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It's funny.  Laugh.


You might remember the story a few months ago about the 15-year-old stock manipulator, who pumped and dumped stocks on message boards full of gullible idiots. Now the NYT Magazine has a story that is even better - that legal professional answering your questions about criminal law? Maybe he's a 15-year-old too.
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  • by jbuhler ( 489 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:28PM (#84660) Homepage
    Mr. Demara... Mr. Ferdinand Demara... please call your office.
  • Well, free as in the way fixing your own plumbing or building your own addition to your house is free. It's not "free" it's just that you don't have to shell out money for labor since you're supplying the labor. Now, if you work for free then I suppose the tech support you provide for your software is free also. Personally I put a valuation on my time and consider whether it's worth it to do the job myself or spend the money to have someone else do it. To me, for example, I'm willing to pay for some grease monkey to do an oil change on my car because I'd rather not crawl under it and deal with it. To others they'd rather pay someone to fix their computers because they don't want to be bothered with it. They want to type reports, browse the web, etc. When it breaks they use the wonderful system of capitalism to barter services from another person with money. When you need a lawyer you give money to the lawyer to provide their services. When the lawyer needs an accountant, they give money to the accountant, and so on. It's a wonderful system we have here.
  • Personally I'd rather just see some kind of top 10 laws that everybody should learn in school from a very early age. Maybe sum them up into even less like:
    1. Don't kill
    2. Don't lie
    3. Don't steal

    I think those 3 laws could just about cover ever major crime in existence. Everyone should know these rules and respect them. Any other law is fluff and can safely be ignored with the defense of ignorance.
  • It is rather amazing that at this time, none of the top rated comments suggest that their authors have even read the NYT article in question.

    In fact, it is depressing.


  • Point taken and you're correct. It was not my intent to say that you can't gain on the job experience, that's perfectly legitimate.

    What concerns me are the people that come from way out in left field. Maybe they've read a book or two or in this particular case they've watched some "educational" tv, and suddenly they're giving advice or (even worse) portraying themselves as something they aren't. That doesn't mean that these people don't have anything to contribute, nor that their opinions have no value, you just don't want to rely on what they say without checking it out, just as the professionals checked your code. Very often there are complexities or complications that a novice simply will not know about and that can be where they get into big trouble (or make the next big discovery if they are really lucky).

  • The quote from the article "the Internet undermined anyone whose status depended on a privileged access to information" is quite profound. If a 15 year old can provide the same answers as a laywer, what's the difference?

    I agree that universal access to information is possibly the most significant contribution of the internet. However, what concerns me greatly as an educator is that having access to information doesn't necessarily mean that you have the skills, the experience, or the maturity to apply it properly. I have worked with a couple of high school students, as bright as they come, but almost weekly they come in with some tidbit that they pulled off the internet that is dubious at best or downright dangerous at worst (not necessarily because the information is wrong, although sometimes it is, other times it's just incomplete), and these kids just don't know any better, and how could they?

    So I guess what I'm saying here is that information can take you far, but I wouldn't hire an engineer to build a bridge or go to a surgeon that claimed they learned everything they needed to know off of a website or on tv.

    Having access to information is great and I believe it's a good thing, but we have to be teaching people (not just kids) how to use that information responsibly so they don't hurt themselves or others.

  • I think here people would be surprised to find out that someone answering their question *is* a legal professional and not a 15-year-old. The only time I've seen a post that claimed to be from a lawyer, it started, "I am a lawyer, but this shouldn't be taken as professional legal advice."
  • Hey Grammar Nazi - slashdot hasn't been around for 5 years yet!
  • For six months, I suffered from an eye disorder that left me nearly blind in one eye. The retinal specialist that my HMO assigned me to had a degree from Harvard. His technical terms for my symptoms were Cystoid Macular Edema and Vitritis. However, he could not diagnose the cause. For six months he failed to treat me because he didn't know what I had. Finally I went to another specialist who diagnosed me with Intermediate Uveitis.
    I have permenant damage to my vision because the professional was not as capable as this search on Google [] From now on I'm comparing all my medical advise to what Dr. Google says.
  • No one said anything about "these days," but sure, let's run with that.

    First, there are plenty of parents doing a fine job. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who might go by the name of "parent" but who are, really, just owners.

    Like that woman who "forgot" her infant in her car for the entire fucking day, leaving it parked out in the sun and roasting her baby. She was no parent: she was a child *owner.*

    Or every goddamn "parent" that owns a child that they don't read to. If there is *one* significant factor in influencing how your child will do in school, it's reading to them. No, all too many child-owners don't read to their children: they sit them down in front of the effing television babysitter.

    Or all those child-owners who don't discipline -- and please getta clue and realise that "discipline" has a meaning that has nothing to do with beating the shit out of a child -- their children. No, they engage in loosey-goosey bullshit where their child gets to make all sorts of moral and life decisions on their own. As if we come with a built-in sense of right and wrong!

    There are all those child-owners who tell their children to live their life one way, but demonstrate a completely different lifestyle. "Don't steal, Johnny. Oh, look, the clerk didn't charge me for this!" "Don't start fights, Sally. GET YOUR FUCKING CAR OFF THE ROAD YOU STUPID SLOW BITCH! And always be nice to others, Sally."

    Parents? Hah! An all-too-rare breed these days, Karm. Child ownership is where it's at. You get to spooge your genes forward into the next generation, but you don't actually have to take any responsibility for it!

    It's a sick culture we're currently living in.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:53PM (#84670) Homepage
    * Play fair.
    * Don't hit people.
    * Put things back where you found them.
    * Clean up your own mess.
    * Don't take things that aren't yours.
    * Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
    * Wash your hands before you eat.
    * Live a balanced life.
    * Take a nap in the afternoon.
    * Be aware of wonder.

    And basically, it's true. Kindergarten is when you become a social human being. A good kindergarten teacher will train you to be a good adult.

    Unfortunately, these days, the parents then go and fuck it all up.

  • Obviously, you wouldn't encourage your staff to learn this way on production servers/nuclear reactors/airplanes/medical patients/etc, but yes, it does work. One of the big barriers to learning is fear and being intimidated by the material and/or the setting. If you pretend you're already enculturated in that setting, you will remove the big barriers to learning.

    The brain's bandwidth is only going to be limited by your emotional filters, so just remove them when you need to learn. It's your brain, why not learn to use it!
  • Does this guy look 15?

    Its hard to tell IQ from a photogragh...

  • anyone know what to do if you get sued by someone after giving them bogus legal advice while claiming to be an expert?

