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The Power of a Picture

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Stuart Elliot writes an advertising column for the New York Times. A while back, he wrote (article) about AT&T’s choice to air a campaign with a spokesperson fictitiously known as Lily Adams. (real name: Milana Vayntrub)

In determining the goal of the advertising campaign, they wanted someone who would appear “friendly, knowledgeable and helpful”. They wanted us to picture walking into a store to buy a phone and expect Lily Adams to be there. It’s better than an advertisement that tells us how friendly, knowledgeable and helpful that AT&T will be, if we buy phone service from them.

In 1862, Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in Fathers and Sons that “A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound”. In 1913, a company named Piqua Auto Supply House marketed tires by running a a newspaper ad that read, “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words”.

Now we all know the expression that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, which somehow transcended from these earlier ideas. For that same reason, there are now companies who specialize in medical drawings for legal cases. In fact, they attend college to study medical illustrations.

It is important to have a doctor describe the injuries that a client has suffered. However, it is much more powerful to have a medical drawing to show the injury  to a jury, and the resulting treatment. The persuasion of the visual.

That thought led me to two recent pictures that caught my attention. The first I saw while watching football on Sunday afternoon. The second was on Twitter and I first saw it in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback article.  In both instances, a description would not do justice.

On Sunday at the Chiefs/Bills game, the camera cut to a guy in the stands who was dressed like the coach of the Chiefs. This beats holding up a sign. Fake Any Reid on the left and Andy Reid on the right!

Fake Andy

This second resulted from a guy  who walked into a coffee shop and told the barista behind the counter, for the purpose of his order, that his name was “Marc” with a “C”. This picture shows the cup when his coffee was ready.



I guess that is the definition of literal.

And finally, I say a special thank you for all who have served in the military. Thank you for your protection of our country and our freedom.

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A Witness to the Injuries

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

My parents told me that we were moving. My dad had been teaching in Tennessee and now he was accepting a position at a church in Maryland.

When you are about to go into the third grade, you don’t  have any say on whether you want to move. In fact, I think that I was a bit excited to go to a new place, even though I would miss my friends.

I remember the first church service we attended in Maryland after moving. A boy introduced himself to me (for the blog I will call him Roy) and we soon figured out that we were both going into the third grade and would be in the same class. At that age, you don’t really have much of a filter. What you think is what you say and it’s true honesty.

When I met him, I noticed that he had scars on the sides of his head. I asked him about it and he told me that he had been in a bad  accident  a year earlier. He had been riding in a school van that got hit and flipped over. He was knocked out and in the hospital for a while. The rest of the summer, I would sometimes see him in church.

Then, the first day of school, he and I saw each other again and we sat together at lunch. In the coming days, I became better friends with him. Throughout the school year, I would see him study real hard and he did get good grades. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good at any playground sports like kickball or basketball. We would also play a game called Four Square and he sometimes didn’t play because he would get knocked out at the very beginning. He just did not  have very good hand eye coordination.

I remember that he did pretty well with his grades but that he didn’t have many friends in the class. At that age, when they told us that it was time for recess, we would tear out of the classroom while hearing the teacher call after us, “Don’t run”. Unfortunately Roy could not run very fast. He just didn’t have good balance either.

Later in the school year, I remember going over to his house to play. We went out into the woods and built a fort out of branches and a blanket and then just sat there and talked. That’s when he told me that he wished that he was like he used to be. Then he told me that one of the things that bothered him the most about school was that he was always picked last on the playground.

We moved from Maryland after sixth grade. I admit that I had forgotten about Roy until recently. I thought of Roy when I called an adjuster on a case involving a brain injury.

The adjuster offered an amount of settlement that was far from what I believed to be a fair market value for the case. The adjuster said that because the client had finished school; had gotten a good job and was not getting any additional treatment, she did not see the case as being very significant.

I tried to remind her of some of the things in my client’s medical records. Then, I told her what my client’s family was going to say, about the things that my client could no longer do. A client’s losses are usually best described by family, friends and co-workers. I tried to convince the adjuster that my client’s claim was more than just physical injuries.

