Life is Surprising!

by Rich Cassidy on August 13, 2015

11714448_399327153586353_2064503772_nForty-five years ago I was active in Gov. Phil Hoff’s campaign for the U.S. Senate from Vermont. I was in high school.  That summer, I had a job as a bell-hop, that did not start until 3:00 PM. I spent every day from 8:00 AM to 2:45  on the campaign.

We lost that race, even though opposition to the war in Vietnam activated large numbers of young people to support it. Many of them have become life-long friends.

I did not know then that politics would be an abiding interest in my life. Nor did I know that only 12 years later, I would go to work in Phil’s law firm and the he would become a mentor and close friend.

Eventually the law firm would become “Hoff Curtis” honoring Phil and a co-founder of the firm, David W. Curtis, Jr. Life can be surprising and time passes swiftly.

Many thanks for Raymond Mooney for recovering this picture of us from the summer of 1970.

Rich

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This month, I experienced one of the most satisfying events of my professional career. At its 124th Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, I was elected to a two year term as President of the Uniform Law Commission. You can find the official press release here.

It is a custom that the incoming President offers a few remarks. Here is what I had to say:

Thank you, Harriet Lansing, for your service as our President. You and your spouse, Allen Klein, leave behind a record of success and an organization that is as strong in its membership and its resources as it has ever been.

Becky and I will never forget your kindness to us and we treasure your friendship. On behalf of the Uniform Law Commission, it it my pleasure to present you with this past president’s pin. I know you will wear it with pride.

Thank you to the previous leaders of this Conference (you know who you are) for the opportunity to prove my commitment to our work and the ULC and for moving me through the leadership path in a manner that ensured I understood our rich history and the culture.

I know too that you would never have entrusted me with the leadership of this organization, but for the wise and gracious ways of my spouse, and I appreciate your recognition of her talent.

We have a wonderful leadership path, and tradition of mentorship. Thanks to it, and to you, I feel ready to provide leadership in the next two years. I am certain that in every area where I need you, the members, are here to lift me up and ensure our continued success. I am committed to paying forward the gifts that have been given to me.

In the next two years, I will respect and maintain the traditions of the Conference. Those traditions produce high quality legislation to protect the Rule of Law and our federal system. We must keep our eyes on the prize: improving and modernizing state law in areas where the law from state to state should be the same or similar.

To do that, we must continue to honor our tradition of face to face meetings and expand the opportunity for a broader group of Commissioner and stakeholders to follow and comment on our process. Doing so will require that we expand our use of technology so that we are more transparent and visible. We can and we should enhance outreach to key audiences including state legislators, their staff, state, local and specialty bar associations and legal educators.

To be sure that we are leveraging technology to full advantage, and that we are aware of the ways that technological change impacts the law, I have asked Commissioner Tom Buttiweg to chair a new ULC Committee on Technology.

We must pay close attention to the language we use in our acts to be sure that our words are as simple and as accessible as possible for lawyers, legislators and the public.

This year I will appoint two new drafting committees and three new study committees. They are:

A Drafting Committee on the Uniform Electronic Registry for Residential Mortgage Notes;
A Drafting Committee on the Revised Uniform Principal and Income Act;
A Study Committee on the Regulation of Drones;
A Study Committee on Involuntary Pornography; and
A Study Committee on a Model Equal Rights Act.

Any member who wishes to serve on a new committee should fill out a Committee Interest form and be sure that the Chicago Office has a current member biographical form on file.

To do all this we need a strong leadership team. Here are the people who have agreed to help guide these efforts:

Executive Committee

Chair                                           Anita Ramasastry         Washington
Immediate Past President     Harriet Lansing             Minnesota
Scope & Program Chair          Carl Lisman                   Vermont
Vice-President                          Melissa Hortman          Minnesota
Treasurer                                   Tom Buiteweg                Michigan
Secretary                                    Dan Robbins                  California
Legislative Council Chair        Ryan Leonard                Oklahoma
At Large                                      Rodney Satterwhite      Texas
At Large                                      Bill Henning                   Alabama
At Large                                      Tim Berg                         Arizona

