Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1410 Posts and Counting

In Case You Didn’t Receive Any Valentines this Year. . .

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 14, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,614

Here’s one that would have brought down the house and earned you detention at school back in the old days. Today they would probably take you out in handcuffs and call the FBI.


Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 12, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,613

If you are interested in disability law and need some CLE credits, you may wish to sign up for this 3 day event.  It clearly has a much wider scope than law, but if this is your intended field, you may find it contains what you need.

Aging in Place

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 7, 2019 | © 2023

No.  1,612

Fannie Mae, the government agency that keeps the residential financing market  moving, reports that those greedy seniors are holding 1.6 million housing units off the market. Prior generations sold their homes at a younger age, making more quality housing available for young families.

Of course, the reason why more of us are aging in place is because we are happy in the place called Home. Period.  A free market includes the right not to sell.  Selling a house costs money and a whole lot of work.  It may require parting with furniture and possessions acquired during a lifetime. Not selling has too many advantages.  That’s why people do what they do.

There is an assumption built into prevailing economic thought that prosperity is driven by a continuous cycle of production and spending. This model does not apply to the aging homeowner.  From their personal point of view, saving a dollar is the equivalent of earning a dollar.  And that’s what people who stay out of the housing marketplace do.

This isn’t China.  Quit telling people what they are supposed to do to promote the greater good, Fannie Mae. All of those houses will be on the market soon enough.



Regression to the Mediocre and the Tsunami of Useless Stats.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 4, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,611

Why did I watch that game last night?  I said I wasn’t going to do it.  But in the end, I even watched most of the commercials, none of which were funny, and most of the halftime show, which was not even mildly entertaining. Nevertheless, I found  the pregame video presentation on the role of Atlanta in the Civil Rights movement and public service ads on special needs children to be fresh, interesting and thought provoking.

Do you enjoy knowing that this was the first time that a S**** B*** had been played without a touchdown being scored in the first three quarters?  Was it worthwhile to know that you had just witnessed the longest punt delivered during the S**** B***?

Truth was, it was a boring game between two de-facto runners-up who happened to win their respective championship games, primarily through luck.  They characterized it as a defensive contest and maybe it was. However, I had something to read that night, and I wasted the opportunity.




What We Think Is and What Actually Is.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 2, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,610

Nasim Nicholas Taleb has made a career in explaining to us that some things we think we control are random and some things we think are random are really under our personal control.

When we win, too often we call it skill.  When we lose we call it bad luck.  Of course, there can also be some of each. How do you tell the difference?

Analyze it.  Break it down piece by piece, step by step to determine whether the outcome was predictable and whether you actually made it happen. Remember, there are others who are also making things happen that you don’t control.  If you had done something different, would the outcome have been different? If you do the same thing again, but someone else does something different, will the outcome be the same?

All over the radio band, they are talking about Antonio Brown going off the rails.  A large contingent of commentators seem to think that Coach Tomlin could have avoided the problem by enforcing discipline.  Maybe, but we will never know for sure.  There are two players in this game and they can both change the outcome by varying their actions.  When one of them is unpredictable, meaning he might select a response from a wider range of choices, there are a wider range of possible outcomes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when the outcome is not controlled by your actions.  But don’t be too quick to be easy on yourself by attributing the outcome to bad luck.




Its -4º. Don’t Go Outside Unless You Have to Go To Court.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 31, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,609

The Court of Common Pleas and all of the Magisterial District Judges were closed yesterday. That was a sensible thing to do. However, the courts are open today, even though its a little colder than yesterday.  Please exercise caution.

Saturday Morning Meditation: Fighting Distractions in a Distracted World

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 26, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,608

It is extremely difficult to avoid being distracted from focusing on a chosen task. But we all know that avoiding distraction is the shortest way to successfully completing a task.  In reality, it is the only way.

The greatest thief is ubiquitous entertainment. We have allowed ourselves to be entertained all day, in the car, at our desk, while eating. Some are unable to endure silence for even short periods of time.

If you read almost anything on the internet, your eyes must leap over banner ads enticing you to click away from the page you are reading. I was just reading a post about the Buddhist monk credited with popularizing the concept of mindfulness.  Ironically, the page was an obstacle course of banners — not just on the sidebar, but in the page itself.  The most obtrusive block your view, requiring you to figure out how to eliminate them before reading on. Take the detour and you may never come back. Take the detour and you may even forget what you were reading or lose interest.

We must fight back. If we do nothing, our brains become an open dumpster.  And we have wasted time. Yes, wasting time is a big deal.

Our time is limited and grows shorter every second.  Hoard it.



Message Box Fixed! PLEASE TRY AGAIN!

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 22, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,607

Due to a glitch discovered today, I have been unable to respond to requests in the message box on the right because it was not giving me email addresses and telephone numbers. That has been fixed.  Would the person who contacted me today please recontact me so I can reply.


Realtor Suggests promoting Non-profits at Open House Showings.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 22, 2019 | © 2023

No. 1,606

Gina Mercorelli, real estate agent, suggests that home sellers partner with non-profits whom they support to raise donations at open houses.  She states that organizations like the Pittsburgh Food Bank could benefit from such an appeal and it may also attract traffic from neighbors, who are a good source of referrals for the house sale. Contact her at gmercorelli@gmail.com for more details.


Disparagement of Competition, Lawyer’s Version.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 21, 2019 | © 2023

Image: 2civility.org

No. 1,605

While traveling, I saw a personal injury lawyer’s ad on TV in another state.  I was actually shocked. 

It stated that many attorneys accept personal injury cases who are unqualified. Some have never been in court, it stated.  However, if you call the phone number provided, this firm will apparently tell you about the lawyer or law firm you are thinking of hiring.

Of course, we don’t know what kind of information will be communicated to the caller.  Suppose that the information were limited to year of admission and disciplinary record.  Would providing that information be ethically or legally objectionable?  After all, everything disclosed is a matter of public record.

But if we open that door, there is plenty of public information that can give an incomplete or misleading picture.  Civil suits, criminal and driving records come to mind. While the potential clients could look up such information for themselves, if they call this out-of-state firm, they probably hadn’t thought of it — until then.

As to whether the lawyer in question has ever tried a case, unless he/she has recently been admitted to practice, such a conclusion could only be guesswork. Some recent grads have gained valuable advocacy experience in legal clinics, moot court competition or even as a debater in college or high school.  And who is to say what the minimum level of experience should be for this lawyer to handle your case?

Some young lawyers are natural litigators.  Some gain their experience very quickly, perhaps in the district attorney’s or or public defender’s office.  They may log more hours questioning witnesses and presenting arguments in court in a month than a junior associate in a civil litigation firm does in five years.  One is performing in court all day while the other is busy writing briefs and occasionally sitting in silence as the second chair. Another equalizer: advice and guidance from older lawyers.

Without more information, you just don’t know.

On the other hand, many cases require experience, not just in litigation, but in the specific subject matter of the litigation. Even a litigator highly experienced in other specialties may not suffice to handle such a case. It is safe to say that no lawyer today can be competent to practice in every area of the law.

So how do you, the client, find out?  Ask your prospective lawyer about what he/she brings to the table.  Spend enough time doing it to form a valid assessment. You might be surprised by the candor of the response.  And you might also be surprised to learn that this lawyer has unique qualifications, like relevant experience out there in the real world.



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CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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