National Hot Dog Day 2015 v1

Harvey Shinblock can’t be the first lawyer who wanted to open a hot-dog stand.

So today, Thursday, is National Hot Dog Day. Don’t believe me? Well, would the Des Moines Register lie to you?

Not legal enough a topic for your bloggish reading? Stick around. I’ll get to the legal in a moment.

In the meantime, here are a few places in the Phoenix area you might enjoy a hot dog.

Musing on the wonderment of wieners, I was curious about this, so I checked: In the five-plus years I’ve written my daily blog, I’m chagrined to note that the words “hot dog” appear more than a dozen times.

That seems high for a legal blog. Agreed? Well, maybe it’s a cry for help.

In any casing (see what I did there?), I thought I would share my first-ever documented blogular use of the phrase. It occurred in the prologue to a legal novel I wrote (detail about that endeavor is here.)

The book is titled The Supremes, and it involves a new law firm composed of former state supreme court justices. They thought clients would come knocking—which they did—but the law firm partners underestimated how much they disliked each other—and disliked hard work.

The hot dog reference came early, when the new firm’s administrator thinks about Harvey Shinblock, a colorful lawyer who is now disbarred (for numerous offenses, including a Circle K assault with a pocketknife). Harvey owns a hot-dog stand, and he carries quite a grudge against the legal profession. Here’s a portion:

Bernie Galvez liked hot dogs, and Harvey Shinblock sold the best in the city.

Galvez smiled as he recalled how Shinblock had managed to get 30 days in the county lockup for his “misunderstanding” at the convenience store—the best lawyering Shinblock had ever done, representing himself before old Judge Barnes. And after that 30 days, Shinblock woke up driven by a dream of opening his own hot-dog stand.

Human nature being the self-destructive little imp that it is, Shinblock drove his metaphoric stake in the ground on the sidewalk right outside the criminal courts complex. There, he gazed balefully as lawyers and judges streamed by him daily. If looks could kill—or wound with a pocketknife—those members of the bench and bar would have been a bloody mess on the Phoenix streets.

National Hot Dog Day 2015But maybe they got their comeuppance. For in the last three years since Shinblock opened “Court Wieners,” he had received the praise of every publication in town, from the “Best in Phoenix” to the “Best in the Southwest” to the “Best Nooner in a Casing.” Shinblock knew what he was doing as he steamed his hand-crafted dogs.

Nonetheless, no lawyer or judge was ever known to be brave enough to step up and purchase a meal. The history, the bad blood, and the fear of poisoning kept a significant portion of the suited sidewalk denizens from venturing forward and trying Shinblock’s bliss in a bun. They salivated and gnashed their teeth, but the gray and blue army marched past the stainless steel stand, thinking hungrily that they may have been a tad hard on good old Shinblock. Still, march by they did.

The complete prologue is here. Want to keep reading? Here’s Chapter 1.

And … do get out and eat a hot dog.

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Five years ago, this law blog started as a novel. Thanks and I'm sorry.

Five years ago, this law blog started as a novel. Thanks and I’m sorry. (Photo by mpclemens)

Five years is a long time to do anything—especially write a daily legal blog. But it was November 2009 when I launched this blog. How to celebrate?

Well, I won’t urge you to go back in blog time and to read old posts. But I will note this blog’s literary roots.

In case you don’t know, I started this blog as a method to publish a legal novel—written all in one month, November 2009, as part of a national novel-writing effort.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll share some links to a few chapters of the book. But before I do, here is how I previously described the adventure:

“Originally, in November 2009, this blog launched as a portal for my novel-in-progress titled ‘The Supremes’. It is a tale of a firm comprised mainly of retired state supreme court justices. They thought working together would be a great idea. Oy.”

“The novel effort was part of a national write-a-novel-in-a-month event. See here for more information on that crazy venture.”

nanowrimo novel writing postcard“Since then, I have blogged about law and law practice in one of the most, um, colorful states in the Union. Day in and day out, fascinating people and topics come to the fore, almost yearning to be transformed into blog posts. And so I oblige.”

