Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clerking at Rice Law: by Jessica Farmer

One of the best things about working as a law clerk is participating in case strategy meetings with attorneys. In the beginning, you feel a little out of place because you do not have much to add to the conversation. You might be able to chime in with an opinion, observation, or question here and there, but, at least in the beginning, you do not feel like an integral part of the strategic planning.

However, as time progresses, you gain more experience and sit in on more meetings. After a while, you are familiar with the cases and have more knowledge of the law. There is no greater feeling for a law clerk than those moments that you can contribute to the conversation, and your suggestions are not only well-taken but are a truly unique and creative application of the law to cases.

However, putting your contributions aside, the meetings continue to be a learning experience. First, you learn a little about how to fit the strategy of a case to the client. Some clients’ personalities fit certain litigation strategies. What is right for one client may be completely wrong for another.
Second, you learn a lot about different judges’ and lawyers’ styles and strategies. That seems to be an integral part of the strategic planning in any case. Your relationship with the opposing counsel can make a difference in the case almost as much as the client’s personality.

Finally, the part that I enjoy most, is watching and listening to experienced attorneys discuss and plan strategy. It is fascinating to listen to an attorney with years of experience discuss the ins and outs of litigation tactics. Their knowledge and understanding of a case and how to work within the law on a given fact pattern is something to be admired. It is also not something you can get from any law school class. As an added bonus, it gives me a goal. I want to work and learn until I can operate at that level. I always enjoy it when I can find motivation that pushes me to operate at my fullest potential.

I am grateful for the practical tasks that I am given each day at the office. However, sometimes, the most educational and meaningful experiences can be sitting around the conference table brainstorming and listening to those who have greater legal knowledge and are willing to teach you what they know.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Memphis Divorce Attorney: on Discovery in Tennessee

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice discusses the stressful components of the discovery process when going through a divorce. He elaborates on the rules of discovery and the challenges both the attorneys and clients face when preparing the discovery.

To view the entire video, please follow the link below:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice: on Contempt in Tennessee

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice talks about the forms of contempt and the consequences of violating a court order. He defines the two types of contempt, civil and criminal, and explains the various ramifications when one does not comply with a court order, ranging from a simple monetary fine to a more severe punishment such as jail time.

To view the entire video, please follow the link below:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Clerking at Rice Law: by Chelsea Conn

As finals draw near, we clerks will be taking a leave of absence in order to do our very best on our exams. We will be dedicating days to studying everything from taxes to the Constitution. Next week will mark our final day at work for the Fall Semester. Looking back, I realize how very much I have learned here through the efforts of Larry Rice.

We have been granted every experience he has been able to offer. Through hard times and good, we have only become better students and we will use the skills we have used from this work experience in our challenges as attorneys.

Working and going to school was sometimes a difficult experience. It is often difficult to balance the demands of school and work, but this has been an excellent lesson in time management. We have had so much fun along the way, and we certainly have appreciated everyone’s dedication to helping us navigate our way through the legal process.

I know all of us will miss our work friends, and we appreciate all of their support and understanding during one of the most grueling and difficult semesters yet! I can’t wait until Christmas break when we come back again!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice: on Attorney/ Client Priviledge in Tennessee

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice speaks candidly on the significance of confidentiality agreements between clients and attorneys as well as between the clients and the employees. He also explains the exceptions of the agreement, such as the attorney's legal obligation to report any criminal intent suggested by the client's actions or words.

To view the entire video, please click the link below.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice: on Alimony in Tennessee

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice speaks about Tennessee law for alimony. Mr. Rice's lecture enlightens listeners on the reality of alimony, including the different types of alimony and the factors that influence the final rulings for alimony in divorce cases.

To view the entire video, please follow the link below:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Clerking at Rice Law: by Blair Beaty

As it turns out, I have more in common with both my bosses than just our devastating good looks and unmistakable charm (just kidding, folks)- We have all grown up around the law. Mr. George Lawrence Rice II, Larry’s father, built a very successful practice that Larry was involved in from a very early age. Nick, of course, was surrounded by the teachings of both his father and grandfather. Larry and Nick now operate as partners in their own firm. My own father, Douglas Beaty, a real estate attorney, gave me my first look into the world of law.

Growing up with an attorney as a father has its perks. When your 8, your dad can come to “Bring Your Parent to School Day” and talk about “putting the bad guys away.” When your 17, your dad can bail you out of jail for something that “probably wasn’t your fault” because “they made you do it.” When your 23, your dad can suggest some wonderful attorney’s who are dying to write you a glowing recommendation for law school. And when your 25, your dad might even be able to get you a spectacular clerkship with a well-known and respectable firm.

By the way, thanks Dad!

But all joking aside, being exposed for most of your life to the actual practice of law gives you the advantage of knowing the real ins and outs of the system. The arguments that win cases are not found in the classroom or casebooks but are created in the minds of the attorneys. Law school will teach you the correct terms and statutes to bolster your arguments but the process of building a case and working with the facts can only be truly mastered through actual experience.

You learn that how to talk to clients. For instance, having often seen my father interact with clients growing up, I know that you don’t call them up and say, “Hey, someone is in constructive possession of your title and therefore we must oust them before the statute of limitations runs.” Instead, you say, “Hey, someone is staying at your beach house without your permission. Let’s kick them off before it’s too late to file suit.”

