On a sailboat, you don’t need a TripTik to get from here to wherever you want. You can get to some destination any dozen ways and they’ll all sound right and real and maybe even a little special, like when you’re using a sextant. Lawyering is sort of the same; it’s easy for lawyers to sail a seemingly sound argument to any port of disembarkation they want. IMO, it’s up to the courts to make sure the port calls are fair and just. And that, friends, is why there’s no special brilliance in the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s recent outcomes. IMO, they just paddled over to the outcome they wanted is all and that, to be confessional, makes me sad.
Lots of lawyers love the formality of the profession. They apply for a Supreme Court admission and tidy-up their anxieties by hanging the embossed certificate behind their high-backed chair. Me? In about two years into a legal career in Manhattan, I had more client billables than some of the partners because I got things done. Getting into the legal weeds rarely makes sense. I was always about facts and fairness as opposed to using the law to coerce and restrain. And that’s why I long ago bristled at the idea of ever wanting to present an argument to the Supreme Court. Those are parlor games I’m not interested in playing; for me, using my advocacy to help the injured client or wronged business is what I do. I’m a journeyman. A hired gun. And I’m someone that chases fairness and equality.
Oh, don’t piddle about mumbling I’m too this or that; our wee society was built on three equal branches of government, but you’re getting served a different dish. The Supreme Court has taken an outsize role. Sure, maybe you like the appetizers okay now, but what about when the chef brings out an entrée not to your taste? I’d play it differently if I was President, but that’s a discussion for some cold beers and a table rounded high with blue crab. For now, at least hear what I’m saying: Don’t believe the pundits preaching the Supreme Court’s reasoning was particularly wonderful; IMO those robed justices just sailed a layline to the particular mark they wanted rounded.
All that heaviness aside, what’s going on with you? Did you find time to get that cutless bearing changed? Are you going to use that mooring reservation you made in Edgartown next month? Are those news sails working out like you thought? Last night, E and I met up with a friend aboard his puffball of a Downeast lobster boat with bilges milky white and brightwork done professionally. He mixes a fine gin & tonic and we puttered across to Newport, finagled a table at Ida for dinner and then rode home against a setting sun. It was a cracking evening made more so for its spontaneity. Isn’t that always the case? In a life well lived, I can tell you it’s always the unplanned that burns the best memories.
I’m losing a longtime client because he’s selling his business. I’ve liked working with him because he’s fearless in litigation and always willing to push ahead to get what’s right. I’m hoping he finds new ventures where we’ll work together. On the heels of that development, I added four other injury clients in the same week; all good people upended by events thrust on them. There’s no pace or tempo to this litigation life. It’s a Saturday morning and work calls and so I’m at my desk. What’s that my finance friends like to say: “You lawyers, man; you’re always the last folks there to shut the lights off.”
We’re working on a YouTube channel that’ll highlight what I do and my approach. We’ve always known how we litigate isn’t the norm and the struggles we face to get our successes might be of interest; such is my hubris! I will share that YouTube channel when it’s commissioned – we’re still doing sea trials. It’s been oddly gritty and sort of personal to film. I’ll be curious the interest level.
I have three new books that’ll be available in the early fall. One will bore you as it’s all about helping plaintiff lawyers understand how to take an effective deposition. The other is about maritime injuries, which might be less boring, and the third is a stab at some fiction with a salty theme.
I don’t usually blather on as I’ve done in this column, which is maybe why I felt the liberty to do so. It’s an indulgence that I hope reads more folksy than fatuous. Sometimes it’s nice to know something about the person behind the keyboard. I’m so very grateful for those that read what I write, those that skim what I write, and those that consider reading what I write but can’t find the time. Typing a tempest is fun, but having someone read your fodder is better.
All that said, get on getting on. We’re more fortunate than others and time doesn’t stop. So, burn things up and don’t let your fidelity to something impair you living in the right now.
Underway and making way. ■
John K. Fulweiler, Esq. is a Proctor-in-Admiralty representing individuals and small businesses in maritime matters including personal injury claims throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and with his office in Newport, Rhode Island. He can be reached at 1-800-383-MAYDAY (6293) or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at saltwaterlaw.com.