Under Analysis: Some legal matters end with smiles

Mark Levison, The Levison Group

I was in court yesterday. I called witnesses, made arguments, introduced documents and rested my case. The judge took judicial notice of the file, considered the testimony elicited, and announced his decision. He granted my client’s prayer. Everybody then clapped and Circuit Court Judge Jack Warner posed for pictures with the litigants. Standing back to watch the photo session, I couldn’t help reflecting how different this trial ending was from a typical judicial decision.

Normally after the judge rules, one side is not particularly happy. Sometimes both sides are not particularly happy. After the typical ruling the “losing” side’s lawyer puts on a brave face, shakes the opposing lawyer’s hand in congratulations, and eventually decides what to do next. Sometimes the lawyers aren’t that cordial. The parties generally are less cordial than the lawyers.

Over five years ago, at age 26, my brother’s daughter, Michelle, was stricken with a virulent form of breast cancer while carrying her first child. After Aiden’s successful birth, Michelle underwent radical surgery. Since it was not possible for her to carry another child, her brother’s wife volunteered. Yesterday morning Judge Warner finalized the adoption of the twins. Posing for pictures with the Judge were Michelle, her husband and high school sweetheart Mike, one-year old Laya and Davin, and Michelle’s dad, my brother Marty.

A couple of years ago, Michelle asked if I would help with the then only hoped for conception and adoption. I was glad to, but adoption law is its own specialty complete with home visits, studies, a guardian for the children, and things I just didn’t know much about. It has always seemed to me that a good lawyer knows what he knows, and knows what he doesn’t know (that’s the legal version of Clint Eastwood’s, “A man’s got to know his limitations”), so I called an acquaintance who is active in the Family Law Committee of the state bar association. Allan gave me helpful free advice and offered to do whatever I felt I could not. I handled the court appearances. Even though I was “the mouthpiece,” Allan arranged to sit in the background, “just in case.” It was a little like Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy — or Jeff Dunham and Walter for some of the younger lawyers among us.

This got me thinking that despite all the bad things we hear about lawyers — some quite justified — those of us who practice law, as a profession, experience and do a lot of good. Lawyers often help each other, and there are lots of legal tasks, like adoption, that lawyers take on which result in very positive conclusions.

Consider purchasing a business. At the end of the day, willing buyers and sellers ink deals that generally make both sides happy. Zoning and other administrative lawyers help secure development projects or other benefits for their clients. Government contract lawyers help win and execute contracts. Lawyers working on RFPs win opportunities for the companies they represent. Immigration lawyers secure essential rights for their clients. Probate lawyers help with financial matters during times that are often extremely difficult for their clients. The list is long.

Although we trial lawyers get all of the TV shows, there is much more to being an attorney than two sides fighting in court. Lawyers provide many varieties of services to make life easier and/or to accomplish a myriad of tasks for their clients. Good results from diligent lawyering, as well as incidents of lawyers helping each other along the way, happen all of the time. If you send some of your personal stories to my e-mail address, or to this newspaper, I might just write about them.


Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Mark Levison is a member of the law firm Lashly & Baer. You can reach the Levison Group in care of this paper or by e-mail at comments@levisongroup.com.
© 2013 Under Analysis L.L.C.