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Talk about excitement! Talk about thrills! Talk about potential liability for false advertisement and trademark infringement! Let’s talk about full disclosure first. The Sidney Olympics have nothing to do with Sydney, Australia. They’re actually named after Sidney Auerbach, my law school classmate, who pioneered the concept of a quadrennial competition among the world’s finest lawyers. And they’re not really “Olympics” — at least not in the United States, where the U.S. Olympic Committee has a statutory monopoly over the word. But even as the Sidney Auerbach Lawyer Games, these events are a spectacle, and well worth the trip to Newark, N.J., this year’s host of the competition. Newark was the focal point, but many events were held at other equally exotic venues — such as the Southern District of New York and the faraway Northern District of California. To those who have never attended such a festival, it is difficult to convey the exhilaration of the Opening Ceremonies, especially the stirring Parade of Attorneys. Lawyers from every firm and corporate legal department march around the main arena, proudly holding aloft their letterheads. Traditional powerhouses, like Latham & Watkins and Sidley & Austin, send hundreds of eager young competitors to the Games. No one even pretends these are amateurs anymore. The big firms hire them out of law school solely to compete in these events. But the crowd seems to show special affection for the small firms and sole practitioners, some of whom, like Buddy’s Sirloin Pit and Law Office, were competing for the very first time. They may not medal, but they surely embody the ideal of the lawyer as rank amateur. In the aquatic competition, the 2000 Sidney Games inaugurated the exciting new event of Synchronized Suing. Teams of plaintiffs lawyers from both coasts showed off their skills at filing lawsuits simultaneously. The winner was the Milberg Weiss team of San Diego, captained by the legendary William Lerach. His squad demonstrated an almost eerie ability to time their class action securities filings to coincide with slight dips in the stock value of high-tech corporations. The so-called Unified Team, consisting of a consortium of tobacco litigators who synchronized their lawsuits to coincide with this year’s elections, walked away with the silver medal. In a touchingly sentimental gesture, the Unified Team announced that they were contributing one quarter of the value of their medal to the Democratic Party. Most attorneys practice legal gymnastics in their daily lives, so naturally spectators jammed the gymnastics stadium to watch the competition. The main attraction this year was the Uneven Bars. Not surprisingly, the winner was the California Bar Association, which appears to have a lock on its status as the nation’s most predictably Uneven Bar. Going into the competition, the Californians clearly benefited from former Gov. Pete Wilson’s decision to cut off their funding, which he maintains was the most popular act he ever performed in his eight years in office. For those who enjoy pomp, this year’s Equestrian events were something of a disappointment. The Dressage was replaced by the Friday Casual Dressage. Cravath, Swaine & Moore provided some excitement, disrupting the event by racing onto the field in their evening clothes. But the Cravath team was living in the past. Indeed, there was talk in Newark of replacing this year’s Friday Casual Dressage event with an Everyday Casual Dressage at the next Sidney Games. The lovely Passaic River was the venue for the Kayak/Canoe events. A late entrant in the event, the Republican floor managers of the impeachment trial, came away with the gold for maneuvering upstream without a paddle. The congressmen were so thrilled with their gold medal, they rushed over to the Bureau of Engraving and had it bronzed. The most intense competition occurred at the Track and Field events. Every lawyer, no matter what his or her background, fantasizes about taking home a medal from the Long Jump to a Conclusion event. Indeed, most litigators practice the event whenever they file a brief or argue a motion. A winning jump requires a combination of a very long leap resting on a flimsy or nonexistent basis. The event was first popularized by the late William Douglas, who jumped to the conclusion that the Constitution contains a right of privacy on the basis of penumbras and emanations. Douglas set his record 35 years ago at a meet in Connecticut, and many observers considered it beyond challenge. But the record was shattered this year by a team from the Justice Department. The Wen Ho Lee prosecutors team jumped an amazing 59 counts, leaping to the conclusion that there was espionage on no basis whatsoever. The astounded judges confessed they had never seen government prosecutors jump so long to reach a conclusion, and many observers wondered whether the prosecutors had taken performance-enhancing drugs. At the other extreme, the Steeplechase continues to be one of the Games’ most boring events. This somewhat eccentric event consists of pursuing athletes around a school and then suing them as soon as they pray, on the basis of the separation of church and state doctrine. As expected, the ACLU legal team won. The ACLU legal team wins every year, because they are the only entrant. No one else seems to think it’s worth their while to stop athletes from praying. Of course, no Olympic competition would be complete without a marathon. The Sidney Games’ Marathon Deposition was a major attraction, drawing litigation teams from many of the nation’s largest firms. Lawyers propounded questions for hours, pausing in mid-sentence to grab a paper cup of Gatorade from eager paralegals. What makes this event particularly grueling is the fact that each lawyer must tread the same ground covered by the preceding questioners. This incredible repetitiveness gives the Marathon Deposition its legendary tedium. Unfortunately, it does not give the event a winner. This year, as every year, no one won the Marathon Deposition. Instead, as the Games closed, and custodial personnel emptied the wastebaskets and shut off the lights, the contestants were still deeply engaged in their competition — questioning, questioning, questioning — with almost superhuman stamina. They seemed oblivious to the world around them. They did not even appear to notice that everyone else — the spectators, the judges, the other competing lawyers, and, yes, even the witness — had long since gone home. Lawrence J. Siskind of San Francisco’s Harvey Siskind Jacobs specializes in intellectual property law.

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