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Susan Estrich
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Saturday Night with Bea


"They made me feel so small."

Bea does my nails. I found her because she works seven days a week until 8 at night.

She sits at the front table, which in the world of Vietnamese nail salons means the money is in her drawer, and she's the one who makes sure everyone gets their fair share of business.

Until last Saturday night, though, I didn't know she owned the place.

I came running in way after 7, my nails black from cleaning my suede shoes for a trip the next morning to New York without wearing gloves. Dumb as a doorknob.

When I walked in, near closing, black nails, Saturday night, Bea looked at me like I was God's gift. I tip well — but not that well.

She was almost done, and the place was almost empty except for the other workers, who had gathered around me, no doubt because the message had been spread in Vietnamese: Look who's here, what luck. You're a lawyer, Bea said. She knows I'm a lawyer. What kind of lawyer? I represent big companies in the biggest fights they have: when the farm is on fire.

Can I ask you just one question, she said, just a small question.

My father was what we call a solo (a sole practitioner) in Lynn, Mass. He never made a dime. On the day he had the heart attack that killed him, 35 years ago, he was walking back from the courthouse where he successfully had helped grandparents keep their beloved grandchild from being taken to foster care. No retainer. No fee.

I don't do those cases, except when I do. I worked from the time I was 14, worked my way through college, bartended my way through law school. The big cases are paying my kids' tuitions. The little cases are my way of honoring my father. I can help a person like Bea feel a little bit bigger. I write a letter. Make a call. Give them a voice, mine. Win or lose, it's about dignity. Right now, I have my hairdresser and my secretary.

And Bea.

A fancy white lady walked in with a little dog hidden in a carrier. No dogs allowed in the manicure shop.

OK, there are three Estrich dogs.

If I could, they'd be sitting next to me on this plane. So fine.

Except the woman didn't keep the dog in the carrier. She let the dog out, and the dog bit a pregnant manicurist. And the woman who was bit screamed, and Bea jumped up, and the customer started huffing out of the salon, claiming she had no ID and had to leave right then, and Bea took hold of the dog's leash and called the police.

The right thing to do? Of course.

Except when the police came, they treated Bea like the criminal. The customer said Bea had pushed and shoved her. Hit her. The police told Bea that she was subject to arrest, that they could handcuff her and take her to the police station and lock her up. Bea said, "But I have witnesses." The police officer (yes, the white police officer) walked over to the next station, to a woman who speaks broken English, and started battering her with questions. She got flustered. She couldn't answer. As she told me later, the officer announced that if your witnesses can't speak English, they don't count.

At that point, some of the customers stood up. They offered their names and their testimony. The police officers went back to focusing on the woman whose dog had bitten the pregnant woman. Eventually, the customer left, the pregnant woman went to the hospital, and Bea sat there shaking for the next six hours until I got there, when she finally broke down.

In every city and town, there are police officers who respect the dignity of every citizen, who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. And then there are the ones who make hardworking Americans feel like powerless criminals, turn them from people striving for the American dream into people who are small and scared.

Shame. Shame.

Everybody hates lawyers until they need one. We don't just fight for the big guys. We stand between the Beas of the world and the people who, without us, would abuse their power with impunity. We do our best to make the rule of law mean something. We are the priests in the temple of our civic religion. In the rush to find jobs and pay debts, I try to remind my students of this. And myself.

What do I do if the police come after me, Bea asked, still shaking. I gave her my card. Tell them to call your lawyer.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



10 Comments | Post Comment
And then some lawyers [notably Estrich] defend Islamic jihadists and argue jihad is a First Amendment right. Estrich along with Harvey A Silvergate in the US District Court in Worcester in 2005 defended a terrorist Islamic charity charged with conspiracy to defraud, aiding and abetting a scheme to conceal material facts from the IRS saying that Jihad is a religious right. Add to that Holder's support for jihadists and the boy barack's policy of seting them free. Yes some lawyers deserve to be hated.
Comment: #1
Posted by: joseph wright
Tue May 8, 2012 3:28 PM
I am pleased she had someone like you to appeal to. It is sad that she needed you.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Motley Wisdom
Wed May 9, 2012 5:49 AM

I know of very few Liberals I respect or Like and Susan is no exception - - not because of their desired goals, but for the way they wish to achieve such goals.

That said, with regard to issues like Bea's, assuming her story is true (Liberals like to lie about such things), I am behind Susan 100% and would help in any way I could.

Comment: #3
Posted by: SusansMirror
Wed May 9, 2012 7:08 AM
Re: joseph wright This is America--still. Everyone has a right to trial and an attornney. Even those you do not like. Once your teabag party and rovians take over, then you can dictate your whims on the rest of us. Until then, we Americans are proud that even jihadists are represented in court.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Akla
Wed May 9, 2012 7:35 AM
If the police officer were black or asian would there be a story here? Those white police officers are mean, aren't they?
Comment: #5
Posted by: Early
Wed May 9, 2012 8:11 AM
Re: Akla
Read the post carefully dimwit, it is not the fact of representation that was questioned nor even the right to such representation. What was questioned was the nature of that representation. Estrich's argument as delivered in court was that islamist jihad was a religious matter and therefore constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.
Had she had her way and prevailed in that, then the raising of money for jihad against America would be a constitutionally protected activity. Got that dummy? It speaks to her character and the character of liberals like her. Free speach and freedom of religion is to be attacked at all times except when it acts to the detriment of America. Only then it is to be supported.

On reflection you probably did get it and probably support the agrument. That you and your likeminded liberal retards would welcome jihad on America is no surporise. Your leaders in hatred of America, to wit, boy barack and the ally of terror eric " fast and furious" holder demonstrate that to be so every day.
Comment: #6
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 AM
Is she an illegal alien - Oh I mean is she and undocumented worker..
Comment: #7
Posted by: Paul
Wed May 9, 2012 3:53 PM
@joseph wright

I read all of the comments here in detail. What I found when reading yours is a person full of hate and self righteousness.
You use insults against other posters who write something that contradicts your opinion, calling them "dimwit" and "dummy". No one on here so far has responded to your comment in the same mannor.
You actually refered to the President of the United States of America as "boy".
I am all about personal freedoms, including freedom of speech. I served in the Army because I felt a call to protect the freedoms of all American citizens.
Pity it turns out that most of that protection is from people like you.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Michelle Keane
Wed May 9, 2012 9:42 PM
Re: Michelle Keane
It's not hatred. It's disappointment that there are so many stupid people in our nation! And that's not to say JW is more intelligent, he simply has more common sense.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Early
Thu May 10, 2012 4:54 AM
It's interesting that Ms. Estrich states that, "Everybody hates lawyers until they need one."
I hate quite a lot of lawyers and the issues that go with them. I hate the lawyers that overcharged our HOA, and then, after admitting that they had overcharged, tried to charge us for the time they spent arguing that the charge was valid. I hate the lawyers that supported attacking every aspect of healthcare except the single largest impediment to reasonable health costs, medical lawsuits. I hate the lawyers that control congress and continue to create such complexity in laws that even lawyers can't keep track of all the laws even in their own specialties.
I thought about that when signing the papers on our home refinancing the other evening when I realized that the representative present at our home was a lawyer.
I don't agree with the sentiment that it's the 99% of lawyers that give a bad name to good lawyers. I think it's more like 80%, with 20% of lawyers hvaing a positive impact on our society.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Corey
Thu May 10, 2012 6:26 AM
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