Archive for March, 2011

Playin’ The Legal Game (March 28, 2011)

Posted in Law, Society on March 28, 2011 by

. . .

Y          “In high school and college, it was about Truth and Justice.  In law school, it was about the law and the facts.  In practice, it is about personality and politics.”

X          “And allegiances, alliances, animosities, prejudices and peccadilloes and all the human drama.  You see, you actually believed.  They still admit a few of you.  Some of us knew.  Some of us had nothing else to do.  Some of us had to do it.”

Y          “Seems so naive in hindsight.  Around that time, the illusionment phase was devolving and transitioning into the disillusionment phase.  Law school was part of the process.”

X          “One of the final phases.  They never noted that at the outset of a case, my two concerns are to discern the names of the other attorney and of the judge.  Everything else is incidental.  Other than to make sure that I get paid.  And to let them know that if they do not have any money, they do not have any rights.”

Y         “I feel obligated to share those insights at the outset with clients.  They are perplexed, outraged, frightened and disgusted.”

X          “However, if you can work that circumstance to their advantage, they are never outraged.  I tell a client that the side willing to commit more money to the campaign will in all probability prevail.  And it is a campaign, like a military campaign, because it is thinly veiled violence.  The biggest challenge confronting a lawyer is to convince the judge that he or she should find a way to rule in your favor.  Whatever it takes.  Would you do it again?”

Y          “Law school?  Law practice?”

X          “Either.”

Y          “I liked the ideas and the possibility of the law from a young age.  Practice is not much more and not much less than a game.  You can take the game.  You?”

X          “Once again, what else would I do?  Law school was the next stage.  Law practice is the stage after that stage.  Law practice is what I was expected to do.  A family legacy, a family disease.  Since day one, however, I have inculcated my kids that they should avoid the dead-end careers of law and medicine and go into something profitable like sports or entertainment.”

Y          “I would check the box to check out in two years.  The third year exists to create a barrier to entry.  Each year of life now is too precious.”

X          “If you can stay sober for three years, you can get through an American law school.  I can’t say that a three year sentence has been effective in reducing the hordes.  We get billions of resumes every day.  We could fill every position down to the janitorial staff with a lawyer admitted to and in good standing with a state bar.”

Y          “The third year just drives up the cost of legal services.  And yet the lure of more expensive rewards in turn compels kids to put up with the third year.”

X          “B school is over in two years.  The law school industry wants the law to be one year more prestigious than business school and one year less flash than med. school.”

Y          “How long does it take to learn how to lie skillfully.  I was asked to speak to some young lawyers yet couldn’t do it because of my own personal convictions about the “tell the whole truth” thing.  Opening by telling them that the legal system is far, far, far worse than I ever imagined here in law school would not be politic.  Angling for a judgeship?”

X          “Not a chance.  Of getting it or trying to get it.  Once maybe.  I have the ego, but I don’t have the patience and don’t want to be involved any more than I have to be in the game.  Too many judges don’t get it; some judges don’t get it because they are not getting it.  I’ve mucked around in dirty underwear for too long.  And I would rather go angling for a largemouth than listening to loud mouths.”

Y          “How life changes.  I always assumed that I would end up being a judge.  But I know what you’re saying.  Today, I want as little to do with the legal game as possible.”

X          “The appeal of being a judge is that you don’t know the rules and don’t need to know the rules.  When someone directs you to a rule or law, you only must decide whether to follow it or not to follow it.”

Y          “I held up our state rule book and noted to someone:  ‘This is injustice.’  There are far too many rules that only serve as a barrier to entry to keep lawyers from representing parties.  The public loses.”

X          “Always does.”

Y          “What’s the exit strategy?”

X          “Still waiting for the big score.  Class action, mass tort, airplane crash.  A celebrity divorce would work.”

Y          “What if the only exeunt is to quit playin’ the legal game.  Are you going to the lunch?”

X          “Only if it is a fund raiser.”

