Oral History of Karl Rubinstein

Dublin Core

Title

Oral History of Karl Rubinstein

Subject

Oral History of Karl Rubinstein

Description

Oral History of Karl Rubinstein

Creator

St. Mary's University School of Law

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Date

2015

Contributor

Karl Rubinstein

Rights

Copyright to Karl Rubinstein

Format

.mpeg

Language

English, en-US

Type

Oral History

Identifier

VIDEO_TS.VOB

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Marshall Walters

Interviewee

Karl Rubinstein

Location

Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, St. Mary's University School of Law

Transcription

KARL RUBINSTEIN ORAL HISTORY

Marshall Walters: Okay, we are here today with Mr. Karl Rubinstein. Mr. Rubinstein, we just have a few questions here we’re going to ask. First question: what made you want to be a lawyer, as far as drawing you to the law itself?

Karl Rubinstein: Well, in a way, my eyes made me want to be a lawyer. I was a service brat, and I grew up in the Air Force as a dependent. I wanted to be a pilot and joined the Cadet Corps at Texas A&M and expected to be a pilot, but I flunked an eye physical.

I was on the debate team at A&M, and most of the other people on the debate team were interested in law school. So one day I was walking through the Memorial Student Center, and there was a sign up on the wall, “LSAT, such and such date,” and I thought, “Why not?” So I got the study book, took the LSAT, got a really high grade, and thought, “Well, I’ll go to law school,” so the rest is history.

MW: Okay. As far as St. Mary’s, was there a reason you chose St. Mary’s, the San Antonio area?

KR: Well, actually, there was a little story behind that: I was commissioned when I graduated from A&M as a second Lieutenant in the Air Force; I graduated in January and I had applied to, and was admitted to, the law school at the University of Texas, which was the only school I applied to, and sent off to the Air Force a request for an extension from going on active duty until I went to law school.

And to my surprise they turned me down. Texas wouldn’t let you start in January—I could only start in the summer session—and they said, “Either you get in law school or you get on active duty.”

Well, at the time, St. Mary’s allowed you to start in January, so I applied here. Actually, my mother-in-law, who lived in San Antonio, came by and got the admissions papers, mailed them to me; I filled them out, sent them to her, and she walked them through. And I was admitted to St. Mary’s, so it was karma.

MW: The stars aligned to make that work. How was your law school experience here at St. Mary’s?

KR: I liked it very much. I was exceedingly worried, when I started law school, about how hard it was going to be and whether I could hack it. I studied very, very hard and, as it turned out, I got very high grades. The result of that was, the next semester, I got a half tuition scholarship—the next semester being a summer session—and then after that, I got a full tuition scholarship.

So from a financial standpoint, it was very rewarding, but also, I thought that the education I got was really the nuts and bolts of the law, and I developed a real—I was already interested in debate, because I was on the high school debate team and the collegiate debate team at A&M, and I spent my childhood arguing with my brother and I found that law was just right up my alley, and I really liked it. It clicked, and I felt like this is where I was supposed to be.

MW: In your experience in law school, were there any professors that influenced you, more so than others—that stood out?

KR: Sure. Well, one was Dean Raba, and I see the building is named after him now. And well deserved; he was a wonderful person, a wonderful Dean. Among other things, I was the Student Bar President one year, and I’d been arguing—not arguing, but urging him—to start a law review. Ultimately, he agreed, so in that way, I’m the father or the midwife of the Law Review here.

I had constitutional law under Dean Raba, and a lot of my cases, later on in my practice, involved con law, and from him, I learned what constitutional law meant, and I got a deep sense and understanding of constitutional law.

Another outstanding professor was Mr. Castleberry, who became the Dean after Dean Raba, and I had him for Oil & Gas. It was known as a very tough course, and I remember him clearly saying at the first day of class, he used the phrase, basically, “This is a hard course,” and he literally said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” and, well, I booked the course. And I really learned a lot about oil and gas, which of course, is pretty obvious from the fact that I booked the course.

