Under Analysis // March 2014

Change is more than coins and bills…

Last week I was the recipient of some windfall time. The case that I had been preparing for trial for several years settled, and I had a couple of empty days on my calendar. I was faced with a choice; catch up on some things around the office or enjoy the windfall and skip out.

When whatever guardian angel that watches over trial lawyers opens a hole in my schedule, it is sacrilegious to fill that time with work. The school kids around here have had a record number of snow days this year. Snow days are the earliest known windfalls in the human experience. Working on a windfall day would be like doing math on a snow day. If the universe seeks balance, such an act could cause a ripple in time that I don’t even want to consider. The butterfly effect is tame compared to the wasted windfall effect.

My wife travels for business. A lot. So much so that when she goes somewhere, I can fly along for free. Given that she had a trip scheduled for Denver while I was to be in trial, I was faced with the prospects of winging westward or staying home alone. I followed my windfall mantra and packed a bag.

After what has been one of the longest and coldest winters I can remember, Denver was enjoying temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Leaving frosty St. Louis for warm weather in Denver seems like a misprint. It was not, Gentle Reader. It happened.

Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use. I half expected to arrive at the airport, dodging skateboarders and hookah-wielding stoners everywhere, not a bag of chips to be found on a single store shelf. While that would have been interesting, it didn’t happen. Denver looked like it always has to me – a beautiful city in the mountains.

Since my wife was on business, I was on my own much of the trip. I went to an art museum and did not stumble over piles of stoned people in the doorways. While some of the modern art may arguably have been created under the influence of something that is a different question. And probably one I should not answer given my predilection for velvet Elvises (Elvi?) and card-playing dogs.

My beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys were playing basketball on TV and I found a bar stool in a local pub to watch the game. I struck up a conversation with the young man next to me. He works as a “bud tender” in one of the marijuana stores. This was the equivalent of the bartender serving me beverages during the game. Except that this young man had left the banking industry to enter the marijuana industry. He told me that he did it for the retirement benefits and health insurance.

Same-sex marriage has been in the news a lot lately. I have visited a couple of states where these marriages have been legalized. The apocalyptic events predicted by naysayers in those states were not readily apparent to me anymore than the stoner apocalypse. I didn’t meet a single person married to a goat and I didn’t see any lawyers providing goat divorce services.

I have to confess that my windfall time was not pure. I checked email while I was gone. What little paper mail I received was scanned and sent to me on the road. Even my phone calls were forwarded. Like the rest of my world, windfall time has evolved. Remote work is fully acceptable to lawyers, and semi acceptable to observance of windfall days. I am embracing this as an expansion of windfall practice, not an encroachment upon this sacred time.

Lawyers are slow to change, mainly because the law is slow to change. We respect precedent and are guided by what has happened, not what is going to happen next. This means consistency for the profession and for society as we can plan based on what we know. It also means that we lag way behind the rest of society on most trends.

Much has changed in this world since I came into it. Color televisions, microwave ovens, cellular phones. Same sex unions and legal marijuana. Lawyers working remotely. For a lawyer living his legal life around what has happened in the past, the only constant is change. Just like it is for everyone else.

©2014 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, Missouri.  He was neither under the influence of marijuana nor a same sex spouse when he wrote this column. Not that there is anything wrong with that. 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.

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Catastrophic Injuries

THE REAL PAIN OF CATASTROPHIC INJURIES

Every personal injury case is serious. But sometimes injuries are so traumatic and devastating they’re considered “catastrophic injuries.” These injuries typically have life-changing consequences such as paralysis, brain trauma, disfigurement, neurological damage, or loss of limbs. Closed head injuries, or injuries involving unborn babies, newborns, and small children are typically considered catastrophic.

If they’re not handled properly, injury cases like these can be catastrophic in more ways than just the injury itself.

Medical bills for brain trauma, spinal injuries, and other catastrophic injuries are often much higher than victims and families expect, easily reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if you have health insurance, the deductibles and co-pays can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. Recovery can take months and require physical or cognitive therapy, lengthy rehab, and full- or part-time nursing assistance. Time taken off of work for the victim and family members giving care can be just as extensive, resulting in lost wages that can be financially devastating for you and your family. In some cases, catastrophic injury victims lose their ability to earn a living, and may never fully recover.

An experienced catastrophic injury attorney will work to get you the compensation you and your family deserve. The catastrophic injury attorneys at The S.E. Farris Law Firm will identify all responsible parties to get you maximum compensation, so you and your family can focus on what’s important – healing.

