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The Patch

Anyone who has ridden motorcycles, or even observed many motorcyclists, knows that many of us love to festoon our riding vests — and, although less so, our jackets as well — with patches.

For motorcycle clubs (M.C.s, or MCs), the patches on the back are a huge part of their identity and their lives.

Recently, I’ve been going on “poker runs” and other charity-oriented rides, particularly (but not exclusively) those that support veterans. When people find out that I’m a defense attorney, they ask for my cards. So I thought, since being a defense attorney has become a big part of my identity, why not create a patch?

Creating and wearing the “right” kind of patch would help ensure that more MC members realize what I do for a living when I’m on a run, potentially increasing the number of people who request my card and subsequently hire me.

Plus I happen to think well-designed patches are cool. So I decided to design some art for my own back that would advertise my pride in being a lawyer who rides and also help me advertise my practice.

There’s a rule (or two, or more) for that.

I’m not a member of any MC. This has nothing to do with my attitudes toward bikers, but more to do with the fact that — aside from the potential for problems with the State Bar if the po-po decide I’m a “one-percenter” — I doubt I have the type of discipline many of them have. I question authority too much. I suspect during the prospecting period, I’d end up dead. I wouldn’t intend any disrespect, but my understanding is that questioning isn’t within the purview of prospects. Besides that, I can’t even actually call myself a “lone wolf rider” partly because I don’t know that I qualify as “living the biker lifestyle” — I just like to ride — and partly because there are number of MCs that actually use that name now.

As I alluded to above, virtually every club I know has rules about the wearing and placement of patches. Many of them, as I have come to learn, also have rules about how to react to the wearing and placement of patches by non-members. This doesn’t necessarily just pertain to their own patches, although a non-member wearing a patch for a known MC, I suspect, would be taking his life into his own hands.

When I thought about creating my patch, I had a few very specific thoughts in mind.

  • Show respect to MCs and avoid offending anyone which means, among other things:
    • Don’t wear colors that you know are claimed by existing MCs.
    • Don’t copy any symbols or designs belong to any existing MCs.
    • Don’t add the name of any “territory,” such as “Fresno,” or “California.”
    • Don’t use a three-piece patch design.
  • Advertise my office.

With those guidelines in mind, I came up with a very specific idea of what I wanted.

I recently learned about while working on another project and I found someone through that site — Tanya Matson, a gal out of Colorado who impressed me because she actively lobbied me on my project and who sent me a sketch she’d done years ago when she rode briefly with an MC — to design to my very specific idea.

After a little back and forth, making sure she understood things I definitely wanted to avoid, she completed the design in about a week.

I then took it to a local embroidery shop — Olivia’s Letterman’s Jackets — whose current owner (Eddie) is a member of a “family club” of riders. He has apparently stitched a few emblems for various clubs and I was impressed with what I saw. Plus, I was trying to keep to hiring people with some connection to riding.

I had a tight deadline on completing the project because I was planning to ride this past weekend to a criminal defense seminar and wanted the design on the jacket and ready to go.

We had a few rough patches — haha! — along the way, and the patch, which I had anticipated having the night before, was not ready. Eddie, however, kept his crew working through the night, updating me along the way, and personally returned my vest to me, with the patch sewn on, at 4:45 a.m. last Friday.

By 5 a.m., I was on the road to San Jose.

Good thing I know the way.

The patch was a big hit with defense attorneys at the seminar. Several couldn’t stop talking about it. A couple of them insisted I let them take pictures of my back. (Eddie is asking for one, too, so I had Bunny Chafowitz take the one you see in this post when I returned from the seminar.) One actually approached me several times and when we were checking out she just had to come see my bike. (Her and her husband ride.)

After arriving home, I even had an email from a client who spotted me on the road and loved the patch!

Ultimately, my plan is to run my patch past the COC — if you don’t know what that is, I’m not going to explain it — to ensure I am paying the proper respect. From what I understand, this is not really a necessary move. I doubt they’ll even care much about my patch. But I do want to show the proper respect.

Ultimately, the patch enhances my sense of pride in what I do. It advertises who I am and what I do. I hope it also brings me a little business.

So, without further ado, here’s the patch!