Scope & Program Committee

Chair                                          Carl Lisman                     Vermont
Member                                    Steve Wilborn                  Kentucky
Member                                    Gail Hagerty                     North Dakota
Member                                    Ed Smith                           Massachusetts
Member                                    Effie Bean Cozart             Tennessee
Member                                    Elisa White                       Arkansas
Member                                    Steven L. Willborn          Nebraska
Member                                    Tom Hemmendinger      Rhode Island
Leg. Chair (ex officio)            Ryan Leonard                   Oklahoma

Division Chairs

Lane Kneedler                 Virginia
Pamela Bertani                California
Bill Barrett                        Indiana
Nora Winkelman             Pennsylvania
John McGarvey                Kentucky
Lane Shetterly                  Oregon

Finally, a word about our next annual meeting in Stowe, Vermont. Becky and I have worked with many of you for more than 20 years. It will be great pleasure for us to bring you to the state that is our home.

There are only 620,000 Vermonters and between us, Becky and I have told nearly all of them to expect approximately 700 of our best friends for a week in July of 2016.

Mount_mansfield_20040926We will meet July 8 through the 14 at Stowe Mountain Lodge. You should expect a warm welcome in a beautiful mountain setting and temperatures in the mid 70s. Altitude should be no problem, as the Lodge is only at 1500 feet. Even the summit of Mount Mansfield is only 4,900 feet.

Once registration opens, make your reservations as soon as you can, as we anticipate that the Hotel will fill quickly!

I appreciate deeply appreciate the confidence in me that you have shown by electing me as President. I count on your support. You can count on Becky and me to do our very best for the ULC in the next two years.

Thank you.

Rich

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Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court as Arbiter of Constitutional Disputes

July 20, 2015

I was overjoyed to learn that the United States Supreme Court had decided in Obergefell v. Hodges,[1] that the states must allow same-sex marriage. I thought of my many friends and family members who are gay, and what this decision means to them. I thought of my late friend, David W. Curtis, an openly gay […]

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The Model Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act Explained

June 24, 2015

Last week I testified before Rhode Island’s Special Legislative Commission to Study Changes to the Law of Joint Tortfeasors. Legislation about tort law is a notoriously difficult matter. The interests of the plaintiff’s and defendants bar sharply opposed, and fair consensus is hard to find. Still, Rhode Island is apparently engaged in reconsidering its law […]

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“The Fall and Rise of Lawyers,” Aspiring Lawyers, Law Schools and Bar Associations: Take Notice!

May 26, 2015

On Saturday, CNN published an important story on the status and future of the American legal profession. The story, by University of Tennessee Law Professor Benjamin H. Barton, The Fall and Rise of Lawyers, (May 23, 2015), asserts that sole practitioners have struggled financially for 25 years and that the future looks even worse. My […]

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Wall Street Journal Lifts National Profile of Collateral Consequences

May 19, 2015

Monday’s Wall Street Journal (May 18, 2015), raised the national understanding of problems presented by the proliferation of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. The print article, published on page A3 of the Journal,  “After Prison, Landing Work is Tricky, Officials Aim to Get More Ex-inmates Back to Work,” focuses on the story of Hashim Lowndes […]

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Thank You, American Law Institute

April 16, 2015

I learned Tuesday that I have been elected to membership in the American Law Institute. I am really very pleased to be elected. The American Law Institute is described as “the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. The Institute (made up of 4000 […]

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A Lawyers’ Canon?

March 16, 2015

The idea of a “Western Canon” is a body of books and cultural achievements that are broadly accepted as most important and influential in shaping our culture. One example is Harold Bloom’s, The Western Canon, Riverhead Books, 1994. Obviously, the idea of a canon provides endless opportunity for debate, and little potential for definitive resolution. One area […]

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“The Judge”  Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr. and the Burden of Judging

March 2, 2015

Regular readers of this blog know that I am interested in the feedback loop between popular culture and the law. Recently, I watched “The Judge,” a Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr. film.  And as I did, I wondered about the impact of the film on the public’s view of lawyers and judges. The film is […]

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Does the Requirement of a Unanimous Verdict Favor the Defense in Civil Cases? It’s Not So Clear

February 16, 2015

Over the years there have been a number of proposals to permit jury verdicts in civil cases in Vermont to be made by less than a unanimous vote. Debate over these proposals seems to largely divide the bar along the lines of the clients the debating lawyers represent: most plaintiffs’ lawyers favor such proposals, while […]

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