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Archive for The Human Spirit

Ice Cream Under Contract

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Anytime that I can write about ice cream in the blog, it gets me excited. So, when I saw this story from the, I said, “three scoops please!”.

This is a story about a Minnesota Dairy Queen that refuses to give in to corporate Dairy Queen. Since Warren Buffet’s group owns Dairy Queen, it gives me some personal satisfaction to know that someone says “No” to his rules because a contract allows them to do it.

66-years-ago, the owners of a Moorhead, Minnesota Dairy Queen opened their doors as a restaurant. It shuts down in the winter, has no indoor seating , no drive-thru,  and  their customers stand in line on the sidewalk for their frosty treats, no matter what the weather is outside.


Despite what the corporate management for Dairy Queen may want, this store still operates under a 66-year-old contract that allows them to dish up old-time treats, as well as corporate-approved items.

While newer Dairy Queens operate under strict corporate guidelines, messaging and menus; the Moorhead shop still operates mostly under the terms of a contract signed in 1949. So, they can serve such items as Mr. Maltie, a chocolate malt on the stick; The Monkey Tail,  which is a chocolate-covered frozen banana; and the famous Chipper Sandwich: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and then dipped in chocolate.

According to the owner who purchased this store in 1995, “If we changed to the new corporate way, virtually all our food items would be gone,”. He was able to continue operating under the 1949 agreement. However, he acknowledges that corporate would like to see them just fade away.

He says that the corporate lawyers have tried to financially encourage him to sign a new agreement but “there just aren’t enough zeros” to dump the extra flavors and the special feeling that the personalized Dairy Queen gives to its customers. How can you argue with a menu item titled “The Curly Shake” which is a shake with a sundae on top.

To me, different is an experience. A contract that must be honored. Plus, I just like to see the term Rogue and Dairy Queen together!


And for pic o’ day, procrastination is sometimes my blog writing enemy:


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Expert Testimony

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

I missed the blog yesterday because we couldn’t get the platform to work. To work isn’t really the technical reason but that’s why we had to bring in the computer experts to fix it.

Most of our cases involve hiring experts to testify about the facts or medical treatment in the case. The legal definition of an expert is basically someone who has more knowledge or training on a specific topic than the average person. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of “expertise” to be qualified as an expert.

In a recent case, we hired an engineer to give us an opinion about a piece of equipment. In discussing his expertise, we learned that he and his group had recently been experts in a football case.

That piqued my interest. Couldn’t help but ask about the case. Then I learned from one of our attorneys in the office that this expert had also been involved in “Deflate-gate”. He and his group had been retained by NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s defense team, to give an opinion regarding whether those footballs in the AFC Championship game could naturally have lost pressure.

After I heard that, it caused me to recall the words of one juror who said to me after one trial a while back, “we didn’t pay much attention to the experts on either side. We listened to the parties and decided the case on their testimony, because we just expected the experts to say what the attorneys wanted”.

If every jury thinks like that, it sure puts evidence into perspective. It also gives confidence that cases should really come down to whether the jury believes the plaintiff or the defendant. Despite what silly tort reformers say, I still think that juries are much smarter than what some people give them credit for knowing.

As a Colts fan, I am amazed if anyone believes that the atmosphere caused the Patriots’ footballs to deflate… while the Colts remained the same. Come on!

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would go with some workout motivation:


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Our Independence!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

I was looking across the history books and saw that July 4 is a date with a lot of activity. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. OK, maybe that doesn’t qualify as history. July 4th is the date that France offered the Statue of Liberty!

I find it quite ironic that July 4, 1826, is the day that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. History has recorded some great back-and-forth between those two.

Jefferson died on that date at age 83. The night before, he knew death was close and gathered his family around his bed and uttered, “I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul without fear, to my God, my daughter, to my country”.

That night, he woke at 8pm and asked his doctor whether it was yet the fourth. His doctor replied, “it soon will be”. Jefferson obviously placed great importance on July 4th and lived until one-o’clock in the afternoon the next day. He had made it!

As to Adams, his last words were “independence forever” and then he exclaimed that, “Thomas Jefferson survives”. Adams had also made it to that date that was so important to him and referenced his political opponent… not knowing that Jefferson had passed away a few hours earlier.

July 4 was important to them just as it is important to us. An acknowledgement of our independence.

This is my last blog until Monday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a special July 4th.

God bless America!



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What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

This week during an interview of an applicant, I was asked, “what are you looking for in an attorney?”.

