Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, October 30, 2003

My signature look, if you will, has always been a bow tie. There are those who do not care for this look, but it has served me well over the years, and I am fond of it. I became a bow tie guy for several reasons. I knew how to tie one, for one thing. I was, early in my career, often involved in multiple party trials, and during jury selection I could use this bit of sartorial eccentricity as a means of distinguishing myself from the other white males at counsel table. If I am being honest, I will admit that like most bow tie guys, I wanted to look professorial. I suppose there were other motivations, initially, but one advantage I soon discovered is that you don't spill stuff on your bow tie. When you blob a regular tie, it is over. If you are a pirate, I suppose, your $60 foulard can be recycled as a head scarf, but I am not a pirate, and ruining nice ties got me down.

I am told by friends, people I trust, that the professorial look, and, let's face it, my professorial demeanor, can be off-putting at times, so I have been mixing it up a bit lately. Last night we were at a Niagara County Bar Association dinner honoring the justices of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department and I broke out one of my favorite foulards for the occasion. Parties like that are intended to be sucking up to judges events, and things had gone fawningly all evening. Since I was not wearing a bow tie, no one was intimidated by my gigantic intellect, and all was conviviality and red wine. Before spooning into my desert, in an abundance of caution, I flipped my tie over my shoulder. Just then one of the judges we were there to schmooze came over and joined our table. As he was sitting down, he noted the jaunty look I was affecting and said, "What's with this?" He flipped my tie back and neatly deposited it in my ice cream. Well, there was mortification and embarasment all around, let me tell you, and before I knew what had happened I found that I was now wearing the judge's tie, because he insisted on trading. It was a big scene, and I'm wearing a bow tie next time. I'll save the judge's tie for when I am appearing in front of him.

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