This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week

Time for some First Amendment fun... this is Banned Books Week. So grab a copy of The Catcher in the Rye or Harry Potter and enjoy reading something other people find offensive. If you want to find out what censorship's going down in your area, click here. List of most frequently banned books here.

Also, in honor of banning books and the librarians that take the heat to keep 'em on the shelves, check out this response by a public librarian to a patron "concerned" that the library had made available this book about a little girl whose uncle is marrying another man. It's a respectful, well-crafted response. Not to mention, I now have a new book to buy for Cora, even though her gay uncle will never get married, or probably even be in a serious relationship, but that's an entirely different book altogether. That book would be called "Uncle Bobby's Commitment Issues and Inability to Recognize That He's Supposed to Be a Grown-Up." But I digress.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


We have a couple child custody cases at the office involving a particular local family. My paralegal was telling me about Crazy Granny's testimony at the custody hearing, wherein she started talking about "the demons." I'm not sure how "the demons" actually fit into the custody matter, but even in an area of the country known for some crazy backwoods religions, ranting about demons in court is pretty nutters. Sadly, I know nutters. Boy, do I know nutters.

While reading through the Domestic Relations volumes of [Mediocre State] Practice this past week, I noticed several cases involving a particular nutters religion with which I am sadly intimately familiar -- a certain fundamentalist, evangelical apocalyptic cult that annoys the shit out of people by knocking on their doors Saturday mornings to pass out their cult pamphlets. One of the cases I read involved a child custody dispute, where the non-nutters parent wanted custody over the nutters parent because the nutters parent was a member of that particular cult. The argument was that the religion was harmful to the child because of the aspects of the religious canon that limits contact with "outsiders" of the religion, among other ridiculous stupidity, like letting your kid die instead of giving him a blood transfusion. The court sided with the nutters parent, because she testified that she didn't so stringently follow all of the tenets of the faith to be harmful to the child. Which is a gigantic load of crap. Take it from someone whose parents barely even attended the cult meetings throughout my childhood and did little to no evangelizing, the brainwashing runs very deep regardless of one's level of involvement.

Mornings like today, when those brainwashed whack-jobs show up at my door, wanting me to start drinking the kool-aid again, I'm reminded how damaged I still am from 18 years of that insanity. I spent years reformulating my beliefs and reinventing myself. It was all I could do to politely say "No, thank-you," and quickly close the door before I exploded into an emotional rant about how they stole my childhood, destroyed my family and I barely made it to adulthood with my sanity, my health and my life in tact. I remind my mother every so often that if she even makes mention of her crazy cult teachings to my child, it will be the last time she ever sees her, and she would have no legal grounds upon which to seek visitation. I'm honestly not even at a point where I can think fondly of my late grandmother -- frankly, I just hope she's in some sort of afterlife, realizing that there's not only 144,000 going to heaven, there's no restored paradise on earth with death and destruction for everyone not sitting in her church and her pew, and that shunning her children who left the cult, and finally refusing me a place to live after I left the cult, when I was essentially homeless right before my freshman year of college, was hateful and wrong.

I might be raising my child Catholic, but she will never be taught that she has no mind of her own in which to question, and at least in the Catholic church, you don't get kicked out and publicly shunned for disagreeing. She will not be taught to hate, to discriminate or to judge. She will make her own decisions, and I will support her, whether I agree with those decisions or not. I want her to look back on her childhood with fondness, not regret and shame. She won't carry the same demons I do.

MILP #117

The roundup be at Butterflyfish, mateys! Next week it be at PT-LawMom. Then it be here. Rinse and repeat.

