Friday Files: Rough Justice

My clerkship time on the Federal Circuit coincided with the tenure one of the legends of the patent bar, the late Judge Giles Rich. At that time in his 80s, he had been on the court since its inception in 1982. And like so many older lawyers, Judge Rich didn’t get too fussed about many cases. He often said that he believed in rough justice — if the court leaned too far in one direction on one case, it would end up leaning too far in the opposite direction soon enough, and justice would be served in the end.

I wasn’t a big fan of this philosophy, and I’m not now. But sometimes it does help to take a rough justice view of partners.

As in the case of the partner who once chewed me out for not researching a tertiary issue in a case 110%. This was after I had spent all weekend in the library writing the memo, and then stumbled while discussing it with him in a surprise call the following Thursday. So I got to go back to the library, research for two very expensive hours on Westlaw, and come to the exact same conclusion.

Yeah, he was a real peach of a guy. Another associate who worked with him a lot more often than I did had by age 25 became a regular Mylanta guzzler — even though she professed to love working with him.

He pitched such an obnoxious fit over having to wait on the runway for 2 hours, rather than being allowed to leave the plane, that he managed to get himself banned from an airline — and this happened way before 9/11, when it was infinitely harder to get in trouble on an airplane.

It had been rumored he was having an affair with one of the gals in recruiting. Sightings of the two of them near the Willard in the early evenings, going to lunch together, you know.

Was it bad of me to be glad that his wife found out, and he arrived at his posh Bethesda residence to find a lawn full of shirts, underwear, suitcases, and the like? Naah — it was rough justice.