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July, 2012:

I Want to Wear Your Art

In case you didn’t know it, I love wearing custom t-shirts. I see myself as the lawyer who wears t-shirts. I think it works when it comes to working with entrepreneurs. I have quite a few shirts that were made at Brand X Custom T-shirts in Tempe.  They make the shirts for Ignite Phoenix and they’ve made quite a few custom pieces for me.

Ruth Carter at Phoenix Comicon, Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Speaking at Phoenix Comicon – Photo by Phoenix Comicon and Devon Christopher Adams

Brand X has made me spoiled when it comes to my shirts. They carry the super soft American Apparel shirts. I rarely buy a t-shirt if it’s not as soft as the Brand X shirts. I had trouble shirt shopping at Phoenix Comicon because most vendors use cheaper shirts which are somewhat stiff and itchy compared to Brand X.

I have quite a few ideas for verbiage for shirts. I think my next custom shirt will be hot pink and have my Twitter handle on the front (@rbcarter) and say “Do Epic Shit” across the back in white lettering. (Thank you to Charlie Gilkey for inspiring this shirt.) I also want to have a running shirt made for my next half marathon that says “Masochist” on the front and “Run Bitch” on the back.

I want to expand my shirt collection to include more shirts with artwork on it. I was recently in San Francisco. I saw a craft booth near the Ferry Building where a vendor was selling shirts with original artwork on them. I saw a tank top with a line drawing of an octopus wearing glasses on it. It was so random and wonderful. If I had more disposable income, I would have bought it.

I would love to have more shirts with original artwork in it, but I have no artistic talent when it comes to drawing, so I invite all of my readers to send me artwork that you think I should turn into a shirt. Please send me your line drawings of pictures or patterns that would only require 1 color to put on a shirt, in PDF form, to

Legal Disclaimer: There’s no guarantee that I’ll have every shirt made, but I promise if I have a shirt made with your artwork that I’ll attribute the art to you and publish a photo of the shirt on this site. By sending me art work, you attest that the art is your original work and that I have permission to put it on a t-shirt and if I get sued for copyright infringement because of what you send me, agree to indemnify me against all claims for copyright infringement and to pay for all my related legal expenses.

Brand X is always on my wish list for my birthday and Christmas. This year instead of asking for gift cards, Brand X is letting me build a registry of all the shirts I want to have made which will eliminate all the guesswork. I hope some new original art will be added to my wardrobe soon!

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Memories of Malcolm

Mr. Malcolm and his bowling ball “Edna”

I received the sad news last week that one of my high school science teachers, David Malcolm, died unexpectedly. He was only 68. I’m glad I was able to attend his retirement party a few years ago, especially since I couldn’t attend his memorial service.

I had Mr. Malcolm for Freshman Science and A.P. Physics at St. Vincent High School. He loved his students and he loved teaching. He didn’t just teach science; he also tried to instill life lessons whenever he could. This would occasionally lead to the “Malcolm rant” where it’s best to put your head down and wait for the storm to pass. I seem to remember him often saying “Life’s not fair.” His tests for Freshman Science were challenging, and he made sure we knew that he didn’t give us our grades but we earned them and all the whining from parents wouldn’t change that.

I always called Mr. Malcolm “Malcolm” because that’s how he referred to himself. My locker was right next to Malcolm’s classroom during my senior year. I was usually at my locker as he was heading into his room every morning and I would greet him with an exuberant, “Morning Malcolm!” and he would grumble back, “Morning Miss Carter.” He wasn’t mean; he just wasn’t a morning person. But he was always willing to help me if I had a physics question before school. He cared that we learned the material so he would work with us to figure out an answer instead of just doing the work for us.

I have one unique memory of Malcolm. After the A.P. Chemistry test, we basically got to play around and do cool science stuff for the last three weeks of the year. Malcolm had a Freshman Science class across the hall during the same period as A.P. Chemistry. I remember one morning his classroom door and the chemistry room door were open. I sat on the floor and scooted across the hall until I was sitting in his doorway and watched him teach, at least until he caught me and sent me back. He understood and respected teenage playfulness.

Thanks for the memories Malcolm! I’m sorry we had so little time with you. In your words, “God bless.” Your family is in my thoughts.


Photo courtesy of St. Vincent High School

Rejected by Disney

Disney Trip by veritasnoctis

My friend Stephanie Green is very creative. During law school, she re-wrote the words to several Disney songs to be about law and law school. She wrote a song about being a 1L that is set to the music of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. Her lyrics are fun and the music is beautiful. We talked about using her lyrics and my voice to record the song.

We knew the first thing we needed was a license from Disney to use its music. Disney is known for monitoring its copyrights and the general rule is “Disney never loses.” (I actually know of one person who fought Disney and won, but that’s an anomaly.) Given that we’re both legal eagles, we have no excuse for not jumping through the proper hoops to secure the rights to the music. If we recorded without their permission and tried to release it, I’m sure Disney would have laid the smack down on us.

I didn’t find Disney on American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which is an organization that licenses music and collects royalties for over 435,000 artists. I searched Disney’s corporate website and sent them a message requesting to purchase a license for the song.