Then, I thought of Roy. At third grade, when the only worries a kid should have relate to such things as “What’s there to do?” or “Can we go to McDonald’s?”; as a kid, I had witnessed the emotional scars that are probably still with Roy. Things that might not show up in medical records.  All he wanted was not to be picked last. What is the value of that hurt?

Well, it definitely is getting colder. So, my Mom sent this for our pic o’ day. Are you ready for cold weather?




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Some Random Friday

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

     The Law Firm social media team left on Tuesday to go to New York for a seminar on marketing and social media. They left me behind. Gladly left me behind! Imagine that.

     So, this week I have been writing the blog with an unfettered stream of consciousness without anyone saying, “Are you sure you want to write that?”. That’s why I can just randomly blog today and throw a picture in the middle of the blog, just because.

talking buck

     Since my Mom sent it to me, random is good… right? Here’s another random thought: the average major league baseball lasts 7 pitches. Hmmm

     In 1980, a Yellow Pages incorrectly listed the name and number of a funeral home… under the frozen foods category. No wonder Yellow Pages is disappearing!

     The Pilgrims reportedly ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving. No word on whether they also had Twizzlers and a Diet Coke. That’s just my two cents worth.

 food Lion

     The most expensive cow to ever sell at auction was Missy the Holstein Cow. Her auction amount was 1.2 million. She is supposedly considered to be the guide for genetics for future Holsteins. Again, no word on whether she will be playing Frisbee on a Chic-Fil-A commercial. Boom!!!

     And finally, King Mongut of Siam was known to have over 9000 wives. On his deathbed, he admitted to only loving the first 700.

     That’s my Friday blog… Have a great weekend!

     And for pic o’ day, another costume, or in blog theme… getting carried away:

carried away

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A Familiar Hat

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Our Firm gives out a lot of promotional Joel Bieber items. For instance, I try to leave a Joel Bieber pen whenever I eat at restaurants. That leads to a story that was told to me yesterday that made me smile.

The father of one of our lawyers in the Richmond office, recently went on a cruise that left from the port of Jacksonville, Florida. During the travel of the first day at sea, he was walking around while wearing a Joel Bieber hat. It is one of my favorite promotional items.

As he was preparing to get in line for the noon buffet, another man walked up to him to ask about his hat. He told the man that his son worked at the Firm in Richmond. In response, the man asking about the hat smiled, “Well, my daughter works as a paralegal at the Joel Bieber Firm in South Carolina”.

And for pic o’ day, if you like Lab puppies then…

Lab Results

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Don’t Talk Like a Lawyer

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Hall-of-Fame broadcaster John Madden was known for stating the obvious. He would say such things as, “It’s 3rd and 20…They need a good play here.” or “When its raining the field gets wet, then all of a sudden everyone is running slower”.Madden

In describing one player during one of his broadcasts, he stated “There’s a lot of letters in Ladanian Tomlinson”. He just kept it simple and it served him well. In fact, his simplicity ultimately led him to great wealth from a game.

Madden knew nothing about using computers during the early 80′s, except that he would use a telestrator to show the television audience how players were moving on the field with a diagram over the play screen. In 1984, game designer Trip Hawkins set up a meeting with Madden to discuss creating a football game for computers. As a side note, the meeting took place on a train because Madden traveled on Amtrak. He had/has a great fear of flying.

Madden had once taught a class at the University of California, Berkeley called “Football for Fans” as a way to teach and test plays. So, when Madden was approached about being endorser for a computerized football simulation for computers, Madden was interested. Hence, the computerized game of Madden NFL (originally John Madden Football) was born.

To this day, Madden sees the game as an educational tool. In 2012, he was asked to describe the game and he simply stated that it is “a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level”. That’s it. A game that comes out with a yearly new version generating sales of more than 4 billion in total revenue for the game… and Madden sees it as a “teaching tool”.

