November 14, 2018 Articles

Words of Wisdom for Young Lawyers from . . . Patrick Swayze?

There is no greater movie to teach life lessons, including in the practice of law, than Road House.

By Jon Blumenthal

Lawyers love movies, and lawyers of every ilk romanticize them. Almost any lawyer can name a movie or television show that inspired her: L.A. Law, A Few Good Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Legally Blonde. It is possible, though, that there is no greater movie to teach life lessons, including in the practice of law, than Road House.

In 2015, the New York Post reported that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is requiring its officers to view a scene from the movie Road House in which a bouncer, played by Patrick Swayze, instructs his staff to “be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.” Apparently, this is one of the tactics that the NYPD is taking in response to the events surrounding the death of Eric Garner, a man who was allegedly held in a chokehold and died as police tried to arrest him.

If you’ve seen Road House (and if you haven’t, you need to), you know the story. Dalton, the undersized bouncer with the philosophy degree from NYU and the heart of gold, heads to small-town Missouri to clean up the Double Deuce, a seedy bar with potential in Jasper, Missouri. Jasper, of course, is “controlled” by the sinister Brad Wesley. Dalton and Wesley battle for the soul of the Double Deuce and the town of Jasper. Pure gold.

When you get right down to it, Road House should serve as a primer for every graduating law student and new lawyer. Established lawyers can learn a thing or two from Dalton, too. Some practice lessons from Road House follow.

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