De Files – De Files — Part II

(This is a long narrative. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos at the end of the post and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In Part I of this Thebeerchaser post, I mentioned how my wife of almost 43 years has understandably insisted that I significantly reduce the myriad files in our garage, my office and scattered throughout filing cabinets we own.  (That means recycle most of them especially if they have not been viewed in the last ten to fifteen years.) 

In the last post I gave examples of material from my employment at Clackamas County and one undergrad college paper with a cryptic comment from a professor – one I didn’t use for a reference in my graduate school admission process…

I worked with lawyers in a management capacity for over thirty-five years at the Oregon State Bar and the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm based in Portland’s PacWest Center.  So in my first 2023 post, I’ll begin by giving you some glimpses of the enjoyment I got from the humor surrounding this work. 

Was it a  stressful environment?

Yes! 

But one where the tension was eased by jocularity and people not taking themselves too seriously.

244281611_513523260102754_6302127919311030012_n

# External photo attribution at the end of the post. (#1 – #2)

Schwabe had a wonderful culture, shared by attorneys and staff alike and was a major factor why we regularly landed in the top ranks of Oregon’s Best Employers as rated by the employees themselves. There was an organizational sense of humor.

Lawyers are a competitive group and ensconced within the five floors of the thirty-three story PacWest Center in Portland, there was often a friendly rivalry on who could come up with the wittiest electronic missive or response to an e-mail.  The same was true in all the offices whether Seattle, Vancouver or Bend.

I have to admit as the COO, I tended to reinforce this trait by recognition of several “Emails of the Year” at our firm’s annual retreat – I’d present bottles of wine to the winners. 

The first one I saved from 1996.  (Now you know why Janet is on my case!)  It was even authored by a tax lawyer – a group often stereotyped as having senses of humor tantamount to the humor buried in the pages of the Internal Revenue Code on depreciation…… (#3)

A comedian’s source book?

I will generally omit the names of the senders in this post (although I don’t think they would mind and their colleagues would recognize the senders). 

The one below was authored by a brilliant tax litigator who would periodically send an e-mail to the entire Firm entitled, “Taxes are Your Friend.”  These would include an excerpt from the Code accompanied by a picture of a rabbit with a pancake or waffle on its head.

We also had a “junk-mail” address where people could send questions, advertise items for sale or raise other issues not related to client business.  This one started with the following inquiry: 

Question:  Is anyone familiar with how real estate is transferred in Brazil?  (#5 – #6)

Response:  The entire town stands along the property lines of the property to be conveyed.  A representative of the town recorder called the “Schlimph” garrotes a chicken and the children of the village spread the feathers at the corner of the property.

Then the appointed elders (“drelba”) while chanting ancient real estate incantations, pick up dirt clods and rocks and hurl them in the air.  Finally, a small child is selected from the crowd and forced to chug large quantities of Eucalyptus Tea and Tabasco while the rest of the villages shout “Go!” “Go!” “Go”.

If the selected child becomes ill, the transaction is considered “closed” and the buyer and seller exchange twigs from the plants growing on the property and go home. If the child is unaffected by the ordeal, the buyer and the seller are sacrificed to the real estate gods in the “Ritual of the Ostrich” and property eschews to the Schlimph.  (I hope this is helpful….)

Impermeable?

The one below was the winner at the 2010 Firm Retreat – written by one of my favorite associates in the Environmental and Natural Resources Group.  Notwithstanding his feigned disregard for Mother Earth, he’s now a partner.   

The Truth – Sometimes Stranger Than Fiction

Of course, e-mails were also sent to lawyers seeking expert witnesses, referrals, case cites, etc.  This one emanated from another Environmental Lawyer in 2005.

Bowler suit 1

Employment and Labor Law generated some of the most interesting and often bizarre situations.   While the following matter was not one at Schwabe, I added this 1967 case https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/257/468.html) to my files years afterwards as a keeper when I started collecting these treasures.

I was only a freshman in college when it went to trial, but I’ve kept it all these years.  Maybe because it portended some of the recent lawsuits involving education and religion – perhaps it’s surprising it’s not on a current docket.  (#7)

The Daily Grind…

Maybe there are days when it’s not the stress of legal work, but just daily life that makes one yearn for a highball at the end of the day.   This premise was demonstrated in this 2001 e-mail from one of our Seattle lawyers who inquired of his colleagues at 4:06 in the afternoon:

One difference between Schwabe and many other big firms was the lack of a status difference between attorneys and management.   They viewed non-attorney managers as professionals – in fact all staff were treated as professionals which helped the cohesiveness and teamwork at the firm.

