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I am not a particularly private person. I’ve been writing this column, essentially expressing my more-or-less complete bewilderment at the vicissitudes of life in the legal community, for 34 years. It’s been nationally syndicated for the last 15. A person with a reasonably well-developed sense of privacy could not do that.

So I am not especially embarrassed by the anecdote I’m about to tell. After I retire, there will be rooms full of people jostling for the chance to tell their embarrassing anecdotes about me. This one will doubtless pale in comparison.

But the truth of the matter is that I spent my first three or four days of law school thinking the initial after the judge’s name in an opinion represented his first name. FN:1 I’d gone through twenty years as “Bedsworth, W.,” so when I saw “Hancock, J.” or “Stephenson, J.,” I assumed those referred to people named John or Joseph or James.

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