May 12, 2021

People Solve Problems—Not Ideologies, Religions or Political Parties.

Over the past 15 years, this blog has hopefully showcased a number of pet issues and themes. And apart from customer service, litigation strategies, lawyering abroad and cultural literacy, one has been the importance of thinking independently about law, government, politicians and political ideologies.

Or thinking independently about Anything.

There are these days lots of good, and arguably "bad" notions and ideas--nationally and internationally--all along the political and cultural spectrums, and there is no reason to pick one party, camp or pol to follow on all ideas.

After all, people, not ideologies, solve public problems.

You don't need a label. You need not be a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist or Nihilst. You can "mix and match" both pols and ideas. Me? I've changed, if subtly, and in ways that trouble a friend here and there. But my thinking is pretty much the same as it was when I was in my 20s. As a "liberal", I never really trusted Big Labor. I've never liked the "politically correct" speech regimen many traditional liberals unfortunately embraced. To the contrary, I've always admired free speech--and I revel in it. But the main change is that in 2017 I registered Republican for the first time. Not much else is different.

Most of us do have a Political-Civil Rights-Human Rights-Social Justice resume, CV or profile (hereinafter "Political CV"). I use "political" broadly here to describe anything related to participation in public affairs where some social purpose was fully served beyond my own self-aggrandizement, ego or pleasure. More than one purpose is okay; few of us do anything out a pure heart to "will one thing." So below I've fashioned my Political CV. Forget about Dem or GOP or Libertarian scripts. I've listed things that I did in large part "for the public good." For example, things I'm not including are Senior Class President (mix of duties and agendas), Eagle Scout (the same), working in a union-shop factory (Keebler's, in my case), membership in student or church groups with some but not primary political or social welfare slant, merely being asked to run for Congress (and saying no), merely voting, serving on an elected but non-partisan Zoning Board for a community of 40,000 or going to see Jerry Rubin, Timothy Leary or Milo speak at the Cow Palace. Or throwing a huge pickle at an on-stage Iggy Stooge (and hitting him).

But passing out leaflets for a political candidate, demonstrating against POTUS candidate and Alabama Governor George Wallace or working regularly with the urban homeless? Oh yeah. Those are "political". They reflected my idea of furthering "the public good" at the time I did I them. You get the idea. There's got to be a cause, some heat, some passion in an activity that helps others. Doesn't matter if it's a national issue or not. Doesn't matter if there's rhetoric involved.

Anyway, I've been an activist in everything I've ever done--and particularly with respect to groups I've joined or with which I've identified. So, and since I was 16, here is my political resume in chronological order. All of this is part of me now. All of it I’m proud of and still believe in. I'll update it as I remember things things.

1. Campaigned twice for Jerry Springer (Ohio-D), for runs for Congress and City Council in Cincinnati.

2. Campaigned more briefly but earnestly for Howard Metzenbaum, U.S. Senator (Ohio-D)

3. Worked with Armstrong United Methodist Church in Indian Hill, Ohio on several long-term projects for inner-city kids in Cincinnati, Ohio. Some with my mother (Head Start). Some in connection with working toward God & Country Award for BSA. (I was Boy Scout.)

4. Worked twice at as counselor at a camp for inner-city handicapped kids at summer camp in Cincinnati.

5. My party's candidate for 1970 Governor of Ohio Boys State. I was "liberal" party candidate and lost to a black kid from Sandusky. Ohio named Tony Harris. The race made news on television and in newspapers all over Ohio.

6. Student Reporter, Duke University Daily Chronicle. Civil Rights Beat, Durham. (1972-73)


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7. Demonstrator, anti-Vietnam war movement. Several marches, demonstrations, including Moratorium in D.C. Demonstrated against POTUS candidate George C. Wallace.

8. Wrote "Soul City: A Dream--Will it come true?" feature for Duke daily Chronicle. March 1974. Interviewed among others Floyd McKissick, one of founders of Soul City, the first model black city in America. Paper won acclaim and 2 awards for this reporting.

9. Aide, Sen. Gaylord Nelson (Wis.-D) (1974-1975, parts of 1976) Spearheaded demonstration project passed in Congress in preventative health care for Menominee Indian tribes in Wisconsin.

10. Worked for Lawyers Committee Under CIvil Rights suing VA furniture makers under Title VII. Class action suit. Covington & Burling.

11. Worked off and on but actively for 2 years helping probe possible violations of Voting Rights Act by large Ohio city. Department of Justice/Legal Aid Society.

12. Awarded 1-year poverty law fellowship in Toledo, Ohio. Turned down to move back to DC.

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13. Test "husband" for "the white couple" for mortgage and leasing redlining discrimination investigation conducted by HUD

14. Two of three law review articles on racial discrimination under Constitution. Zoning and Voting.

15. Two feature articles appearing in major paper Sunday magazine. First on zoning in a small Ohio River town, New Richmond, Ohio. Second about a 1st Amendment and zoning crusader named John Coyne in rural Clermont County, Ohio.

16. Aide, Representative Bill Gradison (R-Ohio) 1978-1981. Health. Energy. Natural Resources,

17. Treasurer 2003 State Assembly Campaign for CA Democrat, Karen Heumann.

18. Chief San Diego Fundraiser and (briefly) CA Convention Delegate. Wesley Clark for President (2003-2004)

19. Board of Directors, North San Diego County Democrats (2002-2012)

20. Hillary Clinton for President, 2008, 2016.

21. Co-Founded (with Peter B. Friedman) One Night/One Person Winter Homeless Program in Northern America & Europe 2015.

Original: April 3, 2019

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May 11, 2021

City of the Dead: Père Lachaise, 20th arrondissement

Laid out like a modern grid-form metropolis, Père Lachaise has the feel of a town--truly, a city of the dead--with tidy paved and cobbled "streets," complete with cast-iron signposts.

--Alistair Horne, in Seven Ages of Paris (Alfred A. Knopf 2002)

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Père Lachaise Cemetery, 20th arrondissement.

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May 10, 2021

William Carlos Williams: A New Mind.

Without invention nothing is well spaced,
unless the mind change, unless
the stars are new measured, according
to their relative positions, the
line will not change, the necessity
will not matriculate: unless there is
a new mind there cannot be a new
line, the old will go on
repeating itself with recurring
deadliness.

William Carlos Williams in Paterson, Book 2 ("Sunday in the Park")

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May 09, 2021

Hell's Kitchen, New York City

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The photograph above was taken in 1890 by Jacob Riis. This is Bandits' Roost, an alley in Hell's Kitchen, then in its second century. It was taken long before the midtown Manhattan neighborhood got cute and trendy again. The work, images and outcry of Riis were famous at the time. So was this photograph.

But Hell's Kitchen actually started out cute and even pastoral. Three hundred years ago there were farms. Then came suburbs, and it was not really a "bad" neighborhood until around the time of the Civil War. Movies and novels maybe over-covered that second 150 years. Hell's Kitchen kept changing but stayed famous: from Irish and German immigrant sub-city to gangland neighborhood to actors' quarter to, these days, more of a yuppie heaven.