A few years ago I was asked by a  sales manager at a local TV station to speak to their salesforce. I was to talk on the topic of what we were looking for in a person who sold us TV advertising.

In preparation for my morning talk at their station, I asked the manager what he thought were the qualities of a good TV salesperson. He summarized by saying that his group was basically in two sections. Instead of saying the lazy and the workers, he classified them as order-takers and true sales people. As he put it, someone could just show up and take orders for commercials and they would earn a decent living. Those who really made money were the sales people. Those who were not satisfied just to take orders.

An old Chinese proverb says that One dog barks at something and a hundred bark at the sound of his bark. 

Several years ago, a renowned marksman was traveling through the U.S.  He stopped in a small town and saw evidence of amazing target shooting all over the town. On trees, on walls, on fences, and on barns he saw targets with a bullet hole in the exact center of the bull’s eye target.

The marksman determined to find the person responsible for such incredible shooting. When he found him he said, “this is the most incredible shooting that I have ever seen. How in the world did you do it?”. “Easy as pie”, replied the man. “I shot first and drew the circles afterward”.

As I continued interviewing potential candidates this past week for attorney positons, I thought about these various thoughts. What makes a good lawyer? Ultimately, it’s those who stop talking and instead start doing.

And for pic o’ day, here’s a South Carolina TV station who appparently thinks that math has become a problem.



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Sports and Winning the Case

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

I admit it. This is a random Thursday blog ride, but we conclude with believing in the right ending!

“When I hear somebody sigh life is hard, I am tempted to ask Compared to what?” Sydney Harris

Sometimes you just have to concede,  “How can you argue with that?”


This is the new mascot of Scotland’s Partick Thistle soccer team. Again, how can you argue with that choice of a mascot… when you don’t know what it is? The announcement of the team simply indicated that this is Kingsley and he will be attending all game days.

It looks to me that someone in their marketing department just decided that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Pretty soon, this will be an acceptable mascot. For now, it will get a lot of headlines. This is the mascot, they say, and they just move forward.

This past weekend, it was well known that the golfers at the U.S. Open were complaining about the putting greens. One of the TV announcers recited an old quote from Arnold Palmer. He basically said that when he would walk into a golf locker room and hear golfers complaining about the course, he knew that he would beat them.

In the practice of law, sometimes a lawyer may find it real easy to see all the problems in their case. In fact, if you believed the defense, the case is not worth pursuing.

(The negative life of defense)

To some extent, I combine the thoughts of the mascot and the quote of Arnold Palmer. Sometimes, you just move forward. “Assess-adapt-overcome”. There’s only one reason that you know that you will win your case. You listen to your client… and you know.

For pic o’ day, I decided to stay with  sports and random news…


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Half of Everything

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Sometimes I receive a news article in my in-box that is “right-on-point” blog material. It even includes its own pic o’s for illustrations!  (that’s pictures for first time blog readers) So, here’s what I found.

From CNBC comes the story of a bad divorce. This man from Germany posted a video of how he decided to fairly give his wife one-half of everything they own. So, he decided to cut everything in half. Thankfully, there were no children!

First, their car:


Then their joint cellphone:


Then the couch:


And the bike:


And their bed:


The landline home phone:


Their laptop:


And finally…. the teddy bear


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Sideburns and Swimsuits

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

I can tell that summer is here. I wrote a Friday blog that I forgot to post and all weekend, our email was down. So, I am late posting the blog this morning. However…

It’s Monday and we are full steam into the steam! So, I thought I would give you some history… of the sideburn and the swimsuit. It reminded me (ok… google reminded me when I did a search) of Greek Philosopher Heraclitus who said that, “The only thing that is constant is change!”

Which leads me to our first historical part of the blog that combines a bit of war, leadership… and a horrible hairstyle look!

First we have Civil War General Ambrose Burnside. He coined the phrase sideburn. Wow!


Which leads us to controversy in history. This is Annette Kellerman in 1907, who was arrested for indecency after showing up at the beach with this fitted one-piece bathing suit.


Yes… laws have changed.

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Does First Place Law Matter?

Monday, June 15th, 2015

I am enjoying the NBA basketball finals, even though they keep me up late at night. Throughout the years, I have watched a lot of sports. I am always reminded that no one remembers who came in second. Only first place matters.


That’s why there are no foam hands for fans to hold up, with two fingers showing.

In television, stations have figured out a way to claim first, even if everyone claims to be in first.

