May 24, 2017

Ireland's Book of Kells: Humans, Gods, at Serious Play.

The Book of Kells: Is there anything more beautiful? Below is Folio 292r (circa 800) of The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It's housed at Trinity College Library, in Dublin, Ireland. This page opens the Gospel of John. Illustrations in the Book of Kells are bursting with pre-Christian, pagan and Celtic symbols and motifs that had evolving, mixing and merging in Ireland for nearly 8000 years before Christianity. The result is a religious document and montage of mixed media that is at once playful, quirky, sexual, mystical and a deeply devout mainstream Christian tract. 680 pages of the work survives.

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May 23, 2017

Manchester

Knew it all along. Welsh guys on a Cardiff to Manchester road trip.

Seriously. Where will it end, Campers? How's that Yank Open Borders instinct right now?

The West is at War.

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May 22, 2017

Pantheon: Charlize Theron

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May 21, 2017

Phillip James Loutherbourg: River Wye at Tintern Abbey, 1805.

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The River Wye at Tintern Abbey, 1805, Philip James Loutherbourg.

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May 20, 2017

Euripides: On Speech.

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

Euripides, stand-up Greek (480-406 B.C.)

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Proust: On Travel.

The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.

--Marcel Proust, 1871–1922, French novelist, critic.

Life's short. Get up. Go somewhere different. Meet someone different.

--What About Clients/Paris? 2007

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May 19, 2017

Lawyering: A Back-Stage Pass to the World.

The Strip, Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. As the fictional movie character John Milton said, law done right is a "backstage pass to the world." We've a client doing good things in Africa with an office here. How many lawyers have a practice with client meetings two blocks from the Viper Room and The Whiskey? Probably quite a few. But I grew up in the Midwest--where TGIF restaurants are considered to be pretty wild, and it's eccentric to wear a trench coat and tasseled loafers on the same day. So this kind of meeting venue may be my notion of gratitude.

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John Keats (1795-1821): All Ye Need.

Ode On A Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.


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Continue reading...

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May 18, 2017

Now what? In the Matter of Donald John Trump.

And because everyone asks me..

1. No one sane & savvy I know thinks DJT will be impeached.

2. The upshot? Far more people in all camps think he's an asshole. That's it.

3. Also: No one sane & savvy thinks he's dumb. Everyone thinks he's a scrapper. He won't step down unless he's bored. That won't happen.

4. The only long-term narrative against Trump I can see is that he's nuts. Bonkers. Not enough--we've had a few Wild Man presidents. E.g. Teddy R was way crazy. "He's crazy" won't remove him from office but will hurt him if it sticks. Like in 2020.

5. Mueller is a class act and honest--much better human than Ken Starr (or Comey)--and in any event will drive this away from impeachment because it's bad for the country.

6. The country will more than ever continue to divide into 2 overall camps. Hair on fire Dems vs. fed-up hold their noses GOP folks. People will even talk more about civil war. Which also won't happen.

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May 17, 2017

John Daniel Hull III (1928-2012). Happy 89th, Big John.

John Daniel Hull III. May 17, 1928 - December 27, 2012. My Dad's 89th birthday would have been May 17, 2017. This blog has posted pictures of him at various ages. Below is one of his favorite places in the world. He loved water, boats, smallmouth bass and his family. He was authentic, original at all times, funny, aggressive, bold, robust and healthy, had a gift with spoken & written words and simply did not care what anyone thought about what he said or did. Ever. Playful is the word. He was, too, a celebrated athlete, a standout in both football and basketball at Shortridge High School and DePauw, both in Indiana. The last male Hull in my line born in the Ozarks, he was self-made, and storied, at Procter & Gamble. At age 84 he died suddenly and unexpectedly but happy. It was a lesson. His own Mom lived to be a happy and similarly feisty 101. His own Dad, paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandfather (a Confederate soldier born in 1837) all lived longer lives. Best genes a male Hull ever had or will have. But he had no regrets. And nothing was ever unsaid. Happy Birthday, Big John. They broke the mold, Dad.

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May 16, 2017

It's Tuesday, May 16, 2017...

And many of us have been out of pocket.

What horrible outrageous scumbag deed has POTUS No. 45 done in the last 24 hours?


Get up and go to work?

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May 15, 2017

Now when I was a young boy....

