Last call for 2016

Spencer Farris, The Levison Group

It is finally fall, or as my accountant says, 4th quarter. Summer’s heat (global warming anyone?) is beginning to ebb, and the night air has a crispness that requires an evening fire as either a counter or a complement. I am excited for college football season and redneck High Holy days — deer season.

Scheduling in the late fall is almost as challenging as summer time. Summer vacation is replaced by holiday and pre-holiday absences. November usually means travel and family, so October is the last hurrah to get things done before the year ends. While we would love to be more productive at year end, there are other things that get done instead. We all have our 4th quarter routines.

 Lawyers like routines. Perhaps this is why the law is so slow to change — a new law requires a new routine. It is much easier to do that which we have always done than to learn a new thing. Part of the delay in success for Uber car sharing was the tendency of older lawyers to say “call me a cab” instead of an Uber. I can prove this fact with statistics, by the way.

The comfort of the familiar replaces the stress of not knowing what to expect for older lawyers. As we age, these routines are more than just a source of comfort. They allow us to continue practicing when we have concededly lost some speed off of our fastball. Some lawyers go to the same diner for coffee day in and day out. Others meet at the same bar after work (or at noon.) Whether they do it for the company or the drinks is open to interpretation.

When I was a young lawyer, I rarely worked weekends. I was a single father, and I rushed out to see my children at the end of the workday.  In fact, I was typically out the door pretty close to 5 o’clock every day. I like to think the money that I saved the law firm in the electricity offset the amount I wasn’t billing.

These days I am making up for that time. I put in 10 or 12 hour days during the week and a few more hours on Sunday. When my under analysis column is due, it is usually written before I go home Sunday, just in time to send to the papers on Monday, sometimes running up to the last minute of the deadline.

Lawyers live our lives around deadlines. Statutes of limitation, hearing dates, and trials. Things happen when they are supposed to happen, and no sooner. I like writing on a deadline. Sure, if I planned ahead I would have more flexibility when the deadline hit. That simply isn’t my routine of course. I am not sure I can function without a looming deadline.

Imagine my surprise, Gentle Reader, when I sat down to compose my October missive and found out I had already done so. Last month. No, this isn’t that column, and yes, I’ll remember next month and take a Sunday off.

This isn’t the first strange thing that has happened this year. In 2016, abnormal is the only normal.

Need examples?

The Cubs and Indians are playing each other in the World Series. These two teams possess the two longest droughts between world championships in major league baseball. Soon, one of them will be covered in champagne while the other holds sole possession of lovable loserdom.

I am not sure which prize is more enjoyable. Young me wanted to win in court every time. Middle aged me prefers to get out of the courthouse quickly, with a little pleasant inflection from the judge. Some love from the bench is more rewarding than a win.

Donald Trump left reality TV to make it to the presidential finals, and Hillary Clinton hopes to tell him HE is fired. Clowns are scary. Maybe not as scary as the thought of Halloween filled with little Trump and Clinton dressed kiddies asking for free candy, but still scary.  Mosquitos (no poisonous stinger) are killers, while bees (you know, with a stinger) are dying off.

Something weird happens every day, and the starting point for what is considered unusual is now epic. What used to be preceded by “you are not going to believe this” is now lumped in with “don’t forget to buy milk.”  It could be that we just know more about what is happening in the world now, what with the interwebs and all. It could be that anything that is out of routine is more noticeable to this Middle Aged Lawyer Guy than it would have been when I was younger.

The easy thing to do is to blame 2016 for being a weirdo. If this year were a person, we would send it home from the bar. Call it a cab. I mean, an Uber.


©2016 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. He is rooting for the Cubs because of his Mother in law and wife, but secretly likes the Tribe as well. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at


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