    Am I to assume you find yourself in this situation? Well, I am not a lawyer either, but here's some non-expert advice:

    1. Hire a real lawyer;
    2. Bend over and grab your ankles;
    3. Don't be in a hurry to stand up - a lot of people will want a piece of you.
  • by elflord ( 9269 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @08:08PM (#84674) Homepage
    It's sort of like a generalized Turning test. If something can perfectly immitate an x, shouldn't it should be considered equivalent to an x?

    In a nutshell, no. The problem is that of determining "perfect imitation". The Turing test has this very problem, and its biggest weakness is human gullibility. This particular example has a similar problem -- (moving to the Turing test analogy) the "interrogators" are not legal experts and hence not immediately able to observe bad answers. This is partly because they may not ask the right questions, and partly because they don't know how to identify a wrong answer.

  • But you have the time and patience to post to Slashdot just to mention that?
  • Does this [] guy look 15?
    No. More like 250.

    Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.

  • Yes, "experts" are needed. But not for everything. And sometimes it is the experienced uneducated who keep those experts from hurting themselves. Why is it that the former get nearly all the prestige?

    It's a matter of availability: if there were ten engineers for every welder, guess who would be the star? Availability itself is dependent of many factors, but I think you {know|can guess} most of them yourself.

  • by nebby ( 11637 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:36PM (#84678) Homepage
    Having a MSCE or an A+ does mean shit in the grand scheme of things. You're a fool to think it simply has no significance. You may argue that someone without a MCSE, for example, may be more qualified for a position than someone with.. but you cannot say it doesn't mean "shit" if you have one.

    Would you prefer nobody was formally trained, tested, and certified in professional practices? Perhaps we should all just drop out of school and jump on the 'net to learn the things we need to know.

    Besides, I'd bet old Marcus would never be able to hold his own in court. It takes more than just knowledge of the law to be a good lawyer, just like it takes more than C++ knowledge to be a good coder. It comes down to not just knowledge, but experience. It comes down to not just experience in the thing you're doing (law, C++ coding) but also in life in general. This could mean how to interact with people, how to work as part of a team (which involves knowing your and your coworkers limitations and expertise) among other things. A 15 year old has no experience and no education in the finer points of law, and that is exactly what you're paying for.

    The reason Marcus was able to pull off what he did, I'd hypothesize, is not because he has an incredible understanding of the law, but because he is one of the (many) people who have the talent to tell people what they want to hear and inherently understand the psychology of answering questions. I bet Marcus would make a hell of a Slashdot troll. Mix in a little bit of "Court TV" knowledge where it applies, and blammo, instant at-home lawyer. We just see the lawyer and the stock broker, but how many other 15 year olds with Marcus' skill are out there pulling off the alternative life as experts in car maintenence, cooking, and other less jaw-dropping fields? Looking at slashdot, you can see there are many 15 year olds who pass themselves off, occasionally successfully, as DBAs or sysadmins.. though they're weeded out quickly because 1) This is a tech site and 2) The Internet is a tech phenomenon. The same couldn't be said of our 15-year-old online gourmet chef.

    Legal advice, cooking advice, programming advice, etc. is one thing.. being in court, making a dish for a crowd of people, or developing a app to be used in the real world is quite another.

    To argue that the education system does not teach the finer points of law is a different argument. I'm assuming that certification (be it MCSE, a degree, or membership to the ABA) indicates that you have been trained in a certain field of knowledge, and have picked up all the experiences involved along the way. Coming out of college with a degree doesn't get you a job just because you've been certified to know X, Y, and Z.. it's because having a degree tells an employer that you were able to accomplish all the goals given to you (and in some cases performed better than most all your peers) without getting sucked under by the wave.
  • by nebby ( 11637 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:09PM (#84679) Homepage
    While it is true that stereotypes in regards to race, religion, etc. are very rare on the web, to say that it is the "great equalizer" is wrong. People who are unable to express themselves effectively online using English, either because of a lack of education or because it is not their native language, are taken less seriously. It's not far fetched to have a non-native English speaker trying to present an astute point in a web forum but having their readers take them less seriously due to their grammatical errors.

    Also, stereotypes do exist. Linux users. AOL users. Windows users. People who read Slashdot. People who read Stile Project. People who use Netscape. People who use IE. People on a certain forum with a lot of posts. People with a few posts. The list goes on and on. A particularly horrible stereotype seen on the web is that if someone is somewhat computer illeterate (just well versed enough to get online) they are then assumed by many to be uneducated or overall incompetent.

    There are less ways for these individual traits to be determined (an email, for example, is a dead giveaway for an AOLer,) but they are still used to jump to conclusions about the person expressing themselves, in a fundamentally identical manner to the way people do so IRL based upon race, creed, economic status, etc.

    I would agree that this phenomenon is much better on the Internet than IRL, but again the Internet is far from the "everyone is equal" utopia you claim it to be.
  • by DJerman ( 12424 ) <> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:42PM (#84680)
    Personally I'd rather just see some kind of top 10 laws that everybody should learn in school from a very early age. Maybe sum them up into even less like: 1. Don't kill 2. Don't lie 3. Don't steal

    Oh you mean the Ten Commandments?

    The ten commandments are proper as religious rules (God's law), but the 1st four commandments are purely religious (and thus not proper subjects for secular law, unless your society represses other religeons).

    The three (kill, lie, steal -- not) were suggested, and are arguably required for a functioning society.

    Two of the remaining three are versions of lying (adultery -- making your vows false, and false witness, i.e. lying under oath). The last one is an injunction against covetousness, and while that's perfectly good advice, it's not something I want Big Brother to monitor (acting on it is stealing, but wanting it is just thinking).

  • he wrote "the new new thing"

    and he did a BBC show about how the "the future just happened"

    he has a book callled the same thing and it details this and how replay and TiVo hope to do

    and pollsters

    well thought out and actually readable I perticully liked the bill joy bit

    so please read something except a newspaper


    john jones
  • X/ []

    I know its amzon but hey
    try also

    john jones
  • participating in the modern global economy harms everyone

    Care to back that assertion up somehow?

  • There is an inherent complexity, and it takes work to say complex things in a simple way. But one can also take work and use it to make things more complex and less coherrent than the a merely straightforward statement.

    It seems to me that laws are frequently made unreasonably vauge and complex. Possibly on the grounds that if nobody can understand it, then nobody can object. But even lawyers don't know what a law means until the judge tells them. And sometimes this isn't even about anything near any boundary. Just careless writing (or a simulation of same).

