Aero Shot: The Fix for Latte-Addicted Lawyers

Like many lawyers, I’m addicted to caffeine. Every morning when I’m on my way to my office, I stop at the Starbucks at the corner of Union and McLean in Midtown Memphis. I am to the Midtown Starbucks what Norm was to Cheers. At the Midtown Starbucks, everybody knows my name.

When I walk in the door at Starbucks early each morning, I don’t even have to place an order. The barista, Sam, just says, “Good morning, Bill!” And then he proceeds to make me a grande nonfat latte.

This has been my routine every morning since the Bush administration. And I’m talking about the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, not the Dubya administration.

No doubt about it, I’m addicted to my morning latte. In fact, I should be part of a 12-step recovery program for Starbucks addicts. “My name is Bill, and it has been two hours since my last latte.”

I even remember the precise moment I became a latte addict. I was at the Chicago airport on a cold winter day approximately 25 years ago, trying to catch a plane back to Elvis’s hometown. My flight was delayed, and I was just killing time wandering around the terminal.

I noticed a long line to a coffee kiosk, and I decided to queue up. I thought that at the end of the line I would just put down a quarter for a cup of coffee. Imagine my surprise when after a 15-minute wait, I found that the coffee on sale had all sorts of strange names like Venti Mocha Frappe Espresso Cappuccino. I also noticed that the coffee cost a lot more than a quarter.

I started to turn around, but I sensed that if people were willing to stand in line for 15 or 20 minutes and then plunk down three bucks for something called a Grande Chai Matchaa Americano, the coffee must be really good. And so I made a life-changing decision. I looked plaintively at the barista. (By the way, I didn’t even know what the term “barista” meant then. I assumed a barista was some freedom fighter at the Bay of Pigs.)

“What should I order?” I asked, confessing that I was an innocent young man about to lose his Starbucks virginity.

“How about a latte?” asked the smiling barista.

“Why not?” I responded. Again, I had no idea what a latte was, but it sounded downright sexy.

I plunked down three bucks, and moments later I held in my hand my inaugural latte. I took a sip. The earth moved. I was hooked. My latte had me at hello.

A quarter of a century later, I cannot begin to work until I’ve had my latte fix. And I discovered that my latte addiction is shared by hundreds of thousands of American lawyers.

When I arrive at the midtown Memphis Starbucks each morning, I see about half of the Memphis bar there. I also see about half the judges. We are co-dependents in search of caffeine.

Whenever I go to depositions, virtually every lawyer I see sitting around the conference table has a cup of coffee in one hand and an iPhone or a Blackberry in the other. We lawyers can’t even shake hands anymore. We just nod at each other and tip our lattes in a sort of informal toast.

But my latte addiction poses a major problem. You see, I’m a trial lawyer, not a litigator. Litigators can drink lattes every hour of the day. But we trial lawyers spend much of our lives in courtrooms, and courtrooms are latte-free zones. Believe me, I’ve tried to sneak a latte into a courtroom. The judge caught me and demanded to know why I had not brought him one. I responded that I would be happy to do so, but I believe such conduct is prohibited by the Code of Professional Responsibility. (See “Ex Parte Caffeine.”)

I would also happily provide a latte for every member of the jury. But I’m afraid I would be accused of jury caffeine-tampering.

But help may be on its way for us caffeine-addicted trial lawyers. A Harvard biomedical engineering professor and a celebrity French chef combined forces to invent “Aero Shot,” a caffeine inhaler designed to give users the same boost found in a venti Starbucks latte. The professor, Dr. David Edwards, and the chef, Thierry Marks, may turn out to be the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of caffeine.

Aero Shot comes in lipstick-size canisters and can be bought online for $2.99 a pop, which is actually cheaper than a Mocha Matchaa Espresso Americano Frappucino.

The makers of Aero Shot emphasize that it is not designed to be a substitute for that morning cup of java you enjoy with breakfast and either your newspaper or, of course, the Tennessee Bar Journal. Rather, Aero Shot is designed to make it easier for busy people (i.e., trial lawyers) to get their caffeine fix on the go. The canister easily fits in your suit jacket pocket, enabling you to sneak a hit right there in the courtroom between voir dire and opening statement.

Dr. Edwards has also invented a wonderful product for those of us addicted to sugar as well as caffeine. It’s called “Le Whif”, and it’s an inhaler of what Dr. Edwards calls “breathable chocolate.” I do not know what kind of chocolate is found in “Le Whif”, but if it’s a Snickers bar, I’ll pay any price for it.

Well, I’ve gotta go. I just took the last sip of my morning latte, and I’m headed to court! But not to worry. I have in my briefcase everything I need for my trial: my file, my legal pad, my #2 Ticonderoga pencil, a canister of Aero Shot, and several snorts of Snickers.


Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association.