We are going to get to my download of the AAAL conference (starting with an interesting discussion of the use of amici briefs), but first, a shout out to Louise Thomas, honored as a "legend" by the Maine Trial Lawyers Association last Thursday. Attendees included CJ Saufley, and speakers included Jim Bowie, Margaret Minister, Cliff Ruprecht, and Louise's son (a lawyer at Goodwin, Proctor), Eric Romeo. A lovely evening, and Louise certainly deserved it.
If nothing else, Louise deserved a huge award for, many years back, holding my hand through my one and only trial. While it became clear to me early on that I was not meant for trial work, the powers that be at PA thought that I nevertheless needed to first chair a trial before writing off that type of work definitively. So patient Louise, teacher to countless lawyers throughout her career, was called in to drag me through the process, kicking and screaming.
It was a little insurance case, and the question was whether the driver in the accident had the consent of the insured. There was no jury, and Justice Broderick ruled in our favor, so I am batting 1000 as a trial lawyer (nevertheless, I do not expect MTLA to come knocking to honor me as a legend any time soon). At one point, we pulled out a chart and I was able to show on cross that the driver's testimony was wholly inconsistent with the record, at which point the driver's jaw actually dropped and he was speechless. "Gee," I said to Louise, "this is just like Perry Mason, isn't it?"
She just shook her head. I tend to think that the fact that the driver had two four-letter words tatooed on his knuckles also helped.
The experience didn't make me want to be a trial lawyer, and thereafter PA let me focus happily on the appellate and motion side of the litigation world. But I will always be thankful to Louise for making the experience as painless as possible.
More seriously, Louise is a shining example to anyone in the legal profession, both for the quality of her work and her giving back to that profession, helping impaired lawyers and engaging in many, many pro bono and CLE projects. To me, the most important lesson to be learned from her, useful for any lawyer of any stripe (and indeed, non-lawyers, too) is that Louise NEVER GIVES UP. You may think that there is no insurance coverage for an event; somehow Louise will find it. You may think that some aspect of your career or life is hopeless; it is not. You can be tenacious without being obnoxious; you can and should reinvent yourself every day.
Thank you, LKT.