Howard Gutman visits with the cast of The Loft

Howard GutmanAs the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Ambassador Gutman got to know the producers of the Belgian hit movie The Loft.  The producers then decided to make an English remake.  The new version of The Loft  was filmed partly in Belgium and partly in the United States.  Among the cast was Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family.  As Ambassador, Ambassador (Rtd) Gutman held a reception for the cast and crew at his Residence.  Here are pictures of Ambassador (Rtd) Gutman with Eric Stonestreet and the cast and crew of The Loft.

Howard Gutman The Loft (2014 Film) therefore is now an American-Belgian thriller directed by Erik Van Looy. It is a remake of Van Looy’s 2008 Belgian film, Loft, that received rave reviews and broke box office records in Belgium with over a million tickets sold. The film is set to debut on October 14th in Belgium at the Ghent Film Festival and in Germany on December 11th. The film’s American debut has been put on hold and will be released later than anticipated via Universal Studios.”

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World Cup II — Belgians Discover Brazil and Belgium

Despite being thousands of miles and a plane ride away, many Belgians were present to see the national team make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament. Howard Gutman says it was an amazing experience both being in Brazil and having the unique opportunity as the former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium to see the team on the grandest stage.

As a country that is politically divided and away from the spotlight, to see thousands of fans wearing Belgium’s nationals colors, screaming chants and singing the national anthem in unison was remarkable for Howard and his family.

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Howard Gutman training with the Belgian National Team

Howard Gutman was also featured on Tony Kornheiser:

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Treaty of Ghent

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent. Signed on December 24, 1814 in the Flemish city of Ghent, the treaty brought an end to the War of 1812 fought between the United States of America and Great Britain. John Quincy Adams spent months in Belgium negotiating the end to the War.

Few Americans know much about the War of 1812 and less about the Treaty.  Yet on the 100th birthday, a contingent from Belgium was received by President Woodrow Wilson at the White House.

So Ambassador (Rtd) Gutman helped arrange a visit of a contingent of Belgian to come to Washington DC to mark the 200th Anniversary.  20 Belgians from the city of Ghent are coming to Washington D.C. to commemorate the historical Treaty of Ghent. They will visit The White House, be received by Senator Mark Warner at the Capitol and will also participate in a series of events at American University.

The Treaty holds some surprises for us all.  It in fact included America’s first condemnation of slavery, some 50 years before our Civil War began.  The Treaty provides:

“Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice, and whereas both His Majesty and the United States are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition, it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use their best endeavours to accomplish so desirable an object.”

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World Cup – America Discovers Soccer and Belgium

The World Cup is always exciting. But rarely is it exciting because of Belgium or the United States. And Belgian-U.S. relations rarely dominate the fervor of the American spirit; even less often does it dominate the sports pages.

Americans know about U.S. football, baseball and basketball… and, if they grew up in some regions, perhaps hockey as well. But soccer is what kids play on Saturday; it is not what dads and mom watch on Sunday.

Americans know about France – it has Paris and croissants – and England (though most will rarely know how that relates to the U.K) But Belgium? Yes, we know it is an area with fabulous waffles, beer and chocolate. But to most, the country consists largely of tasty food and brews floating somewhere in Europe.

Tony Kornheiser is a smart man. He is perhaps the most glib, silver tongued sports and current events commentator of our time. But he oozes with honesty. And so he freely admitted to his radio audience that he knows little about soccer and less about Belgium. A great opening for a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium who both visited the Belgian National team and attended both friendlies between the United States and Belgium.

I have long admired Tony. It was a blast to do his show:

Belgium made a strong push in tournament, making it all the way to the quarter-finals where they battled the talented Lionel Messi and Argentina. The game was close in score, but less close on the pitch. Iit was in fact separated by four years of confidence. Argentina played defense and the Belgians remained tentative. Perhaps the most talented team in the universe learned that it also needed to have the confidence that goes along with that skill.

I was disappointed. I have long believed in Belgium, sometimes when natives have believed less in themselves. With Belgium having players like Hazard, de Bruyne, Lukaku who can score any time on any one and a keeper like Cortois who can stop anyone at any time, the American in me wanted a win.

But no matter. To many viewers and to many Belgians, Belgium making it that far in the tournament was its own reward. Belgians knows that they put a place holder on the map. People will begin to know the difference between the Netherlands and Belgium. They will begin to associate the country with people and talent, not food and beer. Belgians know that four years will pass quickly… they will be back.

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Belgium National Day

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“Happy Birthday Belgium. You are not getting older, just better. A year ago today, you swore in a new King. It was also my last official act as the U.S. Ambassador as I completed my service the next day. But we return often and we celebrate your birthday with joy, second only to our own July 4th.  Many more.”

Below is a press statement by Secretary of State John Kerry congratulating Belgium on their National Day:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Belgium on your National Day and King Philippe on the first anniversary of his reign on July 21.

During my visit to Brussels last December, I had the opportunity to walk through the Grand Place and reflect on our two countries’ shared history. Our bond was made strong by the Commission for Relief in Belgium during the Great War and Allied efforts to defeat fascism in World War II. And it continues to grow today with our current work to promote security, prosperity, and human rights around the globe.

We commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge this year as well. We remember the thousands of U.S. troops who, along with the support of so many brave Belgians, showed remarkable grit and determination in liberating Europe from tyranny.

Seven decades later, their service and sacrifice continues to inspire us as we carry on their work. And as the capital of Europe and host to NATO, Belgium is at the heart of efforts to build a 21st century Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

Even though Belgium beat our beloved U.S. team during the World Cup, our countries remain great friends and inseparable allies. Each time I visit your country, I am astounded by your hospitality and grateful for our partnership.

On behalf of the American people, I send best wishes for a joyous 184th National Day.

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Howard Gutman Memorial Day Address 2012

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Recruiting Lawyers to Lead by Gary L. Sasso

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Recruiting Lawyers to Lead

By Gary L. Sasso

President & CEO, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, PA

In professional services firms, leaders must have credibility with their partners.  This means they are typically drawn from their ranks.  That’s okay, but how can we recruit the right lawyers to lead?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Leaders emerge over time.  They are the ones who care the most about the success of the firm, not their own position or power.  They are the ones who raise their hand over and over, saying “Have we thought about this?” “How about that?” “I’ll be glad to help with this.”
  • They need and get on-on-the-job training by handling multiple leadership roles over many years, typically decades, shouldering increasing responsibility along the way.
  • They rarely ask for a title or need one.
  • They love practicing law, and they are highly successful at it.  (Yes, life is full of paradoxes.)
  • They genuinely like and care about everyone in the law firm – all attorneys and staff – without regard to position or rank.
  • When we are talking about the managing partner role in particular, we have to be talking about a partner sufficiently senior (typically in their early 50s) and secure so that he or she is prepared substantially to hand off his or her practice without an exit strategy, except as may be necessary to retain or grow critical client relationships for the benefit of the firm.
  • The managing partner simply cannot compete with any other partner in the firm on any level – for clients, work, or credit.  And if the managing partner can’t provide greater economic value to the firm as its leader than as a revenue producer, then the firm should choose a different leader.

If you may be interested in leadership, how will you know when you are ready?  Others will tell you when it’s the last thing on your mind.

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Social Media and the Law by Kenneth P. Nolan

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Social Media and the Law

I’ve never taken a selfie, I don’t tweet, and I really don’t know much about yik yak or Pinterest. But with a few searches, I can learn a whole lot about you—where you live, work, attended school, how much you paid for your home, and what’s your favorite movie. Most likely, I can watch a video of you slurring the words to “Livin’ on a Prayer” at some karaoke bar, and can easily track how much you donated to worthless politicians. And if I was really tech savvy, I’d probably know how you like your coffee, and whether it was really a flat tire that caused you to be late three weeks ago.

Nothing is secret anymore. I’m sure I’m filmed by hundreds of cameras each day as I walk the streets and drive the avenues of Brooklyn. They’re on buildings, in stores, on lamp posts, street lights. Heck, one home down the street must have a half dozen covering every window and door.  Jay Z can’t even get slapped around in an elevator without everyone knowing. If you wish to remain anonymous, toss your iPhone into the Gowanus Canal and stop sending texts or emails. You realize, don’t you, that the internet is forever. Whatever is emailed, posted can always be retrieved and will be used if you’re ever involved in a lawsuit.

Used to be when you represented a plaintiff in personal injury or wrongful death litigation, defense counsel would request authorizations for educational, employment, medical records. Mostly bland, emotionless facts. Now they want to read your Facebook page, your Twitter account, and view every photo or video posted on Instagram. These reveal your thoughts, personality and philosophies—what you like, who you voted for, who you hang with, where you vacationed. No longer will discovery simply show that on April 2nd, your right arm and shoulder were x-rayed. Now the defense may be able to determine if you were in pain, and whether your injury prevented you from normal activities as you claimed in your deposition.

For example: If someone posts a pic of you smiling at a party and you comment: “Had a great time, thanks.” Be forewarned that this will be a topic at your deposition.

“Previously, Mr. Nolan, you testified that your injury has made you depressed, that you really can’t enjoy yourself, enjoy life like you once did. Is that correct?

I show you this photo taken from your Facebook page….You look happy, don’t you?…Is that a wine glass in your hand?…This was a birthday party?…You had fun, didn’t you?….wrote that you had a great time, didn’t you?…And this was on June 11th, less than six months after your accident?…You didn’t write that you were depressed, did you?…that you were in pain, did you?…that you were unable to enjoy yourself, did you?…Now I show you another photo from your Facebook page…

Every posting has potential to influence the lawsuit. If you rant about Obamacare, or the NBA and Donald Sterling, this information may be used. And if by chance you go overboard and post a photo or statement that could be interpreted as racist, homophobic, etc., an ingenious attorney will certainly exploit this transgression.

So once retained, sit down with your client and examine what exists on social media. Bring a young lawyer or one of your teenagers to show you the latest sites, trends. Be thorough. Read every tweet, watch every video, no matter how old. Be prepared–for your adversary will, undoubtedly, obtain this material. The internet has not only changed how we live and communicate, but how we litigate.

Kenneth P. Nolan, Counsel to Speiser, Krause, Nolan & Granito, is the author of A Streetwise Guide to Litigation (American Bar Association 2013).

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