David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace died six years ago today, on September 12, 2008. The author of novels such as Infinite Jest, The Pale King, and essay collections such as A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again hanged himself in the garage of his California home. DFW was 46.
David Foster Wallace was a lawyer’s writer, if ever one could use that label without intending insult. DFW was not a lawyer, though he famously became friends and collaborators with legal writing expert Bryan Garner. Garner’s co-author Justice Antonin Scalia is also said to be a fan. Countless attorneys who haven’t cracked a novel in years will brighten at the mention of DFW. Analytical, language-obsessed, and neurotic, he may have captured the modus operandi of many lawyers as well as any novelist or essayist could.

David Foster Wallace, especially for a fiction writer, was logical, analytical. He never quite left behind the mindset of the analytic philosophy student he once was. Wallace’s senior thesis in modal logic was published posthumously. His senior thesis in English became his first published novel, The Broom of the System. He wrote lit for STEM geeks and logic nerds . . . including the many STEM geeks and logic nerds who later ended up in law. (Myself included.)

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“Lane Dean, Jr., with his green rubber pinkie finger, sat at his Tingle table in his chalk’s row in the rotes group’s wiggle room and did two more returns, then another one, then flexed his buttocks and held to a count of ten and imagined a warm pretty beach with mellow surf, as instructed in orientation the previous month.”– David Foster Wallace

“The thing that makes ‘Dirty Jobs’ different is that it’s one of the few shows that portrays work in a way that doesn’t highlight the drudgery. Instead, it highlights the humor.”– Mike Rowe

Yesterday was like any other. I stared at my computer screen and tried to appear as if I were doing work. I went to the bathroom three times even though there was no there there. At one point, I was asked to wear a name tag. If there is any humor at all in what I do, it is of a type so dark and weird, it could only be appreciated in Germany. I graduated from a pretty good, very expensive law school and I was asked to wear a name tag yesterday. Yesterday was like any other.

I don’t know why the hell I whine like this. Like Cherry Valance said, it’s rough all over. And besides, everyone else is trying to get through their day, name tag or no. There was an old lady with five plastic bags next to her on the train yesterday morning. Each bag was filled with more plastic bags. And on and on. You want to know sadness, check out this old lady’s Matryoshka bags that keep her company throughout the day.

But you want to know who really has it bad? Minor league baseball players and Bengals cheerleaders.

Let’s talk employment lawsuits…

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What a weird situation…. [But Justice Scalia] is an incredible game player, using intellectual honesty as a trope, and that is the kind of thing that David Wallace would just love.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, the successful writer turned lawyer and legal commentator, on the surprising friendship between her close friend, David Foster Wallace, and Justice Antonin Scalia.

(The background behind Justice Scalia’s interest in Wallace, after the jump.)

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Before this column launched, I spent several moments stewing over possible pseudonyms. After all, branding is everything. So, I wanted to come up with a name that said to my audience that I was a small-firm expert and a super-cool chick. Naturally, I picked the name that is synonymous with post-menopausal Jewish bubbies. Perhaps I still have a thing or two to learn about branding.

I am not the only small-firm lawyer with a problem selecting the right name. Indeed, after Jay Shepherd opened my eyes to the hyphen-crisis, I began noticing a comma-crisis. Specifically, I noticed that there are a lot of small firms with way too many last names strung together with commas.

Why is it that many small firms have such problems coming up with the perfect firm name? Let’s explore this age-old question….

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