Deadline? Who Said Deadline? What Day Is It?

I just finished a tough run of trials that kept me running from one end of the state to the other since just after Labor Day. Soon I will take a month off, and play around the house, trying to stop a perpetual leak in an outbuilding, playing with our dogs, trying, just this once, to stay on top of our garden. I’m in a summertime kind of mood. I’d rather gab on the phone with pals than stick my nose into yet another tale of sorrow and woe.

So is it any wonder that I forgot all about the column I write weekly?

I was sitting at my desk, feet up, staring out the window gabbing on the phone with a friend in New York City. Among other things, we were discussing the sorry state of lawyering. So many new lawyers, so few cases of merit, and, although it was unstated, it was understood: So few clients with fees to pay for the fights they need.

Life as a lawyer sometimes feels nasty and brutish.

Then I got an email from the editor of the paper, Paul Sussman, gently reminding me that my column was overdue. Yipes? I’m yakking while the paper waits?

That’s happened a few times in recent months. The week begins, and I am off, sprinting from one conflict to another. When Thursday, my deadline day rolls around, I am sometimes confused to hear from Paul. "Isn’t it Wednesday?," I think.

Paul never errs, at least when it comes time to poke me and nudge me along.

In September I will have been a columnist on these pages for ten years. Oh, I resigned in some self-righteous huff for a few months a couple of years ago. Frankly, I grew tired of the sound of my own voice. One person from whom I rarely hear wrote me a nice note congratulating me on the move. It was the most polite form of damnation.

But others, including several judges whose secrets I have promised to keep, urged me to press on. So after attending in narcissistic glory my own wake, I played Jesus to my own Lazarus, and arose. The paper welcomed me back.

The writing of this column typically takes about 45 minutes. I stew throughout the week about events that gnaw on me. Then I sit down to write. I’m a first draft kind of guy. There isn’t time for elegance or perfection.

Today I was all set to tear into the United States Supreme Court’s decision further limiting the scope Miranda. I was going to praise Sonya Sotomayor for writing a dissent that showed why real-world experience in the courtroom is important. She, at least, understood that police interrogations aren’t tea and crumpets at the faculty house.

But I decided instead to express gratitude to you, and to the editors of this paper, for permitting me a weekly forum. I plan to keep at it forever, or until I die, whichever comes first. (That last is the sort of sentence that comes of writing on the fly. But I will let it stand, as it has a sort of Rodney Dangerfield feel to it.)

Thumbs Up To Some First-Class Writers

A lot of folks grouse at me in my travels across the state. "Why do you write for that rag?," they say of the Law Tribune. My response is usual simple. I thank them for reading. No paper can survive without readers, and the Law Tribune has an active, if sometimes furtive, readership. That is saying something in an era in which newspapers struggle to survive.

I was thrilled last week to see the paper clean up on awards at the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists. Tom Scheffey won awards for pieces he wrote on deposition misconduct and the liability risks associated with the use of temporary workers. Doug Malan scored for an insightful piece on how economic hard times affect jury pools. Christian Nolan was honored for a piece on a wrongful death action and on the role of lawyers in NCAA investigations. It was neat hat trick for the paper’s primary reporters. Congratulations to all! And thank you for letting me appear in the same newspaper.

A quick note to the editor: Can I please submit some columns to next year’s contest? My enormous ego is in constant need of feeding, as readers here well know.

Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.


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