Practitioner in Residence

University of Iowa College of Law

For three days in February 1986 I was the practitioner in residence at the University of Iowa College of Law. I helped teach a class, made a presentation to a faculty seminar, gave a speech to an assembly of students and faculty and talked to a student group and a legal clinic seminar.[1]

Professor Patrick Bauer, a friend and former colleague at the Faegre & Benson law firm in Minneapolis, taught a first-year civil procedure class that I joined. The topic was Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that requires an attorney who submits a pleading, written motion or other paper to a federal district court to make an implicit representation that it was not presented for an “improper purpose,” that is was “warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument” for changing the law and that its factual contentions had or were likely to have “evidentiary support.” [2]

The problem for the class that day was posed by a recent case in which the court had denied a defense motion to dismiss a complaint and had directed defense counsel to submit a brief as to why they should not be subject to Rule 11 sanctions for their dismissal motion. The court thereafter decided that such sanctions were appropriate and imposed a fine on the defense counsel (in an amount to be determined).  The violation of Rule 11, according to the court, occurred because the dismissal motion was not warranted by existing law and because the lawyers had not made a reasonable inquiry to determine if the motion was warranted by existing law.[3]

In the civil procedure class, I played the role of a law firm partner soliciting input and advice from his associate lawyers (played by the students) on preparing a complaint for a new civil lawsuit. Professor Bauer at the blackboard wrote down Rule 11 issues that were created by the ideas put forward by the associates.

“Sue the Bastard! Ruminations on American Litigiousness” was the title of my presentation to a faculty seminar. I had prepared this paper while on my sabbatical leave at Grinnell College. I discussed what I saw as the causes and effects of such litigiousness and suggested changes in our legal system and national psyche.[4]

An assembly of faculty and students was the forum for my speech, “The Pilgrimage of a Hired Gun–The First Twenty Years.” Accepting the challenge of Judge Frank M. Coffin for lawyers and judges to make “interiorly revealing” comments about their professional lives,[5] I discussed my first 20 years of practicing law and my search for meaning and spiritual values in a litigator’s life.

  • The first five years were my apprenticeship period when I was learning how to be a litigator and how to function in two large law firms in two new cities while also becoming a father to two sons. The self-sufficient, inner-directed person I thought I was had found a home in the well-paid, high-powered, eminently secular law firm.
  • The next five years I saw as my yuppie period. I was becoming more proficient as a lawyer. I advanced to partner at Faegre & Benson. We bought an upper-middle-class home. Still no room for a spiritual, religious life.
  •  The next four or five years or so, in retrospect, was a time of mid-life crisis. I was increasingly skeptical of the significance of what I was doing for a living while facing personal challenges.
  • I started to sort out these problems over the next five years and started to integrate the various aspects of my life. In 1981 I joined Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church and started to re-discover a spiritual life.[6] In 1982 I took a sabbatical leave from my law firm to teach at Grinnell College.[7] In 1984, I organized a liberal arts seminar for lawyers at the College.[8] I started to do research about two lawyers whom I admired: Joseph Welch and Edward Burling.[9] Being a practitioner in residence also gave me the opportunity to reflect on these issues and to share these thoughts with others.

I concluded my “Pilgrimage” speech by saying, “I embrace the tools of the trade [and] the craftsman’s pride in a job well done and let go of the omni-competent, omnipotent attitude of the successful lawyer.”

Little did I know at the time of this speech that my then just-starting involvement in the Sanctuary Movement case[10] would be an integrative experience that would lead to my becoming a pro bono asylum attorney,[11] my making a life-changing pilgrimage to El Salvador[12] and my becoming an adjunct professor of international human rights law at the University of Minnesota Law School.[13]

While a practitioner in residence at the Iowa College of Law in February 1986, I also spoke to a meeting of the Christian Legal Society on “Legal Issues Arising Out of the Sanctuary Movement and Government Infiltration of the Churches.” This was an account of the federal criminal case against leaders of the Sanctuary Movement and the Government’s disclosure that it had sent under-cover agents into worship services and Bible-study meetings at Arizona churches involved in the Movement. I also discussed the just-filed civil case against the U.S. Government over “the spies in the churches” by the American Lutheran Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).[14]

Another activity at the Iowa College of Law was attending a legal clinic seminar. I talked about the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers and legal malpractice.[15] I shared my opinion that legislatures and courts were in the process of altering the balance between a lawyer’s role as advocate and the role as officer of the court to give greater importance to the latter. One example was the previously mentioned court’s imposing sanctions on lawyers for arguments that were not deemed in accordance with established law. I attributed this shift to increasing legal fees and the costs of litigation, the public perception that litigation processes had been abused and the knowledge that some lawyers are dishonest. This rebalancing carried with it a risk of diminishing a lawyer’s responsibilities to a client and hence an increased risk of malpractice. I concluded with this quotation: “Clients are entitled to much. They are entitled to dedication, diligent preparation, undivided loyalty, superb research, the most zealous advocacy and even sleepless nights; but they are not entitled to the corruption of our souls . . . . We do not lie, we do not cheat, we do not suborn,  and we do not fabricate. We do not lie to clients. We do not lie for clients.”[16]


[1] Duane Krohnke Is First Daum Practitioner in Residence, Iowa Advocate, Fall/Winter 1985-86, at 15. The widow of F. Arnold Daum, a 1934 graduate of the Iowa College of Law and a senior partner in a Wall Street law firm, established the F. Arnold Daum Visiting Practitioner’s Program in the Law College to support bringing leading practitioners to the law school to appear in classes and exchange ideas with faculty and students. I was the first such practitioner to participate in this program.