Y          “Notice how the tables have turned.  One old boy professor was remarkably obsequious last night.  That’s another fact I realized quickly in practice.  In a business that exalts credentials over human capital, the legal game selects law professors almost because they have never practiced law and do not understand the system.”

X          “The entire legal faculty in America is drawn from such a parochial and provincial group that is distinguished only by the fact that they have never practiced law.  And they were the gatekeepers.  Now we have the wallet.  They want the wallet.  It’s all about wallet.”

. . . and subsequent installments.

Bumper stickers of the week:

Better to know the judge than to know the law.

I’ve watched a lot of you come and go over the decades at this firm.  Never forget that you can never be smarter than the judge.

The law is whatever the judge says it is today, except that it may be different tomorrow in the same judge’s court.

You know your problem, son, is you let your knowledge of the law get in the way of the way we do it over here.

Never forget, son, every litigation case takes a piece of your soul.

On The Vernal Equinox (March 21, 2011)

Posted in Guns, Society, Solstice, Sports on March 21, 2011 by

. . .

A1       “The equinox is the ‘equal night day.’  The science jocks contend that the equinox is the time when the sun crosses the equator and creates a night and thus a day of equal length.  Another marker from the Heavens of an ending and of a beginning.  Winter is going.  Summer is coming.”

A2       “And another biathlon season is going.  Hard to fault an event that mixes cross country skiing and target shooting.  The biathlete in the long race skis 5 kilometres and then takes a bout of 5 shots at metal targets from the prone position with a .22 long rifle round.  And then skis another 5 klicks before taking another bout of 5 shots from the standing position.  And then skis another 5 klicks before repeating it again.  The heart pounds and sounds like a Pfaff sewing machine wired to 220 volts.”

A1       “Always seems akin to boxing one round and then playing the violin and then boxing one round and then playing the violin and repeating it again.”

A2       “The perfect outlet for rambunctious Buddhists.”

A1       “Chess boxing.  That is the real thing.  And you can participate year round.”

A2       “Buddhists don’t usually box.  And a real winter event requires snow.  And atonement.  A missed target must be ‘atoned for’ by either skiing a penalty lap or taking a time penalty.  Miss a penalty loop and you are disqualified; miscount and ski any extra penalty loop and you are lost.  As usual, the one who spends the least time on the trail and at the range prevails.  Time to put up the skis and lock up the gun and transition to God’s game.”

A1       “Soccer is a great workout, yet it does allow for idle hands.”

A2       “That is where women’s lacrosse comes into play.  The women’s game remains true to the original rules of America’s first sport.  The women’s game is poetry.  The men’s game is doggerel prose.  Both are demanding and fast-paced.”

A1       “Helmets or no helmets?”

A2       “They should require helmets for women.  The game requires one to use one’s head which should be protected.”

A1       “And despite all the rapid social and cultural changes, you can play the traditional and timeless co-ed inner tube water polo year round.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” titled “Less Government Regulation Series: Motorcycle Helmets (June 15, 2009).”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Co-ed inner tube water polo rules

Idle hands and feet are the devil’s workshop.

The Equinox is a time of equanimity

Compost . . . because a rind is a terrible thing to waste

Spring bird musings:

Songs – to breed (to attract a mate)

Calls – to communicate (to repel a transgressor, usually)

Song – “Over here, baby.”

Call  –   “Go away, Jack.”

Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic . . . and Respect . . . and Success (March 14, 2011)

Posted in Education, Schooling, Water on March 14, 2011 by

. . .

P1       “He keeps rantin’ about readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic even if the kids hate learning or learn to hate learning.  He really seems eager to make learning unpleasant.”

P2       “Anyone who says that the kids first need to respect themselves and each other is branded a pantywaist.”

P1       “Have you also noticed that the proponents of the pain school of schooling usually are not very luminous.”

P2       “It’s part of the worldview.  Then there are those, particularly parents, who claim to hold up education as the highest ideal who really are more interested in collecting awards, tokens and trophies.  The little darlings are just ego extensions of their hovering parents.  They elevate schooling over education.”

