How to Work With Your Lawyer

1. Get organized. Prepare detailed written notes outlining your legal problem or questions. Provide the lawyer all the details, and let he or she decide what is important to your case.
2. Complete and honest disclosure of all facts. It is very important that you provide a complete and honest description of your problem, including information that may be favorable, unfavorable, or embarrassing. Leaving out a minor fact or detail could have a huge negative impact on your case. Only if you fully disclose the facts about your situation can an attorney properly advise you. Remember that there are strict rules that require an attorney to keep your information confidential.
3. Discuss fees. Your attorney will be ready to discuss fees at the first meeting, and you should be ready to do the same. You can and should negotiate fees and discuss payment plans with your attorney. Get your agreement in writing and keep a copy for your file. Most disputes about fees happen because there is no written record of an agreement.
4. Ask a lawyer questions. In order for your attorney to serve you better, you must understand all aspects of your case and the legal process. Understanding the process will help you understand how the lawyer is working and what type of information is needed on your case. But remember, you are paying for your attorney’s time. It is more cost effective to ask several questions at once instead of calling your attorney every time one question comes to mind. You may be charged for each call depending on your fee agreement.
5. Understand what you sign. Before you sign a document, ask your attorney to fully explain to your satisfaction any document. What can be clear and routine to an attorney can be confusing to people without formal legal training.
6. Keep your own records. Ask for copies of all letters and documents prepared on your case. You should also keep the written fee agreement between you and your attorney in the file. You may have to access this information at some point in the future so it is important to maintain records.
7. Legal advice. Give careful and thoughtful consideration to what your attorney advises. The attorney’s judgments are based on legal training and experience. Remember that lawyers cannot work magic. No attorney wins every case, and sometimes the best legal advice may not be what you want to hear. Your attorney will provide advice that has your best legal interests in mind. The central focus of any case is the facts. Each side will have facts that contribute to the outcome of the case. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to make you aware of the potential outcome of your case based on the facts.
HOW DO I PREPARE AND WHAT SHOULD I TAKE TO THE FIRST INTERVIEW?
Plan to go to the first interview with an open mind. You do not have to decide to employ the attorney with whom you are interviewing until you have had time to think about the interview and your experience in communicating with the lawyer.
When you go to your initial consultation, it is important to have with you a written summary, or detailed notes outlining your problem. The notes or summary should include:
1. Names, addresses and phone numbers of all persons or companies involved
2. All documents which are part of your case, including
a. Documents you have received from another attorney
b. Documents you have received from a court
c. Journals
d. Written Correspondence (includes emails)
e. Receipts
f. Contracts
g. Medical bills
h. Repair estimates
i. Checks, etc.
j. Pictures
k. Written notes detailing the history of your situation
The attorney may ask you to deliver written materials in advance of your first interview in order to have adequate time to review them. You may prefer to provide copies rather than originals at the initial interview. Remember that all lawyers are subject to attorney-client privilege and therefore, must maintain any information in strict confidence.
Next, prepare a list of questions for the attorney, such as:
1. Are you specialized and/or experienced in my type of problem?
2. Will you or one of your associates be handling my case?
3. Will you regularly contact me about the status of my case?
4. Will I be provided with copies of all important documents, and will there be a charge for those documents?
5. Will I be able to make the final decision on my case?
6. What is your estimate of time needed to complete my case?
7. What is the hourly billable rate?
8. What amount of retainer is required to request your services?
REMEMBER: When you hire an attorney, the attorney will be working for you. He or she should be genuinely interested in your problem and in giving you the best possible advice. The attorney may not be able to accomplish everything you wish because of the facts or the laws that apply in your case. Many times the best advice an attorney can give will be to avoid court action. He or she may suggest other methods to resolve your matter, such as mediation.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT OF MY ATTORNEY?
Here are a few tips about what to expect from your attorney. Your attorney should:
1. Give you candid, honest advice;
2. Tell you the strong and weak points of your case; this includes potential outcomes based on facts and your instructions on how to proceed
3. Keep you informed and follow your instructions, within the bounds of the law;
4. Protect and defend you to the best of his or her ability and to the fullest extent of the law;
5. While representing you, not represent any other client whose interests conflict with yours;
6. Provide you, if you ask, with copies of all letters and documents involved in your case;
7. Provide an itemized bill of all work done for you and all expenses incurred on your behalf.
WHAT WILL MY ATTORNEY EXPECT OF ME?
The attorney will expect you to:
1. Be prompt for court dates and appointments;
2. Let him or her know how to keep in touch with you. If you have a change of address or phone number or place of employment, let your attorney know; and
3. Be completely honest — even if it is embarrassing to tell the truth about your problem.
Remember, what you tell an attorney in private will be kept confidential. Even confessions to past crimes or criminal activity are going to be treated as confidential by your attorney. Exceptions to this rule of strict confidentiality are plans for future crimes and continuing criminal activity or if the attorney believes that you have or will cause injury to a child. Attorneys are required by law to report suspected child abuse.
4. Not withhold any important information during the conversation that could be potentially damaging to your situation. A common tactic is for the other party to discredit you. Therefore, it is crucial that you fully disclose anything you can think of that could be used against you later on in the proceedings. Understand that even with the weight of the facts on your side, the situation could change if information comes out later that gives the advantage to the other party, because this information was not disclosed earlier to the lawyer.
HOW MUCH WILL THE ATTORNEY CHARGE ME FOR HIS OR HER SERVICES?
The attorney’s fee depends upon many variables, such as amount of time, the difficulty of the work, the skill required, the customary fee in your area for similar work, the experience, reputation and ability of the attorney, and whether the fee is a set amount or contingent on the outcome of the case.
Some examples of fee arrangements include:
Flat fee: The attorney may quote you a set amount or standard fee that he or she has arrived at for your type of legal problem. An example of a legal problem that could be covered in a flat-fee matter is an uncontested divorce without children or a simple will. In addition, lawyers usually expect you to pay court costs and to reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel, long distance, postage, courier, or copying expenses. It is important that you find out what any fixed fee covers.
Hourly fee: An attorney may prefer to bill you by the hour and collect an initial retainer. Such fees may vary widely depending upon the complexity of the legal work, the skill of the attorney and whether there are time deadlines. If you agree to an hourly arrangement, you and the attorney could include a provision in your contract requiring the attorney not to exceed a specified amount of time or money without obtaining your permission. Insist that you be kept advised every month of the number of hours that the attorney is spending on your problem. You also have the right to ask for a written explanation of what the attorney did during the hours he or she worked on your case.
Questions about fees that you may want to ask are:
1. Can you give me an estimate of how much this legal matter will cost?
2. Can we have a written fee agreement that sets forth not only my obligation to pay you, but also exactly what services you will provide?
HOW SHOULD I MAKE MY DECISION TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
Based on your first interview, you should consider the following factors before agreeing to hire an attorney:
1. Could you communicate effectively with the attorney?
2. Was the attorney clear and easy to understand?
3. Are fees reasonable in comparison with other lawyers’ charges?
4. Did the attorney give clear explanations of how he or she will let you know about progress in your case?
5. If you are not satisfied with this attorney, do not hire him or her. Look elsewhere for legal help.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney?

