The voice on the telephone was from a long time ago and far, far away. It belonged to a friend from the University of Texas law school, an honor student, whom I hadn’t seen since the day he graduated. (Notice I didn’t say the day “we” graduated. It took me four years to finish, one year more than just about everyone else.) He was in town for our fortieth reunion. Would he see me there? I hadn’t even known that there was a fortieth reunion—not that I would have gone anyway. Trained to respect the principle of stare decisis, I saw no reason to overturn the precedent I had established in law school with regard to nonattendance. But we did get together for a short visit.
All his family news was great: long marriage, smart kids, summer retreat on Long Island. But the professional news was not so good. Around ten years ago, his major client had been taken over by a rival company,