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May 14, 2017

Mother's Day.

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July 1, 1950

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. In Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago and finally Cincinnati. 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 invading America, 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. It turns out Mom all along was a Colonial Dame.

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.

Her face: Strength. Spirit. Fun. Femininity. A real but completely natural Charisma. In this one agency photo, that she's classically beautiful is nearly besides the point. At thirteen, she's an experienced model. Looks aren't everything--but in the 1940s they are still the pinnacle for a girl or woman. Times are hard. You're female? You're an off-the-charts pretty girl from Evanston? You've a natural figure? Well, use it, honey. She has some other breaks. She's good at language--and college bound. A pretty good athlete. A relative in the American South offers to pays for much of her education.

And then there's this one: she actually spends much of her teen and early adult years trying to gain weight. Milkshakes and candy bars. Anything is okay--and that continued. Here's someone put on earth to compensate for some of the rest of us: she has brains, smarts and charm. And an enviable--no maddening--metabolism. She can't gain weight. She even tries. I have the same gift/problem as a kid. I drink milkshakes with her. But I am 11 and she is 35.

But mainly, and here's The Gift: she loves people. I mean, she really, really loves them.

Today, in her eighties, she is still tall, almost 5'10", angular, with dark hair, and fresh, friendly, athletic, striking. In boarding school and college, she is always the homecoming queen, or "May Queen", or something--but that rare and somewhat quiet one without enemies.

All my life, I've heard both men and women remark how beautiful she is--and how nice she is to them.

People talk about the two qualities almost interchangeably--as if they go together. Usually, folks, they do not. With the exception of her, and just one other person, I consider humans without enemies as sad, low and worthless. They're either spineless soulless schemers or straight-up lily white wimps who must be 'liked' by everyone, and won't play in The Game of Real Life. But not Mom.

She is modest, and very private about her own needs, my brother and sister and I learn over time. The eldest, I am most 40 when I first see her entire modelling portfolio--scores of 1940s and 1950s glossies and pictures in magazines I heard about growing up. It is all stunning covering 15 years. Yet she quits it all early--because of us.

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Lindsey, England 2003. Some Holdens (from Houlden, probably a Norman name, at some point) left here for Massachusetts in 1634.


A late-coming family beef: Sorry, Dad, and Mom--but why not haul out those pictures earlier? I love black and whites of my Dad playing Hoosier basketball and football, both at Shortridge and college. And then color came slowly to the pictures in the post-college 1960 pictures. Who would not love the glories of Tide, Jif, Bounty and Charmin? Who isn't glued once they start looking through them to our albums of fishing trips and Pointe Aux Barques years? Vacations with 3 cousins named McCracken. A few male Holdens from Michigan. The pictures show how few in number--but how amazingly healthy--the last three generations of our family had become. One aunt. One uncle. The neighborhoods in La Grange, Grand Rapids, Detroit, then Chicago again.

Finally lots of images of Cincinnati: the promised land and, as it turned out, a class act. A true City-State with real city government that attracted talent. True, Cincy's a bit stiff but hardworking. True, it seems like we're a "tolerated minority" again. In Highland Park, Chicago, we weren't Jewish. In Cincinnati, we weren't Catholic--or of the "old German 'Zinzinnati stock". But nothing beats these Indian Hill schools. Like Braeside, another life-changer. It's the teachers--and the kids. The luck on us. Even my grandparents (the youngest of the four was born in 1900) are lucky enough to graduate from college And Mom tells us to notice it all. And I do.

In the pictures, she always looks as if she is quietly celebrating. Is she in prayer?

There are even some some black and white photos of my first real home: Aberdeen Proving Grounds. G.W. Hospital. Washington Circle. Beginnings I can't quite see. Anyway, lots of images: places and people we met. Musical instruments. Tennis rackets. Teachers for both. Much later Marco Island. Naples. French Lick. Kiawah summers with a new grandkid each one. Even meeting in Paris (my parents and me only; they were my first docents and guides). The 50-year anniversary trip. A 100th birthday party for a grandparent in Springfield, Missouri. Hey, I was there, too. We all were. Great photos--and I treasure them.

