The newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter is Jay Waldron,a senior attorney at the law firm of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt. We will examine the reasons why Jay is considered to be an outstanding lawyer, but his recognition on this blog transcends his legal accomplishments.
Jay, as has been the tradition at the Schwabe firm, has made significant contributions to the civic and non-profit community, but also left his mark in athletic arenas and with impressive adventures ranging from motorcycle racing to rafting some of the world’s most challenging rivers. He has also hit some pretty good bars in his travels around the world.
Let’s briefly look at the law firm’s legacy partners. The late John Schwabe, a Silverton, Oregon native and one of the founding partners, is known for his heroism as a marine officer fighting at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan in the South Pacific in WW II. He was awarded the Silver Star and five Bronze stars. His heroics and that of one of the men in his outfit, were portrayed in a 1960 Hollywood movie – “Hell to Eternity.”
Wayne Williamson also served as a Naval officer in World War II and was known for his outstanding skill as a trial lawyer. And Wendell Wyatt, who joined the firm as a name partner in 1974, was a reconnaissance pilot during the War and went on to serve ten years in Congress, where he ably represented Oregon in the House of Representatives.
Jay follows his colleague, Jack Faust, an outstanding appellate lawyer and former host of the award-winning public affairs program, Town Hall, as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (9/2/14 post). The photo below is also evidence that Faust did his part in both undergraduate and law school at the University of Oregon to promote the brewery industry in Oregon.
Our “honoree” this quarter could be described as a “Renaissance Man.” Waldron fits the bill, based on his double major at Providence College in English and Philosophy, supplemented by his Master’s Degree from the University of Virginia. “The Poetry of Emily Dickinson.” He then enrolled in a UVA’s doctoral program and taught 7th-grade English in Appalachia while also coaching basketball during work on his Ph.D.
Three years of law school and graduation from University of Virginia (known as one of the nation’s top five law schools) came when he was an “older” student at twenty-nine. Jay admits that part of his motivation to attend law school was to continue playing rugby – begun seven years earlier in 1968 – he was on several Representative teams.
Law school trained his instincts in advocacy. For example, that was when he first asserted, “If you are watching television, you’re not drinking alone.”
In 1966, Jay met his now wife of forty-eight years, Karen, while he was serving as a bouncer at a bar at Horseback Beach in Westport, Mass on the Atlantic Ocean.
“It was a Sunday night and she was not 21, but with that blonde hair and tan, there was no way, I wasn’t going to let her in.”
Waldron then weighed 220 pounds and had long hair, which drew some comments when he applied for clerkships in Oregon where he wanted to move with his new wife. He landed a prestigious position with the late Federal District Court Judge, Otto Skopil.
Although he had never been to Oregon, he had the good sense to spend his first hour in the Rose City in the bar at the Veritable Quandary.
When he informed the judge about his goal to work at a private law firm after a one-year clerkship, Waldron was admonished by Judge Skopil, “Most of your competitors for these jobs won’t have long hair.” Jay’s interview with Wayne Williamson went well notwithstanding his curly locks and he has worked at SWW for the ensuing forty years.
But there are a lot of great lawyers in Portland and at Schwabe. What qualifies Waldron to join the list of esteemed Beerchasers-of-the-Quaretr such as Princeton Professor Emeritus and author, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, Viet Nam veterans who both have been awarded Bronze Stars – Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence and even the crew of the USS Constitution on their fabled 1798 war cruise?
Perhaps the key is Jay’s favorite quote from the late Edward Land, scientist, inventor and co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation: “Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.” So let’s review the evidence:
Athletics – Rugby, Boxing and Wild-horse Riding
After law school, Jay continued to play rugby for the legendary Portland Rugby Club, which was known for both its stellar play and after-match antics at their favorite bar – Jakes although the Horse Brass Pub also received its share of visits – see Thebeerchaser post on 5/23/13.
In fact, as set forth in this blog in a post dated 5/13/13, (see narrative below and at the end of this post) one incident in 1982 involved a California business man (Steven G. Hayford) who wore a tie into the bar at Jakes and commented about the inappropriate attire of the ruggers.
