Quote of the Day:
“Facts are the enemy of truth.” Cervantes, Don Quixote
TB’s first law professor, Bill Champion died a few days ago. I had him for first year Property at Ole Miss, like a lot of other future lawyers, and like a lot of people who were, um, diverted into other fields. As far as I can recall, I didn’t learn a damned thing about Property law that year. So of course I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing.
Champion taught at the law school for decades and his lectures and lessons on “future interests” were legendarily arcane and difficult. For you non-lawyers interested in what “future interests” are, I refer you to the paragraph above. Fortunately, being an alumnus of a year under Champion’s tutelage consisted of quite a bit more learnin’ than what the syllabus required. It was probably the first day of class that he informed us, all college graduates with good grades and a healthy opinion of our academic and intellectual prowess, that our brains were to be completely overhauled. We–those of us who survived, that is–were to be taught how to “think like a lawyer.” I privately derided that presumption, certain in my own approach to pretty much everything. Looking back, learning to “think like a lawyer” is the one damned thing I got out of law school that I couldn’t have learned on my on, and it was thanks mostly to Professor Champion and Professor Cochran, the two most cussed (often cursed) and demanding teachers at the school.
Champion was fair and honest. He viewed his role as an attorney and sought to impress upon us that our future roles as attorneys, were to advocate fiercely for our client on either side of a dispute and at the same time to hold ourselves aloof from petty distractions such as ideology, greed and incivility. He advised that we should be involved in politics. He demanded that we understand our duty of professionalism. He reminded us that our education would give us advantages over many others that we must never abuse. He pleaded that we view the legal profession as something of a round table, and we its knights. His expectations were hopelessly antiquated and unrealistically idealistic and such a state never probably existed in the first place; yet he was also right about it all. I made a C in Champion’s class both semesters and I was glad of it and I’m certain he never knew my name. It’s too bad he didn’t test us on what he said when he “finished” his lectures each day.
And so I find myself considering whether to take on a crusade today. When I first got out of law school I jumped at opportunities like this. I quickly learned the hard lesson that crusading does not pay. You make no money at it and you lose your time and your hair and nobody appreciates you, the client least of all, as you lie prone on the field at contest’s end. I long ago forswore the crusades.
The two-year old son of a deceased Iraq war veteran has been defrauded of his legacy, enough money to raise him up and put him through school if he’s so inclined. I don’t believe there’s a person around who wouldn’t acknowledge the wrong that his been inflicted upon this helpless child. No person. But the law, well, the law doesn’t care. Worse, the law, as it so often does, especially in these times, favors the defrauder. But there is a window, a “colorable” argument as we say in the biz for getting some of that money back. I still may not take the case, but I’m seriously considering it, especially if The Daily Wit signs off to join the quest. And he will if I ask him to. We’ll go questing like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (I won’t suggest who’s who) or maybe Galahad and Lancelot.
Thanks a lot Professor Champion, nonetheless, Rest in Peace.