Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sometimes a Picture Speaks Volumes!

Please look at Jennifer Zidon's masterpiece portrait from the Friday National Edition, of the New York Times.

The captions reads: "Daniel E. Becnel Jr., a lawyer who has worked on many mass tort cases, says he is not taking spill cases for the money. 'I want to do right,' he said".  Yeah, I bet. 

Is this BP's worst nightmare?  I'm guessing Mr. Becnel would like you to think so.  But look at the white buck shoes?  What kind of lawyer walks up to an crude oil spill in white buck shoes?  Please note, the shoes and belt do not match.  I'm guessing that the Mr. Becnel's hair may be petroleum-based as well.  Mr. Becnel doesn't look at all unlike one of those crude-covered Pelicans, he came pre-oiled.  Ah well, it's all a carnival.

My guess is Mr. Becnel or certainly attorneys not all that dissimilar to Mr. Becnel parachuted into Bhopal, India "in the day."

Many times I've disclaimed the desire on Bad Lawyer to participate in a discussion of the Big Story, but "materialism" has been a the "little story," this week.  The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico story has a gigantic thread running through it that relates to one big idea beautifully illustrated by Jennifer Zidon's portrait of Mr. Becnel, this story is about wealth transfer.  From the earth's crust, through the waters of of the Gulf of Mexico stupendous wealth was being converted into money transferred internationally from the Gulf of Mexico into international banks, insurance companies, law firms, pensions, and into every unit of currency traded and exchanged for anything of value.  The oil spill is a profoundly tragic and disturbing ecological disaster and possibly revealed blessing as we all embrace the reality that we can not do what we do and what we did--that necessitated draining this resource from our oceans. 

But the vanity fair of lawyers, lawsuits, and wealth-transfers of a different kind are now underway.  There will be decades of lawsuits, mass torts, class actions, civil and criminal prosecutions of all sorts.  Having lived through many different litigation eras, let me alert you to look for fortunes and reputations to be made, great frauds to be perpetrated, ultimate shame and disgrace.  Oil spills and ecological disasters create opportunities for your best and brightest to be slimed--of course, we enable the corporate slime that spilled this oil, in the first place, every time we fill our car fuel tanks on cheap gas.  As my friend, "okiedoke" says, it's a long toll road.


  1. Don't forget the use of plastics, medicine, clothes, roads, etc. Pretty much everything that uses chemicals is made out of petroleum in one way or another. That said, fuel is the largest use.

  2. anon 12:02--excellent points, the question, without being self-righteous which I struggle with to my detriment--is how do we consciously address our role in the use of these products so as to ultimately impact these situations. Furthermore, how do we adapt to paying the true cost of this natural resource in our acquistion of material things?

  3. The connections and observations made by BL in this post about lawyers, BP and wealth transfer are some of the most significant observations knitted together anywhere. Heavy ideas that we should be talking about, how much does our oil addictions cost us, what are we willing to tolerate, how ugly is it going to get, can you mix leather accessories when wearing a seersucker suit?