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Bar News - September 17, 2014

Practitioner Profile: A Few Tricks Up His Sleeve


Attorney and mystery performer Joe Caulfield, who performs under the name Lord BlackSword, demonstrates some of his magic at his steampunk-themed office in Lyndeborough, NH. Caulfield also practices aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts, and finds balance at the intersection of his work and interests.

Joe Caulfield demonstrates aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts on which he bases his mediation practice.

Joseph Caulfield knows very well that there’s no real magic to winning a case. As any trial lawyer as seasoned as Caulfield knows, it’s all preparation and due diligence, multiplied by good luck.

Still, having a few tricks up your sleeve never hurts, something Caulfield also knows well – because when he’s not practicing law from his new home-office in Lyndeborough, he’s practicing prestidigitation as mystery entertainer Lord BlackSword.

“Magic is a palace with many rooms. The type of magic I perform is called ‘mystery performing.’ I’m not doing sponge balls or balloon twisting,” says Caulfield. “Magic punctuates the performance. It’s not about how great I am; it’s about me showing you the mysteries of magic. I want the magic to amaze you.”

For the most part, says Caulfield, his life’s journey as an attorney who also performs magic was equal parts nature and nurture.

“My dad was a very well respected trial attorney in Boston. His father was a magician, something my dad also carried on. He would thrill me, when I was a child, by breathing life into an inanimate object, like a mink stole, or using a butter knife to make tissue paper jump from side to side. I could point to any cherry on a cherry tree and, somehow, when he plucked it from the tree it was always the one with a coin embedded in it,” says Caulfield.

His mother, also an attorney, was “a real renaissance woman,” says Caulfield, who before she became a lawyer, was a high school science teacher.

“Both my parents discouraged me from law. They encouraged me to be a doctor,” says Caulfield, who studied pre-med and majored in chemistry.

“That’s where I was heading, until I made a fatal mistake: I watched my dad try a jury case, and I fell in love with it,” says Caulfield.

It was around that same time Caulfield immersed himself in his two hobbies of choice – magic and aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts. Those two disciplines have become the foundation for everything else that has followed, and they provide the necessary balance in his life.

“I’m actually quite shy. It requires an incredible amount of energy for me to go out into the world. The individual skills involved in martial arts and magic gave me the confidence I needed to do my job as a trial attorney,” says Caulfield.

In fact, there is a congruency between all three disciplines, says Caulfield, who also serves as a certified guardian ad litem and is a founding member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

“The style of mediation I do is aikido-based, in that when I see resistance I try to lead it forward or go around it. In aikido, we don’t meet force with force, and the ethical choice is to do the least amount of harm,” Caulfield says.

The decision to relocate his practice from Nashua was based on two main factors – for one thing, business in general has been flat there over the past few years.

And at 65, Caulfield says he wouldn’t mind being “a little more fussy” with the cases he takes on, so that he can perform more paid magician gigs.

He flips the switch inside his newly redesigned office complex, featuring waxed Venetian plaster and a faux tin ceiling, activating the color-changing LED lights. Among the conversation pieces: a 3-foot model of The Nautilus from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and a pair of lightning rods taken from the original 1836 farm house on his property, which he had mounted on a cigar box creating a retro-industrial steam-punk vibe.

Caulfield is a huge fan of that particular literary genre, from which such classics as “The Wild Wild West,” and “Dr. Who,” emerged.

“When I closed my Nashua office two years ago, I did so because I realized I’m a workaholic, and many nights I’d be sitting there at 8 p.m. thinking about going home. Then I thought, ‘Why not be home,’ so I decided to sink some money into creating an office complex that’s drop-dead gorgeous,” Caulfield says, switching colors on the mood lighting, which he mostly reserves for gatherings of the Granite State Conjurors, a group of 15 fellow magicians who meet monthly for some magical show and tell.

He is also a proud member of the Society of American Magicians, President of Assembly 118 in Nashua, and a member of the Inner Circle of Bizarre Magick, the British Society of Mystery Entertainers, and the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Order of Merlin, Shield.

Although retirement is not in the cards for Caulfield – he enjoys his practice too much, and in addition, teaches an online course for the University of Phoenix – he does intend to shift gears and make more time for magic, including plans for a mystery dinner theater.

“Maybe something Victorian, or based around Jack the Ripper, or the Titanic – I’ve thought of putting on a show with a dinner menu based on recipes served on the Titanic,” Caulfield says. “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

RELATED: Assuaging the Rage of Achilles: Athena, Aikido and Marital Mediation by Joseph Caulfield, New Hampshire Bar Journal, Winter 2010

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