May 21, 2013
Roman law not only survived among the Roman population, it was revived and extended to peoples of Northern Europe, and it was then spread by modern colonization to lands beyond the seas of which the Romans had never even dreamed, to Quebec and Louisiana, to Spanish America and the Cape of Good Hope. Not so many years ago an appeal from South Africa to the British Privy Council turned upon an interpretation of a passage in the Digest of Justinian.
C. H. Haskins, Ch. VII, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (World 1972 ed.)
May 18, 2013
In Indian Hill, southern Ohio, U.S. A small rectangular church with a prominent front tower. Photo by Greg Hume.
May 17, 2013
This British classically-trained stage actress attended Oxford. There she read English Literature at Wadham College, and graduated with a 2:1 degree. But more importantly, she's a plugger, is likely (while slumming in films) to win an Oscar some day, is 5'8" and could make a deaf, dumb and blind guy hear, speak and see. Welcome to our Pantheon, Miss Pike.
May 15, 2013
"Ernie from Glen Burnie", not his real name, is an unreliable but wise childhood friend of mine who likes the works of Hunter Thompson. EFGB is now a partner at a Washington, DC law firm. For years he has claimed that the following--by an unknown and long-dead lawyer, and dated 1836--was discovered during the 1980s in the ruins of an old Episcopal church in a northern Virginia town near DC. I would believe EFGB--except that I doubt that the word "weenie" was much in style in the antebellum American south. The parchment:
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.
May 12, 2013
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. - Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895.
My mother--to us, "Mom"--was and is that mom all the other kids in the neighborhoods we lived in wanted to be their mom.
Before that, way before, she and her ancestors were part of one of the most romantic stories ever told. I imagine first thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then even more, of people out of Suffolk via Ipswich to Groton and other towns and slowly and geometrically multiplying across America, to Massachusetts, Canada, and Three Oaks, Michigan.
But she never let on as we grew up that her family--and therefore mine--had been in America so long. We'd only heard about Hulls or Holles--German protestant minsters and farmer stock in the Palatine who come over on a ship from Rotterdam in the just-yesterday mid-1700s. I had to piece it together myself with some colonial organization records prepared in the late 1940s (at the request of a patron great aunt in Jacksonville, Florida who threw my parents' wedding in 1950) she had kept from everyone and finally gave me; it's actually typed before my birth and condensed to 6 pages. And a little help from Google on the part of Suffolk they came from via Ipswich.
Her family came from the still-tiny village of Lindsey, England, to Massachusetts in 1634. This is mainstream early Yank history. (I visit Lindsey, in Suffolk, in 2003. Her family's name is still on some of the stones in the churchyard, and in recent records of weddings still kept in the church.)
Exactly three centuries later, a photogenic only child is growing up in Chicago. It's the Depression. She starts working as a model when she is quite young. She's a bit quiet and sweet. And tall. Her own mother is strong, "well-raised", and with an Auntie Mame/stage mother quality she had until her death in 1970. In the late 1930s and 40s, the agencies love Mom's "all-American" girl next door face and smile. In photos, commercial or not, they jump off a page at you. Without makeup, she comes by a young yet "all grown-up" look at a very young age.
I am looking at one of them hung in my home right now.
I am dying for action, and rust like a Damascus sabre in the sheath of a poltroon.
--Benjamin Disraeli, about 1835
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) was provocative and precocious, often a pain in the ass and a comeback kid all his life. Though he had very early success as a writer, he failed miserably in business. He then ran for office--but kept losing. As a young man, he picked ill-considered political fights that he often lost with Daniel O'Connell, the dangerously witty Irish barrister-politician. Finally, in 1837, he was elected to the House of Commons. But he blew his maiden speech so badly he was laughed at uproariously from beginning to end.
A shameless self-promoter, he attracted too much attention. He even dressed to provoke. He shunned most men, preferring women, especially the high-born.
Mainly, I think, Disraeli was restless. He bored easily. He simply liked the limelight, and getting important things done. As a student, the idea of practicing law, which he pursued briefly, left him feeling stale and useless. "Izzy" said he felt most alive when he was doing something both public and difficult. Early in his career, he once wrote unhappily to a friend: "I am dying for action, and rust like a Damascus sabre in the sheath of a poltroon." Disraeli, A. Maurois (Random House 1928).
