The Stuff of (Urban) Legend: Attorneys reveal their good luck charms when they're in hallowed halls

Lawyers are a superstitious lot. Bernie Madoff attorney Lee Sorkin wore his Hebrew University tie for his opening statement. He always does. Another New York attorney ate the same meal at the same restaurant in the Bronx until the murder trial he was defending was over. Given that the trial went three weeks longer than expected, that was a lot of sauted salmon over lettuce. Another attorney never gets a haircut during a trial.

Those and other superstitions or good-luck rituals were reported recently in The New York Times. But New Yorkers, while strange, are not that unusual.

Sterling Heights attorney Suzanne Kalka, of Serafini Michalowski Derkacz & Associates, goes into court with triple protection.

I have lucky pens, a lucky suit and lucky earrings! she told Jesse Greene, director of communications for the Michigan Association for Justice, who helped compile our list of lawyer superstitions.

Justin Hakala, with Morgan & Meyers in Dearborn, follows the good advice given to tourists in Mexico: Dont drink the water!

On depositions I never rely on the caffeine from opposing counsels offices coffee, he says. I always bring my own (and usually drink it in the car long before I get there).

Many attorneys rock on their way to court.

Victoria Shackelford, of Goldin & Associates in Southfield, prefers heavy metal to get pumped for court.

I always listen to Tool (or something equally jarring) before I go on anything big, she said. Also, I never wear my unlucky suit even though I love it.

Brighton attorney Marla Linderman gets her game face on by listening to Pat Benatars Invincible or Scandals The Warrior, which hit No. 1 in Canada in
1984 and No. 7 in the United States.

Paul A. Reasoner, of Reasoner Associates in Oxford, has class. He likes a little Wagner, particularly Flight of the Valkyries popularized in Apocalypse Now, before he goes into court.

Both Waterford attorney Heather J. Atnip, of Romanzi Atnip, and Anthony H. McClerklin, of Sylvan Lake, find their inner selves by listening to Detroit rapper Eminems Lose Yourself over and over again.

This has been my ritual since I was on my way to take the LSAT, Atnip says.

Depending on the case shes working on, Dearborn Heights attorney Racine Millers trial prep tunes include anything by old-school political punk rock band Bad Religion (led by Greg Graffin, now a biology professor at UCLA) or I Fought the Law and I Won by Dead Kennedys, a 1980s hardcore punk band out of San Francisco. When arguing appeals, however, she wisely forgoes her earbuds.

I wear my great-grandmothers timepiece/brooch for appellate arguments, Miller says. Jon Frank, of Southfield, takes a refrain from Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady, a timeless stage hit: Get Me to the Church on Time.

Really, Frank insists.

Robert Whims, of Traverse City, recalls his glory days as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan and a young attorney out of Pepperdine.

Though I wouldnt call it superstitious, he says, in my younger days I was rather fond of playing The Victors loudly on the way to court, remembering what it was like to come into the stadium through the tunnel, hear the band playing, see the Michigan flags waving, step onto the ice time to play.

Lisa C. Ward, of Okemos, lets her feet do the talking.

I have a pair of lucky Salvador Faragamo shoes that I wear to oral arguments.

Of course, there is always the luck of the Irish.

I cant be the only person with a four-leaf clover paperweight for good luck, says Jason Thompson, of Sommers Schwartz.

Like Frank Galvin, played by Paul Newman in The Verdict, and most Roman Catholic attorneys, Eugenie Eardley, of Cannonsburg (near Grand Rapids), relies on the supreme lawgiver.

I usually carry a rosary in my pocket for trials, she says, and a St. Thomas More pendant on my neck never hurts to double up!

In The Times story, one attorney questions his colleagues adherence to superstitions: You certainly wouldnt want to learn that your heart surgeon or your 747 pilot always wears the same pair of underwear when its time to perform.

But for one anonymous MAJ attorney, that didnt sound so far-fetched.

Ha! he (or she) said. I thought I was the only one with lucky underwear. I hope I never get hit by a bus on my way into trial.

(SpongeBob or Victoria Secret? Dont dwell on it.)

By John Minnis

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