A Life in the Shadows of a Corporate Lawyer: Alcohol Ruins Promising Legal Career.
This autobiography by attorney Walt Jay, shares the triumphs and tragedies of a corporate lawyer battling alcoholism at a time when the condition was often misdiagnosed and untreated.
Walt was laid off along with 10,000 others at Motorola's Semiconductor Products Division in June 1971. Despite his having been admitted to state and federal courts in Arizona in 1969, he could not obtain a law firm job because of parochialism favoring University of Arizona graduates over top tier JD's. Facing a June 30th deadline, he accepted an offer from a solo general practitioner with offices in Phoenix and Winslow, 200 miles northwest in Navajo County. Unbeknownst to Walt, Robert Jenkins was smuggling ******** from Mexico in his single-engine airplane, being busted on the 4th run. He was convicted in 1972 and served 5 years in Leavenworth. Walt's reputation was ruined, forcing him to take a succession of poorer paying and less secure jobs. After experiencing 26 years of relative stability in Navy OGC and the legal staff of General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division, he was the victim of blatant age discrimination in 1999. EB re-hired him for two and a half years, first as a contract "temp", then as outside counsel, but without any benefits, including especially health insurance. When his contract with EB expired, Walt again was forced to take a series of lesser paying, very unstable jobs in MT and NM and then back in CT with tiny companies and university labs as a "contract manager", doubling without any additional pay as "counsel". He now handles his younger son's plethora of civil, family, and criminal legal matters as well as sexual harassment suits pro bono for friends from EB.
Despite my parents’ opposition during Spring Quarter at Emory, I applied for admission to UF as a junior transfer. They accepted me, and I got in touch with a former debate teammate about sharing an apartment with him that fall. I don’t recall what I did to earn money that summer. The previous summer I had sold encyclopedias for Col-lier’s. I actually sold four sets, but they stiffed me on the commission. Dad told Mr. Sanchez to pay me the $350 or he would have the At-torney General sue them. I got the money. Dad could be persuasive. In 1963, I must have just cut lawns and done odd jobs, then gone on my two-week Naval Air Reserve cruise to NAS JAX again. That was the one where instead of having to go to Marietta, GA, and then fly back to Florida, I was allowed to drive Mom’s 1957 Ford to JAX. I was sober as a judge, but misunderstood directions to our barracks, and somehow wound up in the area where nuclear warheads were stored. They were under huge mounds of earth. The Marines and Shore Pa-trol were on me like a duck on a June bug. They called the Executive Officer whose secretary I was as an YN striker. He got me released to him and I settled into the barracks to derisive laughter from all my crewmates. This was the cruise where I flew to Miami via Tampa on transport plane picking up reservists drilling that weekend. I got very drunk and sat on the beach in Miami Beach picking up two sisters. I got them both back to my room but don’t recall what our threesome was like. Sunday evening, I was picked up at airport by the transport that had dropped returning weekend warriors off at Tampa, then Miami. A full Lieutenant, Mr. Porter, whom I found out, was a closet Life in the Shadows of Corporate Lawyer gay by reading his service jacket at Marietta, bought me booze for the weekend and made sure that I got to the plane.
Things are fuzzy because I drank so much that summer, and it has been 45 years since the next two jackpots occurred, but I had to have pulled the Culley’s stunt before my cruise to JAX because it was upon my return on a Sunday night, swinging on a Chi Omega’s porch, that I bragged to her that it was I who had called Culley’s and sent the hearse to retrieve her sorority sister’s mom’s body. I had done it in retaliation for all the grief that the mother gave me when I picked up the daughter for dates. The fact was that it was Wolfe, McCord, et al who were littering their front yard with beer cans, but she blamed me. So this had to have happened before the wreck that my prospec-tive UF roommate and I got into and before I started at FSU the week before Labor Day.
I recall with surprising clarity that P.G. and I had gone in his “souped up” hemi head Dodge to Chipola Junior College in Marianna FL look-ing up his juco lady friends on a weekday. We found some, and they went to PC Beach with us, but had to be dropped back in Marianna by sundown. Thus, we did not come “home” through Blountstown, but had to go north on U.S. 231, then East on U.S. 90. In any case, that was a helluva lot of driving and lots of beer was consumed before we even got to a local FSU buddy’s girlfriend’s apartment on campus. This episode killed my friendship from LHS debate team and Post 118 with him because it yanked his sheets, revealing to his “in denial” Irish Catholic parents that he was not still an altar boy, but, rather, was ball-ing this babe every night. He also swore never to speak to me again because he wound up marrying a woman who, while at LHS, lived in the Inglewood subdivision across the Seaboard RR tracks behind Joe’s Spaghetti House behind us. They moved to Tallahassee from Maine (and had the accents to prove it.) Her dad was a radio broad-caster. Their being Catholic, I met her at CYO dances as part of the Explorer Post 118 socializing rather than by walking in the neighbor-hood—which no one except my old man did. The summer between my sophomore and junior years at Leon, we had parties at her house with her parents gone. We progressed from “spin the bottle” to “pony express” (like post office, only horsier!) A Catholic classmate and I got into French kissing on the screened porch, and I ********** for the first time while intertwined, even if clothed, with a girl. Beth Melton was the only straight-laced Catholic girl whom I remember from CYO.