Disraeli, by Sir Francis Grant, 1852.
May 11, 2013
Federal Attire. Sans cape.
State Garb. Folkways vary. Socks overly-formal in SoCal & Northwest.
May 10, 2013
At the time, it was still part of Playa del Rey.
May 09, 2013
Bombard, Copy and Confirm. Do that in Real Time. See Rule Five in our annoying but failsafe 12 Rules. Not everyone agrees with this one. If, of course, the client wants something different, do that. Adjust. But if you work hard at consistently informing clients of everything as things happens, you probably can't lose. In short, provide a real-time experience for customers: what you are thinking, planning and doing. It's harder to pull this off than it sounds, too. You must make it a habit.
May 08, 2013
By Shepard Fairey
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)
May 07, 2013
Proofreading [like cite-checking] is not an innate ability; it is an acquired skill.
High-tech never meant no-class. Even in world-weary but more rustic venues around the world like, say, Palizzi, Italy, Yell County, Arkansas, and apparently southern Manhattan--three places where it's still considered pretentious to wear socks in municipal courts--proofreading is still in vogue and essential. A website at Virginia Tech catches the basics. Our favorite: "Read what is actually on the page, not what you think is there."
1. Cultivate a healthy sense of doubt. If there are types of errors you know you tend to make, double check for those.
Associate lawyers in American law firm getting their Learn Thing on.
2. Read very slowly. If possible, read out loud. Read one word at a time.
3. Read what is actually on the page, not what you think is there. (This is the most difficult sub-skill to acquire, particularly if you wrote what you are reading.)
4. Proofread more than once. If possible, work with someone else.
May 06, 2013
Below Hesse (1877-1962) appears at 48 in a 1925 Gret Widman photo. For much of his life he was broke, alone, sick or nomadic. He sold books and antiques. He kept writing, and finally won widespread recognition with Siddhartha (1922) and Steppenwolf (1927). At the outbreak of WWI, friends and countrymen turned against him for knocking German nationalism. Hesse resigned German and acquired Swiss citizenship in 1923. In the 1930s and 1940s, his writings were suppressed, and sometimes destroyed, by the Nazis. The Nobel Prize in Literature came in 1946 at age 70.
Rule 9: If you want a lawyer's life on your terms, consider a different career. How about the kazoo?
Lawyering as a privilege. In our vexing but correct, righteous and world-famous 12 Rules, Rule 9 is "Be There For Clients--24/7". Lawyering is not about the lawyers. Great lawyers do not put themselves first. They serve. That service, even when engaged and paid for by clients who are the most sophisticated and lawyer-savvy purchasers of legal talent on earth, can be difficult, stressful and inconvenient. It taxes and stretches us. It tests us on our worst days. It demands our consistency. But this is only the deal we made with ourselves, and with the profession, long ago. If you really want a lawyer's life on your terms, do consider changing careers. Move to rural France, to Key West, Florida--or to Weed, California, in Siskiyou County, under the exotic shadow of Mount Shasta. Maybe learn to play the lute. No? How about the kazoo? Wait. Got it. Here's one: Rescue feral cats.
The Leduc Kazoo Band kicks it in Leduc, Alberta, Canada, July 1, 1925.
May 05, 2013
And it has a lot to talk about. Hands down, the Manhattan borough alone has more history, more diversity, more stories and more lessons than any other American town. Take one discrete area--and study it back over the past four centuries. The saloon where where you now talk, drink, revel and love was once the site of an orchard, a sprawling farm, a new development of private estates, a long-forgotten theater or a once-great newspaper's office.
"Junction of the Bowery and Broadway, Union Square", 1885, by Albertis Del Orient Browere. Oil on canvas. (Museum of the City of New York, J. Clarence Davies Collection)
May 04, 2013
I was simmering, simmering, simmering. Emerson brought me to a boil. --Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Inspiration. Jack London thought you could not wait for it. You needed, he felt, to go out and hunt inspiration with a club. Walt Whitman, however, was luckier. He was a relatively young man when Ralph Waldo Emerson was thinking and writing. Emerson set off the young printer and hack writer, hurling him into an exuberant and celebratory realm, where no one had ever been.