The other prof that stands out in my memory is Dr. Yao, who taught me contracts, and he also taught me something else, which was: read the advanced sheets, because he always told us, “Read the advance sheets.” Well, on the exam at the end of the semester, there was a question, and I answered it according to the law, and he marked it wrong. I got a decent grade, but he marked the question wrong and I thought, “Well what’s going on here?”

So I took the case, and I went in there to see Dr. Yao, and he said , “Oh, you don’t read the cases; you don’t read the advance sheet!” And he handed the advance sheet to me, and the case that I was relying on had been reversed, you know, twenty minutes earlier, basically. You better believe that, for the rest of the time I practiced law, I read the advance sheets. I’d say there are others, but those are the ones that I would say stood out.

MW: Getting back to starting the Law Review at St. Mary’s, what made you feel that St. Mary’s needed a law review at that time? Obviously, we didn’t have one, and what obstacles did you see in starting the Law Review?

KR: Well, at A&M, for a time, I was a journalism major, but I switched to English because I didn’t find the journalism curriculum leading to where I wanted to go, and I was Editor-in-Chief for the Barristers News, which was then, you know, the student publication, which did law articles from time to time.

A lot of us were interested in starting the Law Review, and when I was first selected as Editor of the Barristers News, I went to Dean Raba and I said, “Hey.” I didn’t say, “Hey;” (Laughs.) I said, “Hi, Mr. Raba, sir. I think it might be a good idea to have a law review.” He said, “I just don’t think the students would stick to it. I don’t think they’d be there. I don’t think the school’s ready for it. Someday we’ll be ready.”

Well, about a year later or whenever it was, I was Student Bar President. I can’t remember it clearly, but I called a meeting with the student body, as I recall, and set the issue up and said, “Are we for it?” Gig’em. I’m a Texas Aggie, by the way.

Then I went in, and I said, “Dean, everybody’s ready for it,” and he just looked at me and said, “Fine,” and it started. Unfortunately, I graduated. The first issue came out, I guess about the time I was a U.S. Air Force JAG Officer at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

MW: We talked about your professors. Which courses that you took here at St. Mary’s were your favorites?

KR: Well, quite a few. In JAG, I tried a lot of cases, and when I got out of the Air Force, I was a civil trial lawyer. Later on, I was board certified as a trial specialist. That’s kind of a flash forward, but what it leads me back to is evidence. I really liked the evidence course because, on several levels, it’s interesting.

The rules of evidence are interesting because after your first year of law school, you come to understand the underlying law is a fundamental philosophy, and—other than tax law, which has no philosophy whatsoever—the meat and potatoes law courses all hang together. They all have sort of a matrix that fits together.

And the rules of evidence, as well as the rules of civil procedure, for those seeking justice in our courts, set the framework for how you achieve justice. And if you don’t know those rules, you really won’t be able to properly support your client. It doesn’t matter—to be cynical for a moment— doesn’t matter what the truth is. What matters is what is the admissible and admitted evidence, because that is what the decisions of the courts are based on. So if you know the truth, then you need to understand how to present that truth in a way that the rules of admitting evidence allow.

So I felt that course, and almost every other course I took, were courses that were teaching me how to be a lawyer. In other words, how to do it—how to go out there and be it. It wasn’t a social experiment; we weren’t going out there to argue on street corners about what’s right and what’s wrong.

Of course, in those days, you know, the Vietnam War was going on. There was a lot of right and wrong to that, but I was already in the military, or going, so I had nothing to argue about—I’d already made a commitment.

But when I was in the service, I met people from other law schools who really hadn’t learned the fundamentals of practice. They were more in the “pie in the sky” philosophical thing. There’s nothing wrong with philosophy if you’re a philosophy major, but if you want to be a lawyer, or if you want to be a carpenter, you know, you want somebody to teach you the fundamentals. That’s what I valued about St. Mary’s.