A few weeks later I received a response from Disney. They denied our request for a license. They said their policy is to not allow people to create substitute lyrics for their songs, particularly for people who are not affiliated with Disney.  They said they didn’t want to give us a license because it would lead to others making similar requests. I can understand that they don’t want to set themselves up to get a flood of requests and have to evaluate each request to determine when they’ll grant a license and monitor the licensees to ensure they’re not violating their license.

My favorite part of the letter was when Disney described our request as “wholesome.” I’m not used to seeing that descriptor used with one of my ideas.

I’m bummed that we were rejected by Disney, but I understand where they’re coming from. Hopefully we’ll find a way to make it work in the future.

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Love & Support for Bar Exam Takers

Postproc by Kokotron Ruth Carter

Is this you?
Postproc by Kokotron

I’ve received three calls in last week from friends who are studying for the bar exam who needed advice and support. To everyone who is studying for a bar exam and starting to freak out, I know where you’ve been. I was you a year ago.

I definitely had my freak out moments while I was studying for the bar. If it was really bad I would call my friend Eric Mayer. Every time I started to panic he told me that I would be fine if I did whatever BarBri told me to do. It was comforting to hear that. I did always feel confident that I was studying enough, but hearing that following the BarBri plan worked for others was enough to convince me that it could work for me.

I had my biggest pre-bar exam freak out sometime after BarBri class had ended and I was studying on my own every day. I like to pace when I’m going through my flash card and that day, I felt claustrophobic in my home. It’s important to note that I live in an 1800+ square-foot home and it has an open layout. There’s nothing here that should make me feel claustrophobic. My perception was completely skewed by my anxiety.

I decided I needed more space, so I slathered sunscreen on my skin, put on my Camelbak backpack filled with water and a hat, and took a 2.5-hour walk with my flash cards on a 110-degree day. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person muttering to myself while walking up the street and flipping through my cards. When I got home, my shirt was completely drenched with sweat.  Even though I was having a freak out, it turned into a pretty good day. My walk took the edge off my fear and I learned a lot about commercial paper and secured transactions in the process.

Hand Hearts by Krystal T, Ruth Carter

Hang in there!
Hand Hearts by Krystal T

By the day of the bar exam, I was ready to hit it hard. I remember standing around the convention center before the test with some of my law school friends who were older than the average student in our class. We all remarked that taking the bar exam was a challenge, but it didn’t make our lists of the top 5 hardest things we’ve done.  If you have overcome hardship in your life or survived labor and delivery, you can get through the bar exam.

If you’re studying for the July bar exam, just stay the course. Do whatever BarBri tells you to study and do whatever you need to do to memorize the law. Whatever got you through law school will still work. Make sure you’re eating well and getting though exercise and sleep. The occasional ice cream indulgence also helps ease the pain of bar prep.

If You Waste My Time, I’m Sending You A Bill

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve lived in Phoenix for over eight years and I have yet to find a dentist that I like as a person and an office I don’t dread going to. I particularly hate dentist offices that have the open setting where each patient has their own chair and equipment but you’re in a big room or a room with only three walls and you can hear and see a lot of what’s going on with other people.

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

My new dentist is no exception. I arrived about 10 minutes before my appointment time, signed in, and they ignored me for about 10 minutes before asking me to fill out the new patient paperwork.  I filled out the paperwork and waited another 15 minutes before being called back. When I made the appointment, the receptionist said each patient got a separate room – wrong! I got a bay with three walls. The dental assistant took my x-rays which aren’t fun for me and my small mouth and said it would be 5 to 7 minutes. No problem – I popped on my iPod to pass the time. Five songs later, the dentist still wasn’t there.  I took out my earbuds and chatted with the assistant for another 10 minutes.

When the dentist finally came in, he didn’t use my name, shake my hand, or look me in the eye. I was pissed. He spent about 5 minutes with me and said they’d have to schedule my cleaning for another day. I was livid. It was at that moment I decided that I need to have mutual agreements with all my providers that state we won’t waste each other’s time and if we do, we can send the other a bill. Seriously!

I will agree to be on-time for all my appointments, do any requested prep work, and fill out any paperwork they send me in advance. I expect to be seen by a provider within 10 minutes of my appointment time and not to be left waiting more than 5 minutes if I’m seeing multiple providers in a visit. If I’m made to wait more than this amount time, the clock starts ticking at I will bill them at $100/hour in .1-hour increments. If I’m ever late or unprepared, you can bill me at $100/hour in .1-hour increments if they have to wait for me. The invoice will need to be sent within 7 calendar days of the service and payment must be remitted within 30 days of the invoice date.

That seems fair, right?

For my legal eagle readers, this is a valid contract if I draft it and the provider accepts it, right? I’ll be totally upfront and send it to the provider in advance for their review. At first I just wanted to bill them for wasting my time, but I figured the billing needed to go both ways to get consideration.

I understand that sometimes things happen and people run late. Unfortunately, that’s how some people run their lives and their businesses. If you work in a service industry, you have an obligation to respect your clients’ time. I don’t know about you, but I’m busy. And I’m not just picking on dentists – this is for all service providers. If you’re going to waste my time, I want to make it worth my while.