I Went to a Conference So You Didn't Have To!

Ocean Shores is an odd little town with foul tasting water and a dearth of sidewalks. It is different from my neck of the Pacific Northwest largely due to being directly on the ocean, as opposed to the sheltered bay that line northern washington into BC. This is good for waves, I hear. Apparently for Tsunamis as well, if I'm to believe the literature littering our hotel room. It's also good for scattered kitsch and souvenir shops mixed with bicycle and scooter rentals by the dozen. 

Ocean Shores was also my Mecca of Family Law Conferences and a destination location mainly targeted at the almight convention center. Only minor bar exam flashbacks were triggered from yet another convention center apperance just about in July. Incidentally, wow, has it almost been a year? Well then. 

Between jags at bar-flashback hell, I spent some time at the Shiloh Inn, which seemed to have a bit of a Dolphin theme going on. As in all dolphin all the time, except maybe when we throw in some mermaids or sea otters:

It provided a number of lovely amenities, including a very basic workout room, allowing me to sneak out somewhere at the crack of dawn so as not to disturb my roomates' sterterous snoozing with my obscenely early schedule. It also gave me a moment of rewatching an episode of America's Next Top Model: All Stars Edition while plugging away on an elliptical. It had a pool, which I even used thanks to a borrowed swim suit and a looooong day of sitting at convention tables thinking my brains into a neural-minestrone. 

It had a beach. Oh right. That beach thing. Or should I say Shore.... on the Ocean. I should say that. That or tsunami maker: 

This is about ten feet behind the hotel. One morning when I wanted to preserve the peace and quiet without America's Next Top Tyra Banks' puppetry, I found respite on the beach. I also am happy to report that - despite the passing flits of paranoia - while the beach at 6:00 a.m. would have been a perfect place for an errant psychotic to kill an unattended stranger, no errant psychotics took advantage of said opportunity. Or at least not with me. I didn't see any corpses other than a few dead seagulls, so I'm guessing not at all on these days.

There's a lot of this. I suspect this contributes to the aforementioned dearth of sidewalks. They just figure people will walk (or drive - legal to do so) on the beach most of the time. Which is great in theory until you actually want to go somewhere other than the beach. To eat, say, or to buy some dolphin themed memorabilia.

In addition to the other amenities, there was also a nice room with televisions aplenty 

I believe this is what we call the Command Station! There's also wireless throughout the hotel, so somebody could definitely bring a laptop and leave it at the edge of the sink for full media saturation!

Anyways, yes, there was a conference. Many days of it. My head is full on mush, and getting back to an untended office slamming into deadlines didn't give much time for recovery (maybe in July, sometime...)

In a nutshell, though, here are things I learned:

1. As always, homosexual partnerships get shafted. It might be everything-butmarriage within Washington State (more or less, anyways), but there's other states and the federal government and a lot of ephemeral transient rights that others take so very much for granted. Sorry same-sex partnerships! Maybe in another ten years you'll be closer to equal in the eyes of the law!

2. Somebody could kill you at any time. If they're just getting upset, you can probably talk them down. If they really want to assassinate you, you're probably in trouble. Don't leave large objects in the office for people to hit you with, and you may just want to wear a bullet proof vest and keep a few body guards around if you're gonna keep practicing in this field. 

3. Taxes are complicated. You'll probably screw them up a bit doing the financial part of a dissolution. 

4. The legislature almost passed a bunch of really interesting family law bills, but then there was this pesky budget crises so not much happened after all last year? This year's a charm?

5. The ethics portion of any CLE exists to remind all attorneys why they are so glad to be out of law school: theoretical, full of conjecture, and well... a room full of attorneys jacked up on free coffee, pastry and neurotic self-adulation opining into the sunset. Still, probably a safe bet to say you shouldn't be stealing from your client's trust account or forging signatures. You should also maybe be collegial with your colleagues, but let's not get carried away here. Maybe just abstain from using any heavy objects in their office to pummel them... 

6. Child support is complicated. You may have been screwing it up during your dissolutions. But it's ok, it may all change next year if the legislature doesn't have another crisis. Or maybe not! Good luck filling out those health insurance boxes. 

7. You should be prepared for both the incapacity of your client and your own incapacity - because death, insanity and depravity are always around the bend. Naturally this will involve executing a pile of legal documents roughly the length and half the accessibility of Ulysses every time you meet with a prospective client. They should also give you authorization to their medical providers in case they suddenly lose it and possibly give you the key to the attic where they store baby photos. Also, you might want to encourage them to change their durable powers of attorney and medical proxies from the soon-to-be-exes who probably don't like them very much right now and whose lives would definitely get a lot easier if they could just pull one little plug... 

8. Most lawyers still don't get collaborative law yet. 

9. People sign paternity affidavits even more casually than marriage licenses, and with the same complicated concepts. Also, Washington statutes may be playing some major catch up in a modern society where parental relationships are attenuated from biology in complex and multiple ways. We do have provisions for intended parents, but have fun being a Guardian ad Litem for a polyamorous group when it all goes bad! 

10. The electronic age presents myriad opportunities for unforeseen deluges of evidence and information. In other words, your client is going to take a photo of his bathing-suit parts with his phone, txt it to his ex, who will post it on facebook before emailing it to your iPad, which you'll put on a usb to store on your computer, then upload to a cloud... and there will be remnants of your client's bathing suit parts in infinity! Welcome to the digital age. 

11. Don't take crazy clients! Keep your retainer fund green! Don't underbill your time. Take some money over no money. And communicate with your clients. (especially after they have acquired that heavy object you left in your office which they can now use as a weapon)

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