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Lessons From Behavioral Science: The Cognitive Benefits of Exercise

May 3, 2012

I posted last week about all the ill effects of lawyers’ sedentary lifestyle and offered some suggestions for mitigating those effects. (Mike Murphy has offered some related suggestions on cultivating good eating habits). But for lawyers with serious work demands, it can seem like there’s never time for the essential components of a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, or consistently getting enough sleep (an area lawyers have been proven to fail miserably). But, as it turns out, it’s not that simple. Apparently, maximizing your productivity at work depends on taking time away from work to exercise. Read more…

More Reasons Law Practice is Unhealthy and Some Things You Can Do About It

April 23, 2012

This is the third in a series on health topics affecting lawyers. The first was on cultivating good eating habits and the second on the legal profession’s sleep-deprivation problem.

As we’ve already discussed, lawyers tend to spend a lot of time sitting (burning almost no calories) and not nearly enough time sleepingAs it turns out those aren’t the only perils presented by a legal career. We tend to work long hours, which is correlated with bad habits like smoking, lack of exercise, and infrequent check-ups. Those working long enough hours to disrupt their regular sleep cycle suffer from reduced appetite control as well as elevated stress hormones, blood pressure, and pre-diabetic indicators. Even if we cultivate good eating habits, our sedentary lifestyles can take a toll on our bodies. And, as it turns out, all that sitting doesn’t just add to our waistlines—it significantly shortens our lives.

So are we lawyers necessarily doomed to lives that are nasty, brutish and short?

Thankfully, no. Read more…

Philly’s Greening Goes Well Beyond the Mayor’s Office

April 18, 2012

When Mayor Nutter announced his vision for post-industrial Philadelphia as one of the greenest in the nation, he got some deserved scoffs. I may have half-scoffed myself. But, as I’ve noted on the blog, he’s made huge strides, despite a budget crisis. In fact, just last week he and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a landmark $2 billion plan for green stormwater management. All of a sudden, Philly’s a legitimate candidate for the greenest East Coast city title, along with perennial contenders Boston and New York City. Even better, the green wave has started to pick up real momentum in the private and non-profit sectors.

Philly-based mega-restauranteur Steven Starr is working on green initiatives with a local eco-consulting firm. He’s starting with composting at Talula’s Garden and Route 6, where there’s in-house composting know-how. La Colombe, Philly’s gourmet coffee empire in the making, is going to build the only private decaffeination plant in the nation, in a 15,000-square-foot Port Richmond warehouse. And they’re aiming to give it a zero carbon footprint.

Keeping up with the food industry is another Philly pillar, the arts sector. The Kimmel Center is incorporating energy efficiency climate-control features into its first major building overhaul since opening, which will also move its restaurant downstairs and pass management duties from Wolfgang Puck to local chef-lebrity Jose Garces. Meanwhile, the Barnes Foundation is set to open on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with its impressive new LEED Platinum certified digs.

A local non-profit is working on taking sustainability a step further and make Philadelphia home of the first urban “earthship,” a fully self-sufficient residential structure made from re-used and re-purposed materials.

Even the state government is contributing, making the rare Philly-friendly gesture from Harrisburg by supporting its large bicycle community with a new traffic safety law. The law requires that motorists passing bicyclists leave four feet of room, and allows those motorists to cross a yellow line to do so, where safe. The law also prohibits right turns that impede the path of a bicyclist.

Boston and New York, you’re on notice.

Building a Solo Practice: Generating Business Through Legal Insurance Referrals

April 2, 2012

This is the fourth post in a series on solo and small firm marketing by guest blogger Douglas Greenberg, a successful tax solo based in San Francisco, CA. The first was an intro to the subject, the second examined the promotional power of a legal niche, and the third addressed the marketing power of Yelp

In my most recent posts, I have discussed a variety of attorney marketing methods.  But given the uncertainties of marketing, one often wishes there was better way.  What if, instead of marketing, we could rely on a free service guaranteed to bring us clients?  All you would need to do is sign up, sit back,  and let the business roll in.

Sound too good to be true?  It isn’t.  It’s called legal insurance.

Legal insurance is a type of insurance that offers its members prepaid or discounted legal services.  Companies and organizations purchase the insurance and then offer it to their workers as an employee benefit.  When an employee needs an attorney, he or she searches the provider’s listings for a participating lawyer in the area.  The employee calls the attorney like any other prospective client.  And the relationship ensues normally.

Since the companies seek to offer a wide variety of legal services, all different types of lawyers may apply.  So this may be of interest to you regardless of your practice area, whether it’s family law, bankruptcy, real estate, or otherwise.  Read more…

Early Signs That PA Voter I.D. Law Is Already Wreaking Havoc

March 30, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Governor Corbett signed into law one of the most restrictive voter i.d. laws in the country. The same day, I posted a piece on the law and Bar Association Chancellor John Savoth published a critical letter in the Inquirer. These public criticisms were in line with the Bar Association’s longstanding official position against more stringent voter i.d. requirements. As I noted previously, such requirements are costly, inefficient, and have been shown to significant disenfranchising effects, particularly upon vulnerable communities such as seniors, students, and the poor.

Unfortunately, the first signs of these disenfranchising effects are already becoming apparent.  Read more…

Phila D.A.’s Rehabilitation-Centered Criminal Justice Reforms

March 22, 2012

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, in which life without parole was imposed on juveniles for murders committed at age 14. In Jackson, the appellant is a non-triggerman accomplice to a felony that devolved into a murder. The appellants seek to extend Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida, which have already, in the past decade, respectively held that capital punishment for homicides by juveniles and life without parole for non-homicide crimes by juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.” In the course of this week’s arguments, Justice Scalia–who dissented in both Roper and Graham–remarked, “I thought that modern penology has abandoned that rehabilitation thing, and they no longer call prisons reformatories or whatever, and punishment is the criterion now. Deserved punishment for crime.”

Not quite.  Justice Scalia was apparently referring to the broad abandonment in the U.S. of incarceration as a means of reforming criminals. Despite vestigial terminology like “penitentiary” and “corrections,” the concept of rehabilitation via imprisonment was largely discarded in the mid-1970s, after a study deemed two decades of efforts along those lines a failure. Yet, other rehabilitation-minded initiatives, such as diversionary programs—which allow qualifying offenders to avoid jail and sometimes even a criminal record if they complete program requirements such as rehabilitation and restitution—have flourished of late. Read more…

Pennsylvania’s Voter I.D. Law and the National Voting Rights War

March 15, 2012

This morning, Governor Corbett signed into law one of the nation’s strictest voter identification bills. It requires voters to present photo i.d. meeting strict criteria at every election. In contrast, PA’s prior law allowed other forms of i.d., including utility bills and government checks, and was required only the first time a person voted at a new polling place. The new law purports to guard against voter impersonation, thereby vindicating the “one person, one vote” principle of Baker v. Carr. However, critics–among them the ACLU, AARP and NAACP–counter that creating an additional barrier to voting impinges upon the right to vote, which the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed  “fundamental” because it is “preservative of all rights.”

Despite the success of the bill’s proponents, the facts powerfully favor the opposition. The bill’s proponents, including Governor Corbett, acknowledge the lack of evidence that voter impersonation is a problem. Indeed, the bi-partisan County Commissioners of Pennsylvania opposed the bill, noting that systems to deter voter fraud are already in place and that the new bill will cause new problems, such as longer lines at the polls and voter confusion. Philadelphia City Commission chair Stephanie Singer, who runs city elections, notes that the best impersonation prevention tools are poll worker training, data forensics, and investigation of voter rolls.

Read more…

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