Not only does Madden see it simply; He also feels it financially. Even though he has retired from the franchise in doing the announcing voice for the game, he continues to loan his name and likeness to the game.  At one point, he signed a 10 year deal with the game maker for a total payout of 150 million dollars. Now that he has retired, it may be a little less… but the money machine continues to roll in the millions for him, just for his likeness.

Keeping it simple also reminds me of a childhood story. As I was helping my grandfather feed the pigs in their barn area, I was struck by how they were so aggressive for their food and how their area was so muddy. I asked my grandfather why they were acting like that over food and why their area was always so dirty. His simple response… “because they are pigs”. Yep!

Both of these illustrations serve as a lesson to us at the law firm. Regularly, I attend seminars on how to be a better lawyer. If I could boil down the advice given from some of the best speakers in the nation, it would be in one sentence… “stop acting like a lawyer”. The words like Whereas and Wherefore really don’t help anyone.

I have heard several lawyers give the advice to just tell the story and then get out of the way and let the jury decide. The worst thing I can do as a lawyer is to get in the way of the evidence. Just keep it simple.

And for pic o’ day, I’m sure this sounds familiar if you have ever been a dog owner :


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Milk: Health or Hurt

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

“Don’t let that cow kick you”, my grandfather said as I stood next to him with the bucket. It was sometime around 4 a.m. and I was three or four years old. At that age and time of morning, you are not thinking of milking a cow or of getting out of the way. You really aren’t thinking.

Having lived on a farm until I was seven still makes me feel connected to farming. While I admit that I don’t know much about planting and harvesting, I do know how to manually milk a cow. A bit of a lost art for those brought up with the electric milk machine; Or better yet, just grabbing a gallon of milk without giving a thought of how it got to the grocer’s case.

I don’t begrudge someone who has never milked a cow. That is still really early anyway. Still, we can all appreciate milk because of the great advertising campaign that, “Milk Does a Body Good”. At least that’s what we all thought.

That’s until a recent study that tells us that maybe it isn’t so good for us. (Detroit Free Press) According to a recent study from Sweden, women who drank three glasses of milk or more every day had nearly a doubled risk of death and cardiovascular disease with a 44% increase in cancer; compared to women who drank less than a glass a day.

The study also found that the risk of bone fracture for women increased by 16% when they drank at least three glasses of milk per day. For men? Researchers determined that their overall risk of death increased by 10%, when they drank at least 3 glasses per day.

These findings resulted from research involving 61,000 women and 45,000 men. One of the researchers explained the findings by explaining that milk has high levels of sugar which could contribute to these health risks.

These findings seem directly in contrast to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines that recommends three servings of dairy per day to supposedly help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

I suspect that there will be a new study to explain away these findings. A bit like the response to the ills of red meat. All of a sudden we heard the booming advertising voice tell us “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner”, while extoling the benefits of beef as part of a healthy diet. And, is pork really the other meat?

Maybe milk will tell us “It does a body and mind good”. Come to think of it, maybe the cow kicking me would have been safer than three glasses of milk.

And for pic o’ day, I reverted back to the costumes. Plus, bananas are healthy, right?

banana costume

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The Bacon Sentence

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Now that Halloween is over I guess it means the end of the costumes.


It means that the Ninja, Superhero, Dorothy, or the Lion and Tin Man costumes can go into the closet. I’m guessing that no one wore a Meat Dress like the one once worn by Lady Gaga. I have always wondered why Hardee’s and Wendy’s have advertised entire campaigns around Bacon. But that’s just me.


However, as you know, there are obviously some religions that take pork and bacon very seriously. The Judaism and Muslim religion adhere to anything connected to the unclean pig to be off-limits.

This takes me back to the June story at where an 18-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man were jailed after they thought that they had pulled a prank on an Edinburgh Mosque.

The couple from Scotland had attached bacon to the handles of the mosque and then opened the door and thrown more strips inside. As a result, the pair was charged with behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, likely to cause fear and alarm. One pled guilty and the other was initially found guilty. They both ended up getting sentenced to nine months in prison.