His subsequent letter to the manager of Jake’s requesting reimbursement for his silk tie (which Waldron cut in half) relates the incident and reads in part:
“…..we were assaulted by 5 to 8 of your largest patrons. My arms were pinned behind my back while a third cut my tie with a pair of scissors…..one mustached individual bounded over the bar to break up a possible ensuing riot. As each offending participant was twice as large as (we were) and a full four times as large as your bartender, a riot did not ensue, and my party bid a hasty (although loud) retreat.”
After coming across Thebeerchaser blog post many years later, Mr. Hayford, the “victim” posted the following good-natured comment about the incident:
“Hey! I’m Steve Hayford and I remember everything except disparaging what the gorillas were wearing. That tidbit must remain in dispute. Anyway, all is forgiven. Amazing what you find when you google your own name.”
Another story involved the Club’s winter trip to New Zealand in 1980. While raising a mug(s) in a bar after the match, Waldron left an expensive coat in the bar that Karen had purchased for his trip. He sent what he thought would be a futile inquiry, but was surprised that six months later, when a sailor (and fellow rugby player) on one of the ships visiting the Portland Rose Festival called and said he had the garment.
They agreed to meet and have a beer at Jakes (obviously!) and Jay realized the next day that he had again left the coat that had traveled approximately 7,125 miles to Jakes. He never saw the coat again.
Our honoree also coached the Portland Pig Rugby Team for five years. He announced rugby matches aired on Fox and ESPN in a four-year stint and served on the board of the US Rugby Foundation.
You can see by the picture below that Jay invested some time as a boxer as well. This “career” started while in law school, when he became the sparring partner of Peter Schmidt, a former NFL player and Golden Gloves Champion who was in graduate school at UVA. Schmidt decided to enter as a heavy-weight in the heavily contested intramural boxing competition, usually the domain of undergrads.
He played rugby and drafted a reluctant but malleable Jay to not only spar with him, but also enter as a light heavy-weight. On weigh-in, Jay hit the scales at 178 so he could make weight – down from 217 and at the time of his matches he weighed 190 pounds.
Our Beerchaser honoree dressed in black for the matches and was booed by the crowd, but succeeded in winning the IM title as reported in the UVA newspaper:
“Jay Waldron captured (a) championship before a large, bloodthirsty crowd…..Waldron, the Dancing Bear of gridiron fame, continued his pursuit for recognition of Clark Hall’s (UVA Law School) Biggest Jock, with his unanimous decision……
Despite weakness from a beerless diet imposed by trainer, Jim ‘Bundini’ Abrams, Waldron dominated the first two rounds. The Dancing Bear got himself into trouble early in the third round, but Bundini’s exhortations and a solid shot to the chin rocked Waldron back to his senses and he rallied to win.”
Not content to walk away before he had long-term cerebral issues, he continued boxing, in a manner of speaking. In an attempt to be a Portland George Plimpton, he wrote a story for One Dollar Magazine, where he again became a training and sparring partner.
This time, however, it was with the #1 lightweight in the world – Portlander, Ray Lampkin. “I stayed with him when he ran, except he was in combat boots and I was in Nike’s,” Waldron recalled.
Lampkin finished his career with a total of 34 wins, six losses and one draw and was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Probably his most well-known match was the 1975 World Boxing Association lightweight title fight that he lost to Roberto Duran in Panama. Waldron doesn’t remember any significant sparring injuries (which may not mean that there aren’t any…….)
And finally, after what was probably a long and serious discussion with two rugby colleagues at Peters Inn and The Hobbit (Beerchaser post dated 1/23/13), Jay and his buddies decided to compete in the wild-horse ride competition at the Pendleton Roundup. (He grew up riding horses on his family’s property on Cape Cod.)
In this event which involved three guys who had to catch the horse, saddle it and ride it out of the arena. The result?? In the second year, they succeeded in at least saddling the horse……
Jay’s son, Shane, has followed in his dad’s coaching footsteps and is currently a coach with the Washington Redskins. This follows assistant coaching gigs at both Notre Dame, the New England Patriots and the University of Massachusetts. Karen is also a good athlete – both she and Jay have won Multnomah Athletic Club Decathlons in their age groups.