[2] Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11.

[3] Golden Eagle Distributing Corp. v. Burroughs Corp., 103 F.R.D. 124 (N.D. Cal. 1984).

[4]  Post: A Sabbatical Leave from Lawyering (May 26, 2011).

[5]  Post: A Liberal Arts Seminar for Lawyers (May 28, 2011).

[6]  Post: Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (April 6, 2011).

[7]  Post: A Sabbatical Leave from Lawyering (May 326, 2011).

[8]  Post: A Liberal Arts Seminar for Lawyers (May 28, 2011).

[9]  Post: Adventures of a History Detective (April 5, 2011).

[10]  Post: The Sanctuary Movement Case (May 22, 2011).

[11] Post: Becoming a Pro Bono Asylum Lawyer (May 24, 2011).

[12]  Post: My Pilgrimage to El Salvador, April 1989 (May 25, 2011).

[13] Post: My First Ten Years of Retirement (April 23, 2011).

[14]  Post: The Sanctuary Movement Case (May 22, 2011)(account of the churches’ completed case against the Government).

[15] Krohnke, A Litigator’s Comments on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Attorney Malpractice (Feb. 1986).

[16]  Miller, A Report on the Morals and Manners of Advocates, 29 Cath. Law. 103, 108 (1984).

The Roads Not Taken


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”[1]

 

In earlier posts, I described two roads not taken–becoming a Protestant minister or a professional historian.[2] Another was not going to graduate school in economics after reading PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) at Oxford. That was primarily because I had had hardly any of the necessary mathematics in college and did not want to embark on a lengthy pursuit of a Ph.D.

After four years of being a Wall Street lawyer, I already have talked about my choosing not to remain at Cravath, Swaine & Moore to compete for one of its partnerships.[3] At the same time I declined an offer to teach at the University of Iowa College of Law. That was because I had enjoyed practicing law, because practice was more lucrative than teaching, and because I did not have some brilliant legal scholarship waiting to be unleashed.

Instead I chose to continue practicing law. But instead of fully exploring various cities, including San Diego, that were on my list of possibilities for such practice, I chose Minneapolis without an exhaustive analysis of the pros and cons of one city versus another. I did so because I already had developed good  working relationships with Minneapolis attorneys at Faegre & Benson on the IBM antitrust cases, because Minneapolis was closer to my wife and my original homes in Nebraska and Iowa and because Minneapolis sounded like an interesting place to live. (This last February after spending four pleasant weeks in Carlsbad, California just north of San Diego and avoiding a very cold and snowy Minneapolis, I wondered: Did I make a mistake in not going to San Diego?)

Other paths not taken were because I was not chosen. I already mentioned not winning a White House Fellowship in the last semester of law school.[4] At the same time my applications for U.S. Supreme Court clerkships with Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justices Potter Stewart and Byron White were rejected. Such clerkships, of course, are pursued by many top law graduates because they are fascinating, challenging and prestigious jobs that open many doors for subsequent legal careers.

After registering for the military draft at age 18, I had college student deferments (Class 2-S) that covered my nine years at Grinnell, Oxford and Chicago. But in my last semester of law school, I received a notice from my draft board to report for an Armed Services physical examination and thus potential military service. As it turned out, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I thus was entitled to a new deferment (Class 3-A) because of dependant’s hardship. As a result, I never had to serve in the military, and I did not volunteer to do so. I missed the Vietnam War, much to my relief then and now.

While I was at the Faegre & Benson law firm, I was unsuccessful in my efforts to be appointed to vacancies on the Minneapolis School Board and the U.S. District Court in Minnesota as a judge and then later as a magistrate judge.  I also was unsuccessful in seeking the Deanship of the Hamline University School of Law. These jobs all sounded interesting, challenging and rewarding. The last three also would have allowed me to escape the pressures of practicing law.

I also have mentioned my not being offered a teaching position in Ecuador after I retired.[5]

I have no regrets about these roads not taken although I will never know what would have happened had I chosen or been chosen for one of them.  But clearly the road I did take “has made all the difference” in my life. Indeed, the road you take and the many decisions you made at various forks in the road along the way constitute your life.


[1] Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken in Mountain Interval (1915).

[2] Post: Adventures of a History Detective (4/5/11); Post: Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (4/6/11).

[3] Post: Lawyering on Wall Street (4/14/11).

[4] Post: Questioning President Lyndon Johnson (4/17/11).

[5] Post: My First 10 Years of Retirement (4/23/11).