at Afghans for Civil Society

Mother of maniacal twin boys

Today we’re tweeting w/ criminal defense attorney, mom of maniacal twin boys, former Ass’t Attorney General and Ass’t DA @Mirriam71

  1. @Mirriam71, thank you for joining us today on Twitter. Tell us: who is @Mirriam71?
    I’m a mom, lawyer, wife. I have a blog called notguiltynoway. Just coming back after a hiatus at home with the twins
    -
  2. Tell us about your law practice.
    I’m a solo practitioner w/ an office in Takoma Park, MD. Opened in May of this year. So far, so good.
    -
  3. Congratulations! What type of clients do you represent?
    immigration and criminal defense, and frequently both at the same time. I toyed with gp, but I know what I’m good at and this is it.
    -
  4. What is the single most important legal issue affecting your clients?
    Freedom. They want to stay in U.S., not go to jail or have liberty impeded. Is it a legal issue? I don’t know.
    -
  5. Critical issue either way…. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    Google or their bff’s cousin isn’t their lawyer, I am. Their case is unique. They have to trust me and not the internet.
    -
  6. Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had.
    Drug client. Went into drug court, came out the other side. Got invite to 40th bday, invite said “he’s 40 because of you”
    -
  7. Wow. That’s powerful. Why do your clients hire you?
    not bc of my website! Maybe bc I’m honest? I’m trying to figure that out so I can add it to my website. : )
    -
  8. Tell us about Afghans for Civil Society. What do they do? What do you do for them? Why?
    they do charitable work in Afghanistan. Dad is in Kabul so I help w/getting medical supplies to the hosp where he works.
    -
  9. You spent several years as an Assistant DA before joining a criminal defense firm? What led you to make that change?
    when I realized justice isn’t really blind. I was incredibly naive. 9/11 changed that for me. And, I’m much better at this.
    -
  10. What are the biggest challenges facing criminal defense lawyers? How do you respond to them, day in and day out?
    people don’t get what we do. We can give them the right answers, but its hard to explain how we can do it.
    also, the CDL bar is divided and bc of that, the govt is able to get away with a lot of shit.
    -
  11. Wish I had 23 Tweets; would love to hear more…. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    I tell them I’m a CDL and imm lawyer. They say “wow, that’s cool” I say “yeah, it really is” I tell them I fight the Man.
    -
  12. You blog at Not Guilty (http://bit.ly/9V5Mjb). Who do you write it for? Why should they read it?
    I write for myself & for @ScottGreenfield. & for folks who think this stuff isn’t their problem. Read it bc it’s awesome.
    -
  13. I agree 100%. Your blog posts are often very personal. Where do you draw the line between your public and private life?
    in 2004 when I started I was anon & had 4 readers. It was never intended as mktg. Now I have to think more about that line.
    the infertility posts are very personal. But they are searched a lot. I leave them up bc it gives people hope. Stay tuned!
    -
  14. Why did you decide to become active on Twitter? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?
    @MarkWBennett told me I’d find like minded people. I thought it was stupid & a waste of time. Twitter! Ha! I was wrong.
    -
  15. Have your Web 2.0 activities led to any referrals or client engagements?
    I don’t really understand web 2.0 but I’ve gotten referrals from folks I’ve initially ‘met’ online. Not twitter though.
    -
  16. What is the most significant issue currently facing the legal profession?
    We still get a bad rap. Too many lawyers still doing bad work. It needs to stop. We need to regulate ourselves better.
    -
  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    If you’d told me 3 yrs ago it would be like this now I would’ve called you a liar, so I have no idea what 10 yrs will bring
    I hope we go back to having real offices though. I’m old fashioned like that.
    -
  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    go to culinary school. Or a professional break dancer. A breakdancing chef? There’s nothing else I’d rather do, honestly.
    -
  19. How do you want to be remembered?
    as someone who doesn’t suck, who did good work and who gave a shit. That’s not a lot to ask, right?
    -
  20. Not at all. What do you do when you’re not working?
    I run, chase my kids around, listen to records (the vinyl kind) plan vacations I never go on and hang out w/friends
    -
  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    volunteer, get experience. Catholic charities always needs help. Don’t fall into the contract atty trap. It’s a dead end.
    -
  22. And the final question of our interview: What advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    If you don’t want to practice law, don’t go. It’s hard work. Don’t do it half assed.

Thanks so much for this great interview. I really enjoyed tweeting with you and learning about you and your practice

thank you! It was pretty fun actually.

