Thursday, September 29, 2022
Thoughts on Safety from the News.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Life Expectancy and Risks
"overall survival rate has increased from 49% in the mid-1970s to nearly 70% from 2011 to 2017, the most recent years for which data is available."
- Don't smoke or use tobacco. One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
- Get moving: Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of activity daily.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get good quality sleep.
- Manage stress.
- Get regular health screenings.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Trial Academy 2022
There is a very important case playing out in Tallahassee this week. A supervisor seeks relief following allegations and conclusions of misfeasance or malfeasance. It appears drugs were purchased, coworkers or subordinates misused. Win, lose, or draw, the facts are troubling, confusing, and even confounding. No, it has not made the news, and it likely won't. While there are some rather salacious allegations and even innuendos, it will not likely attract a single reporter or garner more than this one mentioned in the press. And that is assuming you are willing to play along and pretend with me that this is actually "the press," an imposition to be sure.
I was there Monday for the start of the whole expose which will be the trial(s) of this matter. I met some of those involved. There are Ivy Leaguers, elders, neophytes, and more. Some are judges, apt and able. In fact, this odd little case will require a great deal of judicial effort and dedication. There will be no less than 20 involved before it is all over. They will coach, collaborate, and conspire in those efforts, but there will be collegiality. There is great merit in collegiality, often taken for granted or overlooked.
Also involved are literally the best and brightest of tomorrow. The case has attracted attorneys from a variety of law firms, state agencies, and more. I recognized a handful. Some of them I know by reputation or reference, others through first-hand experience with their work ethic and intellect. To be blunt, there was a great deal of both brain and heart sitting in the opening session. It was, in a word, encouraging. In two words, inspiring.
The case is a fraud, a fake, and a sham. That is blunt but accurate to a fault. You see, some creative judges made the case up, contrived the facts, and lured these young lawyers into its clutches. It is a mock trial that is being studied and notably, almost 100 lawyers have elected to invest a week of their careers into the opportunity this little scenario will require. They will be challenged, tested, and tasked. They are not alone in their faith. They are here because law firms, agencies, and companies see value in this investment of time, intellect, and energy.
The lawyers are energetic and enthused. Their coaches are thorough pedagogs, at times pedantic, persistently forbearing. These coaches are, largely, the product of a different age. They came to the practice in an era that had never heard or foretold anything like Zoom. They earned their stripes as young lawyers doing the increasingly unlikely: trying cases. Years ago, we young folks were allowed to take depositions, argue motions, try cases, and fail. Boy did we fail? We learned a lot from falling, and getting up, and if we were lucky we gained from the advice of the old codgers whose "old age and treachery" kept overcoming our "youth and vigor." I saw that on a coffee cup once.
I get a lot of interesting answers when I ask my students why they are interested in law school. My favorites are the perennial "to help people," and "to champion the downtrodden" (who talks like that?). This semester an honest student confided to the class "to make lots of money." Alas, honesty, brevity, and clarity. But, in the shadows, there frequently lurks the "to try cases." It is a draw, a dream, a grail. To get to trial is an achievement, to succeed in it is a thrill. To persist in it for a career, that is an enormous success.
There are many old lawyers, but show me one that still revels in trying cases after a career in the trenches and I will show you an exceptional lawyer. I am persistently surprised by the lawyer ads that proclaim their trial ability and expertise. From where I sit, a great many lawyers do not try many cases in the workers' compensation system.
I was not part of the parade Monday. The floats and the dignitaries were before me though. I sat on the curb and watched them launch. They were distinguished, polished, prepared, and enthusiastic (and that was just the judges). They, students and coaches, are each, to a person, engaged and enthused this week. The energy as the cavalcade passed was palpable. The students are there to strive for the experience that too infrequently visits the young lawyer of today. They will be mentored, coached, and coaxed by their judge and attorney coaches, and they exude eagerness for that experience.
They will, if they are half as bright as I perceive, listen, absorb, and contemplate. Wisdom will flow, competing for their attention, and they will each decide whether and what to absorb. If I could give them one piece of advice it would be to listen. Listen actively. Listen persistently. Listen patiently. Listen constantly. You are surrounded by the keys to learning: great intellect, patient coaching, and intellectually superior collaborators. Yes, "superior." Always assume that your peers around you are smarter than you are. Listen to them, ponder what they share, and question what they don't. You can learn so much from your peers if you remind yourself of their values and strengths.
This is the third annual Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) trial academy, nicknamed "Top Gun." Believe it or not, there is even a motorcycle in the Desoto Building lobby commemorating the Pete Mitchell in us all. The DOAH team has gone above and beyond to develop a theme, to be hospitable, and to welcome the Tallahassee community for this experience.
