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Outside The Courtroom

Mark Lanier

Mark Lanier

Tell us about your passion project, talent, or hobby outside the courtroom.

Wow, there are too many to fit into space allocations. If forced to choose, I would note my love to read and research. So, I, and my family designed and built a library (www., which has become a home away from home (an office away from office) for me. Building the library has allowed me to stock it with books on the topic are I find fascinating. With over l 00,000 volumes, the library is full in areas of: Jewish studies; Greek and Roman studies, including the languages; Ancient Near Eastern studies , including such languages as Ugaritic, Elbaite, Assyrian, Syriac, Ancient Arabian, Northwest Semitic, etc.; Christion theology; world religions; Egyptology, including ancient Egyptian languages, church history; and, of course, communication studies! lt's basically a grab bag of things I like to read and research.

Why did you choose this particular hobby?

At an early age, I loved books. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor of a Walden's Bookstore in Memphis, Tennessee, reading book after book. As I aged, my love for reading continued. In college, I obtained an undergraduate degree in ancient Hebrew and Greek, which introduced me to a set of ancient languages. I also took a degree in preaching, thinking I might decide to preach for a living. The confluence of these interests culminated in the library, a 20,000 square-foot place where I can read and research to my heart's content, and a place that encourages the surrounding community to do so.v

How much of your time are you able to devote to your hobby?

On good weeks, I get to spend 10 to 20 hours. Those weeks are few and far between. Even when I can't be in the library, however, it is not unusual to find an ancient Greek book in my briefcase for spare reading.

Does your hobby have an impact on your legal career, and if so, how?

I would like to think it does, but that may be wishful thinking. I think all of our hobbies that engage our minds make us better lawyers. I also think that the more we explore areas outside the law, the greater pool of experiences and knowledge we can draw upon for illustrations, points of commonality, and general understanding of life and the world around us. The library also opens up doors for lecturers, resulting in a broader set of contacts for legal work. So, for example, in 2014, Justice Scalia came and gave a riveting public lecture at the library. We have also had notable politicians and others on site for various events.v

How does your hobby affect your work/life balance?

My family is a part of my hobby. We formed a foundation around the library, and several of our children serve on the board with me. They get to decide how to best use the facilities and opportunities present at the library. They are also lovers of books and studying, so when they were in high school, college, and graduate studies, it was not uncommon for our children and their friends to show up at the library for a study-fest.

Would you be willing to give up your legal career to pursue your passion project?

Ummm... no! The legal career funds the passion project! I affectionately call the library, "the house that Merck built," in memory of the Vioxx litigation.

How long have you been doing this?

I have been preaching and teaching for 40 years. For 15 of those years, I have had my teachings (video, audio, and written lessons) on the Internet (www. For the last seven years, I have had the library. And for the last two years, we have live-streamed my weekly teachings on the Internet.

Who/what inspires you to do it?

Law school and legal practice deeply influenced my research and writing on matters of religion, faith, and more. There is a deep reverence in the law for primary source material. You don't generally quote what people say about a case; you quote the case. This intellectual honesty applies in all areas. I wanted a library where my writings and teachings would not simply regurgitate the conclusions of others but would propel my own discovery into primary researchers. For example, why write on what others say was found at the archaeological dig at Jericho, when I can go to Kathleen Kenyon's actual dig reports from 1955-1959?

Have you ever competed/ instructed etc. with this hobby?

I don't compete with this hobby per se, but one of the most difficult parts is trying to find books that are out of print. Books in print are easy to buy, but when there was a run of only 500 copies of a dig report printed 60 years ago, how do you get them? I found the best way was to find world-renowned scholars who have passed away, and then seek to buy their books out of their estates. We have bought books from Israel, all over Europe, America, and Canada. There is a level of competition in getting those books!

What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?

I have used the library in six book projects. Two have already been published. Four are in various stages of publication. One of my favorite aspects of the library is that not a week goes by that I don't get notes or emails from people who have benefited from the library directly or indirectly. Many of these notes bring great joy to see the difference it can make.

Do you feel this passion makes you a better attorney/person?

I hope so! I hope all of life makes us a better person and attorney. We should never be satisfied with where we are today. We can always climb higher!
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