As one member of the Muslim congregation stated, “it hurt my feelings when I saw this meat hanging inside tthe mosque in the worshiping place”. As a result, of the criminal charge to the pair and the resulting sentences, it’s clear that throwing bacon in Scotland is taken very seriously.

I did not originally blog on this story because I thought that ultimately the sentences would be reduced. I don’t believe that there was any reduction. I understand taking religious beliefs seriously. I just hope that I never see this kind of case and punishment  in the United States.

And for pic o’ day, how about Homework dog?

homework dog

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Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I am in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where my nieces and nephews are getting excited about the treats…not the tricks.  So, I thought that the pic ‘s should be part of the theme.

Have a great weekend!

Halloween-Funny-Dog-2 boxer-dogs-in-costumes

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Authority is the Authority

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

You know the old saying that everyone has a boss… even when they are the boss. I have had a judge tell me that a trial was going to be scheduled during my vacation, and that his courtroom was not dictated by my schedule. Sure enough… he was not controlled by my schedule.

This week, the National Basketball Association kicked off its season. They have 3 referees at the game calling fouls and enforcing the rules. The refs are paid significantly less than the players but they are still the authority.

The rules of evidence, just like rules in a sports contest, are ultimately the rules that govern the play. There is always authority and consequences for not obeying authority, just as there are prison inmates who would ruefully tell us that they broke the rules.

I started the blog with all of that to lead to this video below. I know that you might have a device that will make it difficult to click and watch. In brief description, it shows a boxer who was not happy with a referee counting him out and stopping the fight. Then, he punched “the authority”. I am sure there will be consequences to pay!

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Settlement Negotiation Statements

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

At the beginning of every mediation in our office, the mediator will pass an agreement around for everyone in attendance to sign. The agreement includes language that says that all statements made during the mediation cannot be used as evidence in the trial of the matter.

That doesn’t mean that everyone expects the mediation to fail. It only means that everyone can be open about their perceived strengths and weaknesses of the case. It’s also why statements made during settlement negotiations involving amounts are not admissible at trial. Without such limitations, settlement discussions would be discouraged and settlements would occur  less frequently. Conversely, it’s why  I cannot get up and announce to the jury that the defendant has only offered $12,000 to settle the case.

This serves as a backdrop to the ultimate downfall of Chicago gangster Al Capone. (wiki)  His own admissions in negotiation served as the evidence to convict him.


Everyone knew that Capone was both violent and a bootlegger. However, he seemed above punishment because he knew where to pay money and he was also known as a modern day Robin Hood with his donations. All that changed after the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929.

Gang members were lined up against a wall and shot. Everyone believed that Capone had a hand in it and there was a public outcry. Prosecutors were unable to charge Capone with any of the killings but they did ultimately charge him with tax evasion.

Despite living a life of financial excess that included regularly staying in luxury hotels with his entire entourage for weeks at a time, or buying a 14-room retreat in Florida; Capone did not have a checking account and always used Western Union for cash deliveries for amounts less than $1,000. As a result, prosecutors were having a difficulty in pursuing their case against him.

Capone decided to negotiate a deal with prosecutors, rather than constantly dodging and weaving income evidence. In negotiations, he admitted his income in an attempt to arrive at a final tax payment resolution. When settlement negotiations broke down… the judge let his settlement admissions into evidence.

Capone was ultimately convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He appealed the evidence but lost on appeal, despite his proper claim that the evidence of settlement negotiations should never have been put before the jury. He knew that his reputation kept him from having his conviction properly overturned.

Not surprising, the Judge and prosecutors were later rewarded in their careers by putting Capone in prison. One of those “the end justified the means”.

Capone never recovered from spending time in prison. He lost his position as a crime boss and ultimately died at the age of 48, while also having suffered from dementia in the latter days of his life.

And for our pic o’ day…

Dog no cat


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