And Management was often tasked with having to say “no.”   We made ongoing decisions on space planning and who received which office, negotiated on annual billable hour goals and, of course, determined compensation.  The list goes on…..

Just as the lawyer above, had a toddy with colleagues at the end of the day, one didn’t necessarily need to leave the firm as the daily grind ended.  This was the case when I appreciated the chance to have a single-malt beverage with the partner whose office was next to mine after she sent this e-mail.  We enjoyed at least one shot of Balvenie Scotch.

Patty Dost (3)

 I mentioned space planning as one of Management’s ongoing challenges.  The same was true anytime there was a major remodel or a build-out when the firm expanded to an additional floor. 

Gaining anything close to a favorable reaction on carpet, paint color or even design of nameplates was problematic. (I could devote a book chapter on the Firm’s Art Committee alone……)

I’m going to depart from my stated guideline and name the lawyer who authored the next e-mail because he was well known in both legal and local broadcast circles and also served on the firm’s Board for a number of years and was supportive of Management decisions.

Jack Faust – one of my former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarters – moderated an award-winning Portland civic affairs television program (“Town Hall”) for many years and was also one of the most respected practitioners of appellate law in Oregon. 

He also loved engaging in the humorous revelry and we still recount these stories on some of the numerous Beerchasing Events we’ve had at various Portland bars since retirement. (The picture on the right below was not on one of those events, but from Jack’s law school years.) 

He offered these words of comfort to the Portland office in the midst of a major build-out on two floors in 2003:

Faust - Town Hall 5

Head Shot?

It’s not only the substantive legal issues that complicate lives in a large regional law firm.  As the prohibition against lawyer advertising prohibited by most states’ ethics rule was struck down in a 1977 US Supreme Court decision (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona), the practice of law forever changed. 

Interestingly, three justices (Warren Burger, Lewis Powell Jr. and William Rehnquist) predicted dire consequences.  As Powell stated “…..will effect profound changes in the practice of law, viewed for centuries as a learned profession.”(#8)

…Will effect profound changes in the practice of law……

When I worked at the Oregon State Bar in the late ’70’s, the Board of Governors spent a good part of every meeting discussing how to discipline lawyers who viloated the Ethical Rules by advertising. 

That changed and by the mid ’80’s, most large law firms had Marketing Directors (Schwabe used the euphemism “Director of Client Relations.”)    If a lawyer wanted to become a partner, he or she had to be effective at bringing in new clients.  Professional photographs for resumes and to spiffy up responses to Requests for Proposals became the norm. 

The aforementioned tax lawyer (see above) often battled with the Internal Revenue Service and offered this tongue-in-cheek response to the following 2007 e-mail from Client Relations.  The advice from the Marketing Assistant is also sanctimonious and I’m sure drew some deserved sarcastic responses:

Marketing Assistant: All Attorneys, Paralegals and Managers – our firm photographer will be in the Portland office.  Please dress however, you feel comfortable being represented as a professional – some prefer jacket and tie, others in shirt sleeves, still others in sweaters. – whatever represents who you are. 

These are color individual Headshots (emphasis added) so take advantage and put a little color in the clothes you wear (a bright tie, a colored blazer or shirt….)  

Tax Lawyer: Please do not use the term “Headshot” with those of us who deal with the IRS on a regular basis.  It makes us nervous.

The Oregon State Bar

This is a digression from Schwabe matters because the letter below was received by the Oregon State Bar when I worked there as Business Manager.  But it’s part of my collection. (#9)

Before getting into the essence of Ethics Opinion (No. 475) issued in 1982, I have to state that I loved working with lawyers from 1974 until my retirement in 2011.   

The overwhelming majority of those I met and with whom I worked were not only skilled and dedicated professionals, but people with whom I would not hesitate to have a beer and enjoyed their company.

Now I realize there are lawyer stereotypes – just like those that characterize sales people, undertakers, actuaries and consultants.   And while I disagree with the portrayal of J.W. Reid  from Costa Mesa, CA who wrote this letter, I had to laugh at his assertion.

It was written after the Bar issued an opinion (It was modified in 2005 with Opinion 2005-140) that stated except under very limited circumstances, a lawyer may not have a consensual sexual relationship with a client. 