    It is also manifestly unfair to expect someone to follow a law that is intentionally incomprehensible. And it is reasonably claimed to be unfair to expect someone to follow a laws that is incomprehensible to over 50% of all people. And it is arguably unfair to expect someone to follow a law that they don't understand.

    When the volume of the laws became larger than the volume of the encycolpedia Brittanica, then it became unreasonable to expect a person choosen at random to know and obey a law choosen at random. (Actually, long before then, but I'm intentionally allowing the laws an unreasonable amount of leaway.)

    Now, however, (at least in the US) we are in the position where there isn't anyone on the surface of the planet who knows all of the laws that effect their daily activities. Anybody. And yet the legal "profession" has the gall to pretend that "ignorance of the law is no excuse". This is manifestly immoral and unethical. It's only justifications are that
    a) It is rarely used (probably). In practice this translates into "only social dissidents need to worry about this".
    b) It's traditional. I'm hoping that this is the real reason. Unfortunately, I don't believe that there is any "real" reason. With lots of different people involved, there will be lots of different reasons.
    c) We don't know what else to do.
    d) We don't worry about that. We worry about getting elected. You don't earn votes by getting rid of laws, or letting people understand that you did something against their interests.

    If there's another plausible explanation, then it hasn't occured to me.
    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • How about the one we all used circa-`98?

    Login: cipherpunk / Password: cipherpunk
  • This is typical of the media, a lengthy article about something that is reallly quite trivial.

    Actually not so trivial. The article isn't really about the kid. He's the example. It's about self and roles, how we generate them, and how others perceive them. It's about the changes that technology and the internet brought about to the process of how roles are built and validated. Please go back and reread the article and ignore the kid. The author focused way to much time on him and it draws the readership off of the main point. He should have sought out other examples. He also should have had a better, more direct ending. An early paragraph puts it well:

    "What was happening on the Internet buttressed a school of thought in sociology known as role theory. The role theorists argue that we have no "self" as such. Our selves are merely the masks we wear in response to the social situations in which we find ourselves. The Internet had offered up a new set of social situations, to which people had responded by grabbing for a new set of masks. People take on the new tools they are ready for and make use of only what they need, how they need it. If they were using the Internet to experiment with their identities, it was probably because they found their old identities inadequate. If the Internet was giving the world a shove in a certain direction, it was probably because the world already felt inclined to move in that direction. The Internet was telling us what we wanted to become."

  • Spoken like a rich guy. You're billing at what, $50/hr? Of course it's worth your while to pay some guy $25 bucks to change your oil.

    Imagine now that you're earning $12/hr. Is it worth your while to pay some guy $50/hr for something you can do yourself? By your own reasoning, I'd have to say no. Furthermore, the people that earn $12/hr don't always have the option of working all the hours they want at those rates. Beyond the 40-60 hours that they work each week, their time is worth much less than $12/hr.

    Not that I'm disagreeing with you...I consider myself quite well off and pay other people to do work for me. HOWEVER, what works for me doesn't work for everyone all the way down the economic ladder.
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:40PM (#84688) Homepage
    The last one is an injunction against covetousness, and while that's perfectly good advice, it's not something I want Big Brother to monitor

    Hmmm...Ok, how about "Thou shalt not incite others to covet." That should shut down the entier sales, marketing, and advertising industry. Works for me. Of course, the bit about lying probably covers about 99% of this...
  • That works great. Of course, it pretty reduces you to subsistence farming, as participating in the modern global economy harms everyone.
  • Interesting that you said "Top Ten" - They used to teach a kind of "Top Ten", but now it's illegal to do so.
    I think that was sort of the intent of the Ten Commandments - Now, I'm not pushing Christianity, but I have to admit, if you follow those 10 rules, you're unlikely to break many laws. Well, as long as you add the codicil "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's." (For tax reasons.)
    That pretty much covers it, aside from copyright and Intellectual Property law, which have no basis in logic...
    Maybe we should summarize it down to one rule:
    "Be excellent to eachother..."

    MMDC Mobile Media []
  • Well, since the citizens are obligated to comply with them, yes, they should be understandable *to all of the people*.
    If a law cannot be broken down into "bite-sized-chunks" that every last person inside its jusisdiction can understand, it should be abandoned - otherwise it is probably too complex or one-sided.
    Can you give an example of a sensible law that breaks this line of reasoning? (Tell me something with which I am expected to comply, yet cannot comprehend with my tiny little mind?)


    MMDC Mobile Media []
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday July 15, 2001 @03:33AM (#84692)
    He didn't call himself a lawyer, ever.
    He did say he was a 'legal expert' on People asked, he answered, and his answers were rated very high by not only his clients but by other lawyers on!

    So.... a) He didn't misrepresent anything. He knows a great deal more about law than those asking the questions, that makes him an expert.
    b) If even other lawyers thought his answers were good, it's kind of silly for them to come back later and start demoting his answers because he's 15.
    c) Sure, after they found out, lawyers come in and ask harder questions, that he can't answer. So what does that prove? Nothing. He wasn't answering difficult legal questions; he was providing clear, concise answers to simply legal questions by Joe Average.
  • it's for the sunday magazine, and those articles are usually written well in advance of the publication date.
  • if you read the article, the kid can answer questions on the court tv level. He has no depth or complexity of knowledge. If you pay, you get someone who can answer the tough questions.
  • but I think the point is that people asking questions on a free website aren't looking for great law knowledge, as you mention. Thus, you get what you pay for -- easy answers to easy questions. The point is if you want real advice, you need a real lawyer. It became a problem when someone actually wanted to represent him in court, for instance.
  • by gregbaker ( 22648 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @02:24PM (#84696) Homepage
    You get what you pay for.

    So, if this kid charges $500 per hour, he is suddenly as useful as an a laywer? [...leaving aside the question of how useful laywers are]

    The quote from the article "the Internet undermined anyone whose status depended on a privileged access to information" is quite profound. If a 15 year old can provide the same answers as a laywer, what's the difference?

    It's sort of like a generalized Turning test. If something can perfectly immitate an x, shouldn't it should be considered equivalent to an x? I'm not sure that's true, but I don't think I have any reason why, either.

  • Now that I have health insurance, I am horrified by the realization that I could be subjected to actual medical care. Before the worst thing that could happen is that I'd die, which is going to happen eventually anyway.
  • by delmoi ( 26744 )
    This author sure does take a long to get to the point...
  • by delmoi ( 26744 )
    It was a good story, intresting.