Wild Walt, circa 1860, by Matthew Brady
Wordworth's Muse: In the Lake District, you might hear "ghostly language of the ancient earth".
Writing is difficult. Even if you can't be perfect--and often you can't--please put your heart into it.
Writing--any kind of writing--is hard work. The most inspired "work moments" I've had are in this category: watching someone struggle with getting to the right word or phrase under pressure and when they are tired. The first time I saw it was watching a college daily editor--my roommate both in college and in DC for a while--struggle at 4:00 AM over a few words in the final sentences of a student reporter's story covering a public figure's on-campus speech.
He was also a student stringer for a well-known newspaper, and knew his bosses far away would see his article on the event. He had already phoned in the facts to an editor in Manhattan--and he had been careful to get those facts right.
The public figure had blown it--and had said some goofy and impolitic things that, given his government job, he should not have said, or said differently. The event was likely to draw attention from mainstream media around the country the next day.
And that happened. My friend, of course, couldn't have fully known in advance of any storms the speech or his piece might cause; I really doubt that would have mattered in his effort.
He still deeply cared, at four in the morning, about the writing--which was "good enough, but not quite there yet"--and it moved me. It still does.
We were both barely 21.
May 03, 2013
A cherished Brit friend of mine--a stunning woman with a rare blend of moxie and brains--hails from King's Lynn. The town is situated primarily on the east bank of the River Great Ouse, which flows into the nearby Wash, a huge estuary and shallow bay of the North Sea. A port about 120 miles north of London, it's also about 50 miles northwest of Lindsey, Suffolk, a still tiny village from where my mother's family first emigrated to Massachusetts in 1634. King's Lynn, or "Lynn", is at least 1000 years old. There are references to Lynn (where locals harvested salt from salt marshes) in the Domesday Book, commissioned by William I to get a handle on just what he and his fellow Normans had conquered in 1066.
More accurately, Lynn appears in "Little Domesday", the independent work covering Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Originally named "Bishop's Lynn", the town was part of the manor of the Bishop of Norwich in the 12th century. St. Margaret's Church was founded in 1101. By the 14th century, the town ranked as the third most important port in England. Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538--and the town and the manor became royal property. And, of course, the name changed. Today industries are fishing and seafood, chemicals, glass-making, light manufacturing and food processing.
Queen Street, 1909
May 02, 2013
May 01, 2013
The future belongs to Quarterbacks, Savvy Leaders and Project Managers.
Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker", St. Paul de Vence, France. One of 20 originals. Photo: David Callan, June 2006.
I want to work with the top people, because only they have the courage and the confidence and the risk-seeking profile that you need.
--James Joyce (1882-1941)
Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 17: Pretend You're Not a Lawyer. Lead. Decide. Recommend. Take a Stand.
Stand-Up Guys: Ernie from Glen Burnie, dead-ringer for 1950s icon Neal Cassady, and WAC founder at Washington, D.C church function.
The great publicly-traded businesses many of us represent take calculated risks every day. Pretend you are not the side-stepping risk-averse lawyer they expect. Give alternatives, push a strategy. If the GC accepts it--and it fails--take responsibility for some of the failure. But do make a decision, recommend something concrete--and take the hit if you are wrong.
So what about sane writing by lawyers? How do you do it?
Below are some suggestions from our firm's Practice Guide on just writing for beginning associates, paralegals and assistants. We first created it twelve years ago. Only 40 pages long, the Guide was required reading but it was intended to be fun to read. It told all employees very specifically how to do the work, and how to think about clients while we were doing it. There is even a "secured" appendix with descriptions of our clients: 90% longstanding, most publicly-traded, and all with General Counsel and in-house lawyers. All employees need to know about them. The pithy and succinct 40-page Guide is very, very "confidential"--and yet we never seem to have enough copies of it.
