Career Alternatives, Food

Career Alternatives for Lawyers: Open a Museum

Barry Levenson

Are you a foodie? Are you committed enough to the gustatory world to leave the awful taste of the law behind and start a museum about your favorite food? Wisconsin lawyer Barry Levenson was that devoted. Sadly, his favorite food is mustard.

Levenson got a shout-out on NPR this morning for his National Mustard Museum. Levenson is a Wisconsin law grad who had quite a distinguished legal career. According to On Wisconsin, he practiced for 15 years and headed the Criminal Appeals Unit of the Wisconsin DOJ, arguing lots of cases before the state Supreme Court. In 1986, after a disappointing World Series — another sad note: Levenson is a Boston Red Sox fan — he consoled himself by buying lots of his favorite food: mustard. While healthier than ice cream, it turned into an obsession.

He began manically collecting jars of mustard. In 1987, one of his cases made it to One First Street; before oral argument in Griffin v. Wisconsin, he spotted a jar he didn’t have yet on a room service tray at his hotel and stuck it in his suit pocket, where it remained while he addressed the Nine. It was good luck perhaps. He won the Fourth Amendment case, 5-4. Levenson tells us he got some inspiration thinking back on “Justice Felix FRANKFURTER and Chief Justice Warren BURGER.”

Eventually, Levenson decided he wanted to flavor his whole life with mustard. He gave up his law job in 1992 and opened his museum. It gets 30,000 visitors per year. How do you make mustard that sexy?

From NPR:

His collection has grown to more than 5,000 mustards from around the globe — everything from French stone-ground to French’s Classic Yellow.

They’re all on display at the National Mustard Museum, in Middleton, Wis., which is gearing up to celebrate National Mustard Day, on Aug. 7 — a Saturday, for anyone considering a cookout.

Of interest to Article III groupies: Among those 5,000 mustards is Alex Kozinski’s Judicial Hottie Jalapeno Mustard.

Levenson hasn’t completely left the law behind. He’s written a book on food and the law — Habeas Codfish — and teaches a course on the topic at the University of Wisconsin. That’s not his only academic work. He also runs Poupon U.

Say it slow and it sounds like a whole different kind of education.

Courthouse Forum: Judge Kozinski’s Judicial Hottie Mustard [Underneath Their Robes]
Wisconsin’s Mustard Museum on the move [USA Today]
Spreading the Love [On Wisconsin Magazine]
The Mustard Museum: Passion For A Condiment [NPR]

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33 Responses to “Career Alternatives for Lawyers: Open a Museum”

  1. Sad, Lonely, Depressed says:

    Great read.

  2. Guest says:

    good enough for government work, i guess.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    He appears to be sporting a pair of “Writ of Charcoalorari” bonobos. This is probably why his museum is so successful.

  4. Bonobo Bro says:

    Wow that is awesome for this guy, I'd love to be able to kick it and run a museum dedicated to one of my favorite things (probably either some type booze, slam pieces or Lax). It's nice to see one of these alternative career dudes who isn't in the position of “uhm yea I went to law school and then practiced for six months and now I'm a mime on the boardwalk.” Personally my goal is to sucesfully argue that South Brokota v. Bro Haters d/b/a Dole was improperly decided. Then find a state that turns the drinking age back to 18, move to a college town in said state and just live like a fucking king. That or do pretty much anything that will pay a living wage other than law.

    • Mitch McDeere says:

      You think law pays a living wage? After taxes, costs for clothes/shoes, basic housing, and student loan payments? Where is this occurring?

      Or are you working at Bendini, Lambert & Locke in Memphis doing the Mob's tax planning?

      • Bonobo Bro says:

        Dude Bendini, Lambert & Locke is fucking TTT in the world of Mob tax, estate and awesomeness planning. If I were going to break into that field I would obviously be going to Hagen & Associates, it's a small shop with offices in Long Island, NYC and Vegas, they tried to expand to Italy but that didn't go so well. They are who America's top organized crime families go to for both transactional work such as mergers with other organizations, hostile takeovers of heroin distribution rings, carve outs of trusted lieutanants subsidiary organizations etc. as well as bet the family dynasty litigation involving unorthodox negotiation strategies frequently involving dead animals or parts thereof.