To digress just a moment, I had reason to look for something relating to my military service, actually looking for a certain document, and I happened to run across my Officer Efficiency Reports, which you get every certain period. Mine were all, I would say, very good, but one of the things I noticed in reading them was, at least three times—and these are all different reviewers, different Colonels that were reviewing me—three different times, they mentioned what a well-educated young lawyer I was. I think that’s a tribute to St. Mary’s Law School.

MW: You mentioned the Military JAG service. Then you become a civil litigator after your military service; thank you for your service, by the way. Was there another type of law—whenever you actually started law school—that you thought you may be going into, versus what you ended up doing?

KR: No, I didn’t. I didn’t focus on a major. As far as I know, that wasn’t a thing, a major—you were going to be a major in litigation or a major in this or a major in that. You were going to learn the law, and then you were going to go out and get a job as a lawyer and do the lawyerly things that that job required.

But my experience in moot court—I won my moot court competition year—and my partner, Ronnie Sutton, and I won best brief that year in the State Moot Court Competition, and we were finalists in the final round before the real Supreme Court of Texas, where we ended up in second place. Unfortunately, we had the side of the argument the Supreme Court didn’t like, but I liked that experience.

And in JAG, you do a lot of things, but one of the things you do is you have to be certified, but it’s not a rigorous thing, to be certified as trial counsel and defense counsel—trial counsel being prosecutor. Then, eventually, you might be made a military judge, which I was some years later.

Therefore, every JAG is expected to try cases, and in the Air Force, there was no plea-bargaining. So, if you got a case, you tried the case, and that was right up my alley. I liked the experience and therefore, I did the things; I sought to try cases, and I wanted to be assigned cases.

I tried maybe one hundred court-martials or administrative boards and other type of things, mostly court-martials and administrative discharge boards, but some other things, like flying evaluation boards and other things.

I decided to leave the Air Force because I felt that I was about to be promoted to Major, and the higher you get promoted, the less trial work you do. And I had also become disenchanted with the military because they extended all of our tours. I was overseas in Japan, supposedly for, originally, forty months; I ended up over there forty-nine months because they extended all the tours for everybody overseas, ex post facto.

And just the hold the military had on me I didn’t really like, and I wanted to go out and find my own way and pick my own place to live and make my own career, which is why I didn’t stay in the reserves either, because a lot of the people in the Air Force, during Vietnam, had been called back in after they had gotten out and started a civilian practice.

So when I interviewed for jobs, they were all interviews seeking a position as a litigator. I subscribed to the Texas Bar Journal, and it would come in. I’d get it over in Japan, and I’d look for lawyers wanted ads.

I answered one for a business law firm in Dallas; I got a letter back saying, “If you’re ever in the neighborhood, we’d like to interview you.” So I hitchhiked on space available on military air transport to Dallas for an interview at a firm called Stalcup, Johnson, Myers & Miller with, I forget now, fifty lawyers; a business law firm in Dallas, and I was hired as a litigation associate.

MW: As far as starting your early career in JAG versus a student coming out as a civilian, what advantages, as far as going into JAG, versus a student just coming out and going into private practice or the DA’s office, do you see?

KR: Well, by then, I was a five-year lawyer and had a lot—probably a hundred trials, give or take ten, and probably more. In fact, I had an interview at the DA’s office here in San Antone, and basically, they said, “We might hire you, but you’d have to be a misdemeanor prosecutor,” and I said, “Okay, well how long?” And basically, the answer was until one of the felony prosecutors retired or died or quit, and I said something about that, and then, of course, neither one of us wanted each other.

I wanted a place – I’d been five years, in some ways, behind my contemporaries, but in other ways ahead of my contemporaries: I was behind in terms of the track within a firm, but, on the other hand, I was far ahead of most associates that go into the bigger firms, especially in terms of actual trial practice.

