Make mine a double. Last October, Michigan State University student Amanda Jax decided to celebrate her 21st birthday by going drinking. They wound up carrying her back to her dorm, and discovered her dead the next morning; an autopsy revealed she had a blood-alcohol content of .4594.
As anticipated, the lawsuit is forthcoming, not only against the bar which served her, but those same friends who set out to go drinking with her at the beginning of the night, and carried her home at the end of it. Alan Milavetz, the lawyer for Jax's mother, struck the appropriate tone about how such a lawsuit will ultimately benefit society:
"College kids aren't drinking a few glasses of beer anymore," Milavetz said. "When you're talking about cherry bombs and other drinks, alcohol has become a recreational drug, and it's killing college kids. That's not something society should allow. People say her mother just wants money, but Jenny Haag would trade anything to have Amanda back."
What about the claims of her friends that Amanda "used to drink all the time," with one stating that he had "seen or helped put Jax to bed drunk at least 50 times," claims buttressed by the fact that Jax had a DWI in each of the two preceding years?
Milavetz said those witnesses are blaming the victim.
"You don't serve a college kid to the point they can't stand up," he said. "Especially a college kid who is out drinking legally for the first time."
The fact that the attorney found it necessary to phrase it as "drinking legally for the first time" pretty much gives the game away, don't you think?
A lawyer's lawyer. Tom Jacobs died this past weekend. I'd worked for and with Tom for about six years, and was partners with him for eleven more.
Like most of us, Tom wasn't a great lawyer. Like most of us, he had some interesting clients and cases, but there wasn't any great result that he ever obtained, any outstanding victory. He was a little too obsessive about details; he could spend an hour and a half taking in a shoplifting case, and come away with five pages of notes. And he didn't have a great sense of business, as far as the law was concerned. I remember we had one corporate client, whom we charged at the rate of $100 an hour because Tom had promised them when he'd signed them up ten years earlier that that's all he'd ever charge them. I told him I'd tried to work out a deal with the local gas station that I'd always buy gas there if they promised to always charge me the same thing, but they'd been pretty nonresponsive to the idea; unfortunately, the analogy fell on deaf ears.
But in all the time I knew Tom, he always worked hard, he always treated everyone with respect, he was a model of honesty and integrity, his client's interests were always his top priority, and he always did his best for them. Think about that for a second. There are a number of lawyers that I know -- lawyers who have obtained great results, outstanding victories -- that I can't say that about.
Tom didn't teach me much law -- though probably more than I'd care to admit -- but he taught me everything about being a lawyer. I only wish I could say that I was as good at it as he was. He was a true professional, and as far as I'm concerned, that's as good a compliment as you can give a lawyer.