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THE DARK SIDE: On dogs and baseball

I watched the Brewers game last night.

The first baseman, Corey Hart, made a very nice play; and the commentator on television remarked that, in high school, Mr. Hart played shortstop, as if that was something worthy of note.

And I’m thinking, “No kidding, moron.”

The reality is that, with the exception of the pitchers and the catchers who grew up in Latin America, every single player in the major leagues played shortstop in high school.

If you played third base, second base or outfield in high school, that means that somebody on your high school team had a better arm than you, was faster than you, and had a better glove than you. And if you weren’t even a better player than your high school teammates, needless to say, you had no chance of ever playing in the major leagues.

The practice of law is quite different.

The skills that make a person a great attorney are not so limited; they are wide and varied.

I know people who, as far as I am concerned, are not real attorneys at all; and they admit as much. They proudly declare themselves social workers with law degrees.

I know a very excellent attorney who stutters; he just doesn’t go into court.

I know attorneys who can manage a courtroom like the ringmaster of a three-ring circus, but who couldn’t write a brief to save their lives.

You get what I’m saying here, don’t you?

There’s only one way to be a great baseball player. You have to be able to hit, field, throw and bat at a level that, to the average man, is freakish.

But, to be a great lawyer, you can attain success via an almost unlimited array of skills.

Someone asked me once what the most valuable skill or trait I have that has made me a successful lawyer. I told her it was my ability to manage dogs. Not little nippy dogs, but big dogs. You know: Great Danes, German Shepherds, and dogs like that.

She didn’t understand; so, I explained.

A client once hired me to recover property that had been sold on a land contract. The buyer stopped making payments, so I took the property back, and in the process, I wound up becoming the manager of this property.

At some point, after regaining the property, the owner became afraid of the tenants. They stopped paying rent, but she would not give me authority to evict them. She was afraid the tenants would go Ab Snopes on her and burn the house down if she evicted them.

Without any rent coming in, and without any authorization to evict “Mr. Snopes,” I dropped out of the picture.

A couple years later, my client asked me to go to the property, and see what was going on.

It had become a stash house. For those of you who don’t practice criminal law, a “stash house” is a dump where drug dealers store cocaine, and guard it with large, underfed, vicious dogs.

So, I enter the stash house, and I open the door to the master bedroom where the cocaine is stashed, and there are two ginormous Rottweilers staring me down.

I dropped to one knee, and said, “Here doggies, yeah, good doggies, yes, you’re such good doggies, oh yes, you are.” And the Rottweilers didn’t rip my throat out. Instead, they prostrated themselves before me, and I rubbed their bellies, and nobody (and by nobody, I mean me) died.

I like to say to potential clients that I am a great attorney because I am such a master of the rules of civil procedure. I would also like to say that I’m a great baseball player. But, the fact is, the only reason I’m alive today is that I know how to handle big dogs.

And that is the difference between law and baseball. Successfully practicing law requires a very strange and varied skill set.

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