But when your smart French-speaking mom men are whispering about all through high school and college looks, and talks, better than "either Hepburn", and so many people like her, show me that stuff at sixteen, okay? Why the silence? Because she's a Greatest Generation-era woman? Here is the main event and fact of our lives: Our mother, Mom, is never interested in herself. Not ever. (It bothers us all). The past-glories portfolio can stay in the trunks, she must have thought to herself.

Beginning at 25, things change. She now loves noisy children and sloppy dogs. Too energetic and too physical, she still does things too quickly. I got this from her: an odd mixture of athleticism and metabolism that yields accidents.

But she, unlike me, always moves too fast for the sake of others. Fond of the troubled, those with raw deals, the strays, she must get things done for them. This, to me, is drive at its purest. She sizes them (and the rest of us) up in seconds. Notwithstanding the judgment you do get, everyone gets a pass. Street people, the mailman, animals and executives and wives.

Yes, our animals, too. She thinks of them as friends. Real friends. Word's been out for some time that Mom speaks several dialects of American Dog.

Each of the above creatures, human or not, is part of Life. All are equally considered. At our house it is always Christmas Eve. "Here," her voice seems to say in our house, "we will consider you. That is what we do here? Got it?" And with a determined let's-go smile: "Let's get this done. Now, please." Or "We have a problem to solve."

She has a very private but active spiritual life, and a natural class and ease with others. She is comfortable with, and genuinely interested in, everyone she meets, anywhere in the world. She wants to know them. She interviews you--but only out of curiosity, genuine interest and an enduring love for humankind most of us lose by 25.

Bear with me. I like movies, and they are often part of my firm's work. Think for a moment of the characters in the 1939 movie "Gone with the Wind". Imagine in one person a fusion of Melanie's love and compassion with Scarlett's resolve and strength.

Are these gifts to us all? Or challenges? Is God throwing down a gauntlet here? It doesn't matter. I want to age that well. I want to care about others that much. I want my laugh, like hers, to ring with the joy and humor of unfinished growth and adventure.

She has put up with me, and my father, and I wish I could be more like her. As the eldest, I am far more of a pain-in-the-ass than either my brother or sister, even though we are all just 2 years apart. (Fair warning: If you eat with me, I may make you finish your vegetables. I will tell you what I think. Maybe who to marry. Who to divorce. Whatever will help you that day.) I compete with my Dad only for a mother-and-wife's worry and angst.

Mom's led a very charmed life, which she views with gratitude, humility and grace. Nothing is taken for granted. She knows. My father, also an American success story (hard work does work), was a big part of that.

We three kids were, too. And our friends, new neighborhoods, adult friends, other people's noisy kids, animals, the happiest dogs on earth, oceans, rivers, lakes, always perch and smallmouth bass, some less edible or less noble fish, ravines, Mountain Grove, Chevy Chase, Port Austin, Alpena, 8 Mile Road, Pleasant Ridge, the Braeside and later Indian Hill schools, Duke (all three changed my life), North Deere Park, church in Glencoe for us red-haired protestants, Drake Road, the Cosmos Club, Mr. Whipple commercials, tennis, basketball, golf, more animals, more dogs, 8 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren foster kids, even foster people--all manner of events and creatures including, of course, human strays.

But she. She lights up all rooms--not just ours.

Happy Mother's Day, Penny Hull. Chicago Girl. Boarding School Sweetie. Ferry Hall May Queen. DePauw Campus Crush. Fashion Model. Keeper of Cockers. Keeper-Carer-Feeder-Trainer of John Hull III. Athlete. Task Master. Social Worker. Patrician Role Model. Angel to Strays and Mutts. Colonial Dame. Last Hull with natural class. Super-Mommy.

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May 13, 2017

Hermann Hesse on Real Life.

It is hard to find this track of the divine in the midst of this life we lead.

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)

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May 12, 2017

This is East Anglia.

Neither the tiny rural village of Lindsey nor the surrounding countryside has changed much since 1634, when one side of my family left there for Massachusetts and, in time, a new "Groton", named after another small village near Lindsey. Nearly 380 years later, Lindsey is pastoral, green, mainly un-peopled and fairly remote. No visible 21st century commerce. Some farming. No tourists.

St Peter, a rough Anglican church, at one time Catholic, the one my ancestors attended, built in the 1300s, and even older church ruin, St James (1200s), are the only man-made constants. Still a "parish", Lindsey is on the B1115 Hadleigh-to-Bury road.