People often ask how much it costs to hire an attorney. The answer is “it depends.” Generally speaking, there are three fee structures or ways that attorneys charge for legal representation: contingency fee, hourly billing, or flat rate. The type of fee structure used is a function of both the particular attorney and/or law firm you consult and the type of case or representation that you require.
Contingency Fee Structure
Contingency fees are paid to an attorney contingent upon the result or legal outcome that he obtains on your behalf. If the attorney is unsuccessful in obtaining a desired result or outcome for you, then he or she does not get paid. Alternatively, if the attorney achieves a successful result, the he or she is paid at the predetermined rate or fee.
Contingency fees are most often used in personal injury cases. When you initially retain an attorney for representation in a personal injury matter, no money or fee is paid to the lawyer. Instead, you and your lawyer agree that if, and only if, they succeed in obtaining money on your behalf, they will then be paid a percentage of the recovered amount. This percentage differs by state and case type. Most often the percentage is one-third or 33% of the total recovery. However, in more complicated cases such as those involving malpractice or product liability claims, or even less complicated cases that require litigation or the actual filing of a lawsuit, attorneys may require a contingency fee of up to 40% of the total recovery.
Contingency fees are very attractive to clients because they do not require any out-of-pocket expense for representation. It is important to note, however, that contingency fees are not permitted in either criminal or family law cases such as those involving divorce, child custody or other domestic issues.
Hourly Rates Fee Structure
Hourly rates are often charged by attorneys who represent large organizations such as corporations, non-profit organizations or other entities capable of affording legal services on an hourly basis. This fee structure is most commonly used in connection with corporate law, business litigation and insurance defense. Hourly rate billing is the most expensive type of fee arrangement for clients.
In this circumstance, you are billed on a monthly or quarterly basis for the time actually spent by your attorney or his agent performing work on your case during the billing period. Lawyers who charge on an hourly basis bill for everything to include, but not limited to, phone calls, copies, consultations, letters and email, research, court appearances, travel time, and any other time spent working on a case.
Before agreeing to an hourly fee structure, it is important to know what types of services are billed; how often; in what time-increments; and at what rate. Firms may charge varying rates depending upon who in the organization actually performs the billed service such as a secretary, investigator, paralegal, associate attorney or senior-level attorney. As stated above, hourly billing is most often employed by lawyers who represent corporations or wealthy clients. It is also used in connection with family law work; estate and tax planning; elder law; areas of civil law other than personal injury; and complex criminal defense cases.
Flat Rate Fee Structure
The third and last type of fee structure is the flat rate fee. With this arrangement, you and your attorney agree upon a flat rate for all legal representation pertaining to a particular matter regardless of the time and effort needed to perform the agreed-upon legal work. Some clients prefer this form of payment because it limits their financial exposure and provides them with certainty regarding the cost of legal representation. Lawyers who charge flat rates take the risk that the fee they quote will fairly compensate them for the estimated time needed to perform the required legal service.
In some instances, the lawyer may complete his work in less time than expected, and therefore, enjoy a financial windfall from a flat fee arrangement. Alternatively, and in many cases, lawyers underestimate how much time and effort is required on a particular case. In these instances, lawyers assume this risk that the quoted flat rate is not fair compensation for the actual work required. Flat rates are very typical with criminal defense cases. Many attorneys charge a flat rate for all pretrial representation related to a case, and then a second installment flat rate if and when a case is scheduled for trial.
Choosing The Best Attorney for You
Now that you have a better understand of the types of legal fees, the question remains: how much does it cost to hire an attorney. The answer is still “it depends.” Legal fees vary by geographic area; the type and nature of the case involved; and the particular attorney you choose to hire. Clients are often under the mistaken belief that all attorneys are the same – one size fits all. This could not be further from the truth.
Attorneys, even those who practice in the same geographic area and work on the same types of cases, are not alike. Each attorney has his or her own unique experience and background. For instance, some lawyers have a lot of trial experience and some do not. Researching an attorney’s true experience and background can be difficult. With the legalization of advertising for attorneys, many try to dazzle potential clients with fancy websites and colorful language regarding their skills and abilities. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Meet with the attorney in person; ask around about his or her reputation; and request examples of cases they have worked on in the past.
Aside from experience, lawyers also have different values and personalities. Some lawyers are more hardworking and dedicated to client needs and concerns than others. For instance, how many times have you heard the complaint that “my lawyer never returns phone calls” or “my lawyer is always out of the office.” These complaints do not describe all lawyers equally. Some lawyers return client calls the very same day the client leaves the message. Others work nights and weekends to be available to clients who otherwise work during the day and cannot meet with their lawyer during normal business hours.
The bottom line is that when it comes to lawyers, just like restaurants, automobiles and other consumer goods, the old adage holds true: you get what you pay for. If you prefer a lawyer who charges McDonald’s prices, you will certainly find one. However, if you choose to hire such a lawyer, do not be surprised if their representation has the poor quality of a McDonald’s hamburger. Perhaps you prefer quality and competence over discount prices.
Whatever your needs may be, take the time to find a lawyer who is right for you. When it comes to legal representation, choose an attorney who is qualified, competent, experienced, caring and devoted to your case. After all, what price is too high to pay for your rights and your future?

Paralegal Studies Careers – Providing Critical Legal Services

The fast-paced excitement of a paralegal or legal services career is dramatically depicted in popular and syndicated television shows, such as “Boston Legal” and “Law and Order.” Meanwhile, the local and national news, as well as court and justice television programs, have provided coverage of high-profile trials and legal proceedings that have made major headlines over the past several years. With such easy access to law and legal action courtesy of the American media, it is no wonder that so many young Americans want to complete law degrees or paralegal certificates each year.
Like any career shown in the media – medicine, business, advertising, and so on – real-life law and legal careers do not always embody the back-to-back high-drama excitement portrayed on television. However, they are consistently interesting and engaging, requiring workers to devote focus to their careers. To get started in an entry-level legal or paralegal career (these terms will be used interchangeably throughout the article), a potential employee will typically need to have a degree – or have completed legal studies training courses or a paralegal certification.
Entry-level competition for any career, including the paralegal profession, can be tough. Students who have pursued a paralegal certificate or degree are usually considered to be stronger candidates for entry-level careers in law. This is because completing an education demonstrates that a student is mature and responsible enough to handle a daily legal services workload. Many schools in the United States offer a paralegal studies degree program to prepare students for an array of exciting legal careers. Some of the stronger programs are also approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
The legal studies or paralegal degree program: What do students learn?
The most important skill sets that a paralegal or legal assistant will employ are good reading comprehension and writing abilities. The majority of a paralegal’s work involves reading and writing, and some legal documents or court briefs can contain fairly complex language and concepts. Besides English reading and writing courses, many paralegal studies programs require students to take specific classes in legal research and legal writing.
Strong research and documentation skills are other important components of a legal studies education. Upon completing a paralegal certification or legal studies career training program, students must be able to quickly and accurately find and interpret federal, state, and local laws, research legal precedents set by previous hearings or decided cases, and track down evidence that will support the case. Because the career opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants are very diverse, many legal programs require students to study several areas of law. Many ABA-approved schools offer classes in criminal law, family law, property and probate, torts, and civil procedure.
Many schools offer career placement options for students completing a paralegal studies or legal services degree program. These student-centered career resources can include resume-writing workshops and cover-letter coaching, as well as job leads – and career placement. This placement is often targeted in the area of the country in which the college is located. For example, a Los Angeles college might offer students placement assistance in Long Beach, Huntington, Irvine, Cerritos, or another city in Los Angeles County, California. Students interested in legal or law careers are most successful at the entry level when they use all of the resources their school or college offers, including career counselors and legal or paralegal job resource boards.
After the legal studies education: What do paralegals and legal assistants do?
Upon completing a degree and career training program, legal studies students will enter jobs with varying descriptions and duties. Paralegals perform many direct tasks for the rest of the legal team. A paralegal or legal assistant might be assigned to one lawyer or to a team of lawyers. For example, a litigation paralegal might assist the legal team in preparing for trial, which includes gathering and organizing evidence and court briefs; doing research and writing briefs for the case, and even preparing courtroom arguments or evidence exhibits.
Some of the documents a paralegal will write are dependent upon the area of law in which he or she works. Estate and trust paralegals are likely to assist in writing wills and financial contracts. Family and divorce law paralegals help write divorce agreements, child custody briefs, and hearing summaries, or or work with the courts in obtaining child abuse testimonies. Financial and corporate paralegals can prepare tax forms, work in government compliance, or write business contracts.
A paralegal might also be employed in the public or the private legal sector. Legal assistants and paralegals might take notes in meetings, help to prepare employee tax and benefits forms, and file records and major papers for the law firm. Some employees might have more opportunities to perform more extensive legal research, as well. Other employees might be in charge of determining whether individuals are eligible for food stamps, housing subsidies, social security assistance, and other benefits.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for paralegals and legal assistants is expected to increase more rapidly than average through 2014. This is partially because Americans live in an increasingly lawsuit-prone society, and partially because it is more cost-effective for law firms to hire legal assistants to perform the work of an attorney. A comprehensive education in legal concepts and applications from an ABA-approved or accredited paralegal studies or certificate program, a thorough, post-college legal career search, and the desire to work hard at acquiring increasingly challenging job responsibilities will enable a legal studies student to begin a fulfilling legal career.