The opinion made major headlines and Mr. Reid evidently focused on the limited circumstances allowing sex when he wrote the following:

Now the unnamed gentleman below from Independence, Oregon in his 1981 letter indicates anger and revenge for the Oregon State Bar based on a prior act, but the lack of specificity in his notice of claim indicates that he might need the assistance of a lawyer:

oregon State bar lawsuit 1

Expense Reimbursement and Perks

While working as a lawyer in private practice involves stress and very long hours, it had definite advantages – among them generous compensation and year-end bonuses and good benefits and perks – including travel to conferences and seminars paid by the firm.  (#10 – #11)

There were several trends that diminished law firms’ willingness to pay travel and lodging expense at these events.  The economics of law grew much tighter with the over-supply of lawyers and increased competition from advertising in the late 1980’s.   Clients became more sophisticated and concerned with the escalation of fees and costs. 

More importantly, the IRS also modified it rules on the deductibility of meals and entertainment – also spousal travel.  Agents also targeted professional service firms because there were often excesses under the guise of marketing.  (Maybe taxes aren’t always your friend!”)

Prior to that time, the firm would sometimes pay for senior partners to take their spouses to major events such as the American Bar Association National Convention or other professional association meetings.  This included spousal air travel, meals and lodging.   

The enhanced IRS enforcement and requirements now meant that among other requirements:

…… where a taxpayer’s spouse accompanies the taxpayer on a business trip, the travel expenses will not be deductible unless the spouse’s presence on the trip has a bona fide business purpose.” (emphasis added) (#12)

Interpretation of “Bona fide business purpose.”

Of course, garnering agreement on the definition of “bona fide business purpose” generated  debate – maybe of a lesser scale, but almost as vociferous – as that resulting from Justice Potter Stewart describing his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964. 

And since I was involved in the final approval of these expenses, I enjoyed many of the esoteric justifications submitted.  Perhaps my favorite was the one below which also shows another trait exhibited by many lawyers.  While they may be stereotyped as having inflated egos, I always appreciated the self-deprecating humor shown by many as evidenced below:

While we appreciated his witticism, he either paid for his wife’s expenses out of his own pocket, or she stayed in Seattle while he enjoyed Florida’s sunny climate!

And Finally….

You’ve seen a very small sample of the items I’ve saved from my career in legal management and I’ll leave you with this classic.   The development of a robust Intellectual Property Practice at Schwabe (Patent, Trademark, Copyright, IP Litigation, etc.) began in 2002 under the late Al AuYueng – a gifted lawyer and manager.  It had some interesting implications.

While Schwabe lawyers making the cut to get hired as new associates were very smart and well-educated, the new IP attorneys possessed both of these qualifications, but their educations surpassed that of their colleagues. 

Besides undergrad and law school degrees and passage of the Bar, most of them also had masters’ degrees or doctorates in fields such as Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or Computer Science.  They also had to pass the Patent Bar Exam.

Their high-tech clients had technical and esoteric issues requiring expert legal advice.  One of my favorites was this one from Al – his inquiry was serious – but his e-mail drew two great responses from lawyers who couldn’t resist the opportunity:

Al Au Yeung:  Does anyone have a recommendation for a carbon dating service?

Lawyer No. I:  Match.com?

Lawyer No. 2:  That’s the response I sent to Al, but I also warned him that they will often bait and switch. They show photos of really attractive minerals and all you end up with are common minerals such as silicon and iron.  You never strike gold!

A Final Comment on Enlightened Management

I worked for two co-managing Partners for most of the years I was the COO.  Mark Long and Dave Bartz were not only distinguished lawyers in their specialties, but had remarkable management instincts – and they complemented each other.

The length of their tenure belies the respect of their lawyer colleagues and that of all firm personnel.  They are both now honored with Emeritus status. (Long on the left and Bartz on the right).

0315_lil_long_and_bartz1

They were also very approachable and collegial which is why one firm paralegal did not feel threatened sending this e-mail to one of them under his own e-mail address: (you’ll have to guess which one received as I don’t want to get fired retroactively!  (In fact, I think the only way I got this e-mail was the recipient laughed about it and forwarded it to me.)

long scan test (2)

Cheers and Happy New Year!

External Photo Attribution

#1.  Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=513523270102753&set=pb.100043352539827.-2207520000.&type=3)

#2.  (https://www.facebook.com/schwabelegal/photos/pb.

100043352539827.-2207520000./1439037686148006/?type=3)

#3.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internal_Revenue_Code.jpg)  This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

#5.  Wikimedia Commons: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brazil_on_the_globe_

(Brazilian_Antarctica_claims_hatched)_(Chile_centered).svg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  TUBS    21 June 2011.

