Photo of Stephen McConnell

Don’t you always feel a surge of patriotism when you return to the United States? Even if the trip abroad was wonderful in every way, and even if the immigration and customs lines are horrific, it’s great to be back.

We feel that way now, after spending a good deal of the last couple of months on a case in Europe. We worked with lawyers (solicitors, advocates, etc) from the U.K., the Netherlands, Austria, and Jersey (as in the Isle, not where hot cars are sprung from cages on Highway 9). Those attorneys were skillful and delightful, but the way they practice law couldn’t be more different from what we know. They couldn’t do even the most ministerial stuff without “receiving instructions.” The pace of the litigation abroad seemed slow and the tone tepid. It turns out that even some of the aspects of American litigation that we acknowledge are dopey suit us right down to the ground. By golly, we even missed the tub-thumping plaintiff lawyers who conjure up crazy morality plays. It’s like that scene in Patton (sure to be showing on a lot of basic cable channels today) where Patton ruminates on the drama of war: “God help me, I do love it so.”

Last year we had an especially contentious meeting with plaintiff lawyers in Houston. It was at their place. Their offices were way more interesting than ours. We have Ansel Adams prints and tacky vanity plaques on our walls. They had antelope heads on theirs. There was a big fight over company documents. At lunch-time, our hosts brought in just about the best barbecue we’ve ever had. Somehow, over the ribs and corn, we slopped and slobbed our way toward common ground.

Today is a great day for barbecues, of course. And it’s a great day to remember all that we love about America, including what it lets us do and those with whom we do it.

Enjoy your Fourth of July.