How to Find a Good Attorney

How to find a good attorney is a question on everyone’s mind when in need of a lawyer. And it’s difficult for an ordinary person to know how to find a good attorney. The legal profession is just like any other profession where you have good, disciplined and honest members as well as bad, not disciplined and dishonest ones. And in the legal profession, unfortunately, only fellow attorneys and judges know who is who. That leaves us, the ordinary people, to learn as best as we could on ways of how to find a good attorney to represent our case.
When faced with a legal issue that requires lawyer’s participation, the only thing worse than not having a lawyer is to have a bad one. However, the “good” and the “bad” labels are a subject to a personal judgment. As mentioned above, while only fellow attorneys and judges know who is the good, the bad, and the ugly attorney, in the ordinary human world, two people could share a totally opposite opinion about one attorney who represented both of their cases. It’s all based on the results that the attorney was able to obtain for them and whether the clients’ expectations were met or not. This leads us to a conclusion that when we have a lack of resources to evaluate our prospect attorneys, we need to depend solely upon our individual judgment to pick a good attorney for our case.
On the other hand, there are ways to at least sense a bad attorney. Wait! Isn’t it the subject of this article “How to find a good attorney”? Indeed so. In order for you to know how to find a good attorney, you need to know how to at least sense a bad one. Let’s touch up on some basics.
1. Very simple. If you need to file for a divorce, would you call a criminal lawyer? Of course not. That’s a bad lawyer for your case. On the same note, if other than a divorce lawyer is offering to handle your case, you would say no. You immediately know that a good lawyer for your case would be the one who has expertise in whatever legal issue you’re facing.
2. You somehow find a lawyer that has the expertise in your problem area and you make a contact with him or her. But, it takes that lawyer a week or two to get back to you. That attorney may not be a bad lawyer but he or she may be overbooked with other clients and does not have enough time to give the needed attention to your case. That’s a bad lawyer for your case. That attorney needs to immediately tell you that because of their current work load he or she wouldn’t be able to handle your case. But if he or she doesn’t tell you that, you need to immediately dismiss that attorney and look for another one who can give you the needed attention.
3. Here comes the bad one. It is highly unethical for a lawyer to pay a referral fee or a bonus for “leads” on new cases. (Depending on state law, a referral fee sometimes may be paid to another lawyer, but it needs to be disclosed to the client). Some of the profession’s “bad apples” may still engage in the practice of paying “runners” for tips on new clients. So if a stranger (or even someone that you know) seems excessively persistent that you need to see a lawyer, or just happens to have a supply of the attorney’s business cards, look out! This is not the kind of person who deserves your trust. On the same note, if you bump into a lawyer who does not take his or her time to understand your case but is also excessively persistent that you need to hire him or her, look out!
Now, let’s cover some basics on ways of how to find a good attorney.
1. One of the best ways on how to find a good attorney is to ask someone whose opinion you trust; another lawyer, your accountant, banker, coworker, family friend, business acquaintance. These are the people that you trust and you know that they wouldn’t refer you to a bad lawyer if they happen to know one related to your legal need.
2. If the above doesn’t work for you, you could always call a company that may be represented by a lawyer of your need. For an example, if you’re looking for a real estate lawyer, call a title company and ask them who they use. If you need a collection lawyer, call a collection agency. But, if your issue is pure personal, ask anyone who you trust, who has recently been through a lawsuit, and who is very satisfied with their lawyer. Even if that lawyer is not the right one for your case, you know that you’re contacting a good lawyer. Call that lawyer and explain that you couldn’t find an attorney on your own and ask him or her if they could refer you to the appropriate attorney for your case. Lawyers are the best source of information about other lawyers. And a good lawyer will always refer you to another good lawyer who could handle your case.
3. And last but not least on how to find a good lawyer, call your local or state bar association and ask them to refer you to a lawyer who is in good standing with the bar. Also, always check with your state or local bar association if your prospect lawyer has ever been the subject of an ethical complaint or inquiry.
To sum up the ways on how to find a good attorney, the primary considerations in selecting an attorney needs to be whether you feel comfortable with the attorney selected, and if you are confident that the attorney is competent in his or her field of expertise. You must feel very comfortable with the attorney and must feel confident that the attorney selected is the one who can capably handle your needs. Make sure that you interview two or three lawyers before making a decision on which one to retain. Ask yourself when interviewing a lawyer: “Do I feel comfortable talking to this lawyer, and am I confident in his or her abilities?” If the answer is anything other than a definite “yes,” you need to keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence.
Disclaimer: The author and publisher of this article have done their best to give you useful, informative and accurate information. This article does not represent nor replace the legal advice you need to get from a lawyer, or other professional if the content of the article involves an issue you are facing. Laws vary from state-to-state and change from time-to-time. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about the issues described in this article. Thank you.