This is part of East Anglia--coveted, held and loved for so long by the Danes. The region's been victor and victim over and over again. Mainstream tribes from all over Europe battled here for centuries. It is storied. It is still beautiful. Nothing compares to it.

And it is a key "feeder" region in the English migration to America. From 1625 to 1640, Charles I had tried to rule England without calling the Puritan-dominated Parliament. Puritan dissenters, lots of them, lived in the area around Lindsey, and

from here hundreds of families fled across the Atlantic to the new world. The Winthrops, of tiny Groton, would become founders of the State of Massachusetts. But most of the settlers were poor, working families, and they would devote themselves to quiet, prayerful unpersecuted lives, and of work hard to build new communities. Of course, they would never see Suffolk or the valley of the gentle Brett again.

--Simon Knott

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May 11, 2017

Storytelling for trial lawyers, writers and actual humans in 16 words.

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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Chekhov with Maxim Gorky in Yalta, probably 1900

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Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 114: In planning depositions, resist The Uninspired, The Lazy & The Half-Baked.

Do some common sense work before you take a deposition. And please don't squander the client's budget out of sheer laziness. You are paid to work on planning discovery, too. See this one.

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"Do these guys ever think before they work?"

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May 10, 2017

Anthony Burgess v. William Buckley, Firing Line, 1972

As a complement to our 2015 post on Anthony Burgess, watch two lovers of language dance, parry, weave and bob through this Firing Line interview.

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Clients and Customers--Not You, Your Firm or Your Employees--are the Main Event.

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Pretty obvious, huh? It's easy here to get your mind Right. Right? Well, no. Putting clients first is much harder than it looks. See Rule Two: The Client Is The Main Event at our annoying but true, way-righteous and always-correct 12 Rules of Client Service.

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Yardbirds1965: Rave Up.

Going back down
To Kansas, too.
Bring back a little girl,
Just like you.

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May 09, 2017

'Stuck in the Swamp'

That is the title of the cover article for this week's print edition of the right-leaning, increasingly respected Washington Examiner. A feature on slow hiring for key jobs in the Trump administration.

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Thinking like clients think: Help control costs.

Rule 8 is Think Like the Client--Help Control Costs. The 2006 Explanatory Note for Rule 8--we reluctantly decided that an Advisory Committee Notes regime was a bit grandiose--begins this way:

Ask an associate lawyer or paralegal what a "profit" is. You will get two kinds of answers. Both answers are "correct" but neither of them helps anyone in your firm think like the client. The answers will be something like this. (1) "A profit is money remaining after deducting costs from receipts." This is the correct young transactional/tax lawyer answer. Or (2) "it's money left over at the end of the hunt." This is the correct fire-breathing young litigator answer.

The right answer?

A profit is a reward for being efficient. And until a lawyer, paralegal or staffer gets that, she or he will never know how a client--or a law firm partner--thinks.

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May 08, 2017

Perfectionism: The horror, the horror.

Clients pay for excellent--not for perfect. Excellent is way harder. Clients 99.5% of the time are not paying you to be perfect. Clients don't want perfect. In the rare instances they do want perfect, they will let you know. So clients want excellent. Be excellent, not perfect. Got it? See, e.g., Rule 10: Be Accurate, Thorough and Timely--But Not Perfect of our repetitive and irritating but life-changing 12 Rules of Client Service.

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Perfectionism: The horror, the horror.

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May 07, 2017

St. Genevieve: "I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come..."

Get down on your knees and pray! I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.

Sainte Genevieve (422-512) saved Parisians from the Huns, the legend goes, in 451. People had started to flee Paris in anticipation of the invasion led by Attila--but stopped when she told them she had a vision that the Huns would not enter Paris. She became the city's patron saint. In 1928, a grateful Paris erected a statue to her on the Pont de la Tournelle (now about 400 years old). Genevieve is facing east, the direction from which the Huns approached. She is also said to have converted Clovis, king of the pagan Franks, to Christianity. If you walk from the Right Bank to the Left Bank near the Ile Saint Louis, you walk right under her, with Notre Dame on your right.

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May 05, 2017

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 04, 2017

Kundera on Women.

An older woman is a jewel in the life of a man.

--Milan Kundera (1929- ) in "Immortality", 1990

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One critic: The book will make you "maybe even a better lover".