“My novel was in memory of lawyer-author Peter Baird, who was a great friend and influence to many others, whether they were lawyers or writers. He died suddenly in late August 2009, and he will be missed.”

“Each novel chapter opens with a quotation from the respective portion of the United States Code. There are 50 ‘titles’ (chapters) in the Code, but we’ll see if there are 50 chapters. Time will tell.”

Here are the first few chapters. If you want to read more … I bet you can figure it out.

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

TX novel A Serious MistakeThose who work at publications get a lot of story pitches, and among them are a good number of books offered for review.

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we occasionally run reviews of books, but they tend not to be of the murder-novel or bodice-ripping variety.

But what if those categories could be combined into one?

The other day, I got a pitch that made me rethink our resistance to the tawdrier side of the fiction aisle. Maybe lawyers want to read a ripping good yarn of legal intrigue and bloody retribution.

Even more interesting, the most recent pitch was for a novel that arose from … the lawyer discipline system.

Here is the background on a novel from a Texas attorney:

“Frank R. Southers’ new book A Serious Mistake is the second novel in his The Grievance Committee series. The series centers on the Grievance Committee of San Antonio, Texas, with each novel focusing on a slightly different storyline. A Serious Mistake focuses on criminal defense lawyer Scott Lonnigan, who takes his job very seriously.”

No, I’m the one who’s serious. I kid you not: A lawyer grievance committee. Despite my misgivings, I was drawn in to read more:

“Scott Lonnigan treats his appointment to the Grievance Committee in San Antonio, Texas just the same as his job as a criminal defense lawyer: with deadly seriousness. Many would go so far as to say that the job consumes Scott’s life. He throws himself into his work, always making sure to use common sense when judging the often heated and weighty complaints against lawyers. A lot hangs in the balance for members of both sides, and Lonnigan makes sure he respects the importance of his job. In his eyes, every accusation means at least one person, whether the lawyer or the client, made a serious mistake.”

TX novel The Grievance CommitteeOK, you’re interested right, but you want to hear more? How about another book by the same author, and with a description that provides some juicy tidbits? Here is an excerpt from The Grievance Committee, also by Frank Southers:

“Using his professional relationship as court-appointed attorney for beautiful Alexandra Jimenez, a serial shoplifter, Jose P. Quiroz has tricked her into sexual relations for months through deceit and dishonesty, and now has dumped her for another woman.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ripped from the lawyer discipline pages, right? (Sorry I interrupted.)

“By showing that her made-up accusations are just spite from a broken love affair, Jose’s lawyer, Albert Hicks defeats her complaint with the Grievance Committee in San Antonio, Texas. Besides, he notes, sexual relations between a lawyer and the client are not prohibited.”

(I do not offer this as a synopsis of the state of the Ethical Rules in Arizona. Note that ER 1.8(j) maintains “A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client–lawyer relationship commenced.” Proceed with your own client at your own risk.)

“With prayers to her patron saint, Alexandra finds Jose has also tricked two other female clients into sexual relations and she convinces them to file grievances. After losing at the second Grievance Hearing, Jose sues requesting a jury trial.”

Hmmm; it’s moving from a bodice-ripper into a civ pro procedural. Getting drowsy? Maybe your interest will be piqued if we then meet a judge (whom I’m guessing is steely-eyed) and a colorfully named stripper:

“Assigned from north Texas, Judge Horace Sawtelle visits for pre-trial matters and has a one-night stand with ex-stripper Missy Bubbles, who secretly has taken racy photos of the two. When the judge is ready the next night for round two, he finds Missy has been murdered.”

Oh, Missy Bubbles, how the attorney reading community will miss you. Your appearance on the scene was as effervescent as a … bubble, I suppose.

