A Fool, A Tool and A Suit (Update)

While I’m a big fan of a few of the folks writing over at Above the Law, like Elie Mystal, Mark Herrmann, Keith Lee, Tamara Tabo, and even Staci Zaretsky, when she isn’t obsessed with lady parts, the relatively new third-string assistant editor in charge, Joe Patrice, isn’t a favorite of mine.

It’s not that Patrice, of whom I knew nothing, did anything to me. It started when he was given charge of Non-Sequitors, my favorite daily feature at ATL under Elie as it highlighted funny or interesting posts in the blawgosphere that I never would have seen otherwise. But Elie used to search out those posts, find the good stuff, and then offer it with a heaping helping of Elie snark.

Patrice handled it differently. You see, blawgers get emails daily from people who want us to see and, in their dreams, promote their posts. Most are utterly gawd-awful, which is why they have to beg for eyeballs. We not only ignored these pleas because the posts sucked, but because we didn’t want to encourage the behavior, which became a favorite of SEO marketers.

Joe, on the other hand, found a way to do NS that required no effort on his part. What the rest of us deleted, Joe promoted. There they were, the core of his NS posts, with his flavor of snark to try to drum up interest in posts that were so vapid that they couldn’t get interest otherwise. Even the snark failed to measure up to Elie’s, who was incisive where Joe was insipid.  So NS turned from a fun read to worthlessness.

But when Patrice started offering his deep thoughts in the interwebz, things got ugly.  Just the other day, he wrote about a federal judge going off on a criminal defense lawyer trying to preserve the record when the judge sought to shut him down.

Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, presiding over a hearing in the upcoming corruption trial of former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and his alleged accomplices, wasn’t a happy camper yesterday when he launched into a tirade against the defense attorneys in his Boston courtroom:

When soft-spoken defense attorney Stellio Sinnis quietly objected, interrupting the judge, Saylor snapped.

“Mr. Sinnis,” Saylor screamed, “do not interrupt me!”


Responding to Saylor’s conduct Monday, defense attorney John Amabile rose, saying, “Your Honor is so entwined in this, you have lost your ability to conduct these proceedings in a fair manner.”

He continued briefly until the judge snapped.

“Mr. Amabile, I said I did not want to hear about this,” he said. “Sit down.”

Amabile requested he be heard on the facts.

“Thank you,” the judge said. “Sit down.”

“I will sit down,” Amabile said. “But I want the record to reflect I haven’t been allowed to make my argument.”

“Sit down,” the judge said.

Is this a breach of decorum? Sure. But even without hearing Judge Saylor’s side of the story, it seems like the defense counsel deserved what they got.

From what I can tell, Patrice was a lawyer, at least for a few minutes, and yet he thinks the lawyers “deserved what they got” for doing what lawyers are supposed to do? Nice. It’s not that Patrice isn’t allowed to voice his opinion. This is America. Everyone can voice their opinion, no matter how stupid it is. But on a soapbox the size of ATL’s, is it really necessary to let such ignorance be heard?  Apparently so.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back (and pushed me to write about Joe Patrice) was his post ridiculing Wayne Gross for, get this, wearing suits.

There’s something to be said for cultivating the ethos of a professional and there is support for the theory that clothing choices actually impact the individual’s performance. But Gross doesn’t really sell those points. Lawyers already dress up when meeting with clients in a business casual setting, so the argument that business attire fills clients with confidence is moot. Once you get beyond that claim, there’s basically no argument for dressing up in this profile other than “look at how awesome I look,” which would be a better sell if the profile wasn’t totally goofy.

The grave face staring into the middle distance while clutching reading glasses? It’s just too funny. And that hilarious pocket square! I support the Don Draper white, flat pocket square… beyond that looks goofy in a professional setting. A bunch of points just makes me think of a personal injury lawyer appealing to clients who want someone wearing more of a “lawyer costume.”

The diatribe about watches is just comedy gold. I even like watches for business attire, but pretending that smartphones aren’t the modern pocket watch is just being a curmudgeon.

Don’t want to wear suits? Who cares. Wear whatever floats your boat. But the fact that Wayne Gross wears “that hilarious pocket square” that doesn’t rise to the level of Joe Patrice’s sartorial splendor neither makes Gross “comedy gold” nor a target for infantile snark.  It’s not that Patrice is just petty and mean-spirited in his use of ATL to attack Gross for having a different preference in lawyer dress, but that he calls Gross “a tool,” as is any lawyer who agrees with Gross.  Better that lawyers should take their style cues from Patrice?

