Sunday, July 6, 2014

Failure Coach LIII

Law Offices St. Louis

“It took some doing but they voted me in as a partner.” Bob Caster leaned back in his chair and glanced out the window. It was mostly standard cityscape but he took a little pride in the fact that he could see part of the Wainwright Building, a turn of the century building, a landmark both described as an influential prototype of the modern office building by the National Register of Historic Places. Sipping black coffee with Sweet N Low, Alan Edgewarter was comfortable visiting his friend in his office. While they both knew no particular business was being done in that meeting, the meeting would not be questioned: Alan because he was a celebrity and a client; Bob because it would be presumed, by almost anyone who noticed them together in the office, that Bob must be doing what could generally be considered business development. They, of course, could not help but talk about the AEFFSF of which Caster served as a board member. “It is truly astounding how that idea coach Siena had to fund an unconditional scholarship program managed to shape an agency (Abbeshire & Bluestone), attract local, national and international media attention and also be held up as a model for non profits because of its management, creativity and policies of open book transparency,” Bob mused.  They agreed that Irene Siena was an ideal chairman because of her soft spoken parental tone and plainspoken candor about the organization.

“Our boy Johnny Appleseed is considering St. Louis University. He came to see me the last time he was home on some holiday break from the U. I’ve seen his transcripts and I understand his LSAT scores are good enough. With a little influence from an alum like me, I would expect him to get in. The Admissions Committee considers several factors in determining a candidate's eligibility: academic achievement, strength of the undergraduate program, application information, LSAT results, personal statement, work experience, motivation, leadership, and service. They, of course, require a couple of letters of recommendation. Maybe you want to write one? I mean if they have forgiven you for dropping out to become a motivational guru, lecturer and author.” Caster liked to remind Alan that he didn’t stick with the study of law even though he knew it was the right decision for him in the end. In fact, he knew Alan was a failure first case study of a sort.

“I’m happy to write a letter for Johnny Appleseed, but I think it might help more if you get one of your good ole boy friends who grew up here and went to Chaminade or DeSmet or CBC instead of a marginal transient Junior Billiken from SLU High like me.” Alan added, “I don’t have to play that game anymore. I know that stuff still matters in this big small town named after Louis IX of France but it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“Johnny is going to have to find $40,000 for tuition and fees. I want to help him get started but I ain’t no Robert Siena. You know Jan thinks admitting Johnny Appleseed will bring good publicity to SLU and the region in general, especially if he ends up practicing law in St. Louis or Southern Illinois.”
“I don’t know Bob-O, the law is so damned boring. I don’t know how you can even advocate law school at Saint Louis University or anyplace else.”     

 “I think this kid can do it. I’ve read some of his Sociology term papers. He can write. If he can get in and get through One L I think he could become a local hero. Johnny Appleeed , the first Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund award winner returns to the St. Louis region. Etcetera. Etcetera. And so on.”
Alan got up and tossed his Styrofoam cup into the trash can. Bob gestured with a file he pulled from his desk drawer, “Follow me, I want to show you something. You might be surprised to know about.” They moved to the conference room. Bob opened the file folder and showed Alan private investigator summary reports on Johnny Appleseed, Andrew Valentine, Alicia Apricot and Gloria Beck. “After Johnny’s little altercation in Miami the board approved an extra step in our selection process. Unconditional maybe. But we felt it was in the best interest of nurturing our transparent 501(c) to make sure we knew everything about those of whom we were investing.”

“There you go acting like a lawyer with the whereas and heretofore ipso facto Habeas Corpus…”
“This is serious Alan. We have been fortunate so far in awarding these scholars. This is a litigious society we live in. What happens if we are sued for discrimination based on religion, race, creed or whatever?  I don’t think anyone could make a case, but the more widely the AEFFSF is known, the more likely we become a target for frivolous lawsuits. This background check is just one example where we mitigate becoming vulnerable. But you just can’t anticipate everything that might happen.”

“As your attorney I advise you to seek professional help. You worry too much.”    

“I know you think I’m neurotic but the simple truth is your scholarship program was started by a high school football coach who won the lottery. Very little thought went into protecting the foundation, its founders and its caretakers from liability. Beyond the initial background check reports in this little folder here we aren’t tracking your golden ticket kids at all. And you and I both know the selection process is very loose. So far: We’ve got the coach’s personal pick who becomes a Hurricane, who if we are lucky, will study law. We’ve got an art heir who sings like an angel in studying in Ohio. We’ve got girl who looks good in a hard hat and steel toed boots. And we have an actress/film major/social media phenomenon. In a way, each of these kids have won the lottery. Now what are they gonna do to assure the ongoing sustainability of our little venture?”     

“As always Bob-O you have given me plenty to chew on. I trust your judgement and I know the foundation is in good hands with Irene at the helm and Jan managing all the details including the PR and marketing stuff."

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