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Change, change, change. That’s almost all I hear these days from the only people I’m hearing: Presidential candidates and the Writers Guild of America. Well, I listened and have changed my mind about one thing. I do need the Writers Guild. Law firms don’t change, though, and there will always be that certain kind of partner – the ‘partner with recollection.’ You know the kind I mean. This is the partner that asks you to research issues like whether a corporation can enforce a non-competition agreement, signed in goat blood in the Caymans, after a corporate fiduciary negligently breached its duty to issue cheap share. And instead of just giving you an impossibly convoluted issue, the partner takes .7 hours of now unbillable time 1) prohibiting you from online research (“let’s keep costs down”); 2) minimizing the time and effort it will take you to answer the question (“spend an hour then come see me”); and 3) recalling seeing a case right on point (“just the other day”). Putting up with the recalling partner for the 42 minutes to get the assignment is almost impossible. Working with that partner day after day requires substance intervention. I come home, get comfortable, flop on the couch, and drown my sorrows in my favorite drug: network television. But then came the writers’ strike and nothing to watch on TV but candidates debating about who is real change and news about the Ron Paul iPhone application. I don’t belong to the Writers Guild of America (West or East); neither will have me. But I’m still a writer. I write legal briefs, legal memos, contracts, emails, letters, and even, occasionally, this column. (I’m not counting my rejected episodes of “Earl” and “Lost.”) As a writer, I identify, even sympathize, with my film and screen writing colleagues and the change they seek. But frankly, I wish I had their problem. I mean, it’s not like the big bad TV suits went to the writers and said: Hey, creative type, get over here. We like what you’re doing. Keep it up. By the way, we’re going to start showing your stuff on DVDs, the internet, my iPhone, and in those new TrapperKeepers your kids use at school. But since you probably don’t make enough money to buy any of those things, I’m going to take credit for the writing. So keep the good stuff coming. A big bad TV suit pays his lawyer too much to be caught saying that with witnesses around. Getting credit for your art is one of the foundations supporting our society. The owner of “Happy Birthday” still gets paid every time the song is performed commercially. (That’s how I got out of celebrating my kids’ birthdays. I told them we’ll celebrate when they earn enough money to pay Summy-Birchard Music’s price.) You’ve seen DVDs. You have maybe even watched a TV show on the internet. And you know that writers get their credit at the end of the show just like they do on TV. But the writers want more money, too? From where I’m curled up in the fetal position, the WGA has it pretty good; I don’t even get credit on the reuse of my stuff. Forget about additional pay. Take the last memo I wrote for a partner – a fun little ditty on how the rule of perpetuities should be disregarded because it is obsolete, unconstitutional, and too confusing. The partner requested the memo to respond to a client’s question. But did the partner send my memo to the client? No. The partner drafted a letter to the client. And what do you think the body of the letter was? My memo – but without my name. The same goes for briefs. In law school, you assumed all those words you read were their Honors’ own. Then you started litigating. Those words in the judge’s written product are yours or your adversary’s. But are there cites? No. Not that I’d know, but I don’t even think that over-priced spiral bound blue covered thing on my shelf has a method for citing work from other lawyers. Then there’s the online reprints. Just the other day, one of my co-associates brought me a brief to read. When I asked him about a particular section, he said it all came, legal cites and everything, from a brief he found online. But was that brief cited? No. My co-associate wrote it as though it were his own. Now you might not care if you get credit for your work or not, But if someone pulls my brief off of Lexis or Westlaw, I want it known. And I’ll tell you why. Once I win my battle for credit, I take the next WGA step – pay for use. Right now, I get to charge for the memos I send to clients and partners, the contracts to opposing counsel, and the briefs I give to courts. But, because double billing is malum prohibitum if I get caught, I only charge once. One flat fee later, my work product, my art, is useless to me. But if I get reprint rights, I could bill the client when the judge quotes my brief. I could charge when some young associate mistakenly looks my brief up online. And think what I could charge for the DVD. Until that happens, though, can’t the guild just get back to writing better TV than the presidential debates and the redundant talking heads? I’ve even got an idea for a show: a sitcom about a reality show where the candidates live together on a volcanic island. The candidate not thrown into the volcano at the end of the season has to give up politics and write my memos on perpetuities and goat blood. Now that would be change. Adam Anderson is credited as an associate at Beus Gilbert PLLC in Scottsdale, Ariz. and doubts that will ever change.

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