Saturday, August 11, 2007

Frank Haddad: The Man to See

Frank Haddad: The Man to See

Frank, who was definitely "the man to see" for people in trouble, will be profiled in my upcoming book.

"Send Lawyers, Guns and Money, and get me out of this"
-Warren Zevon

Some well-funded Washington lobbyists are airing a media attack on trial lawyers.

Many people hate lawyers until they need one. As Thomas Wolfe said in The Bonfires of the Vanities, "A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested."

Trial lawyers deal with people who have big problems. There are some people with troubles that lawyers, guns and money cannot help.

Kentucky's greatest criminal attorney, Frank Haddad Jr., once declined a potential client, saying, "He doesn't need a lawyer; he needs a hacksaw."

There were not many people too hopeless for Frank Haddad. People in serious legal trouble often found their way into Frank's Louisville office.

A biography of Washington trial lawyer Edward Bennett Williams was entitled The Man to See. In Kentucky, the man to see was definitely Frank Haddad.

Frank was a friend of mine, but he had thousands of other friends too. His funeral in 1995 was one of the largest in Kentucky's history. He grew up poor, but when he died he was a multi-millionaire who had never forgotten his roots.

Frank was humble but not afraid of anything. He was quick-witted with a magnetic personality.

He had a great sense of who he was. I once called him on a trivial matter telling him that I needed his help. His immediate response was, "Don, you must really be in trouble if you need my help."

He was even liked by the prosecutors he battled in court. His sense of humor helped his clients. A federal prosecutor told me that once when Frank represented a reputed pornographer, he brought boxes of popcorn and candy for the prosecutor to eat as they watched the movies in evidence. The prosecutor admitted that Frank's funny gesture lightened the tension of the plea negotiations.

Frank had a personality that commanded respect. I frequently had lunch with Gary Hillerich, who practiced law with Frank, and occasionally Frank would join us. Once we wanted to go to a popular restaurant and heard there was an hour wait for a table.

Frank picked up the phone and said, "This is Frank Haddad, and I will be there in five minutes." Five minutes later, we walked in and were immediately taken to a table large enough for 8 people.

When my dad would enter a crowded restaurant, one of my father's friends jokingly would yell, "Someone had better get up, Joe's here."

I told dad that when Frank Haddad wanted a table, someone really did have to get up.

Frank was loyal to his friends both rich and poor. He surrounded himself with a number of talented lawyers, including his brother Robert Haddad. They did more free legal work than anyone I have ever met.

It would not be unusual to see a famous politician or millionaire sitting patiently in the law firm's lobby while the firm was doing pro bono work for a janitor or someone from Frank's old neighborhood.

He had the perfect voice to be a lawyer. It was a booming voice that could both command a courtroom and calm a nervous client. People who call criminal lawyers, or any kind of trial lawyer, are scared and want immediate help. Frank had a voice that gave people confidence in his ability to solve their problems and he usually could.

If Frank could not help them, they probably did need a hacksaw.

The Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys (KATA) gives an award for great lifetime achievements. The award is named for Peter Perlman, the only Kentuckian to be named president of the American Trial Lawyers Association.

At the presentation of the first Perlman award, I was sitting at Frank's table when KATA President Bill Garmer started reading the biography of the man selected as the first honoree.

About halfway through the presentation, Frank realized that Bill was talking about him and began to cry. Frank then got up and accepted the award with the humility, humor and the commanding presence that he always had.

I have always thought that Frank's life story would make a terrific biography. If trial lawyers circulated Frank's compelling life story, it would go a long way in responding to the media's attacks on them.

Frank was a role model that average citizens could admire and other lawyers should emulate.

I have worked with hundreds of lawyers but none quite like Frank.
He was definitely "the man to see."

The following is an incredible profile of Frank Haddad that was written by Bob Hill and published in the Courier-Journal Magazine. I hate that it does not have the wonderful pictures but Bob Hill did a terrific job of capturing Frank's personality.

Courier-Journal Profile of Frank Haddad

Story Behind the Song

Lawyers, Guns and Money

Warren Zevon is one of my most frequently quoted artists and one that has an incredibly hard core following. He was one of the great songwriters of his generation and quite a character.

His ex wife wrote a recent biography of him, I'll Sleep When I Am Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon. Although it is filled with the angst of her being married to a less than model citizen, it is a fascinating glimpse of his life, the people who crossed through it and the music business.

It is worth reading, although I would have preferred a more impartial source. I really do not want my ex-wife to write a biography of me, although we apparently get along a whole lot better than Warren and his ex did.

Warren was an Excitable Boy in the literal sense. I just write about excitable boys; a subtle but distinct difference in our personalities.

The Poll

The following are the results from last week's poll:

Do you buy lottery tickets?

47.1% - Sometimes
35.3% - No
17.6% - Regularly

Would you hold a news conference if you won the Powerball lottery?

100% of respondents said No!

This week there are two poll questions:

Which Democrat would you like to see as the nominee for President?

Which Republican would you like to see as the nominee for President?

To vote in this week's poll follow the link below. The poll will be on the left hand side of the web page.

Weekly Poll

Don McNay is Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at His book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery, will be released later this year.

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