I tried my first case—my first trial was here as a lawyer for Bexar County Legal Aid. The week before I was actually licensed, one of the judges here in Bexar County said, “Well, you guys have passed the bar, you can go out and start trying cases.” So the first case I tried was a child custody case, which I lost because the mother’s whereabouts, as explained to me and as testified to by her, turned out to be a lie.

So anyway, I think that because of all the trial experience that I had—I know because of the trial experience I had—that I certainly hit the ground running, and I was made a partner three years after I started at that law firm.

MW: As far as your career, do you have any specific, defining moments within your military, private, civil litigation career?

KR: Defining?

MW: Yes. Anything that stands out as a high point?

KR: Well, first of all, I ran through every open door. Every opportunity I had to get ahead in the practice of law, I took that opportunity, because my mom said, “Opportunity knocks but once,” and I hear you knocking, and I went for it.

I had some spectacular results in cases in the military and court-martials, and telling those stories would take more time than you’ve got. In civilian practice, most of what I started out doing was real estate-related because the law firm represented a national real estate developer as well as other clients. But they also gave me, whenever a little criminal thing would come up, they’d give it to me because I was the only person in the firm that had any such experience.

But there came a time when I began to represent the liquidator for the Texas Department of Insurance. The liquidator is somebody that, when an insurance company basically becomes insolvent, the State takes it over, and the liquidator is appointed—all the property, all the rights of the insurance companies, pre-receivership become vested in the liquidator.

I was hired on a fairly complex case involving related bankruptcies and companies in California and here in Texas, and I was successful in that endeavor. Then, in 1983, the Baldwin Insurance Companies, of which they were six of the Baldwin United Company—used to be the piano company, Baldwin Pianos—but it had turned into a very big holding company and it owned six insurance companies, three in Arkansas, three up in Indiana.

The Arkansas Insurance Commissioner was looking for lead counsel, and the Texas Liquidator recommended me. He told me that the reason he recommended me was I was the only one he knew that was the right combination of lover and killer for that case, which I took as a compliment. So, I went up and was retained in that case, which was then the largest insolvency in U.S. history up that date. We had holding companies, and we had associated bankruptcies, and we had billions of dollars; it was a ten-billion-dollar insolvency, as I recall.

I did well in that, and then I was retained—I went out to California on behalf of the Texas Property and Casualty Guaranty Association, attended a meeting with the California Insurance Commissioner relative to what was then the biggest insurance insolvency in U.S. history: Mission Insurance Companies. That was in L.A., and then next day or two, the California Insurance Commissioner called me and asked me if I would represent her.

Now by then, I had taken the California bar and passed, so I was admitted in both Texas and California, and the reason I took the California bar in ’83 was because of my real estate clients—they had a big operation in California. I was out there a lot, and the judges got tired of me being admitted pro hac vice.

In fact, in one case, the judge refused to admit me. He said, “How many times have you been out here Mr. Rubinstein?” and I said, “Well, a few. Quite a few, Judge.” And he said, “Nope. You’re not going to be admitted, so local counsel is going to have to do it.”

So we ended up in this little charade where he would ask a question; I would answer it to local counsel in a voice loud enough for the judge to hear me. The judge would then ask the local counsel another question. I would hear it; I would answer it to local counsel, and the judge would hear me. But I took the bar. So I was admitted to the bar, and I got retained in that large insolvency.

To cut to the chase, the next Insurance Commissioner, some years later, came in, and hired me as lead counsel in what was then the largest insurance insolvency in U.S. history. So by then, I was nationally known for that type of work. Now, that kind of work involves a lot of things. You’ve got to understand how money works. You’ve got to understand how to restructure companies. You’ve got to understand bankruptcy law.

It’s very, very complicated, but I had—inevitably, since I had started in 1976 here in Texas with insurance insolvency, by the time we get to 1983, which was Arkansas, I’m pretty much up on it. Well, by the time we get to the next one, which was in ’86, I’m really up on it.