People feared the second round of "cute"--the gentrification of recent years--would destroy it. It didn't. It's still authentic in pulse and atmosphere. A few (not many) old families could afford to stay. Real estate brokers years ago came up with the new labels of Clinton and "Midtown West"--but those did not work. They could never replace the real name, the one that no one can even trace.

Sure, older neighborhoods, like older people, have personalities.

Personally, I think of the area as smaller and more compact than most descriptions. For me, it does not start until just north of the Lincoln Tunnel at 40th and then goes up to 57th Street. Its width, of course: West of 8th all the way to the Hudson. Yet it always seems worlds away from Times Square, right next door, and Midtown East.

If you are in Manhattan some weekend, stroll around there on a Sunday morning early, when it groans, complains and even growls like its old self. You will not head east. You won't even think about leaving Hell's Kitchen for a while. Too seductive. The uneasy mixes of Irish, German, Italian, and Everyone Else that dominated it--especially in the last 150 years--left certain imprints and energies. You can still feel and hear them in the stone of the buildings and street.

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May 08, 2021

Rule 10: Be Accurate, Thorough and Timely--But Not Perfect.

It's not school. It's no longer about you.

(See Rules 1-6 here and at the links Rules 7, 8 and 9.)

Practicing law is getting it right, saying it right and winning--all with a gun to your head. Being "accurate, thorough and timely" are qualities most of us had in the 6th grade, right? Back when everyone told us we were geniuses and destined for great things? Well, school's out--now it's about real rights, real duties, real money and personal freedom. That's a weight, and it should be.

Suddenly facts are everything--and the actual law less important than you ever imagined. In time you learn to research, think and put things together better and faster. You develop instincts. You learn there is really no boilerplate and no "cookie-cutter" work. You learn there are no "right answers"--but several approaches and solutions to any problem. You are being asked to pick one. But at first, and maybe for a few years, being accurate, thorough and on time is not easy to do.

"I Have Clients?!" One day, you start to visualize your clients as real companies and real people with real problems. These are your clients--not your parents or professors--and they are all different. You "feel their pain", and it's now yours, too.

Mistakes. If you work with the right mentors and senior people, they will allow you to make mistakes. You need freedom to make mistakes. You'll be reminded, however, not to let those mistakes out of the office. It's a balancing act, a hard one.

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Really bad days? Your problem, Amber. You are expected to be a professional and put clients first on your worst damn day. A parent is sick, you are coming down with something yourself, your boyfriend is cheating on you, both of your boyfriends are cheating on you (and maybe with each other), your teenage kids "hate" you, and this morning you had to abandon that 12-year-old Honda you had in law school on the 14th Street Bridge.

And minutes before your big afternoon meeting or court appearance, a GC or co-worker calls you with the worst possible development, something unexpected and beyond your control, in a project for your favorite client.

These things will happen. And happen together.

You think you're pretty tough. But you sag visibly--like an animal taking a bullet. And in five minutes, you have to be at your very best. Again, it's not about school. It's no longer about you. You're beaten--but you have to get up and fight for someone other than yourself.

You up for this? Because, in our experience, very few of your peers are.

Bucking Up, Using Fear. And while you can't work in a state of constant worry, fear and paralysis, talking yourself into heroics, getting a little paranoid and even embracing a little fear won't hurt you, and may even help. You are being paid both (1) to be accurate, thorough, timely and (2) to just plain "not screw up".

“Thorough” means "anticipating", too. What makes you really good in a few years is being able to "see the future" and spot a ripple effect in a flash. To take a small example, if your client is in an active dispute with the government or on the brink of a full-blown litigation with a competitor, the client's and many of your own letters and e-mails aren't just letters and e-mails.

Whoa, they are potential exhibits, too. They can be used for you or against you. So they need to be written advisedly and clearly so that they advance your position and so that a judge, jury or someone 5 years from now can look at it cold and figure out what's going on. No "talking to yourself" here; think "future unintended consequences" when you think and write.

"But Not Perfect." Not talking about mistakes here. I refer to the paralysis of high standards. I know something about the second part of Rule 10--because I tended to violate it when I was younger. And I still want to.

Perfectionism is the Great Destroyer of Great Young Associates. Don't go there. Don't be so stiff and scared you can't even turn anything in because you want it "perfect" and you keep asking other lawyers and courts for extensions. It's not school, and it's no longer about you. Think instead about Rule 8: Think Like The Client--and Help Control Costs. Balance efficiency with "being perfect", and err on the side of holding down costs. If a client or senior lawyer in your firm wants your work to be "perfect", and for you to charge for it, believe me, they will let you know.

Finally, and I almost forgot: always use the Blue Book/Maroon Book for your citations. No one gets a pass on that one.

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You conventionally religious? We are not. But some days lawyering you will just have to "get your Job thing on". You suffer. But you still perform. Job and His Friends, Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1810s.

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May 06, 2021

London, 1835: Ben Disraeli Disses Daniel O'Connell.

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Parliament, 1835.

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May 05, 2021

Heroes: Karl Llewellyn.

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Karl Nickerson Llewellyn

You expect me to tell you that you should be earnest about your work, and get your back into it for dear old Siwash, and that he who lets work slide will stumble by the way.

The above of course is from the opening chapter of the The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1931), which sprung from a series of introductory lectures Karl Llewellyn (1893–1962) gave to first-year law students during the 1929-30 academic year, when he was appointed the first Betts Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia. The book's title is from a poem "The Bramble Bush" by Robert Penn Warren, excerpted here:

There was a man in our town
and he was wondrous wise:
he jumped into a bramble bush
and scratched out both his eyes--

and when he found that he was blind,
with all his might and maine,
He jumped into another one,
and scratched them in again.

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Mexico as Hero: Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862.

Today, other nations in the Americas honor Mexico. In the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated a much better-equipped invading French army of 8,000. Since the Battle of Puebla, no nation in the Americas has been invaded by any other European military force.

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May 03, 2021

12 Rules of Client Service.

Our world-famous 12 Rules of Client Service. Revel in their wisdom. Ignore them at your peril. Teach them to your coworkers. Argue about them. Improve them.

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May 01, 2021

Wilder

“If you are going to tell the truth be funny or they will kill you.”

— Billy Wilder, American Filmmaker (1906-2002)

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April 29, 2021

Stand-up Guy: Daniel O'Connell.

Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), "Liberator of Ireland", led a movement that forced the British to pass the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, allowing Catholics to become members of the British House of Commons. As a leader, O'Connell had moxie, brains, drive, patience, organizational skills, and big personality. More about him here and here. O'Connell was also a consummate and legendary trial lawyer, a bit of an actor, and way-fun just to be around. In a set of lectures published in 1901, John L. Stoddard said of him:

He was a typical Irishman of the best stock--wily, witty, eloquent, emotional and magnetic. His arrival in town was often an occasion for public rejoicing. His clever repartees were passed from lip to lip, until the island shook with laughter.