    But with the slashdot intro, it was kind of annoying that he didn't start talking about this Marcus kid for a while.
  • ah slashdot, bastion of civil discourse.
  • and sometimes, not even that.

  • by __aadkms7016 ( 29860 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:04PM (#84702)
    Also read it on Yahoo (without registering) here [].
  • While it's an okay, workmanlike article, what bugs me is how little it actually says -- and in how many words. What insight is there in Lewis's 5,000-word NY Times opus than was in the long-ago 1993 (!) New Yorker cartoon []: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:27PM (#84704) Journal
    that legal professional answering your questions about criminal law? Maybe he's a 15-year-old too.

    Sounds like a certain website I know...
  • Real people who come to real lawyers are facing real problems. Serious problems. Hard problems. Before they came with a question, they had already run the gamut of what was available.

    The merits of the advice offered by this child can be encapsulated in a brief coloquy from the article:

    "Where do you find books about the law?" I asked.

    "I don't," he said, tap-tap-tapping away on his keyboard. "Books are boring. I don't like reading."

    So you go on legal Web sites?"


    "Well, when you got one of these questions did you research your answer?"

    "No, never. I just know it."

    "You just know it."


    Doh! Yeah, that's the kind of advice a client needs -- someone who "just knows it." Very useful when he's right. Very dangerous when he's wrong.

    Like most professionals, a lawyer is useful not for their routine practice, but for their capacity to identify when a non-routine issue arises, and the ability to solve that problem (complete with research from scratch where necessary).

    Whether or not the law should be simple, it is not. Whether or not someone should suffer for technical, even hypertechnical, subtleties, under the law, they will. This 15 year old may provide entertainment, but little sound advice.

    No doubt he does a fair imitation of a lawyer fielding trivial questions -- but the lack of sophistication of the answers makes it clear that the advice he gives is of the most dangerous kind -- the advice of someone with a little knowledge.

    Reference was made earlier to the Nolo press books, the best of which are of sound quality. The difference between the 15 year-old's advice, is that many of these nolo books were written by lawyers and understated their advice, frequently advising where were the limits of their simple advice -- with strong suggestions to contact a lawyer facing a difficult problem.
  • Does this [] guy look 15?

  • An engineer in the purest sense follows certain procedures, guidelines, ethics and rules in order to develop scientifically sound solutions to complicated problems. They systematically design, implement and test these solutions with the intent that what they have built will function in a manner that is efficient, robust and easily monitored.

    And so does any competent software developer, IMHO. Though I'd replace "scientifically sound" with "practical". I've seen neither the inclination or the ability in most of those of those who've received "formal training" in programming to the level of, say, BSCS to apply the principles you mention in a practical sense. Which is what matters.

    If there was indeed a formal structure by which one would, over the years after leaving classes, be an apprentice, journeyman, and finally when ready take the final tests to become a real "Software Engineer" I might agree with you. But I don't see this happening, the idea with software usually seems to be to test for merely "principles" or even "theory" and grant the "professional status" on that. With the notable exception of Cisco's certifications. Admittedly this Ivory Tower Syndrome is becoming a problem with the courses taught for other engineering fields as well.

    Note how for nearly every software development job a "software engineer" is sought - or even just considered a better candidate - as if for every culinary job from short-order cook to master chef, a degreed "culinary chemical engineer" was expected. The wrong training is being specified for (not necessarily too much). Training someone on the details of how a Grignard reaction converts sugar to caramel isn't going to help make a better flan, and the percentage of programming jobs in which the knowledge taught in engineering programs is needed is about the same as the percentage of those food preparation jobs that require you to be a degreed dietician (running hospital kitchens, say).

    What is needed is more the programming equivalent of good cooking schools, that would teach the "Certified Hacker" (in the original sense of hacker) how to produce their efficient, robust, and easily monitored product. Without complaining it wasn't supposed to happen and going nonfunctional or into "program madly in all directions" mode when the theory they've been taught needs a bit of tweaking to fit into the real world.

  • Tsk!

    Where would barbers, lawyers, and swimming-pool cleaners be without their guilds and licensing to keep down the competition?

    Why, I read just a month or so ago about a person being convicted of fraudulently representing himself as a Feng Shui expert to sell his services to unsuspecting California corporations! Just imagine how the bad luck generated by this person may have contributed to the current slowdown in the economy there!

    (No, I'm not kidding about the conviction. Yes, I am about the economic effect).

  • Thanks for the correction - IANAL of course. For that matter, IANAJD either. :-)
  • by Velox_SwiftFox ( 57902 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @06:38PM (#84710)
    Okay, the major complaint people have is that there was misrepresentation of the amount of law school this person had taken (zero). As far as I can tell he never said he passed a bar exam (these used to be kept oral and judged subjectively to keep persons of undesirable races and sexes from getting credentials and thereby besmirching the legal profession's image, IIRC).

    To avoid this, why not simply create new titles for people who are not formally educated to the standards required to call themselves "lawyers" (for the British, as I understand it, these are divided into barrister and solicitor professions), or other professional titles? Such as:

    Bar Member: Someone who passed the Bar Exams.
    Lawyer: Someone who graduated law school.
    Shyster: Someone like the 15 year old, or anyone else dispensing legal advice without formal education.

    This could be extended to several other professions (and partly is):

    M.D., G.P., Intern, Quack;
    Certified Engineer, Engineer, Technician;
    Certified Hacker, Software Engineer (sorry, I don't buy that these are actual engineers), Programmer;
    Topiarist, Gardener, Lawn Cutter;
    Barber, Hair Stylist, Lawn Cutter (oops, used that already)...

    Anyway, except in the rare cases (and they are rare) where the safety of the uninvolved public is truly at risk, let the market choose according to the customer's own decision as to his possible liability, the seriousness of the situation, and ability to pay, and let the customer assume any liability for choosing the wrong level of service.

    Or for picking the info off the internet themselves, if they want.

  • Software Engineer (sorry, I don't buy that these are actual engineers)

    I would certainly beg to differ on this point. An engineer in the purest sense follows certain procedures, guidelines, ethics and rules in order to develop scientifically sound solutions to complicated problems. They systematically design, implement and test these solutions with the intent that what they have built will function in a manner that is efficient, robust and easily monitored.