#6.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heres_a_bunny_with_waffle.png) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Source: File:Oolong the Rabbit’s last performance (2003).jpg: Hironori Akutagawa Derivative work: Yuval Y § Chat §

#7.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HCS_bus49.JPG) This work has been released into the public domain by its author, William Grimes at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.  19 February 2007.

#8.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Supreme_Court_Justice_Lewis_Powell_-_1976_official_portrait.jpg)  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#9.Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sex_education.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Shairyar.khan.7  7 December 2015.

#10.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Bar_Association_3c_1953_issue_U.S._stamp.jpg) This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#11. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Airbus_A380_blue_sky.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Flickr user Axwel  12 May 2007.

#12.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blue-Eagle%2BIRS.png). This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#13.  Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon (https://djcoregon.com/news/2012/03/16/leadership-in-law-mark-long-and-david-bartz/)  Author:  in 1535March 16, 2012.

 

Beerchasers of the Quarter – Lawyers – Part 1

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

WHY LAWYERS?

Each quarter Thebeerchaser names an individual or group that may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars, but in my humble opinion, has made a contribution to society and have an interesting story to tell.

The 1967 Giant Killers – worthy of merit!

Very few of the “honorees” have been groups, but the few named are deserving.  For example, the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team and the Crew of the USS Constitution for their 1798-99 war cruise.

Old Ironsides

Both showed teamwork resulting in outstanding accomplishments. (Click on the links above to see these posts.)

So why would I name lawyers?   While most people really like their own lawyer, the group as a whole, seldom receives accolades and is often subject to stero-typical and often pejorative labels.

As is true in any profession, I know that a number of the attorneys in the US are egotistical jerks, flaunt the ethics of the profession and would not be good drinking companions.  That said, my 40+ years working with lawyers in three different organizations were rewarding and an opportunity to interact  with ethical, smart, dedicated advocates who have amazing work ethics and elevated senses of humor (as I think you will see in this and following posts).

Did I encounter some that tipped the asshole scale heavily?  DA!  But they will not be named in my narratives and were a notable exception.

As background, I spent the majority  (25 years – from 1985 to 2010) in the same law firm Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – the last twelve as the Chief Operating Officer.

Herding Cats Wine – a retirement gift from the firm in 2011

I couldn’t have picked a firm with a better culture  and outstanding colleagues ranging from support staff to secretaries,  to paralegals to managers to attorneys – both associates and partners.  It was a transparent and a team-oriented environment – not the case in some firms of similar size.  I often described my job as communicating orally and in writing with skilled professionals who made their living attacking and analyzing what other people say and write.

When I retired from Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt (SWW) in mid-2010, it had about 140 lawyers and about 150 additional personnel  in five Northwest offices including its anchor office in Portland, Oregon .  SWW, for many years, was in the top 50 large employers in the State in the annual survey of good places to work as rated by employees and tabulated by The Oregonian.

But before I present some evidence backing up my positive comments about both attorneys and the SWW  firm culture, let me try to describe my version of the lawyer personality while reminding those who look askance upon the profession as a whole, of Charles Dickens’ observation:

“If there were not bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”

Where competition is at the zenith

Competitive –This trait is not only for litigators where it is a dominant gene, but most lawyers based on the functions of their jobs and how they are evaluated.

Perhaps my favorite example is the Wall Street lawyer some years ago who flew from JFK in New York City to LA International and billed time during the flight so he could set a record for his firm for billing over 24 hours in a single day!

In law firms where statistics play a major – and unfortunately, sometimes the only – criteria for compensation and promotion, it’s natural that there is internal competition for future raises and year-end bonuses – a standard practice in most law firms.

Professional Courtesy??  Eat-what-you-Kill does not promote teamwork…!

However, some firms have an “eat what you kill” system based totally on the income each timekeeper collects which heightens the intra-firm rivalry.  Let’s look at a quote from the protagonist in John Grisham’s novel, The Street Lawyer

“All right. I admit it – those decreases each year hurt my feelings.  Money’s the big scorecard in this kind of life; there’s no winning percentage, no runs batted in.  It’s always struck me as meaningful how we refer to the percentage of firm income we’re awarded as ‘points.’

Your partners tell you each year what they think you’re worth.  By now, I can live without everything the marginal dollar buys except for the self-esteem.”

At SWW, the compensation system was “open” i.e. lawyers knew what their colleagues made and received in bonuses.  And each month-end everyone saw the various statistics – hours worked and billed plus amount collected.   Compensation at SWW, was both objective – stats based – but also subjective – factors including marketing, firm leadership and activities, and mentoring.  This mitigated the internal competition.   And when I say “internal competition” – that not only references within the firm, but inside the lawyer’s own head.

