Debra Anthony (1979-1980)

Estate planning practice, Chicagoland area

I am surprised to hear that Shirley ever took a nap. I think she was 45 years old when I worked with her in 1979. She slept only 3 hours a night. We worked long hours, sometimes past midnight, and before there were computers. My mother took my two-year-old son for two months so that I could finish the cases by the end of the session. 

Shirley said be consistent in using a word in a decision and don’t try to be creative like in an English class. 

We kept one law student away from a case until we thought we were near final draft (10th draft) and then asked that student to read the draft decision. The student could point out that we defined a word on page 5 that we already used on page 1. That’s because we had moved things around so many times and we knew the meaning of the word by then. 

Shirley could start handwriting portions of a decision while reading a prior case. We had a hard time reading her handwriting.  

The goldfish Tootsie in the little glass bowl was on her desk. When I sat across the desk from her and we were thinking hard about a case, I found it helpful to let my mind follow Tootsie as she swam. Shirley used the story of Tootsie in her presentations around the state when dividing the audience into three sections, the trial court, the intermediate appeal court, and the state Supreme Court.

The story was that people lived in an apartment that had a rule “no pets,” and the question was could they have a goldfish.

Shirley tried to make up a case that would never occur to demonstrate how the three levels of courts work, and that you might not agree with the highest level, but it can be the last answer. 

A stuffed "Tootsie the Goldfish"