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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, February 27, 2015

February comes in like a virus, goes out like a virus with less stuff


Under Analysis



February comes in like a disease. Often literally, with cold and flu season, but never with good tidings. My writing partner Lisa Henderson last week called it the year’s armpit. I agree with her that it’s an unpleasant body part, but I disagree with her anatomical placement.

For me, February brought two dental crowns and promise of three jury trials. I prepared all three cases, and I used flash cards to keep the facts straight. I’ve never tried two cases in a row, let alone three. That streak continued. Two of the trials went away; both crowns required Novocain and nitrous oxide. In retrospect, I would have preferred the nitrous for my case that did go to trial.

Still, my February was better than some. One of the Oscar Meyer weinermobiles had a wreck in February, and the other Oscars had more losers than winners, as usual. But it’s an honor just to be nominated, right?

My law firm is moving. Fortunately, it’s taking me with it. Unfortunately, I have to pack.

It’s often said that the law is slow to change. That makes me the perfect lawyer. I’ve been in the same office here in the Levison Towers for seven years. My first law job went 11 years, and I spent four years in the place before this one. Four moves is the equivalent of a fire to furniture, with the bangs and dings accumulating. I’ve already ordered a new desk for my new digs, which might be my last.

Moving a law firm comes with plenty of annoyances. Movers shut down the office while they load up and transport, and we’re not very productive for some time after that while we find things. My lucky pencil hid for almost a month last move, until I found it in a suit pocket where I put it so it wouldn’t get lost.

Packing my desk has been both saddening and liberating. When you’re paying movers by the hour, everything has to be evaluated for value. Do I really want to pay to move stuff that should’ve been discarded years ago? For a semi-reformed hoarder, moving is therapeutic. Kind of like having a boil lanced; it’s unpleasant but therapeutic.

Without question, some of the stuff on my desk won’t make the move. The unread Spring 2013 issue of the “Lawyers and Fashion,” for example, buried in a stack of unread magazines. (The cover article, “Our favorite blue suits,” looks intriguing.) Ditto for my November issue of the ABA Journal. It isn’t that I don’t value the opinions of the ABA, it’s just that I haven’t found a birdcage that’s the same size as their magazine.

Next to that is the pile of notes that must have made sense when I wrote them, but are nonsensical now: “Erie doctrine – pick up dry cleaning. Shelley’s case – get her flowers? Call Saul.”

And so on. I keep a list of phone numbers and names when I check voicemail – pretty sure I returned all of those calls. Pretty sure. Honestly, the pile of papers that are getting scrapped makes it clear that our “paperless” office is a failure. Or that we hate trees.

Some of the things I’m packing to move bring a smile to my face. The folder full of thank you notes from clients. The stack of judgments following jury trials – not all wins, but all memorable. The books I keep meaning to read. If email needed packing, I would finally discard the letter from the Nigerian princess with millions in the bank for me. She’s not ever sending that money.

For Middle Aged Lawyer Man, perhaps the hardest part of moving is remembering to drive to the new joint. I’ve walked, biked, or driven to this office a couple thousand times. In the morning with NPR, and at night listening to rock radio. While it will be exciting to discover new routes, I’m betting that I’ll forget and show up here on occasion. If you’re betting, take the over.

In a perfect world, there would be no Februarys. I’ll let you know when I get there, or you can just look for the guy driving the Weinermobile with his lucky pencil behind his ear.

©2015 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Mo. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at farris@farrislaw.net. Those that receive no response were definitely lost in the move. Definitely.