Love of the Language – Regardless of the practice specialty, a lawyer must have an elevated grasp of the nuances of the language and pay attention to detail.  While some  contemporary legal communication is less formal, it was always interesting when terms such as “heretofore,” “therein,” “pursuant,” “to wit” and “thenceforth” were common in pleadings, briefs and even routine correspondence.

Now while some would suggest this formal written and oral discourse was stilted, it provided a certain eloquence and grace for those involved.  Take, for example, this paragraph from a lawsuit filed after the Octoberfest Celebration Mount Angel Oregon – known, not only for great German sausage and singing which makes even karaoke sound pretty good, but voluminous consumption of Thebeerchaser’s favorite beverage.

The Octoberfest

Annual celebration highlighting beer, sausage and “interaction.”

In this lawsuit in the early ‘90’s, a Portland resident filed a $53,220 lawsuit against the Mount Angel Octoberfest claiming the portable toilet he entered was pushed over by unruly patrons.  His lawyer claimed:

“Intimately mixed with the contents thereof….

“Plaintiff was violently thrown about inside said portable toilet, became intimately mixed with the contents thereof and sustained a fracture of his right wrist as well as other contusions and abrasions.”

Unfortunately, I could not determine the result of this lawsuit and assume – just like the contents of the overturned chamber – it settled. 

Thus, a jury never had to contemplate either culpability or damages as a group exercise – one which might have proven to be an odorous task figuratively speaking.

Bad Frog Beer

In a recent post, I related how, in a lapse of judgment lamented by my wife, I attempted to supplement my young daughter’s wonderful and robust frog collection with an empty bottle with the label of Bad Frog Beer I got on a business trip to Chicago.

A wonderful frog collection before Bad Frog Beer idea….

The logo was so popular, the demand for Bad Frog merchandise was massive and Bad Frog Brewing expanded to twenty-five states in 1995.   Because the controversial logo, however, the beer was banned in eight of those states. Legal challenges resulted because of the frog’s none-too-subtle extension of its middle digit.

Liquor commissions in multiple states banned the beer.  Eventually the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the New York State Liquor Authority‘s ban on selling Bad Frog Beer in an interesting and extremely entertaining  First Amendment case, to wit: –  Bad Frog Brewery, Inc. v. New York State Liquor Authority 134 F.3d 87 (1998).

You can read the entire opinion, but my favorite footnote shows another example of the succinct and compelling argument for the ban by citing the Liquor Authority lawyer’s indignant but gentile objection:

“……(The logo) is patently offensive and presumably a suggestion to have intercourse with oneself.”

Note:  Lawyers have traditionally been addressed in correspondence or pleadings as “Esquire” –a label attached to their surname after earning their license to practice, including female lawyers.   This term goes back to the fifteenth century in England referring to the landed gentry or males of higher social rank.

While it may seem cool for a freemason even these days, I’m glad that this practice has largely diminished and is now more of a formality or courtesy except in some states.

This article in Abovethelaw.com entitled ”Get Over Yourself and Stop Calling Yourself Equire,” suggests that the label seems pompous, especially when used to refer to oneself.  And since a lot of plumbers now have higher hourly rates than lawyers, perhaps they should add an honorific to their last names.

Creatively Aggressive – There are numerous examples of this dominant gene in attorneys, but two of my favorites both involved Oregon lawyers.  While not condoning the rationale of the lawyers below, it does serve to illustrate the creativity and eagerness to advocate their position.

Beyond Rational??

Envision, if you will, cruising along Highway 26 through Oregon’s Coast Range following a line of cars behind a motor home on a mountain pass.   A late-model BMW with a single occupant passes the line of cars.

After the summit on level terrain, you pass the BMW which has been pulled over by an Oregon State Trooper.

The driver was a lawyer from a large Portland firm (not Schwabe…) who, in his court appearance, argued against the speeding ticket for going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone.

He stated that he had no idea he was traveling  that fast  – the blame should be placed on the manufacturer for his sedan’s superb handling characteristics.   He supported his contention with a PowerPoint presentation and testimony from a mechanic.

I don’t know if he also tried to use some of BMW’s slogans as further vindication, but maybe he should have considered these actual BMW mottos:

“BMW – Beyond Rational!”

“Motion is our Muse”

Heads-up Display vs Speeding Ticket?   Passion Wins!”

