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“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” — Lawrence Peter  “Yogi” Berra.

I can’t say I’m a HUGE baseball fan, but I was saddened to read this morning of the death of Yogi Berra at the age of 90 at his home in New Jersey. Even those of us who don’t know how many times Yogi won the Most Valuable Player Award (3) or how many World Series he played in (14) still feel a connection with Yogi.

The Hall of Fame catcher from Saint Louis gave us such pearls of wisdom as “You ought to go to people’s funerals or they won’t come to yours;” “Nobody goes to that place anymore–it’s too crowded;” “It’s deja vu all over again;” “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,”  and more.

Sports lawyer and professor Michael McCann notes that Yogi and his sayings have appeared in at least 124 decisions by federal judges.  I would assume that state court judges also cite Yogi so it is clear that the catcher with 10 World Series rings left an impact on the legal landscape.  Not bad for a guy who once said “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

As I think about it this morning, what lessons can I learn from Yogi?  Even though he enjoyed a career few (if any) catchers have equaled, Yogi insisted “in baseball, you don’t know nothing.”  So it is in the law.  Every day I come to the office looking to learn something new.

But the practice of law, like many professions and jobs, often calls upon us to make difficult choices and give our clients advice they’d rather not hear.  In times like those, what do we do?  Perhaps Yogi said it best: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

R.I.P. Yogi.

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