You learn that the practice of law doesn’t always have to be done in formal settings. In fact, the office can be an extremely fun place to go. (Thanks, Mr. Rice!) Deals can be made over cocktails and settlements accomplished over lunch. As Mr. Rice says, “The goal of law is to have FUN!”

You learn that there are some practical issues that law professors tend to just skip over. For instance, Mr. Rice told me about an experience he had with his first year torts professor. The professor was going through the elements of a successful torts claim: duty, breach, and damages. “Excuse me, professor”, Mr. Rice said, “but I believe coverage would be a necessary element or else how will the attorney recover the damages?” Mr. Rice, after watching his father try several insurance cases, knew that without coverage to pay for the damages, an attorney would be dead in the water.

Growing up with an attorney as a father has been wonderful (and obviously educational) and has led me to where I am today. I feel so lucky to have followed in his footsteps and even luckier that I now have two more exceptional attorney’s whom I can watch and learn from.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice: on the facts about Snooping in a Divorce Case in Tennessee

Memphis Divorce Attorney Larry Rice discusses the importance of not snooping in a divorce case. It can get you in a lot of trouble. Watch out because you could be charged with a criminal sanction. Snooping will hurt you, more than it can help you.

To view the entire video, please follow the link below:

Friday, November 4, 2011

When Times Are Tough, Rice Law Saves the Day

One of the most rewarding parts of being an attorney is helping people when it seems that all hope is gone. Recently, our firm took on a pro bono case for an individual when their case seemed to be going nowhere. We were able to turn her situation completely around and give her the results she had dreamed of.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Associate Special by Jan Lentz: Larry Rice CLE on Law Practice Management

Versatility. It’s one of the more useful traits to have when you’re trying to successfully manage a law practice.
Larry Rice effectively demonstrated this trait yesterday when the speaker for our monthly in-house lecture series had to cancel on short notice.

In yesterday’s seminar, Mr. Rice gave an overview of law practice management, including the ethical implications of mismanagement.
Mr. Rice stressed that law practice management, to be effective, must be something that happens all day, every day.
The practice of law is fun, and practicing law can be very profitable, but a law firm’s staff have to remain continuously focused on doing things the right way, every time.

Among other things, Mr. Rice discussed the importance of camaraderie among co-workers, and how giving periodic bonuses to employees for a job well done not only makes them happy, but makes them focused on, and take pride in, doing the job correctly. On a related note, Mr. Rice explained that it’s important to keep clients in the loop with what’s going on in their case, not only to make the clients happy, but also to comply with professional ethics rules. An effective way to do this is to forward to clients a digital copy of all documents coming into, and going out of, the firm on their case, via a secure email address.

Having a system in place for how situations are to be handled, which includes forms, policies, and procedures, reminds everyone in the firm what their job is, and provides a measuring stick for job performance. By letting employees know on the front end what their limitations are, especially with maintaining client confidentiality, the law partner or associate can prevent ethical problems for the entire firm down the road.

A final thought from Mr. Rice on how to handle employees that don’t do their job and make you miserable:
Fire them.

On that note, I’d better get back to work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clerking at Rice Law: by Jessica Farmer

Just Be Prepared

As a law student, I can say with a great degree of certainty that students hate it when a professor answers that one all-important question of “What should we expect for the exam?” with “Just be prepared, and you will be fine.” I am convinced that the sigh of devastation leaving the classroom can be heard around the world. When you hear that strange noise while you are sitting at home and ask, “what was that?.” Well, now you know; it is the sigh of disappointed students somewhere in the world who honestly believe that “Just be prepared,” is not any answer to any problem.

Well, in my short time working as a law clerk for Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC, I have seen more and more the value that exists in that wonderful, yet sometimes horrible little phrase. As a law clerk, I can honestly say that I have never seen an attorney approach a judge to ask, “Exactly what issues will you be focused on during the hearing next week, and what exactly do I need to say to win?.” Although, I must confess it would be interesting to see a judge’s reaction if someone ever tried that.

Law school is supposed to groom students to become attorneys, and as the faculty always say, it is supposed to teach us to “think like lawyers.” Well, if the professors were to just inform the class of all possible legal avenues they would be addressing and concerned with for the exams, students would not have any need to sit down and map out possible legal road maps in their minds beforehand. What a shame that would be!

Students are actually learning a valuable skill that will prove to be a necessary piece to the practice of law. Attorneys will always say that the best way to prepare for anything in a case is to know the facts, know the law, and be prepared. Always try to stay one step ahead. The question is, when have you reached one step ahead? When have you passed the opposing counsel’s preparation level? Ahhh, if only these questions were being asked of law professor, because the inevitable answer would be, “Just be prepared.”

If you are not preparing cases to your capacity, then you are not likely to be one step ahead. The important lesson here is to just prepare for any case as if the opposing counsel has a law professor sitting on his or her shoulder, saying “just be prepared,” just as we learned to do in preparation for law school exams.

Do not get me wrong, I would LOVE to know what is coming my way in my upcoming Legislation Law or Remedies exams, and I am sure that there are plenty of attorneys who would LOVE to have their next major trial issues scheduled and outlined with remarkable specificity for them. However, if we just follow the advice of so many who came before us and stay one step ahead, we will be prepared for whatever challenge comes along.

I am fortunate in that I am learning this at such an early stage in my life. I guess that when you have great teachers as a law clerk, you are fortunate enough to learn a lot of things a little sooner than the curve. That is just one step this law firm takes to make sure that future associates will “just be prepared.”