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer

I recently overheard someone in a bookstore telling a group of people why they should not have their own attorneys, how they could not trust lawyers, how lawyers would cheat them and how they should rely upon the company the speaker belonged to instead. That conversation got me thinking about why people facing separation and divorce need not just any lawyer, but a good divorce lawyer.
Reason #1-What You need to know
You need to know your rights, duties and responsibilities under the law. Only a lawyer who has been retained to represent your interests can advise you. How can you realistically discuss financial arrangements in separating and divorcing, if you don’t know what your rights, duties and responsibilities are? Not knowing what your rights are can result in not getting your fair share of assets, your fair share of support or your fair share of time with your children. Not knowing what your duties and responsibilities are can result in your paying more than your fair share of assets or your fair share of support. Most attorneys offer a special reduced rate for consulting services to encourage people to get advice early and often. There is no reason to rely on backyard fence advice, when you can get real advice from a qualified experienced divorce lawyer for a reasonable fee. Furthermore, in my experience, the backyard fence advice is usually wrong. Remember that if what you hear is half true, it is still wrong.
Reason #2-Backyard Advice
My friend is divorced. Why can’t I rely on my friend’s experience and knowledge. Well, you could do that but what you need to realize is that unless your friend is a licensed attorney, he/she is not authorized to practice law. Your friend’s knowledge will be limited to his/her particular experience. His/her experience with the law is limited to the facts of his/her case and the law as it was at the time. Things change. The law changes. Any change in the facts will change the outcome or advice. Furthermore, changes in the law will change the advice. Your friend simply lacks the knowledge and experience to give sound practical legal advice.
Reason #3-Identifying Issues
The sooner you get a lawyer, the sooner you will learn what you need to know to protect yourself (and your children and property interests). Sometimes people have no idea how to go about identifying the issues they need to discuss, even if the separation is an amicable one and the parties anticipate a “friendly divorce.” A good, experienced divorce lawyer can assist you in identifying the issues you need to discuss with your spouse to achieve a comprehensive agreement and global settlement. Over the years there have been numerous times when we were able to point out to clients areas they had initially overlooked and issues which should be included in their settlement discussions, such as life insurance, health insurance, and children’s educational needs.
Reason #4-To Share or Not to Share?
My spouse already has an attorney. Do I really need to get one too? Can’t the same lawyer represent us both? The answer is no, not really. 30 years ago when I first began practicing law, it was strictly forbidden for a lawyer to represent both sides to a divorce, no matter how “friendly” it was. There are some limited circumstances in which dual representation might be allowed, provided there is full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and a waiver of conflicts with informed consent by both parties. These situations are limited and in the event that unhappy differences or disputes should arise, the attorney must end the representation and both parties must seek new counsel. Frankly, we rarely if ever agree to dual representation. We represent our clients zealously within the bounds of the law and the conflicts in representing opposing sides are too apparent for us to agree to do so. Not only that, but if your spouse has a lawyer, that means that he/she has already sought legal advice and has some rudimentary knowledge of his/her rights, duties and responsibilities under the law.
Someone once said knowledge is power. Would you rather be the one with the knowledge (and the power) or the one without knowledge? How trusting can you be of your spouse or his/her attorney in the circumstances? Remember that your spouse’s attorney already represents your spouse. In our experience, spouses, especially those who tend to be controlling will think nothing of misrepresenting the law to gain advantage in the negotiation. Recently a client told me that her husband who remains in the marital home told her that she was now his “landlord” and therefore she could not re-enter the home without his consent and presence and that his lawyer said so. Needless to say, everything he told her was wrong. Her husband also told our client that they did not need to use lawyers and could reach an agreement on their own without lawyers. He also said that if she insisted on having her attorney review paperwork before she signed it that he would find something to disagree with on each draft to drive up her costs. Clearly he was trying to manipulate, intimidate and control his wife, who was wise to seek her own independent counsel from a knowledgeable, experienced divorce attorney.
Reason #5-Do You Feel Lucky?
Going to a court hearing in a pending divorce without a lawyer is like playing Russian Roulette. How lucky do you think you are? Would you perform surgery on yourself or would you seek out a qualified surgeon? Why do you think that you know enough to represent yourself in court? Do you know what your rights, duties and responsibilities are? The judge won’t help you out if you don’t know what you are doing. There are rules of evidence and rules of procedure that govern hearings. You need someone on your team that knows the rules of the game. You will need someone to prepare you for your testimony in court so that you don’t put your feet in your mouth up to your hip bone. You will be bound by the things that come out of your mouth in court. Recently we spoke to a man who incurred spousal and child support obligations of $4000 per month. The court issued an order based on erroneous exhibits filed by his wife’s attorney and based upon things he said in open court as to his income which were not accurate. A skilled trial attorney can get you to say things that you don’t mean to say, especially if you have not been prepared for your testimony.
Reason #6-Too Little, Too Late
Going to see a lawyer after you have already signed papers or participated in depositions or hearings pro se (representing yourself) is like closing the barn door, after the cow got out. Just because you were not represented does not mean that you can get out of a bad decision or bad deal you may have made or get out of rulings the court made when you were unrepresented. The time to get advice is before you sign. The time to get advice is before you go to court. In fact, you should get advice as soon as you receive legal notice of a pending lawsuit against you.
If you are reading this and you have already signed papers, you should still consult with a good experienced divorce attorney to have the papers explained to you and to review t he papers to see if there are any loopholes that may be used to renegotiate terms move favorably to you or to insist upon “clarification” of the agreement. The attorney can also explain the consequences of having signed the paperwork.
If you are reading this and you are in the midst of a divorce action and have been to depositions on your own, you should seek an immediate consultation with a good experienced divorce attorney to see if there is any legal basis to suppress the depositions. Be sure to take all of your documents with you to the consultation. We have seen situations where it was possible to reopen a case for a client because the depositions were taken too early. In such situations, the depositions were quashed by filing the appropriate papers under the rules of court. In your case it may be too late to do anything, but you should at least talk to a divorce attorney right away to be sure.
Reason #7-Isn’t a Lawyer a Lawyer? (A Rose by Any Other Name…)
I know a lawyer who did the closing on our house. Can’t I go to him/her for advice about separation and divorce? Yes, you could but there is a saying that if the blind lead the blind, they both fall in a ditch. Would you go to a podiatrist (foot doctor) if you had an eye infection? You could; after all, the podiatrist went to medical school and learned about the body, including the eyes. The questions are how much, if anything does he/she remember, is he/she current on the medical literature pertaining to the eye and infection, including the diagnosis and treatment of the eye? I have seen horrendous separation agreements prepared by lawyers who do not devote at least a significant portion of their practice to family law but were trying to accommodate a friend or relation in their time of need. Actually a lawyer should decline a case, if he/she does not believe that he/she has the knowledge and experience to handle it or that he/she is not willing to acquire the knowledge necessary to handle it.
It takes a significant amount of time to keep up with all of the changes in the law that affect separation and divorce. Think about it. Every week somewhere there is a court, either federal or state making a decision that could affect your situation. Every week that the legislature is in session, whether Congress or the General Assembly, they make decisions that could affect your situation. An experienced divorce attorney should make it a point to review new cases and statutes looking for those that affect family law practice; all of the best family lawyers do.
Reason #8-Prepaid Legal?
If you have paid for this service, then certainly you can talk to one of the participating attorneys. But unless the attorney is an experienced divorce lawyer with a significant portion of his/her practice devoted to separation and divorce and related issues, you should give serious consideration to looking outside of your prepaid plan. Has the lawyer written any books or articles on separation, divorce or related issues that are published? I am not a participating attorney in a pre paid legal plan. The best divorce lawyers are not participants in “prepaid” legal. To my knowledge there are no fellows (members) of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers who participate in pre paid legal services plans. If you are reading this report and have personal knowledge of an attorney who belongs to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and also belongs to a pre paid legal plan, please email us at [email protected] to report the name of the attorney so that we can verify the information and update this report.
Think about what is at stake; the custody and support of your children, and the division of assets you may have worked your entire married life to accumulate, including your home, pension, savings, military retirement and/or 401K. Do you really want to cut corners when it comes to your kids? Your home? Your pension? Your retirement?
Reason #9-A Ship Needs a Navigator
If you think of your legal case as a ship, the client is the captain of the ship and the client’s attorney is the navigator. The navigator doesn’t decide where to go, but he/she does map out the best course to arrive at the destination. Divorce is difficult, even “friendly” divorce is not easy. It can be an emotional rollercoaster. You need emotional, psychological and legal support. In choosing to separate and divorce, you will be faced with important decisions that will affect you, your spouse and your children not only now but in the foreseeable future. Passions can run hot during this difficult time and you need a clear head. You need a team of individuals including someone knowledgeable in separation and divorce law to help you see clearly and navigate the difficult and sometimes angry waters of separation and divorce.
Not having a good divorce lawyer at the planning and separation stage leaves you without the sound advice and rational third party perspective you need to make decisions which can bind you for life. Not having a good divorce lawyer at the divorce stage leaves you without the knowledge, experience and advocacy of a good experienced divorce attorney. It leaves you at the mercy of your spouse and your spouse’s attorney. Neither your spouse nor his/her attorney is there to show you mercy. You need someone to fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself. You need someone to help you understand what is gong on and how to act in the storm.
You need someone who can help you to be pro-active and not simply re-active to steps that your spouse takes. You want a team to support you, a team which can and should include your pastor, rabbi or spiritual advisor, your CPA or tax advisor, extended family, friends and a good experienced divorce attorney.
Reason #10-You Need an Advocate
You are going through a traumatic experience. Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences in life, second only to the death of a spouse. You need someone who understands what is at stake and will advocate for your interests with not only knowledge and experience but passion and feeling. When you interview attorneys, find out why they practice family law and what motivates them in advocating for clients. What is it that makes them passionate advocates? I recently spoke with another trial attorney who does not generally handle divorce work. He usually handles criminal and traffic defense and civil suits for money damages; he told me that he was forced by the poor economy to take a contested divorce case. Divorce and family law are not his first choice of trial work. He is doing it now solely for the money. Is that the motivation you would want in your attorney? Or would you rather have a lawyer who has made a conscious decision to focus on family law and uses his/her life experience such as knowing what it is like to be a child of divorce to relate to the circumstances of your case and to advocate for you with passion and conviction?