Our St. Louis personal injury attorneys are compassionate and dedicated to the needs of our clients, and we are willing and able to bring your case to a swift and just resolution. We take into account present and future medical care and lost income when filing a claim. These massive losses often pale in comparison to the devastation of losing your ability to move around and function as a human being. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, you need experienced and dedicated legal help, perhaps as much as having good doctors and nurses.

Contact a Missouri Catastrophic Injury Attorney

We understand how catastrophic injuries can impact an entire family, and we offer compassionate help in your time of need. Call us today for a free consultation at (314)-A-LAWYER, or visit www.FarrisLaw.net.

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Under Analysis // February 2014

By Spencer Farris for the nationally syndicated column “Under Analysis”

We’ve all heard stories about someone whose car breaks down shortly after they visit a dealership to check out the new models. Karma…or in that case, “carma.” My column last month was critical of technology. On Friday, I lost two computers here at the Levison Towers. A little bit of e-karma.

I am no stranger to computers. To this day, I swear that I got my 1st legal job because I could build computers rather than any budding legal acumen. Back in those days, computer technicians were a rare breed and I was a decent dabbler.

I decided to upgrade two computers in my office the previous Friday – it’s not brain surgery after all – and succeeded in killing both patients. I spent Super Bowl Sunday reinstalling software and fixing these machines. Unlike a brain surgeon with a bad day, my patients were saved. The Broncos were not so lucky.

While this was going on, the plumbing in our building backed up into the basement. On top of that, I was up ‘til 1:30 in the morning removing the remnants of the polar vortex from our sidewalk. If bad things come in threes, I was done.

We call these “first world problems,” or FWPs around here. Although I was exhausted mentally and physically, I survived.

These problems came on the heels of meeting one of my idols, Gerry Spence. Spence is a legendary trial lawyer in his 80s and I met him at the Trial Lawyers College in California. He joined my table for dinner one night and was both energetic and delightful. In a room where he was a genuine rock star, this was an unexpected treat. It is very gratifying to learn that one of the great ones was also a pretty good feller. Compared to this giant, I’m a tiny lawyer.

I met another huge person last week. Not in size – he barely topped 5 feet. This was a client who came to the office for his deposition. Pre-deposition meetings with clients are always different but have some distinct similarities. Clients about to be deposed are a bundle of nerves, but my client did not suffer from the usual pre-deposition jitters.

In fact, Barry wasn’t the least bit nervous. While a deposition for me is a routine chore, for my client it is a look into the unknown. The unknown is always scary. Facing another attorney who is asking questions was nothing compared to where Barry’s life had taken him.

His accent was heavy and understandably so. Barry was born in Vietnam and came here in the ‘80s. He was one of the boat people who escaped Vietnam to come to America.

He left home and everything he knew on a fishing boat built for about 40 people to occupy. There were around 700 refugees with him on his voyage. The boat was so crowded that only women and children were allowed on deck in the sunshine and fresh air. The rest were crowded below in the dank darkness.

I poured him a glass of water. He smiled and told me that during their four-day voyage, the water ran out on day three. They were given about a shot glass of water three times a day up until that point. Then even that stopped.

As they approached the coast of the country where they thought they would disembark, a navy ship speeded out to “greet” them. That greeting was a command that they be towed away from shore and was punctuated with drawn firearms.

A rope was tied to the front of their fishing boat and they were towed in the opposite direction, back toward the open ocean. They were all fearful of the speed at which they were traveling – shoddy fishing boats were known to disintegrate while being towed. The captain was threatened with his life if he touched the rope that pulled them away from safety.

They were left on an island with no food or water and no sanitary facilities. For 6 months. Several of his shipmates died of sickness during that time.

He was just a teenaged boy and was fortunate to survive. While I was worrying about high school horrors, he was living a real horror story. Eventually a relief agency got him off the island to Europe and then to America.

It was really no surprise that he flourished here. He acquired two bachelor’s degrees and got a good job. He also brought the rest of his family over and adopted three orphans from back home. The injury I represented him for wasn’t anywhere near as bad as where he had come from.

After he told his story, I felt very small. On the heels of meeting a huge lawyer, I met a huge client. My FWPs were beyond small. They were embarrassing.

©2014 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, Missouri. He is a very fortunate man. 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.

 

 

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When Insurance Refuses to Pay

You buy insurance to protect yourself and your belongings, but where do you turn if they refuse to pay for your loss?