It is a growing and broadening experience for young lawyers to take a reservoir of academic knowledge and begin the task of applying it to the challenges of litigation. They will love it, hate it, revel in it, and perhaps despair. Litigation is exhilarating, frustrating, beautiful, and gross. For those who get it, it can be an exceptional career. But, as they say, "it ain't all roses." About 100 young lawyers will get a great antipasto of it and its emotions this week. They will grow and learn. If they listen. Listen to the coaches, the critics, and each other. Collaboration is a tough teacher, as are experience, failure, and success. Each has value for those wise enough to find it.
This week the trial academy takes an odd dispute and tries to frame it within some of the most convoluted and confusing statute sections they could find. There is argument as to whether the villain is a victim, who supervised whom, and whether there were or were not overt acts, innuendo, and influence. Definitions will matter. Phrases will be parsed. Inquiries will be made. Arguments will be constructed. There are certain misdeed(s), arguable motivation, strained statutory construction, and mischief. Victories will occur, but some degree of defeat ultimately awaits all but one team.
You see, in a game, the rules may differ from real life. In the real world, you might gauge your chances, calculate your odds, and strategize your plans. The organizers of this year's competition saw at least one potential for mischief as regards one of the most challenging aspects of this scenario, an expert witness, and forestalled it. "You will call the expert to testify" pronounced Judge Newman in the opening (he didn't specify how long that expert has to be on the stand). While that addresses one particular potential for a mischievous maneuver, I am confident in assuring you that it will not foreclose them all. Lawyers, you see, are very adept at tactical choices.
In short, I drove away from the opening day encouraged. First, that there were 100 lawyers that cared enough to come and learn. Tomorrow, indeed, "ain't as bad as it seems." As much, however, that all of these judges devoted a week of their professional lives, precious time, to these people and their aspirations. More still to the Bar, particularly the Administrative Law Section, for bringing the resources that make such an undertaking practical ("practical," not "possible," it could be done without the coffee, cookies, and more, but what's the point in a world without cookies, really?).
Heartening, inspiring, encouraging, reassuring, I could likely find a word or two more in my thesaurus. But, suffice it to say that there is an obvious and impressive cadre of up-and-comers gathered in Tallahassee this week to hone their skills and sharpen their wits. I eavesdropped on some of their rumination, exposition, and preparation. They are tomorrow and tomorrow is indeed grand.
Congratulations to all involved. I am grateful for their dedication, vision, and participation.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
"You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it."
Be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it all
You just might get it all
And then some you don't want
What if we could similarly make some light adjustments and in the process make workers' compensation more inhabitable? Could we make some difference(s) without such grandiose ideas as shifting the orbit of a planet? If we are careful in our approach and conscious of the potential risk that we might effect harm, and we strive to minimize that harm, might we make changes in this space?
There are a handful of people that are striving to make a real difference in the world that is workers' compensation. Some may consider our efforts to make as much (or little) sense as hypothesizing on shifting Jupiter's orbit. Admittedly, we may never move mountains. But, we might just learn something in the process(es) and analyses and it may be that some adjustments are possible.
Leave behind the bias of your home (admit that Earth is not necessarily the "most habitable" or the "epitome"). In other words, shed the bias that your own state system is "best." Ask yourself instead what would "best" (or "most habitable") look like if I was answering the question "how do I best protect employees and employers?" In such a mental exercise, we might put wheels on a lot of grandmas. But, would we all benefit from asking "what would make this space more habitable?"
You might even consider my law professor of yore (God rest his soul) and think "what could I learn from a bad example?"
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Why so Many Words?
- the lawyer's for submitting a proposed order?
- the lawyer's for not including the certificate in that proposed order?
- The judge's for not preparing her/his own order?
- Answer "D" was always troublesome "all of the above?"
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Settled 6,322 (+5%)All Issues Resolved 1,398 (+11%)All Issues Resolved but Fees 2,939 (+10%)Some Issues Resolved 2,907 (+6%)Impasse 4,143 (-7%)
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Artifact and Anecdote
"something or someone arising from or associated with an earlier time, especially when regarded as no longer appropriate, relevant, or important"
"Upon the approval of a lump-sum settlement under this paragraph, the judge of compensation claims shall send a report to the chief judge."
"The Chief Judge shall keep a record of all such reports filed by each judge of compensation claims and shall submit to the Legislature a summary of all such reports filed under this subsection annually by September 15."
"ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do and die."
Sunday, September 11, 2022
"93% of Americans ages 30 and above said they can remember exactly where they were or what they were doing the moment they learned of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001."