Every year as the annual ILTA Conference comes around I think about friends I won’t get to see there anymore. Jim Keane, Richard Robbins, Ross Kodner and of course Browning Marean.
I’ll say more about Browning and the others next week but today I want to say a few words about Ross. It was late July of 2013 when he left us and he was only 52. He crammed a lot of life into those 52 years but it was still way too early to leave. And he had a lot more to say, of that you can be sure.
I loved his comments on technology. Some were spot on, like the myth of the paperless office. Some were outrageous, like calling the Outlook system Microsoft Lookout. As Browning once observed of some one else, he was “often wrong, but never uncertain.” And we loved him for it.
Because he was so full of life and energy and enthusiasm and he really loved technology. Plus he got us all those cool gifts from vendors every year at The Dinner. And when we turned around and honored him at the end of one Dinner with The Minuteman Award, he laughed along with all of his at the joke.
That’s still one of my favorite memories of Ross. Along with the picture from the St, Patrick’s Day in Chicago we made him an honorary Irishman. I’m not sure what the coat had to do with it … Gayle would know.
But one year at an ABA Annual conference, he moderated a panel discussion on legal technology with 5 or 6 speakers. And by Moderate I really mean Speak. Ross was using a portable microphone which he passed to panelists when he asked a question. Andy, Jim, Natalie … all the usual suspects and I was sitting at the far end next to Reid Trautz. I told Reid when we started that I doubted I would ever SEE the mic, never mind hold it.
But halfway thru Ross got a little sore throat and to kill time he asked me a question and passed the mic down the line while he looked for a glass of water. Naturally I did what any good speaker would do in that situation. I kept the mic.
Several minutes later Reid is passing me one of Ross’s business cards on which Ross had furiously scribbled ONE MINUTE!!!!!! I smiled, looked up and said “only one minute to go? OK, I’ll be brief’.”
I saved that card and I had it framed with a big picture of Ross, an American flag and an eagle worthy of Steven Colbert at his grandest. Six months later at an ABA TechShow, I presented it to Ross at the end of that years Dinner and had the crowd in tears as I recounted the story and several others of similar circumstance. I ended by telling Ross that his wife wholeheartedly agreed with the award for reasons she would not specify.
Well he was a good sport about the whole thing. One of his great qualities was being able to take as good as good as he got. Although I never did get asked back to speak on that panel. Hmmmm.
Miss ya buddy.