Wadron grew up sailing in the Atlantic, but perhaps after the wild-horse rides, decided he wanted a more adventurous water experience which resulted in his first raft trip on the Rouge River in 1980, led by his Schwabe colleague, Rocky Gill. And who knows whether it was that trip or just having a house on the Clackamas River for many years, but he began a remarkable saga of river exploration as follows:
Colorado River – three trips between 2006–2014 on a 16.5 foot cataraft down the entire length of the river.
Upper Yangtze in 1996 – these are some of the biggest rapids in the world. Jay said their party of fifteen started where explorer, Ken Warren quit and where the river was flowing an amazing 6-8 mph with 20 foot high rapids at some points during their eight-day trek. Jay became the first “Caucasian” to row a cataraft through all the rapids of the Great Bend of the Yangtze.
South America and Canada – he made additional raft trips down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica and the Bio-Bio and Futaleufu Rivers in Chile and the Chilko in British Columbia. He also rowed the Magpie River in Canada last year.
And speaking of the house on the Clackamas, the Waldron’s sold the venerable place in 2014 and moved to a condo in the high-rise Ladd – within a block of both the bars in Higgins and The Rookery in downtown Portland – and two blocks from the Schwabe Portland office.
While the Waldrons over the years had turned down multiple requests by studios to use the house in movies and television series, the new owners acquiesced. The first Twilight of the three-movie series used it as did Grimm in its Season-Three finale of a wedding scene.
Perhaps Jay and Karen’s decision was validated because there were multiple problems – freezing weather, a smoke alarm problem resulting in the police showing up. (http://www.oregonlive.com/movies/2014/05/grimm_on_the_set_in_oregon_for.html)
While his rugby (and actions at bars afterwards) or river rafting exploits raise the question as to whether Jay has a death wish, his motorcycle trips may confirm it (he was once clocked at 155 mph on his Ducati).
Twenty-one different road trips throughout the US have been supplemented by a journey around both South Africa and New Zealand and a trek from Chile to the southern tip of South America.
He started riding when he was seventeen and now at seventy, will ride from Portland to Key West, Florida in May.
Civic and Charitable Work
The Schwabe firm has a rich legacy of non-profit activities and contributions to the state and region. Jay is part of this tradition and currently serves as the Chair of the Oregon Health Sciences University Board – his ninth year on the Board, having been appointed by former Governor Ted Kulongoski.
This position followed his appointment by former Governor Kitzhaber to the Port of Portland Board, where he served for eight years, six of that as President. Concurrent service (eight years) on the Board of Lewis and Clark College are also on his resume as is past service on boards for the North Clackamas School District and the Oregon Law Foundation.
And I got to see Jay in action during his three years on the Schwabe Board of Directors, when some partners in the firm, felt that given the changes in the legal profession, a rugby mentality might add a good perspective.
At Jay’s request, his fellow board members grudgingly agreed to move up the starting time for semi-monthly board meetings from 7:30 to 7:00 AM because of his busy schedule. They badgered him mercilessly when he showed up at 7:25 for the first meeting after the change commenced.
I got to personally witness Jay’s oratorical skills – not in the courtroom, but when he was on a panel at a City Club of Portland Friday Forum on regional transportation – when Jay was Chair of Metro’s Transportation Committee. I wondered how he was going to both integrate and deliver the bar joke that I gave him and urged him to try – he nailed it!!
“A traffic engineer walks into a bar carrying a piece of asphalt under his arm. The bartender asks him what he wants to drink. The engineer states, ‘Two beers – One for me and one for the road….’”
Notwithstanding all his other activities, Jay has managed to fit in a legal career also marked by accomplishment. As a young lawyer of 37, he argued at the US Supreme Court on an appeal from Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals. (He represented publicly owned utilities in their battle with aluminum companies and the Bonneville Power Administration over a power contract issue. He has also appeared before the Oregon Supreme Court on a number of arguments and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Perhaps it’s Jay’s ability to analyze and critique the English language, begun in his undergraduate days and refined in law school, where he learned to interpret terms very literally. This trait was most aptly demonstrated after Jay and some of his fellow classmates moved from an apartment into a small house off campus. Shortly after the move, a small kitchen fire broke out and Jay phoned 911 to report it which resulted in the following dialogue:
Jay: I need to report a kitchen fire in our house.
