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The Lawyer Who Loved Hot Pockets

by Jay Reeves |

 Greetings, campers! Today’s tale begins with a shootout over the last Hot Pocket and ends with a pair of unethical anglers stuffing lead weights in their walleye.

Along the way you will find Red Flags for Spotting Bad-News Clients, timely tips for your summer vacation – and perhaps even a helpful lesson or two for Your Law Life.

All in less than 750 words, what a bargain! Let’s roll:

Red Flag #1: Beware of clients who get in trouble for doing really stupid things.
Don’t get me wrong. I can be as stupid as the next person. Over the decades I have made my share of dumb moves, and I have usually paid the price. As have we all. 

But not all of us make dumb moves repeatedly. And at a certain age – say 67 in the case of the man who got into an argument with his roommate over consumption of the last Hot Pocket, then grabbed a pistol and shot his roomie in the rear – we usually know better.

The point is not that poor decision-making means you are a bad person. But poor decision-making often leads to worse decision-making. 

Bonus Travel Tip #1: Pack lots of Hot Pockets before taking off!

Red Flag #2: Beware of clients who cheat.
I get it. We live in a hyper-competitive world. Everything is about winning – not just in sports but politics, education, business, life. 

It is no longer how you play the game; it is whether you win or lose.

Stir in the intoxicating effects of social media and the promise of fame and riches with a viral clip, and what happened in Ohio at the annual Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament starts to make sense.

At the end of the day’s fishing, two men appeared to have won the $28,000 purse by bringing in the heaviest walleye haul. But not so fast. One judge smelled something fishy. He gutted the suspicious fish and disgorged a gusher of lead weights, debris, and fish fillet.

Disqualification of the sheepish cheaters quickly followed. As did worldwide derision when videos posted by jeering onlookers attracted millions of views – internet celebrity of the unwanted variety.

“If you Tell a Lie, Always Rehearse It”
Here let us pause to recall the words of the immortal Satchel Paige: “Live long enough and it’ll all come back around.”

Light years ago, in the dawn of my law practice in Charleston SC, I represented a gentleman accused of similar cheating. It happened in a bass fishing tournament, where my client ALLEGEDLY was caught cramming cubes of ice and lead pellets down the gullet of his would-be prizewinner. I recall concocting some incoherent chain-of-custody argument to support his claim to the prize money, then agreeing to meet him on the morning of our appearance before the local game board, at which time he would bring evidence that would surely carry the day, in addition to my fee.

I was just a year or so removed from Trial Advocacy class, and I made plenty of dumb moves in that case, starting by giving more than five seconds of my time to a blatant liar. Of course he failed to show for the hearing. And of course, I never got paid, which served me right.

What I did get from the experience was a story, which appears on page 62 of my book, The Most Powerful Attorney in the World.

Bonus Travel Tip #2: Hot Pockets are the perfect snack for a fishing vacation!

Law Life List #1: Top 10 Ingredients of a Premium Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket (1) Enriched flour (2) Water (3) Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese (4) Pepperoni (5) Tomato Paste (6) Soybean Oil (7) Sugar (8) Seasoning (9) Fractionated Palm Oil (10) Yeast
Source: The back of the box

Law Life List #2: 10 Best Names Satchel Paige Gave His Pitches (1) Bat Dodger (2) Thoughtful Stuff (3) Long Tom (4) Midnight Rider (5) Midnight Creeper (6) Wobbly Ball (7) Hesitation Pitch (8) Whipsy-Dipsy-Do (9) Bee Ball (10) Trouble Ball

Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly 40 years in the Carolinas. These days he is a writer, speaker, and consultant on issues of risk management and wellness for legal professionals. His knowledge of Hot Pockets is purely theoretical. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World and runs Your Law Life LLC. 

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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