Shark Tales - True (and amazing) stories from America's Lawyers Shark Tales

From the office antics of Ally McBeal to John Grisham's courtroom thrillers, it's clear how much we all love a good law story. According to famed Washington attorney and novelist Ron Liebman, lawyers are no exception. The difference, though, is that the stories lawyers tell, unlike the more fantastic tales which the general public typically enjoys, tend to be of the "truth is stranger than fiction" variety. "Put a bunch of lawyers together in a relaxed atmosphere," Liebman says, "and sooner or later we start swapping stories of our experiences. Not the stuff that's confidential and privileged, but the truly funny, interesting, and on occasion heartfelt things that happen. . ."

In SHARK TALES: TRUE (AND AMAZING) STORIES FROM AMERICA'S LAWYERS, Ron Liebman assembles a wise, witty, and impressively revealing collection of all-true stories by and about lawyers. By asking friends and colleagues for their favorite story-the one that they love to tell over and over-as well as randomly writing letters to firms across the country, Liebman was able to compile a series of stories that runs the gamut of legal and life experiences. Stories move from the conferencing that occurs behind closed chamber doors to the dramatic developments in the courtroom, from the smallest, backwater law offices right on up to the Supreme Court. Removing the mystique that continues to surround the law, and busting the stereotypes that make lawyers the butt of some nasty jokes, these tales show lawyers to be as diverse and interesting a group as the people they represent-funny, fallible, and all too human.

Shark Tales - Table of Contents

Introduction

PART I
Sex, Sex, and More Sex
Hell Hath No Fury
A Night of Bliss
Disorder in the Court I
Body Parts
The Sobriety Test
The Price of Beauty
Not a Pretty Picture
The Porn Queen
Why Do They Do What They Do?
Keeping Abreast of the Law
Shell-Shocked
Dated
Calling Dr. Freud
One More Question

PART II
Witness the Witness
Disorder in the Court II
Old Man Peveto's Mule
The Witness
The Speed of Light
Good as New
The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nothing but the Truth
Just Another Day in Court
What's in a Word?
Disorder in the Court III
Stuck-Up
The Oath
Consumed with Evidence
Fender Benders
Combat
Stiffed
Can You Hear Me?
An Evil Genius

PART III
All Rise for the Judge
The Appearance of Evil
Principles of Lawyering
The Wisdom of the Court
Justice Skirted
The Dream Merchant
The Bitch Set Me Up
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Hidden Justice
Disorder in the Court IV
A Good Judge
The Supremes
My Two Trips to the Supreme Court
Court Time
A Judge's Mailbox
Hottest Lawyer in Town
Privacy, Please!

PART IV
Left Field
Crazy Sadie
Money in All the Right Places
Who Wears the Pants?
A Day in the Life
A Satisfied Customer
More Than She Could Stomach
Miami Vice
Juvenile Justice
Don't Try This at Home
Coffee, Tea, or Me
More Days in the Life . . .
The Immigration Officer
Disorder in the Court V
The Divorce
Dog Days
Nighttime Is the Right Time
Goodbye Law, Hello Life
He Gave Him the Finger
Give Me a Break
First Footing
You're a Lawyer, Right?
And in Clause III(D), The Booties
Puerto Rican Interlude
But She's Listed in the Telephone Directory
Holy Krishna
You German, Mate?: An American Lawyer's First Experience with European Soccer
A Trial Lawyer
Better Luck Next Time
Sheep Thrills
Go Figure
Do You Dig It?
My First Case
A Good Man

PART V
A Word
How Often?...Or How?
Away with Words
A Blessed Event
Justice Triumphed!
Lawyer Howe
Think Before You Speak
It's All Greek to Me
The Meat of the Matter
Disorder in the Court VI
Give It to Me Straight
Seeing It All
Faking It
I Can See Clearly Now
A Dog of a Case, or, Only in America
Getting It Backwards
Right Church, Wrong Pew
Duh
Smell's Bells
There's No Questioning This Diagnosis!
One Question Too Many
Correspondence

Acknowledgments
Permissions Acknowledgments

Shark Tales Excerpt

There was this guy in my law school class. Although I can't remember his name (I think it was Bob something or other), I can still picture the two of us walking down the street near the law school one autumn day during lunch break. This was the late sixties, so I suppose we were wearing bell-bottoms and sixties hair. I do remember that Bob sported a handlebar mustache. Anyway, Bob was complaining. Not about the rigors of law school: the endless days of classes, the mountains of cases and statutes to read, the never-ending demands of our professors. No, Bob was focused on none of that. Bob was complaining about sex. To be precise, he was complaining about having too much sex. He was tired. Really tired. I'll explain.

