Howard Baker Jr., the former Senator from Tennessee and White House chief of staff, said his start as a lawyer was something less than gangbusters.

Baker, who replaced Donald Regan as President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, said Tuesday he remembers well his first case as a young lawyer."I prepared the case at great length," he said at a conference in Johnson City, Tenn. "Not that I was that conscientious. I just didn't have anything else to do."

Baker, after his first closing argument in court, turned to his father for approval. "Dad looked at me and said, `In the future, son, I would guard against speaking more clearly than you think,' " Baker said.