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May 01

Legal Baseball Clichés

Legal Malpractice CoverageIt’s a new baseball season.  To those who follow the game, it’s a time of renewed hope – even if you are a Chicago Cubs fan.   It’s about five year olds hitting off of tee in hopes of pursuing their dream, or their dad’s dream.  It’s about high school players going through tryouts in hopes of continuing their dream, or their dad’s dream.  It’s new uniforms, leather gloves and wearing shoes that make a clicking sound when you walk on cement.  It’s listening to the game on the radio, or these days, watching it on your iPad. I’ve always said that baseball has some impact on just about everyone in America.  It’s even changed our business language.  If you don’t agree, let me present you with some compelling evidence.  When was the last time you used the term “give me a ballpark estimate”?   Did you know that it was first used in 1960 to describe an area that a spacecraft would land – roughly the size of a baseball park?  Have you ever used the phrase let’s touch base soon?  In baseball, a player who is touching a base is not in danger of being put out.  How about the phrase “right off the bat”?  That’s a baseball reference made by someone named Mark Twain.  Ever ask someone to “step up to the plate” during a meeting?  That’s a baseball term first used in a business reference in 1919.

I was on a conference call with a Legal Technology company that told me that what we were asking was right in their “wheelhouse” – from the term for a batter’s power zone, usually waist high and over the middle of the plate.  Ever tell someone that they are “off-base”…as attorneys, I’m sure you have.  That too is a baseball term used to describe a situation of a runner being away from a base and thus in a position to being put out.   It was first used outside of baseball to describe someone working under faulty assumptions in 1940.  In a tough situation, have you ever wanted to make sure that you “cover all the bases”?  In baseball, a defensive player covers a base by standing close to it, ensuring a runner cannot reach it safely.  Now it’s an accepted business phrase that means being prepared for every contingency.  Have you ever called an opposing counsel’s actions “bush-league’?  It’s originally a baseball term used to describe a second-rate, or amateur baseball league and was first used outside of baseball to describe unsophisticated business practices in 1914.

So the next time you feel that your outside counsel’s ballpark estimate for handling a large matter is off-base, touch base with Lumen Legal right off the bat.  Whether it’s providing discovery support, or a high level secondment attorney, I promise you that we will step up to the plate – because it’s right in our wheelhouse.   In addition, our contract attorneys all have malpractice coverage just to cover all the bases.   After all, to not have malpractice coverage on your contract attorneys would be, well, bush-league.

About the author

John O'Connor

President & COO

As Chief Operating Officer, John O’Connor talks to General Counsel around the world — executives who want to streamline their organizations and reduce their legal spend. In the past, companies would spend what they needed to spend to be covered or win a case. But now, business leaders are seeking to mitigate risks while reducing overall costs.  Under John’s leadership, Lumen has further expanded its physical footprint into Texas, Illinois, California and Florida. He also built a comprehensive document review center in Michigan to provide turnkey capability for large document reviews.