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@nashlawfirm

November 16th, 2010

Brian J. Nash

Medical Malpractice and Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

Head of Nash & Associates, LLC

Contributing author to the Eye Opener legal blog

Today we’re tweeting with DC medical malpractice / personal injury lawyer and legal blogger @Nashlawfirm

  1. @Nashlawfirm, thank you for joining us on Twitter. Tell us, who is @Nashlawfirm?
    Lawyers & staff who luv their job of helping others, care about people are smart as hell & bring passion 2 the job every day…
    Peeps who inspire ea other 2 luv what we do & be the best we can be, 2 use the skills we have to assure victim’s rights
    -
  2. Please tell us about your law practice.
    Boutique law firm in MD & DC w many yrs of successful exper. in civil litigation (med mal, catastrophic injury)…
    …former defense lawyers, who now represent people who are severely injured by bad healthcare and conduct of others.
    -
  3. Tell us a little more about the clients you represent? Who are they?
    Mainly we represent victims & families of victims – real people, whose lives have been devastated by medical malpractice.
    -
  4. What is the single most important legal issue affecting those clients?
    So many cynics think it’s all about money. It simply isn’t! Clients just want 2 know-what happened? Why? Can they have their…
    …voices heard and their cases judged by fair minded people. Are you surprised to learn – that’s what it IS about?
    -
  5. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    We make our philosophy clear: bad outcomes do NOT equal malpractice. However, when people are injured by care that is simply bad…
    …we will bring our skill and experiences 2 make sure their voice is heard. We’re very clear – it is not just about monetary…
    …compensation. It’s about having people who cause injury be held accountable & then change their ways so others don’t suffer
    -
  6. Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had.
    Too many to count, frankly. It’s been a great career. I’ve represented so many wonderful people. In some small way…
    …I hope I’ve touched their lives 4 the better. People w injured kids or who lost children or a spouse, great folks with…
    … serious injuries & needs that we’ve been able to help in some small way. How do you pick one or two out? You can’t
    -
  7. Understood. Why do your clients hire you?
    For our experience, trial skills, knowledge of law, medicine, the courts and not least – the passion we being to their case
    -
  8. What’s the most active area of your practice at the current time? Is that typical?
    Representing people when they or family member has been severely injured by medical malpractice. Yes, that’s our specialty-
    -
  9. Makes sense…. We hear a lot of talk about a “patients’ bill of rights.” What exactly does that mean?
    4 brevity, here’s a link: “what” – http://bit.ly/cTmH9Q. What started as a broader bill covering not only accessibility…
    ..but rights and FREEDOMS- http://bit.ly/aGE3Af -became a law stopping insurance company abuses in terms of coverage
    -
  10. Doesn’t health care reform address many of those same issues? Is that enough?
    It addressed coverage issues mostly. It never really addressed core issues such as “refusal of care” “informed consent”…
    …meaningful protection of privacy rights – basically some of the key elements of the contract b/w a doctor & patient…
    …which is the type of interchange, responsibilities & partnered care-giving that is missing many times and leads to lawsuits
    -
  11. How do you see your practice evolving over the next few years? Will you still be fighting the same battles?
    One would hope that bad care will end and people won’t be devastated..then I could be a full-time blogger (smile)…
    …but why do I suspect that won’t happen soon? So yes, I’ll still be here fighting 4 patient & victim rights. God willing!
    -
  12. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    Much the same thing I’m telling your audience: I represent people who are the victims of real medical malpractice and real…
    …wrongdoing. We don’t sue people because of bad outcomes; we represent people who are victims of bad, negligent care
    -
  13. Your firm has a blog, Eye Opener (http://bit.ly/bqnokj). Who is it for? Why should they read it?
    Our mission is to be an aggregator 4 all – medicine & law, issues affecting your daily life. Trends, news, warnings to make people …
    …more knowledgeable about their healthcare rights so they can be smarter advocates for their own well-being and safety.
    -
  14. In addition to the blog, you’re active on Twitter and have a Facebook page. What’s your social media strategy?
    multifactorial: getting the “word” out is our mission, networking w some incredible people (and we’ve met so many)…
    …sharing knowledge, thoughts, opinions. Getting known? Perhaps, but I’ve learned – that’s not the real value of social media.
    -
  15. Have your Web 2.0 activities led to any additional referrals or client engagements?
    Yes, but again, that’s really not our goal. We do very well with our rankings thru blogs, SM – but not our SM objective…
    …when I started 1 yr ago, it was all about US. My eyes are now opened – it’s about connections…sharing, networking. Luv it!
    -
  16. Sounds like a perfect strategy. Let’s switch gears: what’s the most sig issue currently facing the legal profession?
    Real access 2 justice 4 ALL! Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, litigation costs – they’re the insidious forms of tort reform.
    -
  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    Hopefully caregivers stepping up and admitting fault when they should, early case resolution, creative fees – put the patient FIRST
    -
  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    Teach, build my networking skills, be creative in this expanding world of sharing knowledge via SM and the web
    -
  19. How do you want to be remembered?
    Someone who truly cared about the law and people’s rights. Someone who made a difference in others’ lives
    -
  20. What do you do when you’re not working?
    Not sure when that is (smile) Traveling, catching-up w family & friends, learning new things, photography – quiet relaxation
    -
  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    Don’t give up your pursuit of what you worked so hard 2 obtain. There’s always work for GOOD lwyrs who care. Find it.
    -
  22. And our final question for you: What advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    Understand that what you are studying is a living, breathing instrument to do so much good for so many people…
    …it’s not just a job; never take the responsibility of representing people for granted. Follow your dream!