Look at me, all dressed up lawyerly.

Look at me, all dressed up lawyerly.


It’s one thing to call out a lawyer for dodging ethical duties or breaking the law, but for some pimple of a failed lawyer to use a platform like ATL to ridicule a lawyer with an accomplished career because he doesn’t like the color of his pocket square is beyond the pale.  Nice tie, Joe.

That David Lat isn’t bothered enough by the way Patrice has ruined NS to send him back to his assistant manager job at Dairy Queen is up to him.  But that doesn’t mean his laziness, nastiness and ignorance should pass unnoticed.  And the worst part is that Patrice is a lousy writer and not funny.

Update: For those who wondered why Patrice was so wrong about the efforts to make a record before Judge Saylor despite the judge’s “annoyance,” this is why. Real lawyers, even those who claim to be “white collar defense lawyers” based upon their carrying someone else’s briefcase, know this stuff, but then, real white collar criminal defense lawyers go to court and try cases.  That would seem to explain much of the problem here.

19 thoughts on “A Fool, A Tool and A Suit (Update)

  1. Sgt. Schultz

    So Patrice says he was a white collar criminal defense lawyer straight out of law school? I’m having a real problem buying here. How many trials did he do again?

    1. SHG Post author

      I don’t think he’ll be giving us an answer to the trials question, but then, it may not reflect well on his claim.

  2. Andrews

    But ATL? Doesn’t it exist only to manufacture snark out of nothing? If so, then Patrice is right where he belongs, doing what’s expected of him. Even if his writing sucks (and it does), he’s found his home. What’s the problem?

    1. SHG Post author

      Point taken, but I know that some of the folks at ATL are trying and serious, and are not inclined to such cynical crap.

  3. John Barleycorn

    Intergenerational angst between generation X and the boomers is such a voluptuous and target rich playground for comedy and serious content too.

    Me thinks…..the Gawker Media umbrella meets I can do that too via Breaking Media and ABL with a little seed money and some cookie cutters simply can’t ever be hungry enough by design to dance where the real comedy gold or insightful content lays it eggs anyway.

    Get over it.

    Sunday Magazine iPhone train reading material meets the Zine just ain’t going to happen ever IMHO.

  4. Scott Jacobs

    If a lawyer I was meeting for the first time dressed like Patrice, I would walk out of the room and go find an attorney who was capable of displaying at least some pride in their appearance.

    No, wearing a suit doesn’t mean they are a better than someone who doesn’t. No, it doesn’t make them more effective in court.

    But buddy, if I am going to be giving a hunk of money to you and trusting either my financial future or my freedom to you, I damn well expect you to put on a suit of some kind.

    1. SHG Post author

      Patrice isn’t arguing that a lawyer shouldn’t wear a suit when meeting a client, but that dressing like Gross when not meeting a client and not in court makes him a tool, as if there is some disgrace in dressing well just because that’s how he chooses to dress.

  5. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk

    I don’t think Patrice is ridiculing “wearing suits,” so much as the self-seriousness of Gross and the OC Style File piece. This genre of vain, self-promotional “I am a serious and important lawyer, and you can tell this by my pose, mien, and dress” photograph is off-putting. It is the stuff of Super Lawyers publications. (A persual of his firm profile shows that he participates in that nonsense as well.) If Gross wants to do press in which he is not content to be dressed in $700 dollar loafers, but must announce it as well, fine. It is America, land of the gauche. But this sort of behavior is bound to elicit sneers from those of us who do not think wearing a Patek Phillippe Calatrava watch is an accomplishment. (I take it for granted that Gross has real accomplishments.)

    1. SHG Post author

      In the old days, lawyers wore suits every day because that was how lawyers dressed. Lawyers wore suits when mowing the lawn on Saturday because they took pride in being lawyers, and being a lawyer meant something to them and the community. Lawyers were professionals, and the had the trust and respect of others. They dressed like a lawyer not because someone made them, but because that’s who they were, and they were proud of it. Not vain about it, but took pride in themselves.

      The guy (who we both agree has real accomplishments) is ridiculed for negative attributes, being self-serious, vain and self-promotional, because he chooses to dress well and someone at OC Style thinks he dresses well enough to put him in the piece. No, it is not the stuff of “Super Lawyers” because one is real and other isn’t, and even so, there are a lot of lawyers who do the Super Lawyers thing because it’s there to be done. Will there be a post ridiculing each and every one of them by name?