P1       “There is a schism between those who endorse readin’, ‘ritin, and ‘rithmetic and those who recognize the need for respect, specifically self-respect and self esteem, before someone takes to learning.”

P2       “The grand irony is that it must be a package personality.  There has been some disconnect along the way.  We have free public education, yet forty-five percent of the population is immune to and almost inoculated against ideas.  I don’t blame public education for the problem.  The habits are kindled at home.”

P1       “I’ve told kids that there is some great writing in the sports page of a newspaper.  I read the tautest commentary on a championship game that covered the game, the season and the history of the sport in a handful of words.  Whatever it takes to get them reading and to enjoy reading.”

P2       “Inculcate curiosity.”

. . .

P1       “The hard truth is that those who obey also succeed.”

P2       “Those who ask questions are not given an award for having regurgitated the right answer.”

. . .

P1       “Getting through high school really is a survival course.  On a good day, it is banal and insufferable.”

P2       “That squares with my observation that many persons would like to go back in life and be 18 again, but no one ever longs to be 14 again.”

P1       “And they always want to go back knowing what they know today.  That may not be part of the deal.”

P2       “High school is the most unpleasant period is one’s life, yet the grand irony is that life itself is just a string of high school experiences with graver consequences.  Everyone gets older, but few get mature or wiser.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssays” on “Schooling” and “Education.”]

[World Water Day – March 22]

[See the “Race To Nowhere” movie and website]

Bumper stickers of the week:

What did you teach the teacher today, son?

Inculcate curiosity


“Politics is high school with guns and more money.”  Frank Zappa

In Sexy Opinion, Supreme Court Affirms First Amendment (March 7, 2011)

Posted in First Amendment, Journalism, Law, Newspapers, Supreme Court on March 7, 2011 by

Torn from today’s headlines:

A          “Justices Rule For Anti-Gay Protestors at Funerals” also reported as “High Court Rules For Anti-Gay Protestors at Funerals”  The National Public Radio

B          “Justices Rule For Protestors At Military Funerals”  The New York Times

C          “Supreme Court Rules First Amendment Protects Church’s Right To Picket Funerals”  The Washington Post

D          “Supreme Court Sides With Churchgoers Who Picketed Military Funeral”  The Los Angeles Times

E          “Supreme Court Says Anti-Gay Protestors Have A Right To Demonstrate At Military Funerals”  The Chicago Tribune

F          “First Amendment Protects ‘Hurtful’ Speech, Court Says”  The Wall Street Journal

What is The most correct answer?  F

. . .

G          “Sexy headlines sell.”

H          “Didn’t the Supreme Court simply affirm the First Amendment?”

G          “Exactly.  However, if a sexy headline attracts more readers, go for it.  We need people to read.  And think.  And support the newspaper.”

H          “There are winners and there are losers which may be what the public really is interested in tracking.”

G          “Perhaps the decisions should be posted in the Sports section of the newspaper.”

H          “Judges often make result oriented decisions.  They decide who should win and then spin the facts and law to make the outcome appear to the reader to be a fait accompli and beyond reasonable dispute.”

G          “In this case, the Justices looked at the law.  They acknowledge the hate that motivates the speakers and the hateful message they deliver and reaffirm the fundamental right.  Every attempt to formulate an exception undermines the most important Amendment.”

H          “I read that Democratic and Republicans leaders of the Senate and a few dozen members of Congress filed a brief on behalf of the family.  They endured the vile and evil actions and statements of the protestors.  Can’t they just go away.”

G          “Law should be removed from the political process.  The Supreme Court redeemed itself again in this case and the case involving the Federal Communications Commission and AT&T.  The winds are blowing from a different direction.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssays” dated June 25, 2007 titled “The Supreme Court On Drugs” and dated January 25, 2010 titled “Bill/Melinda and Warren, It Is Time To Get Into The Game” discussing bad hair days at the Court.]

Bumper stickers of the week:

I get along with God just fine; it’s his fan clubs I can’t stand.

I’m a big fan of God; I’m not a big fan of his fanatics.