That’s very good advice. Thank you so much for tweeting with us today; enjoyed learning about you and your practice

Thanks to you, Lance. It was fun. I appreciate the opportunity very much. Be well…Brian

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@priyalawyer

November 4th, 2010

Priya Marwah Doornbos

Founder and Member at PMD Legal, PLLC

Virtual General Counsel for Entrepreneurs

In-House Contract Attorney

Adjunct Media Law Professor at Lawrence Technological University

Today we’re tweeting with @Priyalawyer, Virtual GC for entrepreneurs, In-House Contract Attorney and adjunct media law professor

  1. @Priyalawyer, thank you for joining us on Twitter. Tell us, who is @Priyalawyer?
    I am a Business Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Media Law, Wife and Mother. I enjoy music, dance, politics and travelling.
    -
  2. Tell us about your law practice.
    I help entrepreneurs start businesses. I draft, review and negotiate business contracts . . . .
    . . . and I advise on legal issues using social media.
    -
  3. What type of clients do you represent?
    I represent mostly solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs, but also small businesses with less than 10 employees.
    -
  4. And what’s the single most important legal issue affecting those clients?
    An important legal issue for entrepreneurs would be protecting their assets and limiting their liability.
    -
  5. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    I offer a free half-hour consultation with new clients to assess their legal needs and outline a legal plan and strategy.
    -
  6. Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had.
    Helping a startup client oppose a confusingly similar trademark and then get their trademark registered.
    -
  7. That must have been very satisfying. Why do your clients hire you?
    It was. Clients hire me because of my large law firm experience but with affordable rates, and my ability to work virtually.
    -
  8. What’s the most active area of your practice at the current time? Is that typical?
    Reviewing, drafting and negotiating contracts because those are the daily needs of a business.
    -
  9. Tell us a little bit more about a Virtual General Counsel. How involved do you get in your clients’ businesses?
    I get very involved. Just as lawyers in law firms serve their clients from their office, so do I. Skype helps too.
    -
  10. You teach Media Law at Lawrence Technological University. How does teaching make you a better lawyer?
    teaching makes me learn, improves my legal research skills and my client communication skills.
    -
  11. You’ve practiced at some pretty big firms. What led you to strike out on your own?
    Started out of necessity after losing the big firm job in the economic downturn, but it was a blessing in disguise.
    -
  12. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    I help businesses stay out of trouble.
    -
  13. Nice…. How do you generally market your practice? Does social media play a big part in your marketing efforts?
    I market through traditional forms of networking as well as online. Social media has expanded my network.
    -
  14. And how long have you been active on Twitter? Has your Twitter strategy changed over that time?
    I’ve been tweeting since March 2009. It has changed over time as the number of people I follow grows.
    -
  15. Have your Web 2.0 activities led to any additional referrals or client engagements?
    Twitter led me to the Adjunct Professor job. Facebook and Twitter has also led to referrals, but no new engagements yet.
    -
  16. What would you say is the most significant issue currently facing the legal profession?
    In this economy, billable hours is hurting law firms. Alternative fee arrangements like mine are more attractive to clients.
    -
  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    I see a consolidation of big firms, more small and solo firms, but more work kept in-house at large companies.
    -
  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    I always said that if I was not practicing law I would want to work at Nordstrom’s . . .
    . . . But I would like to run for political office one day
    -
  19. We’ll watch for that! How do you want to be remembered?
    I want to be remembered for being a loving wife and mother first and foremost, but also as someone who has helped friends succeed.
    -
  20. What do you do when you’re not working?
    I spend most of that time with my family, as well as spending time with friends. I also like to workout and watch TV.
    -
  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    Advice to under or unemployed lawyers: Know that everything happens for a reason and that everything will eventually work out . . .
    . . . but there are many other things you could do with your law degree other than practicing law.
    -
  22. And finally, our last question for you: What advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    read @kevinhouchin’s book Fuel The Spark …
    I suggest finding an attorney mentor to explain what practicing law is really like.

Useful advice. Thanks so much for tweeting with us today; enjoyed learning more about you and your practice

Thank you!

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