      You may not care for his personal choices, which is fine. I don’t share some of his tastes either, but I wouldn’t ridicule him for them. Do you seriously sneer at someone for wearing a Patek, almost universally considered one of the finest watch marques ever? There is nothing here “sneer-worthy,” and to project such unwarranted negative attributes to a guy (who we both agree has real accomplishments) because he prefers to dress well is absurd and infantile.

      You want to discuss shoes or watches, that’s fine. But the problem here is three-fold: First, Patrice attacks Gross, and in a head-to-head battle, nothing Patrice has ever done gives him the authority to carry Gross’ bag, no less ridicule him. Second, Patrice attacks Gross for being a well-dressed lawyer, and clearly, when it comes to people who get a say in what constitutes “well-dressed,” Patrice is non-existent. Third, Patrice attacks Gross for being a tool because in the eyes of the Slackoisie, being well-dressed, taking pride in oneself, being sufficiently proud of how one comports himself as a lawyer, is a reason to ridicule on the level of the usual nature of Patrice’s insipid ATL rants.

      Get caught with your pants down in public? Fine, get ridiculed by some slug like Patrice in ATL. Be an excellent, respectable, honorable lawyer who wears a watch or shoes that Fashion-plate Patrice thinks are too tool-ish? No, you do not deserve ridicule.

      Edit: As long as I’m on a roll, one more thing. ATL started as Lat’s vehicle for snark about judges, but is now it’s owner, Breaking Media’s, vehicle for getting eyeballs and selling advertising. Patrice has been dead weight, attracting little attention because of his lack of substance and poor writing. This post, on the other hand, created controversy, which means eyeballs, which means ad revenue. So by hanging Gross out to dry over nothing, Patrice elevates his worth at ATL, and this comes at Gross’ expense. So while Gross has done nothing deserving of ridicule, Patrice benefits. It’s a disgrace.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s unclear to me that it’s narcissism, per se. This is a common refrain of children trying to deflect attention from their inadequacies by projecting their grasp of the world onto grown ups.

      But the only reason anyone in the world knows a pimple like Patrice exists is because he gets to use Lat’s platform. But for ATL, he doesn’t exist. For him to suggest that anyone seeks his attention is beyond bizarre. The irony for Patrice is that he doesn’t realize that Elie gets the attention of “the brilliant @ChisWarcraft” because Elie matters. Aside from the damage he inflicts because he’s allowed to post on ATL, Patrice doesn’t matter at all.

    2. Scott Jacobs

      “please, please pay attention to me”???

      Who the precise eff does this asshole think he is? The picture of him makes him look like Law and Order’s generic “overworked and under a experienced bumbling idiot public defender” character, and in addition I wasn’t aware he even existed until Scott said who he is. I didn’t even know that turd of a piece about the defense lawyer “deserving” the judge’s dressing down was his.

      And Scott is the one begging for people to look at him? Does he understand that Scott probably TRIES to make us go away?

      1. Sgt. Schultz

        A lot of people try to free-ride on guys like Scott, Ken, Bennett, Gideon and other lawyers who are taken seriously. As if any of them want the attention of this worm.

  6. Thomas R. Griffith

    Sir, several thoughts were generated from reading. Steve Martin’s – “Is it the Shoes?” & one of our favorites My Cousin Vinnie – where the (you rang?) judge forces Vinnie to stop wearing his leather suit and gator boots, or go to jail, as the classic ZZ Top hit drowned it all out.

    Then of course, The Griffith Files – 1984 & Beyond, popped up like clock-work reminding me (a fool) of my first impressions of a CDL (a tool) referred to my family as one of the best, through a plexi-glass window in a so-called – Box. His perfect hair, teeth & donning of a very expensive suit allowed me to put 100% trust in his ability to do his duties. 120 days later, while wearing the exact suit, I wished I’d haven’t. Every time I see a well dressed lawyer (and I see ’em three or more times a week) I tend to wonder if he / she is in it to win it, or just rolling with the fake-ass punches til lunch recess. Clothes don’t make the man, man makes the clothes and decides in advance what actions he / she will, or won’t take. Thanks.

    *I’ll let you know when I spot one mowing in a thong or pink hot pants. eeew.

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