 

It can be a frustrating and frightening experience when an insurance company denies your claim. If you believe they are denying it wrongly, you have the right to file a “vexatious refusal to pay” claim.

Vexatious refusal means that the insurance company didn’t treat you fairly – not that they had a difference of opinion as to the value, but that they putting their interests above yours. By filing a vexatious refusal claim, you may be able to recover the amount that you were wrongly denied, reasonable attorney fees, and additional penalties on the amount of your loss.

It can be difficult to understand why your insurance company is refusing your claim. Insurance adjusters can be overly aggressive in denying claims. Wording in your policy may be ambiguous, which the company can exploit by saying that the damage was not covered in the first place. Also, insurers commonly refuse to pay in the case of fires where arson is suspected, or if your policy entitles you to the replacement cost of damaged property (versus the current, depreciated value).

Contact a St. Louis Attorney

The attorneys at The S.E. Farris Law Firm are experienced in vexatious refusal and bad faith claims, and we don’t back down from insurance companies. We work quickly and fight hard to make you whole again.

If you suspect your insurance company is wrongfully denying your claim, call us at 314-A-LAWYER (314-252-9937) today for a free consultation, or visit www.farrislaw.net.

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Spencer Farris Elected to American Board of Trial Advocates

St. Louis personal injury attorney welcomed into prestigious bar organization

Spencer E. Farris, managing partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm, was welcomed into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) last week. The association constitutes a “who’s who” of trial lawyers across the U.S., inviting only the most qualified and highly regarded trial attorneys into its ranks.

“This is certainly a milestone in my career,” said Farris. “I was honored to receive the invitation and acceptance, and I’m looking forward to being an active member in the Missouri/Southern Illinois Chapter.”

In addition to requiring significant trial experience, the local chapter’s Executive Committee and ABOTA National Board must approve applicants by a 75% majority vote before extending membership.

The organization’s mission is to improve the ethical and technical standards of legal practice and client advocacy. The association, both nationally and locally, is highly active in educating students, professionals, and trial attorneys, upholding the integrity of the law, and improving the efficiency of the justice system, among many other initiatives.

Founded by Farris in 2001, The S.E. Farris Law Firm represents injury victims and their families in Missouri and Illinois. The firm is experienced in successfully resolving cases for injury victims involving auto injuries, work-related injuries, wrongful deaths, medical malpractice, defective products, discrimination, insurance claims, and more.

Spencer E. Farris is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Missouri-Kansas Super Lawyer since 2005, and has been selected as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Missouri by The National Trial Lawyers Association and the American Society of Legal Advocates. Farris serves on the board of governors for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and is also a member of The Justice Roundtable, The American Association for Justice, and numerous other organizations.

With the most recent successes of the firm, Farris has opened a new location in Sullivan, Mo., where meetings with attorneys are by appointment only. The firm offers two offices in the St. Louis area to serve its clients.

For more information about Spencer E. Farris, Attorney, or The S.E. Farris Law Firm, visit www.FarrisLaw.net or call 314.252.9937.

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About The S.E. Farris Law Firm:

Located in St. Louis, Missouri, The S.E. Farris Law Firm focuses on the needs of injury victims, so clients benefit from: our decades of experience with the complexities of personal injury law, our expertise and solid track record preparing for, and presenting, in court, and our knowledge of the legal procedures and technicalities necessary to win cases. For more information, visit www.FarrisLaw.net or call 314.252.9937.

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Hurt on the Job – Workplace Accidents

Hurt on the Job – Missouri Workplace Accidents

Safety should be a top priority at any workplace for both employers and employees, but workplace injuries can and do happen. If you are injured on the job, you should report the accident and injury to your employer and file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as you are able.

Quick timing is important following a work injury. Missouri workers’ compensation law states that you have 30 days after your accident to file a workers’ compensation claim.

You should report all injuries immediately, even if you think they are minor – serious or long-term conditions can develop later. You should also file a report if you develop injuries later that you were unaware of at the time of your accident.

A Missouri workers’ compensation attorney can help you file your claim, and inform you of your rights and benefits following your accident.