“BMW – More Smiles per Hour”

Well, perhaps the judge was not persuaded because he fined the lawyer $182  admonishing him that he was not only speeding, but ignored the risk of hitting wildlife that frequently cross the road.  It could have been worse.  At least he did not pass a cop chasing a speeder……

Immunity?

Somewhat more brazen was this 2006 incident, described in an Oregonian story, involving a prominent Portland attorney, active in civic activities and then chair of his political party in Oregon.  He also happened to serve as a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oregon.

Said AAG was westbound in the afternoon on Interstate 84 driving behind a Sheriff Deputy’s marked vehicle.  The deputy was driving 75 mph and noticed a vehicle following him.  Upon increasing his speed to 88 mph with the vehicle still following closely, the deputy cited the driver for speeding.

Culpable??

The errant driver asserted that because he was following the deputy, he wasn’t looking at his speedometer assuming the officer was obeying the speed limit and stated in a letter to the Court:

“I therefore had no basis to know my speed, having simply assumed I was within the limits on the basis of the actions of the officer who subsequently cited me for doing precisely what he was doing.”

Note:  Lawyer Jack Faust, a SWW lawyer who before his retirement (see below) was one of the most respected appellate lawyers in the State, jokingly (I think…) commented to me that the lawyer could have improved his negotiating position if he had made a citizen’s arrest on the deputy for speeding.

I mention later in this post, a lawyerly trait of wanting to have the last word and this is a good example.  Just in case, the judge didn’t buy his initial defense, the lawyer further cited:

“…. a state statute that he said gives him immunity (emphasis added) from prosecution outside of Marion County (in which the State Capital is located) for anything done arising out of his work as a Justice Department Employee.”

In this instance, he was returning from Pendleton in Eastern Oregon to Portland for a meeting on a case he was handling.   Well, not only did the judge not accept this rationale, but neither did the lawyer’s boss.   Attorney General Hardy Myers, through another Deputy AG, suggested that the AAG was not authorized to represent to the Court that his interpretation is that of the AG’s office and further:

“In fact, DOJ disagrees with both of your interpretations of ORS 464.530….The Attorney General does not believe that any part of the state law cited immunizes the department’s employees from prosecution for traffic offenses.”

The offender did get a break in that the citing officer lowered the speed of the violation to 75 mph – a $97 fine instead of the $145 for traveling 88 mph – not because he was an AAG but “since he was cooperative and apologetic.”   The lawyer paid the fine and decided not to further contest the ticket.   With this type of immunity, even a vaccine might not have saved him.

Integrity and Ethics – One can cite numerous instances in the last several years and use an historical perspective dating back to Watergate of high profile attorneys shamelessly, not only flaunting the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers, but serving prison sentences for violating the criminal codes.

Through my experience with hundreds of lawyers, first working at the Oregon State Bar and then at a private law firm, I witnessed men and women who had immense respect for the Canons governing their behavior and when in doubt, sought  advice to ensure they complied.  And I might add, that the rules regarding conflict of interest in the legal profession are more stringent than those in professions such as Accounting and Real Estate.

During the pandemic, I have used the time freed up from Beerchasing to enhance my knowledge through reading and online resources such as podcasts.   One of the best which reinforces my premise about integrity of the profession is “The Oath” – an exceptional podcast by Washington DC. attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

Rosenberg – A standard worth emulating

His career is the epitome of dedicated public service and integrity as are the subjects of his fascinating interviews in each podcast, many of whom are attorneys who spent a major part of their careers in government service.

These include Maya Wiley, Joyce Vance, Barbara McQuade, Jeremy Bash, and Rob Spencer.  While these are not household names, Chuck interviewing skills are superb and the stories compelling – especially at a time when the Rule of Law is the subject of intense debate.  I strongly recommend that you check out this online series.

Chuck Rosenberg  graduated from Tufts University, received his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and then his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1990 – one of the nation’s top law schools.  He then worked in numerous Department of Justice positions, Counsel to the Director of the FBI, Counsel to the Attorney General  and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General.

After service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he later served as Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI (2013-15).  He was the lead trial lawyer in federal prosecutions involving espionage, kidnapping, murder, crimes against children and complex financial fraud cases. (Wikipedia)  As stated by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

“Throughout his distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Chuck has earned the trust and the praise of his colleagues at every level.  He has proven himself as an exceptional leader, a skilled problem-solver, and a consummate public servant of unshakable integrity.

And he has demonstrated, time and again, his deep and unwavering commitment not only to the women and men who secure our nation, but to the fundamental values that animate their service.”

While serving as the Acting Drug Enforcement Administrator, he resigned as a matter of principle based on his objection to communication from the White House and was praised by media including the Wall Street Journal for his integrity in taking this action.

