Early in the week, I made a house call to visit a client who lives near Hannibal, Missouri, about ninety miles from my office. In that area, you see a lot of references to Mark Twain, and the lawyer I was with reminded me of a favorite Mark Twain quote: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
On the drive back, we traded some other Mark Twain quotes and anecdotes. As I’ve mentioned before, one thing I like about lawyers—at least the ones I’m privileged enough to spend time with—is that they are all remarkably witty. If it weren’t for the fact that our cell phones kept ringing on the drive back, we might have had quite a time.
The phone calls were a symptom of an exceptionally busy week. A few times, I found myself asking why I had allowed myself to get so many balls into the air at once. Even worse, most of the balls this week involved not depositions and hearings, which can be fun, but meetings. I don’t like meetings very much, even though I was excited about the topic of conversation—specifically, a new project I’m undertaking with another firm that includes some old friends of mine.
One of the meetings preceded a Cardinals baseball game. The game was okay, but then I stayed out until 2 a.m., which was a boneheaded move on my part. (Owing to the new baby, I’m already sleep-deprived enough as it is.) I justified my late-night partying, as I always do, by telling myself it’s good to bond with my colleagues. As Andrea would point out, however, some of us have been “bonding” for almost fifteen years. (Back then, I was a summer associate at the civil defense firm that spawned many of the plaintiffs’ lawyers I now frequently work with as co-counsel.)
Speaking of Andrea, my wife and partner, she’s returned to the office a few days a week, month-old baby Sam in tow. This week, she and Sam attended a mediation together. It occurred to me that in many other lines of work, bringing your new starved-for-milk baby to a high-level gathering might be considered unprofessional. In this case, the client specifically wanted Andrea there, so there wasn’t much choice, given Sam’s eating arrangements. No one complained, and the case settled.