Over the last weeks when I was hospitalized and while recovering both of my former law partners, Ed Cook (the best lawyer I have ever known) and Judge Jim Doyle, called to “buck up” their old partner. Their calls brought back wonderful memories of our time together, and my love of these fellows. Never once when I practiced law with Ed and Jim did I feel alone. In common parlance, they always “had my back” while always insisting that our clients came first.
My judicial colleagues have done the same thing during my recent health scare. They looked after me with care and concern but with the proper perspective that our litigants came first. After I declared a mistrial before going into the hospital (because my ego forced me to try to play the “hero child” in beginning the trial in the first place), Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp, Judge Joe Bataillon, and Judge John Gerrard stepped in and, with my complete agreement, took over most of my caseload. This not only burdened them personally, but raised all sorts of tedious and complex administrative issues that Magistrate Judge Zwart handled with nary a hiccup.
Maybe a three person law practice or small federal court is unique. All I know is that I owe a debt of gratitude that I shall never be able to repay to my former law partners and present judicial colleagues. Carrying for another lawyer/judge who is sickly in a small operation like my former law practice or my present court is tricky. In the balance is the concern for one’s fellow law partner or judge on a personal level contrasted with a rock solid commitment that the interests of the client/litigant always comes first. Striking the proper balances requires a well-developed sense of decency and principle.
Thanks to Ed and Jim for teaching me about what a law partnership can really mean when operated by lawyers truly committed to each other and their clients. The same goes double for the judges (and staff) of the United States District for the District of Nebraska, particularly Laurie, Joe, John and Cheryl. I am very fortunate and very thankful.