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AFTERWORD My Heroes Have Always Been Lawyers BY JIM SIMONS THESE DAYS THE venerable secondoldest profession is suffering bad times. The public perception of lawyers is not far from William Shakespeare’s suggestion: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Sometimes more and more often I find myself asking “Why the hell am I practicing law?” After a clerk’s error has caused a client has rankled me with some pitiful settlement offer, I sit staring out my window at the Capitol dome wondering what set of sinister circumstances has led me to spending my time this way. I admit I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the law. But the question of why I’m doing it usually conjures certain images. First is the recollection of high-school debate taken up after my first sports-induced bloody nose. I sensed that I couldn’t stand pain but I could argue well. My real ambition was to play second base for the Cleveland Indians \(there were no Texas ents could see that I could talk but not run or hit; they insisted I would become a lawyer. Besides, having a lawyer in the family would be a first: a professional from our background of working-class people. They hammered away at one theme almost frominfancy: get an education. In high school it became more specific: I was going to be a lawyer; it was decided. I was not altogether unwilling, either. I spent many hours reading about my number one hero, Clarence Darrow. Somewhere in the maelstrom of feelings constituting adolescence, I yearned to speak for the downtrodden, defend the unpopular, fight for justice. I had no idea the legal profession was anything but receptive to these yearnings or that law school was such a colossal, grinding bore. Clarence Darrow was like a myth, inspiring, larger than life and somehow unreal. But it took a real life example to flesh out the vague and lofty notion of being a lawyer. During the summers in high school, I often went to Hous Jim Simons is an Austin attorney. COURTESY STATE BAR OF TEXAS Chris Dixie ton with my friend and high-school debate partner, George Dixie, to stay with his older cousin, Chris Dixie. It was a great treat, staying near the University of Houston campus, going to see the minor league Houston Buffs on sticky summer nights, sometimes driving to the magical Galveston Island. Much older than George, Chris was a lawyer. Moreover, he was a labor lawyer with progressive views, a leader of liberal Democrats in Texas. He cut quite a figure. He was rational, composed and articulate; a dapper and polished barrister who rode trains to argue labor cases, to fight for unions and working people in the halls of justice. Watching Chris then and in later years as he involved himself in liberal causes and litigation on behalf of working people, I grew to admire him. To me, he was just what a lawyer should be, and the image created in my mind fired my incipient legal ambition and gave it an accessible model. Of course, at the time I could not know how much I would hate the experience of going to law school. I felt like an alien on a strange planet for three years. Who were these people? I kept a mental sign hanging in my mind that said: “I am among you, but I am not of you.” It was a small gesture but helped preserve sanity. My generation of law students was a stolid bunch set on such goals as affluence and middle-class respectability. There were no minorities or women then, only white males training to take over the running of a society which had always been run by white males, and they were more than ready to assume the privileges that came with their dominant role. Maury Maverick After graduation I accepted a post-graduate in the ACLU Southern Regional office with the colorful Chuck Morgan, who had all but been driven out of his Alabama law practice for his integrationist views. Before approving my application, the ACLU wanted me to be interviewed by one of its trusted cooperating attorneys in Texas. That job fell to a San Antonio lawyer renowned nationwide for his defense of constitutional liberties. The day I met him for lunch in San Antonio in 1965 was to be a day that would forever alter my life. I cannot imagine practicing as long as I have without the invaluable friendship and guidarice of Maury Maverick Jr. This was a lawyer like no other I would ever know. Maverick was a living paradox: a great lawyer who was also a great human being. He was discernibly human. His personality was irascible and gruff on the exterior, yet he was the most caring and compassionate of men. Giving the impression of being flawed, he adhered to principle with unparalleled cornmon sense and consistency. No one I have ever known has understood better or been more committed to the Bill of Rights a radical credo indeed. During the Vietnam War, when Texas liberals were running for the shithouse rather than be counted against that immoral and disastrous debacle of American foreign policy, Maverick checked his conscience and followed its dictates. He became no less than the premier legal authority in these parts on conscientious objection to war, helping many young men have their religious and philosophical scruples against war recognized and, in the process, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21