Here are some important things to know about workplace accidents:

  • After the accident – call for help and seek immediate medical assistance.
  • Try to identify any and all witnesses of your accident, as soon as possible but without risking your safety, and gather their names, phone numbers, and addresses.
  • Report the accident to your supervisor, fill out an accident report, carefully indicate all your injuries and problems, and get a copy of the report for your records.
  • If you are seriously injured, or if your pain persists, seek appropriate or additional medical attention.
  • Keep well-documented records of all medical treatment.
  • Be sure you are receiving the correct amount of worker’s compensation wage according to schedule. If you suspect you are not receiving appropriate wage, contact an attorney immediately.
  • Never sign any releases until you are fully covered and ready to settle your case.
  • Only discuss the case with necessary parties, which are your spouse, caseworker, and attorney.

Missouri workers’ compensation law changed drastically in 2005. Before then, many employees were “okay” to deal with the insurance company initially without an attorney with the assurance that the system would protect them. That protection is gone. Pursuing a claim today without a professional on your side often delays your benefits as insurance companies push the envelope in denying coverage and claims.

The St. Louis work injury lawyers at The S.E. Farris Law Firm are experienced in workers’ compensation law and will ensure that your rights are protected, and that you receive the compensation you deserve. The time to pursue your workers’ compensation claim is limited, so call 314-A-LAWYER (314-252-9937) today for a free consultation or fill out our online case submission form.

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Slip and Fall Injuries

Snow and Ice Increase Slip and Fall Risk

The holidays can indeed be the most wonderful time of the year, but winter is not without its downside. Since Missouri’s first big snow storm last week, Mercy Hospital has seen a 20% increase in slip and fall accidents, according to Dr. Scott Henke.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. From bumps and bruises to broken bones and more, a fall can cause a variety of injuries. What’s worse, the pain from these injuries might linger long after your incident and permanently affect your ability to earn a living or enjoy life. Snow and ice only add to the possibility of slip and fall incidents.

When walking on city sidewalks, through government property, or in commercial buildings, you don’t expect to fall. It is the duty of the property owner to remove, block off, or fix hazards like slippery floors, uneven walking surfaces, broken steps, dangerous debris, and other hazards. Even naturally occurring snow and ice can place responsibility on a property owner in some cases. Some government entities and cities are entitled to prompt notice by certified mail after you fall or you will be barred from recovering for your injuries.

When it comes to winter weather, it can be tricky to determine if a property owner is liable. If there is ice and snow around, the best advice is to take it slow. If you have been hurt, or someone you love has been injured or died as the result of a fall, contact the St. Louis, Missouri slip and fall lawyers at The S.E. Farris Law Firm. We’ll help determine whether you have a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Call 314-A-LAWYER (314-252-9937) today for a free consultation or fill out our online case submission form.

Contact a St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney

The St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers at The S.E. Farris Law Firm are experienced in slip and fall accidents, and premises liability cases. If you don’t have a valid claim, you can count on an honest assessment of the matter up front.  If the landowner was completely or even partially at fault, we will fight to get the compensation for your financial and personal losses, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, or long-term care you deserve.

Call 314-A-LAWYER (314-252-9937) today for a free consultation. The time to pursue a claim against a negligent party in a slip and fall case is limited. If the responsible party is a governmental entity, such as the owner of a dangerous road or sidewalk, the time limits are extremely short to make your claim. It is important to contact an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that your rights are protected, and so an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your accident can be conducted.

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What is Time to a Pig?

From the nationally syndicated column “Under Analysis”

Turkey day is almost here, which means it is a Holiday week in the Levison Towers.  As a result, more lawyers than usual are showing up late for work, if they show up at all. The associates know that the partners are not watching them, and the partners are preoccupied. Those that are here mill around like zombies in casual clothes, wrapping up small things and dodging Aunt Erma from Terra Haute simultaneously. We’ve never fully adopted casual dress in the Towers, and rightfully so. The place looks like the finals of an ugly sweater competition.

The short week makes us even more conscious of time. The hourly billers are trying to figure out how to get a full week’s worth of hours on the books, while working only three days. The contingent fee group is griping about how little they are getting accomplished- the complaining takes all day and work is being ignored as fast as possible.

This past week was the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy. The question asked has always been, “ where were you when JFK was killed?” Folks over 50 know. I know- I was gestating. September 11, 2001 is my generation’s “where were you” date. Time is forever frozen on these dates.

When I look back at this week ten years from now, I won’t remember where I was. I would like to say that I am being productive, but that would be a lie. Once again, I am spending a holiday weekend preparing for trial.