Criminal Defense – What You Should Know Before You Hire An Attorney

How to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Years ago there was a famous financial planning commercial that portrayed an average looking guy in his pajamas positioning a butter knife by his chest at the breakfast table while talking on the phone to someone explaining how to do the incision. For a brief few seconds, the screen splits to reveal the person on the other side of the phone call was a surgeon. At this point, our dumbfounded man at the breakfast table bluntly exclaims: “Shouldn’t you be doing this?” And, in doing so, noted the obvious point: we rely upon professionals to handle vital matters. In that case, surgery to those properly trained to do so. The same holds true for when your liberty is on the line. If your life or a loved one’s freedom is in peril, you need a criminal defense lawyer.
Amazingly, there are some people who, when faced with the threat of rotting within the bowels of jail, will choose to handle the matter themselves or seek the assistance of a friend who has a friend who practices some sort of law but knows the prosecutor. Meanwhile, others rightly believe they need professional help but take on the search as if they were shopping for a deal on paper towels at Walmart. This too is the wrong approach. When it comes to picking your surgeon, the man packing your parachute, or the person protecting your freedom, please do not “bargain shop”. Trust me; you will pay in the end. It is far better to pay a little more money up front than to pay with your life in the end. At the end of the day, it’s only money and, if you are free and working, you can easily earn the money you spent on your defense back but, if you go to jail the few pennies you earn a day won’t amount to much even after serving a long jail sentence.
I realize that most law abiding citizens do not have a successful criminal defense lawyer on “speed dial”. Lawyers aren’t created equally. We come in all shapes and sizes. But, there is a common misconception that graduating from law school and passing the bar exam infuses you with some form of inner knowledge that makes you capable of handling any legal matter. This simply isn’t so. Think about it, if your head hurt and you had a persistent nose bleed, would you call your dentist? Podiatrist? Probably not. Instead, you’d probably call an internal medicine doctor or a neurosurgeon because those doctors are trained for that precise problem. The same should be said for your attorney.
I am a criminal defense lawyer. As a New Orleans prosecutor, I prosecuted well over a hundred cases ranging from drug possession to murder. Now, as a defense lawyer, I am proud to handle some of the most famous state and complex federal prosecutions in our area. I do not write wills. Don’t call me about a pending bankruptcy. I have no idea how to handle those cases and I will do neither of us any favors if I use your case to learn.
Amazingly, some lawyers are so desperate for business that they put themselves out there practicing every type of law imaginable. Please be wary of any attorney proclaiming that they handle “no fault divorces”, “slip and falls” and “death penalty cases.” I’ve spent many hours, indeed years, honing my craft. The person defending your life should too. Remember the old adage “jack of all trades and master of none”? You owe it to yourself to hire a professional devoted to their area of law that you need. I believe those lawyers who seemingly take all cases do so because they need the money to pay their light bill. You will do yourself a service by staying clear of these folks.
One thing you must realize is that lawyers are salesmen. So, just like your tour through the used car lot, you must keep your guard up and not fall for gimmicky slogans and B.S. sales pitches. I suggest you sort out the real trial lawyers from the pretenders and ask the following questions:
1. Do you try cases before juries and, if so, how many have you brought to trial? Real trial lawyers try cases. Fake trial lawyers claim they try cases.
2. What experience do you have with this kind of case? Remember, all lawyers aren’t created equal. Do you really want your homicide case handled by a person specializing in traffic court? I wouldn’t want my liberty to serve as someone else’s “learning curve”!
3. What percentage of your practice is devoted to criminal defense? I’d be wary of general practitioners. I enjoy criminal defense. I know nothing about property disputes, wills, or the nuances of regulatory law. Just like you wouldn’t want me litigating your servitude rights case, you wouldn’t the town’s top divorce lawyer picking the jury for your armed robbery trial. Let’s be honest, one person cannot possibly master multiple unrelated areas of the law. There is truth in the old saying, “jack of all trade, and a master of none.”
4. What kind of access will you have to the lawyers? Some folks take your fee and disappear. I personally have no problem providing my cell phone number to a client. We assign a dedicated paralegal to every file who can answer basic questions about the case if necessary. We provide the client with copies of any pleadings that are filed in the case and promise to review the materials with them; even if they are incarcerated. This raises another point: we routinely visit with jailed clients and accept their collect phone calls. If your potential lawyer is not easily accessible, you may want to re-consider. But, at a bare minimum, you should know the level of access you will receive for your money.
5. Clearly communicate your goals. Expectations are important. If you have a desired outcome in mind then it is imperative you communicate that to your lawyer. A disaster will occur if you desire a dismissal of charges but the lawyer is thinking “quick guilty plea.” Be clear. And, expect the lawyer to advise you whether your goal is realistic. Please, keep in mind, that some folks out there will say anything in order to get your money. If any grandiose claims are made, demand that they be placed into writing. I promise you’ll see some quick back peddling. Please note: no lawyer can guarantee outcomes.
If your potential lawyer engages in any of these activities, leave immediately:
1. The Guarantee: No lawyer can guarantee an outcome. Countless families have hired our firm after originally engaging an attorney who said, “pay me x, and Mr. Client will get out of jail.” If it were only that simple. When you hear those words, demand the promise be placed into writing along with a clause for a full refund if the promise cannot be fulfilled.
2. No receipts or Scope letters: Be wary of any lawyer not willing to outline the precise scope of their representation and the fees involved. If you do not get a commitment on scope and fees, please do not act surprised when requests for more cash keep coming and you are left to feel that the case is not progressing as you anticipated. Also, be highly suspicious of any lawyer who will not provide you with a receipt for payment accurately reflecting the balance owed. Any lawyer refusing to do so is probably a lawyer who pockets cash “off the books.” Our firm gives receipts and reports every penny earned in fees. We don’t believe in “high interest loans from the IRS.”
3. Solicitation: It is unethical for any lawyer to directly solicit your business. Advertising is permitted but is subject to stringent regulations and scrutiny. A lawyer cannot call you or knock on your door saying ‘I know you were arrested and I can help.” If this happens, slam the door or hang up the phone. This conduct will get the lawyer disbarred. Also, think about it, if a lawyer is willing to engage in an unethical practice to get your business, what quality of representation do you think you will receive?
4. Promotes Influence: Any lawyer that heavily focuses their practice on criminal law will be familiar with the prosecutors and judges. We know them all. There is nothing special about that. Please do not be misled by “I know the Judge” or “the prosecutor and I are friends”. I do not know a judge or prosecutor willing to do anything illegal to help your case. Any suggestion to the contrary is a federal crime for bribery and public corruption. At best, knowing the prosecutor and judge will provide background information on how they handle similar cases and resolve the important legal issues. Nothing more. So, don’t be fooled by attorneys who brag about being golf buddies with the judge.
The bottom line is that you owe it to yourself to go and get the best criminal defense attorney you can afford if you are under investigation. Be wary of people making “pie in the sky” promises and make sure you communicate your expectations. Most people should be able to find quality representation at an affordable price. Once your list of candidates narrowed, you should lean towards choosing from those qualified lawyers with whom he feel comfortable. After all, you must trust this person and the advice they give. Your life depends on it.

Jazz: The Growth of Contemporary Jazz Music

Born in the early 20th century in African American cultures, jazz is a musical style that has developed and evolved all different genres of music. Dating from early 1910s to the 1990s, jazz has contributed to the growth of music. Sparking a rise to a variety of music styles, the spread of jazz across the world influenced trends from early New Orleans Dixieland styles to Latin Afro-Cuban even playing a part in the development of funk and hip hop in the 1990s.
Aside from playing a part in the growth of sub-genres, jazz within itself has been influenced by a variety of musical genres. Most commonly the trends of R&B, funk, rock, and pop music styles helped shape jazz fusion into what we know to be smooth jazz. With tracks of encoded rhythms and down-tempo beats, smooth jazz is often confused with styling of contemporary(urban) jazz music. A modern growth is urban jazz, which slot in aspects of hip-hop; which is intended for listeners who would normally listen to radio stations that play an assortment of hip-hop and R&B. While smooth jazz is soft and mellow is content; contemporary jazz music is blunter and grabs the attention of its listeners.
Among the players who commonly perform this style of jazz are Dave Koz, Boney James, Paul Jackson Jr., Nick Colionne, Bobby Perry, Urban Jazz Coalition, Streetwize, and Tha’ Hot Club. As well as other contemporary jazz artists such as Bob Baldwin, Michael Lington, Brian Bromberg, David Lanz, Bobby Ricketts, Kim Waters, Daniele Caprelli, Ken Navarro, Walter Beasley, and Peter White. As popularity for late night radio airplay throughout the years grew; doors where open for contemporary jazz music artist like Kenny G, David Sanborn, the late George Howard, George Benson, Marc Antoine, Bradley Joseph and contemporary jazz flautist Najee. These jazz musicians had a tendency to play their instruments in at such a harmonious frequency that it was rare for the measures to go un-noticeable.
The contemporary jazz radio arrangement, which commonly played fifteen-minute sets involving instrumentals wrapping a vocal song or two continued to grow and flourish over the 1990s and early 2000s. In the late 2000s, most markets began losing contemporary jazz stations and in a variety of media markets, this arrangement does no longer exist over the air except online or on HD Radio.
By 2017, as contemporary jazz remained on its persistent decline on the syndicated radio airwaves, an increasing number of non-commercial stations have grown an interest in the music and began to add it to their programming.
More recently contemporary jazz music downloads, in opposition to radio, has been at high volumes on iTunes. If you find these artist to be of interest, Richard Brown is must have in your collection.