    A software developer can work in the same way as any other engineer. The guy who built the L337 h4x0r tool may not have followed these strict practices, and therefore, he is a hacker, or computer programmer. The guys who build the software systems for NASA and software engineers, well they go through a very rigorous and scientific process to develop their schtuff and I think they can be titled as software engineers. Maybe people who call themselves software engineers may not be exactly that. But I DO think it is a true profession and that the people who follow it ARE TRULY engineers. And I do think that this is something most, if not all, computer programmers should be striving for, as it will strengthen the field and help turn out BETTER products for consumers. In fact, I believe we need to have a guide of ethics and practices for all true software engineers, just like there are in many of the other engineering professions, and to form engineering societies that you join when you take on the profession of software engineer.

    I understand the belief that there are no real software engineers, but I truly believe that is just because most software developers today are not truly practicing within the guidelines of science of engineering. It's not really a question of whether software engineers exist, it's a question of whether the software developers hold themselves to the high standards of engineering practices. And this is where the formal training comes in. Anyone can gain the knowledge to become a software developer, but it takes a bit more to become a true software engineer. I also believe that the label of Software Engineer would come above that of Certified Hacker. That is not a swipe at people who call themselves hackers. It is a reality of the methodologies with which they go about their business and the expectations that their clients will have for their work.

    There, enough said. As far as the 15 year old goes, as long as his "clients" understand who they are dealing with and that there is not any misrepresentation of his true skills and experience, I say more power to him, and I hope he takes his knowledge and concern for the law to very great things. It's good to see someone truly caring for people's problems and not for the money they can give him.


  • I live in New Jersey. We get the Sunday NYT Magazine on Saturday morning.
  • Why should they alone have the right to give legal advice?

    Damn straight.

    The US was created by people with essentially no "legal standing" - who just got approval from a bunch of like-minded people and went out and DID it (not necessarily in that order B-) ).

    The legal system was INTENDED to be simple enough that anyone could understand the rules he must live by, to allow anyone to bring his own case when disputes arise, and to guarantee that he would be able to have advice by someone more knowledgable if he didn't feel confident to do it all himself. (Note that even supreme court justices do NOT have to be lawyers - and some were not. It "just happens" that lately they all are.)

    But the government grew, and the legal code grew, and the precedents accumulated, and the spoken language drifted - causing the words whose precice meanings had been tested in court and thus frozen to become a technical jargon. And as the amount of law grew to mind-boggling proportions the schools gave up and/or deteriorated, so that people of legal adult age may have nothing but lore about the laws they are expected to live by.

    Meanwhile the government decided to limit the people who would be allowed to charge for legal advice and "waste judges' time" to those it certified as having some expertese. As always, it cloaked its market-limiting move as consumer protection. But what about the guarantee of the right to council of your own chosing? Why, you still have that - just chose them from the licensed lawyers and pay the fee. Can't pay? That's OK - if you're a criminal defendant we'll draft a random lawyer and make him represent you. If you're really lucky he might actually know something about that branch of the law. Civil case? Tough luck!
  • Last I checked, it was still the 14th in New York
  • The old New Yorker cartoon about how 'on the Web no one knows you are a dog,' is so true.

    Not any more. Now, they not only know that you're a dog, but they know what breed of dog you are, what brand of dog food you eat, and which kind of chew toys you like.

  • My thoughts exactly. My first instinct was, "oh, they're talking about 'Ask Slashdot', or worse, the blathering that is always attached to a 'Your "Rights" Online' story..."

  • I was answering people's questions on Compuserve, Prodigy, Fidonet, and USENET since I was 12. Computer-related, not law-related questions, though. I think a lot of people here can say the same. So this kid just happens to have an interest in law. This is typical of the media, a lengthy article about something that is reallly quite trivial.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:32PM (#84718) Homepage Journal
    Watching hundreds of episodes of "Ally McBeal" doesn't qualify you as a legal expert? Uh oh...

    (That's kind of like asking your /. demographic if watching hundreds of episodes of "The Lone Gunmen" make you a computer expert.)

  • Maybe he meant to use a "" sign since his user number is less than two years old.
  • It's a sick culture we're currently living in.

    Do yourself a favor and go look at the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement [] webpage.



  • Marcus imagined that he was a lawyer, so he became a lawyer. It's a very useful talent, applicable for any number of skills you want to learn... Borrowed Genius/Periscope learning []

    How to learn through a periscope

    We had enrolled our 4-year-old daughter in a neighborhood swim team, not for the sake of competing but simply for safety reasons, to ensure she would be competent in the water. During one of the team's meets, in one heat a clerical error had her swim as the only small kid among 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds. To our amazement, she swam far faster than ever before and finished right in the middle of the pack.

    "How did you do that?!?" we asked her. Her reply: "I made-believe I was one of the big kids."

  • "Legal professional" just means their professional is related to law. I.e., Police officers, lawyers, rent-a-cops (well, kinda), and even the 15 year old who takes your money in exchange for legal advice. It has nothing to do with how much they know about law.
  • Yeah, but while stereotypes do exist, of the whole list you gave, on the internet you get to pick your traits that people judge you on. You get to choose a browser, an OS, an ISP, the forum (be it /., kuro5hin, or IRC) in which you participate, and the other forums you claim to participate in.

    Don't like the stereotypes you're lumbered with? Dump your ID, create a new one with stereotypes that reflect the personality you have / want to get across, and start again.
    It's not changing your race, creed or economic status IRL. Almost all of the sterotypes you come across on the net are choosable and changeable, by yourself, without too much hassle.

    Yeah, if you're utterly clueless, you probably won't be able to hide it and will get labelled as clueless. Tough. You're lacking technical knowledge in a specific area? Most people will forgive that if you show some humility and a willingness to gain more knowledge. Those that don't forgive ignorance (note: ignorance is not stupidity) aren't worth bothering with anyway.

    OK, the 'not native english speaker' is a bummer. And english is a git of a language to learn. So, yes, that is a problem. But I think that the internet is much closer to the "everyone who chooses to be equal, can be" utopia than you claim it to be :)
  • Excellent link. Thanx.

    Was just thinking about the ideas in the thesis (only read the first few pages so far - will read the rest as soon as I've finished this note) and thought that, much like a number of technical documents, it would be really good for each law to have a normative, technical definition, and a separate, informative, plain english (to be updated as the language changes?) rationale that explains the spirit of the law, the conditions that neccesitated its drafting, and some of the reasons behind some of the less-obvious decisions made in the normative work.
  • You mean all these people giving advice on /. might not be elite technology experts? Wow, now I wonder if I'm even an expert?
  • Did anyone else notice that it was dated the 15 of July?