People steal it. Many of the people who got frustrated and quit our firm, were fired or otherwise learned to truly hate us over the years still love "the Guide".
The Disgruntled, especially, love it and will just take it.
April 30, 2013
Even for "minimalists", intelligent discovery in a complex business case is hard, especially in its early stages, where you may be working a bit in the dark in the first few depositions.
Even when things go well, litigation is expensive and disruptive in unexpected ways. Seasoned GCs are not impressed that your client has a "good" or even "strong" case on law and facts. They are not likely to think your claim or defense is cool. Frankly, he, or she, wanted, "no case".
Nothing personal--but the client didn't really want to hire you, or anyone. So sorry. The client is not that happy for you.
So how do you make each of the first few depositions a fact-finding and case-building but highly efficient triumph? A success. But success here also meaning not "feeding the monster".
Wait. Do we even need to take this deposition?
Even for "minimalists", intelligent discovery in a complex business case is hard, especially in its early stages, where you may be working a bit in the dark in the first few depositions. You need planning--which trial lawyers do not always love--and not just great instincts. Planning way early and in advance of actual trial is distasteful and downright nerdy to many of us. Planning. It's like reading the directions, or inspecting a rental car. Planning has no glamour.
But do it anyway. Plot. Craft. Write it down. Outline. Plan. This deposition isn't really about you, is it?
Above: Auguste Rodin's first cast of "The Thinker" (Le Penseur), 1902, Bronze and Marble, Musée Rodin, Paris.
April 29, 2013
There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action.
--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe".
Rolland and Gandhi in Villeneuve, Switzerland, 1931.
I need a woman about twice my height. Statuesque. Raven-tressed. A goddess of the night.
--John Barlow and Bob Wier, "I Need a Miracle"
She lives forever at our Pantheon. Patrician. Five foot eleven. Stanford and Yale. Born October 8, 1949, she is 63 years old. A miracle every day, Jack.
Source for Photo: Beautiful Ones
April 28, 2013
Stressed GC: "The Dweebs. The Dweebs."
It's not school. It's no longer about you.
Rule 10: Be Accurate, Thorough and Timely--But Not Perfect. So practicing law is getting it right, saying it right and winning--all with a gun to your head. But 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. Get used to that.
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.
April 27, 2013
Like Raoul Duke, who was not like the others. Learn something.
April 26, 2013
Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two.
His life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands.
--Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)
April 25, 2013
All heiresses are beautiful. --John Dryden (1631-1700)
And often bright: Dylan Lauren, Duke '96.
April 24, 2013
See this one: 10 Networking Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb by Heather Dugan at the wonderfully titled Salary.com. "Read on for a few of the ways some networkers relegate themselves to the no-man’s land of unanswered calls and discarded business cards, and how they can improve."
April 23, 2013
Clients and customers are the Main Event. If you're in a service business, you, your company and your employees are second. Please get used to that. Anything else is a dodge and a ruse. See Rule 2 of our world-famous 12 Rules of Client Service. It's not about you and yours, Jack.
Dylan and Dante say you gotta serve somebody. Photo: "Clerks", Miramax Films.
April 22, 2013
I think it's a good argument. And Earth Day, like most of the environmental movement, has been in large part a bi-partisan success, at that. But harnessing student unrest and flower power to make it all go was Pure Magic. Happy Earth Day. See this Earth Day: The History of A Movement at the Earth Day Network. Thank you Denis Hayes and Sen. Gaylord Nelson, my first real boss.
Gaylord Anton Nelson
April 21, 2013
If you can't solve a problem, it's because you're playing by the rules.
--Paul Arden (1940-2008). Saatchi & Saatchi Executive. Legend. Wizard. Believed Fresh Thinking was Fun, Subversive, Lucrative.
April 20, 2013
See the Associated Press item in The Herald Bulletin: Boston Bombing Suspect Captured. And many of us have a special appreciation for all the Watertown and Boston residents who supported and applauded the police for a job well done without any special show of vindictiveness or smallness toward either bomber suspect. Big hearts. Immense class. We don't know everything. The 19-year-old captured still needs to be tried.
Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
--Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)