        • guest9999999 says:

          Hagen & Associates used to have a very special practice – just one client. I guess they have expanded a bit.

        • Bonobo Bro says:

          @guest9999999
          Yea in the mid 90s that client had some anti trust issues with the Mafia Trade Commission (MTC) and had to be broken up into several new organizations. Luckily since there weren't to many conflicts Hagen & Associates was able to maintain relationships with many of the new groups.

    • ZenfulWestlawAdModel says:

      South Brokota ftw.

    • Guest says:

      If you tried a little bit harder, you could have a really enjoyable meme on here. But your posts are too long, needlessly crass, and come off as written by a law student.

      This is all written in a spirit of encouraging you to get a good thing going that we can all enjoy.

      • Bonobo Bro says:

        Thanks bro, I appreciate it, I've always been told I'm pretty wordy so I'll start shooting for more succint comments.

  5. Alpha Bonobo says:

    This was my first thought after failing the MBE yesterday. I will open a museum now.

  6. Guest says:

    Slow news day? How about a report on this lawsuit? This one seems right up your alley, Kash.

    Copycat Sex Toys Stimulate ITC Patent Fight
    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=120246396

  7. Bucky says:

    Wisconsin rulez.

  8. Guest says:

    Great fun! Made my day. Well written. Light but not snarky. Fun, spunky, and a respectful profile of Mr. Levenson. More, more, more of this kind of content, please!

  9. ExitOpps says:

    Career Alternatives for Lawyers? Here's a small list of jobs that pay more than most lawyers (BIGLAW excluded of course):

    -Assistant manager at McDonalds, WalMart, Grocery Store and a variety of other retailers
    -Plumber, Electrician, Carpenter, and any other skilled trade
    -GM Factor worker, or any other union factory job
    -Mailman
    -Schoolteacher
    -Bartender
    -Maid, Butller and household staff of rich people (you know, the ones that did not go to law school)
    - Any generic middle management job with a F500 company

    Ect, ect… Just about everything pays more than law for the vast majority of lawyers.

    • Bonobo Bro says:

      I've noticed that law is a lot like prostitution
      1. It's a service industry
      2. Generally bill by the hour but alternative fee arrangements can be worked out if need be.
      3. If your at the top of the industry you can really make a killing if you have equity in the business i.e. heidi fleiss/organized crime
      4. Even if you don't have equity your going to be paid far more per billable hour if your one of a lucky few in an elite firm as opposed to 95% of the profession (Ashley Dupre=biglaw, girl who blew PE at Rick's last weekend=midlaw, street walkers=shit law)
      5. Your job is at risk of being outsourced or you personally are at risk of being replaced by cheaper imported labor (the latter not so much in law admittedly).

      I'm not really sure if there is the same kind of prestige whoring (pun intended) in prostitution as in law but if anyone can help clear that up please do.

  10. guest says:

    I listened to this on NPR this morning and figured it would end up here. The fight song for Poupon U was hilarious. Good for him.

  11. Colonel Mustard says:

    My respect for you just plummeted, Kash. Everyone knows that – aside from remoulade – mustard is the be all end all of the condiment world.

    • Bonobo Bro says:

      Agreed, there was actually a somewhat credible argument to make Dijon mustard a geographically protected product (the way Champagne is). Unfortunately, the campaign got under way after far to much of the prodcution had left but still, can you imagine that happening for ketchup or mayo?

      • guest9999999 says:

        What are the geographic areas associated with ketchup and mayo?

        Ketchum (Idaho) and the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), perhaps?

  12. Bonobo Bro says:

    Also, “commitment to the gustatory world?” I've been to a shit ton of Guster shows does that count? I even burned with the dudes who opened for them at some show up in Vermont, or maybe it was in NoCal, I was pretty hammered.

  13. Id_hit_it says:

    i know of a good career alternative for Ka$h….444444444444444

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