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis between PT-LawMom, Butterflyfish, and Attorney Work Product blogs. Come back next week for more awesomeness.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Women in Combat

Growing up in a society that told little girls we could be "anything" when we grew up, such inspiration was often diminished by the reality that there were significant limits to what we could actually be. One of the big limits has always been not allowing women in combat. It's only a recent development that women were allowed to attend West Point and other all-male military schools, but still the policy stands. However, the policy is undermined by the realities of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Particularly in Afghanistan, where the whole country is a combat zone, keeping women from combat is logistically impossible. Also, the reality of a military stretched to its limits is using the resources it has, namely women soldiers. It's amazing that a country that loves to beat the freedom drum, has remained so backwards in integrating women into many facets of the military, but we're finally making progress.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to our graduate program back in 2008. At the time, another woman had just been awarded a combat medal for valor. (Back in 2005, two women from our state won the Silver Star and Bronze Star, respectively.) Although Adm. Mullen did not at the time enthusiastically speak in support of integrating women into traditional combat roles, he did acknowledge that it was becoming increasingly impossible to keep women from combat situations (although they apparently try to remove women from those areas when it becomes evident that the situation is one of "combat.") So, I was pleased to read about Adm. Mullen's statements to the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of women serving on submarines. When the highest ranking member of the military, a Navy guy, is advocating for women to serve on nuclear subs, I think that's a big push in the right direction.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


No matter how good your case is, no matter how excellent an attorney you are, you can really only give an educated guess about how a jury is going to decide. Voir dire is a way to sort through the jurors, get a feel for them, possibly reveal some prejudices and biases, but you can't ever know for sure what goes on in an individual juror's head, nor how putting that specific group of people together will affect the outcome.

I've seen cases go to trial that were just hands-down absolutely solid cases fail miserably before a jury. And I've seen cases that sucked, presented by lawyers that suck, hit the jackpot. I like to think that it's more than just a crap shoot, that my preparedness, my litigation skills, and the strength of my case will persuade a jury. But I guess you just really never know.

Anyway, everyone is pretty floored by a multi-million dollar verdict in that failure to diagnose case. Not to mention, the majority of the fault went to the doctor that probably wasn't at fault, rather than the one who probably was at fault. (There was good evidence that a medication prescribed by the second doctor could have caused the cardiac event that killed the decedent.) Those kinds of verdicts just do not happen from a jury here. I'd be interested to find out what convinced the jurors of the defendants' fault. Was it the plaintiff's attorney's Perry Mason antics? Was it the "risk factor" chart that started with the most damning factor of being "MALE"? I tend to think it was the testimony that the doctor did not follow up with the patient after the initial appointment. A couple of the jurors looked outraged that the doctor would not make sure that the patient actually made a follow-up appointment, and came to that appointment. I dunno. All I know is that I want to convince a jury to award all of my clients millions in damages, so I can retire by age 35.

Oh well. Gives the crazies something to rant about in their arguments for MED MAL TORT REFORM BECAUSE OH MY GOD IT'S ALL THE LAWYERS' FAULT THAT HEALTH CARE COSTS SO MUCH AND NO OTHER REASONS!!!! Even though malpractice claims amount to less than 3% of the overall health care costs, and that's even including the claims that such crippling fear of being sued makes doctors order a ton of unnecessary tests.

It's important to note that even though Doctor Mousy got a million dollar verdict against her, and had to be subjected to a full day in court with Perry Mason screaming at her and her reputation has taken a hit with the whole town knowing she got her ass handed to her in court, she won't pay that money out of pocket, and her premiums are paid by the hospital she works for, and she won't lose her job or her license. Does it suck for her? Yes. But I can't say I feel too sorry for her. She didn't order any diagnostic testing for a fat 50 year old dude complaining of numbness and tingling in his left arm. I dunno, I would think as a doctor that the inconvenience and embarrassment of getting sued is not nearly as bad as living with the knowledge that if you had done something differently, something that is the standard of practice, your patient might still be alive. That's one of the reasons I couldn't be a doctor, I'd constantly second-guess myself and feel guilty for every bad result.

At least in law, it's (mostly) just money if we screw up. I'm concerned with getting sued too, I don't want to commit malpractice and be known as a screw-up in the legal community. But I'm much more concerned with screwing up someone's case, especially when it involves something more than money, like someone's safety, someone's freedom, and particularly involving matters of child custody. That's what motivates me to give due diligence, not covering my own butt so my malpractice premiums don't increase. If I ever do commit malpractice, and cause a client harm, I'll self-report, because that's what we're supposed to do. And you can bet that getting sued won't keep me up at night, it'll be the guilt of having screwed up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No! Don't make me go to law school again!