Rap Music – The New Frontier? HipHopology 101

ROLL CALL
During the early to mid ’70s, visionaries like Kool DJ Herc introduced new ideas to the way music was played. Like some other music-loving ‘bredren and sistren’ along with myself, Kool DJ Herc was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Following the footsteps of Jamaicans that came before him, he relocated to the Bronx, NYC and took root. With a sound system like no other, there was always a party when Herc spun records. Folks from all city boroughs showed up, and brought their friends. Most of them had never experienced anything like Herc’s thunder in the clubs or at ‘block parties,’ where he was a hometown favorite. There’ll be more on these unique, social gatherings a little later. Kool DJ Herc was one of those cats that was thinking outside the box for a long time, and inspired other DJs to follow suit. Everywhere Herc touched down, he left a distinctive mark imprinted in the minds, bodies, and souls of music lovers in and around the vicinity.
Afrika Bambaataa was homegrown in the Bronx. He is best-known for taking the radical, independent factions of the Hip-Hop lifestyle and organizing it all into an urban music society…and for being the first rapper, ever. In 1984, he worked on the song “Unity” with the recently departed Godfather of Soul, James Brown. (We’re gonna miss ya, ‘Soul Brother #1.’) By mixing block parties with DJs and break-dancers, he synergized all the varying entities of Hip-Hop through his Zulu Nation. The Zulus educated inner-city youth about their history and empowered them to be productive citizens. His ears were open to all types of music as he became a catalyst for blending rhythmic styles from Africa with Funk, Go-Go, Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Salsa and Soca for the first time in music history.
Bambaataa’s affiliations included the Rock Steady Crew and Double Dutch Girls. There was also a spray-painting graffiti artist who parlayed his love for ‘visual art’ into being the host of a popular show that engaged the minds of America’s Black and White youth. It ended up changing Rap music history all over the world. Now with a ‘retired’ can of spray paint, Yo MTV Raps’ Fab 5 Freddy was also a key player in the classic film, “New Jack City.” There’ll be more on that captured moment in time a little later, after we finish up with Afrika Bambaataa (& friends), and dig further into the chapter: there’s some real meat in thar! That’s what’s up.
Afrika Bambaataa became a major music producer in his own right. He spent a lot of time logged in at Tommy Boy Records between 1982 and 2017. While there, he produced a huge hit for the New York club and radio scene, 1982’s “Funky Sensation.” To me, that song defined a new era of music for both myself and the City of New York. “Funky Sensation” helped to establish a path that many dance music producers followed, well into the new millennium. Another historical Rap label that Bambaataa put some time in with was Profile Records.
Profile was the home of a trio that made music history: Run-DMC and the late Jam Master Jay. Their chronicles defined the next wave of Hip-Hop and fashion by way of brimmed Fedoras, leather pants, blues jeans, and unlaced, Adidas sneakers. During the winter, they sported snorkels with fur around the hood. In New York winters of the 70s, we sported hats like Kangols (still popular) and ‘Robin Hoods'(with side feathers) on the dome. Some folks liked toboggins and ski caps for their ‘masking’ feature. Brooklyn later picked up a pseudonym–Crooklyn. Our 70s fashion also consisted of colorful silk shirts (Versace predecessors), polyester pants with stitched pleats running down the sides called Swedish Knits, and bell-bottom blue jeans with zippers at the foot.
Squares (L-7’s) wore no name ‘rejects,’ but our popular footwear included Converse All-Stars, red, black and green Pro Keds, Pumas (my favorite were rust-colored), PONY’s, and shell-toe Adidas. We had interesting acronyms for the latter two brands. “I could tell you, but…” you know the story. Looking back now, I notice that Adidas kept the same body style longer than the Ford Explorer did! My New York winter-wear included snorkels, sheepskins, leathers, ‘Maxie’ and ‘Cortefiel’ coats with soft fur on the collar; they were the rage. People got stuck up (ganked) for them, too. I once witnessed someone grab a friend’s hat right off his head – as the train doors closed (this guy was quick!)
Some of my ‘classic’ garments are still intact: a black Robin Hood hat with a now-wilted side feather, a colorful, winged (big collar) polyester shirt with a Disco theme on the front, my sky-blue high school graduation three-piece suit, ‘Mack’ full-length Maxie coat (it looked good; mom made it), and black Cortefiel coat are all stashed somewhere around Area 51. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with them, but my coats still have fur around the collar. Does “E.T.W.” (Extra Terrestrial Wear) sound catchy to you? Let’s check in with ‘Rush’ (Phat Farms), ‘P-D’ (Sean John), ‘J to the Z’ and ‘Double D’ (RocaWear), ‘Fiddy’ (G-Unit), and WTC (Wu Wear) for the final answer.
I’m being told to nix the trip down memory lane and stick to the script, so it’s back to the original ‘bad boys’ of 80s Rap. Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay opened up Pandora’s box with their classic hit “Rock Box.” I got a premonition of what was around the corner for Rock and Rap early on: sampled ‘guitar crunches’ fused with ‘dem phat Hip-Hop beats, boyee!’ Then the crystal ball revealed something else to me – up jumped Def Jam Recordings, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, all using overdriven guitar sounds riding along with the big, deep 808 beat that caused car trunks (and the inside of your body) to vibrate.
Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay un-laced their Adidas and went on to re-make Rock group Aerosmith’s classic “Walk This Way,” then invited the original rockers to get in on it. Along the way, Run-DMC sold a ‘few million’ records. In the background was one Russell Simmons, pushing buttons on his remote control. Then he got a cellphone. But before groups like Run-DMC made it to the game, there was one of the first major league rappers–Afrika Bambaataa. Oh yeah; along with his group The Soulsonic Force, Bambaataa fired off a ground-breaking shot remembered as being ‘most strategically launched’ from the annals of New York’s urban jungle.
When the classic “Planet Rock” hit Billboard’s charts (it hit the year 1982 in a BIG way too), the song considerably changed music history. It used a similar robotic, vocoder-like sound as the one found in Kraftwerk’s smash “Trans-Europe Express.” “Planet Rock” was a smorgasbord of cool electronic sounds and Hip-Hop beats. Meshed together with samples from other records, it captured the attention of music lovers caught dancing to the non-stop, funky sensation of this incredible new beat. Afrika Bambaataa’s Electro-Funk style went on to influence the sound of music styles like Dance, Electronic, House, and Techno. If a sound system exists anywhere in the galaxy, I predict that “Planet Rock” will rock it. In the meantime, you can listen out for this classic hit on Internet radio, satellite radio, broadcast radio, clubs and dance parties everywhere. ‘Nuff said–next!
Creative minds of legendary pioneers such as Russell “Rush” Simmons, Eddie Cheeba, Spoonie G, Lovebug Starski, The Juice Crew, Marley Marl, MC Shan and D.J. Hollywood are also among those credited as being key leaders in the surge that brought Rap music and Hip-Hop culture to mainstream society. Many people may think the Sugar Hill Gang was one of a few initiating forces in Rap, but there were actually many other hot acts out there grinding to earn their dues
–like those affiliated with Rush Productions. Rush was building a name for itself as a music promotion company to be noticed. I’ll expound upon the meteoric rise of the dynamic institution which followed this event shortly thereafter.
With affiliations everywhere and credits that include the timely debut of Hip-Hop players like Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Scott La Rock, DJ Red Alert, and countless other faces hidden in the trenches, Rush was on a mission to conquer the world. The first-generation of Rap and Hip-Hop spawned a godfather, Russell Simmons, in addition to all these other creative talents. Collectively and in unison, they helped to centralize the cultural origins and sound of this music for an evolving world. The second-generation leaders of this new movement would include Russell’s little brother Joseph, who along with Darryl McDaniels and the late Jason Mizell, made up Run-DMC: the first artists of their kind to go platinum by selling a million Rap records on Profile Records. This was just the beginning; Def Jam Recordings was on the way.
Now let’s connect the dots with Sugar Hill: Back in 1957, a group called Mickey & Sylvia recorded a Bo Diddley song, “Love Is Strange.” Guitarist Mickey Baker and a vocalist named Sylvia Vanderpool established themselves in the music market as a potential hit-making duo. In 1964, Sylvia married a man named Joe Robinson. Their union led to the formation of a legacy that wouldn’t play itself fully out until the Rap craze hit. In 1973, Sylvia rolled the dice and released a huge hit, “Pillow Talk.” This song established a format that would be followed straight into the Disco heydays. Originally written for Al Green, his pass became Sylvia’s score when it tallied up a #1 R&B and #3 Pop hit. “Pillow Talk” was a sexy song that featured lots of heavy breathing, whispers, sighs and moans. It’s reminiscent of Donna Summer’s classic hit, “Love to Love You Baby.”
Sylvia Robinson synergized her abilities as a singer, musician, producer, and record executive to take her whole game to another level. As a key player at All Platinum Records, she had a hand in Shirley & Company’s 1975 hit “Shame Shame Shame.” This became a top dance song, and hit #12 on the Pop charts. By 1979, Englewood, New Jersey’s Sugar Hill Gang busted a big move by releasing a classic, “Rapper’s Delight.” In the background were Sylvia, Joe, and their Sugar Hill Record label. Passing their genes on to son Joey, Sugar Hill’s West Street Mob went on to release hits like “Ooh Baby” and “Sing A Simple Song/Another Muther For Ya.” Other aces in the deck included groups called The Sequence and The Funky 4+1. They scored a few hits with “Funk You Up,” “Simon Says,” and “That’s the Joint,” which used a nice sample from my girl Cheryl Lynn’s song “Got To Be Real.” We’ll be taking her song apart and putting it back together again in another chapter of this book series, “What Is A Song.”
