Is the modest lawyer a myth? That’s the conventional wisdom. Yet once or twice each year, rumors begin to circulate of yet another sighting of this silent and mysterious man. Three years ago, he was spotted emerging from a portable restroom at a county fair. Another time he was seen helping a small child unhook a bluegill at a lake in Mississippi. Once he was seen high on a mountain in Colorado, searching for a pass during a thunderstorm.
Despite the frequency of the sightings, only three details remain consistent: the modest lawyer vanishes quickly, leaves no trace, and always remains nameless. Yet it’s possible to speculate about some of his other defining characteristics, and many have done so. There was a theory put forward by a professor at Harvard Law School that the modest lawyer probably graduated from that esteemed institution. Another theory held that the modest lawyer most likely hailed from Texas. Both of these theories were obviously flawed, but others have been less controversial: that the modest lawyer has never appeared on a cable TV news program, for example, or that he most certainly doesn’t have a weblog.
More enduring than any other mystery, though, is this: What is it about the modest lawyer that makes him so notably modest? Could it be that he failed to receive an adequate helping of love from his parents, such that he regards it as normal to downplay his own accomplishments? Could his personality defects be the result of a sudden and unexpected blow to the head? Has he been possessed by demons?
Only calamitous events like these can explain how the modest lawyer, even if he were to have the good fortune of owning the latest model of BMW’s largest sedan, wouldn’t find it necessary to work this news into every conversation. A mystery, indeed! It’s such a mystery, in fact, that the modest lawyer is doomed to remain the circus freak of the legal profession. If he’s ever identified, tranquilized, and bagged, he’ll be exhibited far and wide, a living testament to the unusual oxymoron that gives him his name: the modest lawyer.
But the modest lawyer will never be identified. If he’s invisible, he’s invisible by choice. It shouldn’t surprise you, in fact, that the modest lawyer might be standing right next to you at this very moment, waiting to initiate a conference call, hand in an assignment, or accompany you to lunch. If this describes you, consider yourself lucky. Most don’t ever get so close to the modest lawyer. Introduce yourself if you must, but don’t blow his cover. That's the way he'd want it.[Like this post? It's one of many included in my book How to Feed a Lawyer (And Other Irreverent Oberservations from the Legal Underground). Details here.]
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