In court, he sometimes kept the spectators, jury, judge and even the prisoner, alternating between tears and roars of merriment. Celtic to the core, his subtle mind knew every trick peculiar to the Irish character, and he divined instinctively the shrewdest subterfuges of a shifty witness.

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Euripides on Speech and Expression

This is slavery, not to speak one's thought.

— Eurípides (480-406 BC)

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April 28, 2021

Happy Belated 84th, Jack

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April 26, 2021

Redux: Blawg Review #318: Fully-Engaged, Participatory, Risk-Taking, Pro-Immersion, Get-Off-Your-Knees, Change-the-World Will Shakespeare-Hunter Thompson Edition.

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HORATIO
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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"Maybe there is no Heaven."
Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame & Degradation in the '80's.
Hunter Stockton Thompson (1937-2005)

And Heaven on Earth? That's up to us, right?

Welcome to Blawg Review No. 318, which follows Texas trial lawyer Mark Bennett's inspiring No. 317 at the well-regarded Defending People. My name is Dan Hull. I practice law to (1) make money, (2) ensure that every day will be different than the one before, (3) use everything I have practicing law so I can feel alive, (4) serve sophisticated purchasers of legal services who "get it"--corporate clients with in-house counsel normally represented by much larger firms--and put them first, and (5) treat my law practice and firm as both a shop and a laboratory for new ideas.
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"Immersion" is what I seek in life and work. So that my life is full, and full of surprise. For me, this is exactly what William Shakespeare (or whoever authored the works bearing his name) and Hunter Thompson had in common. It is the gift, and courage, to get us to fully participate in the story along with its creator. The Singer, if you will, becomes the Song.

April of course is National Poetry Month. Today, April 23, is the day on which William Shakespeare was very likely born and also (strange as it seems) most definitely the day on which he also died. Happy 448th Birthday, Sir--and thank you. In your plays, characters, story and theme strut, bellow, work, play, dart and dive in and out together with all the surprise and verve of real life. As in Thompson's work generations later, you are always "there". With us. In fact, the sense of writer participation in the work of both Shakespeare and Thompson shoots through each line. In Thompson's case--"as your attorney, I advise you to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in my shaving kit"--writer involvement is impossible to ignore as he throws himself into the narrative. The capacity for detachment, while occasionally important and present in the works of both, is just one tool in the arsenal of storytelling. These two authors are fully-engaged. In the story. With us. Now. Immersed.

I want to be that kind of lawyer, too.

Six years ago, in Blawg Review #43, Boston's Diane Levin gave us a fine Shakespeare edition which celebrates a man whose 38 plays, 154 sonnets and other poems changed the English tongue forever and made it work harder, bend more, stretch mightily and finally give England a language that could keep up with its cascading, unrelenting and wonderfully vibrant and ancient imagination. He used words, made new words and experimented with word-combinations so that both the writing and the author were fully-engaged, participating, immersed in the story, risk-taking. It was not like anything that had gone before it. Read, for example, the entire Hamlet scene above.

Hunter Thompson--I have inadvertently channeled this journalist for nearly three decades since I covered for a college daily an infamous speech he gave--took participatory one step further in his feisty-funny yet oddly clear-eyed new journalism. But, for his time, William Shakespeare's body of work revolutionized what the English language could do. Changed forever how we saw ourselves. His work demonstrated in and of itself what humans could do to change the world. Simply put, Shakespeare, like Geoffrey Chaucer before him, made English cool. Very cool.

And all of you? I hope all of you will do the same thing with your law practice--and with the entire law profession itself. Please push the envelope a bit for us all.

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But first things first, as they told me when I exited my Final LL.M Program. Shakespeare's Works? Who wrote them? Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, are my two personal favorites for the honor. Perhaps a number of people or a combination wrote them. But not Shakespeare. The chances that the historical person, a well-meaning actor-bumpkin from Stratford named William Shakespeare, wrote all these assorted, richly-layered erudite and intricate gems in a working life in which he retired at 49 is about as likely as learning in a few years that Billy Carter, Jimmy's brother, invented the Internet, thought up Twitter, and did both theoretical and initial lab work resulting in three Nobel Prizes in Physics over a 20-year period. Or, staying with rogue presidential brothers, that Roger Clinton brokered several Middle Eastern cease fires, engineered Procter & Gamble's Gillette acquisition, and still had time to join the special forces, get buff and shoot Osama bin Laden.

If he were living today, Will Shakespeare would reside as a community theater local "star" amongst my many cousins in eastern Tennessee in a house with a front porch decorated by all-year-long Christmas tree lights and featuring a really big Coke Machine. My childhood friend Ernie from Glen Burnie, who has an English degree from Yale, and is now a partner and trial lawyer in a well-known DC-based law firm, dismisses the historical Will Shakespeare more comprehensively, if crudely: "Kind of guy who'd try to blow himself with a Dust Buster, if you ask me." Note: Just heard that Ernie lost his slot again at The University Club.

So Shakespeare couldn't have written "Shakespeare". But Someone Cool, Brave and Hard-Working did--and he, she or it changed Everything: character, story, our sense of an inner life, consciousness itself, words--and how they could sing.

So let's celebrate those who do things, whoever they are, famous or unsung, and especially those who do great things. Which are almost always difficult, frustrating things. A gentleman from South Carolina, trial lawyer Bobby G. Frederick, reminds us at Trial Theory that today is also the 112th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt's "Citizenship In A Republic" speech delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, 23 April, 1910. It is an Ode to Quality long-loved by hard-working full-time lawyers worldwide. Excerpt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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You get the idea. This Edition of Blawg Review for lawyers who get up and do it every day. Let's start with three "non-virtual" friends of mine. Patrick Lamb, the Chicago business trial lawyer and law firm innovator who got me interested in blogging back in 2005, is a "trench lawyer" if there ever was one. We share similar career paths and a real drive to build a completely new kind of law firm for higher-end clients. I've spent more time personally with Pat than any other lawyer who writes. For several years, and directly due to our connection through blogging, our respective law firms were main drivers together in the same invitation-only international business law consortium based in Austria. We are still members together of a second invitation-only group based in Charleston. We've served on each other's panels on the subjects of higher-end customer service, law practice, and litigation. Pat has great business sense (rare in lawyers) and a fabulous legal mind. See his commentary in "WSJ on ever increasing hourly rate: anyone else get a sense of deja vu?" at his always-provocative In Search of Perfect Client Service. He is one of a handful of people who is changing our profession.

Brit pundit, law professor and velvet-voiced Charon QC, another innovator and doer I met in London in 2007, is one of the funniest and most erudite human beings alive, in or out of the law. If Pat Lamb got me writing again, Charon kept me doing it because he always made blogging, well, great fun. And there were all these great young female "assistants" around him when we met in Mayfair. Anyway, a useful and serious guest post on the UK Facebook litigation by Stephens Scowns Solicitors comes our way in "Careless talk costs jobs". The UK now has 30 million Facebook users. In Preece v. Wetherspoon, an employment tribunal held that a pub manager was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct after she used Facebook during working time to make comments about two difficult customers. You say you had your privacy settings on? Sorry, Sweetie, not a defense. It's still public domain.

