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“You can be the best practitioner by the book, but you have to get along with opposing counsel at the dining table.” So advised Roger M. Quinland, an associate at Buchanan Ingersoll who helped organize the first of four “Tableside Advocacy” programs this year sponsored by the New York County Lawyers’ Association. First up the evening of Jan. 21 was hors d’oeuvres and a wine-tasting at Delmonico’s, the venerable downtown eatery. The 116 attendees, mostly young litigators, were counseled by professional oenophiles in the fine points of delicate intoxicants from Europe and the Americas. William M. O’Connor, a partner at Buchanan and host of the event, reminded those gathered for the event of the importance of where they were. “Delmonico’s is where Mark Twain and Winston Churchill and so many others used to come for power lunches,” he said. “I don’t think they had brunches back then.” Raymond J. Dowd reminded the young lawyers of why they chose the posh setting. “We think there’s been something lost in the culinary arts,” said Dowd, a partner at Dowd & Marotta. The gatherings, he suggested, constitute “our intrepid guide back to elegance.” Clearly, there is audience for such guidance. Quinland said he had expected perhaps 50 reservations, but that in accordance with fire laws 54 attorneys were turned away. For the next time — a bourbon tasting — O’Connor suggested early reservations. Aja Baxter, a 29-year-old in-house counsel at Standard & Poors, plans to take in all four events. “I’m fairly new in practice, and I’ve got to network,” said Baxter, a Columbia Law School graduate. With a glance at the dark wainscoating and Oriental rugs, he added, “This is a great room.” Quinland spent a good part of his time consulting with Nick Staskiewicz of Michael Skurnik Wines on the matter of French and Italian selections. “Tonight, I learned more about wine from Nick,” said Quinland, “than in all my past 39 years.” He and the other lawyers, more accustomed to opposing one another than making nice with good wine and food, were being inculcated with what O’Connor calls “the three C’s — courtesy, civility and collegiality — which they don’t teach you at law school. So we get the young lawyers out here.” Corrado Gogliai, general manager of Delmonico’s, offered further lessons not generally heard at law schools. “There’s all kind of wines out there, and everybody ought to know all of them,” he said. “I drink wine depending on how I feel each day. Sometimes I need something heavy, sometimes fruity, sometimes not so heavy. “And you should pay attention to what other people need.”

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