Bob had a roommate. She was a nurse at the hospital affiliated with our university. I remember her, too. I had recently spent an evening at Bob's apartment listening to the new Beatles album that had been released earlier that day. It was the White Album, I can remember that vividly, can picture the three of us sitting on Bob's ratty furniture listening to the Beatles' new songs. Bob's roommate was still wearing her nurse's whites. She must have just arrived from work. She was pretty and blond, with a truly memorable figure that did wonderful things for that nurse's uniform.

Anyway, Bob and I were walking down the street, probably headed back to the law school after lunch, and he was complaining. Now, Bob was a complainer. He was from Minnesota and he complained about how cold the winters there were. But he also complained about how hot the summers were in the East where we were in school. Sometimes he complained about our professors. Law school is tough and most of us griped about things. But that day Bob's complaints about sex were not only truly heartfelt, there was also an important point to his predicament. I thought then, and believe now, thirty years later, that Bob was on to something.

So here we are walking back to class and Bob is complaining. It seems all his roommate wants to do is have sex. Bob's tired. He tells me that he came home from class the other night and once again there she was, lounging around the apartment in her underwear, letting him know she was ready. And she was hot. Shaking his head, as if to say, "Can you believe what I have to put up with?" he describes for me the bikini panties she was wearing, the lace peekaboo bra. Living in law student celibacy (I had moved back into my parents' home after college so as to better afford law school), my life consisted of study, the practice of some rudimentary hygiene, and listening to my mother fret about my eating habits and my father's warnings that the market was becoming glutted with lawyers.

Could I believe it? I could almost see it. Bob shakes his head. He tells me he has no energy left. Sex, sex, sex. That's all she wants from me, he tells me. Sex in the mornings, sex after class. Sex at night when he's trying to study. He's out of energy. He simply can't hold up. He's telling this to me, who hasn't had a date in weeks. I'm walking down the street with Bob, and listening to him, I feel like I might faint. But Bob goes on, shaking his head, describing his predicament in the kind of detail we lawyers-to-be were being trained to master.

And then Bob makes his point.

If there is one prime stimulant in life, he says, one thing that propels mankind forward, those who live in civilized society, and those who still live in the dark ages of primitive existence, it's sex. Walking back toward class, dragging his satiated bell-bottomed body toward the punishing burdens of academia, Bob understands. The law is nothing more than an intellectual harness, an ethereal straitjacket. All it does is constrain as best as possible human actions, the ins and outs of everyday life, virtually all of which are motivated by nothing more than the urge to have sex. In just about every action -- in commerce, in our personal relationships with friends and neighbors, in just about all we do, Bob understands -- sex is the prime motivator. It's the incessant itch, and the eternal need to scratch it, that drives human behavior. The law does nothing more than put a bandage over the spot so we don't scratch it sore.

"Man," Bob says, "if I could only find some way to harness that energy. Hell, I'd be the richest person in the world. I'd have the key to all human behavior. I'd understand every lawsuit, I'd have the key to winning every case." Then he gets this sad little smile on his face, somberly shakes his head, almost whispers, "And I wouldn't have to..." Even today I can't repeat the way he described his sincere and earnest desire to find a way to perform less you-know-what with you-know-whom in her white, too-tight nurse's uniform. At the time, while listening to Bob's lament, I was eyeing a small spot in the middle of the street near where we were walking, thinking maybe I'd just lie down right there and wait patiently for the next transit bus to roll over me and put me out of my misery.

But, of course, Bob was on to something. Sex, the proverbial gas in our tanks, is pretty combustible stuff, propelling us at breakneck speed toward life's predicaments. And when the inevitable collision occurs, we lawyers are there at the scene.

The first group of tales I've assembled shares the common theme of what sex can get us into.

Copyright © 2000 by Ron Liebman