The ultimate New York City trench lawyer, and non-virtual friend, is criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice. Scott's made legal blogging--there is no other way to say this--important. Scott, like any number of great lawyers, and great men, is a straight-up pain in the ass. Verbatim quote: "Not trying to be difficult. I just am." He owes me lunch. He owes me at least $5. But I would, and will, refer any corporate criminal investigation I encounter to any general counsel I know to this man. In serving clients, which is the hardest thing on earth to do well, he gets the importance of: speed, lightning application of law to fact, being right there and being organized. He knows how to talk to the most sophisticated clients in the world when they need a little tough love. Hear him, for example, charm Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Yard and Harvard itself in this one: "Taxing the Frugal Future". Talk about immersion in the subject matter.

Another Brit doer, David Allen Green, aka Jack of Kent, is a lawyer-blogger with an impressive record of investigative journalism. He asks "should there be a legal blogging prize?, based on his experience last year of reviewing 2000 blogposts for the George Orwell political blogging prize. One of his sources for this thoughtful piece? Our man Charon QC.

Back in the States, well-known Miami trial lawyer Brian Tannebaum writes at "The Practice", his "combat pay" column at Above the Law, "It's Not Always About the Clients", about abusive clients. It's at once a brave and common sense article that educated me about other practices, especially in the criminal defense area. I did not like the title--I can think of a few others that might fit better here--but I liked what he had to say. He made me think.

Another Alpha Dog, Innovator and Doer: Fellow Midwesterner and Seattle-based Dan Harris writes China Law Blog. Like Greenfield and Tannebaum, he lawyers--and writes--every day. If you work, or want to work, in Greater China, follow Dan. See "The Apple-Proview China Trademark Litigation. It’s Gonna Settle. Bet On It". Can you ever imagine Dan not telling a client what he really thinks? I can't.

Super-Athlete and New York PI lawyer Eric Turkewitz covers the Boston Marathon, The Importance of Drinking Water, and my second favorite poet in The Boston Marathon (Highway to Hell)". This Don Rumsfeld (disclosure: I like and admire the guy) quote and triple-haiku, frankly, has always made sense to me:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

And humorist-lawyer Kevin Underhill of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a name which is at once lyrical and kind of funny-sounding, but I am not sure why, has written "Plaintiff: This Soap Did Not Attract Women as Promised" at his Lowering the Bar. In my next lawyer life, I would like to do some serious class action work in male pheromone or enhancement products that fail.

Mega-Doers in the Profession:

See the ABA Journal's interesting piece, which echos my thoughts on how powerful GCs have become, called The Rise of General Counsel". "The supply of sophisticated business lawyers has increased beyond demand, increasing the power of a few hundred general counsel who control the budgets," the article notes. And I think that is a very good thing for the right outside lawyers who can make the transition from specialists to "quarterbacks" and project managers.

At Above The Law, find out what lawyers worldwide are among the most influential people in the world on the Time 100 list.

At Jamison Koehler's Koehler Law, see a post addressed to the dreaded Slackoisie as infants. It's entitled "Advice To An Incoming 1L: Humble Yourself Before The Law. Surrender".

AttorneyatWork has something that I, for one, can use: "Staying Healthy: 10 Tips for Traveling Lawyers".

The Economist and the Judge on the Bigger Picture, Services, Subsidies: Near and sadly dear to my heart is a must-read by Decline of U.S. Manufacturing by Richard Posner of the enduring Becker-Posner Blog, where Judge Posner hits a few Rust Belt nails on the head. Excerpt:

Becker points to the analogy of agriculture. Employment in agriculture has plummeted, leading to anxieties spurred by agricultural companies about the decline of the “family farm” and the loss of the imagined virtues of the independent farmer, to combat which agriculture continues to be heavily subsidized. The subsidies are widely recognized to be a pure social waste, and the same would be true of subsidizing manufacturing. Like manufacturing, American agriculture is thriving with its historically small labor force.

Finally, here's a soulful, erudite and off-beat article by Steve McConnell, one of the writers of Dechert LLP's Drug and Device Law called "The Long Goodbye".

What About Paris/Clients? is grateful for the opportunity to host Blawg Review a third time. Blawg Review needs to sign up future hosts. It's always an experience. If you are game, get in touch with Ed, the Editor 'n' Chef. The next scheduled Blawg Review will be on May 21 and hosted by Cyberlaw Central, by Kevin Thompson, of Chicago's Davis McGrath LLC.

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Original post: April 23, 2012 In memory of John (aka Ed. Post)

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April 25, 2021

Flaubert: Standards.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

--Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

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April 22, 2021

Pieter Bruegel (The Elder), Peasant Wedding Dance, 1566.

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Earth Day 2021. This is Edition 51.

Today is Earth Day, No. 51. The first was on April 22, 1970.

It was founded by the late U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), and organized and led by Denis Hayes, National Coordinator for the 1970 Earth Day, and since then a mainstay leader, thinker and writer in the environmentalism movement.

Senator Nelson was a lawyer, outdoorsman, true Wisconsin character, ex-governor and hardworking legislator. To get an idea of him, see my 2005 remembrance of "The Earth Day Senator", which appeared in Environmental Protection Magazine after his death in July of 2005. In Nelson's very first speech as a senator--in March of 1963--he had argued that reductions in America's air and water quality to be a pressing national issue. .

"We need a comprehensive and nationwide program to save the natural resources of America," he continued. "Our most priceless natural resources are being destroyed."

Step right up, folks. This was new and different 1960s-era stuff. Conservation and protection of natural a resources--once the province of civics classes, the scouting movements, and a few scattered organizations like the Sierra Club--was about to become national, emotional and political.

Six years later, Nelson tapped Hayes to launch the first Earth Day. Denis Hayes has been student body president at Stanford University, and an activist against the war in Viet Nam. After Stanford, Hayes was attending Harvard's Kennedy School of Government when Nelson in 1970 hired him to spearhead the first Earth Day.

Hayes himself became a leader, solar power advocate, author and main driver in the then-new environmental movement. See this past post on his widely-discussed new book (with his wife Gail Boyer Hayes) "Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America's Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment."

Earth Day is now observed in 193 countries.

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Nelson

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Hayes

Continue reading...

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April 20, 2021

Jack Kerouac: James Dean of American Letters

Jack Kerouac's 97th birthday was on Saturday, April 17. Almost missed it. Since you all talk about the work that made him famous “On The Road” so much at parties and in bars, it's high time you read it. Truman Capote called it "typing". I call it "reflective" and "ambitious" with moments of greatness in language. Here is the full if imperfect text:

On The Road

PART ONE

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I'd often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who'd shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the way he is today, when he was a young jail kid shrouded in mystery. Then news came that Dean was out of reform school and was coming to New York for the first time; also there was talk that he had just married a girl called Marylou.

