Skip to main content


Schlegel’s apothem about modern law practice

As a retired lawyer, this apothem by John Henry Schlegel, a fine legal historian, caught my eye today:

“ Good lawyers earn the big bucks . . . by putting their butt on the line, by exercising the best possible judgment in circumstances where answers are unlikely and advice only possible in terms of better or worse alternatives.”
-John Henry Schlegel, To Dress for Dinner: Teaching Law in a Bureaucratic Age, 66 Buf. L. Rev. 435, 453 (2018).

I don’t know about “big bucks,” but my experience in restructuring practice over 39 years bears out the rest of the assertion!

Recent posts

Unconscious Racism

From: Charles R. Lawrence III, "The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism," 39 Stanford Law Review 317 (1987) "It is 1948. I am sitting in a kindergarten classroom at the Dalton School, a fashionable and progressive New York City private school. My parents, both products of a segregated Mississippi school system, have come to New York to attend graduate and professional school. They have enrolled me and my sisters here at Dalton to avoid sending us to the public school in our neighborhood where the vast majority of the students are black and poor. They want us to escape the ravages of segregation, New York style. It is circle time in the five-year old group, and the teacher is reading us a book. As she reads, she passes the book around the circle so that each of us can see the illustrations. The book's title is Little Black Sambo. Looking back, I remember only one part of the story, one illustration: Little Black Sambo is running arou…

Bernard Bailyn is at the top in my Pantheon of US historians...but

...but I struggle a bit with his advice:
"Without presenting the past in the correct context of its own time, and somehow disengaging it from one’s present—without grasping the past as the present it once was—one can never understand what really happened or how that distant past changed into a later present and, eventually, into the present that we are ourselves are experiencing." -Bernard Bailyn
It’s hard to ignore the present in working to interpret the past . . .

Juneteenth 2020

One hundred fifty-five years ago, Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order No. 3, proclaiming the freedom of the slaves. Today I had the honor of participating in a panel webinar presented by the Dallas Bar Ass'n in commemoration of this anniversary, featuring Professor Daina Berry (the incoming Chair of the History Department of UT Austin) and Dallas lawyer Paul Stafford, under the title "Juneteenth to June 2020: History's Relevance to Today's Reality."

Re the American civil disturbances following the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, May-June 2020

"What did you expect? I don't know why we're so surprised. When you put your foot on a man’s neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what’s he going to do? He’s going to knock your block off."
-President Lyndon B. Johnson re the toll of deaths, injuries, and arrests in Baltimore immediately after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, quoted in Nick Kotz, *Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws That Changed America* at 418 (2015).

"Do not rely on law review articles that make [a historical] assertion"

"If you're making a claim about history . . . you should read, quote, and cite a work in that discipline. Do not rely on law review articles that make this assertion. . . . People who write law review articles are usually not experts in history . . . . Some are quite knowledgeable in th[at] field, but some have learned just enough to be dangerous. . . . And you particularly should not rely on secondary sources outside the underlying discipline, such as law review articles that cite history books; there the risk of error is too high."

-Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing at 137 (3d ed. 2007).