After two decades, I should know better than to schedule a trial for the week following a holiday weekend. The problem is that trials are usually scheduled months in advance and I just don’t have enough information.   I know to schedule around hunting season and Christmas, which conveniently falls on the same day each year. July 4th is also avoidable, as the date is in the name. The rest of the holidays are mystery days to me, however, until shortly before they occur.  Hence my recurring problem.

I am guessing certain big box retailers have the same problem as I.  Not only did they forget to close for Thanksgiving, but they’ve scheduled huge sales promotions for those days. Odd that we celebrate a family holiday of gratefulness by rushing out to buy more stuff on the cheap. Odder still that when we do so, we ignore that others are forced to miss time with their families to sell cheap stuff to us.

I don’t know why cognizance of the holiday calendar is so difficult for a person who, as Lawyer Lincoln put it, only has his time and advice to sell.  Yet each year, I have my own Groundhog Day, spending holidays preparing for trial, year after year after year. (That is a reference to the movie, not the holiday. I never know when Groundhog day is either.)

Maybe the problem dates back to my childhood, and the advice I got from an old farmer. Gene Teafey’s land was between my home and the high school. One night, I was leaving late from dusting erasers after school- another story, not related to this one. A storm was brewing so I decided to cut through Teafey’s place on the way home.

Gene was my Sunday school teacher, and I was certain that his “no kids in my fields” rule didn’t apply to me, especially when it would cut twenty minutes off of my walk in the rain. As I ducked through his orchard, I noticed Gene holding up LuluBelle, his prize sow, to an apple tree. He saw me and nodded. I hurried along, avoiding his gaze.

For the next several days, I was anxious. Was Gene going to tell my mom, and the 20 minutes I saved would be replaced with an hour of lectures and a couple days being grounded? On Sunday morning, Gene didn’t acknowledge my transgression. Later that day, I couldn’t stand my guilt any longer, and went to apologize. Gene smiled and quickly forgave me. Then my curiosity got the best of me.

“Gene,” I said, “what were you doing with LuluBelle?”

“Oh yes. Well that is top secret. I will tell you, but in return, you have to promise not to tell any other farmer my secret.”

“Deal.”

“You know that LuluBelle is a champion hog. Every litter of piglets she has sells for a great price. Apples are her favorite food. When she eats them, she stays happy, and a happy LuluBelle means more piglets for me.”

I couldn’t help myself. Being a teenager, I was naturally brilliant. It is amazing how much less I know today than I knew back then. I was emboldened, and to this day I don’t know whether it was youthful ego or relief at escaping trouble. Couldn’t he just put the apples in LuluBelle’s trough? Does a pig know the difference between apples from a tree and apples still on a tree?

Even back then, I knew this was a delicate topic- talking smart to adults was not tolerated. Finally I asked him, “Gene, doesn’t it take a lot of time to hold that pig up to the apple tree?”

The old farmer just smiled a knowing smile at me.

“Spencer, you are a good kid, but you just aren’t very bright. Time doesn’t matter to a pig.”

I don’t know what animals lawyers are, but we definitely aren’t pigs. At least, not all of us.

© 2013  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, Missouri. His office will be closed on Thanksgiving, and the day afterwards. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at comments@levisongroup.com.
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Railroad Crossing Accidents

Railroad Crossing Accidents

Train travel may seem like a relic of the past, but when it comes to freight and shipping, it plays a big part in the future. In the state of Missouri alone, there are over 7,000 railroad crossings. With more reliance on trains for shipping, you can bet to see more trains at these crossings. Unfortunately, that also means you might see more train accidents at these crossings, too. If you have been injured in a railroad crossing accident, contact the Missouri Train Accident Lawyers at The S.E. Farris Law Firm today. Call 314.A.LAWYER (314.252.9937) for a free consultation.

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive…” They didn’t compare Superman to a train because they’re small and weak. Trains can travel at high speeds, hit with devastating force, and are very, very hard to stop. That’s why properly maintained safety equipment at railroad crossings is so important. But even the best safety equipment can be dangerous if it’s broken, malfunctioning, or missing.

Faulty Equipment, Deadly Accidents

Such was the case in last November’s tragic accident, where malfunctioning warning lights and crossbars allegedly played a part in killing four wounded veterans and injuring 16 on a parade float. Had the crossbars lowered on time, these men and women may have lived to celebrate many more Veterans Days to come.

The types of warning devices at railroad crossings differ based on location and amount of traffic, from crossbars and alarms to stop signs with flashing lights. However, if the equipment fails to warn you of an oncoming train and you are injured as a result, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries, or for the wrongful death or injuries of a family member.

