Tuesday, May 31, 2005


By Stockton

All law students know and revere the name Learned Hand. Hand's name graces many of the opinions we all know and avoid today. Hand is probably the most well-known and respected judge never to have sat on the Supreme Court. He was a far thinking visionary whose meteoric career ended upon his death.

Hand was born in Albany, New York, in 1872, to a mother and father. He spent his first twelve years in childhood. Then, upon reaching age thirteen, he entered his teenage years. These years were clouded by choosing a name. Hand's Christian name was Billings, his middle name Learned. Why he chose to be known as Learned remains a mystery to his biographers.

Hand, along with his cousins Slow and Cool, attended Harvard University. Hand studied philosophy under George Santayana until Santayana gained too much weight and almost suffocated the future judge.

Hand eventually attended law school, worked on Wall Street and made his way to the bench. He served as a Federal District Court judge and ultimately found himself on the prestigious 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hand became one of the foremost thinkers in the economic interpretation of law. He is best known for his formula on duty and standard of care found in US. v. Carroll Towing Co. 159 F.2d 169 (2nd Cir. 1947). The issue: should a tow captain have finished off two pints of Wild Turkey before hitting the high seas. The formula provides the correct answer.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Learned Hand's most Famous Formula

Answer: No!*

Unfortunately, Hand soon found that his formula was inadequate for contractual issues (unless Wild Turkey was involved). He toiled for years on the formula, devoting almost every spare hour to adapting it to contract disputes.** He found the result satisfying.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Hand's Contract Formula (simplified version)

Hand's formulas were a hit in the legal community and calculator sales skyrocketed.

Hand's later years were clouded in disappointment. The success of his formulas drove him to reduce all human/legal behavior to formulas. Finally, in the last years of his life, he attempted to reduce his wife to a formula but a neighbor called the police and a restraining order was issued.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Mrs. Hand, in the Judge's final years

Hand died penniless and disappointed, bequeathing his protractor and slide rule to Harvard University.

* The formula also showed that the defendant had a 3.72 Earned Run Average in 1937.

** Hand's remaining spare hours were devoted to his other love, Parcheesi

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Thousand of law students now await graduation. Many have never interviewed for a job. Have no fear, allow Stockton & Tweed to guide you through the often intimidating and frightful world of job interviews.

Lining up job interviews can be stressful. The only thing more stressful than trying to get a job interview is the interview itself. There are two keys to a successful job interview: 1) Preparation; 2) Jim Beam. Nothing will ease the stress and tension of being questioned by a person holding your potential future in their hands like preparation and a few good knocks of Jim Beam.*Other tips, include the following:


You can answer questions truthfully or correctly. Always opt for the correct response. Answering truthfully can only cause problems.

Example #1

Partner: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Truthful Applicant: Probably fifteen pounds overweight, morosely unhappy, working on my second marriage, up to three packs a day and despising you.

Correct Applicant: My goal is that in ten years my dedication and legal talent will have brought this firm new clients, making me a valuable asset to Strunk & White.


Partner: Why do you want to work at Strunk & White?

Truthful: My student loans are coming due and I'll work just about anywhere.

Correct: Strunk & White is a dynamic firm focused on the future. It's young, cutting-edge partners are universally recognized as leaders in the 21st Century legal community.


Today's legal market simply has no place for young, idealistic attorneys. They're looking for something a bit different.

Partner: So, why do you want to become a lawyer?

Wrong - "I wanted to help people."

Right - "I like to eat what I kill."

Wrong - "I wanted to do a lot of pro bono work."

Right - "Analyzing amortization rates gives me wood."


Your mother was wrong. It's not what's on the inside that counts, it's not how you play the game. Appearances matter. If you're one of the beautiful people, flaunt that gift. Show some leg, perhaps some cleavage.**

It's also important to remember that lawyers, especially those that are in a position to interview people, value individuality. Men, don't hesitate to wear your hair long, or in a ponytail. Women, if you have a tattoo, make sure your interrogator knows about your body art. In some cases, you may dispense with wearing a suit, opting for something casual. Or be daring, a trait highly valued in the legal profession. Instead of casual, go in the opposite direction: dust off those tuxedos and prom gowns.


Be prepared for the final question: "So, do you have any questions?" That's usually the examiners hint that he or she is done with you. Make your questions short and insightful. Don't be afraid of adding some humor to the interview. As all associates know, the most stern and dignified of senior partners always enjoys twenty-something humor. What's that? You need examples? Sure!

1) Do you guys have a stalking policy or are you cool with that?
2) Which department has the hottest paralegals?
3) What's the average age of a partner? I like have, like zero patience?
4) That sexual harassment policy in the employee handbook? You're kidding, right?


Always send a follow-up letter to the hiring partner. It's only common courtesy. If you have decided to take another position, a follow-up letter is still in order.

Dear: Insert Name Here

It was a pleasure to meet with you to discuss employment opportunities. You have an impressive firm. As you probably know, I have received a variety of offers and cannot accept them all. Unfortunately, at this time your firm does not meet my needs.

I wish your firm every success in the future.


Insert Name Here

* Johnny Walker is an adequate substitute for Jim Beam
** This goes for the women and well as the men