Using finance money from Roulette Records chief Morris Levy (you can find out more about this guy in the book “Hit Men”–a highly-recommended favorite of mine. “I could tell you more, but…” You know the drill. As Sugar Hill grew, so did its artist roster, with the addition of Grandmaster Flash and his collective unit, The Furious Five. Although the Sugar Hill owners paid up a big balance and purchased the remaining interest in their company by the early 80’s, things began to sour for them: a deal with MCA Records died and a fire toasted their legendary studio. The label eventually shut it doors by 1986.
Almost 10 years later, retail-friendly Rhino Records picked up the Sugar Hill catalog and resuscitated the masters in the same way that they’ve done with many other lost or obscure masters. Through creative re-packaging, Rhino went on to revitalize the music (and some careers) of artists that were probably still waiting on royalties from the previous owners of their master recordings. The Sugar Hill Gang, West Street Mob and Sequence all have been released on various Sugar Hill compilations. An interesting occurrence after the Sugar Hill assault was the massive availability of the sequencer, drum machine, synthesizer, sampler and MIDI around the early 80s.
‘Creatives’ and ‘infamists’ among the likes of Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, The Bomb Squad and producer Marley Marl locked themselves up in ‘Big Apple laboratories’ coming up with the next lethal mix of sound. When released, Def Jam and the ‘Sound of Marl’ quickly put music listeners into a ‘yoke’ as concoctions they whipped up became highly potent chemicals on the proverbial ‘periodic music table of elements’ upon hitting the airwaves; through radio station, mobile and club DJs. I cannot over-emphasize it enough: ‘BIG UPS’ to these guys! After the creative synergy of vocalists, musicians and producers, DJs are credited as being one of the most direct pipelines to exciting new music. You should take note that “DJ” makes up the initials of Def Jam. Now let’s keep the record playing; teacher’s not through with today’s lesson yet…
Independent labels like Profile, Sugar Hill, Priority, 4th. & Broadway and Tommy Boy scooped up young, talented Hip-Hop artists. Major labels like Columbia, Epic, MCA, Mercury and Warner Brothers got an early jump on the game as they formed alliances with Rap labels and artists. Moves like these were executed through street-savvy labels like Def Jam. It grew into the premier, multi-faceted music conglomerate of the century. Started in a college dorm room, Def Jam is now managed from a corporate boardroom, and worth hundreds of millions.
Founder Russell Simmons parted from his share of the company in 1999, after the Universal Music Group made him a $100 million offer that he couldn’t refuse. We’re not talking pesos here, folks! Let’s breeze through a few landmark events regarding Def Jam Recordings: In 1983, the company was founded by Russell, who was called “Rush” when he was business partners with one Rick Rubin. Before this form of osmosis occurred, Simmons ‘did the business’ behind pioneers like Kurtis Blow, the first Rap artist with a major record deal. He signed on with Mercury Records; it was a part of the PolyGram distribution machine. The label went on to forge a long-lasting relationship with Kurtis Blow, Russell ‘Rush’ Simmons, and his growing company.
In spring of 1984, I began a two season internship with Def Jam’s distributor. By fall quarter, I was a college rep. During Def Jam’s first decade, I marketed and promoted every record released through the pipeline. This included music by the distributor’s affiliated Epic label. Epic was born to CBS Records (a division of CBS, Inc.) during the early 50s. It was a cute little Classical/Jazz label and grew to be a strong, healthy major label with many active body parts (Rock, R&B, Country). Epic picked up other siblings. One of them was T-Neck Records. An influential Soul/R&B/Funk collective of the 50s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond the new millennium terrain, The Isley Brothers ran a music empire tucked inside this fully-functional sibling unit’s clothes. And bank account–let’s call it a budget.
Another sibling was Portrait Records. By the 80’s, Portrait had sold millions of records by major stars like Cyndi Lauper, Sade and Stanley Clarke. Since Epic was the oldest kid, it acquired a firm place in history as the foundation that supported the throne of none other than the King of Pop music, Michael Jackson. As a matter of fact, the former lead singer of Motown’s Jackson Five actively participated (along with wildly colorful CBS Records group president Walter Yetnikoff) in the disbursement of CBS’ unwanted offspring (CBS Records, Inc.) to the Sony Corporation in 1988. By 2004, Sony Music Entertainment had consolidated its monster Columbia and Epic labels, then merged with another major record label: BMG. On the Internet, iTunes was selling millions of digital downloads. But that’s a story for later. Stay tuned.
Def Jam product began flowing through shortly after I jumped in the big game to see if I could swim. I witnessed the music of many groundbreaking artists ‘rushed’ through the system. Notable executives like Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles entered the fold, as promoters like Wes Johnson and Johnnie Walker locked down efforts to turn the airwaves into ‘Def Jam radio.’ Def Jam became one of the hottest commodities in distribution by the other major label within a major label.
This record company made its mark by using a red trademark on the product it manufactured. Columbia Records was the big brother of Def Jam: the hottest Rap label in the Hip-Hop market. Def Jam had million-selling acts like LL Cool J, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, and later arrivals like DMX, then Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records. Columbia, also known as “Big Red,” was owned by music giant CBS Records. By 1991, CBS Records was purchased by the Sony Corporation for some $2 billion that I’ll say came out of the ‘petty cash fund’ (they had OLD money, and plenty of it). CBS Records later became Sony Music Entertainment. If you haven’t guessed already (where’ve you been?), here’s a prediction: you’ll read about more adventures with ‘the firm’ as we move along.
Between all of this ‘promoting’ (as a college rep), I managed getting an introduction to Russell Simmons at a Jack The Rapper convention in Atlanta by Columbia’s national director of Black music promotion, Miss Mike Bernardo, who is such a sweet lady. At this time, she was next in line to the vice-president of Columbia’s national promotion department: Vernon Slaughter and Mike Bernardo were responsible for the overall performance of Columbia’s Black radio and club promotion department. Vernon later became one of Atlanta’s top power brokers. He was LaFace Record’s first general manager, personally signing artists like Toni Braxton to the label. He later became a key player at a law firm headed up by powerhouse entertainment lawyer Joel Katz, and was the legal muscle behind many artist deals, movie soundtracks and no telling what else!
As vice-president and national director respectively, Vernon and Mike implemented the national strategies set forth by Columbia. The staff consisted of dozens of regional promotion people strategically placed in key American cities. Throughout my career at the label Vernon, Mike, and the promotion people I knew showed me plenty of love, and were first-class players in the game, too. Not long after Def Jam’s arrival, I became an account service rep, then a Black music marketing rep for Sony’s southeast regional branch in Atlanta. I doubt if there was any connection. Anyway, Def Jam left Sony for PolyGram in 1994 (also the year that I parted company with Sony and launched a recording studio); that same year, PolyGram purchased 50% of Sony’s holdings in Def Jam.
By 1996, PolyGram bought another 10%, and in 1998 the Universal Music Group (UMG) acquired PolyGram Group Distribution (PGD) to become the world’s biggest record label. After a series of major operational changes, longtime staffers Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles severed ties with Def Jam, which by now had grown to include other hot labels like Atlanta-based Def Jam South (headed up by The Geto Boys’ Mr. Scarface), Disturbing Tha Peace (Ludacris), Def Soul, Jay-Z, Damon Dash and Roc-A-Fella. Though DMX’s product was released through Def Jam, his Ruff Ryders crew got a label deal with Interscope. In the post Cohen/Liles era, former LaFace/Arista big-wig L.A. Reid re-appeared at the helm of the big ship. Then, multi-platinum rapper Jay-Z became the new chief of Def Jam (now part of Island Def Jam Music Group), proving that he too, could do what Rap music guru Russell Simmons’ legendary rapper Kurtis Blow said he wanted to do: ‘Rule The World.’
The future of Def Jam included plans for more affiliations with labels like Atlanta’s Slip-N-Slide Records (Ying Yang Twins). Atlanta was now a city on the move, and Simmons made it a frequent stop on his international itinerary. From Rush Productions and Kurtis Blow to Def Jam, OBR and Rush Associated Labels, to Rush Communications and Phat Farms, the Visa ‘Rush Card,’ a beautiful model-wife and kids, to astronomic amounts of future cash flow, Russell Simmons demonstrated his ability to serve as the Rap game’s foremost guiding hand…and ‘head of the household,’ too. He was the proverbial captain of a ship, navigating through those often-bumpy waters of the constantly shifting Rap/Hip-Hop industry. Def Jam Recordings became an extraordinary multimedia company because of a determined visionary’s ability to reach out and touch people– through the power of Rap music and the Hip-Hop culture. Simply put, none of these entities could be spoken of without mention of the great and powerful, “Mr. Rush.”