Since that time, he has served as a legal analyst in cable news and counsel at a private law firm in Washington DC.

Need to Have the Last Word –  Over my forty years working with lawyers, I learned that one way to garner their respect was to respond emphatically and with confidence in any (or every) kind of debate whether it was in conversation or electronically.

I learned, however, that even if I prevailed in substance, I should expect, and to some extent, encourage the lawyer to have the last word.  It was a good method to save further time deliberating and allow a win–win result.

My favorite example occurred with one of SWW’s very good lawyers from our Vancouver Office who was on his sabbatical in Italy with his wife.  This counselor  was very active in professional and civic activities and served on the Washington State Board of Governors.

He and his wife were walking up to the entrance of an exclusive restaurant – we’ll say it was in Rome – and out comes a group of several people led by a distinguished looking gentleman in an impeccably-tailored  suit.  Obviously, I wasn’t a witness, but I was told that the conversation went essentially like this as he and his wife passed the group and he addressed the guy in the lead:

Lawyer Hi. I know I’ve seen you before.  Are you from the Pacific Northwest?

Stranger No.

LawyerWow!  I know I’ve seen you before.   Are you involved with the Vancouver, Washington Chamber of Commerce?

Stranger No.

Lawyer:  This is just puzzling to me because I’m positive I’ve seen you before.   Did you have any  dealings with the Washington State Bar Association?

I’m Tony Bennett!

Stranger:  No……. I’m Tony Bennett 

LawyerOh my God.  You’re right!! (emphasis added)

Did NOT leave his heart in Vancouver, Washington

 

 

 

 

A Firm Foundation Built on a Great Culture

I’ll show you numerous examples in future Beerchaser posts, but I believe that Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt has an outstanding, and possibly unique, culture in which a robust organizational sense of humor was a hallmark.  This is not to suggest, however, that SWW lawyers were cavalier and didn’t regard their work very seriously.

SWW lawyers work on matters in every legal practice area except criminal law and domestic relations.   The transactions in real estate, business and corporate law, tax and real estate involve substantial amounts and high stakes issues.   The outcome of litigation ranging from medical malpractice to product liability, admiralty to patent issues has a profound impact on personal lives and the future of businesses ranging from small enterprises to huge corporations.

But the enhanced camaraderie and light-hearted jousting just made it a better place to work.  And it was not just one group of professionals.  The jovial atmosphere, although subtle, was evident through all job classifications and demographics in a diverse organization.

New lawyers have amazing academic credentials and life experiences, but they learn not to take themselves too seriously and those that succeed see that besides putting in often unreasonable working hours, availing themselves of continuing legal education and promoting the SWW client service ethic, they’ll have a more enjoyable tenure at the firm if they adapt to this culture.

In closing, I demonstrate how Senior Partners, set an example.   Below are some of the hundreds of anecdotes residing in my files that deserve to be shared and I will relate in future blog posts.

A Faustian Tale

As mentioned above, Jack Faust had a sterling reputation as an Oregon appellate lawyer after remarkable law school years in which he served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Oregon Law School Law Review and received the Order of the Coif – the highest honor for law students.

Jack also had a second career where he made his mark in broadcasting.  For many years while still having a busy law practice, he was the moderator of a public affairs program – Town Hall.   It received many honors including those from UPI and the National Association of Television Program Executives for Outstanding Public Affairs Program in the Nation.

Moderating the award-winning Town Hall Program

Faust is a former military counter-intelligence officer and he and his wife have traveled the world.  His civic and professional activities are too numerous to mention, but led to him receiving Portland’s First Citizen Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League among others.

I named Jack as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2014 (click on the link and you can see his full story) but he and his family have also been some of the most loyal Beerchasers since 2011.  Now you might expect someone with such a resume to have an elevated ego, but Jack retained his humility from law school as you can in the picture below:

Your Honor, May I approach the beer??”

He is also a great example of SWW’s wit.  In 1999, the firm changed it’s dress code for lawyers.  I might add that when I joined the firm in 1985, when one went into the office even on Saturday mornings, a number of the older lawyers would have on sports coats and ties.

When it became acceptable – even encouraged – by a new firm policy for lawyers to shed their coats and ties – first on Fridays and subsequently, every day unless they had a client meeting or a court appearance, it was a big adjustment.  So everybody got a kick out of Faust’s email to the firm:

“At the risk of the usual barrage of abuse – please spell my name right in your responses – I report the following:  This morning dressed in ‘business casual’ per SWW Reg. 1-901A(1)(c)(ii), I had just parked my car in the Pac West Center garage and deposited my keys in the box by the parking attendant’s station.  

