Wellness is a big tent.
Does it include understanding that it’s okay to reach out to the Bar Assistance Program? Does it include prioritizing wellness within the profession’s workplaces? Does it include CLEs on recognizing the signs of burnout?
It includes all the serious issues associated with making the profession healthier. Issues that I’ve blogged and spoken about for years.
But, today, I need a break. Because wellness is also personal. And, personally, beating the drum isn’t always what’s best for me. My wellness includes finding the occasional harmless fun at the intersection of the law, legal ethics, and pop culture.
There’s nothing about this blog (and my job) that I enjoy more than reader responses to the Friday columns and quizzes. Last Friday, I shared the story of the man who joined a search party that was trying to find himself. Upon realizing that he was the “missing” person for whom the searchers were calling, the man replied, “I am here.” Among others, BBC News and Sky News reported the story.
Melding the story with Seinfeld, I created the following scenario:
- Kramer is the “missing” person.
- Newman organizes the search party and posts a reward for whoever finds the missing Kramer.
- George joins the search party, dutifully hollers “Kramer,” and is the person to whom Kramer responds, “I am here.”
- George claims the reward.
- Newman refuses to pay, insisting that Kramer was never missing and found the search party.
Then, with Rule 3.1 of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct in mind, I challenged contestants to make their best non-frivolous arguments on behalf of either George or Newman.
Your replies made me smile and laugh. So much so that as I drafted this post yesterday morning, I decided to save it for today, realizing that the smiles and laughs were wellness.
Many thanks to all who submitted replies! Not one took more than a few seconds to read, but each made my day a brighter place. In reverse order of receipt and under headings that capture what made me a fan, here are my favorites.
I’m a sucker for Latin phrases – and even Newman deserves representation.
No contract was formed due to lack of a condition precedent—Kramer was never missing. Therefore, the contract is void ab initio. Neumann cannot pay any reward in this case.
I’m a huge fan of both honesty and brevity.
No time to do an argument for George, but I think he should get the reward.
The internal reference to an actual Seinfeld episode is gold!
I think George should get the reward. Newman was clearly convinced that Kramer was missing or else he would not have formed a search party. Once he reached that mental conclusion, in his mind he was prepared to issue the reward and his claiming that Kramer was never missing is disingenuous. Although George knows Kramer, he had no role of interfering with Newman’s process and determination of concluding that Kramer was missing or that a reward should be issued for finding him. George may have known that Kramer was in the search party by recognizing him (and he had no obligation to point that out if he did see him which maybe he didn’t) and it was his action that “found” Kramer. Therefore, George is entitled to the reward. George should not be rewarded for using the system as it was organized and established to work. But then again, in a just world (although certainly which Seinfeld is not given their narcissism and selfishness), the entire search party would split the reward as they are really the ones that found him. If they shared the reward, maybe Newman could buy some soup for everyone. As long as he knows what he wants when it’s his turn to order.
Bonus for writing as a lawyer. Infinity bonus for the disclaimer. As disciplinary counsel, I had occasion to represent lawyers who, sadly, should’ve made the disclaimer a permanent part of their signature line.
I represent George. My client, in good faith and in reliance on Newman’s offer of a reward, participated in the search and, had he not called Kramer’s name, Kramer would not have called out “I am here” when he did. Thus, George’s actions (joining the search party and calling Kramer’s name) were the actual cause of Kramer being found when he was. But for George’s actions, Kramer would not have been found when he was. Newman’s conditional offer was accepted and acted upon by George, who fully performed his side of the contract by locating Kramer. Newman must pay my client the reward. Newman’s refusal to pay and his claim that Kramer was never missing is frivolous, both in law and in fact, and his attorney is in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Counsel’s claim that Kramer was not lost because “Kramer found the search party” is a blatant misrepresentation of the fact that Kramer responded to George’s call. Thus, counsel’s factual claim is frivolous. And counsel cites to no legal support for this theory. Indeed, the well-established concepts of contract law render it clear that an offer was accepted and my client performed his part of the contract. If Newman’s counsel is arguing that the meaning of “find” was ambiguous, any ambiguity must be resolved against the offeror.
(Disclaimer: Of course, this is not based upon actual legal research! Thus, whether my argument is frivolous is certainly in question!)
If you’re still reading, there’s nothing wrong with having taken a minute to inject a bit of humor and entertainment into the workday.
Anybody who disagrees needs a bigger tent.
Wellness for all!