("Jack" continued from page 4)
While I never heard the phrase used in Des Moines, I felt the entire week was, in a sense, an exercise in "tough love." Our hearts were open, but so were our eyes and ears.
I stopped in Minneapolis on the way back to Seattle and grabbed a copy of the Sunday Star Tribune. Its editorial page was devoted to an article on "Promising Initiatives--Community Can Indeed Curb Crime." What an intriguing concept, yes? The editorial touched on (1) community (Sam "collars" a ten-year-old troublemaker and calls his aunt Tee Tee); (2) collaboration (Honeywell Corp. supports block clubs and hires neighborhood residents); and (3) communication (school officials actually talking with parents). Gee whiz., do you think these guys in Minneapolis are on to something?
Today, American litigation, both civil and criminal, is a civilized (or perhaps not so civilized) form of guerilla warfare. People (both clients and lawyers) lie, cheat, steal, sell their mothers and daughters, do anything, TO WIN. (I speak metaphorically of course.) To win what? To win "the case." What is "the case"? Well, in civil litigation, it is usually about money. Experience in these matters informs us that "winners" are few and far between. Usually both sides get less than expected (in large part because expectations are too high) and the lawyers "win" the most, through fat fees.
So after 23 years I've pretty much had it. Effective October 1st of last year I have gone on reduced status at my law firm. I will devote much of my new-found free time to mediating business disputes (for a fee), volunteering as a VORP mediator, and tending to some family business affairs. And this change feels so good.
We are indeed in the midst of a "quiet mutiny" from the established system of justice (my own career change is a perfect example of this). Des Moines was just great. Best regards to all my new VOMA friends. See you next year.