Protect Your Rights

You owe it to yourself to have a qualified personal injury attorney investigate the circumstances of your accident. Train accidents are complicated and injuries tend to be severe, so it’s important to find an experienced and reliable attorney quickly.

Contact a St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney

Contact the St. Louis, Missouri Train Accident Lawyers at The S.E. Farris Law Firm for a free consultation. We know how devastating and complex train accidents can be, and we will fight tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected. Call 314.A.LAWYER (314.252.9937) today for a free consultation, or contact us online, 24 hours a day, at http://www.farrislaw.net.

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The Science of Windfalls

From the nationally syndicated column “Under Analysis”

Stuart Tomas stopped by the Levison Towers this week while he was in the area promoting his book “Getting To No, The Art Of Passive Aggression.” At least he said he was in the area promoting his book. I think he was just here trying to scam some World Series tickets.

I am typically happy to see Tomas and today was no exception. I had landed a little bit of windfall time and was looking for an excuse to goof off. Earlier, I was in court to get a continuance of a case set on the following week’s docket. The defense lawyer and I were still dancing around with preliminary matters and were nowhere near ready for trial. As I left the courthouse, I saw a lawyer with whom I had depositions scheduled later that afternoon. He told me he got sent out for trial and we needed to reschedule the depositions. What had looked like an afternoon of drudgery had just become windfall time.

Windfall time is a cherished bit of freedom in a lawyer’s schedule. We sell our lives in tenths of an hour, marked off on the calendar weeks in advance. When something cancels at the last minute there is no time to reschedule another appointment or task. The hole in the calendar becomes windfall time.

To a lawyer who bills hourly, windfall time is unwelcome. We contingency fee lawyers see it as a free gift. Halloween candy. Winning the Publishers’ Clearinghouse sweeps without buying a magazine.

Tomas looked around my office at the piles of files and half written briefs hiding both my desk and much of my carpet. He hinted that maybe this newfound free time might be used to reduce the mass. (Tomas is a little bit of a neat freak.) Without holding back, this was the silliest idea I’d ever heard.

“Stu, it just doesn’t work that way. Windfalls are a gift from heaven. Wasting them on actual work is giving the powers that be a poke in the eye.

Think of it this way. My bank has given me a line of credit. Unless I borrow all that money as quickly as I can, even if I don’t need it, I’m disrespecting the trust that they have placed in me.

When I was a kid, they gave us recess every day. I didn’t do extra work during recess, I played. If you start working during off time you’re messing with the delicate balance of the universe. Don’t cross the work and goof streams.”

To misquote the prophet Alanis Morissette, it would be like paying in advance for free ride. I was on a roll now and knew it.

“It’s actually a minor infraction that I’m even in the office now. We should really continue this discussion down at The Restatement.” As is his nature, Tomas nodded agreement and off we went.

There was quite a crowd in The Restatement for 2 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. This tavern next to the courthouse is known for cold beverages and salty conversation, mostly from the wait staff. If you want warm pretzels you should consider the yuppie bar down the street. The Restatement is where old codgerly lawyers come to think.

We had only been in the joint for a couple minutes when young Mike came in. You could see this kid coming a mile away, all 6 foot seven and 250 pounds of him. He is an associate in a plaintiff’s personal injury practice and his wife defends insurance companies. Given that I am a liberal married to a conservative, I understand his plight.

We exchanged greetings and he asked why I was wearing a suit. I told him I had just been in court to get a continuance. He said that when he got to be my age, he hoped he was getting continuances. The look on my face inspired him to stammer out an explanation – he had been carrying boxes all day and thought appearing in motion court was much more lawyerly.

Just as he was wriggling free from the uncomfortable moment, one of his young defense lawyer buddies came over. He said, “That is quite a suit. I’m not sure I could pull it off, but on you it looks good.” For the record, pulling it off is not the problem, it’s getting it on in the morning. My dry cleaner seems to be shrinking my clothes much more regularly lately.

In the span of five minutes I had taken two jabs to the head for no apparent reason. Tomas was laughing so hard he could barely drink the beer I was buying. I laughed along. There is no time for feeling slighted or carrying grudges during a windfall, and no amount of ribbing was going to cloud my day. After all, I was enjoying a cold one with my fellow lawyers in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

© 2013 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, Missouri.  Stuart Tomas is working on his second book, “Beyond No- How to Do Less Than Nothing for Fun and Profit.” Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at comments@levisongroup.com.
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