That’s kind of a summary of that, but what I want to get to is the key thing that I learned in those cases. When you’ve got a big case with hundreds of thousands of interested parties—big policyholders, banks, all the big investment bankers were involved, actual banks—all the states’ policyholders in all fifty states were involved, and American Samoa and other places, and so with all of those constituents, it’s impossible to make everybody happy because every time you structure something, it cuts one way for one group and it cuts another way for another group.

I’d get phone calls at the hotel. I’d get phone calls at 1:00 in the morning, people yelling at me – this and that. Of course, bear in mind, I had gone to Texas A&M, I was in the Cadet Corps, the first year of which people stand you up against a wall and yell at you, so the fact that people were calling me up and yelling at me didn’t really bother me except that I lost sleep over it.

But what I learned was that when you have a situation like that, you have to treat every case as if it’s the last case you’re ever going to get. You can’t cozy up to anybody on the theory that, after this case is over, they’re going to like you so much that they’re going to hire you on something else. You can’t be looking over that horizon. You’ve got to just look at what you’ve got, and you’ve got to call it the way you see it, and you’ve got to do the best that you can and just assume that once that case is over, nobody’s going to care about you.

Well, that’s not how it worked out. When these cases were over, people did care about me, and I went on to handle other things. By the way, somewhere in this time, I had left the Stalcup firm and started a firm with five other guys, which grew from six lawyers to ninety. Then in ’87, I left and started Rubinstein and Perry, of which I was a senior partner, and we grew to fifty or fifty-five lawyers, even though we were trying not to get too big.

These cases—that’s not the only thing we did. We had other kinds of business lawyers and other law work that we did, but I was able, because of these cases, and because the expertise gained and because of the reputation that we achieved by keeping our eye on the ball, you know, we kept getting hired and stayed in business until I decided to retire, which I eventually did.

Now, one thing, towards the end —before I retired, I always wanted to be the liquidator. In other words, be put in charge of the company and not lawyer the case, and so in 1989—no, 1996—yet another California Insurance Commissioner—they’re elected—hired me and appointed me as the Chief Deputy Conservator and the CEO of a company—we had like one thousand employees, a billion dollars in assets—which in those days, wasn’t a huge company, but it was a big deal. I ran that company while I developed a turn-around plan. We packaged the company and sold it to Liberty Mutual, who, after we restructured the assets and liabilities, took over the company, saved all the jobs, and that phoenix rose from the ashes and is still there in operation in San Diego; this is in California.

MW: That’s great. As far as throughout your career—early law school, military, through your insurance dealings—did you have any mentors that stood out to you?

KR: Well, yes and no. The profs I mentioned were mentors in their way. Jim Castleberry—I went to him about an issue I had about where I wanted to work when I was clerking, and he gave me some good advice. I think Ernest, Dean Raba, mentored me in his way. When I was in the Air Force, my first assignment was to headquarters, 8th Air Force. I didn’t get much mentoring there, but then, when I was sent to Japan, the Staff Judge Advocate over me mentored me in a way.

But really, the way my career went, I was pretty early “the guy,” the lead guy, you know. I was the Chief Counsel in these cases for the Texas Liquidator and the cases I was handling for the real estate developer, I was lead counsel, other than very, very early So, I didn’t really do second chair. I did some, but almost none.

And so, in a way, I didn’t have a mentor; I was my own. I found my own way, but I found my own way because of, I would say, the leadership training I got at A&M and in the Air Force and the treatment I got from the professors here—the opportunity this law school gave me, too.

I had intended to go on to University of Texas Law School. I just started here because the Air Force wouldn’t let me go to law school unless I got into school here, but once I was here, I wanted to stay here. You know, I was mentored by my environment and my opportunities, I guess, found my own way, in a way. I’m not saying there was nobody, literally.