    Just thought I'd point that out, I guess I shouldn't take my +1 bonus for this comment :)
  • by RennieScum ( 118197 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:44PM (#84729) Homepage
    I don't recall the kid ever passing himself off as anything but an 'expert', which is a completely reltaive term. There is no 'Law Expert' registry, but there is a Bar Association.
    The kid fudged his name (common on the internet) as well as age. Then he posted his real age after he had gained status, and posted his real phone number!

    IMO anyone asking for legal advice for free isn't going to get a real expert opinion, unless it's a teaser/advertisement from a law firm. I assume that all the advice I get from the internet comes from a 15yo kid, and I take it accordingly (ie do further research).
    Anonymous advice is a good way to -start- a research project, but anyone who considers it their 'final answer' needs a lesson. Hopefully they'll get one by reading this article rather then getting burned badly.

    And of course we wind up naming the one kid the abuser, since it's easier than making the 1000's of people who sought advice from total strangers (with no verifiable credentials) accountable.

    Caveat scavenger!

    And to all of the lawyers: Yes, my personal freedom =is= priceless, but charging $200/hour to maintain it is not getting-what-you-pay-for. That turns me into a slave to the bills you send</$0.02>

  • that legal professional answering your questions about criminal law? Maybe he's a 15-year-old too.

    That's ironic. Here in the United States, you're legal if you're 18 or older. And being a "Professional" isn't legal unless you're in Nevada!

    ::Colz Grigor


  • by YIAAL ( 129110 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:04PM (#84732) Homepage
    You get what you pay for.
  • It seems like this kid exploited something like the familiar 90-10 rule of code optimization. You know, how programs spend 90% of the time executing 10% of the code. Well, maybe lawyers spend 90% of the time dealing with 10% of the law.

    So, all the kid had to do to move up to number 1 was learn 10% of the law. Maybe he had to learn even less than that.

  • Since you read the article, you should know that the majority of the people he answered felt his answer was helpful - after intentional attacks from other lawyers they even voted him up to #1! As the article says, a lot of those questions don't require "depth or complexity of knowledge".
  • Well, I am a lawyer

  • The law is not only unfathomably complex, it is also inconsistent. There was a project undertaken a few years ago at Carnegie-Mellon Univeristy to write the law in a formal computer-like language. Someone did their Ph.D thesis [] on this.

    When you write something in a computer language, there is no ambiguity. The CMU proposal was to do the same with the law. Nothing ever came of the proposal, though. Imagine all the vested interests it would come up against.

    It's worth taking a look at the example in the thesis (in the Appendix). The example is a single section of the law, comprising about 2.5 pages. It is entirely incomprehensible. It is contradictory. And, when you eventually come to understand parts of it, it is ridiculous. The author then shows how it would be practical to rewrite this in a formal (i.e. computer-like) language.

    Of course, there are still subjective tests to be made when applying the law. Humans are still needed. But the knowledge recitation and logical analysis should be, and could be, done in a much better way.

  • by fredlwm ( 146021 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @02:02PM (#84748) Homepage
    [Usenet] Abbreviation, "I Am Not A Lawyer". Usually precedes legal advice.
  • Yeah and everyone thought he was a LAWYER?

    No. That's not the way it works! ;-)

  • An (extremely cynical) friend of mine calls doctors "tech support for your body." Not a bad way to look at it.

    This particular guy is 101% mistrustful of the entire medical profession, as his mother's cancer diagnosis and treatment was bungled, resulting in her death.
  • Down with the elitist fraternity that is the Bar Association, and up with enormous 15 year old pacific islanders practicing law! Why should they alone have the right to give legal advice? Sure, a little over a hundred years ago the system of apprenticeship that fueled the largely unstructured legal profession was not particularly efficient. It was impossible to regulate or govern people practicing law because of geographic isolation, and general failures in communication.

    Today, we have the internet. With the constancy and immediacy of communication that it provides, it offers the framework for a self-governing system where 15 year old should be as entitled to offer legal advice as the 83 year old lifelong attorney whose forebears were politicians from Massachusetts for the past 150 years.

    The only thing they offer is experience, which as this article demonstrates, can quite easily be shared and had today by nearly anyone. The other thing the exclusive aristocracy is supposed to offer is ethical codification and regimentation - and everyone knows lawyers and politicians do a fabulous job of that.
  • Personally I'd rather just see some kind of top 10 laws that everybody should learn in school from a very early age. Maybe sum them up into even less like: 1. Don't kill 2. Don't lie 3. Don't steal
    Oh you mean the Ten Commandments []?
  • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @06:58PM (#84759) Journal
    I am a lawyer. I work for a firm in Sonoma, California. My employer has a radio program where he answers legal questions on the air.

    I started working for my employer in 1994, fixing and upgrading his computers (eventually I built up a network). In early 1995, I was hired on full time to put together a book proposal consisting of a bunch of newspaper columns written by this attorney. Eventually I started drafting answers to letters written to the newspaper column (which were always reviewed and rewritten by the attorney). I also did on-the-fly legal research for persons calling the radio program.

    Eventually, my boss took me aside and said "You're a schmuck if you don't go to law school". After an hour of arm twisting, I relented. I started law school, and liked it.

    Here I am.

    Much of my job today consists of dealing with questions posed by persons calling or e-mailing the radio program. I do research and draft answers for my employer to use on the air. The questions are highly varied, such as "How can I get my 20 year old marijuana conviction purged from my record?" and "My boss's check bounced. How can I get the money?" For this reason, I can understand the position Marcus Arnold is in. I've been there (albeit at a much older age, and under the supervision of an attorney).

    Arnold is not doing poorly, but I have to admit that some of his answers leave something to be desired. As an example, the answer concerning the Miranda rights of a criminal defendant is not necessarily correct. The statements of a person under arrest made in response to a custodial interrogation without benefit of the Miranda warning are admissible to impeach the testimony of the defendant (at least they were two years ago while I was studying constitutional law). It's hard to know things like this unless you have recently taken a class in criminal procedure or constitutional law or you work in the field.

    The advice that Marcus can give (and it is legal advice - we should not kid ourselves) is good, but it's not enough. He can spot some issues, but he really cannot give anyone a definitive answer. Why? Because he hasn't been trained enough in the law to be able to spot all the important issues posed in a question, and without access to the applicable statutes and case law, he's really just guessing as to what the law is on a particular subject.

    Having said that, more power to him. I don't have any problems with him dispensing his opinion via e-mail, as long as he's not masquerading as a person actually licensed to practice law. His coorespondents should not read his answers with the belief that they are a correct statement of the law, because it could get them in trouble.

    I hope that Arnold goes to law school and becomes a lawyer for real. Not many 15-year-olds have as powerful an interest in the law as he has.