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May 03, 2017

Working Well: Samuel Johnson on John Dryden.

The effects of a vigorous genius working upon large materials.

--Samuel Johnson, commenting on the life work of John Dryden (1631-1700), English poet, critic and playwright.


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From The Indian Emperour

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May 02, 2017

Why Donald John Trump Freaks Out Half the Nation.

This morning I should be working solely on a project--interesting only to me and 5 other people on the legal earth--subtitled "Promissory Estoppel against the Government" but it may also have finally dawned on me why, in large part, so many people dislike Donald Trump and so many love him. And why that schism will continue. And why few issues will be argued on the merits or dispassionately for the next 4 years.

Donald Trump is the archetype of the roguish, reckless & in-your-face American Alpha Male who many of us--especially America's vast and varied population of moderate white liberals on the coasts and in big cities--thought we had killed off over the last 40 years. That archetype, or "those guys," were always with us in corporations, in an assortment of working class cultures, in rural areas and well virtually hiding just about everywhere but were quieter, drowned out or at least out of style for years. But they were always part of the larger and long-term culture of planet Earth. We heard their voices in the braggadocio masculinity of Beowulf, Homer, Mike Fink, Casey Jones and Davy Crockett. "This is who I am. This is who I conquered. What I did. You should know about me. There have been few men like me." These guys--and their instincts to dominate and strut around--have been around a long time.

About half of us were happy about the recent change in role models; about half missed the old school male.

Many of us raised our children to NOT be a Donald Trump; as new age parents, we raised kids to not only to respect women and all minorities but to affect an attitude at all times of inclusiveness, sensitivity and collaboration even with that conflicted with our own instincts about how selfish, warlike and unreasonable humans really are and have been for thousands of years. We Boomers asked ourselves and other generations to morally "evolve"--and evolve too quickly. You want an example? Here's one. "Empathy" in recent years has a desirable trait. The problem with that is that empathy has never been a "male trait" and we shouldn't act as if men and boys come by it that naturally. Because we don't. We are not as empathetic as women by nature. (Feel free to report me to NPR, Oberlin College and the Junior League.)

Donald Trump is in many respects merely, well (gulp), Male. No. He's no dinosaur. He's not a throwback. People who hate him and need to minimize or revile anything he does are missing something. Donald John Trump is merely an outsized and perhaps exaggerated example of what men and especially American men have been like for generations. We don't have to like it. But we do need to realize we never killed these Alpha Men off. There are lots more men like him than many thought. In recent years, they haven't been trendy; they've held back a lot.

These men--and of course many women as well--do have obvious strengths that many thought were outdated, e.g. combativeness, independence, decisiveness. Arguably, we could use those kinds of traits right now.

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"You can always tell the winners at the starting gate."

Fat Moe: She’s a big star now.

Noodles: We should have known, huh? You can always tell the winners at the starting gate. You can tell the winners. You can tell the losers.

--from Sergio Leone's 1984 gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America

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May 01, 2017

May Day: Man's Eternal Spring Blowout.

May Day is a bit unique among the many old pagan holidays. For 2,200 years, at least in Europe, it's had a long and colorful run on its own, albeit in different forms. But unlike other pagan celebrations, May Day in Europe was never Christianized or abandoned as Christianity spread throughout Europe. It somehow managed to survive and flourish on its own. The first May Day holiday we know much about began in republican Rome about 250 BC. It was a one-day spring festival in honor of the goddess Flora, a fertility deity. Eventually the holiday grew to six days of special events and serious reveling, on April 28-May 3. Known as the Floralia in Roman religion for nearly 600 years, Rome's May Day was a "peoples" or plebeian holiday that took place at the Temple of Flora. (If you've been to Rome even once, you likely looked over the ground where the temple once stood. It's on the edge of the Aventine, a few hundred yards southwest of the Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill.) The Floralia featured drinking, mock gladiator games, animal sacrifices, "the pelting of the crowd" with vegetables (the first food fights?), dancing, nakedness, prostitutes (sex workers were specifically included and often featured), dancing naked prostitutes, theatre, colorful costumes and drinking. Below, one of the the greatest painters of the 1700s gives us a baroque take on the festival and its raw, fun and feral spirit.

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"The Empire of Flora", 1744, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770). The scene is supposedly based on Ovid's description of The Floralia.

