Bar Jumps Shark

     The California Bar Journal has now officially jumped the shark.
     If you’re not familiar with that term, you probably lead a productive life free from trivia. The phrase means that something – usually a television series – has reached its peak and/or done everything it could sensibly do and is now offering the less-than-sensible or bizarre because the writers can’t thing of anything else.
     How can a bar journal jump the shark?
     The problem – and they should have seen this coming – is that they decided to offer an “MCLE Self-Study” section, good for one hour of mandatory continuing legal education credit, each and every month.
     At some point, you’re going to run out of non-shark-jumping topics.
     The self-study topic for the month of September is: “Preparing the Workplace for a Pandemic.”
     That’s right. California lawyers can now fulfill an hour of their required MCLE studies by boning up on how to advise clients to prepare for an outbreak of the black plague.
     Admittedly, emergency planning is a good idea. I don’t quarrel with that. I wonder, though, if any of us should be hiring lawyers to do that planning. Maybe someone with – oh, I don’t know – a health care background might do the trick.
     Still, it’s nice to know that lawyers who self-study this topic in the Journal now know they should advise clients to, among other things, designate “the responsible pandemic contingency planner and emergency contact person” and develop “a protocol and thresholds for reduced operations staged at set absenteeism levels.”
     Your clients will be more than happy to pay you for this advice.
     What can the future possibly hold for MCLE self-study in California now?
     It could be anything, but I have a feeling that the Journal staff maybe could use a few suggestions. Fortunately, I’m here to help. Here are some possible MCLE topics:
     Nuclear attack planning. Lawyers should be able to advise clients to hide under desks in case of a missile attack.
     Clients should be informed that retaliatory strikes by private individuals could violate federal law and that handicapped access is mandatory in all bomb shelters.
     Preparations for long-term bathroom access are probably a good idea too.
     Party planning. Are your clients fully prepared to host and safely execute an office celebration? Does the client have written guidelines concerning equal-opportunity mingling and sharing of the karaoke microphone?
     After how many drinks can acts normally considered sexual harassment be transformed into normal social activity?
     If there are no designated drivers, must the corporate party sponsor provide beds for all party attendees? Will the corporation then be liable for support of any child conceived at the event?
     Lunch. This is a complex and important topic that applies both to clients and to law firms.
     Lawyers should advise their clients to eat balanced meals and avoid sweets. Improper eating habits can lead to a greater susceptibility to pandemics – and we now know how important that can be.
     The ethical dilemma posed by lunch for lawyers is a bit more difficult. Is a lawyer guilty of malpractice if he/she skips lunch and then lacks the energy to make objections in court in the afternoon?
     Or is it more ethical to take a nap during lunch in order to stay awake during the trial?
     Sleep combined with intravenous feeding is generally the best option.

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