  • Unfortunately, these days, the parents then go and fuck it all up

    false. "these days" parents produce remarkably well adjusted children. in past generations children were treated in a way wed consider abusive today.

  • I'm not a grammar nazi. I'm just a 15 year old punk kid. By the way, you should have started your first sentence with the word 'Do'.
  • thanks for the link

    from the Yahoo story:

    the twin American instincts to democratize and to commercialize. (Often they amount to the same thing.)

    I'm not an American... does anyone else find this a scary statement... democracy = commercialism?

  • So the idea is, to pretend to be a 15 year old dispensing legal advice (even going so far as to include IANAL) to sucker the gullible people in!

    But then, IANAE on these matters, now if you'll excuse me, my unmarried teenage mother needs me to continue my ISO-9001 audit of Lockheed.

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • First off, IANAL.

    Secondly, the 15 yr old who scammed people basically got away with it, because the SEC rewards shitbags like Michael Milken who rob people and leave them with junk bonds worth zilch and hide the money in his wife's name and gets out of prison early, because he's such a born-again nice guy. All he did is wreck the lives of thousands.

    The American Bar Association, however, doesn't take nearly as kindly to people playing lawyer, let alone trying to write software which produces legal advice. You can tell who really makes the money in this country by the way they look after their profession. Even pimps will mess you up if you get smart. Of course, the ABA won't likely rearrange your face, but as those who pretty much decide what the law is and how it works (by being lawyers, judges, law clerks, etc.) they know what they can do and how far they can go to rearrange your life, including the aspects (family and such) who you may value.

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • by drift factor ( 220568 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:37PM (#84773)
    Can be found here [].
  • by tmark ( 230091 )
    The Slashdot editor had a tone of derision and an almost palpable, smarmy smugness when he describes the prospect that maybe some person on the Net offering you legal advice may actually be a 15-year old boy.

    So what ? What if I laughed out loud at the possibility that there could be a 15-year old who could offer half-decent system administration, programming, or hell - even HTML - advice ? Is the latter any more plausible than the former ? Heck, not too long ago people would have laughed at the possibility that a teenager could launch and run a million-dollar company. Now, people not only know it is possible, extreme youth has become almost de rigeur. So why aren't young tech 'gurus ' being laughed at here ?

  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:30PM (#84779)
    On the Web, he had come across to many as a font of legal expertise. In the flesh, he gave a more eclectic performance -- which was no doubt one reason he found the Internet as appealing as he did. Like Jonathan Lebed, he was the kind of person high school is designed to suppress, and like Jonathan Lebed, he had refused to accept his assigned status. When the real world failed to diagnose his talents, he went looking for a second opinion. The Internet offered him as many opinions as he needed to find one he liked. It created the opportunity for new sorts of self-perceptions, which then took on a reality all their own.

    The old New Yorker cartoon about how 'on the Web no one knows you are a dog,' is so true. How appealing it must be to those society marginalizes or ignores to reinvent their personas online. Online, you are what you know and project, not who you are, or what you look like, or how much money you have, or where you live. None of that matters on the Net, and thus it becomes the great equalizer.

    Mind to mind, that is what counts. All other factors, so important in 'real' life, melt away to insignificance here.

  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:22PM (#84780)
    Yes, you make valid points. The Net introduces all new prejudices into the mix. That's humanity for you! Every chance they get to dislike someone, they'll take it.

    Maybe I should have said that to the extent that a person can mask those identifying traits that will tend to prejudice their readers, either real-world traits or online traits, to that extent the person can largely escape the usual bias. The 15-year-old in this story, for instance, would have gotten nowhere if people knew who they were talking to up front. Because he was able to present himself solely by his knowledge, he was able to escape the normal bias he would have faced when giving legal advice. If, instead, his handle was '', it would have been a different story, as you point out.

  • Actually, I'd say the stock market over the past year has been a pretty good example of some people NOT getting what they payed for. Take a look at (SALN). Over the course of about a year, you could buy a share for about $15.00, and on Friday you could buy a share for 15 cents. I'd argue that the company hasn't changed so much over those twelve months to hit such a range. If you're actually a lawyer ... I'd suggest that maybe your best argument might not be some overused cliche. It doesn't really make for a very convincing closing statement.
  • On top of that, your lawyer must be knowledgeable about precedences that have been set (i.e. decisions on similar cases in the past), as precedences carry a lot of weight. Judges/juries must often follow precedence despite their personal misgivings in order to facilitate equal protection under the law (i.e. if Joe gets fined $500 for X, everyone else should be fined $500 for X... but in order to know that, your lawyer would have had to know about Joe vs. Foo). It is this staggering (and ever growing!) ammount of information that you are paying your lawyer to possess.

    I don't know about that. IANAL, but it seems to me that the majority of the whole "being a lawyer" thing is being familiar with how the various court systems work and how to manage reference sources. No lawyer knows all the precedents in his field. They likely know a few of the major ones in his area of specialty at best. The value in a lawyer is being someone who may not know the answer but knows how to get it and present it in the courts. They still have to do all the research for their filings once they have a notion of which way they want to go. And over time perhaps their knowledge of precedent and obscure laws grow. But that hardly means that a layperson couldn't learn to practice law as well as or even better than a lawyer.

    It's like I tell all of my prospective employers: You're hiring me for 2 things. First, I have a sizeable amount of knowledge and 3 years experience in my field. I will have many answers off the top of my head. Secondly, for those answers that I do not have, I know how to find them and I have the understanding to be able to use them. Sure, you could hire someone with 3 times the knowledge that I have and pay 3 times as much for it. Or they could hire me and get a much better value.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. []
  • That's not uncommon at all. For many months my father (who is on medication for various illnesses) was plagued with a number of symptoms that indicated that he had a prolactinoma (a kind of brain tumor basically). After several months of tests and much discomfort and emotional difficulty, the doctors could find no evidence of an actual prolactinoma, even though the symptoms were a perfect match. They insisted that the CAT scans had to be wrong and sent him back for more. In the meantime, my mother (who only has a high school diploma) did some research on the Internet and discovered that identical symptoms could be caused by a certain medication that my father was in fact taking. She asked his doctor about it and after some research the doctor concurred with my mother's opinion. He changed the medication to a different type and the symptoms went away.

    I shudder to think of all of the many thousands of dollars that his insurance company spent on tests for this non-existant brain-tumor when a simple search on the internet would have turned up a solution sooner.

