Philip Thomas’s Long Good-Bye
March 11, 2020 § 3 Comments
As I forewarned in a previous post, Philip Thomas’s blog, Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary, shut down last week. Philip’s eponymous Last Post, lengthy and replete with personal references, is at this link.
On one level, Philip’s post is a meditation on how the practice of law has changed over the past 25 years, and decidedly not in favor of civil litigation practitioners. He discusses the insane stress that lawyers experience from the practice, the procedures, the office, family, and financial. He muses over other ways to make a living that allow one to be more human, and he relates his experience of the curative powers of wilderness hiking.
On another level, it’s one more disappearance from the Mississippi legal blogosphere that was once more satisfyingly populated, as I pointed out here before.
Between the lines Philip seems to say that we are in the twilight of the law as we have known and practiced it. Changes are curdling the edges of the practice: more ADR; settlement lawyers; mediation; arbitration. Lawyers tell me that clients are more insistent that their cases get settled, and soon, to avoid litigation costs and just get on with their lives. Lawyers who savored the joust and prolonged litigation for their enjoyment are not favored so much any more. Even in chancery, where 15 years ago there were two or more contested hearings a week, the number of actual trials is down, and the number of settlements and agreed judgments is way up.
So here’s a toast to Philip for your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts that spanned 11 years. May your adversities and the jarring demands of the law subside like the turn off of a busy highway onto a peaceful trail sloping gradually through a conifer forest on a cool, breezy day, until you reach a peaceful summit where, reclined against a sun-warmed rock, you view the beauty of the world below, far removed from its clamor.
I also read Philip’s post a few days ago and I know how he feels. Life is far to short to spend it fighting where no one wins. How much better the world would be if our profession changed its perception of law from the adversarial fight to mediation whenever possible. Yes, there are cases where there must be litigation, but I firmly believe that we’d all be better off, at least health-wise if we followed Philip.
Maybe a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit, but it did used to be fun to try a case, back before the days of so many motions for summary judgment, etc. The changes in law practice are a symptom of a changing society. Not all for the better.
I read that a few days ago. Reading it and now your post reminded me of one of the things that dad told me early on that stuck with me: “a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit everytime.” It was something Richard Wilbourn, Sr. preached to him as a young lawyer. Maybe our culture is muddling toward that end, at least right now.