I kid, of course, because I tip my hat to all authors, even those focused on lawyer discipline. My prediction and wish for the author is that Judge Sawtelle, Scott Lonnigan and their cohort of fellow characters will grace quite a few stockings this holiday season. If you’re interested for yourself or for someone who needs a gift, head over to the author’s website.

Texas attorney-novelist Frank Southers

Texas attorney-novelist Frank Southers

In the madcap schema that is Change of Venue Friday, today’s story fits like a glove. For today I share something that may be the farthest afield from law practice, and that still involves practicing lawyers.

Today’s topic is … moustaches.

Specifically, it’s about those men who grow moustaches in the month of November, and occasionally raise money during the growth period. And they do all of that in service to medical research.

Confused yet? Let me put it this way: These are the guys who transform November into Movember. Here is how the organizers describe it:

“During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.”

“Once registered at http://www.movember.com, men start Movember 1st clean shaven. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.”

“Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. The funds raised in the US support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives.”

The hair-lipped copy goes on to say that the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas often celebrate with a Movember party at the end of the month.

Local angle? Yes, we’ve got one. It comes to us from those dedicated and occasionally hairy lawyers at Polsinelli Shughart.

I heard from Polsinelli shareholder Leon Silver, who pointed me toward their dedicated team page.

Leon tells me that firm shareholder Brian Flaherty is a cancer survivor and participates every year. But for 2012, they decided to make it an office-wide event. Go to their page to view the leaderboard and read the crazy-comment ticker (which includes photos of the lawyers’ kids with moustaches). Congratulations to all who participated.

Moustaches, huh? I remember three years ago when I spent the better part of November writing a legal novel (a novel!), as part of the national NaNoWriMo effort. Meanwhile, other guys stop shaving for a month and they’re heroes. Whatever, Leon.

Because a terrific event deserves a video, enjoy the following one from Bloomberg Law. In honor of Movember, they feature famous legal faces that were moustachioed.

Have a great—and barbate—weekend.

Who wants to write a novel in November?

Apparently, quite a few people.

In fact, it was two years ago today that I launched my effort to write a legal novel in November 2009. That wild adventure was part of a national movement called National Novel Writing Month. I posted chapters (warts and all) every day on this blog. (Full disclosure: I achieved the required word-count for the novel task, but never felt I had penned a final chapter. Ugh.)

In my novel, I described the exploits of a new law firm whose partner ranks were populated entirely by a unique species: lawyers who had formerly been state supreme court justices. They had anticipated that the firm’s brain-power and power-power would make it irresistible to potential clients. But what they hadn’t counted on was the hard work involved, and the difficulty they would have getting along. And, oh yes, there was an incontinent Corgi named Rufus.

Such the problem.

And now it’s November 1, and I am faced with the question: Do I plunge in again? Do I stay up late and get up early to scribble my required 50,000 words by November 30?

What do you recommend I do? And are any of you taking part? Let me know.

In the meantime, here is the opening of my 2009 novel, titled “The Supremes”:

“Dawn hadn’t yet broken over downtown Phoenix as Bernie Galvez inched his truck toward the parking gate. Much to his disappointment, it remained stubbornly horizontal, as he waved his key card at the sensor over and over. He knew it was still hovering around 85 degrees outside, even in the darkness, so he hesitated to climb out to come up with another solution. But finally he concluded that his vehicle—and all those others starting today at this new business—would be out of luck unless he made a repair.

“Galvez was the office manager of a new law firm launching that day, May 25th. He had been hard at work for three months laying groundwork for Dedrick, Duckworth, Castro & Paine. He had overseen the gutting and restoration of space at the Security building, the purchase of furniture, the installation of servers and computers. And today, for the first time, the lawyers and their staff would arrive. For the first time in months, he was using this entrance, the one that would soon be used by everyone on staff.

“The stubborn gate was a bad omen.”

You can read more of it (and the rest of the novel) here.

Shall we get writing?