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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One that got away

I read with sadness that Judge James Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has died. Judge Oakes is the main reason I'm in Portland -- in quite a backhanded way. In 1977, when I was in law school, I interviewed to be his law clerk the following year. It would have been a plum job -- living in Brattleboro, Vermont; working for a leading judge who seemed like quite a special person; and spending one week a month in New York City -- and after the interview, I thought for sure I had landed it.

But I was wrong. The good-news call never came; the letter did. He hired someone else.

And so back onto the market I went, eventually securing a clerkship with a Ninth Circuit judge in the obscure burg of Portland, Oregon, a place on which I had never laid eyes when I accepted the job. The rest is history. The Portland judge turned out to be one of the great figures in my life, and the town and its surroundings completely knocked me out. I decided to stay, and that's going on 30 years ago.

Judge Oakes, wherever you may be now, nothing personal, but thanks for rejecting me. And may you rest in peace.

Comments (1)

Funny how those seeming low points in life - a rejection for a plum job - often lead to other positive life changes, such as winding up in Oregon. I can look back on many such instances myself. 18 years ago I was unemployed after a bitter split with my then business partners. I got a job offer from a friend here in Portland - someplace I never would have considered locating to. Best move I ever made.

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