Dave Whitener was a friend and mentor to us all
Have you ever tried to organize your old forms, seminar materials and documents only to start waxing nostalgic and ultimately getting absolutely nothing accomplished? That happened to me today.
I am sorely behind schedule writing an update to the Handbook for South Carolina Dirt Lawyers. I’m sure my name is “Mud” with Terry Burnett and Alicia Hutto, my good friends at the South Carolina Bar who are not very patiently waiting for results. I had a plan to get the update done in 2017 and again in 2018, but that never happened. I’ve been so busy with new initiatives at work that I didn’t even attempt to develop a plan to write an update in 2019. Now, I’m shooting for the date of my death or retirement, whichever comes earlier. Wish me luck!
But today, I began to organize ancient materials in an attempt to breathe new life into this aged project. And I kept coming across the same name, my late, great friend, Dave Whitener. Why? Because Dave wrote and taught much of the subject matter I now need to address.
Dave was 70 years old when he died in 2014 after practicing commercial real estate and teaching law school in Columbia for many years. He was married to my friend, Tricia Wharton Whitener, who continues his good work today. Dave was not only an excellent practitioner and teacher, but he was also, as his obituary quips, “renowned as a raconteur whose stories made others happy”. He loved people and he loved the law. He loved talking to law students and lawyers and telling them memorable stories in an effort to keep them out of trouble.
Since keeping my fellow South Carolina dirt lawyers out of trouble is the mission of this blog, I’m finding that many of the lessons Dave taught are appropriate on my day of waxing nostalgic.
If a law student or lawyer called Dave with a disturbing current event that the caller said “rang a bell” from one of Dave’s ethics lectures, Dave would reply, “You’re hearing the dinner bell at the federal prison.” That would get the caller’s attention! I thought of that quote when I came across a lecture from Dave entitled “Top Ten ‘You Betters’”. I thought I’d share that list with this audience today because this particular top ten list will never go out of style for real estate practitioners.
Dave Whitener’s Top Ten “You Betters”
- You better not facilitate the unauthorized practice of law.
- You better do what you should be doing.
- You better know what you should be doing.
- You better be on time.
- Everything better be shown on the closing statement.
- Everything on the closing statement better be correct.
- You better communicate with your clients.
- You better understand the rules on conflicts of interest.
- You better remember that your trust account is sacred.
- You better train your staff properly.
I could editorialize about each item on the list, but I believe the simplicity of this list speaks volumes for today’s purposes. But if I were to write a chapter on each item on the list, my handbook would be complete.
Thank you, Dave, for your example. My next blog may be about Dave’s ten-point plan for defending the rights of South Carolina licensed practitioners to handle real estate closings. Watch this space!