I hope this isn't an indication that I've failed the bar so badly that they want me to go back to 1L and try again.

I just received this email (I hope) erroneously, it made me chuckle:

Dear [Proto Attorney]:

We have received the electronic submission of your application for admission to [A Law School in Chicago] College of Law. We have requested your Law School Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS) report from the Law School Admission Council. Please note that we will not begin to review applications until mid-November. At that time, we will notify you if we have any questions or require any additional information to complete your application. At that time, we also will notify you by email when your application is complete and ready for review by our Admission Committee. Once your application is complete, you can expect to receive a decision from the Admission Committee within 2-3 weeks of the completion date.

Thank you for your application to the College of Law.

I submitted my LSDAS application back in 2004. Probably LSAC fail. I hope. Surely the bar examiners wouldn't make me go back to law school and try again would they? I mean, my diploma is framed. FRAMED! I have proof, see?

Although, honestly, I think I should have gotten the hell out of Mediocre State when I had the chance. Today has been full of Crazy Hillbilly Fail. Some good though, I did manage to resolve a dispute we had been getting nowhere on previously, utilizing my cross-cultural negotiation skills. Diplomacy Win!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toddler Overload

My child is turning into a bigger handful by the day. Cora actually lied to me today. She just would not take a nap. And of course, since she never shuts up, she isn't quite the stealthy ninja about it that she thinks she is. I could hear her in there, chattering to her stuffed animals. I went in several times to tell her to lay back down and stop talking. Finally, I just laid down myself and tried taking a nap. Then the dog woke me up 20 minutes later because it was storming and she's a chicken shit. When I got up to let her into the bedroom, I could still hear Cora talking. I fell asleep and 30 minutes later I heard Cora trying to turn the doorknob and leave her room. I opened the door and told her she's supposed to be taking a nap. Then I asked her, "Did you take your nap?" Expecting her usual answer to everything which is "NO." Instead, she looked at me very sincerely, nodded and answered "Yes." She never, ever says "yes." I gave up and turned her loose until it was time to make the trip back to Small Town. She fell asleep in the car after 20 minutes, confirming there was no nap. Do toddlers actually have the capacity for deceit? Apparently mine does. I know she understood the question, but I wonder if she understood her answer.

Once we got to town, we got some dinner, then went for a stroll through the park and to the playground. We came back to the house, and played with her bouncy balls until it was bedtime. She was in an unusually giggly mood. She was doing her Cookie Monster impression, cracking herself up, "COOK-EEEE om nom nom nom nom!" Which is actually pretty damn funny.

Other stuff we did this weekend... went to dinner Friday night and then fed some duckies at the duck pond. Cora's problem is that she won't just throw the bread, she keeps trying to force-feed the duckies by shoving bread down their throats. I dunno if she's just over-exuberant in her ducky-induced excitement, or if she's trying to make foie gras. Either way, I kept waiting for one of the really big duckies a/k/a "geese" to try to take her hand off. Those things are frightening.

Saturday was the Baby Zoo. A friend had a cook-out and there were six kids there, mostly toddlers. Too many kids, my own personal hell. Screaming, lots of screaming, particularly from my kid. At least she didn't scream when she got body checked into the wall by her best friend J. J wanted Cora to share the toys she was playing with, and of course Cora's response was to push her, and then J shoved her into the wall head first. Baby drama. I just don't know how to get my kid to share and not shove other kids. Or whine so much, she whines a lot. Trouble.

Weekly MILP Roundup #116

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup** is hosted on a rotating basis here, PT-Lawmom and A Little Fish in Law School blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday morning. Next week, go to Butterflyfish for the awesomeness of the MILP roundup.