A fancy car rolled up with a well-dressed woman at the wheel.  She asked me, ‘Do I park it myself or will you park it for me?’  I was about to tell her that I am a lawyer, not a parking attendant, but I was afraid my mother would find out.  It would kill her!

I often took advantage of Faust’s stage presence and the firm’s appreciation of creativity in my presentations at the Firm Retreats.   When giving an update on financial matters and the state of the firm, I would always sprinkle in some humor – in this case with videos – one of which is an outtake – in which you will see Faust and another one of my favorite partners, Carson Bowler, mock the SWW dress code.

 

 

Captain of Vandelay Industries

Followers of this blog might conclude that Bowler has an uncanny  resemblance to one of the former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Art Vandelay.

PS:  Dave Kopilak, referenced in the video is a brilliant former SWW lawyer who was the primary drafter of the successful Oregon ballot measure to legalize marijuana and now has his own firm – Emerge Law Group.  He took pride in his approach to casual wear.

Dave Kopilak looking pretty good….

Stay tuned for future posts where I will expand on my premise about the elevated wit of lawyers and some great stories.

In Memoriam

Those in the Portland legal community were saddened by the passing of Susan Hammer in late August.  She was one of Oregons’ most respected lawyers and mediators.

I first met Susan when we served on the Board of Governors for the Portland City Club and her civic and charitable activities were of such magnitude that we used to kid her to which she would respond, “I guess I’m just a girl with poor refusal skills!”  And not only was she on such boards as Planned Parenthood, Willamette University, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Literary Arts, she was in leadership roles and knew how to raise money.

Before forming her own mediation firm, she was a partner at the Stoel Rives Firm and received numerous honors for her legal skill and dedication to the profession.  Notwithstanding her civic activities and professional work, family and friends were always a paramount priority.   We will truly miss this remarkable woman.

The Buffalo Gap Saloon

Due to the inordinate number of establishments in Portland, the Beerchaser’s methodology since the start of the tour, has been to visit one pub or tavern from each letter of the alphabet and then repeat the routine.  There are two reasons I waived that guideline for the Buffalo Gap (the first “B” was the Brooklyn Park Pub)

Since 1974,  a Portland Classic!

  • First, the fact that one of Oregon’s premier appellate lawyers and former KATU Town Hall moderator, Jack Faust, suggested we go to lunch there.

    Our Server, Holly Eldridge and Jack Faust

(Unfortunately, there was no prior disclosure that he was going to wear his Duck sweatshirt.)

  • Secondly, the Buffalo Gap Saloon reeks of history and ambiance offered only by the classic American road house.

Some research confirmed the rich history of this rambling establishment, which was opened in 1974 by the Sutzmans.  It was named for their home town in Custer County, South Dakota.  Buffalo Gap, in the Black Hills, had a population of 100 when they opened their Portland bar, and the town has experienced robust growth — It was 126 in the 2010 census.  A great summary of the origin and history of the Saloon is in the blog of the former owner’s son, Sean Sutzman (“The Monday Report”) .

Distinguishing Characteristics

    • The layout of the building is incredibly quirky.  The original building only housed 25 patrons, but with additions over the years, it now has a bar on each story of the building and can seat up to 200 people.  Upstairs they have small concerts and crowds for various athletic events on the big screen TVs.

There are all kinds of nooks and crannies some of which house booths for patrons and others such as the one in the picture that had video poker games in a space of only about 50 square feet.  The pool room, now called The Annex,  is very large with about five tables and evidently at one time was a law office and purportedly a brothel – probably not at the same time although some might debate that issue.

One of the Game Rooms

  • The Food – If you want a large selection of beers, the Buffalo Gap will disappoint you – the downstairs bar had only five options on tap, but the menu is quite substantial and it is a favorite breakfast spot for many.  For lunch and dinner, the sandwiches, salads, soups and heavier fare are very reasonably priced, tasty and the  portions are ample to say the least.

As we walked in, the classic Eagle tune, “Take it Easy” — originally recorded in 1972 — was playing and it is no stretch that some of the Buffalo Gap regulars were probably listening to it while drinking beer in the ’70’s.  Given the history and the great environment of this Southwest Portland institution, I can see patrons humming Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” in another forty years — but then again – maybe not and the Eagles great hits will still be echoing through the nooks and crannies of this establishment.

The Buffalo Gap Saloon                 6835 SW Macadam Avenue