Five for Friday #167

Happy Flag Day!

Today’s post relates to Wednesday’s, when I blogged on how this Twitter thread made me realize that I don’t want my obituary to read “he died doing legal ethics.”  So, I grabbed a beer, walked over to my mom’s, and we visited on her deck.

I’m not a planner.  Never have been, never will be.  On the Myers-Briggs, “P” is my strongest score.  Also, my attention to detail isn’t always the best.  I’m not saying these traits are good or bad.  They just are. They’re also traits that, I think, drive people nuts, mainly my mother and my brother.

Flashback to Tuesday:  around 3:00 PM, I was ready to head to Woodstock to speak at the State’s Attorneys Training.  Knowing that my seminar wouldn’t end until 7:30, I intended to, and did, spend the night.  Which meant that I had a chore to do before I left.

I live in the same sub-division as my mom.  Wednesday is trash & recycling day.  Trash bins to the curb every Wednesday, joined by the recycling bins every other.

Most people put their bin(s) out on Tuesday night.  Not me.  A natural procrastinator, I wait until Wednesday morning.  A benefit of my procrastination? Given my lack of attention to detail, I never remember whether it’s “Trash Bin Only” week, or, if both bins should be out.  I’ve freed my mind of such clutter by waiting until the last minute and copying whatever my neighbors have done.

As you might have guessed, this left me in a pickle when I left for Woodstock on Tuesday afternoon.  Knowing I wouldn’t be home until late Wednesday, I had to get my bins out without any cues from my neighbors.  My natural instinct was to leave them inside and figure it out next week.  Then I remembered how old I am.  So, I confidently rolled out both, dutifully sandwiching between them the crushed cardboard box that once contained the vacuum cleaner I ordered last week.  Off I drove, congratulating myself on the burst of industriousness that marks an adult.

Returning home Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was that the vacuum cleaner box was still next to the recycle bin.  Further investigation revealed that while the trash bin had been emptied, the recycling bin had not.  Scanning the neighborhood, I noticed that all the other recycle bins remained curbside, as full as they had been when put there. I concluded that the recycling workers had either changed the schedule or gone on strike.  Then, I rolled the bins – one empty, one full – back to the garage, posted Wednesday’s blog, and walked to my mom’s.

There’s a spot in my mom’s kitchen that’s reserved for stuff she thinks I might need.  Could be a book, or a Runners World article, or who knows what.  Whatever the item, “Michael” is always written on the item, or on a post-it note stuck to the item.  This isn’t as much for me as it is to put Patrick on notice that the item is NOT for him.

Important note: my mom is both a planner and someone who pays attention to detail.  Trust me.

Wednesday night, I walked into her kitchen to find this:


I don’t need a calendar and told her so.  Her reaction surprised me.  You see, I thought it was an extra she was trying to get rid of.  I was wrong.

She looked at me and said “yes you do! Today was trash only!”

I resorted to one of my other natural instincts: lying to my mother.  I said something like “oh, I knew that, but everyone else had both out, so I put both out too.”  That didn’t make it much better.  Clearly, she was as disappointed as she was befuddled that her own issue couldn’t remember which Wednesday was which.

Then she opened the calendar.


The circles indicate the Wednesdays when both bins go out.  Now I know.

But then it struck me: but for my mom, everyone else had put both bins out too!  Surely not everyone got it wrong.  I think it’s my fault.  I think someone saw that I’d put both out and decided to do the same. Groupthink took hold, with nobody but my mom willing not to follow the crowd.  I’d even guess that many who followed my lead did so after muttering “i’m pretty sure this isn’t recycling week.”

And that reminded me of the tweet that inspired Wednesday’s post.  Maybe that lawyer who was working from his literal death bed didn’t know any better.  Maybe he was only doing what he’d seen others do.  Maybe he thought it was what lawyers do.

Don’t be like that lawyer.  Just because the profession has always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s right. Indeed, the staggering rates at which behavioral health issues afflict lawyers show that we are doing it wrong.  We need to pay attention to what we know isn’t the right way to do things.

Instead, be like my mom.  When you know what’s right, trust yourself and do it.  Put one bin out.  Even if it means being different from everyone else. After all, for all you know, others might only be mindlessly copying someone who, because he doesn’t pay attention, had no idea what he was doing.

Pay attention.  Remember the bins.

Onto the quiz!


  • None.  Open book, open search engine, text/phone/email-a-friend.
  • Exception:  Question 5.  We try to play that one honest.
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
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  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
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Question 1

There’s only one rule that specifically mentions both judges and jurors.

What does the rule prohibit?

Question 2

There’s a rule that prohibits a lawyer from charging an unreasonable fee.

True or false?

By rule, if the client agrees to and pays a fee, the fee is presumed reasonable.

Question 3

Lawyer represented Client.  Once the representation ended, Client gave Lawyer a gift.  Which is most accurate?

  • A.  Lawyer must not accept the gift.
  • B.  Lawyer may accept the gift, but only if Lawyer handled the matter pro bono.
  • C.  Lawyer may accept the gift, especially if it’s a simple gift such as a holiday present or token of the client’s appreciation.
  • D.  Mike, objection.  The premise of this question is pure fantasy.

Question 4

Attorney called me with an inquiry. I listened, then said, “it means:

  • ‘isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a matter through timely imposition of procedures within a firm that are reasonably adequate under the circumstances to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect under these rules or other law.’ “

Given my response, what general issue/topic did Attorney likely call to discuss?

Question 5

Speaking of my presentation to the prosecutors, one of the hottest new streaming shows culminates in the criminal trial of Anatoly Dyatlov, Viktor Bryukhanov, and Nikolai Fomin. In real life, the trial took place in 1987.

Where did the defendants work?











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