SoundTaxi Media Suite

What is SoundTaxi Media Suite
SoundTaxi Media Suite is a set of 5 software products into a single package (5-in-1). It includes an Audio and Video converter, a web video downloader, a music downloader, a DVD copier and a Web radio recorder. The set includes as we said 5 different tools which are:
• SoundTaxi Media Converter
• RipTiger Online Video Downloader
• GetRadio Internet Radio Recorder
• TuneGet Music Downloader
• 1Step DVD Copier.
Those tools will cover all your multimedia needs without having to look for standalone products. The software is simple to use, even for the beginner, and the entire set is 64% cheaper compared to the total price you would pay if you purchased the products separately.
Tools included in SoundTaxi Media Suite
SoundTaxi Media Converter
With SoundTaxi Media Converter you can convert videos and music into any other format without any restrictions. You can now play all your songs and movies on iPod, any other MP3 player, CD player, mobile phone or PC – without any problem. SoundTaxi Media Converter converts video files and music from iTunes, Zune, Napster, Yahoo music, MSN Music etc.
RipTiger Online Video Downloader
RipTiger lets you download online videos from sites such as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, MySpace, MetaCafe, Daily Motion and many other sites. You’ll be able to convert the downloaded videos into popular formats such as MPEG2, WMV, AVI and more that will work on your PC as well as your iPhone, PSP, or other portable device. RipTiger is able to download more formats than any other software available.
GetRadio Internet Radio Recorder
With GetRadio, you can listen to web internet radio on 25,000 radio stations. Listen to classic rock, pop, jazz, electronic, hip hop, blues, rap, disco, country, pop and much more. Select the music genre or the station and GetRadio legally records songs with no loss of quality. You can even select specific artists to record.
TuneGet Music Downloader
TuneGet lets you search and download free music. It takes just 2 simple steps and downloads take only seconds. You can even find songs that you can’t remember the exact title or the artist! TuneGet has an amazingly large database and includes just about any music genre. It’s legal to use and there are no subscription fees.
1Step DVD Copier/Ripper
1Step DVD lets you easily convert DVD to iPod, DivX, iPhone and many other formats. You can even back up your DVDs to other DVD disks or to your PC without losing quality.

John Clayton Mayer

John Clayton Mayer was born on October 16, 1977 at Bridgeport, Connecticut to Margaret and Richard Mayer. The middle child of three siblings, his two brothers are named Ben and Carl. He attended Fairfield Warde High School and Brien McMahon High school in Norwalk, Connecticut. For his junior year, he wanted something more in his life. Thus enrolling in the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High school where he was sent to Japan as an exchange student. There he learned about their culture and language.
As a child, Mayer wasn’t into music. He can play the clarinet but making a career was far from his mind. But watching Michael J. Fox perform “Johnny Be Goode” in the movie “Back to the Future”, he soon began to appreciate music. His next door neighbour lends him various jazz and blues tapes and one from Stevie Ray Vaughn which he began listening over and over. Soon enough, he was able to learn and play the guitar at the tender age of 13. By 16, John Mayer was performing at clubs. In his senior year, he joined a band called Villanova Junction. But he did not stay for long.
Mayer enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston after High school but dropped out after a year feeling that his classes no longer challenged him. He’d rather play and write music, not study them. He chose to cut his studies short and move to Atlanta, Georgia where he started playing at local clubs and started making demos and sending out copies. He was starting to build a fan base in Atlanta in clubs such as Eddie’s Attic.
John Mayer released his first EP in 1999 entitled, “Inside Wants Out”. A year later his breakthrough CD was released. “Room for Squares” featured smash hits including “No Such Thing” (which spawned from a conversation he had with his mom!). By 2000, John was signed with Columbia Records, which re-released “Room for Squares” and made him a multi-platinum artist.
In 2003, he won his first ever Grammy for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance” for his ever popular “Your Body is a Wonderland”. He also released his first concert DVD “Any Given Thursday” that same year. The concert was recorded at the Oak Amphitheatre in Birmingham, Alabama.
On September 9th 2003, he released his second much anticipated album called “Heavier Things” and on 2005, bagged him the “Song of the Year” Grammy for his song “Daughters” beating contenders such as Kanye West and Alicia Keys. He also won “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance” for the second time.
John Mayer has done a number of collaborations. Rubbing elbows with music big hits such as Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, BB King, and John Scofield. He was even lucky enough to tour with Herbie Hancock for a show at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. To date, John Mayer is on of the most respected guitarists of our time and many musicians look up to him, old and young alike. He even gained respect from hip-hop artists like Kayne West. Everyone wants a piece of this incredible talent.
In the spring of 2004, he formed the John Mayer Trio with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan, two of the most respected musicians in the industry, Jordan being a legendary producer and Palladino as one of the band members of The Who. The trio plays a combination of Rock and Blues music. They released their live album called TRY! in November 2005 and began touring in sold out concert venues around the country. The album includes songs such as “Vultures” and “Who Did You Think I Was?” which made a statement that this band is serious in their blues and rock roots. Though the trio is now defunct after announcing the end of their performance in the Tempe Music Festival in March 2006, their music will still be remembered as one of the best.
For his new album “Continuum”, Mayer promises a different approach to his music, and producer Steve Jordan adds it will still be in the lines of their trio style which combines signature pop, with the feel, sound and groove of blues music. Mayer’s album release is set on September 12th. His first single, “Waiting on the World to Change” debuted on his website on MySpace last July 11th. The song was the most downloadable single on iTunes that week and ranked number 25 in the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, proving that he still has it after a long hiatus from recording this album.”Continuum” was released in September 12, 2017.
John Mayer also enjoys blogging. A hobby he picked up after creating a profile page in MySpace. He updates this regularly and shares his thoughts to all his fans and enjoys promoting other artists he likes listening to. He also revamped his website and now it’s the flagship version.  You can also see his latest posts in the blog section.
As of press time, John Mayer is touring the US and across the globe to promote his latest album and spreading the good music of Blues in his own point of view. The tour kicks off this year in January 25th in Jacksonville, Florida.