MW: Thinking back to St. Mary’s, were there any times at St. Mary’s that you remember fondly while you were here?

KR: Sure. I remember the whole time fondly. I had some good buddies here. We all worked really hard, and we were all competing. I was on the Dean’s List every semester here, and a couple of my buddies were on the Dean’s List every semester. I’d get mad at them if they made a higher grade than I did, and they’d get mad at me if I made a higher grade than they did, stuff like that, but it was all joking.

I was just thinking about this place we called Fred’s Bar. We’d meet after – oh, by the way, I went to all three campuses. My class—class of ’68—is the only class of St. Mary’s Law School that attended all three campuses. I started at the downtown law school on College Street, where on Saturday morning going to a class, you might see a bat hanging upside down in the window. It was an interesting building. I loved it.

In fact, whenever I’m in San Antonio—well, not now because I have kids living here—but I’d always stay at La Mansion Hotel because it’s the old law school. And then we were at the Maverick Clark building, and then we were out here when this campus was first built, and so I was at all three campuses. Forget Fred’s Bar, but anyway, we’d go to different places.

Well, here’s the story of Fred’s Bar: it wasn’t really named “Fred’s Bar.” We just called it Fred’s Bar because Fred told us about it. We were all married, and so one night, he called home…no, I don’t even think he called home. Anyway, we all went to Fred’s Bar, and his wife’s looking for him, and she’s heard it referred to as Fred’s Bar. She’s looking through the phonebook looking for Fred’s Bar, and there’s no Fred’s Bar. So, Fred gets home, and she gets on Fred because there’s no such thing as Fred’s Bar. So that was fun in a weird, sort of comedic way.

When I ran for Student Bar President, it was fun. I made these posters. I got a poster made—it was me, a drawing of me in a robe with a stove pipe hat, saying, “Vote for Honest Rube,” and the robe’s open, and I’ve got a tattoo on my chest of Justice holding the scales with one side of the blindfold lifted and me looking out. And I remember Dean Raba walking by and laughing at that, so that was fun.

All of it was fun. It was pretty hard work. Several of us played basketball to work out, and we had a lot of fun doing that. It wasn’t like undergraduate school, as you guys know. Of course, at A&M, we didn’t even have women when I was going there, so we didn’t have frat parties.

MW: As far as the legal profession itself, how do you feel it’s changed since you came out of law school?

KR: Well, I don’t really know in some ways because I retired in 2000. But then I was retained—I was asked to handle a case up in Ohio, where the Ohio Insurance Commissioner appointed me as the conservator and CEO of a company up there. That kept me working another, more or less, five years.

Then I had occasion to consult on a few things, up to within three years or four years of now, but my actual emersion—day-to-day emersion in lawyering—sort of diminished once I retired, and I was working on specialized cases. But I would say, from my standpoint, the technology, of course, is worlds apart.

When I started, we were still using carbon paper, as I mentioned before we started taping. And Xerox machines were the cat’s PJs. When I started my own firm, we had a mag card machine that used magnetic cards to type. We did real estate, and I did litigation, but other guys did real estate deals, so we had this mag machine. Well, we spent ten thousand dollars on a mag machine, which was huge for guys to just start their own firm; that was a lot of money.

I remember there was a tornado coming into Dallas, and everybody had to evacuate, and we didn’t literally do this, but the partners didn’t leave the floor, and we wanted to go in and lay on top of the mag card machine so it wouldn’t be damaged. (Laughs.) We’d rather lose a few partners than lose that machine.

By the way, I became very interested in technology, and I made my firm a high-tech firm. One of the reasons why I started Rubinstein and Perry is the rest of the first firm wasn’t as interested as getting cutting edge as I was. I got computers early; I actually changed a PC junior into a PC—bought the kit, put it together. I learned a lot; using floppies and hard drives, I learned a lot about computers and technology. So as that technology progressed, we progressed with it.

