Under Analysis- The boys of summer have left the building

Maybe it is just summer in the recycled air of the Levison Towers, but I feel more disconnected from our summer interns than ever this year. I have been ‘helped’ across the street in the parking garage twice since May.  Yesterday, I asked for age appropriate ID from my youthful law clerk before handing her a pleading to file. I wasn’t sure she was old enough for a drivers’ license, let alone a law degree. Office happy hours are clouded with requests for drinks I don’t know- does no one use highball glasses for Manhattans anymore?
   If you are under 30 and reading this column, put down the newspaper and walk away. This column is for the middle aged lawyers. I do my best not to use words that you won’t know, like Betamax or res gestae in this space. Today however, I have some thoughts that are just not appropriate for youngsters.
   This has been building for a while. The positive side of trial lawyers getting older is that we understand our profession and practice our craft better than we ever did. We know our opponents and have been in battle enough to know what to expect and are prepared to at least meet the challenges of trial. In the last three weeks, I have been complimented by more than one judge with “what a pleasure it is to have seasoned counsel in the courtroom.” I am starting to understand that “seasoned” is a code word for old. And that I am being labeled with that label more often.
   Middle age isn’t the worst place to be as a lawyer. The line of competence is still rising on my chart, and the lines for memory and ability to form cogent sentences hasn’t declined too precipitously. Yet. According to me, anyway.
   Getting older has obvious benefits. One is that we know folks with tickets to events that they can’t use but don’t need money for. Free tickets to the rest of us! Free tickets privileged me to see the Eagles perform in St. Louis a few weeks back. The Eagles were the soundtrack for my youth. Growing up in middle Oklahoma seemed like another planet from sunny California, even back then. Still, when I think back on pleasant moments from high school, even grade school, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” was always in the background, and I still know all the words to “One of These Nights,” “Witchy Woman,”  and so on. Which is odd, since I can’t remember where I laid my keys and cell phone twenty minutes ago.
   Don Henley and the “boys” did their best before thirty thousand or so of us. If I closed my eyes, I was back on the old dirt roads of home, with the windows down.  They even played their solo songs together, seemingly patching up old wounds that broke up the band. Still, there was a missed note here, a muffed chord there to remind us that they had lost a step or two along the way- and so had we. (Except for Joe Walsh. The guy who we all thought would have burned out years ago was just as good as ever. Maybe he lost a half step but not much more.)The crowd roared at all the appropriate times. We held our breath when Glen Frey hopped across the stage- not because we were in awe, but because we feared he might break a hip bouncing like that.
   I always imagined myself in the places they sang about, living fast and having fun. Dreams of living on a California beach have long ago died. What music drives today’s lawyers? The notion of hip hop and techno musicians getting older gives me the chills. (Except for Jay-Z, who is my age.)  I still play “Eye of the Tiger” before every trial- will my opponents be listening to Eminem in a few years?  Will anyone go to a Justin Bieber farewell tour concert when that brat hits 40?
   In retrospect, I should have set a goal to be more like Willie Nelson, absent the drug and tax problems, of course.  Willie is still going strong in his seventies. His music is still relevant, and his concerts are as loud and raucous as ever. As a trial lawyer, I expect to die with my boots on as well; hopefully not during jury selection, but maybe after a verdict is read. A big verdict.
   Until then, I am resolved to the fact that thirty thousand folks will never cheer my work. If one person does it a few thousand times, that will have to be enough.  Getting older stinks. But the alternative, I reckon, is worse.

©2010  under analysis llc. 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 c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at comments@levisongroup.com. If he isn’t Already Gone, that is.


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