For marketing purposes, CBS, NBC and ABC all try to market their dominance to advertisers so they can charge higher rates. CBS claims to be the nation’s most watched network. NBC reminds us that they are number one among viewers in the age bracket of 18 to 49. ABC tells us that it is first in entertainment marketing. Of course, in that claim, they do not include sports since NBC has the highly rated Sunday Night Football.

Long ago, our firm decided not to focus on titles of best, first or most. On our website, we do not discuss money. Of course, I was reminded by a sage lawyer when I first started, that large settlements or verdicts do not necessarily mean quality of representation. As he put it, “the best way to get a million dollar verdict is to try a 3 million dollar case poorly”.

I am in the midst of interviewing lawyers for positions in our Richmond and Virginia Beach offices. Usually I say to them that I am looking for applicants with good minds, who care about people. A basketball coach once said, “you can’t teach height”.

In law, you can learn how to research, organize your evidence, maybe periodically try a good case, or even try to work harder than the opposing party. It’s hard to teach mind; And more importantly, hard to teach “having heart”.

To date, I haven’t seen anyone awarding Largest Lawyers’ Heart, but I think that’s the person who I would want working with me. Lawyers who claim to be super can keep their capes at their own office. I appreciate the person who tells me a story of “why it matters”. That’s just my 2 cents on that. (well, I guess I did mention money)

And for pic o’ day, speaking of good mind and understanding instructions…


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“Mini” Driver

Monday, June 15th, 2015

This is a blog about a young driver making a difference. As a Firm, we have been proudly involved in a small financial way as we have watched Timmy Tyrrell grow up physically as a driver, and a force to fight cancer.

One of our paralegals, Amy A., brought a special driver to my attention a few years ago as she told me about named Timmy “Mini” Tyrrell. He is known as Mini and his driving has become Mini’s Mission.


Driving his car in races on any given Sunday, he has won more than 50 races. It is amazing that he is only 10-years-old, driving against some drivers who are 3 or 4 times his age. In fact, racetracks that are Nascar sanctioned require that drivers be at least 16-years-old. So, for now, he is unique as a competitor.

More importantly, he is amazing for what he has accomplished as a driver, beyond his wins. Here’s a story with video from news station

His true passion is helping kids fight cancer. That has become Mini’s Mission. Initially, he started by raising dollars and awareness on a personal level. Then, he decided to use his skills as a driver.

That caught the attention of Nascar driver Jeff Gordon. He matches every dollar that “Mini” raises.


To date, Mini has raised more than $270,000 for pediatric cancer research. He now holds a kick ball tournament to raise funds. There’s more information at

He’s a driver that I think will be doing big things on the circuit, in years to come; And more importantly, doing big things to help fight cancer.



And for pic o’ day, this makes me think of self-serve fast serveL


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Pond or Pool Payment

Monday, June 8th, 2015

I just saw an opinion out of the Iowa Court of Appeals that reminded me of a personal experience. In that Iowa case (Reilly Construction Co. V. Bachelder, Inc), a property owner and a construction company were arguing over a contract issue.

At issue was whether the property owner owed money to the construction company for a ‘pond” that had been constructed in the backyard. The company was looking for payment while the property owner refused to pay. The property owner claimed that construction of a pond must include water. The company claimed that construction  of a pond just meant digging an area that would hold water. “Here’s your pond”.

Justice Mary Tabor wrote the majority opinion that stated, “By definition, a pond is a body of water” and that the pond was not built unless it included water. So,  no payment was due until the pond… was a pond!

My personal experience takes me back several years, when I decided to install a pool in the back of my house. I called the pool installation company, who quickly sent out a salesman with a contract.

The contract provided a 20% deposit of the purchase price for the pool, and the remainder of the balance was due when the pool was filled with water. The salesman predicted that the pool would be complete in about 8 weeks and that my backyard would look like a construction site until then.

I took  a deep breath and wrote the deposit check. In two days, a bulldozer was out there and my backyard looked like a scary mud pit. Three days later, it still looked like a scary work area except that there was a hole in the middle… with water in it.

I received a phone call that night from the salesman who asked if he could come by and get his check. Their explanation was basically like the pond case. Water meant completion for money… not completion of pool for money.

What do you think that I did? Well, you know what I did! And several weeks later, the company received the remainder of the payment. It wasn’t a very good experience but I had a pool.

At the time, my Jack Russell didn’t care that the pool was finished. The dog saw water and was in it. By that test, the pool was finished in 6 days. Of course, I think that she enjoyed the mud pit too.


And our pic o’ day is on leadership… or lack of leadership!


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