Well, since 2000, the courtroom technology now is Star Trek to us, in just those few years. I’ve been back as a consultant and as an expert witness in federal court, and I’m sitting at the witness chair, and there’s a screen here, and there’s a screen there, and everyone’s got a screen. And they’re putting up documents, and they’ve got excerpts from my videotape depos, and one side making me look as bad as they can and the other side making me look as good as they could, so I would say technology is the biggest difference.

I’m looking forward, at one of my visits up here, to get a demo of the courtroom and all of those things. My daughter and son-in-law and grandson have recently moved to San Antone from Houston. I live in Corpus Christi, so now instead of going to Houston to see them, I come here. I want to make use of the library for something I want to write, but also, I’m very interested in seeing the courtroom and the modern technology.

That said, you know, like the song said, “A kiss is still a kiss, as time goes by. It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory,” especially when you’re talking to the jury. You can have all the fancy machines and all the other stuff, but it still comes down to the judge, and you, and the jury—and your case, and the rules of evidence, and the pursuit of justice that, I hope, is still the same. And that’s what it’s all about.

MW: You mentioned earlier treating every case as your last; what advice added on to that would you give to a current law student or a student that may have just graduated?

KR: Well, first of all, if you’re just graduating and you’re looking for a job, make sure you understand what it is that your job’s going to be, and make sure that it’s something that you will intellectually and emotionally be able to embrace.

Certain people just don’t want to be trial lawyers, for example. Certain people don’t want to do personal injury work. For instance, I’ve done very little, if any, of that. Some people want to do worker’s comp. Some people want to do social justice. Just make sure that what it is that you’re getting into is something that you think you’ll be able to embrace.

The other thing is, in your first job, you’re better off, in my opinion, taking a lower paid job that puts you in the trenches than a higher paid job that keeps you as fifth chair, sixth chair, until you’ve got a gray beard like I do. The thing that JAG did for me was I was in the trenches trying cases; I wasn’t second-chairing anybody. Well, every now and then, we’d trade off in big cases, but I was lead counsel from very early on.

The other thing is that trial preparation is everything. I recently found a memo that I had written about trial preparation. It’s dated June of 1979 to the associates—litigations associates in Rubinstein and Perry—which talked about how to prepare for trial. It would take quite a bit of time to explain how to prepare for trial, but know the rules of procedure, for example; know the rules of evidence. Don’t forget to read the advance sheets, and plan what you’re going to do—plan your trial and try your plan, but still be fast on your feet.

Now, in other areas, it’s the same thing. I’ve documented quite a few deals, written contracts, and things like that myself. I wasn’t just litigating. And pay attention to the details. Think about what it is—you read a contract, you read a document, and when the document is one hundred pages long or fifty pages long, or say it’s legislation that’s two thousand pages long—there’s nothing in that document that somebody didn’t put there for a reason.

You must read everything in that document and understand the reason it’s there, and what its import and implications are, and what its effects can be—what its effects can be—because what can be may well be in the future. So, make sure you understand all aspects of the documents that you’re dealing with, all aspects of the evidence that you’re dealing with, and learn the tools of your trade.

And, you know, it’s silly to say, “Treat every single case as if it were your last case.” I’m just talking about these big, national cases, where there’s a lot of interest, being interviewed by the press and being on TV and this and that—but at the same time, treat every case and every client and every job you do with the respect that it’s entitled to, and bear in mind that lawyers have a long history of service to justice and service to their clients and service to the community, and a standard that we ought to all strive to live up to.

MW: On behalf of St. Mary’s, I’d like to thank you for being here today. We appreciate your time.

KR: Sure. Thanks for having me.

Original Format

Video

Files

Citation

St. Mary's University School of Law, “Oral History of Karl Rubinstein,” St. Mary's Law Digital Repository, accessed February 22, 2017, http://lawspace.stmarytx.edu/item/VIDEO_TS.VOB.