One day I was hanging around the campus and Chad and Tim Gray told me Dean was staying in a cold-water pad in East Harlem, the Spanish Harlem. Dean had arrived the night before, the first time in New York, with his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou; they got off the Greyhound bus at 50th Street and cut around the comer looking for a place to eat and went right in Hector's, and since then Hector's cafeteria has always been a big symbol of New York for Dean. They spent money on beautiful big glazed cakes and creampuffs.

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Above: Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) and Jack Kerouac

Continue reading...

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Weed, California Pop. 2,725

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April 19, 2021

James Baldwin’s “Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone."

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An essayist at heart, American novelist, poet and playwright James Baldwin (1924-1987) wrote his experimental fourth novel about the life of Leo Proudhammer, a black stage actor raised in Harlem who moves to Greenwich Village. Proudhammer has a heart attack on stage. Published in 1968, and panned by critics but widely read, "Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone" is an incredibly intense coming of age story set the 1930s and 1940s about racial prejudice, the American experiment, family, faith and sexuality.

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A Federal Discovery Rule Sleeper You Can Use: Rule 27, Fed. R. Civ. P.

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You hosin' us, Mr. Hull?

Rule 27 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is "Depositions to Perpetuate Testimony". It's not invoked that often. Subdivision (a) covers "Before an Action Is Filed":

(1) Petition. A person who wants to perpetuate testimony about any matter cognizable in a United States court may file a verified petition in the district court for the district where any expected adverse party resides. The petition must ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to depose the named persons in order to perpetuate their testimony. The petition must be titled in the petitioner's name and must show:

(A) that the petitioner expects to be a party to an action cognizable in a United States court but cannot presently bring it or cause it to be brought;

(B) the subject matter of the expected action and the petitioner's interest;

(C) the facts that the petitioner wants to establish by the proposed testimony and the reasons to perpetuate it;

(D) the names or a description of the persons whom the petitioner expects to be adverse parties and their addresses, so far as known; and

(E) the name, address, and expected substance of the testimony of each deponent.

(2) Notice and Service. At least 21 days before the hearing date, the petitioner must serve each expected adverse party with a copy of the petition and a notice stating the time and place of the hearing. The notice may be served either inside or outside the district or state in the manner provided in Rule 4. If that service cannot be made with reasonable diligence on an expected adverse party, the court may order service by publication or otherwise. The court must appoint an attorney to represent persons not served in the manner provided in Rule 4 and to cross-examine the deponent if an unserved person is not otherwise represented. If any expected adverse party is a minor or is incompetent, Rule 17(c) applies.

(3) Order and Examination. If satisfied that perpetuating the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, the court must issue an order that designates or describes the persons whose depositions may be taken, specifies the subject matter of the examinations, and states whether the depositions will be taken orally or by written interrogatories. The depositions may then be taken under these rules, and the court may issue orders like those authorized by Rules 34 and 35. A reference in these rules to the court where an action is pending means, for purposes of this rule, the court where the petition for the deposition was filed.

(4) Using the Deposition. A deposition to perpetuate testimony may be used under Rule 32(a) in any later-filed district-court action involving the same subject matter if the deposition either was taken under these rules or, although not so taken, would be admissible in evidence in the courts of the state where it was taken.

And subdivision (c), equally as vague in some respects (but see the Committee Notes), states:

(c) Perpetuation by an Action. This rule does not limit a court's power to entertain an action to perpetuate testimony.

Continue reading...

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April 18, 2021

Hotel du Jeu de Paume.

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Hotel du Jeu de Paume, 54 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris

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Sensitive Litigation Moment: Rule 5. Over-Communicate. Bombard, Copy, Confirm.

Over-Communicate: Bombard, Copy Confirm. It's from our annoying but dead-on accurate 12 Rules. And it's short.

Rule Five: "Over-Communicate": Bombard, Copy and Confirm

I am indebted to Jay Foonberg for the inspiration for Rule 5--both "bombarding" and the idea of keeping clients continuously informed. Nearly all of my better thoughts about practice management are influenced by Foonberg. The notion of "bombarding" clients with paper and information does have obvious exceptions. For instance, you work with a GC who trusts you and wants you to leave her alone. She doesn't want you to copy her on every transmittal letter or e-mail. Fair enough. Just be 100% sure you know what she wants and doesn't want. But aside from that, this is a "can't miss" rule--and I am amazed that many good lawyers express surprise that my firm informs the client of everything at each step of the way, and copies our clients on everything.

Again, our eternal debt to Jay Foonberg for this rule. We just changed the words a bit. Thanks Jay for being the first lawyer to sit down and think about how clients really think.

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Over-Communicate--but keep it short and don't spazz it up.

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April 17, 2021

Pointe Aux Barques, MI. Est. 1896.

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Speakers' Corner, London: "Have a good Spring, you Bastards...”

Since 1866, Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park (northeast corner near Marble Arch) has been important in Britain's demonstrations, protests and debate. In 1872, the area was specifically set aside for those purposes. Here are among the best and most eccentric daily shows in London. Marx, Lenin and Orwell all spoke at Speakers' Corner there on Sundays, the traditional speaking day. For the dark history of this area of Hyde Park as the execution place know as Tyburn Gallows for nearly six centuries--everyone condemned to die could make a final speech--see the website of the Royal Parks. Below: uncredited photo from a Sunday in 1930s.

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April 16, 2021

John Irving: On Revisions and Rewriting.

Half my life is an act of revision.

--John Irving (1942-)

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Irving in the Netherlands, 1989

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April 15, 2021

Women We Love: Annabeth Gish

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Easter Rising 1916: 105 years ago in Dublin.

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460 killed, 2600 wounded, 16 executions. The proclamation was read by Patrick Pearse outside the General Post Office in Dublin on Sackville Street (since 1924 O'Connell Street)--and the Rising began. It was modeled on a similar if less well-supported proclamation by Robert Emmet in 1803.

However, as one of our readers, Patrick J. Keeley, has pointed out:

The proclamation in 1916 was an actual declaration of a Republic. Emmet is more known for his speech from the dock when he spoke of Ireland one day taking its place (free) among nations of Earth. I don't think he ever actually proclaimed a Republic, he lead what in effect was a mob, sadly inebriated down Thomas Street in 1803. A noble effort and a tragic end to what would surely have been a brilliant legal career.

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April 14, 2021

Les Bouquinistes.

More than a tower or a statue, or an artist's or soldier's name on a plaque or street post, the green bookstalls of Paris are the city's most apt and enduring mark. It's hard to say what's better: the hundreds of paintings and etchings of les bouquinistes in the last 400 years, the thousands of photos of them in the past 100, or one glimpse on any day you could almost take them for granted.

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Arrivals

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Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320), Pietro Lorenzetti

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April 13, 2021

Men of Letters: Charlie Rose, Hunter Thompson.

Never write a letter, never throw one away.

--Attributed to the late private investigator and consultant Thomas Corbally, two medieval priests, and three U.S. mayors.

