New book: So Sue Me, Jackass! Avoiding Legal Pitfalls That Can Come Back to Bite You at Work, at Home, and at Play, by Amy Epstein Feldman and Robin Epstein ’95 (Plume)
The authors: Robin Epstein started her career as a stand-up comic and moved into sitcom writing, working with Al Franken, Joan Cusack, and Dan Aykroyd. The co-author with Renée Kaplan ’95 of the funny novel Shaking Her Assets (Berkley), Epstein is also a contributor to NPR’s This American Life and teaches writing at New York University. A lawyer, Feldman is a nationally syndicated legal commentator and general counsel at The Judge Group, where she helps employees with their legal dilemmas.
The book: Can you get fired for being too fat? Can you sign your mother-in-law into a nursing home against her will? Can your boss search your brief case? Who keeps the ring when your fiancé breaks the engagement? This sister duo teamed up to answer these and other legal questions that arise in daily life in a humorous question-and-answer format. They cover issues related to work, money, marriage and divorce, children, pets, the online world, home, and health.
A question and answer:
“Q: My best friend and her boyfriend, let’s call him ‘Peter Pan,’ have been living together for ten years, but he won’t propose because (1) commitment scares him and (2) he’s a yutz who won’t grow up. But my friend says she doesn’t mind because they’ve lived together for seven years so now they’re ‘common law married’ anyway. Is that right?
“A: Um, no. But it’s a good question because it turns out ‘common law marriage’ is not what most people think. To enter a common law marriage, you must first be eligible to be married — that is, neither party is a minor or married to someone else. You must express words in the present tense — ‘we are husband and wife’ — not ‘we’ll be together in the future’ or even ‘someday, baby, this will all be yours!’ Beyond that you need constant cohabitation and a ‘reputation for marriage,’ meaning you have held yourselves out to the community as husband and wife. Even with these things in place, only a handful of states recognize common law marriages. So though you may think it’s hard to get him to say ‘I do,’ absent all that proof, it’s probably even harder to get the state to say ‘you did.’”
Reviews: So Sue Me, Jackass! offers “insightful legal advice with a healthy dose of attitude” wrote a reviewer from Asylum.com. Flavorwire.com called it a “go-to resource for anyone too shy to ask the most basic legal questions — and some of the more outlandish ones too.” By Katherine Federici Greenwood