X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Ever played Balderdash? It’s one of those board games for brainiacs where mental acuity and legerdemain are put to the ultimate test — and only those who excel at both emerge as winners. In other words, the perfect game for lawyers. For three years running, the 70-attorney Menlo Park, Calif., office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has hosted a grueling, 10-week Balderdash tournament as part of its annual summer associate schmoozefest. At this year’s white-knuckled Aug. 9 finals, Regis was a no-show and the prize money — a $200 Stanford shopping mall gift certificate — wasn’t exactly the quick ticket to early retirement. Nevertheless, a handful of associates was sweating in the hot seat anyway. For Balderdash neophytes, a brief primer: The board game tests two skills, vocabulary and artifice. A word — an etymon known perhaps only to William Safire — is given to all participants, who must then craft a definition. All explications, including the correct one, are pooled and read aloud to the group. Each player then tries to guess the right definition. The one who nails it gets the most points. But those sly enough to dupe their opponents into picking their definition also score. It’s a game that rewards uber lexicons and expert bluffing. And you thought all the fun ended with moot court. Orrick’s 2001 grand champion of deceit was Matthew Poppe, an intellectual property litigation associate and 1994 University of Chicago Law School graduate. Poppe took top honors for his snookering a few finalists into believing a “paixtle” is a three-pronged utensil known to Mayan cultures. It’s really a Mexican fiesta dance performed by men disguised in costumes of hay. Poppe’s definition was hardly the most outlandish. Senior associate I. Neel Chatterjee adopted the suck-up strategy by appealing to contest hostess and employment litigation partner Lynne Hermle. His proposed definition of paixtle? “The joyful, spirited dance engaged in by Lynn Hermle after class certification is denied.” This followed Chatterjee’s definition of “blellum”: the sound opposing counsel makes after facing Lynn Hermle in trial. Someone, apparently, is up for partner. True, the revelry all sounds a little, well, dorky. But the three dozen or so staffers and associates who attended the event were clearly having a blast. Hermle came up with the idea of a hat theme and participant profiles. Among the showcased chapeaux: a wedding veil, a lamp shade, a plant, even an empty tissue box. Poppe came decked out in dark sunglasses and a Head tennis racquet cover, prompting Hermle to call him “the person you’d least like to meet in a dark alley.” Perhaps the best moment of the shindig came when Poppe donned the silver tiara crowning him the 2001 Balderdash King. See? It’s not all doom and gloom this summer in Silicon Valley.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.