Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Among the many reasons I will never become wealthy practicing law is my utter ineptitude when it comes to marketing. I don't do well at cocktail parties, I am lazy when it comes to maintaining my pitiful professional network, and I usually find myself counseling potential clients about how to avoid needing my legal services as opposed to closing the deal and accepting a retainer. Shyster: decent lawyer, pitiful businessman.

Irving L. Blackman has no such trouble. While he's a CPA and not a lawyer, he's likely worth several times what I ever will be. Why do I think this? Because the man has absolutely no compunction whatsoever about using dead baseball stars as props in scare-tactic columns that, in reality, are thinly-disguised advertisements:

Joe DiMaggio, unquestionably one of the great baseball legends of all time, now plays in the big ballpark in the sky. He knew how to use his arm and his glove, but mostly his bat, to win countless ballgames. When it came to baseball, Joe was a winner.

But his last time at bat (with the IRS pitching) was a disaster. He struck out. I'm sure he didn't know the rules of this game: the estate tax game. Certainly the person who drew his Last Will and Testament didn't know the rules either . . . DiMaggio's estate got clobbered by the federal estate tax. Here's the part of Joe's story you should know.

I have no doubt that Mr. Blackman's "column" will drive more estate planning business his way than one in which he uses a generic Mr. Smith or Jones as his case study. I also have no doubt that he did not get permission from the DiMaggio estate before trotting out the Clipper's corpse as a defacto spokesman for his firm, though I suppose the charade of this being a column instead of an ad puts him on solid legal ground.

So here's to you, Mr. Blackman; may your professional services always be widely utilized and handsomely compensated.