I have known John Pappas since 1980. We were classmates in law school. I think I helped get him the job at the 100-plus person insurance defense law firm that now bears his name. Because we have been bitter adversaries on a number of cases, most people find it surprising that he was the best man at my marriage.
In Butler Pappas–A Familiar Foe, I wrote:
John Pappas and I were not only classmates, but also on the Law Review and Moot Court in law school. He was a hardworking student and a very competitive debater. When Paul Butler indicated that they needed to hire more attorneys because of the firm’s growth, I recommended John. I felt he would be a perfect fit for the type of practice Paul Butler was establishing. I have been proven right about that.
John Pappas is as dedicated to the insurance industry as I am to the advocacy of policyholders. It is not uncommon for tough feelings and bitter disagreements to come about between lawyers on opposite sides of a case where the stakes are high. Possibly as a result of competitiveness for our clients, John and I have not seen much of each other socially for a long time. However, while many who meet John may think he has a serious and unrelenting personality, he personally has a light sense of humor. I would encourage reading his From Beautiful Brazilians to Bear-Catchers to gain a glimpse of Pappas’ humor.
John Pappas’ ability to use humor to make a point, as sarcastic as it might be, was demonstrated in a recent Mealey’s article, Preparation For Deposition, 23-2 Mealey’s Litig. Rep. Ins. Bad Faith 15 (2009), where Pappas seriously noted:
The deposition of the designated corporate representative of the insurance
company defendant is, often, the tipping point of the case.
Preparation is paramount to success. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. The
designated representative usually is a company executive with many
responsibilities and pressures. But there is no substitute for time and effort.
There is no other way. Here is a case in point.
The humorous part included the following exchange:
"Ready for your some cross-examination by an obnoxious Plaintiff’s attorney?"
"Yeah. Sure. Go ahead."
"Okay. State your name, sir."
"Kirk T. James."
"Who is your employer?"
"Who is my employer?"
"Ah, ah, XYZ Insurance Company?"
"Do you receive a W-2 form for tax purposes naming XYZ Insurance Company as
"I think so. I’m not sure."
"Does the W-2 form identify XYZ Insurance Company as your employer?"
"Well, you know. Now that you ask, I can’t tell you technically who is my
actually employer – John."
"Okay, Kirk, lets stop role-playing for a moment. Before the deposition
begins on Thursday you need to find out the full name of your actual employer."
"Now lets continue with the role playing."
"Why did XYZ deny the claim?"
"Why did XYZ deny the claim?"
"Yes, sir. Why did XYZ deny the claim?"
"Because there’s no coverage."
"Any other reason?"
"Why was there no coverage?"
"John, here is where I need to get more prepared."
"Yep, okay, Kirk. I’ll leave you alone. Do you want to get together for
"John, if it’s alright with you, I would rather relax at the hotel and try to
read more of these transcripts."
Reading what one’s opponents are teaching and doing is an extraordinarily effective method of learning. When humorous as John can be when he wants, the learning can also be fun.