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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A First Foray into Blogging - ERISA and Batman

On this first posting, I will attempt to describe what I'm going to try to do here. I'm an ERISA (employee benefits) and Executive Compensation lawyer, and a big fan of all things Pop Culture. So, I'm going to try to combine the two - alternating between postings covering my vocation and postings covering entertainment and the like. Sometimes there will be attempts to connect the two in a single posting (wish me luck), but, more often, either one or the other perspective will be addressed. For my first foray, I wanted to talk in vague generalities regarding what I think makes the ERISA practice, including its community of practitioners, special, and follow it up with a completely disconnected movie-related development.

So, what makes the ERISA Community special? To me, it is the value so many of us in the area place on mutual respect and consideration, the collaborative and supportive nature of the people in the practice, and our concern for and attention to our colleagues' personal interests and families. The ERISA bar has always been an open one, populated by a diverse group when viewed from both cultural and educational perspectives, and this inclusiveness leads, I think, to an open-minded approach to the way in which people deal with others. We seem consistently trying to build right answers and reasonable perspectives, not trying to win, to denigrate or otherwise to one-up the person sitting across the table. More often than not, our nominal adversaries are people with whom we eat and chat - people whom we call for sanity checks and other judgment calls. They are people whose spouses and children we know. In my experience, other practice areas just don't function in this way. In other practice areas, colleagues across firms (within firms?) don't get to know each other socially to a similar extent, do not negotiate in a consistently cooperative and constructive way and don't solicit and share precedent, reasoning and other knowledge without even the hint of a desired quid pro quo. And, of course, what other area has someone who would try a blog like this one?! Young lawyers looking for something special should check this area out.

Now, onto more weighty matters, like Batman. When I went to see I Am Legend, I was privileged to witness eight uninterrupted minutes of The Dark Knight, which were shown before the main feature started. I didn't understand why the ticket-takers warned the patrons that there would be no refunds after the preview of The Dark Knight . . . until I watched those eight minutes (and then had to sit through I Am Legend). I felt right then and there that this movie looked to be maybe the best action-adventure movie, and possibly one of the best movies of any kind, ever made. As the trailers have rolled out, and now the buzz reaches a fever pitch, it looks like I may have been right. To be sure, I'm setting myself up for quite a fall here with such lofty expectations, but I suppose that these are the chances we take. Heath Ledger's death certainly makes all of this tragic in the ultimate extreme, and there will undoubtedly be those that attribute the hype surounding and reaction to the movie to his untimely death - but it was evident to me from the get-go that his performance and this movie would be nothing short of incredible. Having said that, it will be very hard for me to stop thinking how clearly it would have been the case that he would immediately, come later this week, have become the next Eastwood/Gibson/Cruise. Well, anyway, the movie has become one of my favorites of all time even before I've seen it (!!), and I will be going to a Thursday midnight (technically Friday) show with my older son later this week for confirmation.

Future topics may range from things like work/life balance, to ERISA activity in the Supreme Court, to why Rock Band will change (has changed?) the world, to ERISA-tinged movie moments (!). I hope you will have as much fun reading this stuff as I'll have writing it. 'Til the next time . . .

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