911 Operator: Sir, please give us your address.
Jay: We just moved here a few days ago. I don’t know it.
911 Operator: (somewhat exasperated..) Sir, can you at least give me your street name?
Jay: Well, when I’m playing rugby, they call me “Bubba.”
Asked about his most memorable legal achievement, Jay responds that it was winning a $108 million arbitration, which included $8 million in post judgment interest on a contested energy contract. (Powerex v Alcan).
Another tradition at Schwabe has been ongoing pro-bono legal services for low-income clients at the East County Legal Clinic. Jay was involved in the founding of the Clinic and also received the Oregon State Bar Public Service Award for his pro bono work. His legal expertise as a trial lawyer in environmental and energy law are recognized by his selection as both an Oregon Super Lawyer and inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America.
Waldron showed creativity in his client relations recently, when he had a group of important clients who flew into Portland. Rather than take them to the customary “stuffy” restaurant, Waldron consulted Thebeerchaser and elected to take them to Club 21 in Northeast Portland.
No, it’s not a strip club notwithstanding the name, but a great dive bar in a former Greek Orthodox church. The clients loved the ambiance and the “Build-Your-Own Burger” option for dinner.
Having just turned seventy, who knows what future legal milestones and adventures are still on Jay’s (and Karen’s) plate, but the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter has traveled life’s journey to this point with a full mug!
The Dancing Bear is a good drinking companion – just remind him to take his coat with him when he leaves the bar and be comforted by the fact that he no longer chews on glass while drinking his favorite beer – Double Mountain India Red Ale.
Or ask him to quote from his favorite poem by Emily Dickinson: “Because I Could Not Stop For Death.” That might promote more of his stories that space constraints precluded this blog from covering. For instance, ask him about “hiding my beer money from a Mafia hit man while he held a gun to my head.”
Excerpt from Thebeerchaser Post of 5/13/2013
…….Yes, Thebeerchaser was skeptical, but these pictures attest to the fact that an alcove (in the Jake’s Bar) leading into the men’s room preserves some rugger nostalgia – thanks to John Underhill, Jake’s former manager and rugby player.
One of the best mementos is a letter to Jakes written by Steven G. Hayford on April 29, 1982. He took umbrage with his experience in the bar where:
“….. we were assaulted by 5 to 8 of your largest patrons. My arms were pinned behind my back while a third cut my tie with a pair of scissors…..one mustached individual bounded over the bar to break up a possible ensuing riot.
As each offending participant was twice as large as (we were) and a full four times as large as your bartender, a riot did not ensue, and my party bid a hasty (although loud) retreat.
…..I believe the ‘gorillas’ that attacked us belonged someplace other than at a high-class place like Jake’s and should have been evicted……I would like to consider the incident closed…but my bruised ego is preventing me from making a clean break……
I would appreciate it, if you would reimburse me for the nominal amount of $20…… for my silk tie. If you decline, I’m afraid…..people who wear ties will start avoiding your restaurant. Please consider my flippant tone a measure of my sense of humor and not as a lack of seriousness of this matter.”
Since the statute of limitations has tolled, Waldron is pretty candid about the incident and provides this perspective:
“He made a loud remark about the inappropriateness of our attire. We reacted immediately—Two 250 lb. players lifted him off his feet and pinned his arms , a Swiss army knife appeared on car keys from one of the player’s pocket and I cut it cleanly.
We placed the cut portion of the tie on the bar with a double margarita as compensation —I cut it with the scissors from a Swiss army knife — A warm night in Jake’s after rugby practice, we in shorts and practice gear, he and others were in suits.”
Now, Thebeerchaser does not condone social upheaval in bars, there should be consensus that unless you’re a client, it’s more interesting to hear Waldron’s rugby stories than his legal theories on siting of mining facilities or the definition of major stationary sources under Title V of the Clean Air Act.