Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, December 20, 2021

 Did I ever mention the time a plaintiff's lawyer I was adverse to jumped or was pushed off a balcony? Sometimes I think about the weird stuff that I've encountered along the way and just marvel at it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

 To "Hamilton" last night. Some thoughts. First, I was struck by how much of it has already passed into our language. "I'm not giving up my shot." "The room where it happens." That's pretty remarkable. Second, maybe it's because Stephen Sondheim's death sent me back to his work for the first time in quite some time, but it seems to me that "Hamilton" builds on Sondheim's work in some interesting ways. American musicals evolved from European operettas, with one of the most notable differences being that shows like "Oklahoma!" merged the book with the music.
Sondheim's shows curved back to the European tradition in that the score and the lyrics mostly became the book. Instead of a play with songs where the songs moved the story along Sondheim's work is very nearly all songs, and so too with "Hamilton". What Lin-Manuel Miranda accomplished was to bring African-American forms to the table- or, more broadly, other American musical forms. This is particularly notable because that's the great accomplishment of "Hamilton"- it is a musical about the invention of America that looks like America.


Monday, December 13, 2021

I’m a bit late getting to this year's edition of Best American Essays. When the series started it was what I read on the bus to wherever we were having Thanksgiving that year. The experiences and thoughts of the essayists about 2020 are a strange feeling reminder of a year that somehow seems a blank, even though it featured national civil rights protests, a global pandemic, a near coup….
Looking back over the entries I made here at Outside Counsel for 2020 I am struck by how little I wrote, and by my nearly complete failure to document the peculiar sense of alienation that was the defining emotional state of the pandemic. In the early going I re-read The Plague, and thought it had a worthwhile message: do your work. The isolation that many experienced was, perhaps less profound for me than for many others because I was going into my office to work. On the other hand a lot of the interpersonal interaction that I did experience was characterized by anger and frustration. The most notable example was the screaming argument with one of the principals of the Body Bar, a sort of gym in my building, over masking, but the anger I experienced whenever I saw someone unmasked at the supermarket or somewhere, and even the slightly milder sense of irritation I experienced whenever I saw someone with a mask that didn't cover their nose was near constant. 
And, of course, there was the November into December 2019 spent attending to my parents as my father recovered from his broken hip. Because his injury occurred before full lockdown he was able to spend the time needed in the hospital, which was fortunate, but we were still in a sort of twilight time which required Covid testing, and Covid caution. We didn't really know how the virus spread at that point, and everyone's hands were chapped from constant applications of disinfectant. I was in North Carolina then, and the post-election crazy was building, but I could have never imagined how crazy it was going to get.   

Thursday, December 02, 2021

 My Mock Trial class this year has been a bit of a struggle. It was badly under-enrolled, and that was challenging. On the other hand last night when we were practicing closing arguments one of them got up and was so good I got goosebumps. As it happens this student was also part of our Moot Court team, and I think that the experience of working closely and intensely with faculty really helped him put the pieces together. It only takes one experience like that to re-energize my teaching, and I was thrilled to see it

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

 You wouldn't necessarily know it from the coverage in the Buffalo News but several local Starbucks stores are trying to unionize. It's a national story, and an interesting one, because Starbucks corporate is throwing the works at trying to block it. They've retained Littler, Mendelson to  handle the legal piece, which has been more or less conventional stuff like trying to increase the size of the potential bargaining unit. The NLRB shot that one down. More notably they have flooded the area with corporate representatives who show up in the stores to buttonhole employees, or just sit in the stores pretending to be just folks. These folks are hilariously obvious: people in Buffalo don't hang around in coffee shops wearing white Gucci loafers without socks, or sport hundred dollar haircuts.

After a long day of this the corporate finks go out for a drink,and that's where they make their biggest mistake: they complain about Buffalo. People in this city will put up with a lot, but if you knock Buffalo they will not respond well. Bartenders all over town are listening to these conversations, and telling their barista friends about what they are overhearing.   The votes get counted December 8. My hunch is that the Mermaid is getting its first union.

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