For reasons which go back to 1974, I miss Hunter Thompson. This son of Louisville put some of his best and funniest stuff in personal letters--and he wrote volumes and volumes of them. Over 20,000. I've read some off and on for years; my favorites (and the funniest) are his with boss Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone magazine's founder and editor, in the 1970s and 1980s. Others are published in Thompson's books over the years. See this clip from a Charlie Rose interview, undated, but his Rose's with Thompson, likely about 1997. HST talks about letter-writing here.


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Young Ben Disraeli on Lawyering: Is law just life on the sidelines?

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Young Ben Disraeli: "I rust like a Damascus sabre in the sheath of a poltroon."

Is being a good lawyer enough?

Consider what the young, precocious, mega-talented, persistent and world class pain-in-the-ass Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) thought--years before becoming Prime Minster of England--as he abandoned his legal career before it really started, in favor of writing and politics. According to one biographer, he exclaimed:

The Bar: pooh! law and bad tricks till we are forty, and then, with the most brilliant success, the prospect of gout and a coronet. Besides, to succeed as an advocate, I must be a great lawyer, and to be a great lawyer, I must give up my chance of being a great man.

--A. Maurois, Disraeli (Random House 1928)

Sidelined? Hobbled? Self-discarded in the great race of life? Maybe it's true. Hard-driving lawyer friends (both in-house and in law firms) do articulate a feeling of being "sidelined"--yet they are very proud of what they do as lawyers. They may think: Why merely advise--when you could lead, create boldly, and command? And do that every day? Lots of lawyers are Type-As. Yes, some of us who advise great companies really end up as officers, CEOs, and COOs? Sure, many more of us run for office.

But most of us are at best mousy posturing technicians. Should more and more of us throw our golfing hat in the ring of other life, the fields of commerce, and bigger--or at least different--ponds? Does law school and the profession make many of us so risk-averse, passive and routinely academic in our approach to life that it knocks the will and energy to lead out of us? Or were we just that way from the beginning?

Lawyers used to lead. Will that ever happen again?

(Image above: Family Guy Wiki)

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April 12, 2021

Charlotte Rampling: Still smoldering in three languages.

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Redux: Nice Smart Kids Make Lousy Lawyers.

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Image: Ragdoll Productions for BBC TV

What kind of human makes a great lawyer?

I don't mean a go-through-the-motions lawyer, a tell-you-what-the law-is lawyer (dipstick variety) or even a yeoman lawyer here. I mean a solid and effective advocate-adviser you can count on when money, reputation, freedom and sometimes life itself is at stake.

People who work every day for 40 years for each client as if it's their first day working on their first real client assignment. Sure, some of the details get to be tedious or old hat after a while--but those juices are always flowing. They are always tuned into their responsibilities to others. They take great pride in it. People, if you will, who were born to be lawyers.

"Nice, smart" kids, maybe?

No. In fact, "nice, smart" kids including scads of first-borns who were always great students, maybe elected Senior Class President in high school or on the debating team in college--they come in droves to the legal profession every year and have done that for generations--almost always make shitty lawyers.

"Smart" is a prerequisite. "Nice" is okay--"happy" is more important--but you meet few sane clients who insist on "nice".

To be an effective lawyer, you need a lot more going on, whether you are doing litigation, transactional work, regulatory matters and even legislative/lobbying kinds of projects. I'm not an expert on personality types. But in my view you probably ought to have all of the following: (1) more energy than most people have, (2) stamina (good physical health, perhaps better than average health), (3) persistence, (4) ambition, (5) resilience, (6) competitiveness and a (7) mean streak a mile wide you can turn off and on. And that's for starters. Here are two more: (8) a natural tendency to thrive on and even relish conflict (no, not "embrace", I said relish) and (9) a natural tendency to regard "stress as kind of fuel".

So with that in mind, we've renamed our blog, starting two days ago--until the day after Labor Day--What About Clients/Paris? will be known as "It's Not About the Lawyers, Teacups." As most of our seven or eight regular readers we've picked up since our launch 10 years ago already know, we think there is currently in the legal profession an alarmingly undue emphasis on concepts like:

(a) lawyer comfort and satisfaction generally,

(b) lawyer self-esteem,

(c) lawyer "resilience" (N.B. "lawyer resilience"; this is a subtopic if there ever was one that is certain to make a lot of sophisticated clients look suddenly like they've lost several pints of blood the first time they hear it),

(d) lawyer "mindfulness" and other pop-Zen faux-Eastern notions of well-being, calm, repose, serenity and right state of mind which are taught by people who have no idea what they're talking about to often youngish lawyers who don't know the difference and which would have Alan Watts, Eknath Easwaran or Gautama Himself rolling agonizingly in their graves;

(e) lawyer mental health, and

(f) the new "Lawyer Patienthood", especially underemployed or unemployed younger lawyers who are desperate to make the profession "fit them" even if in the best of economic times it would be painfully apparent to them and many others that they are wonderful, important and talented creatures who deserve to be happy but were simply not cut out to be lawyers in the first place. "Nice, smart kids" can certainly do many other things.

I think that the wrong humans have been entering law school for some time now, from the oldest Baby Boomers to the youngest of Gen-Ys. Somehow we need to attract those who are born with the basic mental, emotional and physical makings of the kind of person clients and customers can rely on with confidence. There are lots of these folks--and we need to start attracting them to this profession. For the last three decades, at least, they have not appeared in great numbers. Let's develop more sophisticated ways of identifying them--and for the sake of clients everywhere somehow start getting them here.

Original post: September 3, 2015

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April 11, 2021

William Ramsey Clark (1927-2021)

Texan, activist and lawyer, Ramsey Clark was a household name in the late 1960s and early 1970s and a hero to many of us. His dad Tom C. Clark was a SCOTUS Justice who President Lyndon Johnson knew and liked. Fellow Texan LBJ, a gruff moderate pragmatic Democratic, once said of the famously ultra-liberal Ramsey Clark—who was roughly my own parents’ vintage—the following: “He’s not Tom Clark’s son.” He was a quiet, unassuming civil rights rockstar. Even Playboy magazine did an interview with him.

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April 10, 2021

Heads up, Campers.

Some media says far-right domestic terrorists will be at it again this weekend.

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April 09, 2021

Prince Philip (June 10, 1921 - April 9, 2021)

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“To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one's personal and even the world's troubles seem small and petty.”

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April 08, 2021

Aristide Maillol: Dina in 1939.

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"The Sky", 1939, Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

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Sparta: Money, Guns and Time

War is the last of all things to go according to schedule.

-- Thucydides (460 BC - 395 BC) in The History of the Peloponnesian War.

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Spartan Woman Giving a Shield to Her Son, 1805, Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier. In the lore and legend of Sparta, when a son left home for the armed forces, his mother said: "Fight well and fairly. Return with your shield or on it."

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April 07, 2021

The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers


1. Be risk-averse at all times. Clients have come to expect this from their lawyers. It's tradition. Honor it.

2. Tell the client only what it can't do. Business clients are run by business people who take risks. They need to be managed, guided, stopped. Don't encourage them.

