Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Friday, December 17, 2010

Treatment Bound: Ukulele Rock

I have had the good fortune of knowing and working with Tom Littlefield for over two decades. I have known Jonathan Bright for slightly less time. Both gentlemen are major talents as songwriters, singers and musicians. Littlefield’s late ‘80’s band The Questionaires, would have made it had it not been for record company idiocy.

When I heard that these guys were making a ukulele tribute to The Replacements, I knew it would be good. Musicians like George Harrison, Pete Townsend and Paul McCartney have shown us that ukuleles have more applications than just kitschy Hawaiian music. However, I did not know that the record “Treatment Bound” would be THIS good. The record works musically because of the great singing and instrumentation. It also succeeds on a higher level because Bright and Littlefield successfully deconstruct all these songs by The Replacements that you’ve known for years but never really analyzed. At his core. Paul Westerberg has a gift for unique melody and brilliant feel for lyrics. It was hard to discern some of the lyrics on the original records, and The Replacements’ reputation was more for their shambolic live performances than great musicianship, but so many of their songs have stuck in my brain for so long and Tom and Jonathan demonstrate why – because they are great songs.

Go to CD Baby to get this record now. ” Or, if you live in Nashville, go by Grimey’s.

You will smile right away and thank me later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rock and Roll High School

As a parent of a child about to enter high school, I am acutely aware of Nashville’s educational options. Without trying to start a debate, it seems to me that unless a child is (a) extremely bright; and (b) extremely lucky, their quality public school options are limited. Having said that, I have been generally impressed with the school board’s establishment of magnet high schools that are geared towards certain academic skills and interests. For example, the Nashville School of the Arts nurtures young performers and other artistically inclined students. There are also schools that specialize in science and math.

I was dumbfounded to learn of a recent proposal to turn Pearl Cohn High School into a school with an emphasis on “music business.” If I understand correctly, part of the school’s curriculum would be to educate young scholars to enter into the music business. There are already music business curriculums at three local universities: Belmont, MTSU and Trevecca, last time I checked. Also, last time I checked, there really weren’t any jobs in the music business.

There is certainly merit in offering these courses on the college level. Indeed, I have taught music business law and copyright law on the college level for fifteen years. However, I believe the idea of offering this type of instruction to high school students is meaningless. High school kids who are interested in music should either be playing music or obsessed with listening to music, or both. I remember my friend and former law partner, now uber-manager Ken Levitan telling me that when he was a kid he had a subscription to both Billboard and Sports Illustrated. I think an interest in the music business should grow out of curiosity (or obsession) and it should not be a high school’s mission to try to teach it. Respectfully, I think high school is the time to teach kids critical thinking about the world around them, as well as practical things such as how to dissect stuff and how to balance a bank account. Preparing them for four years of college that would prepare them for a job that may not be there when they graduate just seems irresponsible.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So, what is it that You actually do?

I recently heard a story on NPR about primary care physicians and how their patients and the public are unaware of how much work they do behind the scenes (reading test results, returning phone calls, calling in prescriptions and dealing with the health care bureaucracy). It made me think of the fact that most people are unaware of what lawyers do behind the scenes. I remember the idyllic view of what a law practice must be like I had while I was in law school. I thought lawyers sat around on the phone all day long, being smart and getting paid.

Basically, for starters, what we do is read. We read contracts, motions, cases, statutes and e-mails. There is also a lot of proofreading and editing the endless trail of paper we seem to generate. A lot of work goes into worrying and trying to get the best results for our clients. There’s also a lot of waiting involved. Waiting to hear from clients. Waiting to hear from opposing counsel. And judges. And clerks. And, of course, waiting to get paid. When you can organize your time well and the stars align, this sometimes works rather seamlessly. When it does not work, though, the whole system can collapse in failure.

None of this is meant to sound like a complaint. Hearing that story about primary health care physicians made me appreciate my own doctor more (especially when he gives me his cell number). It also makes me realize that as lawyers, we can try to do a better job of explaining to clients what we actually do for them, and how the process actually unfolds.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Legal Fees

I have written before about legal fees, and last month I read an article Rob Johnson wrote for the November 15th issue of the Wall Street Journal:

Legal Advice…On A Budget

He reports that many law firms now offer legal advice to start-up businesses at either a discounted or flat fee. This is not a news flash. Here is a little secret: most attorneys I know are happy to offer services to start-up businesses for a flat fee or a reduced rate. It only makes sense to help bring certainty for the new small business. I offer this for routine services, such as drafting wills, forming a corporation or limited liability company or applying for a trademark. I, like most attorneys, strive to develop long-term relationships with clients. In fact, the only areas of legal practice that are incapable of being handled with set fees are litigation and sometimes contract negotiation, and these areas can be handled with a negotiated cap on fees. I have also read some intriguing articles about charging fees in litigation on a “per item” basis. Whether you are working with me or another attorney, always feel free to inquire about flat fees or at least good faith estimates of what your legal services may cost.