    I went through a similar situation when I was in high school (though we didn't have the Internet back then) where I saw 12 different doctors and had numerous tests to diagnose a medical disorder that is very commonplace in the US, but is very uncommon in teenagers. None of the doctors knew what was causing my problems, but a friend of the family who had the same condition spotted it right away when he heard the symptoms.

    It's all about information. And sometimes it takes a naive person who doesn't have 8 years of professional training to be humble enough to ask for a solution.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. []
  • I was answering people's questions on Compuserve, Prodigy, Fidonet, and USENET since I was 12. Computer-related, not law-related questions, though. I think a lot of people here can say the same.

    I do have a complaint about that though. Most of the people that I see handing out computer advice are woefully under-equipped to do so. Granted, most of the tech advice that I see is on discussion forums for certian games that I play, but most of it is junk. 80% of the time the response to a question will be "You need a new [COMPONENT]. Get [PRODUCT X] it's what I use and it works fine." Or something similar. The advice almost always includes throwing money at the probelm to clear it up when some careful tweaking would do. While often times that resolves the issue, it is usually a solution that is akin to killing a fly with a tactical nuke.

    That always irritiates me. The next 19% of the advice that I see is blatantly wrong. I correct it when I see it usually. Finally, there is the 1% of answers that are correct. It just amazes me that somehow because a person can unpack a PC from a box marked "Compaq" and plug everything in that they think that qualifies them as a "hardware expert."

    At any rate, I hope that the advice on is more accurate than most of what I see on the Internet. Just because information is out there doesn't mean that it is correct.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. []
  • It seems to me that he was asked mostly pretty simple questions, questions that anyone who has any interest in law knows the answer to. In his own words:

    What sort of legal problems? I asked him.

    "Simple ones," he said. "Some of them are like, 'My husband is in jail for murder, and he didn't do it, and I need to file a motion for dismissal, how do I do it?'

    The real lawyers quite likely answered those questions in legal mumbo-jumbo or in too much detail, so the people who asked the questions didn't understand the answers either.

    He, instead, gave simple, to-the-point answers, exactly what people wanted. And as the questions were mostly pretty simple, his answers were usually correct (or not too far off).

    Imagine you were asked by a complete computer newbie what kind of computer he should buy. Do you talk about whether to get a Pentium or an Athlon, different graphic boards, etc. or do you just jot down a decent configuration?

    This guy did the second. He did what people wanted. And people rewarded him.

  • by EpsCylonB ( 307640 ) <eps AT epscylonb DOT com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @02:12PM (#84790) Homepage
    lawyers read /. ? I feel dirty

  • He's not sure, he hasn't checked, he doesn't know. This guy may have a pretty good idea of what the law on something is and a pretty good grasp of law overall but the quotes in the Yahoo article show me that he does no checking and doesn't know for sure that his answer is right. That's one of the things I pay a lawyer for when I ask them about the law. I want to know FOR SURE that this is the law, and that's waht you get with a real lawyer (a good one at least). Well this kid isn't doing that and it could get someone into trouble. For example, let's say I asked about Arizona gun carry law. I'm going to hazard a guess that he probably don't know the code that pertains to it (13-3102) so he's just going to give the general, common sense, answer. Well he'd probably get most of the restrictions on there wiht that (can't carry in bars, schools, places with signs saying you can't, etc) but there are couple of oddball ones I bet he'd miss. Like you can't carry into a polling place on an election day, you can't carry into a nucler plant. Well if he failed to mention this, it could get someone in trouble. Many people with CCWs are in a habit of carrying them at all times and if they thought it was ok to take them to a polling place, could end up with the gatting arrested (that's why they teach you all the rules when you take the course to get the CCW).

    Basically I feel Marcus is potentialy harmful because the people asking him the questions are placing thier faith in him as a professional, and they therefore believe the answers he gives to be 100% correct when he's really dispensing casual advice. That causes a problem. Advice like this is fine so long as people KNOW it's not expert advice. My friends ask me about legal issues fairly often since I have a passing intrest in law and know a fair amount about it. However they are asking just as oint of intrest and they know (and I make sure to warn) that it's just casual advice and I'm not 100% on it. I could be wrong. Now most of the time the advice I provide is probably as good as any lawyer since the questions are simple and I have a good idea of the answer, HOWEVER you wouldn't want to to bank on it since I could be wrong or at least incorect, and probably have been on many occasions.

    Now of course you'd hope that people should have more snese than to place faith in something got from a random person on the internet, however that still doesn't mean he is justified in making false claims about legal expertise. A mid-20s legal expert with years of real trial experience is a far cry from a 15 year old that like to watch law shows.

    As a side note it doesn't sound like he's ever likely to make a lawer with the statement "Books are boring. I don't like reading." One thing I learned from by breif stint doing mock trial is that the one thing you must do in excess as a lawyer is read. You have to read books and books on law, books and books of past cases and so on. If you don't like to read (and argue) it's probably the wrong career choice.

  • Does this guy look 15?

    I dunno ... does this guy []?

    Your Honour, I move for a ... bad court thingy.
    - You mean a mistrial?
    Yeah! That's why you're the judge and I'm the ... law talkin' guy.

  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:47PM (#84799) Journal

    "How did you do that?!?" we asked her. Her reply: "I made-believe I was one of the big kids."

    An engineer comes in to work in the morning to find his Boss, screwdriver in hand, rooting around in one of the server boxes. Cables and cards are strewn haphazardly on the floor.

    Somehow succeeding in suppressing his shock and horror, the engineer manages to keep his grip on his coffee cup and stammers, "What are you doing? ... How did you do that?!?"

    The Boss says, "I read this book about 'borrowed genius'. I made-believe I was one of the engineers."

  • by theoddicy ( 453461 ) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:17PM (#84806) Homepage
    Nearly everyone in the "real world" is just faking it. Whether it be philosophy, business, or psychology. Trends are often successful because people *believe* them to be. And when they're not, well, that's just the general statistical flaws. Anyone who claims authority on a subject *is* an expert to the rest of us for all intents and purposes. The only ones who would know otherwise are those who have more knowledge on that subject. And when talking about things about the future, or things we have *soft* evidence of, there is really no one who can be said to have more knowledge than anyone else. Only people who's past predictions have vindicated them. But how many of us ever bother to look up someone's track record? If we take bad advice from a teen thinking he's an *expert* then we only have ourselves to blame, for trying to take the easy route instead of looking up things for ourselves.
  • If you want, you can take your catfight directly to Marcus (15 year old Wall St. manipulator Jonathan Lebed is participating in this forum as well):

    I want to get drunk with Hoagy Carmichael and

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant