Octogenarians Without Borders

Our Mission

We think that whoever said "free advice is worth what you paid for it" is wrong. We offer advice and consulting services gratis and in any manner or form that would be helpful. Between us, we have 120 years of domestic and international business, government and legal experience, and we will ask you to reimburse us only for previously agreed out-of-pocket expenses.

John Barnum

John W. Barnum

Administrative Assistant, Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation, Lima, Peru, 1946; Junior Assistant Purser, Grace Lines, 1946; Analyst, First Banking Corporation, Tangier, 1950; Registered Representative, Bache & Co., Paris and London, 1951–1952; Cofounder and Director, Palmer National Bank, Washington, DC, 1978–1994; International Advisory Committee, Air France, 1991–1993.

    US Army:
    Enlisted Sonthofen, Germany, 1952; Armor OCS, Fort Knox, KY, Honor Graduate, 1953; Tank Platoon Leader, 19th Infantry Regiment, Jeju and Geoje, South Korea, 1953–1954.

    Yale Law School, LLB 1957, Yale Law Journal Board; Instituto de Derecho Internacional y Comparativo, Havana, Cuba, 1957; Cravath, Swaine & Moore in NYC, 1957–1971; White & Case in Washington, DC, 1978–1994; McGuireWoods in Brussels and Almaty, Kazakhstan, 1995–2011 and in Washington, DC, 2012-2013; trust and estates (early Cravath), US antitrust law and EU competition law, international arbitration; Board, American Arbitration Association, 1968–1998; US Delegate, Inter-American Commercial Arbitration Commission, 1969 – 1971; Co-chair, Research Subcommittee, President's Committee for Civil Rights, 1963-1971; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Lecturer on international business arbitration*, 2009-present.

    Department of Transportation:
    General Counsel, 1971-1973; Deputy Secretary of Transportation, 1973–1977; US Delegate to NATO Committee on Challenges to Modern Society, 1973–1976; Board of Amtrak, 1971–1976; Board of US Railway Association (to design Conrail), 1974-1977; Chairman, Military Airlift Committee, National Defense Transportation Association, 1982–1994.

    Yale Corinthian Club, 1946–1948; on charters in the Caribbean, Greek
    Islands, Balearics, Croatian Coast, 1960–2007; on my J-40 on NY Yacht Club cruises, 1989–1994; in Holland, Scandinavia, England, Brittany, 1995–2009.

Art and Education:
Yale University, BA 1949; Chairman, International Play Group, a
preschool for UN children in NYC, 1963–1973 (now International Preschools); Board of Directors, NY City Center for Music and Drama, 1969–1975; NY Practicing Law Institute, lecturer on US antitrust law, Venice and Cologne, 1969–l970; The New School (in NYC), lecturer on transportation law, 1972–1973; Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, 1977–1978; Board, Arena Stage (in DC), 1983–1994; Board of Overseers, Corcoran Gallery of Art (in DC), 1980–1994; President, US Federation of Friends of Museums, 2002–2007, 2012–present; Vice President for North America, World Federation of Friends of Museums, 2006–2012; assembled modest collection of modern art (in photo above, "Tête oiseau" by Max Ernst and "UFO" by Stuart Davis) with art consultant and Hirshhorn docent wife Nancy..

James G. Lowenstein

James G. Lowenstein

Government Service:
Ambassador to Luxembourg, 1977-1981. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, 1974-1977 with particular responsibility for multilateral institutions -- NATO, EC, CSCE, OECD. Member of delegations to NATO and OECD Ministerial meetings, U.S.-European Community consultations, European Parliament committees.
Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1965-1974. Senior staff member, Subcommittees on Far Eastern Affairs, European Affairs, Arms Control and Security Agreements. Co-author of published Committee investigative staff reports on Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, Greece and European security issues. Member of Delegation, Asian Development Bank Charter Drafting Conference.
Appointed Foreign Service Officer, October 1956. With Department of State's Office of European Regional Affairs, 1957-58; Political Officer, American Embassy, Colombo, Ceylon, 1959-61; Eastern European area and Serbo-Croatian language training, 1961-62; Political Officer, American Embassy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1962–64.
Ensign, Lieutenant (j.g.) USNR, 1952-55. Served aboard USS Coral Sea in the Mediterranean as division officer and on the Naval War College staff.
Entered government service with the Economic Cooperation Administration (Marshall Plan), 1950-51. Served in Paris at the Office of the Special Representative in Europe (Marshall Plan European headquarters). Temporarily detailed to the U.S. Special Mission to Yugoslavia, supervising aid activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina (resident in Sarajevo), and to the U.S. Delegation to the Temporary Council Committee of NATO.

    Present Activities:
    Member, Council on Foreign Relations, International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), Institut Français des Relations Internationales (Paris). Co-founder, Vice Chairman Board of Directors, the French American Foundation*, New York and Paris. Chairman, Advisory Council, American Library of Paris.

    Past Activities:
    Chairman of the Board, Baltic Investments S.A. (Luxembourg); Chairman, the Ukraine Fund; Trustee, Lafarge (US) Holdings Trust; Director, ACP Capital Ltd.; Investment Review Committee, Emerging Eastern Europe Fund; Advisory Board, Foreign and Colonial American Major Companies Fund; Director, AIS Worldwide Fund Ltd. Consultant to Marsh and McLennan and Continental Grain.
    Advisory Councils, School of Advanced International Studies and Bologna (Italy) Center of the Johns Hopkins University. Board Member, Refugees International. Trustee, the Madeira School. International Observer Group to observe the 1993 and 1994 elections in Sri Lanka. Senior Elections Adviser to Head of OSCE Mission to Bosnia Herzegovina, 1996-1997. USIS lecturer in Sweden, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo and Serbia). Articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor.

    B. A. Yale, 1949. Officer, Legion of Honor (France).

Projects of Octogenarians Without Borders Completed 2013 – 2015

Project One:

Answer 17 questions from a Chinese law firm about "how does an American law firm work" and then have two, two-hour Skype video conferences with the firm about my written answers to the questions. (The only question I could not answer to their satisfaction was "How do American firms deal with emotion?" I had answered that "law is not an emotional activity, except when pleading to a jury and sometimes arguing to a judge." "No, no," the Chinese partner who had prompted the question interrupted me: "What do you do when a partner steals your wife?")

Project Two:

Assure that a successful American gambler, who had been jailed in Kazakhstan after he had won big for a week and then had been entrapped in a scam, had competent Kazakh counsel. (The gambler is safely home, but without his winnings.)

Project Three:

Counsel a doctor who has been sued for malpractice for not prescribing a mammogram for a patient who subsequently died of breast cancer. He is clearly innocent; she had refused to have the test because she had already had one and "it hurt." The problem is not defeating the claim at a trial. The problem is that AIG, his hospital's malpractice insurance carrier, will try to settle the spurious claim rather than spend more money defending the doctor at a trial he would win. AIG is notorious for thinking only about its costs. A record of having paid money to a patient, however, would damage the doctor's reputation. (Trial date in March 2015.)

Project Four:

Advise a charter school teacher how to defuse the criticism from the head of her school for the teacher's decision to accept an offer to be the head of another charter school. In addition to the fact that it was a big promotion, another supervisor at the first school had summarily rejected her sensible recommendation for an improvement at the first school.

Project Six:

Jon Friedman has painted portraits of many prominent Americans, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Bill and Melinda Gates, whose Foundation, funded with his Microsoft billions, has become such a force for good in the world. Jon welcomed my proposal to find a way to publish a book illustrating 40 of his portraits. He suggested accompanying the reproductions of the portraits with some of his preliminary sketches. He rejected, however, my suggestion that we look to a few of the wealthy subjects of his portraits to finance the project. Laurie Adamson, the art gallerist in Washington, suggested approaching Rizzoli, the art book store and publisher in New York City, and Audrey Wolf, Jim Lowenstein's pal, who also publishes books, asked a friend at Rizzoli whether it would be interested. The answer was that "portrait photography books are a hard sell" because "people who are fans of one celebrity aren't usually fans of all the others pictured, so you don't have a real audience base." Audrey said that other publishers are likely to have the same view, and that the alternative was "self" publishing. But Jon also rejected that idea, and said "for now, I prefer to . . . focus on making good paintings." So this is the obituary of OWB Project 6.

Project Eight:

Obtained payment of $413.80 from a friend's condo to replace eyeglasses broken when she fell on unshoveled snow upon  leaving the condo to come to work. The condo's attorneys must have charged the condo more for preparing the two-page "Settlement Agreement and General Release" than the eyeglasses cost the condo, which proves that "free advice" is worth more to other lawyers than my friend had to pay.

Current Projects

Project Five:

Advise a Greek friend connected with the Greek Foreign Office on how to recover the Acropolis marbles from the British Museum. Britain has long claimed that Lord Elgin "bought and paid for them" at a time when there were not any laws limiting the export of such antiquities. The British position is "The Myth of the Marbles," because he paid the Ottoman government, which did not acquire the right to sell them just because it was occupying Greece at the time.

Project Seven:

Give guidance to a penniless, 33-year old daughter of a blind mother, on pursuing a claim for having been fired while she was undergoing radiation treatments for a serious form of breast cancer. "It never rains but it pours," as the expression goes.