Secret memo--beat MALG!

SUBJECT: Blue print for defeating Middle Aged Legal Guy.

TO: League Of Evil Young Lawyer Dudes/Dudettes

FROM: Doogie Tindell

Many of you will remember that I was sent undercover some time ago as part of our continuing effort to beat Middle-Aged Legal Guy. (I am glad that my premature balding finally makes me useful.) MALGs are one of the more difficult opponents we encounter in our young legal careers. Judges and jurors seem to defer to them rather than us. This denizen of the courtroom is, not coincidentally, often a law school classmate of the judge.

I spent extensive time at both state and federal court levels, and my opponents were typically MALGs. The data collected has been rigorously processed by social scientists and retired law professors. We've distilled some key elements which may help you defeat MALGs that you encounter. WARNING: THESE METHODS ARE NOT FOOLPROOF! While they are helpful, it won't hurt to have a great case. That alone is still not enough to beat an angry MALG.

1. Move slowly. MALGs are preternaturally prone to inertia. Most of them are happy with the status quo, especially after they have achieved MALG status. If you don't work up your file, they are most happy to let theirs sit on the shelf and gather dust as well. Send some paper discovery occasionally. Wait a few months and take a deposition. Small amounts of activity here or there will never raise the MALG's bushy eyebrow and he is liable to put his file back on the shelf and go play golf rather than be proactive and work forward.

Be careful with this approach however. Slacking is a dangerous habit and difficult to break. Since you lack the MALG's years of experience, you're going to have to work up your file so that you are prepared for trial. The stealth method will leave you with a large quantity of work to do at the end of your case. It will also leave the MALG with a large quantity of work to do at the end of his, and he probably won't do it. Then again, he may not need to. (If you are currently a young associate with a MALG boss, please keep this to yourself. I am sorry for the extra work you will get dumped on you at the last minute. )

2. Be friendly. Nothing riles up the MALG like a nasty whippersnapper. Remember that most of these older coots began their practice in a genteel time when actually practicing law instead of chasing cases was the order of the day. They are not used to the cutthroat nature that the legal business has become.

It is therefore crucial to be friendly to the MALG. The nasty comment which you make so you can brag to your friends later that you did it will cost you dearly. Conversely, treating the MALG like a peer or even a human being goes a long way to lowering his impenetrable defenses. You don't have to go overboard here--a friendly conversation while you wait (and wait and wait) for your turn at a status conference instead of playing Angry Birds and ignoring other lawyers in the room is a good start.

3. Show an occasional kindness. Although law schools don't focus on this, kindness is big among MALGs. You may notice the male of the species opening doors for women or the female MALGs picking lint from the back of a complete stranger. MALGs have started the evolution into complete human being which is often retarded in law school -- at least in our generation. When they call and ask you for a continuance, don't be quick to say no. Make an additional phone call before filing a motion to compel. The kindness you show now will come back to you threefold.

4. Listen to (maybe even learn from) his stories. If there's one universal truth I've learned about the MALGs, it is that they love to tell war stories. This may explain why he will recall a two-day jury trial from 15 years ago more clearly than the current file in his hand -- he hasn't had a chance to tell a story about the current file yet. Listen to MALG stories. They may not always be enlightening, but they are frequently entertaining. They give you some insight into our profession before we were members--probably before some of us were wearing pants. Most of all, listening to MALGs tell a story transforms you from impertinent young pup to erstwhile student of the profession. They seem to like that.

Good luck to you all, and see you at our convention at South Padre Island this spring.


Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent to this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via e-mail at

© 2012 Under Analysis L.L.C.

Published: Fri, Mar 23, 2012