3. Whatever you do, don't take a stand, and don't make a recommendation. (You don't want to be wrong, do you?)

4. Treat the client as a potential adversary at all times. Keep a distance.

5. Cover yourself. Write a lot to the client. Craft lots of confirming letters which use clauses like "it is our understanding", "our analysis is limited to..." and "we do not express an opinion as to whether..."

6. Churn up extra fees with extra letters and memoranda and tasks. Milk the engagement. (If you are going to be a weenie anyway, you might as well be a sneaky weenie.)

7. As out-house counsel, you are American royalty. Never forget that.

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Redux: “All hat, no cattle...”

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Everyone in your shop has to buy into CS like a cult, like a religion--like an angry sermon that lifted them out of their pews at The Church of the Final Thunder. If employees will not, or cannot, get rid of those stiffs first. And do feel good about firing them.

Real client service--i.e., know-how consistently delivered as an experience the customer likes and wants more of--is by now a global cliché. Hey, you must say you are "into" it--but do you even know what it is? It sounds easy, and intuitive to the speaker and listener.

"Client and customer service...how hard could that be?"

Very. Making a client be safe and feel safe at the same time is as hard an order to fill as we can imagine. Whether you're a lawyer, accountant, hooker, fishing guide, house painter, drug dealer, or mom-and-pop corner store owner, superior work alone won't keep a good client or customer coming back.

Clients want something more. You have to figure out what that is.

And then everyone in your shop--yes, everyone--has to buy into CS like a cult, like a religion, like an angry sermon that took them out of their pews at The Church of the Final Thunder.

"Yes, yes, got that covered." One problem is self-deception: (1) most service providers think they know what CS is, but they don't; and (2) if they really do know, they don't know how to discipline their organizations to make CS stick.

(WAC?, by the way, does know what and how; the reason we give away our "secrets" is that we are confident that virtually none of you will ever be able to get and deliver client service. Yes, we are making fun of all you. All you "smart" people--embittered that you are not rich or powerful enough--who don't get other humans. You folks are hopelessly "get-the-net" delusional about CS. No intuition, no guts, no gospel--and no discipline.)

"All hat, no cattle." The second and more immediate problem is deceiving clients themselves. At a minimum, even if you don't have a clue what CS really is, do you say you provide it when you don't? Is CS a little joke at your shop? A ruse, maybe? Something for the website? For that first pitch? Well, there are voices in the wilderness besides ours on that one. And one of our favorites is Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog. See again his post from June 2008, "Don't Let Client Service Be Merely Lip Service" and the related links.

Original post: September 4, 2009 WAC?

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April 06, 2021

Anton Chekov: Storytelling

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

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April 05, 2021

Rule 4: Deliver legal services that change the way clients think about lawyers.

Based on actual experience lawyering, we wrote and published 12 Rules of Client Service in installments during a six-month period starting in October 2005. The 12 rules do seem to have legs. We are flattered. In whole or in part, they regularly appear in publications and sites for lawyers and non-lawyers (e.g., accounting and real estate). Some folks who discuss, quote or mention them like all 12 rules. Others like one or two in particular.

Our favorite? It's Rule Four: Deliver Legal Work That Change the Way Clients Think About Lawyers. It's our "Harry Beckwith" rule. Harry Beckwith, who first ignited the thinking of many professional services thinkers in "Selling the Invisible", was a huge influence on how we could make changes in everyone's lawyering--and the idea here is really his, not ours. An excerpt from Rule 4:

Why try "to exceed expectations" when the overall lawyer standard is perceived as low to mediocre? If your clients are all Fortune 500 stand-outs, and the GCs' seem to love you and your firm, is that because your service delivery is so good--or because other lawyers they use are so "bad" on service? Why have a low standard, or one that merely makes you look incrementally more responsive and on top of things than the boutique on the next floor up? Why not overhaul and re-create the whole game?

If you read the better writers on selling and delivering services, like Harry Beckwith in Selling The Invisible, you pick up on this simple idea: Rather than under-promise/over-deliver, why not change the way people think of lawyers generally and what they can expect from them generally? Get good clients--those clients you like and want--to keep coming back to you by communicating in all aspects of your work that you care deeply about your lawyering for them, you want to serve their interests on an ongoing basis and that it's a privilege to be their lawyer. Show them you fit no lawyer mold.

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This is East Anglia: Aldeburgh.

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More precisely, it's in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, on the coast, and jutting out into the North Sea. Due east: The Netherlands, where lots of the DNA here originated over 1000 years ago. Pronounced "All-bruh". I've been here four times, starting in 2003. If you are in London, and you have an extra day, do something different and drive or take a train northeast to Aldeburgh, a Suffolk secret well-kept from Americans. The home and muse of the great Bertie Lomas, a much-loved and gifted poet, writer and editor who died at 87 in 2011. And if you are a beach lover--or a merely a lover on the beach--you and yours would do well to heed the little round stones beneath you.

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The Return of Spring

Below: Frederic Leighton, “The Return of Persephone,” 1891.

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April 04, 2021

Happy Easter from Harvey, Elwood and Me.

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Happy Easter from Harvey, Dan Hull and Elwood P. Dowd.

“I have a good time wherever I am.”

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April 03, 2021

Yeats on Writing.

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.

--W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

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Easter

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April 01, 2021

London, 1841: Ben Disraeli is Fed Up.

I cannot be silent. I have had to struggle against a storm of political hate and malice which few men ever experienced.

--Young MP Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), asking Robert Peel for a post in the Peel Ministry in an 1841 letter. Peel refused him.

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"Dizzy"

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The Cosmos Club

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A private social club for men and women distinguished in “science, literature and the arts,” a learned profession or public service. Est. 1878.

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Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980)

If you have nothing nice to say, come sit by me.

-- Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Died on February 20, 1980 at 96.


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March 31, 2021

Peak Bloom: 3000 Yoshino cherry trees. 109 years.

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Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki and his wife in Washington on March 27, 1912. On that day, the couple presented the City of Washington with 3000 Japanese Yoshino cherry trees.


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Peak bloom this year in DC—when approximately 70 percent or more of the blooms are open—was Sunday, March 28. The Yoshino blooms will hold up for another week.

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March 30, 2021

1498

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“The Four Horsemen” from The Apocalypse (1498) by Albrecht Dürer

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March 28, 2021

Job and His Friends, Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1810s.

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March 26, 2021

The Holy Surprise of Thinking on Your Own

He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. An imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the universe, the locksmith of mysteries of the atom and the universe.

--Walter Issacson, in Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2007)


Children come with Imagination. It's standard issue.

--Holden Oliver in 2009

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"E" at the beach: Another fresh take.

Try this at home and work: The Holy Surprise of a Child's First Look. Forget for a moment, if you can, about Clients and Paris. This blog is at heart about Quality, Old Verities, and Values--the things no business, government, non-profit group, religion, politician or leader (a) wants to give you or (b) can give you. No, not even family and friends can. You have to find them on your own. Work and Service, whether you are paid for them or not, are inseparable from these things.

