Category: The Business of Law

The background story behind my photograph

I chose this photograph for our firm’s website not just because it’s an accurate if all-too-gray likeness of me, but because of the photograph in the background.  It’s of a 1964 political gathering.  I included it in my website photograph to acknowledge the two men who most directly influenced the career I chose.  They’re both in the background photograph.
Seated at center is my father, an unusually talented and able lawyer, and my first mentor in the profession. (He started teaching me about the business of law and introducing me to his clients before I entered first grade.) I might imagine him looking at me from the photograph with pride, even in black and white.
Left of my father is seated Paul Gold, who besides being my father’s longtime client was also a witness at my parents’ wedding. Mr. Gold was a prominent investor in downtown Portland, and it is he who sparked my interest in the law of real estate.
The man standing at the right was the reason for the gathering: Senator Hubert Humphrey, then running for vice president and famous for being loquacious. The photographer caught him in mid-speech, and he provides another reason I cherish the photograph: it’s one of the few occasions when Dad couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Something is missing from our invoices

Eleven years ago when I first went into independent practice, I adopted a policy of not charging clients for routine postage or domestic long-distance tolls.  I reserved the the right to charge for postage if I had to do a mass mailing or send dozens of letters by certified mail. I intended to draw a contrast between Alterman Law Office (as the firm was then named) and the myriad of law firms that charge for client parking (we don’t), that pass through parking charges for their lawyers (we don’t), that make clients pay for dinner for lawyers who worked late (we don’t), and that bill for copying (we don’t, except for really large copying jobs), postage (we don’t, except for mass mailings), and the other nickels and dimes that take up the last page of the typical invoice from a law firm. You won’t find those sorts of charges on our invoices.

We light-heartedly describe our policy as “The post office doesn’t charge you for lawyers. Why does your lawyer charge you for postage?”