This week is about needs. Personally, I need a drink and a fabulous new pair of shoes. Not to mention a friend or two. But here's what the other Lovely Law Ladies need this week:

PT-Lawmom needs a hug (and a fairy godmother).

Lawmom needs AAA Roadside Assistance.

Tranny Head needs to rent a football team to wear out the Sumo.

Butterflyfish needs the nightmare of law school to end.

LEO and Dakota need the nightmare of the bar exam to end. (I think all of us waiting for bar results would agree.)

Cee needs a radar detector.

Magic Cookie needs to read Every.Single.Word.

Lag Liv needs a vacation to rest up from her vacation.

Legally Certifiable needs some nice, boring evenings.

If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like us to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.

**Hat tip to the “original” Roundup Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I am very happy I will soon be sending my first donation to my graduate program. It's not much, just a couple hundred, but I will be so happy to make a contribution. It was such a wonderful experience, and I am thrilled to finally be in a position where I can give back. I learned so much there, and built invaluable relationships with an incredible group of people.
Granted, I didn't use the degree in any "traditional" manner. I didn't join the State Department and I am sadly the FBI's most unwanted. I didn't get the career I went in expecting, which involved international business transactions, but that's fine with me, 'cause that shit's boring. However, my degree is incredibly useful in the practice of law, because negotiation is truly an art form. I've seen so many people who just can't make a negotiation work, because they don't know how. I spent the better part of my day dealing with a very difficult client, who is a foreign national. Recognizing the motivations for his positions, and the role his cultural influences play in those motivations, made it so much easier to talk to him, to reason with him, and bring him to the negotiating table, where he otherwise refused to be. I'm a bit rusty on my negotiation skills, spending three years doing nothing but legal research and not interacting with the public will do that. But it's coming back to me. If I'm good at anything, it's talking to people. (Which you'd think means I'd have friends by now, but whatever.)
I'm probably going to be at the office most of this evening. It would appear The Time Succubi a/k/a Client Phone Calls ate my entire day. I've been crazy busy today, and I didn't even bill a full 8 hours, I dunno where my time actually goes. I need to figure out how to keep more careful track of my time. I hate billing, but it's a necessary evil with so many family law cases. I'm just hoping to be able to pay for myself, which I should, I mean, I bill at $250/hr.
Okay, back to work, so I can get out of here, eat cereal for dinner and start on Season 2 of Dexter. Yeah, I know, I fail.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Making New Friends

I might be a little pathetic. I'm at the point where my boss's wife is calling people up and asking them to be my friend. I feel sad for myself in a profound way.

The result being, I have a blind lunch date next week with a woman my age, who is in the financial industry, and has an infant. She sounds really nice, and I hope she likes me so I can have a friend. Isn't that sad? It's like being one of those desperate single people that absolutely cannot stand being single, so they latch on to whomever throws them any crumb of attention as they ooze desperation. Love me! she cries. That's me. I'm friendless, I ooze desperation and I'm looking for crumbs of attention. I also finally managed to chat with my upstairs neighbor. We both seem to have the same type of schedule: when we're not working, we get the hell out of town. So, she told me her work schedule for next week and we'll try to get together Wednesday evening and go see a movie or something. We were both lamenting how sad it was going to see a movie by yourself -- and being the only one in the entire theatre. That is sad. I saw Julie & Julia a couple weeks ago, and I was the only one there. She had the same experience with Time Traveler's Wife. I guess we're the only two young women in town who go to 9pm showings of chick flicks.

Anyway, I'm a very social person and I usually make friends very easily, so this whole no-friend-thing is bewildering to me. I know I've only been here a month, but figuring out how to meet people [I actually want to spend time with] is difficult. I suspect that the majority of people my age and with my interests will be nurses over at the hospital we sue. (Like my upstairs neighbor.) My blind lunch date directed me to a local young professionals association, although she said it's mostly CPA's, but I've joined anyway. There's not really a local young lawyers association. (If there is, I think it's me and one other dude.) A friend of mine suggested Meetup.com, but the only two groups here include one dedicated to electing a Republican to Congress (FAIL) and the other is Paranormal Believers. (I might be an overly-devoted and slightly-obsessive X-Files fan, but even I'm not that nutters.) And apparently one of my law school classmates is in town working for the police in some capacity; however, he was rather obnoxious in class and is overly-devoted to wearing track suits, so I'm going to pass on giving him a call.

