Saturday, April 11, 2020

Legal tips for making it through the quarantine

CATTUS TROPHY: (Cat in Latin is cattus)
My late father Tom once told me he always wanted to invent a phrase that other poeple would use. And he told me the phrase he had come up with was “as good as bread.

It works for me. When something is, for example, going along just right; or fits a situation perfectly, its as “good as bread.

Tom wasnt a writer. He was raised on a farm in the Ottawa Valley then moved to my hometown of Sudbury where he and my mom had 10 kids and he and his brother Ed ran a transportation business.

But I sure get that notion of coming up with something everybody says.

Whats more,  I have a similar plan.

Get this: One of the really great aspects of my job at The Lawyers Daily is that I learn new words regularly, almost every week..

And once this mind-numbing quarantine ends and my brother Eddie can come visit again, Im going to clobber him at Scrabble. Last week, I learned the word quango. A few days before that? Homologate? Like I said. New. Words. Regularly.

But that is not the point of my story.

My point is I have a word-related ambition like Toms. And it is as follows:

Not long ago, one of the brilliant lawyers I have the opportunity to work with told me about the Latin legal phrase “mutatis mutandis."

If youre already familiar with mutatis mutandis, you are not invited to that aforementioned Scrabble game with Eddie. Ha ha. But I sure didnt know what it meant until the lawyer, Lawrence David,  explained it to me.

Its one of those phrases that you like the sound of even before you know what it translates to: “moot-tattis moo-tandus. Disney could write a song around it.

Heres the plan. I have made it a COVID-19 project to drag mutatis mutandis out from the shadows of the courtrooms and into the street.

The world needs--especially because of that thing thats going around--mutatis mutandis. I want to make it as popular as a few other foreign-language phrases that have migrated over; like, say, ad nauseum, Or pro bono even.


Heres Wikipedia on the matter: “Mutatis mutandis is a medieval Latin phrase meaning 'having changed what needs to be changed or once the necessary changes have been made.

And heres Petes Blog&Grille on how it works vis-a-vis (another!) COVID-19: Last week, my neighbour Chrissy Lumley invited me to play Scrabble but because were all holed up, we can’t visit so wed have to play online. The Scrabble game could take place but we wouldnt be able to eat pizza and drink beer while playing. So we would play--I hope youre paying atttention here--mutatis mutandis. (Though if Chrissy reads this and finds out I know words like quango and homologate she might rescind the offer. But I digress)

Heres more mutatis mutandis.

At my office, every Thursday at lunch time, a small group of us used to assemble in one of the larger meeting rooms and--under the guidance of another staffer named Harpreet who happens to be a trained meditation teacher--we meditated for half an hour. For the record, its one of the most memorable and refreshing ways Ive ever spent a lunchtime.

Except then COVID showed up and we all had to scurry home, which is where I work from now.

But we still, every Thursday, meditate mutatis mutandis.

Instead of sitting beside a much younger and fitter colleague, I sit alone in my son Michels old bedroom, which is now my office and heres an upside: I dont feel the slightest bit self-conscious.

We may be enduring one of the weirdest time periods of a generation, but I think were most of us learning how resilient we can be.

I also happen to think COVID-19 is making us appreciate little things more. I'm writing this on Good Friday, and almost every commercial operation in town is locked up tight. Tomorrow, things will be a lot looser, so at least we can line up at the store, even if we do have to put on a mask when we go in.

Were taking less stuff for granted and that has to be good.

Normal life continues, mutatis mutandis.

Not bad, eh?

One more thing: I asked another lawyer that I work with if he had any ideas for spreading the news about this fabulous phrase mutatis mutandis. (I sometime wonder if my co-workers think I'm weird.)

He very wisely suggested engaging the services of a platform that has far more credibility than Petes Blog&Grille, and thats Iris the cat.  Then he suggested the version you see on the sign up there.

He also requested anonymity. The manss got a reputation to uphold, after all.

I like the folks I work with. Theyre good as bread. 


  1. My mother-in-law invited us for a Scrabble games before the lockdown. When this situation is over hopefully we will play again. Stay healthy.

  2. A timely post on the topic of the meaning of ‘Mutatis Mutandi’ for Good Friday as that was what Jesus accomplished on that day!

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