At the blog, at our firm, and in our lives, we seek--in the largest sense--serious overachievers, and aficionados of life, past and present: identifying them, learning from them, having them as friends, hiring them and above all, never holding them back. It is often hard to find these people--or even to remember that they once existed. We do, after all, live in a cookie-cutter world. Originality, intuition, authentic spirituality, and even taste are not valued--these traits are often feared and attacked--in most of the West. This is especially true in America, where we continue to be geographically, culturally and (some think) cosmically isolated. The United States, despite its successes, high standard of living and exciting possibilities, has become world headquarters of both moral pretension and dumbing life down. Besides, fresh thinking leads to painful recognitions. It's easier to let something else do the thinking for us.

"Fragmentation" is a word some people (including those with better credentials than the undersigned to write this) have used for decades to describe modern humans all over the world: lots of wonderful, intricate and even elegant pieces--but no whole. So, in our search for coherence, we look for clues. We look to television, advertising, and malls. To work, and to professional organizations. To secondary schools, universities, and any number of religions (none of the latter seem "special"--they say identical intuitive and common sense good things, but just say them differently), and to an array of other well-meaning institutions. In fairness, all of these have their moments (hey, we all like our insular clubs).

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March 24, 2021

John Henry Holliday: Southerner, Toper, Gambler, Friend.

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John Henry Holliday in 1872. Graduation photo.

He despised and, whenever he could, preferred to engage bullies. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself. He argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs.

The Gift of Loyalty, Being There, Standing Up. Nine-tenths of what has been said or written about him, including Hollywood's versions, is hype. Doc Holliday wasn't a great shot, or anything like an artist with that big knife he carried around with him. He didn't kill scores of people. He wasn't drunk 24/7. Not everyone hated or feared him. Yes, he could be as mean as a snake.

But when you clear away the Old West myth, he's still a tragic but compelling and often admirable loner. Biographers do agree that John Henry Holliday (1851-1887) was fiercely loyal and could be counted on to stand up for friends--not just the Earp family--and a few others who might need a bold if flamboyant assist.

To be honest, I wish more lawyers--too many of us are cowards and wimps--had Doc's pluck, his ever-readiness to "be there" for you and his fine madness. Most of us? We don't come by strong character, action or decisiveness naturally. Face it: as a group, we are barely above-average Dorks. We've raised holding back, and even common cowardice, to an acceptable art.

Like many lawyers-to-be, Doc grew up comfortably and was well-educated. He was raised in Georgia as a popular and bright youngster in a close, supportive and fairly well-to-do family in which, among other things, he learned about card games. His clan's fortunes were badly set back, but not destroyed, by the Civil War and the subsequent occupation by Union soldiers.

He started out adulthood in 1872 as a 20-year-old graduate of a fine dental surgery school in Philadelphia. But Holliday caught Tuberculosis from either his stepmother or a patient in his first year of practice. At 22, still the beginning of his dental practice, he was diagnosed as "consumptive"--and told that he had but a few months to live.

This shock, coupled with what some researchers believe was a star-crossed love affair with a first cousin, made Holliday move West for his health. Dentistry quickly took a back seat to gambling. He became a binge-drinking rogue with only a few friends, professional gambler, resident wit, expert womanizer and prankster who was somehow menacing to most of the people he met, even at a weight of around 140 pounds. Although he was clearly an emotional and in some respects volatile man, most reports have him clear-headed, quick-witted and even strangely calm in violent situations the moment they erupted.

This was a bit of Social Critic and Philosopher in Holliday, too. I've read three bios now on Doc. (The best, to me, is Doc Holliday by Gary L. Roberts, John Wiley & Sons (2006)). Even when drunk, or when he had lost his temper (both happened a lot), Holliday was clear-eyed in a number of respects.

He wouldn't beat up on weaklings. He despised--and, whenever he could, preferred to engage--straight-up bullies and self-hating creeps. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself; he argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs. And even when cornered--or was about to be hauled off to jail (also happened a lot)--he had something caustic and often incredibly funny to say.

Tuberculosis did finally claim him in Colorado at age 37. There is no end to the lore about what he did and said, or to the speculation about what made him tick in those last 15 years. But even the most sober historical sources on Holliday do agree on one thing. Over and over again, if a friend--in a few cases a total stranger--needed him, he was there immediately.

Instinctive. No hesitation. An angry yet adept explosion. None of the pathetic step-by-step "analysis" of modern white collars that should shame us deeply every time and never does. You didn't need to ask Doc to help. Doc didn't need to think about it. He just did it.

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March 22, 2021

Hull Hoops DNA

Center bottom photo: My Great Aunt Helen Hull in 1922. Born 1906. So that makes 4 generations and counting of serious Hull-McCracken hoops talent. My dad John Hull III (b. 1928). My first cousin Mike McCracken (1951). My nephew David Hull, Jr. (1982). And a few lesser lights here and there. Thanks to Mary Helen Allen, her daughter. Just saw this today.

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March 21, 2021

Is this what you do with your time?

I can hardly believe I’ve written this but here it is.

American racism in all its forms will likely decrease—and in leaps and bounds—when our morally superior mainstream media stops talking about it, seeking it out, seeing it everywhere, writing and broadcasting about it and, frankly, in effect encouraging it so it can have something to do. The press in the last half-decade especially has insulted our intelligence. The American people aren’t the main problem. Media is. And it’s time for media to stop the largely false, unproductive and prophecy-fulfilling narrative it keeps gleefully peddling. American mainstream news was once my hero. It is now divisive in the extreme. It does not lead. It has become a backward kid that needs a refresher in journalism, fair play and real freedom of speech.


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March 18, 2021

The Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D.C. 1844.

Right altar. North side. The Church of the Epiphany (Episcopalian). Built 1844. 13th and G Streets, Northwest. United States.Senator Jefferson F. Davis (D-Mississippi) and his family worshiped here in Pew No. 14 from 1846 until 1861. 2:30 PM June 5, 2019.

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March 16, 2021

Vincenzo Camuccini, Mort de Caesar, 1798

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March 15, 2021

The Ides of March: Death of an Alpha Male.

When the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty...

--Plutarch, on young Caesar, writing in about AD 100

Today is the Ides of March, death date of Gaius Julius Caesar (July 13, 100 BC - March 15, 44 BC), general, politician, schemer, explorer, writer, alpha male, womanizer, patrician and, as we begin to observe St. Patrick's day, no friend of Gaelic peoples. Ambitious and supremely confident, Ceasar made Rome an empire. He conquered what is now France and Belgium--and got Rome more interested in taking on an assortment of Celtic tribes in Britain after his death. He was both a charming vain dandy, and a skilled military leader, and one with a surprising compassionate streak. A century after his death, the Greek historian Plutarch wrote an enduring bio. Plutarch even mixed it up with armchair psychoanalysis, treating Caesar's life in "parallel" with that of Alexander the Great, another wildly self-assured fellow. The term Ides of March ("March 15") has nothing to do with our hero; "ides" means middle in the earliest Roman calendar, which some say was devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.


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Nicolas Coustou, 1713, Louvre: You talking to me?

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