But I need to make friends soon. Lunch by myself sucks. Dinner by myself sucks even more. I had cereal tonight for dinner and watched the rest of Season 1 of Dexter. High fiber cereal and serial killers. Super fun. I'm thinking of getting a few dozen cats to seal the deal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Planetary Misalignments

There must just be something wrong in the universe this week. Celebrities and public figures are acting like total assholes (even moreso than they usually do), and it's just been a really tragic and an unusually violent week in our city, with three murders in three days. What a shitty week. And today Patrick Swayze died, which to a girl in my age group, is pretty much like losing your first love. Damn, I still remember exactly where I was when I first saw Dirty Dancing. Such sadness.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

When Domestic Relations Law Becomes Criminal Law

A woman in my City was murdered yesterday, just down the street from where a friend of mine lives. No charges have been filed yet, but it seems likely that her ex-fiance did it. The cops found him at his parents' graves, where he'd slit his wrists. Then he fired at the cops. If that isn't admissible evidence of guilt, I dunno what is. What's scandalous about the whole thing is that the guy is a former candidate for governor, and was serving in the current state administration. He recently resigned his position when the victim got a domestic violence order against him. What he was doing with a gun is beyond me. I take it that unless the petitioner specifically requests firearms to be surrendered, they aren't. From the news reports, I guess he didn't threaten her with a gun, or threaten her life. He had hit her, and was apparently being stalkerish, but it doesn't appear she actually feared for her life. I don't guess anyone could have predicted this turn of events. It's sad. We're the same age, graduated high school the same year. I didn't know her, but it's a small city, we had mutual friends. Sucks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Sucky

Boss Dude sent me to the courthouse this morning to watch a med mal trial, which was oodles of fun and most educational. He wanted me to scope out the defense attorney we occasionally have cases with, and also observe the judge. The case was against two family practice docs for failure to diagnose (heart disease). This dude goes to see these docs, on two different occasions, complaining of neck and shoulder pain, which radiates down his left arm and also has numbness. They both diagnosed him with degenerative disc disease and sent him home with some painkillers. He dropped dead in a field not too long later. Ergo, the lawsuit.

Neither attorney is exactly local, but both practice in the area frequently. I was underwhelmed by Plaintiff's lead counsel. He seemed nice enough when I met him, but I think the Douchebag Gene gets triggered in trial for some people. Anyway, his opening was all over the place, it was like he couldn't figure out what the trial was about, and then he finally got there, but it was way too late. His use of exhibits during opening was distracting, there was no continuity. There was one juror who was already nodding off by the end of it. Then he gets one of the defendants on the stand, this mousy little woman in her 50's, who is about as soft-spoken and meek as they come, and he completely makes an ass of himself by ripping into her, badgering her for lying during her deposition because she got a small collateral detail wrong. Like, dude, this is not The Practice, and you are not Dylan McDermott, take it down a notch. That's one of the first things they tell us about cross-examination: don't take a pleasant, sympathetic witness and bully them so much that the jury hates you and feels sorry for the witness. I saw five different jurors looking at him as though he'd just kicked a puppy. The judge finally told him to move on. At that point, I called a defense verdict.

There was also this exchange about risk factors for heart disease. The attorney was writing each one down on one of those big papers displayed on an easel, as they went through them. He starts with this:

Lawyer Dude: The patient was a *male*, wasn't he?
Doctor Chick: Uh. Yes.
Lawyer Dude: You'd agree that being male is a risk factor for heart disease, wouldn't you?
Doctor Chick: Yes...
Lawyer Dude: Ah ha! [goes and writes down "MALE" under "Risk Factors" on his paper]

Doctor Chick's looking at him slightly stupefied, like he just stuck a banana in his ear. Lawyer Dude is grinning like he just got her to admit that she killed Mr. Body in the conservatory with the candlestick. It was all kinds of comical. I'm also sitting there thinking that I read somewhere that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, and that more women than men die of heart disease, so therefore, wouldn't being a *woman* be a risk factor too? Yep.

