Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Texas Rangers have now become the fourth Major League Baseball team to file bankruptcy.  The old Seattle Pilots filed back in 1969 before skipping out to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers.  The Orioles followed their owner into bankruptcy in 1993.  Last October the Cubs followed the Tribune Company into Chapter 11 to facilitate a clean sale of the franchise.  And now the Rangers have followed suit, to force a sale of the franchise past a recalcitrant creditor.  Thomas Hicks, the main man in the Rangers ownership group, is reportedly also trying to sell his half interest in the Liverpool Football Club, perhaps the crown jewel of the English Premier League.  In my not so humble opinion, if Hicks can't make money off the Liverpool club, it's probably best that he gets out of sports ownership.

Which is not to say that making money from sports ownership is an automatic.  Far from it.  Of the four major, professional leagues in the US, only the NFL has a business model that a reasonable likelihood of returns to owners (Although we'll see how much the recent Supreme Court decision bollockses this.).  In the NBA, NHL, and MLB, unless you're one of the elite franchises, you have issues; non-elite franchises bleed cash and are nothing but rich men's hobbies.

Looking at this, I can't help but conclude that, unless MLB fixes its business model, we can expect more filings.  There's only so long you can run your business as a hobby and keep the lights on.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Professional Civility?

An article on the ABA website this morning left me shaking my head about my remaining years in this profession.  Sarah Allen wanted to go to law school.  Let's set aside the wisdom of that in the face of this economy; she wanted to go.  As with most people, she didn't have the money to pay for it and was worried about the debt she'd end up with.  She decided to solicit donations, not just for herself but to set up a general scholarship fund.

The response was predictable: The legal message boards lit up with the usual anonymous, infantile, Gen X vitriol that seems to make up half of Internet traffic.  Nasty stuff.  And so she's shut the whole thing down and is reconsidering going into law.

But the really disturbing thing has been the responses to her withdrawal.  No comments about her soon-to-be "colleagues" calling her ugly and saying she should raise money by becoming a prostitute.  No, everyone is saying she needs to have a thicker skin to be in law.  Anyone else apprehensive about what these guardians of justice are going to be like in court or around the negotiation table when there is actually something on the line?

We've made a lot of noise for a number of years about improving civility in the profession.  It isn't sinking in, and the shark tank is getting more savage by the day.  And unfortunately, this is the behavior everyone notices.  It should be small wonder that the public views us, not as guardians of justice, but as mercenaries who operate under the motto, "Lawyers: Bringin' the Hate Since the Dawn of Time."