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April 29, 2017

John Irving on Revisions and Rewriting.

Half my life is an act of revision.

--John Irving (1942-)

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April 28, 2017

John Henry Holliday

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John Henry Holliday in 1872.

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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April 27, 2017

One Stand-up Guy: Daniel O'Connell, Trial Lawyer.

Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), the "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. History knows him as a witty, eloquent and formidable politician, and the Member of Parliament for Clare. The English found him infuriating. But O'Connell was first and foremost a consummate and thorough trial lawyer, called to the bar at age 23 in 1798. As a cross-examiner, one modern writer has said, "he had no equal at the Irish bar." And not surprisingly O'Connell was a bit of a showman. In lectures published in 1901, Prof. 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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Sensitive Litigation Moment No.15: Depositions and FRE 612

FRE 612 provides that if a witness uses a writing "to refresh memory", either while or before testifying, the adverse party is "entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness" on the document. Good trial lawyers overlook that FRE 612 applies to depositions as well as to trials. Federal decisions have applied the rule to depositions based upon Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(c). So ask a "hostile" deponent if he or she looked at documents before the deposition other than those being produced at the deposition. If the answer is "yes", request that they be produced. Go to the judge. You can have them produced during or after the deposition. Often the best documents are the ones that never make it to the deposition, like handwritten records that even opposing counsel doesn't know about.

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April 26, 2017

Still working on Maggie's Farm?


"It's a shame the way she makes me sweep the floor..."

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April 25, 2017

Real Women: Audrey Tautou.

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Source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe (2011)

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Nice, smart kids make terrible 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.

[From a post on September 3, 2015]

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April 24, 2017

Rule One: Represent Only Clients You Like.

You cannot afford to act for business clients you do not like and respect. Rule One: Represent Only Clients You "Like". Life's short. The profession is demanding enough. From our annoying but dead-on accurate, world-famous, wise and must-follow 12 Rules of Client Service. Excerpt from Rule 1:

By "like", I mean it loosely: to derive for whatever reason real pleasure and satisfaction while doing legal work for a individual or organization.

My firm shies away from individuals as clients, regardless of his or her resources. We usually represent businesses. So in the case of an organization, we "like" the client because overall we somehow feel comfortable with or maybe even admire the personality, business culture or goals of that client, personally like/admire the client reps and general counsel, or both.

My firm "likes" business clients which are experienced, sophisticated users of legal services. When we perform well, the client appreciates us and signals that appreciation. So then we like the client even more, and want to do an even better job or keep doing the good job we are doing so we can derive more real pleasure from the engagement, and obtain more work.


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The 12 Rules.

A few more words about our world-famous The 12 Rules of Client Service, first published here in April of 2006. Think of these rules as a 12-step program for suits and their employees: lawyers, accountants, consultants, execs, technicians and countless other occupations now laboring to provide solutions to customers in the new global services economy. The goal of the 12 Rules is to align the interests of clients/customers and service providers to the fullest extent possible.* We think they do that well. Finally, the rules (while badass, make no mistake) are not perfect. Got suggestions or criticisms? We'd love to hear them.

*The 12 Rules were not written for yah-yah "happy atmosphere" shops like, say, Starbucks or Disney World. The rules are not about being friendly, nice, obsequious or servile with the client or customer.

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Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 113: Crystal, the Missing Notary.

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Crystal, blowing off work again--and just when you need her.

Not exciting. Just useful. In October of 1976, Congress passed a barely-noticed housekeeping addition to Title 28, the wide-ranging tome inside the U.S. Code governing federal courts, the Justice Department, jurisdiction, venue, procedure and, ultimately, virtually all types of evidence. 28 U.S.C. Section 1746 is curiously entitled "Unsworn declarations under penalty of per­jury".

It allows a federal court affiant or witness to prepare and execute a "declaration"--in lieu of a conventional affidavit--and do that without appearing before a notary. Under Section 1746, the declaration has the same force and effect of a notarized affidavit. Read the 160 word provision--but in most cases it's simple. At a minimum, the witness at the conclusion of her statement needs to do this:

"I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)”.

A "unsworn" declaration with the oath required by section 1746 can be used almost any time you need an affidavit, e.g., an affidavit supporting (or opposing) a summary judgment motion.

Continue reading...

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