Anyway. I'm being pretty hard on the guy, but in all fairness, it wasn't a great case to begin with, and failure to diagnose cases are hard enough as it is. All I know is that the jury sure didn't look convinced of any malpractice, and while the plaintiff's attorney *did* do a very good job in hitting the important points, he missed the most important one, which is not making the jury totally hate you.

The defense attorney, on the other hand, was phenomenal. She is poised and calm, while opposing counsel kept flipping through notes and shuffling exhibits and shouting at mousy little doctors. She's well-spoken and thorough, and her style is exactly what I want mine to be. But I do think she could have been a little more personable with the jury. Being a defense attorney, you run the risk of being too detached and clinical, with the jury thinking you just don't care about the guy who dropped dead in a field because his doctors didn't notice that, even though he was an overweight 50-year-old with elevated blood pressure and slightly high cholesterol, he was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Of course, you never really know what juries will do. I'll be interested to find out what the verdict is. The trial is still going on, but I'm not going to finish watching it. Boss Dude is out tomorrow, so I'm going to take the opportunity of having a (hopefully) uneventful day to finish up the assignments I've got going on. I worked until 7pm tonight, and I'll probably do the same tomorrow, to get stuff caught up. Regardless, it was a really interesting experience, since the only trials I've really seen have been criminal ones. And even though I worked in insurance defense for 5 years, I'd never once seen a trial because my bosses had never gone. I might actually be the killer of trials. Perhaps that makes me a good luck charm for settlement, but yeah, I apparently kill trials. We've had two cases with rapidly approaching trial dates settle out just in the three weeks I've been here. All my criminal trials got canceled at the prosecutor's office. All the cases I ever prepped for trial for insurance defense firms always settled out. No fun.

Anyway, it's a long week for me. The longest I've been away from Cora since the job started, which is 3 days. It totally sucks, and I miss her horribly. But I didn't bring her with me to Small Town this week, because I wouldn't have gotten to spend much time with her Tuesday evening anyway. I stayed Monday night at the house, and left at 6:30 Tuesday morning to make the 2 hour drive to work. It wasn't too bad. I will probably do that more frequently so I can actually spend time with Husband. Suckily, Husband finally got his clinical schedule, and in order to get his hours in, he has to be there four days during the week. He works Sunday nights and sleeps Monday all day, so Tuesday through Friday, he has clinicals. Which means he can't come out here to visit at all. Which means I only get Friday evenings with him, and I see him Saturday and Sunday mornings. His clinicals will end mid-November, so it's only for the next two months or so, but it sucks. I hate it, it sucks. And Spring will be even worse.

There are days I doubt my ability to live this way. Cora will never remember being without me for two days a week, and without her dad for two days. But I'll remember. Of course, when I start missing her too bad, I just consider how she's currently teething and spent a considerable amount of time screaming at Husband yesterday. Damn, sorry I missed that! But I worry (needlessly) about next year. Husband's been looking for a job, and hasn't had any luck. I really love my job, I like the area, and I don't want to leave. So, we'll have big decisions to make if he doesn't find a job out here. Sucks. I hate big decisions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bad-Ass Lady Lawyers

I just posted over at Ms. JD about the lady lawyer in my (former) legal community who took down the three lawyers who ripped off their clients in the Fen-Phen scandal. Ethics anyone? A friend of ours many years ago worked for one of those guys right out of law school (the dude with the chick's name). He soon quit his job; he was so disgusted that he even quit practicing law after that (although he still maintains his license). Says a lot, I think. I've worked for some unethical slugs, but it was never so bad that it broke my will to practice law. Although, I do dream that the unethical slugs I've worked for in the past would get caught with their unethical pants down and get similar treatment. (I'm a hateful bitch like that.)

