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Just about everyone I know in the trial business agrees that the number of cases being tried is going down. Insurance adjusters say so. Statistics from the federal courts say so. Lots of timesheets say so. I make my living butting into other people’s disputes, so the more there are, the more likely I am to pay off my Gap revolving charge bill. And that’s a good point. My teenage children and their friends are always in some kind of dispute. About why they got grounded. About who likes their boyfriends. And who cheated on them. And who wore the same outfit twice within a two-week period. The list is endless. Now you’d figure that this kind of spirit, properly cultivated, would result in a veritable Comstock Lode of litigation. But it hasn’t, and things are only getting worse. But at least I now know why. And the news isn’t good. You see, I got a survey from the Martindale-Hubbell Web site the other day wanting to know how good their service was. I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but I decided to search for all the lawyers named Rambo in the United States. I guess I figured there would have to be bunches of them — given all of the articles about Rambo litigation we’ve seen. Wrong. There are only 18 — that’s right, 18 — lawyers named Rambo left in the United States. Rambo lawyers are virtually extinct! This is a crisis. Although we hated the guys who sent their faxes after 5 p.m., gave no notice of hearings, tried to depose corporate presidents over falls in the produce aisle and all that stuff, the plain fact is that Rambo lawyers kept us billing humongous amounts of time for more than a decade. They were what kept us in our bonuses for longer than we’d like to admit. And the stories. When was the last time you heard a great war story about something that went on in an alternative dispute resolution proceeding, for heaven’s sake? Kill off Rambo lawyers and we’re doomed to a colorless, genteel life of “object to the form” and mediation sandwiches. In fact, it’s already started. We used to be trial lawyers. Now we’re in the controversy management practice group. PRESERVATION So what do we do to preserve our litigious way of life? First, we’ve got to increase public awareness. I’m thinking bumper stickers. (“It’s 10 p.m. Have you sent a fax tonight?” Or “Rumpole was a Rambo Lawyer.”) How about public service announcements? (“This is your lawyer. This is your lawyer on civility.”) The ad agencies that can explain why cigarette companies are solid citizens ought to be able to handle this. Next, the 18 Rambo lawyers are just going to have to wear monitoring devices. I’m sorry about that, but we don’t know enough about their migratory and mating practices, and this is the only way Rambologists can find out more. I know it’s intrusive, but bald eagles and pandas got over it, so this should not be too much of a problem. We’ve also got to start preserving the Rambo lawyers’ habitat. This means that we’re probably going to have to repeal a bunch of those lawyer creeds and statements of lawyer niceness we enacted a while back, but it’s necessary to preserve a national treasure. We’ll need a Rambo Impact Statement for new rules and statutes so that we can determine what impact they will have on this crisis before we enact them. Each courthouse will have to designate a Rambo lawyer preserve. Whether this means a padded flameproof courtroom where hyperbole, rhetoric and accusation can flourish again isn’t clear yet, but we’re going to have to find a way to let the gloves come off again, and I’m not talking Marquis of Queensbury Rules, if you know what I mean. Mediation probably will have to go. I’m sorry to have to say that, but all those mediators out there trying to make us make nice to each other are killing off the vital food supply that sustains Rambo lawyers. Ditto tort reform. Again it’s a simple question of food supply. Rambo lawyers are drawn to punitive damages. We have to rebuild their food sources if we hope to save this priceless example of our national heritage. Along the same lines, more helpless young lawyers will have to be directed into litigation and put in situations where they are in over their heads. Rambo lawyers are drawn to fear, and turning trials into “controversy management” destroys a valuable food source. I’m just scratching the surface here. We’ll need to establish breeding programs, preserves, do a census, lots of important things. But please, folks. This is a wake-up call. If you want litigation, if you want to preserve all that it has meant to us, please help preserve our Rambo heritage today. Anyone who spends his time on the Internet counting lawyers named Rambo has some serious issues. That’s why the opinions expressed in this column aren’t necessarily those of Dallas’ Winstead Sechrest & Minick — where Tom Alleman is a shareholder in the environmental practice group — or its clients.

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