Under Analysis // March 2014
Change is more than coins and bills…
Last week I was the recipient of some windfall time. The case that I had been preparing for trial for several years settled, and I had a couple of empty days on my calendar. I was faced with a choice; catch up on some things around the office or enjoy the windfall and skip out.
When whatever guardian angel that watches over trial lawyers opens a hole in my schedule, it is sacrilegious to fill that time with work. The school kids around here have had a record number of snow days this year. Snow days are the earliest known windfalls in the human experience. Working on a windfall day would be like doing math on a snow day. If the universe seeks balance, such an act could cause a ripple in time that I don’t even want to consider. The butterfly effect is tame compared to the wasted windfall effect.
My wife travels for business. A lot. So much so that when she goes somewhere, I can fly along for free. Given that she had a trip scheduled for Denver while I was to be in trial, I was faced with the prospects of winging westward or staying home alone. I followed my windfall mantra and packed a bag.
After what has been one of the longest and coldest winters I can remember, Denver was enjoying temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Leaving frosty St. Louis for warm weather in Denver seems like a misprint. It was not, Gentle Reader. It happened.
Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use. I half expected to arrive at the airport, dodging skateboarders and hookah-wielding stoners everywhere, not a bag of chips to be found on a single store shelf. While that would have been interesting, it didn’t happen. Denver looked like it always has to me – a beautiful city in the mountains.
Since my wife was on business, I was on my own much of the trip. I went to an art museum and did not stumble over piles of stoned people in the doorways. While some of the modern art may arguably have been created under the influence of something that is a different question. And probably one I should not answer given my predilection for velvet Elvises (Elvi?) and card-playing dogs.
My beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys were playing basketball on TV and I found a bar stool in a local pub to watch the game. I struck up a conversation with the young man next to me. He works as a “bud tender” in one of the marijuana stores. This was the equivalent of the bartender serving me beverages during the game. Except that this young man had left the banking industry to enter the marijuana industry. He told me that he did it for the retirement benefits and health insurance.
Same-sex marriage has been in the news a lot lately. I have visited a couple of states where these marriages have been legalized. The apocalyptic events predicted by naysayers in those states were not readily apparent to me anymore than the stoner apocalypse. I didn’t meet a single person married to a goat and I didn’t see any lawyers providing goat divorce services.
I have to confess that my windfall time was not pure. I checked email while I was gone. What little paper mail I received was scanned and sent to me on the road. Even my phone calls were forwarded. Like the rest of my world, windfall time has evolved. Remote work is fully acceptable to lawyers, and semi acceptable to observance of windfall days. I am embracing this as an expansion of windfall practice, not an encroachment upon this sacred time.
Lawyers are slow to change, mainly because the law is slow to change. We respect precedent and are guided by what has happened, not what is going to happen next. This means consistency for the profession and for society as we can plan based on what we know. It also means that we lag way behind the rest of society on most trends.
Much has changed in this world since I came into it. Color televisions, microwave ovens, cellular phones. Same sex unions and legal marijuana. Lawyers working remotely. For a lawyer living his legal life around what has happened in the past, the only constant is change. Just like it is for everyone else.
©2014 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. He was neither under the influence of marijuana nor a same sex spouse when he wrote this column. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.