Anyway, the fen-phen scandal was all we heard about 1L, when the scandal had just broke and criminal charges were being pursued, as a warning to us to not steal from our clients. (The other lesson was don't murder your clients -- a former student of our Professional Responsibility professor apparently missed that day in class). But the stories told didn't usually include the Lady Lawyer who took those smug assholes down. So, I'm glad that this story was written to showcase her role in it. Most awesome.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shout Out

Giving a shout out to this list of blog posts, since it gives a shout out to me, and to at least a couple other law moms:

100 Blog Posts You Should Read Before Going to Law School

Cheers! Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Small Town Practice

Today an attorney from The City came to our office to take the depositions of our client and another witness of ours. This attorney works at Big Law. I sat in on the pre-deposition meeting with the client and witness, where we explain to them to stick to answering the question actually asked, don't start rambling on about crap you don't actually know to be true, don't say anything stupid, etc. Then I sat in on the depositions.

I was less than impressed by Big Law Defense Lawyer. First, the depositions went on for-freakin-ever, and he didn't want to break for lunch because that would just be that much more time he'd have to spend in Small Town. We started at 10, we ended at 2. There is no reason it should have taken that long for two witnesses. Fail. Second, during a short break, Big Law Dude wants to chat about the shitty job market, and how they didn't make very many offers this year to new associates. Then he points out one of the few associates they did hire, this annoying girl I absolutely cannot stand. Just hearing her voice in class would make me want to slap her with my textbook. Also, she only got the job because her uncle is a high-ranking partner, and he pitched a fit during our 1L when they weren't even going to give her an interview to clerk because her grades weren't good enough. Which meant that a friend of mine who was going to get an offer from them, didn't, because they hired Annoying Nepotism Girl instead. Fail. And the final fail is: 3. Big Law Dude actually had the nerve to ask me to go make him copies. I just stared at him in disbelief, as Boss Dude asked me if I wouldn't mind taking them to my secretary to copy while also shooting Big Law Dude a dirty look. Epic Fail.

Anyway, Boss Dude was less than impressed by him too. And with good reason. The hilarious thing is that in checking out Big Law Dude's profile on Big Law website, it brags about his extensive litigation experience, stating that he's completed over 15 trials in his 25 year career. WTF? Boss Dude has done hundreds of trials over his career, and he's probably not that much older than that guy. It's possible that I will do more trials over the next year than this guy has in practicing law almost as long as I've been alive. It definitely makes me grateful for all the good experience I'm getting. I went to law school to practice law, not sit in some stuffy office slaving away for the billable hour with a bunch of smug assholes. I've known several attorneys who didn't have the grades for Big Law, but after a few years of practice, and bringing in clients, were able to get jobs in Big Law. I can't imagine ever doing that. Big firms in other cities might be a lot different, but here, they're nothing more than pretentious sweat shops. When a firm actually has a suicide rate, there's something seriously wrong there.

So, this week's adventure has been learning to use the dictaphone. We have these crazily antiquated dictaphones, although it is kinda nice, because there's no cassette tape. It's connected to some sort of phone line (the thing looks like a phone, you pick up the receiver to dictate), that connects to some sort of "server," that then lights up at the secretary's desk when there's dictation to do. Pretty nifty. Of course there are drawbacks to it. First, I can't figure out how to work the thing other than recording and sending. No rewinding and playback. Also, to record, you have to hold down a button on the receiver, which is giving me finger cramps. But it is so much faster than typing everything myself. I did a deposition summary for a transcript that was 50 pages long, and it took me as long to type it out myself as it did to dictate a summary for a transcript that was 150 pages long. So, there's some time management improvement right there! I'm getting a little better at the research thing, without having all of my cherished secondary sources electronically. We have our state's digests, and practice manuals, and ALR volumes, and while it's just not the same to pull it off the shelf and flip through it, it's doable. I'm learning. I'm trying to be quicker and more efficient. Work smarter, not harder.