The Wake-Up Call He collapsed right in the middle of a packed courtroom. He was one of this country's most distinguished trial lawyers. He was also a man who was as well known for the three-thousand-dollar Italian suits which draped his well-fed frame as for his remarkable string of legal victories. I simply stood there, paralyzed by the shock of what I had just witnessed.
The great Julian Mantle had been reduced to a victim and was now squirming on the ground like a helpless infant, shaking and shivering and sweating like a maniac. Everything seemed to move in slow motion from that point on. "My God, Julian's in trouble!" his paralegal screamed, emotionally offering us a blinding glimpse of the obvious. The judge looked panic-stricken and quickly muttered something into the private phone she had had installed in the event of an emergency. As for me, I could only stand there, dazed and confused. Please don't die, you old fool. Its too early for you to check out. You don't deserve to die like this. The bailiff, who earlier had looked as if he had been embalmed in his standing position, leapt into action and started to perform CPR on the fallen legal hero.
The paralegal was at his side, her long blond curls dangling over Julian's ruby-red face, offering him soft words of comfort, words which he obviously could not hear. I had known Julian for seventeen years. We had first met when I was a young law student hired by one of his partners as a summer research intern. Back then, he'd had it all. He was a brilliant, handsome and fearless trial attorney with dreams of greatness. Julian was the firm's young star, the rain-maker in waiting. I can still remember walking by his regal corner office while I was working late one night and stealing a glimpse of the framed quotation perched on his massive oak desk.
It was by Winston Churchill and it spoke volumes about the man that Julian was: Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us.
Julian also walked his talk. He was tough, hard-driving and
willing to work eighteen-hour days for the success he believed was
his destiny. I heard through the grapevine that his grandfather
had been a prominent senator and his father a highly respected
judge of the Federal Court. It was obvious that he came from
money and that there were enormous expectations weighing on his
Armani-clad shoulders. I'll admit one thing though: he ran his own
race. He was determined to do things his own way — and he loved
to put on a show.