Humor Therapy — Baseball for Lawyers

Circa 2005

One of the great benefits of being a child is to play a game, such as baseball, and modify the rules to suit the circumstances. Instead of swinging and missing the ball and being called out on strike three, the youthful batter simply says, “Do over.” Calling a doover erases the mistake and provides an instant source of redemption.

The ability to get the other players to go along with the do-over can be a point of contention, however. When the do-over is contested by one or more participants, the burden then shifts to the player requesting it. “Yes, that is a do-over because the sun was in my eyes and I didn’t see the pitch coming and the pitcher was standing too close when he threw the ball.”

Naturally, the other plays will retort, “Who cares if the sun was in your eyes. If you didn’t wear your baseball hat sideways you would have seen the ball. Not only that, but Billy the pitcher was standing with his foot on the rock, just like he was supposed to. It’s not a doover, you’re out and that is that. Batter up!”

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At that point, the player calling do-over has lost the argument and has to take a seat, unless he is fortunate enough to have brought the ball, the bat or perhaps one of the few available baseball gloves. In that case, if he’s out, he’s suddenly feeling very homesick and so is his stuff. If the very ability to play the game is at stake, this is sufficient cause to freshly consider the do-over.

More likely than not, this equipment-laden player calling the do-over is not the all-star shortstop. He’s the right fielder, long-winded in argument but short of breath in chasing down missed fly balls. The better players confer among themselves. The very integrity of the game is at stake if the do-over is permitted. Still, without the do-over, it is game-over, and their desire to write a five paragraph composition about some longdeceased historical figure is even less than their desire to enforce the rules. All right, it’s a do-over, but that is the last time.

The State Bar of California, the august body responsible for regulating the conduct of lawyers, has seemingly not forgotten the joy of baseball, because the do-over is alive and well in its governance. One of the rules of being a lawyer is that the lawyer gets to keep the client’s money only if the lawyer earns the money. If the client gives the lawyer money to pay someone else and the lawyer uses that money to buy a new Porsche, then that is good news for the car dealer and bad news for the client. There is a venerated expression for such lawyers: they are called thieves.

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Thieving lawyers often end up ripping off enough money for their nefarious activities to come to the attention of the State Bar. The lawyer can be invited to not practice law ever again, with one exception—the do-over. A disbarred lawyer can submit papers saying, basically, Yes, I was a crook, but now I’m a credit to humanity, and pretty please with a cherry on top let me practice my chosen profession.

The people at the bar get together and decide if there is going to be a do-over. Much to the consternation of the State Bar, it seems that several lawyers who had been in time out were readmitted and starting ripping off a fresh batch of clients. Now the bar is faced with having to disbar them anew. Blinded by the glare of the client trust account—it happens. Do over!

by Gene Feldman

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